In pm's words
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September 29, 2016, 8:53 AM

October 2016 Newsletter

Grace and peace y’all! I hope your September was wonderful and the cooler weather that has moved in as we begin October allows us all to enjoy and be a part of God’s creation even more!

I debated on whether-or-not to write something like this, knowing full well that there will be those who don’t like it, there will be those who will understand, and there will be those who wonder what the fuss might be about. But, I’m going to do it. I’m going to talk about politics…

The mere mention of that word and this topic makes my hair stand on end. However, I wanted to approach this in a way that is a little different than what you might expect. Take note I’m not going to, nor would I ever, tell you to vote for one candidate or issue over another. I don’t do that. I won’t do that.

As we (quickly) approach Election Day on November 8th, I wanted to lift up a view that Martin Luther had involving the role of a Christian in politics. He advocated an idea that has traditionally been termed, ‘The two kingdoms.’ As Darrell H. Jodock says in his (excellent) article called Lutherans & Politics: The ‘two kingdoms’ and putting the news of others first in an issue of The Lutheran (now Living Lutheran) from October 2012. He states that the ‘two kingdoms’ moniker might be a little misleading. He advocates that we should instead translate Luther’s views as the “two governances of God” or the “two ways God influences the world.”

Luther’s idea is that God works in two ways in ordering our lives throughout the world. On one hand, God works through the gospel to overcome estrangement, suffering, and more to bring people into relationship with God. This of course is done through the living out of our faith as we have all promised to do when we were baptized and when we affirmed our baptisms (our new hymnals – Evangelical Lutheran Worship - makes these promises very clear on pages 228 and 236). 

On the other hand, God works through authorities and structures to create the kind of order that allows humans to flourish. These structures include the role of the government in all its aspects – elected officials, police, transportation, safety boards, and more. God has created both ‘kingdoms/governances’ for our well-being. They both come from God.

So, how then do we ‘vote’ as a Christian? First and foremost is that we vote.  Period. We include ourselves into the life of this kingdom/governance so that God can (and will) continue to work to enact justice, safety, and well-being to all those within a government’s jurisdiction. We get to be a part of that. This is a gift given to us by God. Please vote.

Voting one way or another does not make you more Christian, or more faithful, or more of a disciple than someone who votes differently from you. We are all the body of Christ and God continues to shower us with grace and mercy no matter which box we check, arrow we fill in, or button we push on Nov. 8th.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

In that same issue of The Lutheran (I have copies of the article in my office and I’d be more than happy to let you read it), there is a wonderful study guide as well. In it Pastor Robert Blezard of Trinity Lutheran Church in Arendstville, PA gives us nine exercises that one should use as she or he approaches Election Day. I’ll lift a few of those exercises up:

Let righteousness roll down – Amos 5: 1-24 is a poignant piece of scripture to read that shows us how humanity truly operates and opens us to God’s re-ordered priorities. How is Amos’ call for justice reflected in our lives and in those who we elect?
Thou shall not lie – The eighth commandment tells us not to lie, which during the political season seems to get thrown out by all political parties through a myriad of half-truths and untruths. How are we holding up this commandment as we speak on issues and candidates with our friends, family, and others?
Love your neighbor – We are called by Christ to love our neighbors. Our neighbors are people of different (or no) faiths, different races, different political parties, difference economic levels, and different lifestyles. How is our call to love our neighbor reflected in our lives and voting?
Tone it down – We don’t teach our children to call others names or use language that is hurtful toward others. We normally put a stop to that kind of behavior. Yet, for many in political debates this is par for the course. One can have political discussions without resulting to word fights.

So, on November 8th, vote. But, before you vote be in conversation with scripture, in prayer with God, and in study over issues and candidates. Be in dialogue with others as well. I’ve discovered in my own conversations that the political ‘divide’ between two people is never as great as others make it out to be. Those conversations are and can be fruitful, faith-filled, and relationship deepening. If they continue to be honest conversations and not word fights filled with the sort of rhetoric many of our political leaders practice.

We have been given a wonderful gift by God – that is to be an active part of this ‘kingdom’ that God has given us. So, go and be a part of it.

If you would like a copy of the article by Mr. Darrell H. Jodock or the study guide, stop by the office and I’ll be more than happy to give you a copy!


Love y’all. Mean it.

-     pm

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September 26, 2016, 8:00 AM

the one about indifference and the rich man...

Sermon from September 25, 2016

Text: Luke 16: 19-31

Grace and peace to y’all from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, who here has ever heard this gospel story as a stewardship sermon? Just gives you warm fuzzies doesn’t it? You better use your wealth to care or you’ll be like the ol’ rich man – suffering in the ‘bad place’ not even able to quench your thirst with just the dip of a finger in water.

But, I’m not going to go that route this morning – don’t worry. Though, from our other texts leading up to this week, it is good to use what we have in abundance to help care for and share with those in need around us. Not because one might have more, but because God calls us to serve those around us.

I want to move a little bit in this story and focus on what it means for us to see or notice things around us. Did you know that whole industries and marketing strategies are designed so that we don’t have to look anywhere other than straight ahead. Go to any supermarket in town – Wal-Mart, Bi-Lo, or Food Lion and take a look at where the items you purchase tend to be placed.

If you buy more popular items, name brands, etc… where do you end up finding them? Right on eye-level. You don’t have to go looking down to find the most popular cereal, cheese, or even beer. It’s all right there at eye level for you. It might not even be the best or the cheapest item in comparison to the others, but it’s the one that has paid the most to make your life easier and take advantage of the fact that we can kind of be lazy and indifferent.

It’s done this way because we – as humanity – have a tendency to not look down. We march and look forward, sucked into our own little world as if we have blinders on and the marketers of the world have taken shrewd advantage of that. They put the brightest, flashiest, and at times the most popular items right in our eye level. They know most of us won’t look to find that particular item, so they make it so it’s just placed right in front of us.

And this whole marketing strategy reminds me of the rich man in this parable. Every day he passed by Lazarus who was at his gates. We aren’t given much information about how well they knew one another – though the rich man does know Lazarus’ name. However, it can be reasoned that the rich man – nor anyone else –bothered to look down and see him. Instead, they passed by with indifference throughout his life. Not even noticing to care that only the dogs would come to soothe his sores.

If anything, the point that Jesus is trying to drive home in this parable is not so much that his rich man didn’t use his abundance of stuff to help Lazarus (though, I’d wager that Jesus would say he probably should’ve), but instead that the rich man lived in indifference to Lazarus’ need.

