Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day #1208

April 22, 2017

Thought this was appropriate to share on Earth Day. It is from the WELCA Blog and “is an excerpt of “This Earth Day” by Venice R. Williams in the April 2017 issue of Gather magazine:
You and I were born in the  middle of someone else’s story. When we wiggled our way into the world, our mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandparents, maybe even our older siblings, were already living out the narratives of their lives. 
The Earth, too, has a story. Each generation of humanity is born into an emerging tale involving rivers and rain, soil and stone, climate and clouds, ozone and oceans. Just as we were formed in the water of our mothers’ wombs, the Earth, also, was sired and shaped in the stirrings of God’s Spirit. 
We must continue to ask ourselves: What is the Earth story we are crafting for the generations who will follow us? For the children just born or yet to be born?As we celebrate Earth Day today, I pray we will renew our relationships with the Earth and with all of creation. Let’s think deeply about the story we are fashioning for the generations of children of God to come.

Day #1207

April 21, 2017 

Two items for the day, the first being from the last day of the retreat. The speaker quoted someone I did not catch, but the gist was, “Adjust the agenda to what is actually happening,” as a way to reduce stress. Good advice - things never quite seem to go as planned and not getting bent out of shape is helpful.

The second was an invitation to a fun evening to socialize and meet new folks. Not sure that was what we were up for at the end of a long day and drive, but am glad we “adjusted the agenda” and attended. 


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day #1206

April 20, 2017 

Once again one of the speakers for the retreat challenged us. She reminded us that the tagline for the ELCA is God’s work! Our Hands! But what does it mean? Could it be that the work our hands have to do is the work God did in Jesus Christ - obedient service?! Are our hands ready for that kind of work? Do our hands also hold scars of serving others? Shouldn’t they? 


Day #1205

April 19, 2017 

I mentioned Aunt Ginny’s death on Day #1202. Here is a picture of her the last day we saw her.

In typical Ginny style, she snatched the hat off my husband's head and put it on her own, just grinning. (See Day #243 for more)  She still had that hat, as far as we know. I hope so.

Sadly we are unable to return for her viewing or funeral service. Our hearts are certainly there, but, dear Simon, so was your momma. We cannot thank your momma enough for going in our stead to give hugs and the assurance of our thoughts and prayers. I am so grateful for this great big family of God that is there when blood relatives can’t always be.


Day #1204

April 18, 2017

Continuing the theme of Hope - here’s a thought delivered by the speaker today at the retreat: “What if the darkness isn’t a tomb, but a womb?” What if what seems the end really is only the beginning. What if there is something more to come we cannot even begin to imagine. Yes, what if?! Well, that’s Easter!

And a little levity: only in Montana would you be instructed to stop for road construction in the middle of nowhere. 

Know that we dutifully stopped - it was a traffic light, after all. Soon a pilot car arrived and we were on our way. But you just have to smile, don't you?!


Day #1203

April 17, 2017

On this Mystical Monday, we consider Jesus as Hope. His death and resurrection is what changes everything from what seems like the finality of death to the hopefulness of new life. In him is hope “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5.5) And the Holy Spirit was given to us by the one through whom we have hope, Jesus Christ, after he was ascended. 

It is this hope that sustains me when things go wrong or go against what I desire. It is not over - there is always new life in Christ. Thanks be to God for hope in the risen Christ!


Day #1202

April 16, 2017

What a glorious Easter Sunday! Music, worshippers, children, the Good News!! What a joy and honor to worship the Lord.

And for Aunt Ginny, today was her homecoming. After many years of declining health, Ginny's fulfillment of her baptism happened early Easter morning. So it was fitting to read this in the WELCA Blog, Daily Grace, by Jenna Pulkowski:
Everything that I know about God’s love and grace has helped me to see death in an old age as a beautiful experience. Death is where our baptismal promises are  completed because in baptism we are joined to Christ through his death and resurrection. When we die, we belong to the resurrection. For all of us who have lost loved  ones,  we hold onto these baptismal promises. We know they aren’t a magic potion to make us feel better about death, but the hope our very lives is built upon. 
That is the great Good News, that because Jesus lives, we can live, too. And die, too, with hope and promise! Thanks be to God that Christ is Risen! Indeed that news is even more precious today. We love you, Aunt Ginny!


