Friday, December 5, 2008

An Invitation

Christmas can be a painful time for some. It may be the first Christmas without a loved family member who has recently died; it may be a time that has always been difficult.

The constant refrain on the radio and television, in shopping malls and churches, about the happiness of the season, about getting together with family and friends, reminds many people of what they have lost or have never had. The anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation - all these can make us feel very alone in the midst of the celebrating and spending. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know that we are not alone.

Our spirits sink, as the days grow shorter. We feel the darkness growing deeper around us. We need encouragement to live the days ahead of us.

For these reasons, St Timothy’s for the first time will offer a special “Blue Christmas” service on December 16, 2008 at 7:30 PM.

Come out, and join with us in sharing and hearing prayers, scripture, and music that acknowledge that God’s presence is for those who mourn, for those who struggle - and that God’s Word comes to shine light into our darkness. Everyone, regardless of church background (or lack of it) is welcome.

The short service will be followed by a brief time for light refreshments and fellowship.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is a national day to pause and give thanks for the numerous blessings which surround us. As I write this, my dog and cat are curled up nearby reminding me to say: Thank you God for the domestic animals who are wonderful companions.

My husband is working,
thank you God that Sean has a job.

The electricity is on, the water is running, and the heat is working
: Thank you God, that I live in a house with comfort controls.

I called my nephews, and heard a chipper 3 yr old screech in delight "Happy Thanksgiving, Aunt Kim" Thank you God for the gift of children and for keeping my nephews healthy and safe.

There is much to be thankful for in the midst of this economic down turn. We might not be able to do everything we desire, but for most we have what we need. May God give everyone their daily bread today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My New Tag Line

My favorite series of books are Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. At one point it explains the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has on the cover in big friendly letters,
Don't Panic.

Over the years I've realized that this is what scripture tells us.
Don't Panic
, God is in control.
Don't Panic, God is with you.
Don't Panic
, Christ has risen from the dead.

As the news media paints a more dire picture of the economic situation,
Don't Panic
. Be smart and relearn the age old custom of separating wants from needs. Using your local public library rather than buying books is another great way to save.

Don't Panic. Others have traveled this path with God. God has seen them through to the promised land, and will see us safely to the other side as well.

Last night, I put a sticker on the front of my bible:
"Don't Panic"

Monday, November 3, 2008

A prayer for the nation

Holy God, on this eve before the election: grant all who vote the wisdom to elect leaders who are filled with integrity, who will serve to represent the best interests of the public, and will strive to ensure that every person through out the world has daily bread. Amen

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Saved by...

Right now, Toyota is running an ad campaign which has the refrain from a 1980's song "Saved by Zero" by the Fixx. If you'd like to refresh your memory, you can check out Video "Saved by Zero"

The song portrays a young artist being pulled by two worlds. With a hope of being "Saved by Zero"

Our faith gives a much different and deeper hope. When you feel yourself getting tugged in all sorts of directions, be still and know God. It's an important skill to learn in our 24/7 fast paced do more with less society. Sometimes, you need to find a place of solitude, even if it is only for a few minutes. There are countless studies out there on how we are suffering from sleep deprivation. One study says it is more important to get to bed before midnight, so you sleep in natural darkness. (ask our parish nurse for the full details)

Make an appointment with God daily; write it on your calendar and honor it like any other appointment. During that time, pray simple prayers...Help Me! and Thank you! are perfect prayers. Try to be surrounded by silence, or natural sounds. While listening to the silence, the small voice of the Almighty Creator becomes more clear. Hear it remind you that we are not saved by zero. We are saved by Jesus, who died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day. We are saved by someone, very real, very human and very Divine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday's Word: Honorable

"think about what is honorable"

Once again, we find a word with a plethora of meanings.  For a complete run down, I invite you to click on this link:

What people or things in your life are worthy of you honoring?  A person?  A special event?

When we honor someone, we take time out to acknowledge all of the good things the individual has done.  There are days when I see nothing but bad stuff and it is easy to fall into a rut and assume that people are bad.  When I notice this mind set, I force myself to see the good things first.  I find that when I start by honoring someone, seeing them as a gift from God, my relationship improves.  Whether a little thing, or a big thing, to start with honoring values who they are as God's children.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul takes the pagan values, and tells Christians there is nothing wrong with these things.  In fact, he goes on to say Christ embodied these traits.  He thought about and did whatever was true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, things worthy of praise.  This is why Paul implores us to think about and do the same.

Word of the Day--True

There is an old computer saying:  garbage in, garbage out.  Meaning whatever we put in, is what we get in return.  This applies to our lives.

When we are filled with garbage, i.e. surrounded by fear filled pronouncements, smothered by pictures and words that debase and demean our fellow children of God or God's creation,  we become polluted and less able to function.

Paul in his letter to the Philippians, invites us to ponder things that clear out the mind of the pollution and remind us of God's rich mercy, love, and leadership.  You'll find this in chapter 4.  In verse 8, he hits upon a series of words and concepts to keep in the forefront of our minds.  Today, we'll think about "True"

In our post-modern world, we question everything and live as if there is nothing true.  We have become cynical; and so it is time to recapture the meaning of "Truth".  While the online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:  the quality or state of being accurate, we need to recall the older definitions:  steadfast, loyal, just.  These are words that accurately capture the majesty of God:  God is loyal, just, and steadfast.  Throughout scripture there are stories of God's involvement in situations to get things back on track.

Jesus promised, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."  We do not live in a vacuum; our relationship with God touches every area of our lives.  So, when the world seems spinning out of control, think about what is true:  God is true.    When the nightly news announces doom and destruction, think instead about how God is true; and pray for God's continued involvement in worldly affairs.  

This week, may God's true, faithful, peace be upon you.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr once remarked: "There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God. We have genuflected before the god of science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate.

We have worshiped the god of pleasure only to discover that thrills play out and sensations are short-lived.

