Richard H. Snow Memorial Page

For anyone seeking to read the obituary for Luther Snow’s father that Pastor Allie recommended at worship, it can be found on the Richard H. Snow Memorial page on Facebook both on Good Shepherd’s Facebook page or by searching “Richard H. Snow Memorial Page”.



  • Thirteen panels from the exhibit that was installed in Luther’s Center for Faith and Life during January will be on display at Good Shepherd through the end of February.
  • The “The F-Word: Stories of Forgiveness” Exhibit, part of The Forgiveness Project, is a thought-provoking collection of images and personal restorative narratives from survivors/victims and perpetrators that explore forgiveness in the face of atrocity.
  • The panels are hung in the Sanctuary, Gathering Space, along the corridor leading to the Fellowship Hall, and in the Fellowship Hall. Voices from South Africa, the United States, Canada, Israel, Palestine, Rwanda, Northern Ireland, and England examine forgiveness as a healing process, a path out of victimhood, and ultimately a journey of hope.
  • All are welcome and encouraged to view the panels anytime the church is open, 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. daily. Reflection journals are available for viewers to add comments.

Worship On for January 14th

Members and friends of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church,

Your church leaders and Pastor Dave have been watching and considering the weather carefully in respect to worship tomorrow, especially the temperature and wind chill.

After discussion and considering the weather reports and with various people weighing in with their thoughts and considerations, we have decided to go forward and have worship tomorrow at the regular time of 9:30 am. So, worship will take place tomorrow!

However, everyone must carefully consider their own safety and personal needs regarding the temperatures and wind chill and driving on snow and ice.  Please be careful and do not feel compelled to come if you do not feel safe. Of course, you can watch worship safely at home on-line:


Tim Lecander

President of the Church Council


Sermon for Sunday, January 7, 2024   Epiphany of Our Lord

“God’s Guidance for the Journey”

Reverend Amy Zalk Larson

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  

 Decorah, Iowa


Click here to read scripture passages for the day.


Beloved people of God, grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus.

This past week my friend Erin sent her son off to Costa Rica for a semester. He’s a junior at a university far from home so Erin has had a lot of practice saying goodbye to him. This time was harder. Erin’s so proud of her son, she knows he’s ready, yet still – he’ll be so far away. Goodbyes are painful. Transitions are hard. Grief and love, loss and hope come tangled up together. Erin’s son had some sage advice for her: “Mom,” he said, “all the help you can give me for this experience has already been given.”

That wisdom feels important for us all in this time of transition. God has given us everything we need. Today, for instance, we get to reflect on a powerful story of a journey into the unknown. Sometimes when I hear this story, I feel jealous of the magi. Wouldn’t it be nice to be guided by a powerful star and specific dreams when we’re trying to discern the next right steps?

Could you just get a star to lead you right to your next long-term pastor after the wonderful interim time you’ll have with Pr. Dave? Why couldn’t our dreams clearly and reliably show us it’s time to move, time to retire, good to say yes to this and no to that, important to invest in that relation- ship, this opportunity. Wouldn’t that be nice?

And yet, even with a star to guide them, the magi didn’t make it to the right place on their own. The star was leading them to Bethlehem, but they ended up in Jerusalem. They knew they were looking for a child king and they assumed a king would be in Jerusalem, the seat of power, rather than in the peasant town of Bethlehem. Their own biases and preconceptions led them astray. The magi needed other people, as well as scripture, to get them where they needed to go. They did have powerful guidance through a star, and later through a dream, but still they needed the other help that God provided.

Sometimes we do have experiences and dreams that help guide us. I’ve shared that this has happened for me with the call to Red Wing. I wanted to stay at Good Shepherd, but God spoke clearly in dreams, through experiences in therapy, and through a deep peace I’ve experienced in my body. There’s been strong guidance for me in this particular transition. It’s also been amazing to experience how God has led Pr. Dave to you. Dave is my friend and when he called after I posted news about my upcoming move, I almost let his call go to voicemail. It was a busy day, but something led me to pick up the phone – the Spirit led me to pick up the phone. One thing led to another and now you have a wonderful interim pastor. I am so grateful.

Sometimes God’s guidance feels as bright as a star. Other times the road ahead is much less clear. Yet the help God gave the magi in Jerusalem, other people and scripture – that help is given to each of us all well. God has given us the gift of community in the church, other people who can help us to discern the next right steps. You’ll soon get to engage in communal conversations that will help you develop a ministry site profile, a document that will be shared with pastors considering a call here. You’ll be invited to think about gifts and needs in the congregation and the community.

That process can open each of you to God’s guidance for you communally and personally. Conversations like that can help you discern where you experience joy, how your heart is broken open in love, where your passions are needed. God’s wisdom and guidance is always with us. We’re opened to that wisdom through the practice of listening. When we listen deeply to others, when others listen deeply to us, we can also hear God. We’re also opened to God’s leading when we listen to scripture, as the magi did. Together as God’s people we get to wrestle with these odd and wondrous texts that help us to know God, and we learn to hear God speaking to us.

Pr. Dave is a very gifted Bible study leader and teacher. I encourage you to participate in the study he offers. I’m also struck that the magi even received guidance from King Herod. A corrupt, power- hungry, murderous dictator helped to point them the right way. Even when humans intend harm and evil, God is at work for good. God brings life out of death and suffering. That is what God does.

