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 24, 2015

What's The Deal With The Colors?

This Sunday coming up is the first Sunday in Advent. This is the time in the church calendar where we get ready...what, you may ask are we getting ready for? Well, for Jesus, is the standard answer. But he was here already, I hear you say. Yes, I reply, but he promised to come back. Not only that, I like to add, but he comes every day. There is an anticipation for the next four weeks and it has nothing to do with the sales at Kohls or Boscovs. We are awaiting the arrival of Jesus.

The vestments and the special cloths on the altar and lecturn that change color with the seasons of the church year are blue now. I read up on the reason they are blue. It said blue stood for hope. And if ever we needed some hope in this world it's now. Hope for a better world for our children. Hope for peace. Hope for a future not crowded with fear and bigotry, but populated with caring and embracing of differences. We are hoping for Jesus to come into our midst, our lives, and our souls. That is what Advent is all about. I hope you will join us.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Kingly Way of Looking at Things

This Sunday is referred to as Christ The King Sunday. Taken at face value, most of us would say, yeah, I get that Jesus was a King of sorts. He is, after all, God's son, right? But I wonder if we really appreciate what Jesus was "in charge of" based on our interpretation of kings. He helped the poor. He eased the suffering of the sick and neglected. He poured out so much love on everyone, it's a wonder he didn't collapse. He wasn't a Roman emperor. Or even a revered scholar. He was a teacher to those who would listen. And a place of refuge to those who had no where else to go. And the most miraculous thing is, He still is. He is still that place of peace and refuge and solace, if you would seek him out. So let's look at the kind of King Jesus really is. Not the wealthy, power wielding figure we associate with the word. But the tower of strength built on the foundation of grace and love. 

Join us as we celebrate the ordination of Pastor Jay Berry this Sunday (and, we'll celebrate with us every Sunday for that matter)! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Listening For The Voice

The world is a noisy place, especially recently. As the holiday season draws near there are a lot of people clamoring for our attention. As the political season winds up (or down depending on your perspective), the noise level seems to rise. The recent events throughout the world seem to scream out of our television screens, forcing us to face realities we would perhaps rather not. A clanging wall of sound, bashing on our ears. It is tiring. It is disheartening. It makes me feel sad.

But the funny thing is this, you see, I wear hearing aids. So technically, I could cut off the sound at any time, by "unplugging" my ears. If I take those devices out of my ears the world is a much quieter place. But I don't do it. I mean until I go to bed at night. I leave them in all day. At times I'm sorry to have heard things. At times I'm so grateful for these, it's overwhelming.

The Lord has given us so much. And the love He has bestowed and entrusted us with is an important part of how we listen. Are you listening with your heart? Or just your mind? Are you remembering that God came down to us to prove how important we are to Him? As we approach Thanksgiving, and the blessed season of Advent after that, let us turn down the noise of cynicism, the yelling of judgment, the hard-heartedness we sometimes build around ourselves. Let us listen for the distant choir of angels, the blessed quiet of the Peace which passes all understanding. I keep my hearing aids in to listen to God's Word around me, won't you join me in listening in?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Looking for The Answers

We have an adult Sunday School class that I frequently mention in this post. It's an interesting mix of people who come in and out, share stories and never talk, crack jokes and hardly smile. We are all seeking different things when we meet in class. Some of us just want to continue the fellowship from the church service. Some of us want to see what other people think of the gospel reading for the week. I send out the reading as an email for the class to peruse before getting together on Sunday. Some of us, me included, are looking for answers. And I don't always find them. Answers I mean. I like delving into scripture and reading blogs and checking over commentaries to see what others have to say. I'm almost always surprised by some commentators, sometimes surprised by the little bits and pieces I find out about the life of Jesus and the people of his day. And usually I'm pretty excited about the observations made by the members of the class. I'd like to invite you to come and share your story, your self and your ideas with us on Sunday. Even if you haven't read the gospel lesson, join us as we look for answers, even if we never find them.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Saints Day