We have bowed before the god of money only to learn that there are such things as love and friendship that money cannot buy....These transitory gods are not able to save or bring happiness to the human heart. Only God is able. It is faith in Him that we must rediscover."

460 years earlier, Martin Luther wrote in the Small Catechism, "We are to fear, love, and trust God above all else" as an explanation on how to keep the First Commandment. (Some people substitute "honor" for "fear" because they don't think we should be afraid of our merciful and loving God. I believe a little fear is healthy because it keeps us humble and reminds us to listen to God's commands.)

Both of these preachers implore us to fully rely on God, trusting the Almighty in times of fear and doubt. This week, each day I'll write some thoughts on the list Paul provides in Philippians 4:1-9 that encourage us to Rejoice in the Lord Always.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thoughts on Christ

When my dad broke his back in 1979, he and others on the orthopedic floor decided to have a klutz of the year competition to see who had come to the hospital via their own hand in the most foolish way. The winner, a gentleman who stepped back off the ladder to admire his work on the 2nd floor window trim.

This father could have joined them, if not for the quick thinking of his wife.

The following story tells of the willingness of a family to work together. The father was a chimney builder. He would stay at the high top of the chimney until the finishing touches were done by other workers. Then he would drop a rope that he used to let himself down. One day he made the crucial mistake of not keeping the end of the rope for himself. The young son raced to his mother and told her the problem, but what other than earnest agonizing prayer could she do? She knew that often you need to put feet on your prayers. She raced from the house, and yelled at her husband, high on the chimney of the house being built. Despite his experience he was bewildered and shaking dangerously with despair. "Unravel the worsted from your sock," she yelled to him. Both of them knew that the socks were made from one large thread of strong wool and that it could hold together. "Hold one end, and put some mortar on the other end to lower it," she called.

He did; the heavy worsted thread held. After lowering the thread they tied a heavier rope to it, and he pulled the heavy rope to himself. He secured the end and then was able to let himself down as was normally done, and he was safe in the arms of his wife.

Just as the thread held and lead to safety, so our Lord brings us to safety.

The hands of Christ, Seem very frail
For they were broken by a nail.
But only they reach heaven at last
Whom those frail, broken hands hold fast.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Power of Prayer

Back in July, I changed the prayer for Zimbabwe of our weekly prayer group. For nearly two months, we've been praying

We pray that the situation in Zimbabwe stabilizes and people are no longer threatened for being a part of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Once Zimbabwe was the bread basket for Africa, bless President Mugabe with your wisdom so he no longer fears losing power, but is motivated by a desire to do what is best for the people in his country so that Zimbabwe is once again a wonderful place to live.

Today, I read in the New York Times that President Mugabe is willing to divide up the power in Zimbabwe and is giving some power to his rivals. God has intervened in the situation, sent others to help negotiate the settlement, and once again Zimbabwe is filled with hope.

You can read the full article: Zimbabwe Rivals Sign Power-Sharing Agreement

I pray that this agreement will be honored by all people and is just the first of many steps the country takes on it's path back to being in harmony with all people and God's creation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Well, it's been awhile since I've written anything. One thing that has permeated my thoughts in the away time has been the importance of balance in our lives. We need a mix of fun, serious, relaxing, hard work, etc. in order to live.

Today though, my thoughts turn towards what is the proper balance between remembering the horror of Sept 11th, 2001 and the need to move from the shock, grief and pain to a new normal. My heart still grieves for those who lost their lives and for those still suffering from the nightmares of leaping over body parts as they fled the towers. We need to remember the significant event; but do we need to focus on the destruction? Do we need to focus on the day we figured out that as a nation we were sort of the emperor in the emperor's new clothes?

We do need a little focus on those parts of the day, but also to remember how quickly the nation responded to help. A few days after the event, I was in a state correctional facility to lead worship for medium security inmates. Those men were hurting, because they couldn't do anything tangible to help the victims.

Today, perhaps the balance is to remember the whole story. To grieve a little, rejoice a little, and ask God to intervene to bring us true peace and justice throughout the planet so that no one need remember a day like this again.

In Christ
Pastor Kim

Sunday, June 22, 2008

You're Already Dead

Jesus' comments in Matthew 10 are shocking and stunning. Add to them Romans 6 and you have a recipe for the Freedom of a Christian.

Jesus recognizes that things will not be easy. Followers of Christ will be picked on for standing against the crowd: whether being kind to the outcast or making the comfortable feel like they've been scrubbed with a brillo pad by holding up mirror to point out their short comings. Paul was living this message and in the future facing death.

In this clip from 12 O'Clock high, the new general states the truth about war; there is fighting and some may die.

If you worry about dying you are paralyzed by the worry; if you accept that death is normal you are free to make the best choices in any given circumstance. Paul reminds us in Romans 6, that we have died in our baptism and been raised to new life in Christ. The encouragement is to let the earthly worries and fears take a back seat to the joy and freedom of living to further the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

CONVO Rocked

What a privilege to be a part of the 2008 Lutheran Youth Organization CONVO and exploring God's call not as some job/vocation, but as daily living. It was a roller coaster ride that lasted for 5 days, and I loved it. Remembering that God calls me to be nice to the unusual person in line at the grocery store as well as to prepare Sunday sermons re-grounded me in the TRUTH. That Christ has risen, so we are free to take care of those in need. Why else would a high school senior wonder if she was "weird" for wanting to go to Africa to help?

If you know of someone who will be in 9-12 grades in June 2009, send 'em to CONVO!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Don't Worry...Seek the Kingdom

In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus reminds us "Don't worry, it doesn't add to living." Our savior goes on to remind us that God will take care of us, because God cares for the birds and flowers. It's tough not to worry, but through the Holy Spirit's infusion of faith we seek out God's kingdom and share the good news.

