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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Miracle of Gifts and Timing

This is not a post about Christmas gifts. You could argue that it is about gifts all wrapped up, but not in the way you might think. To explain...

I accompanied our daughter to a doctor appointment the other day. She wasn't supposed to drive home and her hubby could not accompany her this time. I, as always, am happy to oblige and take her anywhere. So we're sitting in the waiting room, waiting of course, and talking quietly and sharing little asides about this and that. When both of us notice that the receptionist is trying to talk to someone on the phone. She is having trouble because the women on the other end of the conversation is speaking Spanish and the receptionist doesn't. No habla espanol. My daughter looks at me with raised eyebrows. She is a Spanish teacher for elementary and middle school aged children. She spent half a year in Spain. She looks at the desperate woman behind the desk, sighs, then gets up and enters the conversation on the phone. The Spanish speaking woman speaks rapidly and her phone keeps breaking up, but eventually between the receptionist and my daughter, they get the information needed so that when the person who works in the office who DOES speak Spanish gets there, she will have the name and phone number of the caller. She comes back and sits down next to me. I tell her how great that was that she just went over to help. She shrugs, "no big deal," she says.

But you see, by us being there in the waiting room at that moment when those two women needed to communicate, that IS a big deal! To them this was important. And my daughter didn't appreciate the gift she has at the moment. I thought of it as a holy moment. People will say I'm making too much of this, but really, at THAT moment, at THAT time this woman called who needed help. Yep, that was a little miracle right there. A miracle of gifts and timing.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Moon and Stars

On November 14, according to the weather people, whom I don't always believe, and the astronomists around the world, whom I do, there will be a Supermoon. It is the closest the moon will have ventured to the planet earth since January 1948. It will not be seen like this again until 2034.

I like looking at the night sky. I'm not too adept at finding the constellations, but as long as there is something up there twinkling, I just like looking up. Once, when I was in the island of Maui, and the ambient light wa almost nonexistent, the sky looked like a piece of velvet with diamonds sprinkled across it. It was breath-taking.

And as I gaze upwards, I can't help thinking about the Creator. Who thought this stuff up? How could such wondrous and fantastic things like, planets, suns, nebulas and galaxies come into being? It makes me feel, not insignificant as I've heard others describe it, but yearning. Longing to meet such a God that has such powers of beauty and awe at his fingertips! What a fabulous thing to have created! And I get to see it! And so do you, if you care to, that is. So look up that night and think of the Supreme Being in all his mighty heavens, and marvel at those things. I'll be right there looking, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dreary Weather?

We had been in a stretch of rainy, no-so-warm-but-not-cold either weather. It didn't feel conducive to going outside and being energetic in ANY way. But for days now, I have been reading and contemplating and I need to get out and move. I decided to de-clutter the back deck, clean up the leaves, remove the dying and spindly annuals that will no longer bloom, in short get ready for the fall and winter weather. I felt ambitious even though I would likely get rained on any minute. But I was determined.

And it occurred to me, as I was sweeping and straightening, that the church could use this kind of house cleaning as well. We can become complacent in our worship and lazy in our work. Can you
see it and hear it in the way we are approach things? We can become focused on the bottom line, the financial strain of the summer, the fact that the 20% do the lion's share of the work. If we stop and think for a minute, though, we become aware of the things God has given us. Eyes to see those in need, ears to hear the cries of the forgotten and lonely, and hearts--ah, hearts, the greatest of God's gifts to us. Our hearts are filled with the wondrous joy of this marvelous creation! Our hearts overflow with compassion when we see those in need. And the joy of coming together as a community in faith, well, that's just down right priceless! So let's blow away the cobwebs of fear and selfishness. Let's wash the windows of our souls and let God's love shine through so that others can see what we have to be so happy about. And let's really, really get ready for the coming months!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Your Gut Reaction

I heard a song over the airwaves yesterday evening. It was sad, melodic and I hadn't heard it in a very, very long time. I knew the song and it had sweet significance for me. My father died many years ago of cancer and this song reminded me of our conversations about music and things we loved in the dark watches of the night before he passed away. He was brought back to me for just that little while so strongly, it was almost breath taking.

Have you experienced this? This breath grabbing feeling? Most of us have at least once experienced it. It could be anything from the first time you see your child do something daring to riding a roller coaster just before you plunge down after the highest peak. Have you ever felt this with your faith? Something so important or grace-filled that it takes your breath away? What happened? And do you still remember it?

Breath taking moments in faith don't come along every day, I would venture to guess. Most of the time we walk along our everyday lives without too conscious thought of God or what He has done in our lives. But if you take a walk outside and see the myriads of birds or the hundreds of flowers or even see the tiny little fish swimming in the local watering hole, it's pretty amazing! And if you also take a moment or two to see the diversity of people walking around; no two look the same, even identical twins! And no two personalities are the same. What marvelous works the Lord has done!

Take some time today to ponder the multitude of blessings and diversity which surround us, no matter the weather. No matter where you are. Give yourself a breathtaking moment in time. Just for today.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Time for Reflection

I am in a unique position this week. I'm not in my usual routine. I am on vacation, in a sunny, warm and removed place. When on vacation, I try to bring along good reading material, you know, something fun and able to take me out of the ordinary. Someone suggested I read the book, Accidental Saints and I have to say, this so far is a great experience! It's not a novel or romance or thriller. It is a series of short conversations between this woman who is a Lutheran pastor in Denver and the reader. How can you, the reader, have a conversation with the writer of a book? Well, for me, it happens all the time. In my head I agree or disagree with whatever the writer is "saying" at any given moment in a book. And this author, Nadia Bolz-Weber, is definitely speaking to me in her essays. I see myself in her Saints and Sinners analogies and can even envision responding the way she does in certain situations. Oh, man! I can relate so well to what she says, how she reacts and even her inner dialogs with herself.

