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, December 9, 2013

Have You Heard The One About...?

I was thinking today about how we "hear" things about people or world events and then adopt that as set in stone. We hear that so-and-so is having marital problems, so we assume it to be true. Someone says that Mr. Whatsis did some jail time and we avoid him like the plague without even verifying the facts. I guess it's human nature or something.

The story about John The Baptist strikes me the same way. I can see the people of his time whispering behind his back about his clothes, his diet and his smell when he passed by. Some of those people came to hear him speak out of curiosity, after hearing about him. Did they stay for the message, I wonder? Did they hear the words of encouragement to "hang in there, the Savior's coming"? Or did they just see this weird guy and then go on about their business? And then of course, Jesus came along. He was different, too. But we know people talked about him, what he did, who he hung around with, the off-beat messages. We know people talked about him even after he died. They are still talking about him.

Are you?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Guest at The Table

America celebrates Thanksgiving this Thursday. If you're reading this, you most likely know this is so. You are probably one of thousands who are thinking of preparing food, thinking of cleaning the house, thinking of the little last minute ironing of the tablecloth, thinking that if you don't stop thinking you'll never get any sleep. It's a busy time, even if you are not hosting a dinner for far flung relatives.

I like thinking of dinners past. The times we gathered in the living room of my grandmother and grandfather's house, with all the leaves of the table inserted and the table groaning with food. The first time my brother-in-law fried a turkey and again the countertop laden with more food choices than one single human could possibly eat! Thanksgiving seems to be the time when our endless bounty overflowed in the delectable dishes spread out before us. But a tradition that has been kept from one year to the next, before we load our plates with all the temptations gustatorial, is when we either stand or sit around the table holding hands and thank The Lord for our blessings. It's never a very long prayer, or very eloquent by some standards. But I have always felt that the presence of The Lord around our table, laughing with delight at our foibles and antics is central to the celebration.

I hope you will invite The Lord to your table this year, as we invite him to ours. I know he would rejoice at the invitation, even if you didn't iron the tablecloth.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Time After Time

I heard a song the other day that I have heard lots of times before. I know it so well, that I've memorized the lyrics. The version I heard was sung by Carly Simon. The melody was sort of dreamy.  The name of the song is, "Time After Time," and no it's not the rock song. It's just a short little song with wistful words. 

Along with the fact that I heard this song, the evening before I had watched that movie with Whoppie Goldberg as a nun leading a choir. Remember that one? They took some 60's girl band songs and tweaked the words to reflect the nun's devotion to God. Remember, "I Will Follow Him," and how it took on new meaning when the nuns sang it? So here I am listening to Carly Simon sing, "time after time, I tell myself that I'm so lucky loving you," and I think that I'm so lucky that God feels this way about me! We've been told how much He loves us and how He gave us Jesus and I mean how much more loved, blessed, LUCKY, can we be?

And the last stanza seems appropriate as well, "and time after time, you'll hear me say that I'm so lucky to be loving you!" Because it's certainly reciprocal on my part as well as His! Can you think of other songs that would work this way? Not just hymns (although there are some wonderful ones), but songs that could be translated differently? I'll have to think of some!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Light inThe Morning

I am not and never, probably, will be an early riser. I do not wake up in good cheer first thing in the morning. Even when I know the day will be full of exciting or wonderful experiences, my waking mood is less than enthusiastic. This morning was no different, I woke up earlier than I needed to for some reason. I lay in bed wondering what got into me. And I rolled over and looked out the window. The sun was beginning it's slow but sure ascent and the sky was such a stunning shade of blues and pinks and mauve, that my mood seemed somehow an affront! How could anyone look at the sky this morning and not want to greet the day? And then I thought, I am alive to see this! Another dark night has passed and the morning has come through to deliver me from its hold!