In the mid to late 1990s, "Touched by an Angel" did an episode with Wynonna Judd titled "Psalm 151". The story line is about a single mom whose son is dying of CF and her struggle to finish a hymn of praise she began on the day he was born. The completed song has a refrain I find inspiring and remind me of my call: "For as long as I shall live I will testify THE LOVE, and be a witness in the silence when words are not enough. With every step I take, I will give thanks to God above, for as long as I shall live, I will testify to love."

Below are some clips of the show I found on Youtube with some key elements of the show. It's a powerful witness that God provides in times of need.

Finishing the Song

The song is performed

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Famous Lutherans

Some may recall Adam Sandler's song about famous Jews in the world. Not to be out done, the Lutheran musical group, Lost and Found, has done a version check it out at this link:

And now for something completely different and totally silly Martin Luther does the Chicken Dance

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spirit Scale

Yesterday we celebrated Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:1-21, we hear how the Holy Spirit came like the sound of a rushing violent wind. I consider the Holy Spirit to be the Rodney Dangerfield portion of the triune God; it gets no respect. To help us recognize the powerful, peaceful Pneuma (Greek for spirit) in our life here is the spirit scale. It is a cousin to the Beaufort Wind Scale

Calm: we experience this when the Spirit leads us , equips us, and gives us peace. This is the gentle breath of Christ as he comes to his disciples and says “Peace be with you” Then he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

When the spirit scale reads “Calm” we are given a sense of peace, we know we belong to God. Amazingly, it is possible to experience spirit scale calm even though it seems that our lives are being pounded by hurricane force winds.

Strong Wind: The creative qualities of the Spirit lead to surprising improvements and dramatic new directions in our lives. This is when we say "Yes" and wonder how on earth we can accomplish what we just agreed to be a part of. The Bible is filled with images of this strong wind empowering individuals for specific tasks: the 70 elders helping Moses, Saul and David experienced the pushing power of the Spirit, Esther standing up to the King. Whenever we head into a situation where new directions, fresh opportunities and unlimited possibilities face us, we look to the Holy Spirit to empower us according to God’s will

Gale Force: Here we discover the power of God to break unhealthy patterns and to shake up the status quo. This is the student rejecting the "everybody's doing it argument" or when you decide to bring blankets and sandwiches to the homeless at midnight. It's when the addict decides it is time for recovery, or a neighborhood decides it's time to unify at look out for one another.

Hurricane: This is what hit Jerusalem on Pentecost around 2000 years ago and it turned the lives of the disciples upside down. They were reoriented from looking inward at themselves to looking outward toward a world in desperate need of the good news. They were transformed from timid fearful apostles to fearless evangelists…spreading the word to unfamiliar and unknown lands and peoples.

When a hurricane force Spirit-wind blows across the landscape of our lives nothing is ever the same the power of the Almighty God breaking down barriers of culture and language is a powerful sight. These Spirit Hurricanes reveal the power of the Almighty God filling and transforming the timid into powerful witnesses.

Whether it is a calm breeze, strong wind, gale or hurricane, the Holy Spirit constantly blows through our lives. One day it is providing order in the midst of chaos just as it did at creation. Another day it’s providing the courage to change the world making it better for all people still other days it’s blowing through our lives providing a sense of peace when we need it most.

May you feel the winds of the Spirit today and always.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Reader's Digest Condensed Sermon

Many people found comfort in my sermon yesterday. Here's more or less what I preached, the Holy Spirit has a way of revising my "script" on the fly while I'm in the pulpit. The Gospel text is John 14, which comes just before Judas betrays Jesus, but after the Last Supper. Also included is Psalm 68 vs 8-20; a song of praise to God which remembers how God delivered and saved the people.

Come and listen, all you who fear God
And I will tell you what the Almighty
Has done for me Psalm 66:16

In my family history
THursday, May 1 is a day to praise God and do a dance of joy
28 yrs ago on May 1
my dad came home from Magee rehabilitation hospital
after being institutionalized in 3 different hospitals
for a total of 23 weeks…
or 5 1/2 months November 79 to May 1980

For the first 12 weeks, he was hospitalized in NYC
And my mom stayed at her parent’s house
To take the bus ride to the hospital everyday
And be at dad’s bedside as doctors and nurses cared for him

My sister and I needed to attend
Elementary school, 70 miles south during the week
We were not orphaned during this time
Mom’s parents took care of us
Grandma and Pop-pop

The psalmist this morning in verses 9 and 10
speaks of God testing the religious community
I admit my dad’s paralysis has been trying
As a family, we have been through fire and water
The fire of infection racking his body
And the watery tears shed as we came to terms
With his physical limitations

Each family here this morning
knows something of facing trying times
the problems we face are widespread in our country
every week somewhere a family
Hears the diagnosis…cancer
Faces a life changing medical condition
Wonders how to pay the bills
Grieves the death of a friend
Aches with loneliness after losing a spouse
or faces problematic relationships with
Children or parents

For some these trying times
Can be viewed as
As a trap or snare that holds them captive
Like a horse that has been captured
And then trained
To wear a bit, bridle and saddle
The trying time is a heavy burden
Slowly wearing them down
Breaking your will
Forcing you to do something
To change direction and do things you’d rather avoid

Others see the trying times as a prison
Locking you in a tiny space
Isolating you from others
Limiting your ability to move
Making God seem super far way
As if god was unknown

And so we grope around
in the dark, dank prison looking for God
hoping that God is nearby
because we recall the scriptures
“In him we live and move and have our being”

Our God is not unknown
Our God is revealed daily through actions
Like love and forgiveness in a community
Which is reflecting the love God the father
has shown in God the Son

This morning we can acknowledge
we’ve made it through these trials
Because God has brought us
Out of the prison, snare or trap
To the wide open space

God has lead us out to
A place where we can look back
And acknowledge, yuck…that was a rough time
As well as look to the future and have hope
We have hope because of Christ’s promises
“Because I live, you will live also”