The rich man didn’t see Lazarus. Sure, he may have noticed him just enough to know his name. But, he never saw Lazarus. He more than likely saw something ‘less’ than himself. Something not worthy to be noticed or interacted with. That seems harsh to interpret that after only a few verses, but look how the rich man acts after both men have died.

Even in the ‘bad place’ the rich man is still operating from a view of superiority. Still trying to get the person ‘less than him’ to go and do his bidding. Tell Lazarus to deep his finger in water and place it on my tongue. Send Lazarus to go and see my brothers so they won’t end up with me.

Now, there is a tendency to think that what Jesus is saying is that we better shape up so we don’t end up where the rich man is sent. I’m not so sure that’s what Jesus is getting at. Remember, parables are intentionally abrasive, exaggerated, and hyperbolic. I’m not so sure this parable is about how we ‘get’ our eternal reward like Lazarus and not like the rich man.

Instead, I think it focuses more on how we live our life now.

The rich man is indifferent to the world around him. Sucked into his own little bubble, not caring enough to even look outside it to see those in desperate need around him. So in-ward gazing to not even see the one in need at his front gate. Someone he may have had to literally step over in order to enter his home.

So, I ask you… who is Lazarus in your life? Is there someone – perhaps even a group of people – that you fail to notice? The one who cry out, yearning to be free from whatever it is that ails them. Notice them, see them, help them.

For you see, we as humanity do have a problem. We cease to ‘see’ things that are right in front of our eyes. We get sucked into our little worlds and we fail to see that which is all around us. The needs of others at times are so present – all the time – that it is as if it has just faded into the background. For the rich man, Lazarus became a part of the wall, a crack in the sidewalk, something so insignificant that it wasn’t worth paying attention to.

Have y’all done that before? I know I have. Yes, even your pastor.

I’m not sure I’ve shared this story before, but it is still worth repeating. When I was on internship in Alabama, I went to the Synod Assembly and arrived around lunch time. So, naturally I was hungry and went to the best and quickest place to eat that I knew – Jimmy John’s. That particular chain was directly in front of a downtown park. I got my sandwich and sat down facing the greenspace from within the restaurant. I noticed that there was a lot of activity in the park across the street and there were a lot of people. It took me a bit to realize that each of those people were homeless. Here I was eating my quick and easy lunch, just watching the people push grocery carts, carrying bags, and sitting in the hot sun. I was in a hurry and knew there really wasn’t much I could do. I may have said a prayer. I finished my meal and left to go back to the big convention hall to register for the Assembly.

I was there for three more days. I walked by that park every day as I had free time, as I went to meals, as I fetched coffee for the bishop, as I gathered with new friends to go out in the evenings for fun and fellowship. I never saw another homeless person.

They were still there. They were still in the park. They didn’t just magically disappear. I just failed to notice them. I continually looked past them. In my mind, they became as ‘insignificant’ as the trees and bushes in the park. Just there. No need to stop and notice.

I remember being hit with that realization when my internship supervisor asked how the assembly was a few weeks later. I was shocked. I was heartbroken. How could I do that? So easily too!

I mention that story not to say that I’m assured of going to the ‘bad place’ because I didn’t notice people in need one time. But, that day forever changed how I try to live my life. I know how easy it is to discount and look past and see over those around us. We do it a lot. All the time. It is when we recognize that we do it, and find ways, by the grace and call of God, to help and care for those in need that we move away from that life of indifference.

I’m going to share one final story – this is a good one.

As I read this text and thought of my own experiences I happen to see an article that came out in the last few weeks about someone that I now hold great respect for. I’ve never met him. He isn’t famous. But, he’s someone that I hope I can one day be like.

His name is Arnold Abbott. And he got arrested. Again. Second time in a week. In fact, he was so brazen after that first arrest he told those around him – including the ones arresting him – You’re going to have to do this again. You can’t stop me.

Twice he has been caught this past week breaking the law, and I fully expect that it’ll keep happening too.

His crime? Feeding the homeless of Fort Lauderdale. Mr. Abbott, the 90-year-old founder of his Love Thy Neighbor charity – which hands out hot and healthy meals to the homeless of Ft. Lauderdale was asked, “Why do you keep doing this?” His answer – the most gospel oriented answer I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing or reading –

“These are my people. And they deserve to be fed.”

Wow. That’s the gospel.

Throughout his entire ministry and his continued proclamation of the gospel through the guidance of the Spirit, Jesus has wanted us to see life like Mr. Abbott.

These are our people. We are in this together.


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September 12, 2016, 8:00 AM

the one that isn't a pastors favorite...

Sermon from September 18, 2016

Sermon text: Luke 16: 1-13

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ. Will y'all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen!

If you ask any pastor about their favorite passages to preach on, you'll get a lot of different answers; perhaps the parable of the loving father, maybe the beginning of John’s gospel, or the Emmaus Road story (which is mine). But, one thing will be consistent throughout their answers - this Gospel reading won't appear among the list of favorites.

This is a tough and a weird gospel story for us this morning. We're used to Jesus giving gospel nuggets through means that seem well - good. Caring for one another, loving God and neighbor, extolling the love of all for everyone. Those are the nice and tidy messages that we like to read from Jesus. Then, along comes this parable. The first part of the parable seems easily digestible and the last part of the reading is more easily understood. But, there are two verses in here that make us scratch our heads and say, "Did he really say what I think he said?” Make friends for yourselves by dishonest wealth? What does that even mean? A person is commended for being 'shady' with someone else's money? What in the world is going on here?

This is one of those texts where I must be honest and say - y'all these words from Jesus are about as odd and difficult to understand for me as quantum physics – I just don’t really get it.

It reminds of what Bill Gates - former CEO of Microsoft would do with his programmers. He'd usually assign the laziest programmers with the toughest tasks. Seems pretty stupid, right? But, his thought was that those individuals were more likely to find the easiest way to complete that task. Pretty shrewd now huh - especially when it works.

So, we have this manager and steward of money who not only hasn’t been good at his job, but it is implied that he has stolen from his boss – a lot. Word gets to him that he’s been figured out and he is about to be let go. His first thought isn't to apologize or even rectify the situation. In fact, he sees the writing on the wall and knows that there is no way he can get out of this situation cleanly with his boss, so he decides to make the outcome for him the ‘best’ it could be. He's not able to do manual labor and he has too much pride to accept charity from others. And, when you think about it - he has the same conversation we've all had at the prospect of losing or ending a job. We know we're not able to do some things and there are other things where we'd rather just not work than 'work' in particular jobs. We all have those lists.