Did Easter look like this morning? Did someone marvel at God's blessing of a new day which showed itself in such glorious splendor? I can only imagine it was so. For today, I will rise from bed and instead of making my way bleary-eyed to the breakfast table, I think I will ponder the wonder of the fact that I did wake up to be greeted this way, while I sip my morning tea.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autumn Time

The leaves are beginning to fall in our yards. Football is on the TV on any given evening. There is a slight dip in the temperature in the evenings as well. We begin our yearly routines as we either take our children back to school or watch as it happens to the kids in the neighborhood. We rake leaves, we put away the lawn chairs and we reminisce. Autumn makes as look back at the year gone by. What do we see? If I might suggest, let us look back with a new lens. Let us see where God was in our midst this past year. Maybe it's been a tough year for you, full of stress or peppered with sadness or grief. Do you see God in the middle of this? It's hard sometimes to envision His presence when it seems there are troubles all around. It's easier to see the blessings, the abundant joy, the glorious mornings and star laden nights when your heart is full. But when your heart is troubled, God seems remote and distant. My mother always reminded me that God doesn't move, we do. I have prayed much harder and listened more intently when my heart is "heavy laden", then when my heart is light. Can you see God-with-us?

Let's welcome the fall weather with a renewed spirit of finding God in our daily lives where ever we may be.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Words to Live and Rhyme By

If you weren't there last Sunday, you missed our talented Pastor recite in rhyme his sermon. It was really well done and with his permission I have included the words. We are so blessed to have such a great guy with us and can even rhyme if given the chance!!

A Sabbath Poem by Jeff May

The summer, she's passing
Church attendance has been lapsing
Now we turn to shorter days
When the boats come off the bays
Time grows weak for sun and leisure,
Is this the end of fun and pleasure?

Perhaps Sabbath is more than just rest
It's time to note that we are blest
God stopped the work that 7th day
To give creation freedom's way
For though we live within sin's bent
We are called and claimed and sent.

Shall we grieve our life hereafter,
Our souls bracing for less laughter?
Turn the page on roasting weiners
Boardwalk vendors, wallet cleaners?
When iPhones no longer capture leisure,
Is this the death of all we treasure?

So note the end of summer's haze
The longer nights, the shorter days
And when our tans begin to fade
Will our hopes too be mislaid?
Shall we all make melancholy
Get back to work, forsake the holy?


So let us pause amid our memory,
Turn and think 'bout what we carry
What we've learned about our rest
Look and savor all the best
In rest and joy and friendships true
In all these things we are made new.

So learn this truth on Sabbath-taking
Savor sunset, morning coffee making
Take the time in this vacation
Note the rhythm of creation
Listen close; creator's beat
Love's melody: Oh, so sweet.


We say that Sabbath is on Sunday
Like it is only meant for one day
Show up at the holy place
Prayer and Kyrie and grace
Then go in peace and serve the Lord
And all week long faith be ignored

So what if Sabbath is more, and more
Like things that make the heart strings soar
Times that build our hearts as one
To take creation's sacred work begun
You may be bent, but you are holy
Sins forgiven, straightened wholly.


It's not so much a day of week
It's time to hear the holy speak
God's gracious gift for weary soul
Restored, renewed, is now made whole
Abundant life is Sabbath's aim
Life in the Spirit, each day's claim.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where is God in All This?

It is a humid, hot day in ol' NJ. If you live in this neck of the woods, it's to be expected. It is almost never hot and dry. Hazy usually accompanies the hot and humid descriptions. It is usually in these long, uncomfortable, mosquito-laden days, we sit in front of the fan, or if we're lucky the air conditioner and begin to ponder things. Why are we here? What is the meaning of our existence? What was God thinking when he came up with mosquitos?