The first disciples didn’t understand Jesus
And his words preparing them for his death
“I will not leave you orphaned;
I am coming to you”

Jesus knows the challenges
we face in our lives
Jesus felt the tugs of temptation
And the pains of being human

Therefore Christ wanted to comfort his disciples
Remind them that he will return
And to reassure them that he would give them
What they needed to have in order
To continue the ministry he started
A ministry of love and faithfulness

Part of the way Christ provides for us is by
Inviting us to remember we worship a triune God
And how strong the ties
between God the Father and God the Son
especially how these bonds are discussed in John’s Gospel

The trials and challenges
We face in our lives
Require assistance to get through
Things like
Changing careers
Illness and injury
Arguments with family or friends
Addictions and divorce

Maybe you recall hearing about
Derek Redmond a young British runner,
one who had sky rocketed to fame
by shattering his country’s 400-meter record at age 19.
But then an Achilles tendon injury
forced him to withdraw from the 1988 Olympic Games

When the Summer Olympics arrived in Barcelona in 1992,
Derek Redmond was absolutely aching for a medal.
On the day of the 400-meter race,
65,000 fans streamed into the stadium,
anxious to witness one of sports’ most thrilling events.
High in the stands is Derek’s father, Jim,
a faithful witness to every one of his son’s world competitions.

The race begins and Derek breaks
through the pack to seize the lead.
Heading down the backstretch,
only 175 meters from the finish line,
Derek is a shoo-in to win this semifinal heat
and qualify for the Olympic finals.

But then Derek hears a pop.
It’s his right hamstring.
He pulls up lame, looking as if he has been shot.
His leg quivering,

Derek begins to hop on the other leg,
and then he slows down and falls to the track.
Medical personnel run toward him
as he sprawls on the ground, holding his right hamstring.

At the very same moment,
there is a stir at the top of the stands.
Jim Redmond, seeing his son in trouble,
begins to race down from the top row.

He has no right or credential or permission
to be on the track,
but all he can think about is getting to his son,

to help him up.
He is absolutely single-minded about this,
and isn’t going to be stopped by anyone.

On the track, Derek realizes that his dream
of an Olympic medal is gone.
He is alone.
The other runners streak across the finish line,
He is orphaned, as it were,

a lonely figure on the track, friendless, parentless and alone.

Tears pour down Derek’s face,
and all he can think is, “I don’t want to take a DNF.”
A Did-Not-Finish was not even part of his vocabulary.

When the medical crew arrives with a stretcher,
Derek tells them, “No, there’s no way I’m getting on that stretcher.
I’m going to finish my race.”
And so he lifts himself to his feet,
ever so slowly and carefully,
and he starts hobbling down the track.

Suddenly, the crowd realizes that Derek
isn’t dropping out of the race.
He isn’t limping off the track in defeat,
but is actually continuing on one leg,
in a fiercely determined effort to make it to the finish line.
One painful step at a time,

each one a little slower and more agonizing than the one before,
Derek limps onward, and the crowd begins to cheer for him.
The fans rise to their feet and their cries grow louder and louder,
building into a thundering roar.

At that moment, Jim Redmond
reaches the bottom of the stands, vaults over the railing,

dodges a security guard, and runs out to his son
with two security people running after him.

“That’s my son out there,”
he yells back at his pursuers, “and I’m going to help him.”

Jim reaches his son at the final curve,
about 120 meters from the finish line,
and wraps his arm around his waist.
“I’m here, son,” Jim says gently, hugging his boy.
“We’ll finish together.”

Together, arm in arm, father and son struggle
toward the finish line with 65,000 people cheering, clapping and crying.

Just a few steps from the end, with the crowd in an absolute frenzy,
Jim releases the grip he has on his son
so that Derek can cross the finish line by himself.

Derek faced a tough challenge that day in 1992
But he didn’t go through it alone
The fans in the stands and his father
Reached out to him, and helped him finish the race

Paul calls the life of discipleship a race
And so when you’ve metaphorically felt your hamstring tear
Recall the psalms
And how many of them describe God’s saving actions

Today we hear that God is the one “keeping our feet from slipping”
It is a phrase that I love

Because there are days
When it feels as if the rug
Has been yanked out from under our feet
And I love the idea of God
Placing our feet back underneath us
So we don’t land on our bumpters

But there are days when we do land
On our bumpters

Some days, the trial has gotten the better of us
We’ve made a poor decision
We uttered words we wish to take back
We feel despair and hope has left the building

And on these days…God the Son comes to us
Filled with guilt…we cry out Lord have mercy
Filled with grief…we cry out Lord save me

Before the words leave our lips
Christ is moving to us to bind up our wounds

This is what Jesus meant by promising
To send an advocate, a helper, and a comforter to be with us
Christ knew we needed help

for the challenges and trials we face
Christ knows we need someone
With us until the end of the race

Just as Derek needed his dad
To get close to the finish line

Blessed be God
Who has not rejected our prayers
Nor withheld divine steadfast love from us

Blessed be God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Who has seen us safely through
The trials of life and promises to bring us
To life everlasting.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Women need sisters

This came to me via eMail today, and I thought it was important to share with a wider community.

A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As they talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance upon her daughter.

'Don't forget your Sisters,' she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll be more important as you get older. No matter how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love the children you may have, you are still going to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with them.'

'Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women...Your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women always do.'

What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman thought. Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely my husband and the family we may start will be all I need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact with her Sisters and made more women friends each year. As the years tumbled by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that her Mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman, sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After more than 50 years of living in this world, here is what I've learned:


Time passes.
Life happens.
Distance separates.
Children grow up.
Jobs come and go.
Love waxes and wanes.
Men don't do what they're supposed to do.
Hearts break.
Parents die.
Colleagues forget favors.
Careers end.

Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away than needing her can reach. When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's' end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you....Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters, daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers,
Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and neither would I. When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still. Pass this on to all the women who help make your life meaningful.

