Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Creatures of Habit

So how did your day begin? I would venture a guess to say it was probably pretty similar to how yesterday began, and the day before that, and the day before that, and the day...  We are creatures of habit. After waking up and taking care of business, so to speak, it's time to let the dog out of her crate, walk with her to the back door so she can do HER business. Then she comes inside and stretches - it looks like she is bowing down to worship the dish where her food will soon be. I put half of her breakfast into the bowl and place it on the floor. While she eats that, I get my orange juice and granola bar. Then I give the dog the second half of her food. And so it goes. Really, it doesn't get any more exciting as the morning goes on, so I will stop the illustration here.

We are creatures of habit. We often park in the same space at work, have a routine of what to do when we enter the office, have a set time and place for breaks and meals. We listen to the same programs, read the same articles, blogs or newspapers, watch the same shows. We get into a routine and we like to follow it. I know there are many parents who are excited to have their kids back in school for MANY reasons, but often mentioned (and I remember it was true in our house as well when the kids were younger) is that it will be good to get back into a routine.

Of course, this happens in church, too. You all have assigned seats, and you know it. Now I know there are some radicals out there who like to sit in different places each week, but isn't that a routine as well? I will tell you I appreciate that you have your assigned seats, because the better I get to know you, the easier it is to take attendance! When I preach a sermon five times on a weekend, I have it down pretty well, so I can take time to look at you, while you are looking at me, or reading the bulletin, or checking for cracks in the eyelids. In fact, I can tell when someone comes into church before a service and I see that someone else is already in their spot - I linger to see what they are going to do. Hopefully we are gracious and welcoming. And as a side note, if that ever happens, there are some GREAT seats up front available - you can see what's going on, and you will be guaranteed to be first in line for communion!

I remember from my high school psychology class that habits are important for us to form for they help us in function each day without the necessity of thinking about every detail and decision. Since we have a habit or routine, those decisions are already made for us. We can focus on the other details, and find comfort in the routine.

As we gear up for another season of football, we will be following routines and habits as fans cheering on our teams. There may be routines you follow on game day - pulling out your Buckeye gear for the day, preparing to watch the game in your favorite seat with your favorite food. For many of us there is a routine. And if you were to attend a game, you would find that there are routines you are encouraged to follow. When to stand, when to take off your hat, when to spell O-H-I-O with your arms, and the liturgy of the fans. You know it - when you hear, "O-H" please respond "I-O."  In Massillon, Ohio where I first served at St. Paul Lutheran, the High School Massillon Tigers are a big thing. And when you hear "T-I-G" the correct response is "E-R-S." There is a routine. We expect it, and we appreciate it. And when someone new arrives, we encourage them to follow along.

And so it is with the church. We have a set pattern, a flow, a routine. At Epiphany Lutheran Church, it is the simple pattern of Gathering, Word, Meal and Sending. This pattern is the same no matter which service you attend. We gather in the name of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We confess our sins, and we celebrate our reconciliation with God and others. We hear the Word of God in scripture and song and sermon. We offer thanks to God in response to this good news, and receive God's offering to us in the meal - the body and blood of Jesus in, with and under the bread and wine. We sing praises to God and are sent out serve the Lord. I believe this habit and routine is important, for it allows us to focus on the message. In our familiar seat, with a familiar flow, our hearts and minds can focus on God.

Instead of kicking the habit, embrace it. There is peace and comfort in the routine. What are some habits you might consider adding to your routine to let God speak to you each day?

Peace,

Pastor Charlie

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lessons from the Back of the Canoe

Last week, my wife and I took a day off together and went canoeing on the Little Miami River. Our wedding anniversary was earlier in the month, but didn't have time to spend together that day, so we made plans for this day trip and celebrated a couple weeks late. It was a beautiful day, and even though the river is a bit low, and we had a couple of times we did get stuck and needed to get out and portage a bit, we had a great time together. We enjoy canoeing together, and plan to go again in the future.

Traveling down the river, I thought that it might be a good exercise for couples to get into a canoe and head down a river as part of their pre-marriage counseling. What a great opportunity to see how well you are going to work together, how well you listen to each other, and how well you deal with the rocks and rapids along the way. (I also thought a good pre-marriage exercise would be to have the couple wall-paper a room together. If the two come out still talking to each other, then we proceed with the wedding!)

Here are some lessons I have learned from the back of the canoe that apply to married life. I imagine you may have more - I would love for you to share them with me.

