Welcome to our blog! This is a place to share ideas, thoughts, concerns and joys of our faith journey. I'll be posting sporadically, but hope you will feel free to comment and join in the discussions.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Miracles in The Modern World...or not

We had a discussion in our Adult Sunday School class yesterday regarding miracles. The gospel lesson prompted the discussion as two miracles occur within the reading. The first was the feeding of the 5000 and the second was the walking on water. As a brief recap, the feeding of the multitudes (or the 5000, whichever you prefer) started with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. And the 5000 were only the menfolk. There were womenfolk and kids as well, so probably closer to 10,000. And everyone ate and was satisfied. Then later the disciples are rowing like mad against the rough seas and the wind, when Jesus appears to them on the water and tells them not to be afraid. So in the readings I did regarding these two events you can find both the encouragers for these events or the discouragers. The discouragers tell you that the feeding thing happened because everyone sat down and shared what they had of food with everyone else. So of course, no one went hungry because everyone shared. They will also tell you that in the Greek translation of the text the part of speech used for the word "on" could be translated as beside, rather than on. So Jesus could have been beside the water, on the beach when the disciples saw him, which I find hard to believe would have terrified them (as the text states they were), but what do I know. The encouragers would have you believe that Jesus caused bread and fish to exist out of thin air, providing enough sustenance for all in attendance. And the walking on water thing? Yeah, why not? He was God, ya know. The problem with these people are they sound really naive. I mean c'mon! Food out of air? Defying gravity or whatever makes you sink under the water?

I'd like to believe I'm a little in both camps. I never, in all my 60 years believed that Jesus did NOT walk on the water until I read that explanation about the Greek translation. But the sharing of the food, yeah, I heard that one and it made sense to me. I have a foot in both camps. Which is why it's called faith. I believe, but I'm rational. I don't need to see Jesus walking on the water, though, to know that if he wanted to, he could. Faith is what you make of it. It's following your heart into some pretty strange territory and saying, "yeah, but" when things seem to point to the irrational. And it doesn't mean you never question or doubt. Faith doesn't mean you don't look for rational explanations, it just means that if there doesn't appear to be one, well, that's kind of okay, too.

So look for miracles, I say. And if you don't see one right away, that's okay, sometimes it takes a little digging, or even opening your eyes or heart. And who's to say that miracles aren't happening every day all around you?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Liitle Me, A Little You

One of the things I noticed about our walk of faith, is this: you really can't do it alone. Okay, that sounds either stupid or pompous. Since I think I'm not either (well, most of the time, anyway), I shall attempt to explain.

The person you have grown up to be is an amalgam of all the life experiences you've had so far. Unless you were raised by wolves or lived in a cave in the vast wasteland of the Mongolian Steppes, you interacted with people all your life. They had an influence on you as well, your outlook on life, your perceptions, you prejudices and yes, your faith, are a melding of those things. So even if you don't go to church, or profess that you don't believe in God, your perception of God and the Trinity still influences how you see the world. I don't doubt people when they say they don't believe. But to say that, indicates that there is SOMETHING in which to not believe.

As a member of a community of faith, I do believe in God and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I came to this firm belief because of all the people and experiences in my life which seem to point, in no uncertain terms, that there is something beyond myself. Thank goodness! But the people of my faith community are walking the same path I am. Sometimes we stumble, or take a weird left turn, or end up in the Mongolian Steppes without knowing how we got there. But the God of all creation walks with us as well. We are never alone. And thank goodness for that as well.

Hopefully, we will soon be a larger community of faith as we look to do our journey a little differently. But the comforting thing is, we are not walking alone on this new path. Would you like to come and walk alongside us? We'd love you to join us! No matter where the journey goes.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

This is a Sunday of Importance

This Sunday is a congregational meeting for us. We are all getting together at one service and taking a step together...

I hope you will join us as we walk together this week. I would  hope you would join us every week, actually! But especially this week. Please take time to be there with us. AND pray for St. Mark's Lutheran Church, too.

Thanks and we'll be looking for you.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Church Jargon

A few people and I were talking the other day and I must have heard the phrase, "Lenten Journey" about a dozen times between them. I got thinking about how we throw some words around in the church, but we don't always explain them. Like "Lenten Journey." What exactly does that mean? Well, if you want to get all lofty and religious sounding, you could say that your whole life is a journey and Lent is a place along the way. But I'm not much on the "loftier" side of things, so I puzzled over what it might mean to us regular guys. Here's what I came up with:

During the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (not counting the Sundays of course), most people reflect on their faith and how they practice it. For many, Lent becomes a time of turning around, changing some things--like a bad habit or an overindulgence, not because someone says you have to, but because for some reason this time gives you pause. The readings in the church are showing you a picture of Jesus and the things he stood for, the things he tried to show others. And we know where this time is leading in those stories. Holy Week is right around the corner and even though Easter is coming, we still have to get through Good Friday. It feels like there is a lot to think about going from that Wednesday to that future Sunday. And so people refer to the time in Lent as a journey. Getting from point A to point B. Preparing for the awful story of Good Friday and celebrating the exhubrance of Easter. And that's what I think it means to say "Lenten Journey". But I could be wrong. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ashes to Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. We, at St. Marks, have three opportunities to attend a service. And even though we don't have a new pastor yet, its important that you read that last sentence again...we have three services. Not because we're holier than thou or anyone else. It's because we know we need to have a service available to all of us, those who work, those who don't and every situation in between.

