Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. (Ps. 104:30)
Sunday is the Festival of Pentecost. Originally a Jewish festival of thanksgiving for God’s gift of the Law to God’s people at Sinai; it became for the Christian community the occasion for the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the day we celebrate as Christ’s people who are called together in baptism to be created and re-created in relationship to God, to one another and to all creation.
The Spirit (the breath of God creating order out of chaos and bringing life to humankind) connects us to this creative love and gives us life in the here and now. God continues to breathe life into the world. We witness this creative activity in nature and in human ingenuity and innovation. The breath of God inspires (breathes into us) the power to love and serve our neighbor, and to care for God’s world.
This weekend is also Memorial Day Weekend where we remember those who have served our nation and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave up their breath so that others might breathe free.
The Holy Spirit’s gift of life and new creation is coming among us as we ready ourselves to call a new pastoral leader. A leader who has been called by the Holy Spirit to a positon of public leadership in Christ’s church and a leader who has been lifted up by the Holy Spirit through the congregation council to the people of God in this place.
The Spirit is blowing to bring creation and re-creation among us as we choose this leader through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to equip and lead the people of God in this place so that we might reflect Christ in message and actions in our daily life.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Posted on May 20, 2015 6:30 AM
God has gone up with a shout. (Ps. 47:5)
Tomorrow is the Festival of the Ascension. Ascension Day occurs 40 days after Easter and 10 days before the Festival of Pentecost (50 days after Easter).
Although Ascension Day is not widely celebrated with official worship in many Lutheran circles, it does mark a significant transition in the life of the church and in Jesus ministry.
Over the past 40 days we have seen and heard of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples and in the readings from Acts we have witnessed the growth of the church.
In the story of the ascension Jesus now puts his ministry into the hands of the disciples and they are charged with returning to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit.
We, too, are waiting for our transition time to end as we prepare for the calling of a new pastoral leader for Bethany. We are waiting for the Holy Spirit to lift up a leader among us, and to guide us in the selection of this leader.
Jesus’ ascension assures us that Christ is with us in every time and every place. He has gone up with a shout so that we might know that he guides us in our daily lives and as a community of faith leads us in mission to reflect him in words and actions.
We are the current day disciples charged with Jesus ministry of sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ in our families, community and world.
Posted on May 13, 2015 6:30 AM
Shout to the Lord, all you lands. (Psalm 98:4)
May is a month filled with shouts of joy. Joy for Mother’s on Mother’s Day. Many are joyful for their sons and daughters who are graduating. The graduates are joyful for having completed their course of study. Many graduates are joyful as they move on to their chosen field of endeavor and others as they continue their education.
Joy brings smiles, tears and shouts. Joy is demonstrated when we persevere and overcome tough obstacles. Joy is often accompanied with shouts, and songs, music and dancing. We see this most clearly as we celebrate at weddings.
Our Psalm today is a hymn of celebration. It shows the earth celebrating the Lord’s wonderful deeds and God’s great mercy. The Psalmist even points to the earth itself celebrating by rivers clapping their hands, hills ringing out with joy, and the sea roaring.
The joy of all the lands and the people in it is brought about by God’s constant love and faithfulness to us and the whole creation. The springing up of trees, plants and all growing things brings joy to our hearts. It is the very presence of God that brings joy to our lives.
St. Teresa of Avila put it this way, “Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God.” So, even in the midst of struggle and hardship we have joy (may be not happiness), but joy in God’s ever present love and faithfulness.
Posted on May 06, 2015 6:30 AM
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD. (Psalm 22:27)
I have been remembering my grandfather lately. It may be because this month would have been his birthday, or it may be because there has been so much in the news lately about the relationship between the police and various communities.
You see, my grandfather was a police officer. After serving in WWI as an MP he joined the St. Louis Police Department and served for 37 years until mandatory retirement at 65. He was a patrolman, a dispatcher, a driver for a sergeant, and ended his career as a detective in the Identification Bureau, the predecessor to CSI.
So, as we investigate Psalm 22 we remember that the last time we heard this Psalm was at the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday liturgy. The words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” are the most memorable parts of the Psalm. Jesus was most likely quoting this Psalm from the cross. `Jesus and the Psalmist have a lot in common and at various times we share that question with them.
When we see conflict nationally and internationally; when we see natural disasters locally and globally leaving communities destroyed and untold numbers dead we may join with the Psalmist and Jesus.
However, when we move to the last part of the Psalm we hear the words of hope. The hope that comes to us as individuals and as communities – “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD.” What will be remembered? The Psalmist reminds us that “the poor shall eat and be satisfied…the dominion belongs to the LORD who rules over the nations.”
In short God is in charge. We are so tempted to forget it. I’m sure that as Jesus went through the recitation of this Psalm on the cross he held on to this truth – that God is in charge. Our source of faith is the risen Christ who trusted God’s promises to reign over all the earth – in life and in death; in joy and sorrow; in times of anxiety and certainty – God is in Charge and his intention is what is best for us, because God is love.
Posted on April 29, 2015 6:15 AM
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Psalm 23:1)
The fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday. The psalm for this day is one of the most treasured and memorable of all Psalms.
Yet, in our 21st century world I think that we recoil at the idea of being sheep. We think of sheep as being dumb and easily led astray. We view ourselves as the opposite of sheep – smart, independent, self-willed. So, we also recoil at the idea that we need a shepherd.
In displaying those human traits of independence and self-will, my daughter when she was little (around 3) would often say, “I want, what I want, when I want it.” She certainly did not see herself being herded around. She was gong her own way; wanting to do her own thing.
We too do not want to be dependent – like sheep, and yet like sheep we do need a shepherd. This could be why this Psalm brings so much comfort in times of trial. When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we fear no evil for the shepherd is there walking with us through those times of trouble.
The Lord is our shepherd even though we never get everything we want; we never want for anything needful. We rest in his care and we are refreshed by the waters of our baptism.
We have goodness and mercy for all of our lives and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. We know the risen Lord’s voice and we trust in his leading. It is good to be a sheep with a shepherd like that to care for us and lead us as individuals and as a community of faith.
Posted on April 22, 2015 7:15 AM