She is helping me to be a more aware Christian. Aware that God uses us no matter who we are and what we bring to the community of faith. That sometimes our reluctance is as much a part of our gift to others as our enthusiams. That our snarky comments are a part of the fabric of faith as much as our hymns of praise. Because Jesus recruited everyone to the feast, no matter who they were and it wasn't just a fluke. Everyone gets an invitation, and you don't get to make up the guest list. But you do get to show up because YOU were invited, too.

I needed to read this lady, I needed to hear her voice. And I need to come back from vacation with a renewed sense of self. Thanks, Dawn, for your suggestion of this book!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Smoke in The Night

The other night as I sat reading in bed, I began to smell smoke. It wasn't close or anything (like in my house!), but it was near. My husband, who is retired and on alert for things in the neighborhood went out to investigate. There was apparently a house fire a couple of streets over. Because it was dark, we couldn't see exactly whose house it was or even the amount of damage. And in the morning, the front facade of the house didn't even look damaged. But the fire trucks in front of the house the evening before testified to the event for sure.

A few weeks ago a fierce storm whipped through the neighborhood. It uprooted a few large trees into people's houses. They are just now clearing away the huge stumps left over. And the houses have blue tarps on their roofs and some have bricks in the yard from the chimney that collapsed when the tree hit it. Again the front of the houses looked undamaged, until you saw the brilliant blue on the roof.

Life is full of uncertainties. If ever there was a cliche to write, that is it. But just because it's been said hundreds of times before, does not mean it isn't true. Each day brings new experiences. Some of them are almost exactly like the day before and the day before that. But sometimes they are larger, more catastrophic and even scary. I have heard people attribute these happenings to God. And it makes me angry. I don't believe that God wiggles his pinkie finger and causes the trees to topple in storms. Or he blinks his eyes and causes those horrendous floods like the ones which happened recently in West Virginia. Why would a God who has loved us through time, make something like that happen to his beloved creations? But neither do I believe that God just sits and watches as we struggle through whatever adversity comes our way.

I have been taught, and learned through experience, that God is with us at all times and in all places. From the falling of the Twin Towers to the scraped knee of a kid learning to ride a bike. In ALL times and at ALL places. If you read the Bible you will see his presence with us, not preventing things from happening, but standing with us when those things happened. For a society that prides itself on "doing it myself", this may be uncomfortable. But while in the midst of a crisis, nothing is more comforting than knowing there is someone there to lean on, to listen to you, to comfort you. Our front "facades"; those faces the world sees can hide our pain, our discouragement and our fear. But the God of my faith is standing right next to you and me, just waiting for a chance to put a tarp over our roofs and help us through whatever we are feeling. But there is a catch of sorts. You have to let him in. Our God doesn't tramp his way into your troubles uninvited. That free will thing is kind of a bummer. But true nonetheless. Opening your heart to God is like opening the windows on a new Spring morning. The fresh breeze of his love for you will come in and comfort and abide. But you have to be willing to open the window to get it.

The neighborhood where I live is really no different, or maybe that different from yours. Things happen everyday. But the God of our faith is there with us in the midst. With us. Emmanuel. I pray that you will feel his presence with you.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Missed Chances, or Not

I've been somewhat remiss in posting lately. I started to feel guilty about that, but then stopped myself. I write this blog for those who wish to visit our site and see for themselves what we do and who we are. And who we are includes all of God's people, the industrious and the not so much.

I teach an adult Sunday School class throughout the year (yes, even during the summer) and one thing I encounter are people who have attended the class either once or more than a few times, who feel they have to explain why they haven't been there. I try to stop them before they get too far along in their explanations about busy lives and hard to get up on Sunday mornings and whatevers. I don't take attendance in class. I want to see people when they come to class because they have the time THAT day at THAT hour. My class does not build one upon another. We try to have discussions on whatever the Gospel lesson is that week. Sometimes we deal with a topic or even a short book, but the class is never one to be so structured that if you miss one, you're lost for the next however many weeks. I'm not boasting about the class, I'm explaining the way it works. And really isn't that the way it works in our faith life as well? Most time we have the "faith time" built into our schedules. Maybe it's the ritual of Sunday morning worship. Maybe it's the beginning of the day, pausing to pray for the day. Maybe it's at the end of the day. Even if only to say, "Thank God today is over!" Our faith life fluctuates as our life does. What worked for you in elementary school, usually changes by the time you reach high school. What you had time for in high school is pushed to the back burners in young adulthood. Each stage of our lives brings about different understandings and rhythms of our faith. I don't think God keeps an attendance book either. If he did, my attendance would have been practically non-existent in my young adult years. But I don't believe he holds that against me. The God I know and love understands life changes and faith growth. And he waits for us with open arms whenever we have the time and chance to come and talk to him and listen for his wisdom.

So no, I don't feel guilty about not posting recently. And I hope if you are visiting here or on the website in general you will come to see us at St. Marks Lutheran Church. We're always looking for those who are looking for answers or asking questions. Even if we don't write about them every week.