The origins of Ash Wednesday are probably around the 8th century. It was suggested that the pouring of ashes over the head was an appropriate way to begin the forty days of Lent. The ashes remind us that we are sorry for those things which take us from God and we hope to repent. Sackcloth and ashes (referred to in the Bible frequently) were the way to show people understood they had been wrong in something and they knew it; so to show of their turning around (which is what repentance is all about), they donned these outward signs to demonstrate the inward changing of their hearts. Ash Wednesday is not commanded in the Bible. But it is a very visible way for us to begin our introspection of our life and devotion to God during these next few weeks. We don't pour ashes over our heads, but we do mark the sign of the cross on our foreheads. Or you can opt out of that particular practice. Because really, its all about your repentance, not mine. My turning around, not yours. God's acceptance of all of us, not our universal acceptance of each other. Lent is a time of thinking about our relationship to God. It is not about comparing our piety to each other.

I hope you will join us in our walk this Lent. We have a light supper each Wednesday at 6:00 pm, followed by a service at 7:00 pm. Pastor George Dietrich will lead a discussion after the service on a book entitled, The Three Day Feast by Gail Ramshaw. We encourage you to join us as we turn around and face another year of Sharing Hope at St. Mark's.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Splash of Color

Life can just seem to go on sometimes, plodding and uneventful. Sometimes though, something will happen. Sometimes those things are joyful, exuberant events and sometimes they are just the opposite. The effects of these events is what makes life interesting, vibrant, something to greet each new day. The big events: a new house, a new job, sometimes even a new dress add a lift to your days. But sometimes that lift is caused by a person. We meet people all the time who come and go and stay and leave. I thought about the people that I know and began to assign colors to them, likening their personalities to a color. Why not? Beats chewing my nails!

Let me explain: some people you meet are like the color fluorescent green—all flash and dance. They can take over a room if you let them. And when they leave, the room is not quite as colorful, but after they've gone it can be more restful. Some people can be more like muted shades of natural things, like the beige of the sand, the pink in a sunset, the green of spring. These people are usually kind of quiet and yet, the color they bring to your world is necessary to the way you see things. They are part of the fabric of our “coming in and going out.” They are the base coat of our lives-- listening, painting alongside of you as you create your painting on the canvas of life.

And then there are people who are blend of the vibrant splash and the understated hue. If you find someone like this, you know you are blessed. If you are friends with someone like this-- your life is more colorful, rich, more—well—more something.

And so I come to my friend we pay to tribute today. This colorful friend was a mix of the splash of humor—that fluorescent green I talked about and the muted hues of understanding and compassion. And he has gone on ahead without me. He left me standing in the middle of the room without a paintbrush or even some paint. BUT—I can hear the color of his laughter and see the gold sparkle of his understanding. I can feel the warmth of his brown bear hugs, even though I will never physically feel them again. And oh, I really hate that. Because he brought so much color to me. So much love and joy and exuberance and even passion for our God and his life, that my paintbox is suddenly devoid of much. And I want it back. I want him back.

We get to go on. We add some more brown or green to our day. We splash a bit of cream into the fluorescent blue of the sky so it will seem not as bright. We hug. And hold hands. We pray and we slowly, slowly see the Master Painter has left us a canvas to keep on painting. To show others the colors that are in the world, even though our friend the giver of color, is not.

But I am so thankful for that colorful man. So very blessed to have had him as a friend and a painter along the way. Rest well, Carl and save a paintbrush for me.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The People of God

I just got  home from a committee meeting. As meetings go it wasn't the worst or even the best one. It sort of got stuff discussed if not things accomplished. It was a committee at church. There are people at these meetings that although they are part of the same church family, do not think alike. In fact, I would say at least half at one time or another don't think like the other half. But I'm pretty sure we come together for roughly the same general idea. We want the church to do the work of God on earth.

The title to this post may sound exclusionary, but it isn't. The people of God is everyone. No exceptions. Whether you believe in God, Buddha, a Higher Intelligence, a Cosmic Hiccup, or any other terminology. And even if you don't believe in God (or any of those other things), you are still a being of creation. You are here for a reason. At least I firmly believe that. And so, you don't have to be part of a committee, part of a discussion group or even a pew sitter to be a person of God. Maybe it's more like a person TO God. You mean something to someone. And the things you do every day matter to someone. To that Higher Being you either recognize or don't. You mean something.

I have another meeting tomorrow night and for several nights after that. At each one, I listen to others say what is on their minds. Sometimes our minds work in tandem, sometimes not. But it isn't for me to decide who God listens to. It also isn't for me to decide whether they are worth listening to. God gets to decide. I'm just the one taking notes. I wish you would join me, not necessarily in the committee meetings...those kinds of gatherings are not for everyone I know...but come out to St. Marks and listen to the people there, listen to the music, listen for God. He is listening to you. I'm sure of it. No matter who you are or what you have to say.