Unfortunately, I cannot answer a single one of those questions definitively. I've pondered them myself. I've read numerous books looking for answers to those global questions of eternal truths. I've even prayed about them, from time to time. Haven't gotten an answer so far. But this I do know, God is IN all this. The Almighty is not a puppeteer nor an absentee landlord. He doesn't sneer from the lofty majestic heavens and cause some catastrophe to befall humankind. He isn't striking down sinners left and right when things don't go "His" way. That isn't my Heavenly Father! I hope to heavens He isn't yours either! God is with us in all things, no matter the calamities we seem to work ourselves into. He is with the sorrowing widows, the repentant thieves, the confused and bewildered children of his world. We have been given free choice and that comes with great responsibility. And sometimes those choices are so outrageously wrong, we marvel at how someone could come to decide upon them. But our God is right there, smack-dab in the chaos and confusion. In the sick and needy. And even int the hot, sultry mosquito days of summer. God is with us! I can still wonder why he created some of the things He did, but to know he walks beside me as I ponder is worth the discomfort of a few itchy bumps on a summer day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Saints and Poets

Okay, so I'm having lunch with a friend at a local diner. We're catching up on our lives since the last time we saw each other, about a billion years ago. We're laughing and enjoying each other's company. An elderly gentleman comes into the dining area with a younger woman. He's having trouble walking. He's so thin it looks like the wind would blow him over. He sits and sort of stares out into space as the younger woman (I'm guessing a daughter or niece) asks him questions. His eyes wander around the room, but never stop to really look at anything. I have no idea what their interaction is, they are too far away to hear, but it doesn't appear to be rancorous. He isn't agitated and she isn't either from my observation.

Right before this guy came in, my friend had been talking about white water rafting (the mere thought of it makes me jumpy) and hiking with her family. Spending time with the people she loves most in the world. What a joy it was for her (and for me, too for that matter--spending time with family is my all time favorite pastime). And here's this guy at the diner who doesn't appear to even be cognizant of his surroundings, let alone who is beside him. It made me sad to see him.

But then, my friend reminded me how fortunate we are to be able to walk and talk and observe the things around us! From the noisy blue jay outside the window, to the yellow and black swallowtail butterfly silently fluttering by to the smell of the garden my husband has been tilling, the wonders of the Lord's world is almost too much to bear. As we shuffle from one problem to another, never lifting our eyes to the Creator we miss so much! When was the last time you were truly grateful for the things which happen in the blink of an eye, like the blink of an eye! How could we possibly remember to thank the Almighty for breath? For vision? For the senses we employ every single minute of every single day?In one of my favorite plays, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, Emily, the deceased young lady asks the Stage Manager, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" And the sage Stage Manager replies, "No. Saints and poets maybe--they do some."

Let us either be a saint or a poet today and realize the wonderful life we have before us. Before we cannot comprehend  what we are missing or are too tired to pay attention.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

This is My Father's World

This a very personal post from me today. I won't wax eloquent about religion or the religious practices at St. Marks. But I need to write today and this is just pouring out of me, so if it's not to your liking, please read on to something else, I won't mind.

The hymn title above was in my head this morning. I never know why particular hymns suddenly inhabit my brain, but today of all days, I think I know why this one was there. Today is the 25th anniversary of my father's death. I remember parts of the day sometimes with such clarity. Other times, I search to try to remember things about him. I honored my father as the bible tells us. He was a good man, flawed as everyone else, but good in his heart. He could fix just about anything. He loved words so much he did crossword puzzles in ink. He was very intelligent even though he never attended college. Not that college is the mark of intelligence, as I'm sure you'll agree. But his knowledge was wide ranging and far reaching. He liked to laugh. He like to read.  He was happy with a Budweiser beer in one hand and cigarette in the other. He was a dad like all the other dads I knew. Not overly anything--loud or caustic or embarrassing. Of course, we're all embarrassed of our fathers at some point, mostly as teenagers. But I was proud he could do so many things and loved his intelligence and humor.

Our Father in heaven...I'm not afraid of saying that. Some people had awful fathers. Mean guys, bad guys. I get it. I really do. But my father was not a bad thing to be for me. And when we talk about our Father in heaven, it's a good association for me. "This is my Father's world, I rest me in the thought..." My heavenly Father is good as far as I'm concerned because my own Father was good. Loving and caring, a little bit hard to fathom sometimes. Both Fathers are good images for me. I would hope the same would be true for everyone, but I know it's not. So when Father's Day rolls around, he won't be here again, but my heavenly Father will be (as he is on all other days) and he still "speaks to me everywhere."

