Pastor Dave’s Thoughts for May 2016

Living is a serious matter and so is the need for some humor to help bring some joy to our living. Comic strips bring humor and also sometimes carry a point. The April 17, 2016 edition of the Savannah Morning News contained Sunday comics and on page 4G in the upper right corner was the man Brutus walking and meeting the little neighbor girl Hurricane. She asks where he is going and he says to the public library and invites her to come along. She says yes and then explains why she loves to go to the library by saying “They have computers you can use. They have concerts and show movies ..and they have tons of DVDs and CDs you can borrow.”

Brutus responds, “Yes, they do. Times certainly have changed! Would you believe when I was your age, libraries didn’t offer any of those things!” The little girl’s response was “Really? Then what did you go to the library for?” You could supply the answer to the young girl’s question, but what if Brutus was going to church? Times certainly have changed for libraries and also for congregations.

Today libraries continue to share knowledge not just through books but also through the use of computers and DVDs and get people into the building through movies and other events. Today congregations still have the task of increasing the spiritual awareness of individuals who come through their doors, but times have changed and how we share a spiritual awareness is also changing. Individual Christians need to be able explain to others why there still is meaning and purpose in entering through the doors of a church to worship within the community of faith. Think about and be prepared to answer the question ”Why do you go to worship?”

Pastor Dave

April Update from Pastor Dave

The Easter season of the church year has arrived early this year with Easter Sunday occurring and there are still four more days before April even begins. The festival nature of Easter Sunday is a joyous celebration giving us hope for eternal life with God coincidentally fostered in the Northern Hemisphere by the budding and blooming of spring. Sometimes Christians get so focused on the promise of heaven for them as an individual that they are of little help on earth. Christian faith is more than receiving through faith in God’s grace eternal salvation. Christian disciples are given new life here on earth to make a difference in the world around them. It is like those dormant plants that when spring arrives they are the same plants, but they do SHOW a difference as spring arrives and they grow during the year. Consider the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17 “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything has become new!” Let us celebrate the hope of the resurrection to eternal life with God as we work together to share the message of the Good News of God’s love for this world* and the difference it makes in our daily living.

Pastor Dave

March Pastor Message

Opportunity is about to knock. Will you consider responding to the knock? Specifically to the opportunity to invite people to Easter Sunday because it is seen as a “special Sunday.” A Sunday that people find is easier to come to even though the resurrection of Christ is celebrated on all the other Sundays during the year. Who do you know that does not participate in the ministry of another congregation? If you do not know, this is an opportunity to give an invitation and find out if they indicate they participate in a congregation. As part of the invitation offer to give them a ride or to meet them outside the church building at a certain time. Invitations can be extended to neighbors, relatives, coworkers, and people who belong to another group that you both participate in such as a scout group. Do consider in the coming weeks who you will invite to Easter Sunday worship, March 27th.

Pastor Dave

Interim Pastor Dave Rasmussen’s Comments

Pastor Dave Rasmussen
Pastor Dave Rasmussen

The words “Pastor Dave” may sound like you have heard them before and that is possible        because for 30+ years I served as Pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Garden City and recently served as an interim  pastor at Jerusalem Lutheran at Ebenezer. There is also the possibility that “Pastor Dave” sounds familiar because Pastor Dave Hendrix served in     Effingham County at the Clyo Parish and has retired and lives in  Effingham County.

During the coming months, I hope to learn your names as we work together to carry on the ministry of Zion Lutheran and to do the difficult work of seeking what ministries God would have this congregation aim to accomplish. Let us all seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit through intentional prayer, respectful conversations, and thoughtful consideration of this congregation’s potential ministries that can utilize the abilities and resources of disciples within the congregation.

An interim pastor is like a called pastor in that an interim pastor   functions as a preacher, pastoral care giver, and organizational leader etc.,  but within a temporary time line. What is also different is that my wife, Frances and I have a home in Chatham County and I have a study in our home in Chatham County and that is where I will be spending  time preparing for Sunday worship and other tasks.  I am usually available through phone calls to the home number 232.6215 or (cell) 596.5466.

