Message from Pastor Jerry

Monthly Message

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. John 19:25-27

Greetings and Peace to you!

And so, the story continues!
Here we stand at the beginning of the month of March! Together, we have heard God made manifest in the birth of Jesus! Together we have heard God declare to Jesus; “You are my beloved Son! With You I am well pleased,” at the baptism of Jesus. Together we have witnessed and heard the many ways through the season of Epiphany which have “revealed” God’s presence in the world. Together we have witnessed the “transfiguration” of Jesus on a mountain, hearing God say; “This is my beloved Son! Listen to Him!”

It is good for myself and Shirley to be here with all of you! It is good for all of us to be here and witness the power of God unfolding in the world. As good as it is for all of us to be together in the revealing of God’s story, the story itself needs to be “good” even for those who are not here! Not only our sisters and brothers in Christ who haven’t been able to worship with us lately, but also those people who have never even heard of the story of God’s love for the world.

We, the people of the United Proclamation of the Gospel proclaim that through the life of Jesus Christ we can see how God has acted in the world to share a message of peace, hope, support, encouragement, and unbridled love! This kind of proclamation can not be adequately expressed without a true “transfiguration” of those who hear and truly believe the power of God’s love.

For far too long many people have seen the church as a type of “social club.” A place that people gathered together in order to “network”, to make business contacts, social contacts, and fulfill some kind of “obligation” we might feel to our parents, grandparents, society, or even God! Yet; I share with you that in my opinion, God does not desire our “obligation”, God desires that we WANT to be disciples! That we WANT to be transformed by the power and the love of God! That we WANT to draw closer to God in deep and powerful ways.

In order for our community of faith to have a deeper and more powerful presence in the world around us, we need to allow ourselves to literally be “transformed” by the love of God.

What does that look like? It looks like people who place God and faith at a higher priority in their lives than they currently occupy. Not that we need perfect church attendance, but that our church attendance takes priority over some of the other offerings that the world affords us. It means that Monday through Saturday, we honestly attempt to allow God to be seen in our daily living. To bear witness to the many places through our common, ordinary lives in which God is being revealed. From the woman at the local gas station spreading “rock salt” on the pavement so that we don’t slip and fall, to the fire people willing to risk their lives by running into a burning building to save lives. In all these places and in all these ways; God is revealed through the lives of God’s children on earth.

In order for us to be truly “transformed” in the light of God, we must be willing to give up some of the control in our lives and allow God’s voice and God’s actions to help inform our daily living. When we truly KNOW and allow ourselves to FEEL and EXPERIENCE the power of God’s love there is just no way that we can be the same from that moment forward. And this is truly the point.
In the season leading out of Epiphany and leading to Easter stands the season of Lent. The great question of Lent is “what will we do with God’s revelations and God’s power once we realize where those events lead us (to the anger of society, the trial, crucifixion and death of Jesus, but also to the empty tomb)?

Transformation! Each of you has been told by God “You are my child!” This means that you and I share along, with Jesus, a mission to share in God’s desire in this world to deliver a word of justice and mercy. This means that you and I are invited into a ministry that shares a word of forgiveness and a place of “sanctuary” for those who need a respite. This means that all of us get the opportunity to share a word of “hope” and “peace” in a world that attempts to “divide” and “conquer.” Most of all it means that the Creator of the Cosmos desires that we join in sharing LOVE.

During this wonderful season of Lent may each of us intentionally choose to allow our God to continue to “Transform” our lives into the beautiful creation we were each meant to be.

Peace and blessings.

Weekly Message – March 4

Defining the Way or “the fly in the ointment.”

And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has commanded.”
Exodus 19;8a

Greetings and peace to you all!
As we continue in our Lenten pilgrimage, our mid-week worship focused on a moment in time when the people of Israel were told by God that indeed THEY would be priests to the nations of the world! Mind you, the people did not request this honor from God. The people did not petition the heavenly court to obtain this title. In fact, in many ways on a personal level, I really wonder whether the plurality of the people of Israel even desired this title. Yet, regardless of what the people “thought” they wanted, God’s desire for the Israelites became the “fly in the ointment” of their human desires.

Yes indeed, as a Lutheran Christian who has walked on this beautiful earth for the last five decades I can attest to the many times in my own life and the life of the world around me when God’s desires and God’s teachings become the “fly in the ointment” of human desire.

At one time in time in the Lutheran tradition in America, Holy Communion was only celebrated annually or quarterly. This human tradition was challenged by reading and understanding Holy Scripture which shared that “every time the disciples came together” they celebrated in the Lord’s Supper. Indeed, while in the year of our Lord 2018 Holy Communion has become part and parcel of our regular worship, for the generations of Lutherans who endured the transition in the 1970’s and 1980’s this provided quite a challenge. God’s desire for this meal of unity, grace, mercy and love stood in opposition to many people’s human tradition.

Today, young girls and women are rightly told that they can fully participate in the life of the church. All are welcome to hold positions of leadership during our worship celebrations. People are not excluded from the rosters of the ordained leadership of the ELCA based on gender any longer. However, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, this was not true in the Lutheran Church. During this time in the life of our church God was working through the people of God’s church to inspire such change, to share that indeed the ground at the base of the cross is level and that all people are welcome.
While even these transitions have a long way to go to be truly inclusive, I would confess to you that in many regards the Lutheran Church is more closely affiliated with some major components of Christ’s teaching than at any other time in history.

Yet these changes which have occurred in our past and are now readily accepted within our midst were at one time almost “revolutionary” when they were introduced. Our collective memories tend to gloss over the number of people who left communities of faith because we “devalued” Holy Communion by offering it with more frequency. We may no longer recall the harsh words exchanged or the anger shared about our church allowing women to serve as pastors. Through it all God walked with us and never left our side and today these once “revolutionary views” are the established “norms” of our communities.
This week our mid-week studies focused on times such as these in our past. As one of my brothers in Christ so eloquently shared during our time together “Just because God calls us into a new way of living and thinking doesn’t mean that the road will be easy.” Indeed, this statement rang true in my ears.

While the destination of our Lenten pilgrimage is still unknown, for myself, it has been a comfort and a true joy to walk alongside so many faithful people. To my colleagues, Rev. Ray Hittinger and Rev. Sandy Birchmeier who have so wonderfully designed and implemented this journey, to the people who have been organizing and preparing our food and the space we utilize and to the 70 or so people who have joined us on our journey together my heart rejoices and gives thanks to God!
I continue to invite you to join us in our journey! Feel free to come and walk beside us on Wednesdays at noon on our Light of Christ campus or at 6:00pm on our St. Peter’s campus. Our time together is wonderful and provides both insightful conversation and time to share in fellowship with our sisters and brothers in Christ.
For now, may each person reading this reflection be filled with the hope and the promise of God’s abiding presence and love during our Lenten pilgrimage.

For now, peace and blessings to you!