And I thank my heavenly Father for the Father on earth who was with me for just a little while.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How To Pray

One of the nice things about our congregation is that we have people who compose prayers to share each Sunday. The stand up and deliver a prayer each week and we say, "Lord, hear our prayer," after each petition. I've always been kind of envious of those who do that. The are really good at sharing their inner most thoughts out loud with us and most times we can relate to the ideas of praying for peace in the world or asking for comfort for the sick. One of the reasons I don't do this, as much as I love to stand up front, is because I don't feel  I have enough reverence about me. I have a tendency to want to make people smile or laugh and the Prayer of the Day is not the time for a punch line, at least that's the way I look at it.

But I was thinking today about the way we do go about praying for things. Anne Lamont says some of her most fervent prayers are simply, "help me, help me, help me!" I imagine a child asking God to help him with the next spelling test or help in removing the splinter in her first finger which is bothering her. I know I have prayed that there be retribution for the guy who zoomed in the non-existent right lane in order to get to the light in front of me and six other cars. What do we think God will do in these instances? Instant gratification I assume. What if instead we prayed for patience or wisdom? What if we asked God to help us understand the actions that seem stupid to us, but maybe under difference circumstances would be perfectly understandable?

So I have decided that even though I will still ask for peace in the world and help for the sick, I will ask God to help me out with the patience thing and the wisdom thing and those grander, nobler goals. I may still ask about the splinters, though. The really are quite bothersome.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Busyness of Life

I've noticed something lately. We're all very busy. Of course, you've noticed this yourself I'm sure. And it's not a recent development either. We've been busy for some time now. We're running here and there, checking our phones for messages or emails, driving at breakneck speed to get to the store, the gym, soccer practice, little league, piano lessons and don't forget to pick up the card for Mother's Day in between. Busy, busy, busy. It never stops really unless you force the time to stop. Okay, you can't really force time to stop, but you can decide where you will slow down and use the time you have in the ways in which are important to you.

I had decided quite some time ago that Sunday would be the day to stop and slow down for me. I like to go to church and visit my friends there. I like to go to Sunday School for adults and have conversation about things that interest us. I like to come home and leisurely read the paper (including the comics!) with a cup of coffee. I sometimes visit my mother or my daughter. It is my day of rest. Some of us don't have that luxury. Some of us work on the weekends. And too many of us decide that a "day of rest" is antiquated and quaint. But to you I say, everyone needs some time to stop and smell the dandelions. Everyone needs time to sit and stare out the window at nothing in particular with no particular place to go. It doesn't matter if you use this time to meditate or speak with God. It matters that you stop. Because use of quiet, placid time is important for your well-being. Having some "down" time means you pay attention to the things in life that really matter, like the fact that there are dandelions to smell, or a breeze to feel, or white puffy clouds to watch. It means being "present" in the moment and not planning for the future. It means being still and open to the world which is so sumptuously laid out for you.

Try and take some time this week for just sitting still and being. Not plotting and planning for the next moment to come. Just sitting still and being there.

And if you meet God there, well, all the better!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

After Easter

It's easy to believe in God after Easter. When the sun is shining and the tulips are open and the air is sweet with the smell of Spring. It almost feels like heaven on earth! The problem comes when the sun isn't shining. When there aren't any flowers. When the world around seems dark and dangerous. I think it might be human nature to fold into yourself then. My mother called it, "circling the wagons", when you protect yourself and pull into yourself and hide. No one gets in when you do that.

But, God is so much bigger than the dark days. Opening yourself up to the One who loves you more than you can imagine, can give you a better sense of peace than relying on yourself. Yes, the world can be a scary and sometimes dangerous place. But it also a place where God's people dwell. Where fellow human beings lift you up, sometimes even carry you over those rough places. Being a Christian means that there is a community to support you, to welcome you, to listen to you when the rest of the world seems to have "circled the wagons" against you!