I look forward to working with you to accomplish Our Lord’s ministry as we begin this New Year of 2016.

 

Pastor Dave

 

(There will be a reception to welcome Pastor Dave following the January 3rd worship service. Please plan to attend and thank him for serving as Zion’s interim pastor.)

 

A Farewell Blessing from Pastor Barb…

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The dawn of a New Year is always a time of endings and beginnings, as one year ends, and we look forward to the new.  It is a time of introspection and anticipation, all mixed up    together.   That is what this New Year has been like for Bob and me – a time of introspection and anticipation, all mixed up together.

The decision to leave Zion was not made lightly.  Although there were financial concerns, that was not the only factor in my decision.  Pastors are always evaluating their ministry, always asking the Lord       for guidance as to whether they are in the place that God would have them be. Congregations, too, in order to be good stewards of the ministry they have been given, need to be about the work of self-evaluation.

Discernment is an ongoing process that both pastors and congregations must always be about, if we are to follow the Spirit’s leading and God’s will for our lives and work.  So, while I would have liked to have stayed at Zion until I retired, obviously, God had other plans, or it wouldn’t all have worked out as it did!  So, while Bob and I look forward to the new call that God has placed on our hearts, we are sad at the same time, as we will miss all of you.

Bishop Gordy has asked Pastor Dave Rasmussen to be the Interim Pastor at Zion, and I am glad to know he has accepted that call.  As he says in his comments to you, he has a long history of ministry in this area, and he is well prepared to lead you through the process of finding a new pastor. I am glad to leave Zion in such good hands.

In order that Zion may focus on its future with a new pastor, I will not be available for any pastoral care or ministries, such as weddings, baptisms, funerals, hospital/home visitations, or pastoral counseling. I will refer all such requests to the care of Zion’s Interim, Pastor Dave, and the next pastor called to serve, with thanks for thinking of me.

Saint Paul writes in his letter to the church at Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:3–6  That is my hope and prayer for you, too.

It has been an honor and a joy to serve God along side the people of Zion Lutheran Church.  Many fond memories go with me, and I pray only the best for you all.  May God bless you in the New Year!

Your Sister in Christ,   Pastor Barb <><

 

Out of the Mouths of Babes…

The Christmas decorations went up in the stores the day after Halloween, which always sets my teeth on edge. We hadn’t even gotten to Thanksgiving yet, let alone the Advent season! Yet, here I was, in line at Walmart, praying that the young woman who was wrapping her work station in shiny foil gift wrap wouldn’t fall off her ten foot ladder and spend the holidays in the hospital! “Christmas has become so commercialized!” I muttered to myself, which is nothing new. People have been muttering about the loss of meaning of the season for so many years their protest has almost lost it’s meaning! But, every year, it seems to get worse. I worry about the message we are sending our children – that they will never learn what really matters in this life, and it isn’t your “stuff”. “I know!” I said to myself. “I’ll make that my Children’s Sermon next week!” So, when Sunday rolled around, and I had twelve little faces looking up at me, I began. “What is the most important thing in your life – something you think you could never live without?” I asked. Then, I waited for their responses, expecting things like, “My bike! My toys! My video games!” To my surprise, I heard, “My Mom!” “My Brother!” “My Dad! He’s deployed, and I miss him a lot!” Every last one of those children told me the most important thing in their lives was a person! It wasn’t till after a little prodding from me that they came up with any of that other stuff – “Candy! Computers! Books!” It was a teaching moment, for sure. But not for them. For me! Here I was, prepared to teach them something that they already knew – that the most important things in life aren’t things at all – it’s people! How did they learn that? It couldn’t be from the culture around them, pushing them to “Buy, buy, buy!!!” It had to be what they were being taught in church and at home! So, kudos to all of you teachers and parents who are teaching our children what really matters. You have given them a gift that will last a life time! And, I thank them for teaching me that I don’t have to worry so much about their future. God has them in very good hands indeed!