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Day #1201

April 15, 2017

As the day began on Holy Saturday (the in-between from Good Friday until the joy of the celebration of Easter resurrection) there were moments for silence, reflection, and final preparations. I am thankful for those.

However, I am even more thankful for a surprise phone call. While this blog was begun in honor of our Godson, Simon, many years before we even knew his parents, we stood at the baptism of another baby and promised to pray for him and help guide his life of faith. He’s now a freshman in college, soon finishing up his first year. But it hasn’t been an easy time for him or his family the last couple of months. His younger brother recently died from injuries sustained in a severe fall. During this tragedy, his family often spoke publicly about their faith. But today we had opportunity to speak with Sam directly when we received the phone call from him. We talked about how he and his family are doing, what he’s up to in school and life, and even shared a chuckle or two. It was wonderful to hear his voice and good to hear that his faith is helping sustain him and his family. I hope he knows, as does Simon, that our love and prayers continue. And know this for certain, neither of you are ever too old to be our Godsons!


Day #1200

April 14, 2017 

And on Good Friday, it is worship x 2. The events of this day can never be remembered or experienced too often, I believe, as we hear once again through the Gospel of John about Jesus being pulled from one direction to another, beaten, stripped, humiliated and crucified. 

As the words of the song, “Were you there?” invite us to consider: “sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble, were you there when they crucified my Lord.” All for us! 

Thank you, Jesus! I praise you and I am grateful for your love and grace.


Day #1199

April 13, 2017 

Maundy Thursday and the great Three Days of worship begins. Even though the unsettling events of the rest of the week loom largely as we journey with Jesus to the cross, there is joy in hearing that it was all done “for you.” 

It is my hope that this step in the life of faith for these two youth who celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time tonight, brings them much assurance of Jesus’ love and forgiveness - all the days of their lives. 


Day #1198

April 12, 2017

When I read this from Kathryn Schifferdecker, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in the daily devotion, God Pause, about Hebrews 12:1-3, it spoke strongly to me as we prepare for Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday. Kathryn writes:
I have never been much of an athlete, but I have always loved the imagery of this passage: a track and field stadium, an Olympic-size stadium, the stands all around the track filled to overflowing with the "great cloud of witnesses." And in that great cloud of witnesses are those saints we have loved--for me, Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Herbert and Aunt Viola, Dad--along with the people of faith listed in the previous chapter--Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, Rahab and countless others who through the centuries have lived by faith. 
And we? We are the ones running the race, cheered on by those in the stands, those we have loved and those we have never met. Sometimes we run through tears, sometimes we only manage to walk, but we persevere, looking to Jesus, "who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God." 
As you run the race this Holy Week, follow the example of Jesus. Keep on keeping on. And know that you are surrounded by the communion of saints, the great cloud of witnesses, who are cheering you on. 
The saints I think about are: Grandma, Mom, Granny, Mike, Nellie Ruth, Jack, Bo, Nina, and all those I have loved and served with that I trust are at rest with Jesus. Their memories are close by me as I go through life and I often hear their voices in my head. How eternally thankful I am for their witness, encouragement, and love! And I cannot also forget the saints that are still with me. That list is too long to name, but I am grateful for each one!

And what a gift to join with them all, past, present and future, around the table of the Lord. Yes, they are there - each and every one.


Day #1197

April 11, 2017

As several colleagues gathered to plan last minute details for the noon Good Friday Worship Service, the comment was made: "in the planning is the truth of the season." In the details of focusing on the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Good Friday, which will be experienced that day, is the truth of what Jesus endured. The pain, the humiliation, the betrayal. All for you and me. 

Humbling....and amazing!


Day #1196

April 10, 2017 

On this Monday, it seems appropriate to consider who Jesus is as the obedient one. Obedient to his mission. Obedient to his love of humanity. Obedient to stay focused in the midst of those who wanted to destroy all he came to do. 

So thankful for what God does for us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus!


Day #1195

April 9, 2017

With the celebration of Palm Sunday and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, Holy Week begins. What better way to remember his journey than talking about it while baking bread with the two who will receive Holy Communion for their first time on Maundy Thursday. Great questions. Great conversation. Great joy in preparing for this feast from Jesus. 

