Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day #115

April 25, 2014

The gospel reading for Sunday is about Thomas (a.k.a. Doubting Thomas) and his plea to see the risen Lord for himself before he will believe. It’s the same text the Sunday after Easter every year. The same text. So, you might think, it would be stale by now.

But it isn’t. After all, the gospel never grows old or wears out. Every day there is some new way God is revealed through Jesus. So the word that stands out in John 20.19-31 for me this year is peace - specifically Jesus’ offering, peace be with you. Why, you may wonder? It comes from a conversation I had with a friend this week about a conversation they had had with someone else. I just want to be happy, was the plea from this “third” person.

So as my friend and I were talking, we asked, but what is happiness? We both agreed, after some discussion, that happiness is having peace. The definition of peace, after all, is: freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility; mental calm; serenity. Isn’t that beautiful? To be in that state of mind is happiness! Truly.

And so when Jesus offers peace, as he does to the disciples and to us, through his giving of his life, death and resurrection, what joy is ours. No matter where life takes us, we can have peace. Not of our own making, but as a gift from the one who loves us beyond measure. The one whose grace saves us. The only one truly able to give peace.

See - life and faith connecting! Amen, let it be so.


Day #114

April 24, 2014

Grateful. That is the word for today.

After 220 weeks (ok, it was only 2), the Internet at the church is back up and working. It is a small thing, being without connection, or at least it should be, but oh how we/I have become dependent on it. Being connected to the outside world by way of the World Wide Web is important, somewhat necessary. Even being able to email the staff is basically essential because it sure makes life a lot easier.

So if you heard a great big shout of “WOO HOO” today, it was from the church office. We’re baaaccck!


Day #113

April 23, 2014

There is a saying I read somewhere that harboring anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Anger kills. It kills relationships, it kills joy, it kills peace, it sometimes even kills people. Anger is a horrible, venomous thing.

Certainly, there is plenty is this world to be angry about. People do horrendous things to one another for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes anger is justified, but more often than not, holding onto anger really hurts me so much more than it ever even bothers you. Often we may not even know we have angered (or hurt or judged) someone else (see the post from April 22nd), so they are walking around fine and dandy and we are the ones suffering.

There is someone I meet with who is harboring anger. It’s pitiful to watch their face and difficult to listen to their words as they talk about the wrongs done to them. While there is some legitimacy to their feeling as they do, they are the ones suffering so deeply. Their face is drawn, their body even bent with anger. And they have pushed away others not even connected to the events out of frustration. They can almost talk about nothing else, they are so consumed.

Believe me, I know it is difficult to forgive, especially when we perceive the other is not the least bit remorseful; when they act as if they have done nothing wrong. Truth is, they may not feel they have erred. But to watch what anger can do to the one holding on to it is painful. Oh, if we could only deeply understand we all are guilty (see Matthew 7.1-5) and forgive the other so that we can move on in joy.


Day #112

April 22, 2014

My father used to have this saying - before you open your mouth, engage your brain. In other words, think before you speak. It’s good advice I try to follow. But when I am tired or stressed, my filter button seems to automatically shut off and I am prone to speak first and not even think about it later.

Someone joked with me the other day (Good Friday - so, yes, I was tired). They said something that I actually thought was funny as they were picking on me, so I quipped back in what should have been an appropriately joking manner. But it turned out that my reply was neither funny or in a joking manner - at least not to them. Therefore, while the person went away upset and with their feelings hurt, I never thought about it again.

The amazing thing, however, was what happened today - several days later. This saint thinks enough of our Christian relationship to come and speak to me about the event. I was honored. Truly. That I could have the opportunity to apologize, to explain that I was not serious (after all, I couldn’t even remember what I said), and that I would do my best to not let it happen again was such an honor.

What a truly amazing person who would come to me and talk about things. Not talk behind my back, not let the moment simmer in their heart and mind until it boiled over somewhere else or at some other time, not just walk away and never speak to me again, but actually come to me. It’s such a biblical, Christian thing to do. Jesus instructed his followers to do just that when there were disputes among folks and relationships needed restoring (see Matthew 18.15-17). But so many of us (me included) would rather do almost anything but come and talk to THE person.

So thank you for your example, your trust, and your love by honoring me in this way. I truly am sorry for speaking without thinking, but I am so very grateful for you that you came to me. Our relationship is restored from my perspective, and for that I am so thankful!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day #111

April 21, 2014

I joined with friends and colleagues in taking today off. Sweet rest. Time with Doug. A routine doctor’s appointment and a visit with an old friend and business associate - it all made for a very good day.

