Friday, November 30, 2018

Day #1794

November 29, 2018

The November WELCA study in the Gather magazine called “Turn, turn, turn: A time for faithful repentance” by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni includes these two thoughtful paragraphs I felt a need to share and to ponder deeper:
The words of Ecclesiastes [3:1-15] (and the 1965 song by the Byrds) remind us, “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season…and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Life is rich, fragile, complex, limited, heartbreaking and beautiful, and all the seasons and situations of our lives do keep turning. We need a faith that fits the realities of the ever-turning world and human existence. We don’t need a God who gives us the grace our repentance earns, but who freely gives us the grace we need to repent in the first place and turn back to God. We need Jesus, who entered into the holy mess of human life to redirect it into God’s reign of love, justice, mercy and peace.  
This God is the one to whom people have turned (and turned, and turned) in every generation, the one to whom we can always humbly and boldly repent and return. This God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13). This God is the heartbeat of the body of Christ in whom we all find a place. This God is the one who creates in us a clean heart and a renewed spirit. And this God is the risen Christ who holds our past, present and future together in the promise that all our turns will always, in the end, lead us to grace.

Day #1793

November 28, 2018

It’s Wednesday! And two comments today by our youth made me smile:
  1. At the end of the High School Youth gathering, one said, “If we could just do this every day.” I agree (if we could do so just a tad later in the morning - haha). 
  2. At the end of confirmation, another one said, “You mean it’s already over?” I took that to mean the time had been fun (and I’m hoping we learned something, too).
Wednesdays almost always make me smile - some weeks bigger than others. :-)


Day #1792

November 27, 2018 

One of the most precious and “holy ground” times I spend with folks as pastor is when we are planning for a funeral/memorial service for a loved one. It is an honor to be invited to walk with folks in this time, helping with making decisions, hearing stories about the deceased, learning about their lives and loves. 

When this happens, I am always reminded of how much easier this time can be when the deceased has made preparations ahead of their death. Decisions about scripture, music, and all the funeral plans (including burial/cremation desires) are made so much easier for the family when there is no question of what their loved one desired. So may I encourage us all to let those we love know what we hope for in our last days and in our death. It is a loving thing to do!


Day #1791

November 26, 2018

A prayer for this week:
Almighty God, as we near the season of Advent, preparing for the coming of Christ, may we wait with hope and work toward peace in our lives, community, and the world. Watch over our preparations and help our goals be life-giving and encouraging. Amen.

Day #1790

November 25, 2018

This Christ the King Sunday, we focused on what God’s Kingdom really looks like. How it’s different from the kingdoms of earth that fight and battle for control and importance. In God’s Kingdom, there is servanthood, caring, loving, forgiving, and giving. Just look at who is our true king!

So when I asked the kids what is something they would do if they were king and they answered in ways that show care for others, I was grateful! These kids are sooo awesome!


Day #1789

November 24, 2018 

On the heels of the “day” of Thanksgiving, this suggestion from Michelle Terry in the devotion d365 seems fitting:
Today, take a few minutes to write a “thank you” letter to God for all the great things God has done for you. Perhaps as you do, you will find yourself filled with joy. 
What would your letter to God include? 


Day #1788

November 23, 2018 

Saw this on FaceBook and it resonated with me. 

I enjoy putting puzzles together and have had the experience of a piece being missing from a box. But even with a piece missing, the puzzle can still be put together. The “picture” doesn’t seem quite complete, but it still works. 

Sometimes when we lose someone from our lives, whether by a broken relationship, through death, or through some other way, we feel a "piece" is missing. Our lives seem broken and unable to “work.” The good news is, however, God sees the big picture. God knows how to put the pieces together again, even guiding us to a change in the picture that we couldn’t see before, with new pieces that do “fit.” 

Thank you, God, for the pieces of our lives. Help us trust you to make certain all can and do fit as are needed.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Day #1787

November 22, 2018 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

There are so many things to be thankful for - a day set aside to focus on giving thanks, family and friends from near and far who keep in touch, excellent food, a worthwhile calling, and so many more. Most importantly, however, is the love, mercy and relationship our creator God provides for us through the life, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and being guided by the wisdom and comforter of the Holy Spirit. 

Prayers for you this Thanksgiving and every day! May you know that the love of God is with you, always. 


Day #1786

November 21, 2018

Tonight was the annual Joint Worship service for Thanksgiving. Several congregations came together to worship and give thanks, sing, pray, and enjoy a time of fellowship. 

