Homesick Hearts

It was 50 degrees and raining, the morning of the Blessing of the Bikes near our old hometown in Michigan. The cheery fire in our friend’s fireplace made us want to curl up in a corner with a mug of something warm. But we had driven 900 miles to get here, so we set our teeth, determined to get our bike blessed despite the weather. Besides, we had been cold and wet before. We pulled on long johns, heavy woolen socks, gloves, and helmets and rain gear. I felt like the kid in the Christmas Story; whining, “I can’t move my arms!” when we finally set out for the hour ride to the airport, where the Catholic priest would make the sign of the cross over the thousands of bikes lined up like chrome sardines in a can. Half way there, the sun smiled on us, the roads dried up, and the day turned perfect. We rode by our old homestead, and I felt that vague, dull ache of homesickness, thudding in my chest. The trees were thinly leafing out, the grass, green and cool. I remembered walking our old dog through the woods, steering clear of the big, black bear that made the hair stand up on his neck, and had him skittering sideways in the brush. I remembered spying out the deer yard, and wading in the stream that ran, cold and clear, through the back of our land. I missed knowing what to plant, and when, and the comfort of being able to turn over a big rock and identify what ever it was you might find underneath it. But, on the ride back, I found myself wondering why there was no moss hanging from the trees, and where all the flowers were, and marveling that the farmers had not yet turned over the ground, although it was mid-May. I found myself looking in every puddle for an alligator, and laughing at myself over it. The only thing in these puddles might be some tadpoles, newly hatched. How odd it was, that when I was in Georgia, I missed the familiar feel of Michigan. But, when I was in Michigan, I had Georgia on my mind. It felt like my heart was in both places at once, and I was homesick, either place. In Bonaventure Cemetery, on a footstone where the Bird Girl statue once stood, before they had to move her to a place free from inquisitive fingers, a verse from 1 Corinthians is carved. It reads, “ We do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” St. Paul knew what I was feeling. He loved his life, and his ministry, and his people, but there were times when that dull ache of homesickness thudded in his chest, too, and he longed to leave his earthly home, to be in his heavenly one. And, we, too, know that ache – that restless yearning to be someplace else – no matter how contented we are in this place. Being a believer means that you live with a foot in both worlds. For, while we love the home God has given us in this life, our hearts will always yearn for our heavenly home, until the day we land with both feet on the other side. Back in Georgia, the hundred degree temperature settles on my brow like dust on a melon. I wonder if it is through snowing in Michigan, and if the peepers have begun their evening chorus. But, I dream of what heaven will be like when I get there. And, I learn to live with a homesick heart.

Summer Blessings,

Pastor Barb <><

Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.

May 2011 LYO Youth Update

Lutheran Youth Organization News
submitted by Dana Lee Smith

April Highlights

Thanks to everyone who helped with the preparation and cleanup of the Sunrise Breakfast. Special thanks to all who joined in the meal and fellowship following the service. Also, thanks to everyone who helped with the carwash and for letting the youth give your car a shine! We appreciate your support!!

May Events

Sunday, May 1st 10:00am-2:00pm:
Sunday School Convention Youth are encouraged to attend Sunday School Convention starting at 10:00am at the Methodist Campground in Springfield. All churches in Effingham County are invited to be a part of this special day. There is special music, a guest speaker and each church shares a song with the group. Following the service, all of the Lutheran churches in Effingham have been invited to share a covered dish picnic lunch together. The bus will be leaving Zion at 9:00am.

Wednesday, May 4th 6:00pm-7:30pm: Youth Bible Study
Come join the fun as we explore God’s word. This is our final Bible study of the school year.

Sunday, May 8th 9:45am: Mother’s Day Project
We need all extra hands to complete a special project for all the ladies of Zion. This will be completed during Sunday School.

Saturday, May 21st 9:00am-1:00pm: “I Was Hungry” Serv. Project
This is a special project to reach out to those who are in need. We’ll meet at church at 9:00am to assemble bag lunches. Then, we’ll go and distribute these bag lunches around the squares in downtown Savannah. We should arrive back at Zion by 1:00pm.

Summer Plan Ahead
Saturday, June 20th – Friday, June 25th: AFFIRM @ Berry College in Rome, GA – Travel arrangements are being made, stay tuned for details!

All youth in grades 6-12 are invited to participate in youth activities. For additional information contact Dana Lee Smith at 728-3227 or 665-1377.

May 2011 Senior Citizens

Sgts. Ed Myrick & Pete Hossalla from the Effingham Co. Sheriff’s Office were our guest speakers at our April meeting. They informed the 38 folks present how the Project Lifesaver works. If anyone has a loved one that has memory loss and tends to wander, please get in touch with the Sheriff’s Office to enroll in this program. The bracelet that wanderers wear makes it possible for them to be tracked. It certainly could be a “lifesaver” for your loved one.
Thank you to Charlie & Melinda Heidt, Cheryl Pannal, & Georgia Foss for preparing the delicious meal. Thank you also to the others who brought food &/or helped clean up. Our next meeting is Wednesday, May 18th at 11:30 a.m. Our guest speaker is Didi Sims from the YMCA in Rincon. She will be speaking about good eating habits and will show us some exercises that can be done while sitting. Plan to come on out & enjoy a great get-together – and bring a friend! The meal will be provided.