So, this soon-to-be former manager of money hatches a plan to double down on cheating and ‘forgive’ some of the debt of the ones who owe the most to his master. He brings them into his office and says - you owe 50% now and you chop 20% off the top. Now, he does this so that when he is let go he'll be seen in a much different way.

Instead of being looked at as the one who 'mismanages or steals money' he'll instead be the ‘guy who cut me a deal.’ He scratches the back of the ones who owe his master the most because the expectation is that they’ll owe him a favor – a big one. Don’t get me wrong, what this manager has done is wrong. He has cheated, lied, and has stolen from what is not actually his. But, he still protected his life.

Then the one this dishonest manager is stealing from commends him for his shrewdness. Bizarre, isn’t it? The dishonest manager has put him in a very tight spot. Sure, he fires his manager, but based on culture and societal rules he can’t ‘fix’ the mistake because he’ll be looked at as someone who doesn’t honor others. It’s weird and a culture vastly different from our own.

So, as we hear and read this story, Jesus says that we should make friends by means of dishonest wealth, and then we hear the last verses of Jesus speaking today and we're thrown for a loop. For Jesus says you cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve mammon (money/wealth) and God. You can only serve one.

Here is where I think a lot interpretations can get sidetracked. We see money and wealth as this bad thing (and it can be, believe me) and we think the ‘bad’ guy in the story is the owner and master. He’s wealthy. Don’t be like that guy.

I don’t think Jesus is speaking to that. Being wealthy, having abundance, and being more well off isn’t a bad thing. However, how we pursue that wealth and at what cost can be bad.

We read in Amos where the prophet is speaking to those in power – especially the ones who complain about not being able to ‘work’ because it is the holy season or the Sabbath. The ones that sell the scraps for profit. In an economical culture – making money wherever, whenever, and however you can is a strength and a plus, but it isn’t what God calls us into.

And that hits us right to the core - especially as relatively privileged Christians living in the American society. It hits us at our core because we want to be able to have the best of both worlds. We want to gain favor in the economy by making the 'most' for ourselves. Always building our portfolios stronger, doing what we can to 'get the most' for ourselves. That's what the world sets up for us. That's the honest way in which the economy around us works. We want to be able to do all that the economy says we can and we also want to live a life to God. Yet, the ideals of God are counter to the ideals of the economy.

Where the economy says - "Get the most for yourself." God declares, "Give to those in need."

Where the economy shouts - "Obtain the most, by any means necessary." God cries out, "Care for others."

Where the economy urges – “Work, work, work. It’ll be better for you later.” God whispers, “Rest in and because of me. It’ll do you good now.”

Jesus is telling us to be 'shrewd.’ Being shrewd by using the rules of money against itself. Where we buck thinking and trends to invite others to participate into the kingdom of God. That doesn't mean that Jesus is saying we all should go rob banks to hand out to the poor like Robin Hood. Again, Jesus isn’t saying that the squandering and cheating that this dishonest manager participates in is good. He isn’t. What this manager, the steward of someone else’s stuff does is bad. But, Jesus is saying that we should find ways to further the kingdom of God - through the systems in place so that all might participate in it in shrewd ways. Where we abstain from bowing down to the almighty dollar - the bottom line of our lives - and live in a way where all are cared for, supported, encouraged, and loved.

Jesus didn't come to sustain the rules and systems of the day. Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection was the epitome of 'rule breaking.' Jesus did come to shake things up, buck trends, and work through the systems in place to proclaim, spread, and point to the kingdom of God at hand. Jesus calls us to be shrewd - to be wise - to be cunning - in proclaiming the kingdom and 'changing the rules' in that proclamation.

Jesus makes a bold proclamation this morning for us - what would our life be like if we approached our faith with the skill, savvy, and shrewdness that we use in dealing with our ‘monopoly money’ of the world?

Where can we be shrewd in our lives - in our praise - in our days and nights - in our proclamation of the Kingdom of God?  Amen!

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September 12, 2016, 8:00 AM

the one about our searching God...

Sermon from September 11, 2016

Text: Luke 15: 1-10

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, I know I’ve mentioned before that I don’t particularly agree at times with the titles that certain parts of our scriptures have been given; particularly when it comes to Jesus’ parables. This morning we again read two parables – that are incredibly well known – and yet, as much as they technically are titled correctly, their titles still don’t convey the fullness of what Jesus is proclaiming.

We have these two wonderful parables – the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin. Both stories are incredibly well known, but again because of how they are titled it tends to limit how we read and interpret what Jesus is telling us.

In fact, if I had the authority and power I’d probably name these two parables something like, “The parables of the stuff God does that we the people would think was pretty stupid and foolish – and thank God for that.”

Have you ever tried to read these parables with fresh eyes before? Seriously.

In the first parable Jesus tells us about a shepherd with 100 sheep and one of them goes missing. He leaves the 99 in the wilderness and goes in search of that lost one. He finds the one and gathers his community together to celebrate what he has found.

In the second parable, a woman has ten coins and she loses one. Together, her 10 coins aren’t enough to pay for anything, but she still searches adamantly for that one lost coin. And when she does find it, she gathers her community together to celebrate what she has found.

Within these two parables Jesus says that ‘this’ is where heaven, the angels, and God find great joy. Essentially, these stories that Jesus tells us convey just what God is like.

To be frank and curt – God’s kind of dumb, right?

No one, NO ONE, does what Jesus says this shepherd did. You have 100 sheep, you’re out in the wilderness, and one wanders off. Well, I have 99 sheep now. Time to get the rest home before another one goes missing. And if you do go in search of that one lost sheep, you certainly don’t leave the other 99 out in the wilderness. You take precaution and make sure the vast majority are protected first.

Or, I know I had ten pennies around here, but I only can find nine right now. Oh, well it’s just a penny. It’s not worth the time and effort to go find it.

Folks, I’ve lost countless discs playing disc golf in my life. Way more than I care to admit and they are worth a little more than a few coins. But, I’ve got a rule – if I can’t find it in ten minutes, well at least I still got a bag full of other ones. I can always replace that lost one.