There's nothing wrong with watching the television news to find things out, but remember to tune into the Good News as well, to hear about the enduring love and grace given to us as a gift from God. And when you can again see the flowers, feel the sun on your head like benevolent hands, and hear the birdsong, remember The Lord of all is with you ALL the time. And that is something to believe in.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good? Friday

Good Friday is really annoying. It’s annoying because, well, for one thing, we usually like Fridays. They come at the end of a work week. Sometimes it’s even a payday! Fridays are a time to relax a little before the to-do list is tackled on Saturday. Fridays usually are good. Except this one. This one is definitely bad. And not only was it bad, it was bad for everyone involved. It was bad for Pilate who didn’t want to be bothered, it was bad for Peter who denied Jesus not once, mind you, but three times. It was really bad for the disciples who ran and hid so they wouldn’t be arrested either. Of course, it was really, really bad for Jesus. The ultimate worst day of his life. I mean it ended with him dying. It just couldn’t get any worse. And, if I may belabor a point here, Good Friday is annoying because we have to relive it every year. Every year we hear the verses that tell us how everyone fell short of understanding who Jesus was. EVERY YEAR! It’s not like once in a while we hear something different to, you know, change it up a little. Nope. Every year it’s the same bad news. Depressing story, depressing ending, annoying Pilate and Sanhedrin. Just sad, the whole thing.

And then, and then…I have to stop whining. I have to be “re-tuned” to hear what it is about, this sad, depressing, downer of litany about what happened 2000 plus years ago. Because there was a reason for what happened. It wasn’t just some story passed down to scare us and make us feel depressed every year. There is a reason for this.

I am a sinful person. Lest you feel smug, excuse me, but so are you. We are both saint and sinner as Brother Luther pointed out hundreds of times. I really don’t deserve to be forgiven all the stuff I do or even don’t do. I walk away from responsibilities. I walk away from people I love when I don’t want to hear them. I practically run away from God some days. And when I finally get to Sunday, I usually stop, turn and look up at the cross. That somber symbol of the day. It’s there before me, accusatory and yet not. Making me face who I am, yet still shadowing me, cloaking me, covering me.  Bringing me back to the God I profess to love. I remember that Jesus had a choice, too.  He didn’t have to go to the cross for us. He even asked God to get out of it—just like I do! But he didn’t get out of it, he didn’t walk away, he didn’t take the easy way out. He interposed himself for us. Big word, interposed. In this case it means: to place between two people or things. He placed himself between God and man or woman or child or whatever pronoun you want to use. He put himself between God and us, so that God would see not just the ugly stuff, but the good stuff, too. Jesus put himself there on purpose. Not because we deserve it, but because, well, because he sought us out. He took on our sins in this horrible drama that gets played out so death can’t have the final word. We are saved by Jesus’ blood. I should be more joyful in light of this. More vocal in my praise. I have been saved by Jesus’ blood.

Instead, I wander around like I’m the captain of my own ship, answerable to me and me only. In my own private and personal thoughts, I’m good enough, so what’s the problem? I need to be reminded of the cross, really not once a year, but every single day! God loves me every single day. How can that be? I don’t seem to be particularly lovable in my actions, my thoughts and deeds. That love that binds me to him through that sorrowful symbol of the cross is also a blessing. Thank God I’m loved! Through no actions or thoughts of my own. Thank God! Thank God.

This sad, depressing story of Good Friday is actually a story of love so big, that there is not really any way to measure it, to quantify it, to even grasp it. It’s just too all encompassing. Too magnanimous. Too amazing in its grace. So full of mercy and goodness, that we need only to think of today as Good Friday. Because it is good. And no walking or even running away from God can separate us from him.  Because of Jesus. Because of the love that is sealed with this cross, with his actions, with this love never ceasing.

