I’d Stake My Life On It

lutherMy head is full of images these days; images that I can’t seem to shake, try as I might. Images of beheadings, of children torn from their families, of whole villages being wiped out because of their refusal to deny their faith in Christ Jesus. So, when the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter arrived in the mail with a plea for prayers and support, I almost threw it away, unopened. I didn’t want one more atrocious image, one more terrible story in my mind to have to try to forget. But, the cover drew me in. “Deny or Die.” was written over a backdrop of a church on fire; the cross on the steeple in stark contrast with the flames. And, as I read the heartbreaking stories of Christians who were persecuted for their faith and somehow lived to tell about it, I couldn’t help but be moved by their courage. I wondered if I would have the courage to stand by my faith in the face of certain death.

Every year, at the end of October, we Lutherans celebrate that Martin Luther, our founder, had the courage to stand up for what he felt was right in the sight of God, even if it meant that he might be kicked out of the Church, or even killed for it. He was smuggled away, and lived in exile for nearly a year, but never lost his faith. He said, “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that believers would stake their lives on it a thousand times.” It is this living, daring confidence in God’s grace that is at the heart of what we Lutherans stand for.

Lutherans define grace as God’s undeserved favor, by which God sent his son, Jesus, to save us, not because of anything we have or can do to earn it, but simply because God loves us. We believe that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and, the love relationship we have with God because of what Jesus did for us is so wonderful, as the example of the Christian martyrs reminds us, it is worth dying for.
I thank God for that reminder. It gives me the courage to look the sad reality of the evil in this world in the face, instead of wanting to look the other way. It moves me to want to find ways that I can love and support my brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith. And, while I really can’t know what I would do if I found myself in the same situation, the reminder that it is God’s grace that gave them the strength to persevere gives me the hope, that, if that day were to come, God’s grace will be sufficient for me, too. Thank you, Jesus, for that!

Grace be with you all, Pastor Barb <><

For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Reformation Sunday, October 26, 2014

reformation-sundayWEAR RED !!!
Reformation Day is a high festival of the Lutheran Church year, so the color of the day is RED! This is always a meaningful worship service for us who continue in the footsteps of the great reformers of the Church. The ELCA is known as the Church that is Always Being Made New, and as such, is always listening to the Spirit, always open to being re-formed. We hope you will come and join in our joy as we thank God for his Church, and celebrate our heritage as Lutherans!

Zion had a great turnout for our 142 anniversary celebration!

Zion had a great turnout for our 142 anniversary celebration!

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Great day doing God’s work with our hands

Thank you to all the volunteers that came out and helped clean up an elderly member’s yard. Here are pics from that day

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Calling All Youth 7th Grade and Above!

Do you have questions about your faith?  Do you wonder why  we Lutherans worship the way we do?  Do you want to learn how   to strengthen your prayer life and find out who you are as a child of God and have fun doing it?  Then Confirmation Classes are for you!

Confirmation is one of the most important Rites of passage for our Lutheran Youth.  Not only will you learn the basics of  Lutheran theology and tradition, but this is a safe place for you to explore your faith and deepen your relationship with God, your pastor and other youth your age.

The time and day will depend on your schedules and that of your parents.  I will be contacting each of you in this age group to invite you to attend the classes, and pick a day and time that fits.

This is an important next step on your spiritual journey.  I look forward to journeying with you!

Blessings, Pastor Barb <><

 

The Man Upstairs

shoe     If you have ever stayed in a cheap hotel where the walls are so thin you can hear the guy next door snoring, you can relate to what it must have been like to live in tenement housing in the early 1900’s. Imagine: six floors of bedrooms all piled on top of each other, and you could hear every footstep of the people who lived above you.

There’s an old vaudeville joke that speaks to that situation.  It goes like this. A man comes in late at night to a boarding house, rather worse for the wear. He sits on his bed, drags one shoe off and drops it on the floor with a thump. Guiltily remembering that the people in the apartment below him are trying to sleep, he takes the other one off and quietly puts it on the floor. He then finishes undressing and gets into bed.  Just as he is drifting off to sleep, a shout comes from the man in the room below: “Well, drop the other one then! I can’t sleep, waiting for you to drop the other shoe!”

As far as anyone can tell, this is where we get the phrase, “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.”  We say this when we feel like something bad is going to happen, and we are just waiting for it.  It’s past midnight, and the kids haven’t come home yet.   We’ve gotten the third pink slip, and are waiting for the boss to call us into his    office.  Someone is very ill, and we are waiting for the phone call  that says they have gone from bad to worse.  It isn’t a good feeling, waiting for the other shoe to drop – expecting the next bad thing.

Some of us think about God like that; like God is the man upstairs holding our fate in his hands, and we are down here spending sleepless nights, waiting for that shoe to hit the floor.  But, God says he delights in giving good gifts to his children. Could it be that the    troubles we encounter in life aren’t a punishment for wrong doing,   or even to teach us a lesson – that maybe the bad things don’t come from God at all?  Could it be that God is there, waiting to help us put our lives back together again after someone else has dropped that shoe on us?  If so, then that opens us up to adopt the expectant attitude of faith –  not waiting for the next bad thing to happen, but waiting with a child’s joyful trust for the next good thing God has in store for us.

So, next time you are lying awake at night, feeling like the next shoe is about to drop, imagine God opening his great hand and letting a blessing drift gently down upon you, quiet as a feather. And, rest easy, my friend…
Blessings, Pastor Barb <><

… So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:11