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Wednesday Words, June 12, 2019

Wednesday Words

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

We have been reading through the book of Acts since May, exploring how God used the events in the lives of the earliest church to spread the Good News of what Jesus had done for them. In many ways we could call the book of Acts, the Acts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit got the disciples out of that upper room in the first place.  So for us today, I would like to think that we are living out the sequel, the Continued Acts of the Holy Spirit. You and I today have access to the same Holy Spirit that Paul, Peter, John and the others had in the times of the early church. The same spirit that showed them where to go, gave them words to speak, gave them power to heal, and caught fire in the hearts and souls of millions as the Gospel spread. The big question is how do we stay open to a life that is connected and empowered by the Spirit of God?

I think of the Holy Spirit being a bit like music on the radio. Buzzing all around us are radio waves carrying signals from hundreds and thousands of different sources. And with a radio we can single out and tune in to those frequencies. The power and presence of Christ is among us, but how do we tune in?  How do we connect and engage?

One way that God speaks to us and the Holy Spirit guides our lives is through prayer. Any moment of the Holy Spirit guiding people in the book of Acts is accompanied by prayer of the people seeking out and being open to God’s call for them. I know for many people prayer is not always comfortable. Some of you have told me you don’t know where to get started or how to pray. In church we pray in a more formal way, which I think can be intimidating, but that’s only one way of praying. I believe that the prayers in church give us words to pray, especially, in those times when we can’t find our own words.

I always find it so touching when I am at the bedside of someone who is dying, and they mouth their memorized words of the Lord’s Prayer as I pray it with them. When my Grandpa Lorier was dying, my son’s Aaron and Mitchell sang the song “Jesus Loves Me,” a song of praise and trust in God that they learned in church. My grandpa was only hours from dying, but as Aaron and Mitchell sang grandpa raised his arms toward heaven almost in his own prayer to God to say, “I believe and trust in you.”

Prayer develops our relationship with God so that me might be in tune with God’s work in our lives and all around us. Prayer gives God room to speak to us. Prayer can be just being honest with God and telling God about our day and what we are thinking about, even and especially, the not so good stuff. Prayer can also be giving thanks for hope and happiness in our lives. Prayer can be following along with the church’s assigned readings and thinking and meditating on how the readings connect to you and the world. Christ is with us and to acknowledge that through prayer can make room for God’s Spirit to work through us.

The work that began in the book of Acts continues today in us. God has extended the invitation and the opportunity to anyone who would take it. We just need to tune in. Every day, every meeting, every class, trip to the coffee shop, dinner with a friend, bike ride or hike, is an opportunity to pray and develop our relationship with God.  But, even if we don’t pray Christ is still with us and God’s Spirit is still at work. For this we say, “Thanks be to God.” Amen.

 

Wednesday Words, June 5, 2019

 

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Wednesday Words

June 5, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

 

Pentecost

“Christmas is stupid without Easter. Easter is pointless without Pentecost.”

 

My older sister Susie just posted the above photo of her three boys on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #boymom.  The photo is simultaneously hilarious, touching, and perfectly encapsulating of what I picture her life to be like (probably not far from the truth).

Her oldest, Ben, is grinning on the floor looking like he just got pinned in a 2 on 1 WrestleMania matchup.  Theo is on the left with his patented “Get-Out-Of-Trouble Smile.”  James, the youngest, is perched on top of Ben like a wolf about to devour his kill.  I love them all dearly.

It’s James who I was thinking about today: the baby of the trio.  Even before Susie had the third, we joked about James being the “forgotten child” (totally not true, but funny).  With two older brothers, we said, how much attention could be left for the third boy?

It reminds me a bit of Pentecost – the forgotten third celebration of the Church year. 

The seventh Sunday after Easter marks the third leg that Christian Holidays stand on: Pentecost.  Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be in the liturgical calendar of the church.  In reality, Pentecost pales in comparison to the festivities of its older two brothers (Christmas and Easter), so much so that it’s easy to forget how important it is.

Sometimes referred to as the church’s birthday, for Christians, Pentecost marks the day in the church calendar where the Holy Spirit descended upon the followers of Jesus in the form of tongues of fire.  In a way, it marks the day that we remember our sacred and holy calling to be the church together. 

I heard a quote this week from the Lit Liturgy Podcast that said, “Christmas is stupid without Easter.  Easter in pointless without Pentecost.”   That’s because Pentecost, the youngest brother holiday, is about the Spirit coming into the world to give life to God’s church and God’s people.

Without Pentecost, there is no church.  Without Pentecost the story of Easter and Christmas would have been lost to time.  It’s the Holy Spirit working among us that keeps faith alive, even two thousand years later. 

Thanks be to God!

