The Off Season. From Pastor Marc – My Message for the Messenger, April 2018 Edition

Have you ever been some place “off-season?” The times I’ve visited places before they get busy, I’ve always been struck how the energy in the air feels different. There’s a quietness that seems to fill much of the space. This quiet never feels unpleasant. Instead, it feels like the deep calming breath the entire community takes before the large number of people arrive. That deep calming breath requires a peace and simplicity that gives everyone time to prepare for what’s to come. Restaurants and shops have shorter hours and smaller menus. Artisans and entertainers rehearse their craft in an intentional but gentle way. The few visitors that find themselves in these “off-season” places are invited to embody the slower pace, quieting their soul and mind in preparation for the busyness to come. The “off-season” is a perfect time to refresh, recharge and experience familiar places in new ways. And when we engage with places during their off-season, we sometimes surprise ourselves by learning something new about what refreshes our heart, mind and soul.

The Sundays after Easter can sometimes feel like an “Off-Season” for the church. After all the busyness and excitement of Lent, Holy Week and Easter, many of us feel like we could use a break. Lent sometimes feels like a long inhale preparing us for the exhale of Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. When the Sunday after Easter comes along, we feel worn out and just tired. But Easter is more than just one day. As a faith community, we experience Easter as an entire season. The Sundays after Easter invite us to re-experience the risen Jesus in our lives. When Jesus’ earliest disciples discovered the empty tomb, their faith wasn’t all figured out. They still needed time to discover what living with a resurrected Jesus was all about. The time they spent with Jesus after the Resurrection was an opportunity to connect with the Jesus they always knew but who they now encountered in a new way. They needed to see Jesus in the garden, meet him in a locked room, break bread with him while meeting him on the road, and eating brunch with him on the beach. The season of Easter invites us to refresh and recharge with a Jesus who is always with us, even when we feel like we could use a break.

And this season at CLC will be filled with a baptism, hymn sing and a joint worship service with First Congregational Church and Pascack Reformed Church. See Jesus in this “off-season” and discover new ways to be recharged.

See you in church!
Pastor Marc

Learning New Songs. From Pastor Marc – My Message for the Messenger, March 2018 Edition

Memorizing song lyrics is not one of my spiritual gifts. If you asked me to recite the lyrics to my favorite songs, I would be embarrassed by how many of the words I would get wrong. When I am at a show, standing on the floor and watching one of my favorite bands play, the lyrics to their songs flow through me. But once the show is over, it’s like I never heard those songs before. Lyrics do not stay at the forefront of my mind. Rather, the entire experience of singing – from the music to the lyrics to whom I’m singing with – is how I hold onto this event. I need the music to recall the lyrics and the lyrics to recall how the song made me feel and the emotions from the song to help me remember the music. Songs, to me, are events that are hard to separate.

You might have noticed in worship that new music is entering into our rotation. David Scance is doing a wonderful job finding new contemporary music to introduce to the 9:00 am service. At the 10:30 am worship, we’ve intentionally been repeating hymns every week. The one verse we sing when we bring the bread and wine to the altar is repeated for a month, helping us rehearse a new piece of music. After that, the song is repeated all year long. The hymns we have picked at 10:30 am are hymns written by Martin Luther. Some of these songs might be familiar to you; others might be brand new. These new songs are invitations to discover God’s grace in a new way. New words and new tunes can help us see God’s love for us anew.

The month of March this year is a month that is hard to separate. For 31 days, we are in Lent. The songs of Lent from “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” to “Ah, Holy Jesus” will carry us into the Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Lent is an opportunity to see ourselves and our God in a new way. Let’s see if the words we sing, even new ones, can help us discover and embody God’s grace in a new way.

See you in church!

Pastor Marc

Start With Love. From Pastor Marc – My Message for the Messenger, February 2018 Edition

It’s overwhelming picking the right Valentine’s Day card. Selecting the right card (or cards) needs to follow several rules. The card needs to match the personality of the person I’m giving it to but it also needs to be a card they would expect to come from me. The card needs to set the right tone, convey the right words, and show the person I am giving it to that they are valued. It needs to be funny but not too funny. It needs to be quirky but not too quirky. And it needs to fit my budget. These rules apply for any card I’m buying, including the cards my kids want to give out to their friends at school. I need to know my kids but also their classmates. I need to know what’s cool and I need to ask a bunch of questions. Are stickers still fun? Should they glow in the dark or be scratch and sniff? Are temporary tattoos worth giving out or should I stick with candy? Or many they should avoid candy because I throw out all the candy my kids bring home anyways? Choosing a Valentine’s Day card can be mentally exhausting.