Happy days!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tribute to Kevin Schultz

Shock, pure utter shock. On April 11, 2008, my friend and seminary classmate Kevin Schultz died of complications of pneumonia. Kevin was a creative genius, more secure in what God was calling him to do than the rest of us. He was called to be a lay leader, specializing in liturgy and stewardship. He had no calling to be an ordained pastor, and even though he had the skills to be an excellent parish pastor, he would look ya in the eye and say "Nope, I'm called to do this." Whenever I need a laugh, I recall the way he revised Daniel 3, the three men in the fiery furnace. His coaching allowed normally serious seminary students to let loose and talk in silly voices to play the different parts...including some as musical instruments.

So now I cling to the resurrection promise and pray for God to comfort Kevin's family by swirling in the empty void where he once stood; making them feel whole. Blessed are you O' God of Israel, you have come to your people to set them free. Indeed you have set us free from death, strengthen our faith and trust in the promise of Christ "I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me even though they die will live" Strengthen us in our trust so that this promise is sweet sugar to remove the bitter taste of grief. Amen

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stains on the Carpet

Back in December 1994, a buddy from the USAF proudly purchased a case of pears from a high school student trying to raise money for a class trip. He carefully brought the box home, and placed it in the corner of his room. Later in the evening, he tossed some clothes on top of the box, and then added the incoming Christmas presents. In two short days, he forgot all about the box of 48 pears.

Fast forward, it is now May 1995 and the pears have been sitting under a pile of clothes for 5 months. My buddy had been transfered to a new job at Cape Canaveral Air Station. While he started packing up his apartment, he noticed an unusual odor from the corner of his room. He moved the clothes and found...the box of pears. Much too his dismay, he learned that pears when rotting get rather juicy. The juice of the pears changed the light blue carpet into a swirling pattern of reddish brown, orange, and purple.

Nothing could remove the stain. Not Resolve, the Bissel spot lifter, even the professional carpet cleaner guy threw his hands in the air and said "It's a permanent stain, there is nothing a can do." So my buddy attempted to dye the carpet, no luck. The fibers wouldn't hold the new color.

Our daily sins are rotting pear juice. They stain our lives, and make us less than perfect. Yet unlike the carpet, there is something to remove our stain. The blood of Christ. In it we are washed clean and appear before God unblemished.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Life in Boxes

Two weeks ago, I closed on a house. After a few minor fixes, the process of moving began. It's amazing, humbling, and discouraging to see how much stuff I've been lugging around with me over the years.

I'm reminded on Matthew 19, when a young man asks Jesus, "What good deed must I do to get eternal life?" 16Then someone came to him and said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" 17And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20The young man said to him, "I have kept all these; what do I still lack?" 21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." 22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.

By the world's standards, I am rich: a solid floor, walls, roof, indoor plumbing, running water, appliances for cooking, a car, a house for my car (aka a garage) This passage from Matthew drives me to my knees in shame at what I have when others have so little. So I confess, and ask Jesus for help in making wise decisions that make the world a better place. Simple acts like donating clothes I haven't worn in years that are in good shape, fixing things rather than buying new are small steps of a bigger transformation.

This Easter Season and season after Pentecost, I'm learning more about simple living and striving to adopt their methods. Their slogan: Live Simply so others may simply live.

Monday, March 31, 2008

St John's Hudson, NY

Yesterday afternoon, I attended the closing of a congregation. After 140 years of service and witness in the community, the congregation was no longer able to sustain the building and ministry. As we sang the closing hymn, "Lift High the Cross", the acolyte and sexton with military precision began extinguishing the altar candles.

When he extinguished the last candle, he stood and bowed before the altar. When he turned to walk down the aisle, tears streamed down his face. At that moment, I too began weeping, along with several others who sat nearby.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied.

Jesus wept. Then the Jews said "See how he loved him!" But some of them said "Could not he who opened the blind man ave kept this man from dying?"
John 11:33-35

Holy God, for 140 years St John's in Hudson, NY proclaimed your mercy and love to their community and world. During this time of grieving and questioning, surround all the members with your loving peace that they will trust that you are with them always. From this sorrow of the congregation closing, bring forth a new and vibrant ministry to care for the people of Hudson, NY just as you created the St Paul's Center in Rensselaer. In Jesus name, Amen.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Easter Means to Me

A few years back, tragedy struck the communities I served as pastor. A vibrant, dynamic 14 yr old boy was killed in an ATV vs. pick-up truck accident. I struggled how to make the connection for the youth on how our faith had a message of hope in the dark times. I sort of mumbled to one teen, Jesus kicked Death's butt. He grinned and the idea of capturing that visually has stuck with me. At first, I tried talking a skilled banner maker into creating one for me. Lorna always politely declined the idea and went with far superior Easter banners.

Even still, I never gave up on the idea. During Holy Week, I reconnected with my friend, Dr Draw, and Bill took the idea and ran with it for me. Enjoy this short cartoon

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stealing from neighbors

I could not believe that people truly thought the listing on Craigslist (free internet want ads) was true. Are we so desperate for stuff that we would go and do such a thing here in NY?
Martin Luther has some words for us in the explanation to the 7th commandment, "Thou shall not steal"

We are to fear and love God, so that we will neither take our neighbors' money or property, nor acquire it by fraud or by selling them poorly made products, but will help them improve and protect their property and career.

What would you do if you saw a crowd of people coming up to your neighbor's house and carrying off household goods?

Me, I'd call the police and go confront the people. May the Lord show us a better way to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Friday, March 21, 2008


From 1996 to 1999 I was a member of Peace Lutheran Church in Lompoc, CA. A small church with devoted and faithful members, I started checking out one family's web page for Bill's cartoons blended with his wife, Lynn's, poetry or words.