And in the end, some of the very best sherbet ever made. Bar none! We discovered this last week, and we wonder where it has been all our lives. Cheerwine flavored sherbet. The PERFECT blend of sweet and tart, with a texture that is amazing. I’ve often thought that ice cream, sherbet, etc, was a true gift from God. But this stuff, well, it’s absolutely heavenly. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it sure is good, good, good!!
Sometimes the Daily Intersection is just sitting back at the end of the day and saying - yes! Life is good!


PS - and then there is the holy ground I sometimes walk with folks whose heart is broken. At least it feels like it is broken when there is nothing anyone can do to repair the damage of relationship with someone. But to be invited to listen and receive the pain is an honor. My prayers for a dear friend who is suffering so. God be merciful.

Day #110

April 20, 2014

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

What joy! What happiness! What a crowd! What fellowship! What thankfulness! There is nothing more exciting than Easter!! And with fear and joy they ran to tell the disciples the good news, Jesus is risen!

Is there fear as we gather? Certainly. Will there be enough breakfast for everyone and will it be ready on time? Will I make a mistake in the service (I did, but all ended up ok)? Will the plan for the music during the sermon be effective (taps and reveille) - or a dud? Will we do justice in honoring and glorifying God?

Is there joy as we gather? Absolutely!!! It was a glorious worship service. The pews were full. The music was wonderful. The service went well. The floral cross a beautiful contrast to the stark of Good Friday - the celebration of a new beginning.
 All was good - including the food afterward.

Time for a nap? It just might be. :-)


Day #109

April 19, 2014

Every year I learn a little more about self-care and congregation care. Today should have been a day of rest and preparation for the most amazing day of the year. Yet, we ran errands upon errands. Think I’ll remember not to do that next year? Let’s hope so!

As far as congregation care goes, what a joy to have so many dedicated folks care for things. Flowers being arranged, treat bags being packed, lights being put up, floral cross being made ready, altar being prepared and brass being polished. And probably other things I never even realized were happening. It was a busy day all around as folks made ready for the Resurrection of our Lord.

I am tired, but I am thankful! And Sunday is a-coming!


Day #108

April 18, 2014

The Three Days of Worship continues. First was a worship service at a local congregation with the Fred T. Foard Seniors. This is an annual event, with a sandwich and dessert lunch to follow. The pastor who hosted did a wonderful job in planning worship.

Then the Tennebrae (service of darkness) at the “home” congregation on Friday evening. The account adapted from the Gospel of John read with candles being snuffed out as we go through the events, along with prayer and song. A young man from the congregation brought in the cross at the end of the service. He did an excellent job of showing respect and honor. As the cross was put into its place, and the lights were dimmed, a spot light came up on this rugged cross with the crown of thorns. Quite a moving ending to worship.

As I stood in the darkness and contemplated the cross, the phrase, “I am not worthy” kept running through my mind. No, I am not worthy, but God loves me enough to shower me with grace and mercy, through Christ. Amen - what joy divine!!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Day #107

April 17, 2014

The Great Three Days (Triduum) of 2014 has begun. It was a disappointing Maundy Thursday worship due to numbers in attendance, but it was wonderful. I am always moved by the stripping of the altar, the carrying out of the Christ Candle, the darkness, and the silence of worshipers as they leave.

Where I serve, we focus on Jesus’ giving of the new covenant through His Body and Blood in the bread and wine. I am so thankful for Holy Communion - for its assurance of Christ’s love for us, for the forgiveness of sin and sins, for the knowledge that no matter what else happens in worship, this is the essence of its gift and purpose. This and baptism, Christ’s sacraments for us.

So as we heard the words tonight; the body of Christ given for you, the blood of Christ shed for you; what Jesus allowed to happen brings new meaning. The body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthen us and keep us in His grace. Amen and Amen. Depart in peace.


Day #106

April 16, 2014

It wasn’t long after I arrived that one of the members of the church became a shut-in. She fell, broke a bone and was never quite able to live by herself afterward. But from the time I met her, she has said she is ready to “go home,” she’s ready to meet Jesus, and often asks why she is still here, not in a hateful way, but in a “I’m surprised I lived this long” kind of way. I suppose if I was in her shoes I might feel the same.