But one thing that requires no effort this Valentine’s Day is the start of Lent. Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year. On a day when consumerism turns love into a commodity, the church will do something different. We’ll start our journey towards Easter by starting with what makes us who we are. We are human. We are mortal. We suffer, hurt each other, and shed tears. We laugh, celebrate, and bring each other joy and hope. We make mistakes. We are sinners. And we are, above all, made in God’s image. We are, through Jesus, thoroughly loved.

I know many people who love Valentine’s Day. I know many who don’t. Regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, I invite you to take time on February 14 to remember your need for God and how, through Jesus, you are loved forever. Worship with us on February 14 at 7 pm. Keep an eye on our calendar for special ash-oriented events that day. And make a plan to participate in our Soup & Studies starting February 21. We will explore why God’s love for us matters and how, through scripture and Martin Luther’s On Freedom of a Christian, we can live out God’s love every day.

See you in church!
Pastor Marc

I sometimes do weddings: September 2017 edition

Last September, I was honored to preside over Jen and Adam’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony and event. Below is a video and pictures of me in action. A big thank you to Danfredo Photos + Films for the video and film.

jennifer + adam // the roundhouse from Danfredo Photos + Films on Vimeo.

Photo by Danfredo Photos + Films (
Danfredo Photos + Films (
Danfredo Photos + Films (
Danfredo Photos + Films (
Danfredo Photos + Films (
Danfredo Photos + Films (

New Voices. From Pastor Marc – My Message for the Messenger, January 2018 Edition

As I write this, the first snowfall of the season is on the ground outside. The roadways and parking lots are clear but patches of snow are still on the grass. In places that get a lot of sun, no snow remains. But in parts that are shaded by buildings and trees, the snow is still thick on the ground. The sun is bright, melting all the snow on our new roofs. But the air is still cold. The snow in the shade has no desire to melt and go away. The world outside is caught between two zones: one that looks like winter and one that looks as if winter is still far away. But the rest of us, those who have to live and move between these two zones, we have to wear our snow boots or zig and zag around the piles of snow. Navigating between different kinds of realities is, sometimes, what life is all about.

Each week, ELCA Lutheran pastors in Bergen County, Passaic County, Essex County and Morris County meet for Bible study and fellowship. We talk about our communities, our joys, our struggles and how we see the Holy Spirit at work in our churches. And over the last year, we are hearing people wanting new ways to engage with their faith outside of Sunday morning. There’s a desire for study, prayer, and worship at different times and in different places. For some of us, the busyness of our lives means we can only feed our faith late at night, once the kids are in bed. For others, a late Saturday night work schedule means worship on Sunday morning is hard to get to. The ELCA pastors in Northern New Jersey want to help you engage in your faith everyday but in a way that complements your lifestyle in such a way that you will be able to do it. If you want to get into a routine of daily prayer, we want to help you do that. If you want to discover new ways of teaching bibles stories to your kids, let’s figure out how to do that together. And if you’re looking for Lutheran Christian perspectives on everyday life, we can provide that. But to do all of this, we need your help.

If you had a magic wand and could dream up something to grow your faith, what would it be? Are you looking for something to listen to on your daily commute? Would you like to attend a weekly spiritual meditation session run by a trained professional? Are you looking for a deeper sense of fulfillment and wonder if a spiritual life coach might help you find your way? Can you commit to weekly worship on a day other than Sunday? And if you can’t get to church on Sunday, would you love to have someone come to your home and watch a recording of the service with you? Email me (, call the church office (201-391-4224) or leave a note in my mailbox with your idea. There’s no one single program or resource that will feed everyone’s faith. What works for you might not work for your neighbor and vice versa. But we can, through our collective network of Lutheran churches and ecumenical partners, discover and develop the tools that can make this New Year a year where our experience of our faith and our relationship with Jesus Christ grows by leap and bounds.

See you in church!
Pastor Marc

500 Plus. From Pastor Marc – My Message for the Messenger, October 2017 Edition

On Sunday, October 29, we’re doing something new . . .