Amen

 

Wednesday Words, May 29, 2019

Wednesday Word

Pr. Cathy Daharsh

Growing up I had a neighbor named Siska, who became blind as an adult. She lived right next door and I visited her often. She was like another grandmother to me. She told about the challenges she faced when she went blind and adapting to new ways of doing tasks that once were so easy. I’ll never forget when she told me of her greatest challenge.She said, “When I went to places where there were people, I had a feeling that nobody knew that I was there. I couldn’t see their response to my presence, I couldn’t see… and if nobody knew that I was there, it was hard for me to know where I was.”  Without seeing herself in the mirror of other people, it was hard for Siska to see who she genuinely was. In time she learned to overcome this challenge. She said that lots of prayer, patience, positive thinking, and supportive people helped her through.

In the reading from Acts this week, Paul and Silas give this gift of truly seeing the truth about someone first to the enslaved young woman who follows them around and then again to the jailer. That is a gift that we all want. We want to feel that we are completely understood so that now and then we can let our guard down and look out around us and not feel that we will be hurt when our defenses are down.

We all want the gift that Paul and Silas already know how to give. When we are given the gift of hearing and seeing who we are through others we can become our genuine selves. And, more importantly, when we embrace our genuine selves, it is easier for us to acknowledge and embrace the genuine selves of our friends, family, and others. When we look at ourselves through others who have experienced some of the things we have, the walls that separate and divide us can disappear and we can become connected thought our authentic selves.

Paul and Silas share with the enslaved young woman the gift of who she really is, the gift we all long to receive from God. My prayer for you this week is that you can find places where you can let your defenses down and be authentically you, “you…exactly as you are.” Amen. 

Wednesday Words, May 22, 2019

Wednesday Words

May 22nd, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

 

Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

- John 14:27

 

At the Lutherdale board meeting last Saturday, I sat and listened to another board member tell a short story, written by Jon J. Muth, author of “Zen Shorts” during the devotional time.  It went like this:

There was once an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day, his horse ran away.  Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses. “Such good luck!” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the farmer.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg.

Again, the neighbors came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Such bad luck,” they said. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after that, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army to fight in a war.  Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. “Such good luck!” cried the neighbors.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

The story struck me in an odd way, and I’m not entirely sure why.  It didn’t answer any particular question I have, but it resonated with many stories of heartbreak and loss that I’ve heard recently.  Maybe it will for you too.

I first thought of Rachel Held Evans – a name you might have heard of in recent weeks, even if you hadn’t heard of her before.  She was a popular Christian author, theologian and thinker, who recently died at the young age of 39 from complications to a routine medical procedure.  She left behind her two children and husband, along with thousands of people who had been positively influenced by her words (myself included). 

“Such bad luck.” You might say.  The Farmer would just say “Maybe.”  It’s not an answer to a question (like “why do bad things happen?”) as much as it is a way to process information differently. 

Maybe.  “Maybe” is another way of saying, “I don’t know, but maybe something good could come from it.”  It reminds me a bit of our words from Jesus today, who is telling his followers some bad news.  He was leaving them – a foreshadowing of the cross.  But in the wake of his departure, maybe something good might come.  God sent the Advocate – the Holy Spirit – to fill the void, and maybe that’s just what the world needed.

Maybe something hard is going on in your life.  Maybe not.  But our faith is about following a God who can take a thing as sad as death and bring new life out of it.   Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Wednesday Words, May 15, 2019

Wednesday Word

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

This Sunday is a special day where we will hear the stories of Mary and Martha, and Lazarus and Jesus told by our children and youth during our 9 & 10:45 am services. Ruth Ann Poppen, our Director of Worship and Music, with the assistance of Mike Bagby and others have practiced weekly as they learn stories from the Bible through drama and music.

Last week I got a sneak preview of their practice and I was in awe of the talented students we have in our congregation. I am grateful for all the extra time and effort Ruth Ann has put into this program which I believe strengthens our student’s faith and understanding of the Bible. This musical is a chance for our students to share their gifts, talents, leadership, and faith. It’s also a chance for us to learn and be inspired by God working through our children and youth as they share with us the Good News of Jesus Christ. You don’t want to miss it! Here’s a synopsis of the musical:

Forward by Tom Long and Allen Pote 

The stories of Mary and Martha in the gospel deal with issues that are instantly recognizable – family conflict, making time for Jesus in the midst of hectic lives, and trusting God when things get tough.  Any parent who has taken a long car ride with children in the back seat knows that the first issue is universal. Likewise, anyone today who goes to work, attends school, or watches the news has wrestled with the other two.  

 A long time ago, Jesus had a close circle of friends who came to believe he was “the Resurrection and the Life.” Today, it’s still possible to be one of those friends.  

Please join us this Sunday as we too have come to believe that Jesus is “the Resurrection and the Life.” Wherever you are in your life, I believe that coming together as a community of faith on a Sunday morning is an opportunity for us to renew our faith and to reminder that Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, transforms us.  Through the waters of our baptism we have a place to “begin again” from the challenges, burdens, and regrets that weigh us down.

Blessings to you this week! I hope to see you on Sunday!!

Peace,

Pr Cathy

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