And then, a bit of wisdom from Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on NCIS: “When you lose everything, you make a choice where to go from there.” We do have choices, no matter what life sends our way. We can let what happened define our future or we can go through it, looking ahead. These words were a good reminder that hope springs eternal. Actually, that’s what this Holy Week is all about - new beginnings coming forth from what seemed hopeless.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Day #1194

April 8, 2017 

“Walk in the Light” was the theme for this year’s Women of the ELCA brunch hosted by Miriam’s Circle. It was a lovely time of good food, good fellowship, good location and good speakers. Thank you to all who worked hard to plan, prepare and execute a wonderful event.


Day #1193

April 7, 2017

The word for the day - thankful! For a little down time with the hubby before the frenzy of Holy Week, I give thanks!


Day #1192

April 6, 2017

What is there to do on 4/06 but celebrate Montana! Well, at least one of us did by spending the day fishing and enjoying the scenery from the Missouri River. 

As quoted by him - “I had a GREAT day!”

Okay, I admit I’m a tad jealous, but happy for him the day went well! 


Day #1191

April 5, 2017 

With the final Wednesday Lenten soup supper and worship service complete comes the reminder that Holy Week is nearly upon us. Easter is coming. 

Oh, the celebration will be glorious once again, I trust. But what an important time this has been to remember, turn and focus once again on trusting Jesus through his life and death. 


Day #1190

April 4, 2017

From “Daily Grace,” the Women of the ELCA daily blog, these words about doubt:
Doubt goes with us on our journey. Often, it doesn’t leave us even when we get to Easter. But doubt isn’t strong enough to keep Jesus in the grave. Jesus is risen, even though those closest to him denied him, doubted him and locked their doors. Even if we lock our doors, Jesus shows up. And he doesn’t just show up. He lets us, with Thomas (the Doubter), feel how his wounds connect with our pain and doubt. This message is an excerpt of “A geography of hope” by Elizabeth Hunter in the April 2017 issue of Gather magazine.
Thankfully doubt is not the opposite of belief. That is not my statement, but I am thankful for its truth and hope. For those moments when belief seems far away, I am grateful that God can handle our doubts and that Jesus shows up whether we ask or not, whether we doubt or not, whether we trust or not. 

Thank you, God, for helping me with my doubt and loving me in the midst of it.


Day #1189

April 3, 2017 

Monday - and Jesus’ mystery as revealed in the Gospel of John with his “I am” statements. “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48) is but one example. 

I was reminded of Jesus’ “I am” assurances by Marissa Galván-Valle who wrote these words in the devotion “d365” on March 30: 
John’s Gospel is full of “I am” sayings. These sayings seek to give us the certainty that Jesus is the son of God. Every time Jesus says, “I AM,” it is an affirmation of his identity and an assurance of what he can do and give.
Who is this Jesus? He is...


Day #1188

April 2, 2017

What a wonderful way to spend a part of Sunday - discussing the sacrament of Baptism in class and later talking with several folks about possibly becoming members of the congregation. Baptism - the sacrament that assures inclusion in the family of God. Membership - belonging with a certain group of people who are a part of the family of God and become like a human family through worshipping and serving together. 

Both of these have meant more to me than I can say in my adult life. I am thankful for the invitation that led to being baptized. I am grateful for the people I have met, known, loved and mourned through being a part of several congregations. 

I cannot imagine my life without either - or without being a disciple of Christ. And how wonderful to be a part of helping others receive the same. I am humbled.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Day #1187

April 1, 2017

Happy April Fool’s Day!! Did you get tricked? Did you trick someone else? Suppose a little harmless fun is just as good a way to start the month as any. :-)


Day #1186

March 31, 2017 

The FISH Food Ministry of Great Falls held their 17th annual Loaves and Fishes fundraising dinner and silent auction at the congregation where I serve. This ministry is comprised of over one dozen congregations of different denominations who come together to distribute food to the hungry. Many hard-working folks put in lots of hours preparing food, gathering items to be sold, doing set-up and clean-up, and tirelessly greeting folks, all to raise funds to keep the ministry viable and helping others. 

What a privilege to witness the dedication and determination of these folks! And to know their work means others will have needed food makes it even more special