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Wednesday Words, January 10, 2018

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

Every other Thursday, we have a group of women who gather together to sew quilts for Lutheran World Relief. Our Quilter group will be sharing their collection of heartfelt handiwork of color this Sunday. The quilts will be draped over the pews to give your backs a warm cushion and a reminder of who will be touched by these blessings of blankets.

This beautiful blending of colors reminds me of the uniqueness and variety all around us. One color next to another can affect and change the way it is seen. The same is true of all of life. Our experiences and backgrounds give our lives depth and richness. 

It is also how we are blended together as God's people in the church. Each of us has an impact on the other. I think we sometimes forget this dimension of the fabric known as our congregation. Through each one of you, the impact of our community of faith has reached beyond the walls of our church into schools, businesses, doctor's offices, hospitals, and stores. In fact, the list of places you have touched this week is too long to name each one.

In this week’s Gospel reading Jesus touches Nathaniel. Nathaniel was the fourth disciple. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus called Peter and Andrew first. Then he called Philip. Then Philip went and brought Nathaniel. His only other mention is with the other disciples at one of the resurrection appearances. Beyond that, he simply blended in with the others.

What we do know about Nathaniel is that he was a person who was hoping and trying to find meaning in life. We also know that Nathaniel was a man "in whom there was no deceit." He was a person who worked at being honorable and decent. He was not a stand out person, but he was a good person who tried to be a responsible in the community that he was a part.

I've heard many people talk about there being way too many things going on in the world that it is too difficult to figure out where to begin, what to pay attention to, or where we can make a difference. It can be debilitating if we try to make a difference on our own. When we take time to talk with each other about issues in our communities and our world, the Holy Spirit is given room to breathe and blend us together to bring peace, justice, and healing to a conflicted and struggling world.

Nathaniel is an ordinary disciple but when brought together with all the disciples we see God at work, creating a better life together. Be assured God is always creating and blending us together. May you be open to God using you to make a difference. Amen.

Wednesday Words, January 3, 2018

Pastor Paul Cannon

Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

-Matthew 2:11

GIFTS!!!  Oh, the gifts! When we left for Minnesota after Christmas to visit the relatives, our poor, little Toyota Rav4 was already packed to the brim.  Between my wife and I, the boy and the dog, I was not able to see out the back window – and that was before we opened presents and had to drive home with them.

Our car was stuffed to the gills.  It felt like we were playing a game of “Chubby Bunny” except in this version, we were the oversized marshmallows (if you don’t know what Chubby Bunny is, click this link for a picture, and you’ll get the idea). 

Why do we bother with gifts anyway?  Wouldn’t it be easier to swap cold-hard cash on the Holidays? Here’s a twenty, Isaac!  Merry Christmas!  If that sounds ridiculous to you, it’s because on some level we all understand that a gift is so much more than an offering of goods.  Gifts have meaning.  Gifts carry value greater than the price of the item purchased.

If that’s true, then it makes me wonder about Gold, Frankincense, and myrrh… I wonder what those gifts meant?

The gifts brought by the wise men were more than nice birthday presents for Jesus.  They had meaning. These were gifts fit for kings. 

Gold – Besides being a valuable commodity, Gold is symbolic of kingship.  It was a symbol that pointed to the new Prince of Peace coming to establish the Kingdom of God.

Frankincense – Have you ever given somebody the gift of a candle?  Frankincense is kind of like that.  Except this fragrance was often used in priestly rituals in the Temple and in many cases for healing. This gift highlights Jesus’ role as a healer in our lives!

Myrrh – Myrrh is similar to frankincense, in that it’s basically a perfume.  It was used for embalming bodies, and for anointing.  So this particular gift highlights not only one of Jesus names (Messiah, meaning anointed), but it also foreshadows his death.

All these gifts were fit for a king!  They highlighted who this baby in a manger was to become.

Amen

 

 


Wednesday Words, December 20, 2017

Wednesday, Third Week of Advent

Overflowing Love

From the "O Holy Night" devotionals by Sarah A. Reinhard

Ponder

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you. “But she was much perplexed by this word and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” – Luke 1:28-30

Think

The angel Gabriel pays a big compliment to Mary, calling her full of grace. The word “full,” actually paints a picture of a cup or a bowl that cannot hold one more drop of liquid. Mary had all the grace it was possible for her to have, and yet her response is one of confusion, being “much perplexed.”

Have you ever received a wonderful compliment from someone only to wonder what exactly the person intends Are they trying to get something from you?

God does not operate this way. When God says he loves, us, he means it completely. Gabriel’s greeting is to assure Mary, and it’s the same greeting that he would give to each of us. Don’t doubt that God loves you. Even during the dark days of winter, even when you feel overwhelmed, even if there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, rest assured, God loves you—all the way to overflowing!

Pray

Jesus, guide me in the best way to show your love to those around me. Amen.

Do

Put your love to action – do more than what’s expected!

Wednesday Words, December 13, 2017

Wednesday, Second Week of Advent

Easing the Burden

From the "O Holy Night" devotionals by Sarah A. Reinhard

Think

Advent should be a time when we can be calm, quiet and reflective as we prepare for the birth of the Lord.  And yet, those are usually the last words we would use to describe this time of year.

Before a baby is born, there's usually a lot that needs to be done.  Many things need to be put in order.  Arrangements need to be made.  So maybe it's no accident that this time of year is usually extremely busy for families.  Gift exchanges, parties, school activities, projects, home preparations, gift buying, company parties and more take place over the course of a few weeks.

We can find Jesus in these moments of flurry and hurry, but we might have to slow down or even stop some of the activities to appreciate Jesus' presence.  He wants to help us in our chaos, he wants to be the peace that gives us strength.  He's there to help us, to give us rest. Will we let him?

Pray

Jesus, help us to see you in our daily lives, all around us.  Amen.

Ponder

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am Gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

-Matthew 11:28-30

Do

What have you broken recently? It may be an object or it may be that you've hurt someone's feelings.  Have you lost the trust of a friend or family member because you acted out of fear?  This creates a burden on our heart and soul.  Today, spend some time reflecting on how you might fix that situation.  Ask Jesus to give you the courage to take the first steps in making that happen.  Reach out with a kind apology, asking for forgiveness.  That's not always easy to do, but be assured that Jesus will be with you.  

Wednesday Words, December 6, 2017

Wednesday First Week of Advent

Comfort and Joy 

Ponder. . . 

Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of God’s people God will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8

Think. . . 

The holidays aren’t always a time of joy and happiness. The first Christmas after my brother-in-law suddenly passed away, I watched as my sister-in-law and young nieces struggled with the entire Advent and Christmas seasons. Though he had been dead almost a year, it was the first Christmas they had experienced without him. They felt his loss acutely.

Their family tradition was disrupted, and the pain of the loss was almost made new all over again. There was no Daddy to hide presents, no secret smiled between parents, no plotting kids and parents for the other parent.

It’s been quite a few years since then, and I know they still notice his absence at Christmas. They always will.

One of the ways God comforts us is with the other people who are in our lives. Often, this time of year, especially for Christians, can be a preparation for the joy and comfort that we can bring to others. Sometimes the best gift is giving of ourselves to those in need.

Pray. . . 

Jesus, help us to get ready for your coming. Amen.

Do. . . 

Is there someone you know who might dread the holidays? How can you comfort them? This Advent, see if you and your family members can “adopt” this person (or people) and bring Christ to them.

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