This October marks the 500th birthday of the Reformation. Legend has it that Martin Luther wrote 95 thoughts about faith, Jesus and the church (The 95 Theses) and posted them to a church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Scholars debate if this posting actually happened, but we know his words didn’t stay local. His writings spread like wildfire. In a few short years, a new church movement took root, launching new Christian traditions. As Lutherans, the Sunday before October 31st is our annual “birthday party” where we celebrate this Lutheran flavor of the Christian faith that God gifted to us. But our experience of the Christian faith is not the only tradition out there. We are surrounded by Baptists, Calvinists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Reformed, Church of Christ and more. Each one can trace their start and growth to these 95 thoughts about faith and God. For almost 500 years, the story of Christianity has been reflected in the ways we split apart. As individuals and communities who experience God in different ways, we sometimes separate from each other. Christian history can be described as a history of division. But there’s also a history of unity and coming together. On October 29th, heirs to the Reformation will worship at Christ Lutheran Church.

Pascack Reformed Church and First Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) will join us for worship at our church at 10:00 am. A joint choir will sing, and we’ll give thanks for the variety of gifts God gives each of our communities. We’ll celebrate our shared history and also our joint witness as churches who are different but united in Jesus Christ. As communities of faith, we are grateful for the different identities the Holy Spirit has given to each of us. As part of the body of Christ, we are grateful that our differences do not divide us from Jesus. I invite you to be at this joint worship service at 10:00 am on Sunday, October 29th. And let’s discover where the Spirit is leading us in the next 500 years.

See you in church!
Pastor Marc

My Mini-van is famous

Wegmans, the grocery store I fell in love with while living in Ithaca, is coming to the neighborhood. As a way of showing good will to the local community, they actively support local non-profits and food banks. I serve as the treasure of the Tri-Boro Food Pantry which services 100 families in Northern New Jersey. The store opens at the end of September but they have already sent us several donations. On August 24, Wegmans threw what they call a rodeo. As the first trucks arrive to stock a store, non-profits get to pick what they need from a truck. Five different non-profits converged on the new store. A photographer from The Record was there and got a picture of me smiling. We sent four mini-vans and SUVs to our small food pantry. Thank you Wegmans!

Pencil Pusher. From Pastor Marc – My Message for the Messenger, September 2017 Edition

When was the last time you used 60 #2 pencils? When was the last time you saw that many pencils in one place? Growing up, I longed to be the kid with the fancy mechanical pencil with the right kind of lead for the scantron tests. I didn’t want to use those yellow pencils ever again. And now that I’m older, I rarely write. Instead, I give my fingers a workout on a keyboard, and I keep my thumbs busy on the screen of my smartphone. I didn’t expect to spend a day this summer surrounded by those yellow pencils. But on the last day of Vacation Bible School the kids, volunteers and I were elbow-deep in those pencils I avoided. We were also knee-deep in glue sticks, crayons and two pocket folders. We spent the day packing 20 backpacks full of school supplies for students in need. The supplies we packed were graciously donated by the kids at VBS themselves and members of CLC. The 3 through 11 year olds that made up our VBS classes were packing backpacks for kids their age to actually use. The week the kids spent wasn’t only about trying to have fun with God. It wasn’t just an excuse to dress up as superheroes every day. They were there to learn how God makes them heroes, and they spent a day being the heroes God calls them to be. Being a hero isn’t only for those with super strength. Sometimes a hero means finding 60 #2 pencils and giving them to a kid who needs them.

This September is the start of a busy programming year at CLC. Our 2 worship Sundays kick-off is on September 17th. Confirmation classes, Sunday School and Youth Group will start up right after. Our committees and ministry teams are gearing up for an exciting year. And our interfaith and community partnerships are hitting the ground running. We’re going to spend the year finding new and exciting ways to be the body of Christ in Northern New Jersey. One of the gifts God gives us every day is the very faith that drives us to know that God’s love, mercy and hope are not abstract. These attributes of God are part of who we are. As we start a busy September, let’s see the different and unexpected ways God is calling us to make a difference in our church and in our community. Because being engaged with our neighbors is how we can be like Jesus who never stopped engaging with a world who desperately needs him.

See you in church!

