The Longing of Souls that are Yearning

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Mark 1:14-20

We can only imagine what the first followers of Jesus were thinking or feeling when Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee and called them to follow. We do know how they responded to the summons. They immediately left all behind and moved toward an unknown future. It seems rather far removed from us. Seldom do we know such spontaneity around major life decisions.

But we can still identify with a faith that moves us forward as we trust in something greater than our own well thought out plans. In the story we can feel the words, “You who have fished other waters; you the longing of souls that are yearning: O loving Friend, you have come to call me.” (ELW 817)

The good news that the first disciples were called to follow was “the kingdom of God has come near.” This immediacy is all over the Gospel of Mark because Jesus was ever so present for people in all their hurts and longings. The disciples were invited to fully participate in this ministry of presence in the present moment.

As we listen to the variety of call stories in the scriptures it gives us the chance to reflect upon our own calls – unique to each one of us. It is the very nature of our ministry to affirm the many ways we share in the presence of Jesus in the world. Much of our ministry is helping one another listen to God calling with all the wonder and challenge it involves. Much of our ministry is equipping and supporting one another as we live out those calls.

I think of the insights here of Parker Palmer. The Quaker teacher Douglas Steere was fond of saying that the ancient human question “Who am I?” leads inevitably to the equally important question “Whose am I?” – for there is no selfhood outside of relationship. We must ask the question of selfhood and answer it as honestly, as we can, no matter where it takes us. Only as we do so can we discover the community of our lives. “Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation,” 2000, Jossey-Bass Inc

Pastor Randy

Come and See

hand webFriday, January 16, 2015


John 1:43-51

 

How did you get to where you are today?

…Where you are on the globe?

…Where you are in your life?

…Where you are in your faith?

We’ve gotten used to telling our story in terms of major turning points and significant characters. But between those bigger things, are a whole series of small invitations and gentle nudges and incremental opportunities---encounters that we often tend to overlook as we look back, encounters that may actually prove to be very significant.

It’s funny what we overlook when telling our story.

When Philip finds Nathanael he says to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph of Nazareth.”

But if anyone has been paying attention at all,
it was actually Jesus who did the finding,
and Philip who was found.

And while Philip finds Nathanael and invites him to “come and see,” they don’t even get half way to Jesus before we find out, Jesus already knows Nathanael. Nathanael had been found, long before he made his first step toward Jesus. Long before even Philip even came looking for him.

From the beginning of the Gospel of John we learn that all things came into being through the Word, through Jesus.

So it should not surprise us to find out, that even though the world may not know him, he knows us. And that he has already found us, many times over, and continues to be finding us through the most ordinary or people and seemingly insignificant moments.

For each moment where we think we’ve found Jesus, or led another to Jesus, closer inspection will reveal a series of moments and messengers who have been guiding us right to that place.

Pastor Sarah

Unwavering Regard

DSC 2018 webJanuary 9, 2015

Mark 1:4-11

The waters flow. They cascade and dance. They refresh and soothe. The waters break into the open for all to see. They cannot be contained. The psalmist captured such wonder “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters.”

We bring the very wonder of creation inside to be joined with the living promise of Christ among us full of light and mercy. At Faith, the baptismal font constantly flows with water and stands at the entrance of all that we do in the life of the church. So we are always being reminded of our identity as God’s beloved sons and daughters.

The baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of his ministry - the entrance into his mission. The event was never far from him. Along with the Spirit and the declaration from heaven as God’s Beloved Son, came a refreshingly clear identity and purpose that held him all his days. Even when Jesus may have been tempted to forget to whom he belonged and for what he was called, his baptismal promises sustained and enlivened him.

So many of the elements in the story of Jesus’ baptism are good reminders of just what a gift baptism remains for us. God moves toward us, the Spirit is present and we are met with nothing less than acceptance and unwavering regard. Strength and clarity of vision flow forward in our days by the richness of the promises received and the commitments made.