Happy Advent, and a Blessed Christmas!

Pastor Barb <><

…and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

Moon Gazing

I opened the front door and stepped outside. It was a beautiful, fall morning. Everything was wet with dew, and the air was cool. I took a deep breath, and my eyes were drawn upwards, to where the moon, still bright with reflected light, was heading off to the west to shine on someone else’s world for a while. It was huge! A Super Moon, as it has been called. I thought about our narrow escape the night before. As we drove back from Tybee Island, it was grey and rainy, but we could see the tide, inching up to the shoulder of the road, moving in like a cool, white ghost to hover over the marsh. By morning, the road was covered with water, impassible, and people on the island had to call in to work and cancel appointments and plans for the day. There is nothing in the world that makes you feel as small as when Mother Nature yawns, and stretches and rolls over in bed, and the earth shakes, the waters rage and foam, and there is nothing a mere human can do about it but ride it out.

I stood under that enormous moon and the words of Psalm 8:3 came to me. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established, what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? “ And I felt very small indeed. And, yet, the real wonder of it all is that God does care for us! God knit us together, knew us before we were even born, and knows each of us so well that he even knows the number of hairs on our heads! God has made us just a little lower than the angels, and has put us in charge of this vast creation called Earth. And, as I thought of the awesome responsibility and the trust God has placed in you and in me, suddenly, I didn’t feel small, at all!

Maybe it was the gravitational pull of that moon, but suddenly, my ordinary day seemed full of possibilities, and I felt energized in a way I hadn’t in weeks! I grabbed my briefcase, and headed out for the day, ready to see what God and I would accomplish by the time that Super Moon came up again on the other side of my world. And, I thanked God for blessing me with a snapshot of the bigger picture of his mission for the world, and my place in it. May God bless your ministry as well!

Pastor Barb <><

God’s Tools

My mother has always been handy around the house. When I was growing up, she kept her small appliances running smoothly long past their life expectancy. She didn’t always have the proper tools, but she was smart, and she used what ever she had on hand to get what ever was broken fixed and working again. I will never forget the day I watched her take our toaster apart, fix what was broken inside, and put it back together again with nothing but a butter knife! It is to her credit that my mom was able to do so well with things that were obviously not made for that purpose. Imagine what she could have done with a little training and a good set of tools! It would have made her work so much easier!

The Bible speaks of us, God’s people, as tools in God’s tool box. God created each of us with a special purpose in mind. But, even the best tools aren’t of much use when they aren’t in good condition. Whether from constant use or from sitting around collecting dust, a blade loses its edge, a drill bit gets rusty and bent, batteries run down. And, while God can do wonders with what ever he has at hand, like my mother and her butter knife, it makes his work so much easier when he finds us, his proper tools, sharp, and at the ready.

So, what kind of tool are you? Have you been working so hard for the Lord that you are all worn down and bent out of shape? Have you been sitting on the shelf so long that you are rusty and covered in dust? Or, have you been able to find that healthy balance between work and rest, so that you are ready to be used when God needs you?

Take good care of yourself! You are God’s tool – invaluable to him in fixing what is wrong in the world and keeping things running smoothly. He needs to find you alert, well rested, and trained for the purpose for which you were created. If you don’t know what that is, let us help you discern your spiritual gifts. If you need some good work to do, we have many service projects that you can take part in. If you are overworked, it is ok to say “No.” when asked to serve. Then, spend time resting in God and his Word. Gather strength, until you are recharged and ready to go again. God will fit you for his use again. But, no matter where you are in your life of service, it is my prayer for you that you may find joy just in being held in God’s hands.