I visited this sweet woman today. Again she said, I’m ready to meet Jesus. Then she looked at me with a twinkle, but a hint of seriousness, and said, “why don’t you just shoot me and get it over with?” Well, I told her, I really don’t want to do that. I really can’t do that. But, I tell you what, how about I shoot you with a hug, and I leaned in and gave her one.

It made her smile. Thankfully. Then we celebrated Holy Communion. She loves for me to bring her communion, for she has strong faith and she’s just ready to be with her Lord. You know, I can’t really blame her. Often my prayer is, Lord, have mercy and be merciful to her! Even though I certainly would/will miss her!


Day #105

April 15, 2014

There are joys and there are challenges. Guess that summarizes ecumenism to a tee. For several years I have served on what is known as the Lutheran Moravian Coordinating Committee. It is only one of such committees that formed out of formal ecumenical partnerships that the ELCA church has agreed to and documented. We are in full-communion partner relationship with the United Methodist Church, Reformed Church, UCC, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Moravian, and have an agreement for service with the AME Zion. These formal relationships carry many advantages - shared clergy and shared mission being a couple. It does not mean the churches have merged, yet have agreed there is more in common than what keeps us apart in regard to understanding of Holy Communion and Baptism. So, for example, clergy from one of these denominations can serve in either of the others.

Ecumenism became an interest of mine when I was in seminary and took my first class on the subject. It is my belief, as of many, that Christ never meant for the church to be fractured in so many ways. While I believe there is great value in being part of a formal denomination - accountability, collegiality, shared understanding and work, being some of them - there is also faithfulness to the gospel in being connected to people of other denominations. It can also be full of joy and challenge as folks try to understand each other’s polity and find ways to work together in meaningful service. 

It also happens that sometimes I am in agreement more with those of other denominations than those within my own. This can happen in the work of the Lutheran Moravian Coordinating Committee. We share ideas, lift up places where joint ministry is happening, encourage it in additional places, etc.

Needless to say, I have colleagues in other denominations that I am thankful for on a daily basis. And some who I consider to be close friends. So Rachel (who serves in two of these denominations), Patty, Kathryn, Tracy, Kelly, Tammie, Kingsley, Bob, Chris, Bobby, and Tony, I am especially thankful today for our relationships in the ministry of our Lord and Savior.


PS. This is on my mind and heart today because we are preparing to have an annual meeting of the LMCC committee in May. It’s coming quickly and there is still much to do. Whew!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day #104

April 14, 2014

The doorbell rang today while I was at the office. A woman we were able to assist recently stopped to ask if we could provide some specific food for her. Her husband is out of work and life is really tough right now. She was embarrassed, but I reminded her that we all need some help sometimes.

It reminded me of a really rough time in my own life. One of the hardest things about it was that everyone seemed to know about our business, and our need. What privacy we like to think we keep can be, and usually is, lost when times are tough.

It made me wonder: how can we help others have more dignity in their time of need? What might be a better way for folks to let us know of their needs? When we need help, do we have to just put aside our insecurity and self-reliance and ask? Just a few things to consider on this Holy Monday.


Day #103

April 13, 2014

It’s such a great time - Coffee and Conversation on Sunday mornings during the Sunday School Hour. It’s a place where any topic of conversation is welcome and no question is too silly or simple.

Today we talked about Holy Week. Why does the day we celebrate Easter change every year? It has to do with the moon, no less. Easter is celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. Why is Palm Sunday always near Easter? Jesus entered Jerusalem for the final time to celebrate the Passover on the first day of the week - Sunday - and was met by a crowd waving “palm” branches, throwing their cloaks on the ground in his path, and shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna means save or help me, I pray. The people in that crowd hailed Jesus as the Messiah and had great hope with his coming to Jerusalem.

Then we talked about the other events of the week. How the crowd’s attitude would change. How Jesus would celebrate the Passover with his disciples, then be handed over to be put on trial, and quickly crucified. It is quite the week, and we are ready to journey through it with Jesus once again.

What a sacred honor! And what a joy to talk about it with others who so want to learn and have their faith deepened!


Day #102

April 12, 2014

We had the annual Easter Egg Hunt today. It was a time of joy, as two-thirds of the children there were from the neighborhood, but not members of the congregation. YEA!!

Even though I celebrate that, the intersection today actually comes from the way one of the children made me smile in such an honest way. This adorable little girl was very excited to tell me that her family had just gotten her several baby chicks and two baby ducks (imagine two little fingers being held up to me). Then, in her adorable three-year-old voice, she told me I could come see the babies, and I could even hold them. But, she warned with a most serious face, you can’t squeeze them, ‘cause if you do...they poop.