There is much to be thankful for in this community and among these fellow Christians. And as we were reminded that being a Christian is not just about us individually, it is in coming together, working together and serving others together where I believe we find one of our greatest reasons to give thanks.


Day #1785

November 20, 2018 

I thought about my parents today. This would have been their 59th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary!  

Guess dad was nervous?! Maybe they both were - not really all smiles, are they? Oh well, I'm thankful they met and married, otherwise I may not have been here. 


Monday, November 19, 2018

Day #1784

November 19, 2018

A prayer for this week:
Almighty God, everything we have and everything we are comes from you. Accept our gratitude for loving us, creating us, and bringing us into relationship with you and one another. Give us hearts and hands that eagerly show our appreciation. Help us celebrate thanksgiving not only this week, but every day. Amen. 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Day #1783

November 18, 2018 

Another wonderful day of worship, with an addition. Today we celebrated God’s Work, Our Hands. A way for the “church” to practice going and serving. There were folks in other places who didn’t get in the picture, but these are a few of those hard at work, helping make a difference for others. 

We truly are blessed to be a blessing!


Day #1782

November 17, 2018

From one audience to another - today’s was Youth Orchestra. More amazing talent! It was wonderful to see so many of our “kids,” too! So proud of them all!!


Day #1781

November 16, 2018 

The word for the day - thankful. For some needed rest. And for an invitation to a youth’s play. Such talent! It was a joy to be among those in the audience! 


Day #1780

November 15, 2018

I saw this on FaceBook and it spoke to me. Perhaps you will find it helpful, also. I am blessed that others overlook so many of the mistakes I make. May I be as kind and accepting of the mistakes of others, too!


PS Edited 11-19-18 with a hopefully clearer image. Too important to miss because it's blurry. 

Day #1779

November 14, 2018 

As I mentioned to several folks, today marks four years since we blew into town to begin a new adventure in a new place. Four years seems like a long time ago, yet it also seems like just yesterday. I am thankful for these past four years, the folks who have come into my life and enriched it in so many ways, and I look forward to the years ahead. Thank you for welcoming me, trusting me, working with me, teaching me, laughing with me, challenging me, crying with me, and encouraging me! 


Day #1778

November 13, 2018 

The word for the day - thankful. For colleagues who gather to study, to struggle together in understanding scripture, to laugh with one another, and mostly to support one another. It is good to have such faithful co-workers in this odd and wondrous calling.


Day #1777

November 12, 2018

A prayer for the week:
Almighty God, as you call your people to love one another and serve others, we are reminded of the sacrifice so many make in order to do your work. Veterans and active service personnel, police, firefighters, and so many more seem to disregard their own safety to put others first. Watch over all those in harm’s way and, one day, bring an end to war. Amen. 

Day #1776

November 11, 2018

What a wonderful day - celebrating the blessing of those items in Day #1775 and a lunch special to help fund special ministries for our Human Concerns committee. Certainly a day to celebrate the freedom to worship - to live our lives - on the day we remember to show appreciation for all Veterans. Thank you for your service, your commitment and your lives of giving.


Day #1775

November 10, 2018 

Food sorting:

Quilts on the pews (sorry for the bad picture):

And school and care packets at the altar:

All ready to be blessed tomorrow and sent out. Thank you to all who contributed doesn’t seem to be enough. Just know you are making a difference in people’s lives!


Day #1774

November 9, 2018 

At the end of the day, several meals of vegetable beef soup are in the freezer. And the house smells soooo good! This happens once a year, and today was the day. Yum!


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Day #1773

November 8, 2018

I had a striking example today of how NOT to be welcoming. After making a lovely visit in someone’s home at a multi-family complex, I came out to my car to find this taped to the window:

No signs in the parking lot advised me I was in the wrong spot. No numbers on the individual spots told me not to park there. No visitor parking signs at certain spaces or indicators there were none available. Was I frustrated? Oh, yes! When I called management to tell them so, they patiently explained parking has been a problem there for more than a decade. Really?! Why aren’t there signs? Well, no one has ever called to ask before. What!?!? Oh, well. Guess I learned my lesson. And hopefully how NOT to make someone else feel. 


Day #1772

November 7, 2018 

We had snow again today and the roads at “0 dark o’clock” were a little slippery. Well, more than a little. So as I drove around, doing the things I do on Wednesdays, I could hear my mother’s voice in my head - WHAT ARE YOU THINKING OUT DRIVING IN THIS STUFF?!?! YOU BETTER BE CAREFUL!!!

