Going Through the Motions

yoga

Mark 8:27-38

After nearly a decade of practice, I’ve come to realize that yoga is just a series of ordinary, everyday movements: standing, bending, reaching, sitting, even breathing.

But what keeps these ordinary, everyday movements from getting really boring,
and what makes yoga continue to be a pretty challenging and effective work out, even year after year,
is mindfulness.

For me, yoga class is one opportunity each week to really pay attention. I pay attention to how I am moving, and I become aware of how the hours of sitting at a desk, the stress of the week, and plain old gravity have taken a toll. I pay attention and readjust. When I am paying attention, there is the opportunity to set things right. I practice going through the motions in an intentional, mindful way, and it makes a difference for the rest of the week.

Over time our faith practices can start to seem like we’re just “going through the motions.” The danger of going on autopilot, just coasting along in our faith, is that it is too easy to drift. When we stop paying attention, the forces of the world pull us out of alignment. And when we aren’t really paying attention to what Jesus is saying, we’re definitely not following where he is leading. If even Peter needed a faith readjustment (see Mark 8:33), how much more do we?

So along comes Lent.

Whether it is the practice of fasting from something (see ya later chocolate!), adding a devotional practice (hello small catechism!), or spending more time in prayer (hello again, God!), the season of Lent offers us the opportunity to pay attention to the movements of faith. Each one of these practices shakes up our daily routine just enough that we have to pay closer attention.

When we no longer can mindlessly grab a chocolate, or soda, or whatever, what else might we start noticing? When we plan to be at the Wednesday night Lenten services, what other demands on our time must we say no to? When we make time for prayer in our day, what are the distractions that we must clear away?

Even small changes to our daily routine remind us, that it isn’t the big, bold moves that make a strong faith. Instead, it is the ordinary, everyday motions done with intention that help us, one step at a time, to keep following Jesus.

Pastor Sarah

Reflections on Lent

Night and lake

Thursday, February 19, 2014

 Psalm 25:1-10

Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love, for they are from everlasting.
We start Lent with ashes on our foreheads – a reminder of our mortality and frailty. But there is more. With the ashes we remember too, the promise of new beginnings that flow from the mercy and compassion of Jesus. Lent draws us back into the heart of relationship, renews us in our deepest belongings and moves us along the path of grace. We see the familiar in new light. We treasure the company of those who walk along side of us. We embrace a greater hope for all things.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
Lent is a time for learning. Whatever we decide to do to practice our faith in these forty days it is meant to make us more aware of the gift of God’s presence in our lives. It’s always easy to take for granted our closest relationships and the love we receive from them. During Lent we are called back to what finally sustains us so we may nurture all that has been entrusted to us. This makes room for needed humility and an openness to change.

Show me your ways, O Lord, and teach me your paths.
While we experience Lent in our own personal dimensions, the season speaks to our shared life as a community of faith. We once again see the teaching ministry of the church as a gift. We spend more time with one another in prayer and learning. On Wednesday nights in Lent we will let the teaching of the Small Catechism impact our understanding and devotion. We find that our many activities in the congregation emerge from the Spirit at work in and through us. The month of March will give us further opportunities to explore our vision toward greater integration and collaboration in our work together and our witness beyond our walls.    

Merciful God, accompany our journey through these forty days. Renew us in the gift of baptism, that we may provide for those who are poor, pray for those in need, fast from self-indulgence, and above all that we may find our treasure in the life of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen  - Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 254

Pastor Randy

Are You Listening?

transfigurationMark 9:2-10

We call this coming Sunday “Transfiguration Sunday,” but I think a better name for it would be “Listening Sunday.”

The moment on the mountain top starts out with the dazzling image of Jesus transfigured. But the real high point of this gospel lesson is the voice bellowing from above:

This is my Son, the Beloved; LISTEN TO HIM!

The Greek word translated “listen” here is really more like, “be listening to him.”

Keep on listening to him.
Continue to be listening to him.

Not just listen right now. This one time.

Always be listening.

That’s not an easy thing to do.
The disciples, especially Peter, have a problem with it.

Just a few verses before, when Jesus spoke of suffering, dying, and rising, Peter just wouldn’t hear it.

