"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." Isaiah 43:1
The season of Lent is a time to discern our relationship with God and to reflect on our own lives. The passage from Isaiah 43 should speak to all of us as we remember that God the Father is our creator who knew us before we were born. As we remember that God the Son, Jesus Christ came into the world and died on the cross to redeems us, not with silver or gold, but with his own precious blood. As we remember that God knows us and calls us and declares us as his own.
Lent is not to be about Fish Fries, no matter how delicious they are. It is not a time to disguise a diet as a Lenten discipline as we give up some type of food. However, it can be used as a time to give up gossip and talking about others in a negative way. It can be a time to focus on reading our Bible more and being in devotions with God. These forty days are the days when we need to return to God and follow him more closely.
The color of Lent is purple--the color of repentance. We all have something to repent for--we all need to turn our lives around and return to God. Why? Because he is not only our creator, but in our Baptism, he made us His own and adopts us into his family. He calls us by name to follow Him. During Lent we need to remember who we are and whom we belong to. We are children of God and we belong to Him!
Many of you have seen me over the years throughout the mission district in various ways; as a pastor, a member of the mission district council, an assistant to the Dean, as coordinator of youth activities and as camp director, but let me introduce myself. I was born and raised in Somerset County on a large dairy farm. My maiden name was Shaffer, hence my German Lutheran roots. I married my high school sweetheart, Larry Cogan in August of 1974, yes, I have been married for 48 years. We are the proud parents of three daughters and one son and have been blessed with nine grandchildren.
I felt a call from God when I was fourteen years old but had no idea what that meant at that time. I have always been involved in my church and I was very involved (prior to 2009) in the Allegheny Synod. Larry and I have always been involved in agriculture. In his younger days Larry worked for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and then in 1984 we purchased a large greenhouse and floral business near Somerset. In 1999 I attended classes offered by the Allegheny Synod to be a Lay Worship Leader and then attended Gettysburg Seminary in a program to be authorized as a youth minister. I started my seminary studies in 2005. While doing my seminary studies I served a small congregation in the outskirts of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Dunmyer Lutheran, and received a call to continue serving them when I was ordained in 2009. Dunmyer was one of the original churches of the NALC. When St Thomas Lutheran joined the NALC in 2011, their pastor stayed with the ELCA so Dunmyer graciously extended help to St Thomas by offering to have me serve them until they could call a new pastor. Ten months later I was installed as that called pastor. St Thomas Evangelical Lutheran is a rural congregation in northeast Somerset County, surrounded by farmland and is also the home of the location of our In-Tents Camps.
In 2018 Larry and I bought a small farm north of Somerset and we raise sheep and pigs and make hay. My passions are first – GOD, second – family and third – farming.