And yes, she’d be raising her voice. She worried mightily about me driving in snow, or rain, and I had to smile thinking she would be having a fit. Why the smile? Knowing she worried because she loved me. Miss you, momma!


Day #1771

November 6, 2018 

As we sat around the table and read and prayed and discussed, I think the common sentiment was…what in the world does this Gospel reading mean for us today?!?! Sometimes it is like that, trying to second guess what Jesus means for us to learn today. I take comfort, however, in the fact that the disciples who were with him day and night, face to face, struggled in a similar way. 

Come, Holy Spirit, and guide us! I also take comfort in knowing the Spirit will!! Amen! 


Monday, November 5, 2018

Day #1770

November 5, 2018

A prayer for this week:
Almighty God, as Americans head to the polls for elections, we pray for your guidance to make informed and wise decisions. We pray for political leaders, community leaders, and church leaders - all leaders - that there would be mercy in their decisions and a servant attitude in their actions. Give us wisdom in electing all our leaders. Amen.

Day #1769

November 4, 2018 

Comforting worship as we remembered and gave thanks for the saints of the past, the present, and the future. 

What are all those candles for, Pastor? A young saint of the present presented a great question for the opening of the Children’s Message. Thanksgiving for folks who have been a part of our lives and who we miss, I said.

Wish I had thought to say, what are those candles for? Love! 


Day #1768

November 3, 2018 

In preparing for worship for All Saints, I’m thinking about something Father Jim said at the Memorial Service for Cindy:
One can’t explain to humans what heaven is like any easer than one can explain to an unborn infant what earth is like.
That’s a perspective that is helpful in thinking about all the saints resting in the arms of God. What’s it really like? We won’t know until we know, but faith tells me it will be grand!


Day #1767

November 2, 2018

Something to think about from the WELCA Blog:
African American theologian Howard Thurman (1899-1981) suggests that true prayer has very little to do with bringing something external to pass; rather, it has to do with the relationship between God and those who pray. “The essence of prayer is that God answers the pray-er, which is far more important than answering a thousand prayers,” Thurman says. Thurman’s insight suggests that God’s answer to prayer—whether or not a particular petition is granted—is akin to God saying, “I see you. I love you. I am with you. No matter what.” This message is an excerpt from “Closer to God” by Audrey  West in the July/August 2018 issue of “Gather” magazine.

Day #1766

November 1, 2018 

On this All Saints Day, I give thanks for the saints in my life, past and present, who fill or have filled my life with joy, challenge, education, mentoring, love, acceptance, and family. I miss those who have gone before me - parents, grandparents, uncles, friends, parishioners, colleagues. And I cherish those still present - family, friends, parishioners, and fellow colleagues in ministry. Life truly is relationship to be celebrated!


Day #1765

October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween from the hottest dog around. :-)

And his mustard sidekick:

Day #1764

October 30, 2018 

As I sat with colleagues, the subject of lamenting airline travel turned to pet relief stations in the airport. (See Day #1752 for my comments concerning so many dogs.) Turns out one of my colleagues took the picture I missed of the "pet relief station": 

Yep, gotta love that care for all of God’s creatures does exist! 


Day #1763

October 29, 2018 

The prayer for today, this week, and always:
Almighty God, you are God of love. God of relationship. God of forgiveness. Teach your children, all of us, how to be more like you. Give us strength to forgive. Give us desire to be in relationship with you and with others, especially those we most distrust or dislike. Give us a measure of your capacity for love. For we know and experience all too often that the antithesis of love leads to fear, violence, and death. We desire for love to conquer the fear, violence and death. We trust you to help us have that love for one another, all around the world. Lord, have mercy. Amen. 

Day #1762

October 28, 2018

Quite the busy day - remembering the Reformation in worship with special music, being blessed by another pastor sharing the message - thank you!! - and the first camp counselor youth event of the season. Busy, and faith-filling. The youth are awesome - and so are the counselors! 


Day #1761

October 27, 2018

This prayer from the devotion d365 seems important to share in light of the recent shootings in Pittsburgh and after attending a Memorial Service for a pastoral colleague: 
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.” from Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner (1973)

Day #1760

October 26, 2018

When a former confirmation student texts just to say they’re learning about Luther today in school, it brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart! Not only do I see this as a “win” for remembering a topic from confirmation, but a “huge win” in remembering relationship is important and I'm available!!!

Then an informative day of learning and discussing the particulars surrounding the election/calling of a new bishop for our synod next June. This is an important step for our synod and the church. So, it’s time to be thinking and praying! June will be here quickly!