Even though Jesus has been leading them quickly from one place to another, pointing ahead to the cross, Peter wants to set up camp and stay put on the mountain top.

And still, after the mountain top moment, after watching Jesus heal countless and even raise the dead, after hearing him speak about his own death and resurrection, the disciples are still questioning “what this rising from the dead could mean.”

The disciples are terrible at listening.
But Jesus does not give up on them.

Not when the disciples are stern with the children approaching Jesus, despite having already been told by him “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

Not when James and John ask Jesus to reserve places of glory for them, even though they had already heard Jesus say “many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Not even when Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him, and Peter swears he will not, and then does exactly that.

Jesus does not give up on them.

In fact, the first thing he does when he rises from the dead is send a message that he will going ahead of them to Galilee. The messenger at the tomb reminds them, again, “there you will see him, just as he told you.”

The good news keeps on breaking into the world. The Word continues to make himself known. And the truth will be proclaimed again and again until the world finally hears it.

Are you listening?

Pastor Sarah

Can You Hear It?

Voice Message image

Friday, February 6, 2015

 

Christ's message of love and grace can come to us in many different mediums. In today's world we have instant access to information through cell phones, computers, Facebook, Twitter accounts, short messages that have only one goal, "getting short messages out quickly." Christ's message is a long-term, daily encounter in which we have the opportunity to delight in His word and live through and by Christ's grace. This weekend you will have the opportunity to listen and hear how a group of kids figure out how to fix this problem of instant access and short messages. Over 100 children, a live band, great storytelling, dancing, some laughs and some deeply felt dialogue will present VOICEMESSAGE! the musical. Hours of practice, patient directions from Miss Fran and Miss Erika will give you, the congregation of Faith Lutheran Church, the opportunity to learn how to get the word of Christ's love out. So here's the story that you don't want to miss.


MacKenzie is a new believer, and very excited to tell others about Jesus... but her sister, Max, is so distracted by her obsession with spies, high-tech gadgets and multi-media, she won't listen to a word MacKenzie says. How will God's message of love be heard? This is a job for "SAV'M" (Secret Alliance of Voice Messengers), a group of kids with a passion for reaching people with the Gospel! Using every idea they can think of, including high-tech gadgets, movies and media, even slimy green amphibians, they try to get the message through to Max, and to a world in desperate need of a Savior. Will they be able to get the message through? With a little prayer and divine intervention, anything is possible!


Do you really want to miss the opportunity this weekend? Remember, Christ's message comes in many different ways - Can You Hear It!?!

 

Dave Johnson

 

Reclaiming Fear

CANYONThursday, January 29, 2015

Psalm 111

Maybe it’s time we bring a little fear back into our relationship with God.

I’m not talking about the fear of punishment—the fear that God will punish us for breaking laws or committing sins. The only motivation this kind of fear has ever stirred up… is the motivation to not get caught.

When I say fear, I mean the feeling that one gets creeping up to the edge of the Grand Canyon—the terrifying juxtaposition of one’s own smallness to the canyon’s plunging depths and sweeping expanse.

Or think of your reaction to a mighty storm: wind howling, lightning flashing, and thunder shaking the earth—the feeling of being defenseless, at the mercy of its power, despite all the protections you’ve built up around you.

And there’s the fear one experiences in earliest moments of falling in love, the anticipation of making the commitment of marriage or receiving a child into your family—powerful, life altering moments that confront us with our own vulnerability.

At the end of Psalm 111 we hear the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

These words come last, after the psalmist has built up a towering description of God’s attributes and actions. From daily bread to the everlasting promise of the covenant, “holy and awesome is his name.”

In the presence of such greatness, who could stand without trembling?

The fear of God may simply be the recognition that God is God, and we are mere mortals. In that awareness is an opportunity for faith. In that fear is the beginning of wisdom. Just imagine how your life, or this world may be different with a little more of this fear.

For if we are truly in awe of God’s creation, would we dare alter the landscape or make use of the world’s resources without careful and prayerful deliberation?

If we are amazed by God’s gift of life, could we ever again look upon another human being as anything other than precious and deserving of love?

If we are truly humbled by God’s authority and power, would we ever allow other loyalties to take such a large share of our hearts and our lives?

Pastor Sarah