That is what God has done here at Good Shepherd. Nine years ago, you had experienced deep conflict and pain. Your hearts were broken. Yet that pain also made you open and willing to experience the resurrection God brings. God has helped you to move through the pain and into new life. God has led you to be so incredibly open – open to others, open to change, open to new ideas, open to giving of yourselves, open to the Spirit moving. The Spirit has done amazing things in and through you in this time. Thanks be to God!

Now there is pain and loss in saying goodbye. Yet God works in the pain to open you to new ventures, new life, growth and change. We have a God of resurrection. I can’t wait to see what God does in and through you next.

Good Shepherd, Pr. Dave, my beloved family, we are all embarking on journeys into the unknown. Transitions are hard. Goodbyes are painful. And yet, as that wise college junior put it, all the help we need for this experience has already been given. All the help you need is given by our most gracious God.

You are God’s beloved child.

You are loved, forgiven, set free for joy, gratitude, and generosity.

Your life is held in God.

You have been given community, scripture, prayer, the Holy Spirit, the sacraments, amazing music, an interim pastor, great leadership, a wonderful staff.

You have all that you need.


Let’s take a moment for silent prayer.

Sermon for Sunday, December 17, 2023   Third Sunday of Advent

“Rejoice: Your Light Has Come”

Reverend Amy Zalk Larson

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  

 Decorah, Iowa


Click here to read scripture passages for the day.


Beloved People of God, grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus, the true light.

Three of our scriptures today focus on joy, on rejoicing. God knows we need some joy – not holiday cheer, not forced, pretend happiness, but joy. Joy is not dependent on external circumstances, notes author Henri Nouwen, “Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing—sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war or even death—nothing can take that love away.”

One person who helps others know joy through his love for them is Fr. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest famous for his gang intervention programs in Los Angeles. He’s written two beautiful books about what he’s learned through the organization he founded, Homeboy Industries, which employs former gang members. Boyle delights in the people that society has abandoned; he sees their goodness and rejoices in it.

Boyle often shares a story about one of these “homies” named Louie. He says, “Louie is kind of a difficult kid. He’s exasperating, and he’s whiny. And he works for me, although ‘work’ may be too strong a verb.” One day, after complaining about something again, Louie asks Boyle for a blessing, as the homies often do. So, Boyle reports, “I laid my hands on his shoulder and said, ‘You know, Louie, I’m proud to know you, and my life is richer because you came into it. When you were born, the world became a better place. And I’m proud to call you my son, even though’ — and I don’t know why I decided to add this part — ‘at times, you can really be a huge pain.’ And [Louie] looks up, and he smiles. And he says, ‘The feeling’s mutual.’”

Boyle reflects on this, “You want people to recognize the truth of who they are, that they’re exactly what God had in mind when God made them … we’re all called to be enlightened witnesses: people who, through kindness and tenderness and the focused attention of love, return people to themselves. And in the process, you’re returned to yourself. Maybe I returned Louie to himself, Fr. Boyle says, “but there is no doubt that he returned me to myself.”

(Transcript from interview with Fr. Greg Boyle on radio program On Being, with Krista Tippet).

In our Gospel reading for today, John serves as that kind of enlightened witness, a witness who seeks to return all God’s people to ourselves and to the light. The light is God made flesh in Jesus. The light brings good news to the oppressed, binds up the brokenhearted, comforts all who mourn. The light replaces our faint spirit with a mantle of praise. The light inspires songs of joy.

John points us to this light. He knows he’s not the light. He’s a witness, a voice crying out in the wilderness testifying to the true light. John knows who he is because he’s been enlightened by the true light. When he was just a baby in his mother’s womb, he leapt for joy when Mary arrived, pregnant with the baby Jesus. Even when he was hidden in the womb, the true light reached him, and he bore witness bringing encouragement to both his mother Elizabeth and Jesus’ mother Mary as he leapt. As an enlightened witness, John calls all creation to prepare for the coming of the Savior. John calls us to repent, which means to turn, to return to God and to ourselves. John never forgets who he is. He isn’t the light. He is a witness to the light.

So, it is for us. We aren’t the light, but we are enlightened witnesses. The light of Christ reaches us, reaches you, in worship. And we are called to witness to the light at work in others, even when it is hidden. We’re called to notice the light at work in others with kindness, tenderness, and the focused attention of love. We’re also called to name the light we see, to tell people of the goodness we see in them.

Where have you seen the light at work in those around you, in loved ones and strangers? I see the light in this congregation during this time of transition. Even as the future feels uncertain, even as goodbyes and change are so hard, you’re offering blessings to me and welcome to Pr. Dave. You’re supporting, thanking, and praying for leaders and staff. You’ve stepped up your financial generosity for the shared work of bringing good news, binding up the brokenhearted, and comforting those who mourn. You are witnesses to me, to each other, and to the Decorah community. You are witnesses to the light. You are practicing joy.

So, you enlightened witnesses, receive a blessing on this day of joy: “I’m proud to know you, and my life is richer because you came into it. When you were born, the world became a better place.”

You may not always feel like it, but the light of Christ is replacing your faint spirit with a mantle of praise. Even when you sow seeds of hope with tears, you will reap with songs of joy.

You can rejoice and bear witness to this light.


 Let’s take a moment for silent prayer.