May 2011 Children’s Choir Update

It is hard to believe that school gets out this month. Our last day for Children’s Choir will be May 18th. We will continue to sing through May 22nd. During the summer months, we will have some specials using the younger Sunday School children and the children’s choir singing with them. Thank you to our Children’s Choir members who have faithfully come to practice on Wednesdays and sang at the Sunday Worship Services. To the congregation, we thank you for the prayers and support you gave the choir during the year. We will have a pool party in June to honor our children for their dedication in singing at church. We hope you have a fun and safe summer!

Children’s Choir during Easter 2011

Children singing a fun song during the Childrens’ Moment.

Lent and Easter Thank You!

What a meaningful Lenten season, Holy Week and Easter celebration we had this year! It was so good to have guest preachers from the other ELCA churches come and present the Miracles of Lent. Thanks to Pastor John Barichivich and Pastor Patrick Finley for sharing their insights with us! The solemnity of Holy Week, with our stripping of the altar on Maundy Thursday and our tenebrae service on Good Friday prepared us well for the joy of our Easter Sunrise bonfire and Easter Festival worship.

I don’t know if people realize how much behind-the-scenes work it takes to prepare for every worship experience, but I am here to tell you that Zion is very blessed to have such dedicated, creative, and spirit-filled people using their God-given talents for the building up of this church! I am most grateful for all the people who help make our worship a worthy offering to God, for that is what it is.

Thanks to our Worship and Music Team, our musicians, our Children’s Choir and their parents for getting them here, our sound technicians, our readers, ushers, greeters, acolytes, crucifers, communion assistants, assisting ministers, yard work, flowers, changing the sign board, proof readers for bulletins, the choir, special music, all who provided food and/or cooked for our Lenten Suppers, our Youth for Easter breakfast, and to everyone who faithfully blessed us with their participation in the services and fellowship meals. This is why we say that the ministers at Zion are YOU!

Thank you for all you do!

Pastor Barb <><

Relay for Life Update

I would like to thank all of you for supporting the Zion Relay for Life Team. With your help we surpassed our goal. Our team raised over $2400 to help support cancer research. Mckenzie Lott won the kid walk by raising the most in that division. For all of those who came out, thank you. Those who spent the night and participated in the Redneck Games and won were Abby Hutcheson and Jody Dixon, Great Job Ladies!!! If you missed the fun we will be having a team next year and we can’t wait to see you there.

Cheryl Pannal

May 2011 – Women of the ELCA Update

Thanks to all who helped with our annual Easter Egg Hunt! We had a great turn out and all who attended had a good time. We appreciate the donations to help cover costs and we appreciate all of the “hands on” help.

Our next quarterly meeting is scheduled for Sunday, May 15th at 12:15pm. We will meet briefly following the worship service. The meeting will be held in the overflow room of the church (next to the sound board). All ladies are invited to join us for this brief meeting. We will plan the details for hosting the June birthday party at the Effingham County Nursing Home.

Remember……all ladies of the congregation are members of WELCA. Everyone is encouraged to get involved. Check the monthly meeting schedules in Zionews.

Wonderful Love…

The storm had died down. The wind and hail had moved on. We went out to the horse barn to check on the horses, and feed up. I checked the water troughs, sure they would be full after the heavy rain, and there, floating on a little piece of bark, was an anole lizard. He was clinging to his little raft for dear life, and looked up at me with one, wet, unblinking eye. I carefully reached down and slid my hand under the piece of bark, and, letting the water run through my fingers, lifted the little guy out of the trough, and put him back on the tree he must have been blown out of. He ran quickly up the trunk and away from me without so much as a backward glance. “Thanks to you, too!” I laughed. So much for communication!

Later that night, I was searching the internet for May Day, thinking I might write a newsletter article about the May Pole I vaguely remembered from grade school days, when the computer took another route. Suddenly, I was learning all about the distress call “Mayday!” which Wikipedia says comes from the French venez m’aider, meaning ‘come help me.’ It said that Mayday is always called three times in a row, and is only to be used if a boat or plane or person is ” threatened by grave and imminent danger and immediate assistance is required.” such as a fire, explosion or sinking.

I thought of the anole, adrift on his water-trough ocean, and thought about how many times I have felt like I was right there with him! I thought about how many times in my life I have felt myself sinking, and have thrown my head back and screamed, “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” hoping that God was going to hear my voice communication and come help me! Many times, I wasn’t really in “grave and imminent danger” but it sure seemed like it! That is probably why the line from the hymn What Wondrous Love is this has always struck such a chord with me, especially at Easter: “When I was sinking down, beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.”

It’s scary to think of how many times I was in grave and imminent danger, and didn’t even realize it! How many times has God reached down, carefully lifted me out of danger and set me back on solid ground, and I scampered off, without even a backward glance – clueless? Certainly, no “Thank you, God!” for saving me.

In my saner moments, I recognize that that is what God did for me through Jesus, on the cross! He reached down and saved me, even before I knew I needed rescuing! Today, the cross is the raft I cling to on the stormy seas of life. I try not to send out the Mayday! call unless it’s really an emergency! And, I try to remember to thank God for all the times he has come to help me, even when I didn’t send out a very clear signal. “Thank you, God!” for rescuing me from a life or death situation! What wondrous love is this, O my soul!

May Day Blessings!

Pastor Barb <><

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. Psalm 69:1