I haven't thought of Dr. Draw in a while, but on a whim this morning, went to God tube to see if Bill had ever shared on the site. Sure enough, I found this

During this Holy Week, may you feel contacted to the whole body of Christ. For in Christ, we are one.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The answer

If you haven't seen the quick cartoon from yesterday, please take a look at that first. Easter on the Net -- offers this origin of the Easter Bunny and Eggs

While the Easter Bunny is a wonderful symbol of the free gifts of God in Christ, we also need to remember the reason for the joyful celebration: Christ is Risen from the dead! He lives!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A good question

Come back to find out the answer

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy Week terms explained

What does Maundy Thursday mean?
Maundy means " command" in Latin and on Maundy Thursday we remember the new commands Christ gave us: the command to love one another, the command to remember him in the simple meal of bread and wine known as Holy Communion, and the command to serve others as he serves us.

Why is it called Good Friday?
It is a good day for us; the day Christ took our punishment. This week is not only Christ's Passion story, it is our story of being saved.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A week that starts with H and has four letters

Yup, it's Holy Week! (Seriously, what else would it be?)

This week is a time of remembering the final days of Jesus. We journey from cheering and praising Jesus on Palm Sunday, to the confusion and fear on Maundy Thursday and then cry "Crucify Him" on Good Friday. Then the waiting begins, the sense of lose, the realization that his death was for me, for my family, for my friends, for the whole world. There is a feeling of despair on Good Friday (named for our good, not Christ's).

Then the roller coaster turns up, the elaborate joy on Easter morning is indescribable. You have to experience it. Hollywood is made the resurrection a thing of zombies; but we Christians know better. The resurrection of the body is eternal life with God and Christ where we sit around the great banquet table, and realize the promise of Revelation 21 has become true:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." 5And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.

This is not a scary vision; it is a hope filled promise. One that gives each believer energy and hope in the darkest of times.

God is good, all the time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Problem vs My Pleasure

I've noticed a trend. Whenever, someone does something nice for me and I say thank you, the response is "No problem."

I'm wondering what happened to the older phrases, "You're welcome" or "my pleasure." I've realized that when I say "No Problem" to someone, it is actually implying...ya know, I was doing something else but since this wasn't a big deal, I did it for ya.

I've decided that I'm repenting of my "no problem" answer, and going to phrases the convey something more positive. If I help someone, it is my pleasure to do it, because I have been given the gifts and skills to do that task.

I can't picture Jesus saying "no problem" as he hung on the cross. But I can hear him say "You're welcome" whenever I'm on my knees saying Thank you God for forgiving my sins.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Book of the Month II

I mentioned previously that I'm ready Nehemiah this month.  A verse of chapter 6 keeps entering my life as a refrain.  "They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, 'Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.'  But I prayed, 'Now strengthen my hands.'"  (Nehemiah 6:9)

Nehemiah was facing opposition in trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the people of Israel returned from captivity in Babylon.  Different leaders of nearby tribes floated rumors and the like to thwart his leadership 

So much around the world is scary and seems to say you won't make it.  There is a vibe that your work in the world will not succeed and the constant onslaught wears you down.  

Remember, you are called by Christ to be light to the world.  You have a mission and a purpose.  Be Christ to your neighbor, share the love of God in your actions and words.

Nehemiah was called by God for a mission.  His success reminds me that when God is involved, and God's plans cannot be thwarted because as Dr Martin Luther King eloquently stated, "the arc of the universe bends towards justice".

When feeling ground down, pray "Strengthen me God for the mission you've given me."

Go, let your light shine so that others may see your faith in action and give God praise.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Behavior Conversion

"First you make your habits, then your habits make you." Coach Suzanne Murphy, my senior year lacrosse coach in college.

The gospel text in John 4:4-42 totally changed me in 1999. Sean Burke, a TA I admired and respected at seminary, had just come out to me. I was stunned, shocked and not really sure what I said as we ended a chat after worship. What I do know, is that my homework for Biblical criticism that night was to read John 4.

God opened my eyes that day. Christ encountered a woman of a different faith background who was by Jewish law committing a sexual sin. Christ didn't respond to her with judgment or demand she change her ways. By simply meeting her, and her getting to know Christ, she went away and converted her whole village. We do not know what happens to her later, but she responded to Christ with tremendous faith.

So, the habit I needed to learn was clear. Lose the judgment, I had picked up in the military. It wasn't easy. I worked at it daily. Over time, it became a habit. Be the light of Christ in these challenging times. Welcome and accept people where they are at, and invite them to come and see the goodness of the Lord. It is Christ who melts hearts with love and mercy, not judgment and threats.

Once a week, late at night, I'll see Sean is online. We'll IM back and forth and share the joyous of ministry. He is now a New Testament professor at a college helping students see Christ in the world around them.

God is good, all the time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Criticisms we face

One of the disheartening parts of being a pastor is hearing others "bash" Christians for being hypocrites. That we do not practice what we proclaim in the sanctuary. It's true, collectively as the body of Christ we have fallen short of the high standards Jesus set for us. Ghandi once remarked "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Bill Maher takes aim at Christians as well in this clip found on, the language is not totally clean, HBO cable is not regulated by FCC.

It would be easy to respond with anger, or to laugh this off. I disagree with practicing my faith privately, Christ so shapes my life that is fully integrated into my thought processes.

All that said, I take some of Bill's comments as a prophetic word. It reminded me of one day in the USAF, when Capt Jewell and I debated faith issues. He asked point blank, "If you believe in forgiveness so much, why are Christians so afraid to admit when you make a mistake? Would you be better off to just say, Sorry, we got it wrong, and we'll do better next time"

Since then, I have strived to admit mistakes and failures. Daily, I examine my life and see where I too fall short and fail. Then following Christ's teachings, I repent. If what I did hurt someone, I seek them out and apologize, maybe even doing something as restitution. Next step is turning around to realign myself with God's Word. Psalm 51 humbles me

"1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge."