Now, what do you say to that?!


Day #101

April 11, 2014

There was something significant from yesterday that I did not mention because I wanted to celebrate the 100th entry. So here it is: the phone rang yesterday afternoon and a dear friend wanted to ask about ways to help introduce Jesus to someone that is searching and struggling with their faith. What an honor, not only for my friend, but for me, too. It brought back memories of my life before 1980, when I really was searching and struggling myself, except I barely realized it.

There is a conversation I distinctly remember from around 1975 that I had with someone who was trying to help me see the need for Jesus in my life. She was trying to explain that not only did I commit sins, but that I was in bondage TO sin. That there was sort of a cavern between God and me that only Jesus could cross. Honestly, that made no sense to me at the time. But when she talked about my sins, I was quick to inform her that I had not done any of those “top ten.” No murder, no adultery, no coveting - whatever that is, I thought. She tried, God love her, to help me understand, but I went away more confused and stubborn toward God than ever.

However, in hindsight, I know that conversation was a seed planting, even though for quite a while after it I just ran harder from anyone who suggested anything about God, faith, salvation, etc. to me. Until I met someone who was Lutheran, who introduced to me to their pastor, and who invited me to a worship service. It was there I heard about a word I never before remembered hearing - grace. The rest, as they say, is history and every day I am thankful.

You know, I imagine that woman prayed for me (I know I do for those who struggle, as I am for my friend’s someone), and probably wonders at times whatever happened to me. Wouldn’t she be surprised?! Because truth is, God happened to me. Thank you, Almighty God, for the witness of a woman I barely remember, whose name is long forgotten, but who tried to be faithful to your love and grace by sharing them with me. Amen.


Day #100

April 10, 2014

Today is the 100th blog of The Daily Intersection. Happy one hundred days of paying closer attention to ways in which faith and life intersect.

As was quoted on Day #91, being a Christian is a way of life. That includes every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. This experience of watching for ways God is evident in that way of life has made it more interesting, along with deepening my faith. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the next 100+.

However, the interesting thing is how “secret” this blog has been. There has not been any “advertising” done by me; no links to other media outlets. I think I have been hesitant because I wasn’t sure anyone else would find my ramblings interesting (and maybe a little nervous about putting my thoughts "out there").

Well, maybe no one will find this interesting or pertinent, but that will be ok, too. After all, this blog is really dedicated to our godson, so that hopefully one day he will be able to look back and see ways I experienced God with me every day - and also know that every day our prayers are with him and for him.

So, if you happen to drop in, let me know. It would be my honor to hear your experiences of The Daily Intersection, too.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day #99

April 9, 2014

I used to think I was a good communicator. I believed I could say what I meant and people would understand that I meant what I said. But no longer do I think that I have that gift. Well, at least not as much as I once did.

As a person who preaches, I find that often what I think I said is not what people heard. Or it didn’t come across out loud like it was sounding in my head. And you never know what it will be that people latch onto. But, can’t we all be guilty of hearing what we want to hear or picking up only parts of what someone is saying?

This past Sunday I thought I was communicating hope and a positive message. But when nothing was said about the sermon as people left, I wondered if the words had fallen flat. In the message, I felt God had given me the perfect example to use, but evidently it didn’t work out that way.

The rest of the day I was bummed. Did I say it wrong? Did the words not convey what it was meant for them to? Had I just completely messed up God’s message about the dry bones living again?

Fast forward to Tuesday’s Bible Study and a ray of hope. Someone mentioned the sermon Sunday in connection to the lesson for the day and several said how good they thought it was (maybe it just took some time to sink in). Anyway, I was so taken aback that I didn’t think to ask what was good about it; I just took the positive affirmation and said thank you. Then I mentioned how difficult the last few days had been with different happenings at the church. I said I was struggling, but still smiling, and that I hoped I wouldn’t lose my cool at some point. Out of the blue, someone quoted something to me from a sermon given at the first of this year. The Sunday before Epiphany, I borrowed an idea from Pastor David Lose and prepared copies of a prayer for folks to say every morning. The prayer was:

How quickly her quoting that prayer made my day turn around. And how encouraged I was that maybe I can still be effective with my communication skills. It certainly was a reminder that the words spoken on Sunday morning are really God’s words and that God uses them to reach people in ways I can never imagine - or control. Thanks be to God!


P.S. Thank you to blogger "From the Strawberry Patch" for taking the photo of the paper and blogging about it yourself in January!