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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

Wednesday Words, May 8, 2019

Wednesday Word

Pastor Cathy Daharsh

We live in a time that more than ever needs us to pay attention to one another and to be engaged. On the surface, many people seem to be put together and happy, but sadly many people feel isolated, different and disconnected even in our church. People are needing a chance to begin again. “Begin Again” is our theme for this time after Easter as we read through the book of Acts until the end of June. Our theme is about second chances and “always being made new” as God works in our lives to transform us and to bring us hope.

In this week’s reading from Acts, we learn about a disciple called Tabitha who was devoted to good works and acts of charity in her community. She had become ill and died, and the apostle Peter is called to come to Tabitha’s home. When Peter is there he kneels down to pray, and God works through Peter to bring new life to Tabitha and her community.  She is given a chance to begin again.  

In the last 9 days, our congregation had 5 funerals. We continue to hold the family and friends of Lois Dinzole, Elaine Kohn, Raymond Wenk, Virginia Nordlof, and Kim Schneider in our prayers. In the midst of grief, I saw hope and strength in our community. I heard words of resurrection and new life as congregation members and staff members came together and supported each other in the belief of eternal life through Jesus Christ. During this time congregation members have initiated conversations about forming support groups for those who are grieving, not only from someone dying in their lives, but grieving losses of other kinds like separation or divorce, moving to a new community, losing a job, etc. I am hopeful these groups will start in the fall. This is a great example of our theme, “Begin Again.” Just when life seems unbearable and hopeless, God finds ways for us to begin again. Amen. 

Wednesday Words, May 1, 2019

Wednesday Words – Blue Ribbons

May 1, 2019

Pastor Paul Cannon

Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."

Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.”

John 21:17

 

I’ve seen a lot of Blue Ribbons tied around trees, stop signs, and light poles around town.  Maybe you have too.  Most of you already know that they are up in honor and memory of AJ Freund, the boy whom we have all tragically come to know over the last few weeks.  One yard that I pass on my way each day is literally covered in those blue ribbons and signs.  It’s all been a heart-breaking response to a story we didn’t want to hear.

The effect on the town has been profound.  At the end of our youth group the other night, we did highs, lows and something to pray for as we always do. When one of the high schoolers spoke up and said their prayer was for AJ, Pastor Sarah paused and gave a thoughtful response.

She said, “You know, God has AJ.  We don’t need to pray for him anymore.  He’s with God now.  But there are a lot of people around this situation who still need our prayers.”  The comment made everybody think a little deeper.  One person offered that we should pray for the first responders who found AJ. Another said we ought to pray for the close family and friends who were grieving. 

Indeed.  God has AJ now.  Perhaps the blue ribbons can be a reminder for us, that we ought to care for one another just as much as a reminder of who we lost.

At the end of the gospel story this week, Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?”  Peter says “Of course!  You know that I love you.”  And each time, Jesus tells him “Feed my sheep.” 

It’s a puzzling response, but it reminds me of Pastor Sarah’s words in some ways.  It’s as if Jesus was saying “I’m with God now.  You don’t have to worry about me.  But there are a lot of people who need tending to.”  We show our love by caring for one another, feeding Jesus’ sheep.

How do we tend to God’s flock?  Who do we pray for when we see those blue ribbons? Perhaps Jesus words to Peter are for us today. Perhaps our prayers ought to be for social workers and family, medical staff and police, lawmakers and neighbors, that something like this doesn’t happen to the next child. 

Perhaps they can be a reminder to us to feed God’s sheep.  Amen

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