Maybe Good Friday isn’t as annoying as I once thought.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Our adult Sunday School class has been studying a book entitled: Lenten Journey: Beyond Question by Eric Burtness. It can actually be used as a day to day devotional guide if you wanted to, but as is my wont, I skip around as we discuss the topics and questions that come about. I think it's been a particularly good book to work though as the questions that Jesus asks, which is what the book dives into, aren't easy. They are complex questions that have complex answers--none of them "right or wrong". This may prove a problem for some. People like to have yes or no, black or white, do you  or don't you answers to questions posed. But how are you supposed to answer these: What are you looking for? Do you wish to be made well? or even Why do you doubt?

Oh sure, in the short term these questions can be answered. But in the long term, that's kind of different. What are you looking for? in the short term could be as simple as my glasses (have you looked on top of your head?). But in the "bigger picture", I'm not sure I know what the answer to that is. What am I looking for in life? In a Savior? In my community of faith? These questions have no concrete answer. They can be picked and pulled apart for years even without coming to a satisfying conclusion. The one that caught a couple of us last Sunday was, "Do you wish to be made well?" On the surface, it seems like kind of goofy question. Of course, I want to be made well! Who wouldn't? But when you get right down to it, sometimes we don't really want to be made well. Some people get an awful lot of mileage out of "being unwell" either physically or mentally. They seem to like not having certain responsibilities because of their illness. The response to this might include other questions like: Well, not right now, how about later? Or what will I have to do if I am?

The last one asked in the first paragraph is a real good question to get a discussion started. I can't wait until we talk about that one. Can you come out and join us when we do? It will probably be next Sunday or the next one, but which ever one it is, I hope you'll join us.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lenten Thoughts

We have entered the season known in the church as Lent. It lasts from Ash Wednesday (this year the day before Valentine's Day) to Maundy Thursday which falls on March 28th. During this time we get together on Wednesday nights for food and worship. If you haven't joined us before, it would be a great time to do so as all of us get together at one time as opposed to two services.

In thinking about this time of Lent, sometimes people get kind of anxious or worried. When I was growing up, people used to struggle mightily with what they would "give up" for Lent. In our family, it was usually candy, as that was something we loved to indulge in, and would show our devotion by not having rotten teeth for a few weeks. But I have begun to evolve in my thinking about "Lenten discipline" and have decided instead to give in to things. No, not to candy (although I do still love it). Instead I have decided that giving in to Lent involves helping out with the Lenten plays we have as part of our worship. It involves teaching on Sunday mornings. It entails trying to think less of myself and more of others. I am not trumpeting my devotion, I'm simply saying that instead of that inward denial that seemed to be part of my Lenten season every year, I've decided that outward reaching and embracing could be more rewarding than anything I've done before.

How about you? What have you decided? Will you be giving up or giving in? It doesn't matter really what you decide to do, even if you decide not to do anything. The only real important thing to remember is that we are all joined together this season. Getting together for reflection, meditation and food, too! So I hope you will join us. And just in case, don't bring any candy. I might decide to give that up as well!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It happens every year

That's right, every year we, as a church family get together and figure out our finances for the upcoming year. In the process we talk about what has transpired during the past year. I guess every church does this and the Congregational Meeting as we have come to call it ranges from a Pastor's report to highlights from most of our committees. Some people would rather have their teeth pulled than come to this meeting. I understand, sort of. It's not exciting or usually uplifting or maybe even inspiring, except it really kind of is--and I'll tell you why.

The Church, not the Lutheran Church mind you, but the church as drawn and realized by the followers of Jesus, is over 2000 years old. It exists not to figure out the finances of its parishioners, although we do that. It exists because we follow the Christ. We are all part of something bigger than ourselves individually, bigger than our egos (which can be pretty big sometimes), bigger than numbers on a page--whether those numbers represent money, people or property. The church exists to be The Lord in the world, his hands and feet. We do this together whether we like the guy next to us or not, whether the weather is nice or not, whether we "feel" like it or not. Because we are all individuals who come together for this corner property, we are sharing a vision of the one began all those years ago. It can be exciting because we are working together to build something bigger than ourselves.

So stick around for the meeting if you can tomorrow. It may not be earth shaking or pew thumping, but I promise you, it will change the world if only by agreeing to meet at one service and be the hands and feet of God.