I think over the last 20 years, the word Christian has changed its social meaning. Many view Christian as a brand name...Christian books stores, Christian bands/music, etc. Christian is not a brand name that we wear like Izod, Champion, or LL Bean. It is a way of living in the world, trying to bring God's light of love and mercy to the dark scary places of the world. I think that's why the Mac/PC mock ad struck such a chord with me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Christian vs Christ follower

Originally, Christians were called people of the way. (Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life). To get back to that focus, maybe a name change is in order. I remember in my high school Creative Writing class, Rob wore a t-shirt that said "I'm Christian, not religious" It was a great conversation about the difference between living as a disciple and doing faith stuff by rote. How do you define Christian? Is it a way of life? Or is it an accessory you put on occasionally? How would your life be different if you woke up every morning and said, "I am a Christ follower!" Try this out for a few weeks, let me know if it makes a difference.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scooby Snacks

Scooby Doo has been a favorite cartoon of mine for decades. There is something about blending a dog, mystery, and a riff from the Air Force Song (off we go into the wild blue yonder) that speaks to me.

Seriously, I identify with Scooby Doo. Almost daily, I encounter situations where I want to be brave and courageous, but instead I feel anxious, afraid, too scared to try. Then I remember, the Scooby Snacks of faith, the sacraments that connect me to the divine. Yup, the water, and the bread and the wine, all remind me God made a promise to me. Remembering God is with me fills me with courage to "do" what needs to be done.

Philip Melanchthon was afraid to enter a debate one day, and begged Luther to take his place. Melanchthon whined about not knowing the faith well enough to promote the reformers views appropriately. Luther retorted, "Sin boldly and believe more boldly still."

In other words, sometimes we step out in faith to do the right thing and later discover it wasn't perfect. Then we trust in God's mercy and forgiveness found in the Christ to continue living. If I err, I confess (apologize) and return to the Lord.

Remember, God came down, so we can reach out to others. Share the good news of Christ and rejoice.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dicipleship NASCAR style

Explaining discipleship in the 21st Century is easy. Back in 2004, I realized that to be a pastor in the community I lived in meant learning about NASCAR and cheering for a racer. I always go for the underdog, and selected a driver who was in his second year and finished 5th in the previous year's rookie of the year because I was a 2nd year pastor, and my lacrosse jersey # in college was 5.

A quick search of the internet lead me to his home page; and there I encountered his followers. People who had known him from high school, a home town boy made good. I was hooked and wanted to know more. So I started reading everything I could locate on the 'net, posting obscure articles about this man so others could know what was being said.

Others in their following of Scott Riggs, write original pieces to encourage fans and the driver alike, check out

My following the events of NASCAR is like my following of Christ. It is a daily thing, daily devotion of time to read scripture and see what God is doing in the world. The old stories of rescue are still happening in the world around us.

As a group of people, as a community of believers in Christ, we are called to encourage one another. Think of it as drafting. Working together makes things easier because there is less resistance and we can go further then we dreamed was possible.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Prayers after Shooting in Northern Illinois University

Not again, God, not again.

When will we learn, learn a new way to resolve disputes and conflict. What is this fascination on taking things out on others to restore be remembered for acts that hurt and horrify. I don't understand. I don't know how to stop this insanity...and so I turn to you in shame and humility and beg you to act for you are my rock and fortress in these times.

Be with all the victims of the shooting, the families and the community. Heal the wounds, the physical injuries, the mental trauma and the spiritual doubt that has come upon the people. Swirl in the open spaces of those who mourn so that they feel whole.

Use us to build a living temple, one which brings you on honor and glory through our living in peace and harmony with all of creation. Amen

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rediscovering an old book

I am tossing down a gauntlet, challenging people to read a book of the Bible a month. While reading Philemon (all 24 verses of it) won't take long. Genesis might take a few hours.

Why do it? To get reconnected to the power source of our life, God almighty, our Creator and Redeemer, who makes us holy.

I'm reading Nehemiah right now. Chapter 1 always blows me away, it starts with prayer and confession. It starts with the author humbling himself before God, and begging God to act. This is what I need in Lent; to drop to my knees admit my failures and short comings before God and beg God to act.
  • admit my failure to follow through on ideas
  • my failure to keep Christ the center of everything in my life because I've allowed the distractions to pull life out of shape
  • my failure to serve the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength

in my confession comes an answer in the silence that follows...dear child of God, long ago, my son went to the cross for you. He paid the fine for your sins, and I still raised him from the dead. Do you think I would treat you differently? He made you holy and righteous, with a clean heart. Move on, do justice, love mercy, and continue to walk humbly with me, your God.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Time to Build

I spent Friday with Lutheran Disaster Response Groups from NJ, PA, and MS. We toured from Mobile, AL to New Orleans learning about the different styles of response to Katrina. Each volunteer camp has the same mission, but approach it slightly differently. Seeing the devastation that lingers almost 29 months after Katrina is shocking.

In the third picture, Lee Zandstra, LDR of NJ, is 5'10". The water in the area came to the top of the wall behind her. Unreal, the power of a wall of water to clear everything.

Our tour guide for New Orleans grew up in East New Orleans and is now a pastor in Slidell, LA. Driving through the ninth ward and witnessing the marks on the door, that signify the day entered, number of deaths, and whether or not to demolish the house, I realized there are no words for the emotions of saddness and regret that things were not different for this area.

What brings comfort, is the promise from God to Noah in Genesis: "Never again will I destroy all the earth with a flood." And so with the words of Ecclesiastes 3:3 ringing in my head, we are now in "a time to build"

May the light of Christ illuminate your path so that others are drawn to the hope of the World.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Screw and Nail Removal

"Bind us Together, Lord" is a hymn I sang often while a member at Peace Lutheran Church in Lompoc, CA. The refrain goes

"Bind us together Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken. Bind us together Lord, bind us together Lord, bind us together in love."