That is what amazes and humbles me most about these two stories. Jesus tells us what kind of God our God actually is.

God goes to lengths that none of us would go in our search for the lost.

When we lose something we ‘own’ it hurts and stinks, but we move on. We calculate what it would take in time and effort to find it against the ‘value’ of that item. More times than not, the value just isn’t worth it. So, we just let it go and move on.

Yet, our God – the God who has saved us in faith. The God who has claimed us in love. The God who has washed and cleansed us in baptism. The God who has given us new life in Jesus’ victory over sin and death. The God who guides us with the breath and wind of the Holy Spirit. That God – our God – relentlessly and feverishly searches us out as if we were the most prized and worthy jewel. Searches us out as if we were the only one that God cared for. God searches us out and brings us home.

Think about that for moment. Let it sink in.

You are valued so much by God – you are so worthy to God – that God drops everything to search, to find, and to bring you home.

Wow. God goes to more length than anyone ever would think to. God does that? Yep, that’s what God does.

So, if I think a little bit more on my new potential title for this group of parables, it would probably be – The Parable about our God who searches.

Because God does search, God searches us out tirelessly and relentlessly.

God searches us out when we are the ones who wander off.

We get caught up in a life counter to what we hear proclaimed by our Lord. We get caught up in a world of sin, drugs, and addiction. We get caught up in those things that turn us away from God. We get caught up in a life of apathy and indifference – towards the church, towards others, or towards life.

We get caught up in a life where we wander from idol to idol. Distracted by every shiny object and trinket the world produces to ‘make’ us better in the eyes of others.

We wander. We go off.

God searches, props us up on the shoulders of our Lord, and brings us home in celebration and joy.

God does that. God does that through the people that have been placed in our lives. The ones we know so well, and even the ones we meet in a glimpse of a moment. God continues to search for us even when we’ve given up on searching for God. Nothing – not one thing – is outside God’s realm, ability, and desire to search for you.

To tell you, to make known to you, how loved, worthy, and valued you are.

God does that. God is doing that.

Then there is the greater context of what happens in that second parable with the woman and the lost coin. If the woman is an allegory for God – does that mean God sometimes – sometimes – loses us? Perhaps – I don’t know. I’m still figuring that out as well.

But, that’s not the point of the parable. The point of what Jesus is telling the crowd and telling us is that God continues to search for us – relentlessly – even when others wouldn’t see the value in the time and effort. The woman loses a coin that could be considered by others to be ‘literally worthless.’ She tears up her house to find that one coin. Why? Because it is hers.

God searches tirelessly to find us. To celebrate us with the gathered community in heaven. Jesus is telling us that God literally thinks we are worth it.

The world might tell you that you aren’t. Maybe because of the job you have. You might not earn enough to be noticed. You come from ‘that’ part of town. You don’t have the looks, the personality, the clothes, the ‘whatever’ for others to think you’re worth anything.

Yet to God – you are.

You – we – are so worthy that God has come to us in Christ our Lord. God has come to be with us and has called us to live into that worth, to know that others too are worthy as well.

Worthy to be sought after, to be celebrated, to be loved fully and completely.

We are so worthy that God bathes us in the waters of baptism and feeds us at the table. We are washed, welcomed, fed, and sent to proclaim that to the world.

In the knowledge and faith of our worth before God – something that we don’t deserve, but that God grants to us – we remember that others are valued and worthy to God as well. We get to live a life knowing that we are worthy, that God searches, calls, and finds us. We get to live a life knowing that those around us are worthy as well.

We know that we are loved and cared for so that we don’t have to seek veiled comfort in those things that pull us away. We don’t have to find empty solace in what the world says will make us ‘better’ in the eyes and minds of those around us. We proclaim and worship a God who already has found value in us, and now we get to live a life living out that thankfulness for God and for others.

We proclaim this God who searches. Who searches – even and especially – because others have given up and think it’s silly and foolish.

God does that? That’s what God does. Amen.

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September 5, 2016, 8:00 AM

the one where we know what to do...

Sermon from September 4, 2016

Scripture Text: Philemon and Luke 14: 25-35

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock, and our redeemer.

So, as I looked at all these scripture texts this week, I was completely drawn to Paul’s letter to Philemon. First, apart from four verses, we read the entire ‘book’ of Philemon this morning. The final few verses we didn’t read center mostly on salutations and such to individual people (they don’t add too much to what Paul is trying to write). But, I was also drawn to this short ‘book’ because in many ways Paul isn’t just writing to Philemon. In many ways, it feels like Paul is writing to us – to me – to you.

How many of us have been ‘put’ in our place before? Specifically, in the way where we knew what to do, we didn’t want to do it, but we also knew we had the power to enact the thing that we didn’t want. Kind of a tongue twister right?

Paul sends his new friend and fellow brother in Christ – Onesimus – back to his ‘master’ Philemon. With him, he writes a letter to Philemon and lays it on THICK about what Phil should do. He sent Onesimus to Paul as a ‘slave.’ Paul is appealing to him in love – to welcome him back as a brother. Shed the titles, the pomp, the societal roles – welcome Onesimus as an equal.

Throughout this letter, Paul is saying, “I know you probably don’t want to do this. It’ll make you look weak and soft. I know those in high standing around you won’t understand – they may even mock you or treat you unfairly. I know you’ll ‘lose’ something out of this request and appeal. I know this. You know this. But, you know what should be done, right? Don’t you…”

Paul appeals out of love to Philemon to welcome Onesimus as an equal. Something unheard of during his time and dare I say during the vast majority of our history. Granting freedom to one who is your ‘slave’ was dangerous. Perhaps they wouldn’t stay. Maybe they’d tell others, and then more would be asking for their freedom. The less ‘help’ you have, the more ‘work’ you are responsible for on your own. If he stays and continues to work, now you’ll have to compensate him for what he does give to you.

There are a whole host of reasons that it makes sense for a ‘slave owner’ not to grant freedom.

In spite of that – you know what you should do right?

There are a whole host of reasons that financially, within our families, and within social circles, it would be wrong to grant someone ‘life’ that otherwise wouldn’t have it. To welcome someone into our lives as an equal – as a family.

In spite of that – you know what you should do right?

There are a whole host of reasons why we shouldn’t stand up – or in some cases sit down – to bring attention to important issues within our world and lives. What will people say? What will you lose? What good will it do?

In spite of that – you know what you should do right?

