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Wednesday Words - July 27, 2016

Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. ~Luke 12:15
 
Before I entered seminary our family lived a very comfortable life in a large home where deer enjoyed passing through our land. We had more bedrooms than we needed and it was possible to not bump into each other while we were at home together. When my family and I moved to seminary we gave away more than half of our things so that we could fit into our very modest duplex that was less than half the size of the home we were leaving behind. What we discovered is that a big house with lots of “toys” was getting in the way of our relationship together. We learned that we really didn’t need all things we had and that we really didn’t miss them when they were gone. We grew closer as a family with less stuff and more ways to bump into each other.
 
In the gospel reading this week from Luke, Jesus uses another parable to discuss greed and how greed can get in the way of relationship with God and with one another. In the parable the rich man is “me” focused.  The parable says:
 
And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample good laid up for many years; relax, eat, and drink be merry.” ~Luke 12:17-19 (NRSV)
 
The issue is not that this man is rich. The issue is what this man does with his wealth and where he finds his worth and value. This is distracting him from his relationship with God and from his relationship with community.
 
“Stuff” can get in the way of our relationship with God, with others, and with community. My hope and prayer for you on this day is that you know that you are enough. May you come to know and believe that your value and worth comes from being a beloved child of God. Be at peace and share the Good News!
 
In Christ,
Pastor Cathy

 

Wednesday Words - July 20, 2016

 “Lord teach us to pray…”

After worship on Sunday, I checked Facebook and my friend Michelle wrote, “When will the senseless violence stop?” with the words “feeling heartbroken” next to her name. I paused for a moment and wondered if she was referring to the shootings from the previous weeks. I came to find out that she was referring to yet another fatal shooting in Baton Rouge. I was at a loss of words. After some time in prayer and reflection I couldn’t help but think that we are on a long journey to make a change in this complicated situation. Praying for patience and persistence. 

On Monday, I was messaging back and forth with another friend Margie who lives in Baton Rouge. She said, “It is so sad, I live within walking distance of the shooting. It is a relatively quiet are normally. The speculation and confusion following the shooting added to the fear. Now it is heart breaking to think about these officer’s families and the very idea that someone from another state would take it on himself to bring violence to our area is sickening. But, through all this there is unity growing through the community. Praying for peace.”Yes, praying for peace. 

Prayer is central to the gospel reading this week. Jesus teaches the disciples words to pray and persistence in prayer. He teaches us to call to God to bring forgiveness, bread for all, and resistance of suffering so that God’s peace and justice may be known on earth. When we pray we come into a deeper relationship with God. Karl Barth says, “The purpose of prayer is not to bend the will of God but to bend my will towards God.”

As we live in God’s Spirit and build a deeper relationship in Christ through daily prayer, we are transformed into the people God has called us to be. We are a work in progress and transformation takes time, but I wholeheartedly believe that Christ is with us as we pray, connect, and engage in a world that Christ so loves. Amen. 

 

Wednesday Words - July 12, 2016

This summer is flying by!  It's only July and I've already been to Michigan, Confirmation Camp at Lutherdale and out to California.  In the next few weeks I'm back up to Lutherdale, and then I'll be leaving for Toronto for our Mission Trip.  There are so many things to do, and so many items on my summer To-Do-List that seem to be taking a permanent seat on the back-burner!

 

I'm distracted by life!  I'm too busy!  You know the feeling, right?  You have kids to take to soccer practice, band camp, and family vacation.  You You have dentist appointments to go to, work projects to finish, and yard work to do.  What happened to summer relaxation and fun?  What happened to your own to-do lists!  I bet you're getting less done than you planned as well!

 

Well, if you feel too distracted and too busy, this week, Jesus has a word for you too: Listen.

 
In the gospel this week, Jesus visits the home of two sisters: Mary and Martha.  While Martha finds herself caught up in the busyness of housework, Mary simply sits and Jesus feet and listens to him speak.  As we all might be, Martha is mad about this.  She's doing all the work while all Mary is doing is sitting at Jesus feet and listening.    
 
But when Martha complains to Jesus about her sister, Jesus tells her this, "You are distracted by many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part."
 
We are so distracted in this life that we too forget to listen.  We forget to center ourselves in the Word. We are too busy to pray.  We are too busy to worship.
 
Today, Jesus is calling you to listen.  Take the time to listen, because that is "the better part."  Before you allow yourself to be distracted by the to-do's, focus on what will give you life and fill you up.
 
Blessings,
 
Pr. Paul 

Wednesday Words - July 6, 2016

The “Good Samaritan” bible story is a very familiar scripture reading. The majority of people, churched or unchurched, recognize this story as a lesson of coming to help and to serve another person in need. But, is there more to the parable than the lesson, “Be helpful when you come across people in trouble.”?

            I think that this is a story for us to recognize that we are on a journey. This journey is a journey of peace and compassion in our life in Jesus. Jesus never says that this journey will be easy.

            The Samaritan on his journey is moved by the Spirit of God to help a man that is in need. The Samaritan grows in the Spirit of God as he helps a man that he would not normally have been seen with in public. The Samaritan seeing that the man is alive, pours oil to cleanse the wound and wine to dull the pain; he picks him up, takes him to an inn, and promises to return to resolve whatever he owed. This was a risky call to ministry on the Samaritan’s journey.

Reverend Fred Roger (aka Mr. Rodgers) knew a little something about neighbors and once said, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say "It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem."

Who are we being called by the Spirit of God to help? Who is it that we would never want to risk being seen with in public?

Today I thank God for those who hear the call of God to help others and who risk being seen with people they usually aren’t seen with. Amen.

In Christ,

Pastor Cathy

 

Wednesday Words - June 29, 2016

Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating, and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” ~ Luke 10:5-9 (NRSV)

Our reading this Sunday from the Gospel of Luke tells about seventy people being commissioned to go out and care for the people. They were called to be like evangelists. The word “evangelist” through the years has taken on some negative associations.

I think it is interesting and sometimes confusing to have the word “evangelical” as part of the description of our Lutheran denomination, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).  I also think that it is an opportunity for us as members of the ELCA to reclaim and share a new way of being an evangelist as we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. The message in the Gospel of Luke this Sunday calls us to bring peace, remain with people, build relationships, share meals together, cure people if they need to be cured, and above all preach that the Good New has come near to us. That does not seem too difficult. We are freed in Christ and in that freedom we do have the capacity to share the love of Christ with others. My hope and prayer for our ELCA church is that we continue to work at reflecting Christ in our message and our actions.

In Christ,

Pastor Cathy

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