I was a little more awake today at 0600. While strolling around the dorm area before breakfast, I noticed the sign from my parent's church on the wall. It's amazing how many different congregations have little works of art to say, "We were here to help." The connections between congregations in the ELCA and beyond who have worked here are incredible. The map shows people have come to help from Germany, Austria, England, South America, as well as all 50 states.

Today, I did more caulking and cleaning. Then, after lunch we were sent to a home that needed to be gutted. The original repairers from '06 mixed copper and aluminum electrical wire. This is a serious fire hazard, and while the electrical crew was attempting to just redo the wiring, it was determined that the insulation was not replaced from the flood.

Sheet rock, insulation, duct work, everything removed from the house. Twenty people working hard, so that next week the house can have new drywall installed. I don't recommend climbing into a dumpster to pack down fiberglass insulation so more can fit makes ya itchy :)

It's hard right after a disaster, to imagine anything good coming from the situation. Yet, Paul in Romans 8:29 provides a glimmer of hope: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

In just a few days, I have seen the good God has done, uniting a diverse group of people for a common mission of taking care of our neighbors.

God be with you

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cleaning and Caulking

"Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy." Psalm 61:2b-3

The day began at 0600, lights on and folks rolling out of their beds. Me, I was grateful that I didn't have anyone singing "I'm alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic" to get me to move.

I went to two homes with a mixed crew from PA, IA, MI, NJ, and I'm representing NY. Our task was to do the final cleaning and tweaking so folks can move in. Sweeping, mopping, window cleaning, caulking, etc. Whatever needed to happen to make the home look brand new, ready for someone to move in.

What a surprise, when the homeowner came by to say "Thank you, God, for sending these people. After two years, I'm finally going to come home." She's been living in a FEMA trailer on her front lawn with most of her furniture in a P.O.D. While she was there, we asked "Where do you want your towel rack?"

At the second home, WC, the owner also came into see the progress. The building inspector was on site, and WC will be able to return to his house next week once the stove is connected.

WC was one of the people who choose to ride at the storm. The winds blew at 150+mph for hours and the storm surge came at high tide. This 30 ft surge, pushed the water from the Gulf back up the canals and into neighborhoods. WC had water in his house up to about 24 inches. He and his wife were forced to live elsewhere for the last two years. Sadly, his wife of 50 years died in August, never seeing her home restored.

Today, I saw the promise of Psalm 60 come true. The transformation from despair, to hope and trust.

"O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; now restore us! You have caused the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair the cracks in it; for it is tottering"

The Lamb of God is here, repairing what has been torn open. Thank you, Jesus, Amen.

Feel free to reply to this blog, that me know you're out there :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord

I was surprised, I was expecting a "camp" not a remodeled sewing factory. Yet, it already feels like home. The exterior has been painted in murals by local artists, the interior adorned with signed t-shirts by the groups hanging from the rafters and the walls decorated with paintings, scripture and signatures.

My heart has been opened to the need: 60+ families still need help with food every week. Only 20% of the homes have been restored/rebuilt in south Mississippi. The statistics are mind numbing. Jesus invited the disciples to come and see. That invitation fits coming to Mississippi; there are three church camps that house and feed volunteers. Come and work in a wide variety of jobs, come and encounter the Lamb of God.

Tomorrow at 0800 I'll get dirty. I've been added to a church group from South Carolina to go to a housing development in Biloxi, MS to help paint, run electrical wire, and hang sheet rock.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Getting Ready

I'm excited, bubbling with anticipation. Finally, I'm heading off to Mississippi to help with the continuing rebuilding efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I've been wanting to do this for two years, and other things were a higher priority. In December I decided, now is the time for action. So with hammer, steel toed boots and some work clothes in the bag, and several more items to squeeze in...time is growing short because I leave in 36 hours.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sacraments II

Sunday, Jan 13, marks the annual celebration of Christ's baptism.

In honor of this event, I invite you to remember your baptism. Go outside, find a mud puddle...roll around in it, splash in it, have a blast like an energetic two year old. Yeah, go get really dirty.

Then, come back inside, take a warm shower and as the water knocks the mud off; remember how in baptism, your sins are washed away. Everything you've regretted doing, everything that still makes you feel guilty has been washed away. Because Christ was baptized, we are made holy, pure and perfect before God.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Power of the Sacraments

There are days when I think we take the power of Holy Communion too lightly. We key in on the "forgiveness of sins" and make it an individual happy meal, forgetting the word "union" found in communion. In the simple meal of bread and wine, we are all other Christians, past, present, and future.

It is this unity that provides comfort after the death of a loved one or friend. To know that because the circle around the altar has no beginning, or end the people we miss are members yet to be born are present...Christians from around the corner and around the world are next to us. In short, we are one gathered around Christ. It is mind blowing. To borrow phrases from Science Fiction, the space-time continuim is stretched and bent so that God's kingdom is fully present in those moments.

For this I thank God.


Sunday, January 6, 2008


Part of my brain is historical detective...pulling back the layers of myth, legends, and assumptions to discover the truth. There are times when that gets dicey from the pulpit. Telling folks that the three kings, aren't spelled out in scripture makes their paradigms shift without a clutch.

In Matthew 2:1-12, they are called "Magi" and there is no particular number given in this passage. It could have been three, it could have been 30. Matthew didn't bother to let us know...therefore, it probably doesn't matter that much.

What does matter is that the Magi were the "Miss Cleo's" of their day, horoscope, astrologer, pseudo-scientists, who knew how to read the stars. In Matthew's gospel they were neither kings nor wisemen. Our word magic comes from "magi".

God used Magi, who were heretics to the community, to be among the first to worship Jesus as King of the Jews. God met them where they were with a sign they could understand.

And here's the good news for us: because God brought these outcasts to Jesus, there is nothing that we can do that will keep Jesus from us. Sure there are days were God may feel far off. Numerous psalms reflect this feeling, but all the while, Emanuel, God with us, is calling take my hand, I'm right next to you.