Pastor Marc

Prayer Rally for Love and Solidarity

[Paul writes:] With what should I approach the Lord
and bow down before God on high?
Should I come before [God] with entirely burned offerings,
with year-old calves?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with many torrents of oil?
Should I give my oldest child for my crime;
the fruit of my body for the sin of my spirit?
[God] has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:6-8

Pastor Marc joined clergy from throughout the Upper Pascack Valley for a Prayer Rally for Love and Solidarity. More than 100 people from at least 8 congregations (Christian and Jewish) attended the event at Veteran’s Park in Park Ridge. Pastor Marc offered a reading and a reflection during the event.


Was anyone else outside this afternoon watching the solar eclipse? Did anyone else forget to put on sunscreen before they climbed on the roof of their church to watch the moon move in front of the sun? I know I’m going to be a tad sunburnt tomorrow but I’m glad I was able to participate in a celestial event where people from all over this nation posted jokes and memes about it online, ate moonpies and other lunaresque treats, and we all looked a tad dorky wearing those paper sun filters over our eyes. And even though the glasses made us look silly, we needed them. Without them, the UV rays and light from the sun would literally burn our eyes. In the days leading up to today’s event, news articles and tweets and Facebook posts said the same thing over and over again. Don’t look directly at the sun. Don’t take a #selfie with the eclipse in the background because that won’t stop the UV rays from reflecting off your phone and harming your eyes. We needed to get the right kind of NASA recommend polarized shades. And if any of this is news to you right now, just keep the information in your back pocket as preparation for the next eclipse in our neighborhood in 2024. These warnings about observing the eclipse shows us how intense the sun actually is. We needed to do a lot to prepare ourselves to engage and observe and witness such an event. Solar eclipses happen without any input or help from us. They are a product of the dance the moon and earth and sun do together. We witnessed today something that is part of our world and our universe right now. We know eclipses happen – but we have the choice in how to engage with them.

This evening, as we gather together as neighbors and friends, as we unite to say yes to peace and love and unity – and as we say no to hate, anti-semitism, racism, homophobia, nazism – and to anything and anyone that tries to split us apart, I am personally grateful for each and everyone of you. I am grateful for the intensity, the power, and the love and hope each of you brings here tonight. I am grateful for the shared witness my colleagues and friends from the Upper Pascack Valley Clergy Group show by being here in body, mind, and prayer. And I’m eternally grateful for the same Spirit that compels each of us to be here right now. This Spirit, I believe, is embedded in God’s good creation. It’s a Spirit that’s moved over the waters, breathed life into our souls, and is even now, moving among us. It’s the same Spirit that moved the prophet Micah to speak out against those who oppressed the people and it’s same Spirit, I believe, that brought us here together tonight. This Spirit wants us here so that we can speak, with one voice, loudly proclaiming that the rallies, movements, and groups supporting Nazism, Confederate ideology, white supremacy and terror are not who we are and this isn’t who God wants us to be. The evil lurking in the hearts of those who use cars, trucks, and vehicles to cause death, violence, and destruction is not something God endorses, supports, or believes. Those who drive into crowds, march through college campuses with lit torches, and who shout words that deny the very human diversity that God intended are not living in God’s Spirit. They are trying to make fear and violence the cornerstone of our human community and they hope we will just accept it, as if this kind of evil is part of the universe that we choose not to engage with.

Yet the Spirit that lived in Micah is a Spirit that refuses to let fear win. It’s a Spirit that compels us to engage with this evil forcefully, honestly, and with an intensity that cannot be blocked. As a Lutheran, I am mindful of how communities bearing the Lutheran name worked against the Spirit of God and were part of some of the worst violence in living memory. As an American, I am mindful of the different ways own communities push our neighbors to the margins. I am mindful of the ways Christians throughout history have twisted the true and expansive vision God has for our human community. Yet I also know this Spirit that lived in Micah refuses to give up on us. I know that this Spirit, when she recorded the words “love your neighbors as yourselves, ” truly meant it. I know that this Spirit is active right now, empowering us to uncover the ways we fail to match the unlimited love God has for each of us. And I know that this Spirit helps us do more than just gather together. The Spirit inspires us, strengthens us, and compels us to know what justice is and to seek it; to know what love looks like and to go do it; and to walk faithfully and humbly with the God who will never stop showing us what God’s vision of the world truly looks like. May our love for our neighbors burn with an intensity matched only by the sun. And may the moments we share this evening, moments reflected in anti-hate rallies in Charlottesville, Boston, New Orleans and in vigils and rallies locally and nationwide, reflect that Spirit of hope, love, and unity that God wants everyone to share.