So tomorrow at church we will observe All Saints Day. It is a day to remember the saints who have marched on to the "heavenly places" specifically over the past year and generically over the course of our lives. It's meant to be a somber day, but not necessarily a depressing day. We look back at the last year and suddenly realize those faces that once we met week after week are no longer there. We glimpse a widow who last year was a wife/widower who last year was a husband. Time marches forward; we all know this. But I for one will find tomorrow a conflicting mish-mosh of emotions. We have elected a new pastor, surely a wonderful thing to rejoice and sing about. He seems to fit our congregational family in so many ways it's hard to believe it will be his first Sunday preaching as the officiant, officially here! But this Sunday one of my best friends will not be here, nor will he ever be again. His presence, his laughter, his hugs, his annoying way of arguing to make you see the "other side" of something that you were convinced HAD no other side--he's gone. And please, don't give me that "he's in a better place now" line. I have heard that for almost a year now. It doesn't make me miss him any less. It doesn't make me feel better, so can you not say it, please? The hollow place in my heart is beginning to mend, but it's not filled yet, its still bruised. And lighting a candle in his memory will be hard to do. My other friend, won't be there either. My Scripture Study partner, my "we can fix anything" guy. Although he was not as close to me as my other friend, there was still a place for him in our Adult class to argue, compare notes and marvel at the world the Lord has made. That candle will be hard too. As will the candle for my husband's two aunts and uncle and all those other people who have gone on and left me standing here with hot wax on my hands and tears in my eyes. It will be a hard time tomorrow folks. But we have a new Pastor who will lead us to the next tomorrows. And so it's not all bad. Nope, not all.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

We Have Plans

I like to plan things. Dinners, informal get togethers, even what I will say sometimes! The problem with plans is that they don't always follow the vision I have in my head. I'll plan my day based on what I think will happen and seventeen OTHER things happen and I never do that ONE thing. Plans can be comforting though, in a way. Having kind of a general plan, helping to shape your day or a task sometimes makes things go smoother. There is even a bible verse about planning! It comes from the book of Jeremiah (he was a prophet), chapter 29, verse 11. It says this: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

I bring all this planning stuff up because on Sunday we can take a step forward in our walk of faith. We will vote on a candidate for Pastor of St. Marks church. We have been planning and working towards this for some time. And now comes the time to decide. If you are a member of St. Marks, please join us on Sunday for one service at 9:30 as we listen for God's voice when we vote. And remember the words the prophet shared..."plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Join us as we share hope. In fact, PLAN on it!

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Exactly Was He Trying to Say?

I teach an Adult Sunday School class between the early and late services. I've been doing it for a looooong time now. Most of the time I like it. There are occasional Sundays where I've considered letting someone else do this for a while, but it's a great discipline for me and other people seem to like what I do.

For the past year or so, we've been studying the gospel lessons as they are given for the church year. The Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of readings used to varying degrees by the vast majority of mainline Protestant churches in Canada and the US. The readings are built around the seasons of the Church Year, which reflects the life of Christ. The gospel lesson for each Sunday provides a focus if you will for that particular day. I contact members of the class during the week via email (or snail mail if they don't have email) and let them know what the reading is and come up with some questions which relate to what the gospel says for that week coming up. Because I love to dig into what the reading COULD mean versus what it actually says, I've been enthusiastic about this particular style of class discussion.

And since I'm not teaching this week, I got to thinking about this:  what is Jesus is trying to say? We've been pondering that  ever since we started looking at the gospels. What is Jesus trying to get across to the disciples both then and now? Some people have claimed that  the teachings contained in the gospels are archaic and have no place in today's world. But I don't happen to subscribe to that theory. Some other people have said that everything written down in the Bible is fact, but if that is the case, when Jesus says he is vine, it means he's a plant. I don't think so either. Because the Bible seems to me to be something that is living and breathing, we have to give it some oxygen to get at what it says. We have to be able to read and discuss and debate and even disagree about what Jesus was talking and teaching about. There are nuances in these readings just as there are nuances in everyday conversation. Looking into the "way things were" at the time he walked the earth is helpful. Realizing that sometimes the person translating the text had a hidden agenda is also important to think about. Talking with others about what their interpretations of the reading is great for "opening your ears" to what the gospel is trying to get across.

In the final analysis, I think Jesus was trying to say one thing only. Love is the answer to every question. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Love your enemies and love God. So I guess it really isn't necessary to have class after class on Sunday mornings. But I think it's worthwhile anyway. We hope you will join us some time!