Blessings on your labor and rest,

Pastor Barb <><

…for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

August moments

The month of August was named after the First Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, who first took power in 27 B.C. It was the decree from Caesar Augustus that all must return to their home town to be taxed that led Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, fulfilling the Scriptures. The English word august is from the Latin for Augustus, which means to be of noble birth; majestic; or awe -inspiring. Hence, we speak of memorable or awesome moments in our lives as august moments. Below are some August moments – a few things that happened in the month of August that I found to be worthy of note:

Berlin, Olympische Spiele im Olympiastadion8-1 The first Olympic games opened in Berlin, Germany, 1936  The first article proposing Women’s Rights was written, 1775

8-2 “Wild Bill” Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker, 1876  Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home, 1962

8-5 The Statue of Liberty cornerstone was laid, 1884

8-6 The United States dropped an A Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, 1945

8-7 George Washington created the “Purple Heart” medal, 1782

8-9 Japan surrendered to the United States, ending WWII,1945

8-12 Isaac Merrit Singer got the patent for his sewing machine, 1851

8-16 Singer Elvis Presley died at his home, Graceland, 1977

8-19 Caesar Augustus died, A.D.14  Adolf Hitler became Fuhrer of Germany, 1934

8-20 The first licensed radio broadcast occurred, 1920

8-25 The National Park Service was established, 1916

8-30 A filibuster record was set by Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who held the floor arguing against civil rights legislation for 24 hours, 27 minutes, 1957.

8-31 The first professional football game was played, 1895.

Who would have thought, at the time, that that particular moment would go down in history, and be remembered hundreds of years later? How many of us actually consider the possible lasting effects of each of our words and deeds as we go about our days? How many of us live our lives that thoughtfully? And, if we did, how would it change the way we choose to do things?

August moments are happening every day! Every waking moment of our daily lives, we are making memories for someone. Take note! Write them down! Take a pic! Make a video! Whatever you do, don’t let your august moments pass unnoticed!

My prayer for you is that you enjoy the memories you are making now, and that they are good ones for the generations to come.

August Blessings,

Pastor Barb <><

Teach us to number our days…Psalm 90:12

Small Pleasures…

The blueberries hung in thick, warm clusters; indigo
gems, glistening in the sun. We stood on tiptoe and gleaned
from the high bushes. The sky was blue and the day was
hot. We worked in companionable silence, grateful for the
shade and the sweet taste of ripe fruit on our tongues. We couldn’t
help but taste a few as we worked. Sweat dripped in our eyes, and
mosquitoes did a little tasting of their own, but the thought of homemade
blueberry cobbler kept us going. The work and our just desserts:
one of life’s small pleasures.
There are so many little things that we take for granted every day in
this country, where small pleasures get swallowed up in the drive to
acquire more and bigger things. But stop and consider for a moment
what a real pleasure it is to turn on the tap in your kitchen, and have
fresh water at your fingertips. To get up when nature calls and have a
toilet available. To be able to flip a switch, and feel cool air against
your skin, or open the freezer door and have the satisfaction of seeing
bags of frozen blueberries waiting there till you are ready to eat them,
and they will be as fresh as the day you picked them.
I think of people in other countries who do not have the luxury of
these small pleasures. For too many, clean water, toilets, and refrigeration
are just a pipe dream, and air conditioning isn’t even on the radar.
I think of the homeless in our own country, washing in sinks in public
rest rooms, at the mercy of the weather, only able to buy food that can
be eaten the same day or it will spoil. And I am ashamed that I have not
gotten down on my knees and thanked God every day for providing me
with these small pleasures.
But, this morning, as I ate my sweet, blueberry pancakes, I thanked
God for every delicious bite, and vowed that I would never again take
these things for granted. I will try hard not to forget.
O God, forgive me for those times when I do forget to thank you for
pouring your blessings out on me. Forgive me when I take these things
for granted. Forgive me for those times when I hold on tightly to what
I have, instead of sharing your bounty with others.

Because if I did – if we all did – maybe everyone might get to enjoy life’s small pleasures, like you planned from the beginning. Thank you, Lord, for letting me get a glimpse of your vision for the world, in the indigo blue of a handful of blueberries. Amen. In celebration of life’s small pleasures,

Pastor Barb <><

It is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. Ecclesiastes 3:13