 

 

Living water, never ending,

quench the thirst and flood the soul.

Well Spring, source of life eternal,

drench our dryness, make us whole. – ELW 455

 

 

Pastor Randy

Follow the Light

photo 4 smallDecember 30, 2014

John 1:1-14

Nobody wants a funeral on Christmas.

So when Joyce died two days before Christmas Eve,

It was decided that the funeral service should wait till the day after.

Joyce had been treasurer of the congregation for something like, 30 years. It was the rare Sunday that her husband Harold did not usher. In our little congregation, in our rural community, they were well known and much loved.

So on the 26th when the majority of the congregation returned to gather again,
this time under very different circumstances,
the signs of Christmas were still everywhere.

The greens,
the tree with its lights and sparkling ornaments,
dozens of white poinsettias.

And in the center of it all,
a coffin covered with a white pall.

As a farmer’s wife, Joyce was not a fancy person. She was never the type to want a fuss made over her, or anyone to go to great expense. So I was glad that in this moment the church could be so extravagant, so over the top beautiful for her.

Harold had surprised me by requesting for the funeral
the special music we had just heard on Christmas Eve:
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.

A lot of people liked the song,
but it wouldn’t have been my first choice to sing a Christmas Carol at a funeral.

Just like it wouldn’t have been my choice to have a funeral
in the midst of Christmas.

It was not until later that spring when Harold asked me
to walk up the hill to the church cemetery,
and take a look at the newly placed family headstone,

that I found out what it all meant to him.

The gospel of Luke tells us what happened on Christmas.
The Gospel of John tells us what Christmas means.

In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Christmas does not come despite our losses or sadness.
Christmas does not come despite the suffering the darkness in the world.

Christmas comes because of it.

And while we may try to distance ourselves from grief at this time of year.
Or feel like it’s best to try to forget about all that troubles us, and be happy.

The good news about Christmas, the best news in this world,
Is that the light that we are all seeking, the life that we all long for,
has come into this world in Christ.

Even when we do not recognize or realize there are messengers to testify to it.
And there are surprising new ways that this light breaks through
and shines in those times we need it the most.

Do Not Be Afraid

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Luke 1:26-38

There are many adjectives we might associate with being a person of faith:
comfort, serenity, peace, certainty, joy…terror?

The first words out of the angel Gabriel’s mouth are: Do not be afraid.

Angels are always saying “Do not fear” when they reveal themselves to humans in scripture.
Forget what you’ve seen in the greeting card aisle. Angels are terrifying to behold, and they know it.

And the most terrifying thing about them is the message they deliver.

God is calling. God has a plan. God wants you to take part.

Mary already knows from the stories of her faith,
that when God comes calling there is good reason to be afraid.

God’s call is life changing. The plan is never easy, or simple, or pleasant. More often than not, the path leads straight into danger and right on through suffering.

God calls on the “wrong” people to take part:
     People who are unprepared.
     People who are not particularly notable, except in maybe what they lack.
     People who often refuse and run away.

But God will not listen to reason. God will not accept excuses.
Groveling or bargaining will not get you out of it.

And yet, Mary also knows from her ancestors in the faith that God works through the ordinary to do extraordinary things. God is up to the task, even when God’s people are not. And time and again, God brings forth blessing from the most unexpected of places and by the most perplexing of means.

But just in case she had forgotten all this, Gabriel reminds her, “Nothing will be impossible with God.”

And so it is with great measures of both faith and fear that Mary responds, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

To respond to God’s call with a trembling voice and shaking hands—this is what it means to have faith.

To be afraid is to get it—to really be paying attention to what God is asking.
And to respond is to trust—to act in the hope of a power that will eventually overcome all that is to be feared.

The Angel’s message is not just for Mary.
All servants of the Lord are called to take part in bringing Christ into the world, no matter how frightened we may be.

In your faith and fear, may you also find the voice to respond, “Here am I.”

Pastor Sarah