There are so many reasons why we shouldn’t do something that goes against what the world thinks, proclaims, and has set up.

But, I feel like I’m invoking Paul when I say, “But, you know what the right thing to do is – right?”

I wonder at times what we know we are getting ourselves into when we profess our faith in Christ. Sure, we are gifted with this wonderful blessing of new life, the knowledge, and faith that we are loved, honored, cherished, and accepted. That all of what we have done, are doing, and will do will be forgiven. We are incredibly blessed by God and as Lutherans, we understand that blessing as a free gift given to us in our faith in Christ our Lord.

We’re unworthy to receive it, we haven’t merited it in any way. We are given this gift.

Out of thankfulness, we get to live a life for others and not ourselves. For God and not ourselves. Looking out instead of looking inwards.

But, that’s where we tap the brakes a bit. When we begin to understand exactly what we are giving up.

We read Paul’s words, which is another way of stating what we read from Jesus this morning.

Living into this life of faith – this free gift that God has given us – is not easy. It means denying that which comes easily to us. It means going against the grain of the world.

A world that says – profits over all. No matter what.

A world that says – the football season is starting – nothing is more important.

A world that says – sure you can speak your truth, stand for your cause – but, only do it in a way that the majority thinks is appropriate.

A world that says – convenience rules over everything. Everything must bend to your schedule, your demands, your life.

A world that says – if you’re not from here, you don’t belong to us, you don’t belong here, and one way or another – you’re going to leave.

Jesus is calling us to deny that way of life. That way of life that seems so tantalizing and good. That life that is safe and comfortable. That life that feeds our ego and strokes our pride.

Jesus calls us to take up the cross and follow him.

In many ways, we hear this and think of the ‘cost’ of discipleship. In fact, one of the great Lutheran theologians – Dietrich Bonhoeffer – wrote a book with exactly that title. And it is a GREAT read. I highly recommend it. A book that centers on discipleship and what it actually means for us who profess faith in Christ our Lord.

But, whenever we think of the ‘cost’ of something, we think of the bad stuff. What we have to let go of in order to ‘do this.’ What we ‘sacrifice’ in order to achieve something.

The cost of taking up the cross is that you ‘don’t get’ to do some of this other stuff that you like.

Some have made that point to be dancing, associating with certain people, enjoying things, being accepting of who we are.

I don’t dance well, and I don’t often dance (believe me, Erin’s tried), but it doesn’t mean I don’t think dancing can’t be fun. Sometimes – lots of times – dancing is good.

But, what if we look at this as – both in what Jesus says and in what Paul is asking – not so much as the cost of discipleship, but the choice of discipleship. The choice of carrying the cross.

Choosing life instead of death.

Knowing that that choice is probably more for others than it is for you.

What if we looked at this in such a way where we say, “I’m choosing discipleship.” The ‘burden’ of carrying that cross just might mean life for someone else.

Choosing to follow into the life of faith in which we are called just might mean others are cared for and loved – loved by and through you and others. It just might mean you are cared for and loved by and through others. In choosing to follow Christ, by carrying that cross, acknowledging the sacrifice from the world it requires – we choose life and not death.

We choose invitation and not deportation.

We choose to listen instead of shouting over.

We choose to go against the grain and welcome the one who others say is ‘beneath’ me as an equal.

We choose the formation of our faith life, the deepening of what God has called us into by and through the Holy Spirit over the loud beckoning call of the football game.

We choose to be here, to be with one another, knowing that it could’ve meant a few extra hours of sleep, perhaps an earlier start to preparing for something else.

We choose to proclaim to those around us – you are loved. I love you. God loves you. No matter who they are, no matter what others say.

We choose to proclaim this with the help of others. We choose community – a community that is diverse and invites all to be a part of it.

We hear this message; we see what it means to carry the cross, and when the rubber meets the road, we hear Paul in the back of our mind.

“I know you might not want to do this because it won’t be easy, but you know what you’re called to do, right?”


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September 1, 2016, 8:00 AM

September 2016 Newsletter

Grace and peace to y’all during this month of September!

I just wanted y’all to know something this month. I love y’all. I really do.

Sometimes I don’t think we hear that enough. At least not from one another, and when we do hear it – especially from places we don’t expect – we kind of shake it off and say, “That was weird…”

We probably don’t say it enough either. Blame it on the English language and its vague and multi-faceted definition and interpretation of that little four letter word.

But, I love y’all. I love the ministry we get to do here in Newberry in service for those in need and in celebration and thankfulness of what God has done and continues to do in our lives. I love all of it.

September begins that time that the ‘program’ year in the life of the church starts to ramp up. There are more opportunities to participate in ministry through our faith formation ministries, our community compassion ministries, our congregational care ministries and more.

God is at work here and we can and we get to be a part of it all.

As we approach those ministries, remember that you are loved. Loved by one another and loved by our God.

As we move through this life of faith, let’s try to tell one another – the ones we know really well and the people who we don’t at all –, “I love you.”

Spread God’s love for the world and all of creation through your words, your actions, your thoughts, your life of faith.

Imagine what that world would look like?

Bless y’all!

Love you. Mean it.


August 22, 2016, 8:00 AM

the one where we can bend the rules...

Sermon from August 21, 2016

Sermon Text: Luke 13: 10-17

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, this past week I attended my usual sermon study group with friends and colleagues. We were thankful that the texts this week aren’t nearly as ‘uncomfortable’ as last week’s were. Yet, in our discussion we were struck with the amount of joy that the Lord calls for that we at times – as children of God – seem to lose sight of because we get in the way.

Have y’all experienced that before? To be witness to what seems to be utter joy and revelation? To literally see God at work in some way either here within your community of faith or outside that group? Where something wonderful and good happened; someone was lifted up, someone was given honor, someone was healed in a multitude of ways. Yet, in the midst of that time of celebration there was that one person – that one man or woman – who would say, “Well, you know…. That’s not how we really should do that…”

I remember a time where I hoped to bring all ages into the life of ministry and worship. Every community of faith that I’ve been a part of has wanted to be more inclusive of those who are still learning and growing. Finally, at one point I and others were given the opportunity to put that into realized practice.

Young children wanted to help with worship. We talked about the importance, honor, and thankfulness in which we approach these wonderful roles within worship – lighting candles, helping with communion, reading scripture, praying aloud, and more. These kids got it – they wanted to be a part of that. They wanted to be able to share and show those around them how thankful they were to be part of a community of faith and family of God to participate in the life of worship. To worship in unbridled joy and thankfulness.

