Right Praise

1.outof.10Sometimes it’s so right, it’s wrong.

Luke 17:11-19

 

So when you hear the word “Orthodox,” what comes to mind?

Preserving ancient traditions?
Following the letter of the law?
Taking the scriptures literally?
Doing the things the same way, without change, generation after generation?
Long beards, long dresses, long lists of do’s and don’ts?
Being right?

Orthodox literally means right glory.
That is, correct praise.

And in this week’s passage from the gospel of Luke, 10 persons were healed from leprosy. However, Jesus lifts up only one as an example of right glory, correct praise, orthodoxy.

The other 9 were doing exactly what the law, the scriptures required of them.
They were following the tradition of generations.
Without question, they were doing what they heard Jesus command.

And yet, doing the “right” thing sent the 9 running in the opposite direction—away from Jesus.

Only one comes running back.

The foreigner.
The Samaritan.
The one who did not even bother going to the priests, because he would never be judged clean.
The outcast who would never be welcomed back, no matter what he did.
The man who realized there was nothing else he could do, but turn to Jesus.

So, the next time you are certain that you know the orthodox thing to do, the correct way to praise, the right way to give glory to God…maybe instead, you should turn back to Jesus.

Pastor Sarah Trone Garriott

It's the Little Things

legosFriday, September 30, 2016

Watch your step

Luke 17:1-10

Little things can have a powerful impact.
If you have ever stepped on a Lego, you know this.

As Jesus speaks of faith in the gospel lesson this week, he focuses in on the little things:
faith the size of a tiny worthless weed seed,
mundane daily tasks,
the nobodies (slaves) who toil without even a word of thanks.

Taken on their own the little things seem insignificant. Like nothing.

But the walk of faith is not a solitary one.
The ways of faith cannot be private.
The life of faith could never be lived alone.

And when it comes to faith, the little things show their power in relationship: the seed and the soil, the rebuke and the offender, the forgiveness and the repentant sinner.

But also, the Lego and the foot…

So take this lesson as both a word of encouragement and a word of warning. For just like those tiny little Legos, words and actions can build up, creating new, wonderful things. Or, they may cause incredible pain and lead to stumbling. As Jesus says, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come!”

And what could Jesus possibly mean by occasions for stumbling?

Looking back at Luke here are a few possibilities:
Ignoring the poor.
Refusing to forgive.
Exalting one’s self.
Treating certain people (the disabled, the sick, the sinners, the tax collectors, the foreigners) as if they are worthless.
Using the law to justify one’s self and demonize others.
Blaming people for their misfortune.
Greed.
Hypocrisy.

How many of those have you stumbled over, just today?

But wait, there’s more.

Jesus makes it very clear that it’s not just ourselves we have to worry about. We also have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters—that is, anyone claiming to be a follower of Christ.

We are to rebuke them when they have strayed, but also, we are to forgive them when they turn back.

Just think on that for a moment.

No wonder the disciples cry out, “Increase our faith!”  

Pastor Sarah

Time is Our Treasure

Autumn trees small
 
Friday, September 23, 2016

Is October really one week away? We are now officially two weeks into programming and already the time is flying! Time can be such a different concept to children and adults. Our children may feel like they have endless time, and moments that seem to fly by to adults seem like hours to our kids. Many of us have sat through worship with the questions from our kids, "how much longer, do we have to sing another song?"

As adults we feel like we are constantly running out of time. I didn't have enough time to put the dishes in the dishwasher, make that phone call, or answer an email. When many of us think of riches, we forget that our time is one of our greatest. It's quicker to write a check or give something of monetary value, but it's becoming harder and harder to give our time. In the chaos that has become life, it is becoming more difficult to make time for some of the most important things.

This fall we feel so much energy and excitement from our children. Wednesday Faith Nights we have over 80 children attending choir and bell chimes and over 100 joining us for Sunday School! The time we have with these children within our walls is precious. When they are here we are not counting down how much time is left, we are relishing in the moments we get to have. It is amazing to see friendships grow, to hear a child ask a difficult question about the Bible, or watch a child bow their head in prayer.

It's not hard to give time to our children here at Faith. Teachers, shepherds, special event coordinators are integral parts of what we do here for our kids. If you can't give your time in that way, a compliment on a drawing, a high-five, or simply telling a child how happy you are to see them goes a long way. Take the time, we promise, you'll be glad you did.

Erika Weber and Andrea Stone
Co-Directors of Children and Family Ministry

 

Get Lost

lost sheepIt’s the best way to get found.

Gospel - Luke 15:1-10

I had never felt so lost.

I had just dropped off my best friend at the Greyhound Station in Albuquerque. I had been just fine during our two day drive from Minnesota to New Mexico. But I was not fine now. Before she disappeared into the building I begged her not to leave me there. Maybe I didn’t actually say it out loud, maybe I didn’t really make a scene, maybe she didn’t really have to pry herself loose from my grip, but my memory is colored by the great panic that overwhelmed the moment. What had I done? Why had I willingly set off into this strange land where I knew no one? Why had I agreed to this year as an AmeriCorps VISTA, doing who knows what? I was barely 21 and had never lived so far from home, what was I thinking?

I had gone and gotten myself lost.
On purpose.
And it felt terrible.

To be honest, it just got a lot worse before it got better. But somewhere in being lost something amazing happened. It’s not that I found my way. But the way started to find me.

A new courage found me, and I found a way to be brave.
A community found me, and I was no longer alone.
A calling found me, for that time and for a lifetime to come.

God found me, and it was nothing like I had known before.

Many of us are familiar with the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost (prodigal) son. As we hear them, we tend to focus on the joyful moment of being found—and reflect on God’s effort as well as our part in it. But none of that can come about without first getting lost.

The most wonderful encounters with God come out of those experiences of being lost. And throughout scripture God has a way of leading the people out of the familiar and pushing them into wildernesses of all sorts. We could summarize the plot of nearly every story in scripture like this: they were lost, God found them.

Sometimes we get lost without any fault of our own, like that coin. Sometimes we cannot help getting ourselves lost, like that sheep. And sometimes we just need to put common sense aside and go get ourselves lost, so God can show up and show us something great.

Pastor Sarah

By Streams of Water

shoreline webPsalm 1

We are back to our fall routines. In the life of the church we come back to programs, activities and connections to community. We do these things because we believe that what we do together matters to our lives of faith.                 

Rooted into the gift of the gospel – we are renewed both in the receiving and the giving.

Just coming off my wilderness canoe trip, I am reminded that the best way to experience the lakes we paddle is to stay close to shore. It is in the shallows where a different kind of perspective is found. Where land and water meet you see the undergrowth of the forest and all that belongs to it such as lichens, wildlife trails, blueberry patches and so forth. We have learned that the land immediately up from the shoreline is an important environmental niche – a buffer zone that contributes to the health of many things.

Navigating wilderness lakes is greatly helped by the occasional pine that leans out over the water. Often it guides you to a small opening in the woods – the portage entrance, a pathway forward on the journey. For a distance we are on foot under the cover of old growth forest feeling grounded, helped by the weight of packs that only carry the necessities.

Portaging changes up the pace of steady paddling. It reminds us of our limitations and the importance of all that accompanies and surrounds us on our way.

Psalm 1 captures this kind of earthy wisdom as it encourages a rootedness in the ways of God: They are like trees planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in due season. Maybe it’s from being a grandpa that I more appreciate an image of growth and flourishing. Maybe its years of ordained ministry that helps me notice and celebrate all the planting, the watering and the growth that brings about faith and makes it a most real thing.

Pastor Randy

 Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

-Evangelical Lutheran Worship #798