They got it.

Those days of worship came. Young kids helping light the altar candles. Children reading scripture to the congregation. Younger members participating and helping in the holy sacraments of communion and baptism. It was awesome to see God alive and at work in these young members.

Then to see them be able to tell their friends – not in a prideful way, but in compassion and joy – I get to help out in worship! I get to help pastor and the other adults. I’m a part of this too! I really am!

But, then there’s always that one, the one who says, “Well… they aren’t old enough. They could burn the place down. You’ve seen how that kid usually acts right? We’ve never done it that way before….”

In our gospel this morning, we hear a wonderful story of Jesus healing someone that people literally would’ve looked over. On that day he looked out among the crowd and then looked slightly down to see a woman afflicted with a bent spine. Seeing her affliction, feeling compassion and telling her to stand up, he laid hands upon her and she was able to stand straight for the first time in 18 long years. There was much rejoicing. I like to think that she burst out in praise much in the same way in the words we heard in our psalm. Full of thankfulness and joy in praise for what God had done.

And yet, there was that one guy – the one who said – That’s not right! This is the Sabbath! We don’t do work on this day! This is wrong!

We all know that person. We’ve experienced that one in the life of the church. We’ve experienced that one in our families. We’ve experienced that one in the many parts of the community that we belong to and love.

Perhaps we’ve even been that person. The one who looks at the goodness of what has happened and has to throw a wet blanket on it all. Like the starks of Winterfell reminding us always that, “Winter is coming…” in the midst of the joys of summer.

What I think we take from this – especially after Jesus spoke last week about division – is that in the work that he does, the word that he proclaims, the life that he gifts to those who are looked over is that it is going to ruffle feathers. Rules are going to be bent. The light of the gospel and the Word will be cast upon those to see where our own double-standards lie.

In all of that – Jesus errs on the side of grace, welcome, and healing. That Jesus – our Lord – looks out upon creation and sees those in need, helps and heals in spite of the rules that say one ‘shouldn’t do this or that.’ That ‘work’ shouldn’t be done because of the day we happen to be on, “come back tomorrow and I’ll help you then.

Is not honoring the Sabbath being able to live out what is proclaimed by God? There is ‘work’ that we do each day whether we realize it or not. Honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy doesn’t mean to sit alone in a room, away from those around us, and doing nothing lest we accidentally do something on this day that could be construed as ‘work.’

And we can chuckle a bit about that, but we who identify as Lutherans aren’t immune to it at all. We proudly proclaim that there is nothing we can do in order to receive God’s love. No amount of work, good dead, kind thought, or anything else will bring us closer to God. We continually fall short; sin continues to get in the way because we aren’t perfect. Yet, the wonder and beauty and freedom of our faith is that we proclaim God who is already with us. We can’t do anything to get to God because God is already here. We know that no good work brings us closer to God, so we don’t have to do good works!

However, in the thankfulness of what God has done – coming close to us, freeing us from the bondage of sin, gifting us salvation in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of our Lord – we get to do wonderful things in service to those in need. We get to praise God and serve in compassion. It is our response to what already has taken place. We get to do good works, not in order to receive salvation, but we do them because we already have.

Yet, there’s always that one Lutheran – and I’ve met a few in my life – who stubbornly hold to that manifesto of ‘no works.’

Yet, they and the leader of the synagogue from our Gospel this morning both lose sight over God’s work.

Jesus heals and calls us into the work that serves those in need – not as a mandate, but as an act of thankfulness and graciousness to what God has already done.

In our reading from Isaiah we hear what sounds like a bunch of if-then statements. The ‘if’ being – do all these things – which are all GOOD THINGS – and our thought is that the ‘then’ response is ‘I’ll be with you as your God and you will be with me as my people.’ Yet, what we forget is that during this specific period in which this part of Isaiah was written – the exile was over. The Israelites had already been brought back into their land, they are already close to God.

God has called them – God as called us. To be close, to be in service to those in need, to live out in thankfulness for what God has already done.

We have been redeemed. We have been brought back from exile. We have been saved. God’s love is already with you. Yes, even you – in spite of what you’ve done or thought. God is with you.

In that knowledge – knowing that you are a child of God – we are called to live out that faith and this new life in thankfulness and praise.

Knowing full well that in living in that life we may ruffle feathers. Why? Because we’re called to help those in need and we are called into that service in ways that people wouldn’t expect, desire, or contrast with what the world and society proclaims. Like Jesus we see the one who stand up straight and we see the ones who are bent over. We see the ones who are in need and we go to them. We proclaim. We serve. We help. We praise in joy and thanksgiving in all kinds of healing.

Healing in our life. Healing in the life of others around us.

See those around you. Help the ones who others look over. Live in thankfulness for what God has already done in you and for you.


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August 15, 2016, 8:00 AM

the one about division...

Sermon from August 14, 2016

Sermon Text: Luke 12: 49-56

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

You know what – whenever I read a text like this and end it with ‘the gospel of the Lord’ I feel like I do it hesitantly. When we think of Gospel and good news, we like to think about things that make us feel good, that empower us, that point to hope, grace, and love. Yet, then there are times when Jesus speaks – and we read those words in worship – that don’t seem to have any of those aspects.

We read and hear these words from our Lord this morning that make us feel uncomfortable – they unnerve us. It is tempting to just move along and not worry about what Jesus says here, we’ll just go look at something a little more gentle and nice.

But, I don’t want to do that this morning, that’s not fair to y’all, it’s not fair to our Lord – to only pick and choose what we want to hear without diving into those texts and words that make us squirm.

Fire, stress, division. Jesus mentions all of this and points out that he hasn’t come to bring ‘peace.’

Maybe there were those that interpreted this in a way that Jesus was inciting violence against those around him – to be against those who disagreed with him. Hearing these words from Jesus and feeling that they are given full reign to go set fire to crosses in people’s yards, to destroy those places they disagree with, to murder those walking out of their place of worship simply because their faith is different than those. Jesus has come to bring division and not peace right?

I’m sure there are those that read these words of Jesus and feel justified in their actions, but I beg to differ solely based on Jesus’ actions and thoughts throughout the rest of the gospels. Jesus’ character and person doesn’t match up with that interpretation. So, I don’t think Jesus is calling those around him to rise up and cause division and not to seek peace. The division that Jesus sees is the result of the Word that he proclaims – a word that is counter to hate and fear and violence.

There is something about speaking and proclaiming a word and life that is different from the rest that causes people to squirm. That causes them to be uncomfortable. That causes some to rise up against this new word. When people rub against the status quo of the world; especially a word that challenges those in power, that lifts others up, that calls for radical hospitality, that gives life and dignity to those that many have turned their nose up at – it’s going to upset people. There’s going to be division.

There will be those who lift up words and life that is counter to what God proclaims. To what God proclaims through the prophets, counter to what God proclaims in and through Jesus our Lord. And in spite of that adversity God calls us to speak the word faithfully – to speak God’s word faithfully and fully.

Speaking that word creates division in the world. The word of God speaks out against those who take advantage of those less than them. The word of God speaks out against those who lord themselves over others because of their status, their place of birth, their skin color, their accent, their way of life, and anything else that others deem ‘superior’ in some form or another. The word of God speaks out against those who care only for themselves and walk by those in need around them every day.

Jesus this morning speaks of fire that he already wished was kindled. When we think of fire, we tend to think of that which hurts, devours, and destroys. We think of the raging fires in California that wreak havoc on forests and destroy the homes and lives of those nearby. We think of the loss experienced by those who have had their world upended and changed forever because of a fire in their home. We think of those who seek to destroy, harm, and put down others by setting fire to objects in their yards, by burning down institutions that they don’t agree with, and more.

Yet, there is also that fire that we tend to overlook. The fire – kindled under a pot that warms and cooks food. The fire that a glassblower uses to help shape and form beautiful works. The fire of a kiln that helps make firm that which has been worked on and molded. The fire that a farmer uses to help bring new life and growth to select areas of their field and harvest.

That fire of the Holy Spirit that continues to re-form, re-shape, and re-orient ourselves to God’s vision of the kingdom on earth.

That fire that burns within our hearts when we know the Lord is close at hand and in our lives.

That fire that brings something new, not the fire that destroys wildly around us.

And, it doesn’t mean that fire doesn’t hurt. If glass could talk; I don’t think it would be very happy about enduring that heat and those flames. Yet, through that trial something beautiful is created. So too does the fire that God brings about on us create something new and beautiful. New life, new ways, new hope. A world that is counter to what is already here. That is counter to those in power. That lifts up the lowly and humbles the proud.

That causes division. It doesn’t bring ‘peace.’

I wonder as Jesus talks about peace this day if he was speaking out against those that wished he’d only wave his hand and make ‘everything better.’ The fairy godmother that says, ‘bippity boppity boo’ and makes the world perfect. The one that uses a little hocus pocus to make everything neat and tidy.

There are times that I think we hope and wish God worked that way. To magically wave a hand and make everything right. To answer yes to all our prayers. To make life immediately better. Yet, God doesn’t seem to work that way and God has never seemed to work that way. As Jeremiah writes, God takes the long view – the one who views with perspective. God is able to look out among the forest and not be blinded by the trees.

Whenever I think of how we want God to work in our world – by answering ‘yes’ to all that we ask, I can’t help, but think of one of my favorite surprisingly theologically deep movies – Bruce Almighty. Bruce after having been given the powers of God attempts to make everyone happy by answering ‘yes’ to all the prayers that he receives. Most of those prayers are in regards to a lottery that is taking place in Buffalo, NY. He answers yes to everyone who prays to ‘win’ the big lotto. And they all do. And they all split those winnings. They all receive $17.00. He brought division, not peace.

So, what are we to do? How do we find the good news in Jesus’ words this morning and in the rest of our scripture texts?

Much like how the Lord our God speaks in Jeremiah, I believe we have to take the wide view this morning. Taking into account the words that Jesus speaks, but doing so in the context of his ministry and life. The one who reaches out to those on the outside, the one who heals the sick and raises the dead, the one who speaks out against the corruption of power and the exploitation of those beneath the powerful. The one who calls us to live in love and grace, even as the loud beating drum and trumpet of the world sows violence, hate, and fear.

Having faith that the Word of God rises higher than the weeds of ‘dreams.’ That we continually speak those faithful words and live into the gospel that our Christ proclaims. Knowing full well that it can and possibly will cause division, yet we continue to speak that word of love, continue to pray for those who live in fear, continue to act in peace and love to bring about change in this world that God has created for us. Every. Last. One. Of us. Amen.

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August 8, 2016, 8:00 AM

the one about faith...

Sermon from August 7, 2016

Sermon Text: Luke 12: 32-40

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ. Will y’all pray with me? Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen!

As we read through all of our scriptural texts today, there is one underlying and common theme. As the famous 1980s singer George Michael and later the band Limp Bizkit (which made it famous for my generation) put it – You’ve gotta have faith.

Who here thinks faith is easy? Or if it comes ‘naturally’ to those who are of God? If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that faith is not an easy endeavor. Whether it is having faith that you’re going to pass that coming test, or that your boss will notice you for that upcoming promotion, or even your favorite team will finally win the big one – in your lifetime. All of those take ‘faith.’ As a fan of the Texas Rangers I know how deep and sometimes how ‘foolish’ faith can appear.

As we read through all our texts this morning, we see that Abram, the initial audience of Hebrews, and those gathered around Jesus were called to faith in much deeper ways than a sports outcome. They were rocked with hardship and yet still lifted up in hope and assurance that what God promises will come.

Take the Genesis account from our first reading, Abram (who later will be called Abraham) is pretty bold here. He, in a way, has the audacity to ‘take on’ God. God has promised to reward him for his, yet Abram snaps back, “Really? Will this reward be something other than children because I’m old – not getting younger mind you – and I have no little ones to call my own.” Think about that for a moment. God has said – to Abram’s face – that he will be rewarded. He is a chosen one of God, and those who God has made promises – covenants – with are never left alone. God always comes through. 

Yet, Abram knows he’s getting older and so is his wife. They know the reality. And they struggle with coming to terms with type of faith that God has asked of them.

We too can find it hard to ‘live into’ the faith in which we’re called. Faith that God is present here in this place.  Faith that God listens, cares, and protects us. Faith that Christ has died for us. Faith that God might use each of us for service in the world. Yet, with each of those times that we are called to ‘have faith’ the specter of ‘doubt’ seems to always crash the party.

And even when we feel we have deep faith, so much of our world attempts to curb and stomp it and snuff it out. The continued violence against one another, the incredible hostility between people in our country drawn over racial, political, & theological lines, the systems in which we live that continue to perpetuate divisiveness in our country and world. So much seems to be speaking against and laughing at our faith.

It may be a laugh like Sarah when she’ll soon be told that she will bear a son. It may be anger directed at God because things have not gone smoothly. It may be the pestering question of ‘really?’ like Abram here that seeps into our minds, takes up residence in our hearts, and doesn’t seem to get the notice that we don’t want it there.

Imagine, if you will, as Abram responds to God in this audacious sigh of “Really? REALLY?” and God pulls him aside and points to the sky saying, Abram, my son. You will have heirs and they will come from you and will be as numerous as the stars.

Now, picture the night sky that Abram probably could see. A sky so full that we don’t get to see because of the intrusion of the world around us. Electricity – lights from the city and our homes. The noise that distracts our attention as cars drive by and sirens wail out in the distance. Even here in Newberry, we can see more stars than those in Spartanburg or Columbia, but I can guarantee you it is nothing compared to what Abram was able to see on that night. Imagine the immense security that each time Abram stepped outside into the night he could literally see God’s promise before him. It may not have been on his time frame, but God did come through with that promise of heirs and descendants.

So, this got me thinking – how many stars are actually out there. On a clear night, removed from the worldly lights around us – with perfect vision, you’d be able to see about 9,000 stars (in both the northern and southern hemispheres together). Get a pair of binoculars? That number jumps up to about 200,000. A small telescope? 15 million. A large observatory? Billions.

But, let’s dive even further. Astronomers are guessing that there are probably about 400 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone. In the observable universe there are potentially 170 billion galaxies. Each one they assume could potentially be home to the same number of stars that our galaxy holds. Of course, some could be much larger or even perhaps smaller too. But, if we multiply the number of stars in our galaxy to the number of galaxies potentially in the universe you get around 1024 stars. That’s a 1 followed by twenty-four zeros. A septillion. Of course, that is only what we can see; the universe could be much larger than that.

That’s a lot of descendants. A lot.

Which leads me to our Gospel reading. Here Jesus is bringing assurance to those gathered around him, who he affectionately or possibly pointedly, calls ‘little flock.’ Though, he might literally be talking to a small group since not many then (and not many now) follow Jesus’ call of selling everything – giving to those in need, and following Jesus with faith.

Fear not. Have faith.

Those are tough things to follow and to live into. What Jesus asks of us, what God calls for us, what the Spirit guides us to do is not easy.

In this talk, Jesus tells of another short story where he recounts the servants who stay up late waiting for the master to come home from the wedding feast. Now, I am almost certain that those gathered around Jesus who heard him say things like, ‘be ready!’ or ‘dress to go!’ and even ‘stay awake!’ were not thinking that it would be for positive things. This is a sort of apocalyptic foretelling of the future.

A time where Jesus calls his followers to continually be watchful of things to come and to live a life that is ready ‘to go’ when that time comes. But, even as I read those words and imagine Jesus saying that to me and to us today, I cannot help but look back to the first verse in our Gospel reading – ‘fear not.’

Fear not. Have faith. It might not be the doom and gloom others have made it out to be.

For you see, when the master returns the roles have been reversed. The master comes home, not to be served by those around him, but he comes home to be in service. Where those who have ‘stayed up’ and ‘kept watch’ are now being served by the one who has returned from the feast.

Fear not. Have faith.

We are a people of faith. A people who, through Jesus the Christ, have been grafted into the tree of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We are a people – through faith in what God has done in Christ Jesus – that has faith that the promises of old extend and surround us. Extend to us in love, grace, mercy, and acceptance. 

We are a people washed and welcomed into this community of love. A community of believers who can look to the stars – in all our myriad ways – and see the promise of God before our very eyes. We are a people who place trust and faith in God and not in the world and individuals around us. Where we place our ‘treasure’ securely in God’s favor and grace. For we remember that where our treasure is; our heart will be also.

It isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is what God calls for us to do. When we have that lingering doubt (and all of us experiences those moments of doubt throughout our lives), we can look to the night sky and see the promise God made to Abram and know that it is for us as well. That we too are a part of that.

That God created all of that wonder and awe; so too did God create me – and you – and even that interminable grouch down the street. We all are created in love and grace, saved through God’s work in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. All of us.

And though those promises of God and those covenants may not occur within a timeline or timeframe that we at times would want to better serve our needs; we remember that God does come. Has come. Will come. The Son of Man returns from the wedding feast. He returns in joy to be in service with and for those around him.

Don’t fear. Have faith. God’s got this. Amen.

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August 1, 2016, 9:00 AM

August Newsletter

Grace and peace y’all!

It’s August and it is HOT out there. Wow. I’ve been (jokingly) told I’m not allowed to complain about the heat since I moved back here, but seriously: It. Is. Hot.

What I wanted to share a little bit on this month – in spite of the heat and weather – is how wonderful God’s creation truly is. Yes, it is very warm out there, but seriously. How amazing is this all around us?

This past month or so, I have been witness to some incredibly beautiful aspects of the world we live in. Green grass, the lazy sound of the creek behind my house, the ripening of the figs in our yard, the numerous types of animals that walk and live among us – including the small family of beavers that I saw on an evening walk, the refreshing rains that both cool us down while also sustaining and bringing new life to the world.

Recently my appreciation and love of God’s creation and my love and infatuation with technology collided with the release of a small game called Pokémon Go. Now, many of you have probably heard about this game (it is the biggest release of an app in history so far). Sure, by the time that you read this there is a good chance that its popularity may have peaked, but it showed me something that is greatly missed in our world today.

In our makeup as children of God we are inclined to be out in the world and to be with one another. Of the few stories about Pokémon Go that made people roll their eyes (trespassing on property, walking off cliffs, etc...) there were countless more of the joy in meeting new people, sharing in a common love, and just being out among God’s creation. Plus, the added benefit of becoming more active and a little healthier.

Your kids or grandchildren may have a love for this game that you don’t understand – searching and finding digital pocket monsters may seem like the silliest idea in the world – but, it is an opportunity to share in their love and hobby and also to share in God’s creation.

So, all in all – we live in an incredibly beautiful world – even when it is hotter than Hades out there. It’s something that I think we need to be continually reminded of in our world today. So, go out there, bring along some water, and then give thanks to God for what we have been gifted and what we have been given to care for!

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