  • We are both in the same boat. Genesis and the Gospels are where we find the words that, in marriage, two become one. While we are still individuals who make up this new union, we are together in the same boat.
  • Paddling is encouraged! It is one thing to get in the boat. It is another to do the work of paddling. Using your paddle provides an opportunity to move forward, and to guide the boat along the river and away from obstacles.
  • Same boat, but different roles. Depending on where you sit in the canoe, your role is different. The front of the boat is the person who should be on the lookout for obstacles and which direction might be best to head for smooth sailing. The person in the back of the canoe is the one who steers. This one has the ability to turn the canoe and hopefully head it in the right direction
  • These two roles should not be attempted from the opposite location! If you have ever been in a canoe with a director in the back, or the person in front attempting to steer, it is not pretty.
  • Listening is strongly encouraged. The person in front needs to listen to the person in back if he or she needs the front person to paddle on one side, or stop paddling on the other side. The person in back needs to hear about dangers and obstacles along the way. 
  • Trust is vitally important. Trusting your partner to do their role is the only way you will make it on the river.
  • You can change positions in the boat! It might be good to head to shore to do this, but the roles are interchangeable. It might be that one is better at one role than another, but that doesn't mean it always has to be that way.
  • Sometimes you still run into the rocks. No matter the warnings, the paddling, the use of that paddle as a rudder, the work and effort put into it, sometimes you still hit rocks or a branch. And sometimes you don't see the rocks until you hit them. How you respond to those times might be more telling than all others!
  • You might tip. It happens. We get wet, and we end up in the water. But the boat is still there, and you can get back in. That's forgiveness. Repentance is learning from that event, and working to make sure it doesn't happen again. (Now on the Little Miami River, we didn't tip over. It would have taken a lot of effort for that to happen. But on other rivers, we have found ourselves in the water.)
  • Calm waters and white water are a part of the journey. There is time for calm and peace, and there are always going to be rough places along the way. Instead of avoiding them, it is best to work through them together.
  • It is all a journey. And what a wonderful journey it is. And how wonderful it is to spend the journey together. 
30 years in the boat together, and I give thanks to God for my co-captain and paddling partner. I am thankful for the journey.

Some pictures from our canoeing trip last year.










Peace,
Pastor Charlie






Monday, August 11, 2014

Alive and Well

A friend of mine posted an article by Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber on Facebook last week. Below, I have copied that post for this week's blog. I echo her call to stop talking about the dying church. Our focus is to be on the Savior who is alive and well! That is what we are called to proclaim. That is what it means to be the church.

Here is the post:

"Stop Saying the Church is Dying (a sermon for the Rocky Mountain Synod Assembly)" by Nadia Bolz-Weber.

A week ago I was fortunate enough to be standing near a cliff in Cappadocia, Turkey taking in the view of hundreds of caves carved from volcanic rock in an alien looking valley. My friend Sara asked what I was thinking about. When I confessed that I was worrying about preaching at my Synod’s assembly next week, Sara didn’t hesitate to remind me sarcastically,  “Oh, you mean that little text on how Jesus tells us not to worry?”

So, yeah, nothing like worrying about preaching a sermon on how Jesus says we should not worry to make ya feel like a schmuck.

As today got closer and closer I would tell myself  “don’t worry, just come up with a plan”. I’d read the text, call my preacher friends, pray, repeat. And I am here to say that I did not, by worrying, add a single sentence to my sermon. Not one.

But I did become curious about what worry really is. And I began to realize that, on some level, worry is nothing more than fear.  Fear that either I will not get something I want or fear that something I have will be taken away.  And both of those fears seem to be centered on finitude. The fact that nothing lasts forever.  That everything comes to an end. And Jesus says who by worrying can escape this reality? But also, worry is kind of all about scarcity…. because I don’t know about you, but I have never once worried that I would have more money than I need next month.  I have never once worried that I might be happy and healthy and live a long life.

And we come by this fear honestly in a society in which a perceived state of scarcity is what drives the free market economy.  But I think Jesus points here to a bigger reality than that.  A reality he calls the kingdom of God. A reality he always seems to describe as being like things around us that are common, and small and insignificant and unimpressive.

Which is as good a time as any to talk about the Lutheran church. It’s no news to anyone here that there is a lot of hand-wringing these days about the longevity of the Lutheran church.  And yeah – to be sure, we used to be bigger, more significant and more impressive.  Sure, we used to own more property, have more members, bring in more cash and leverage more power than we do today. It’s hard to argue with numbers. But the thing is, buildings,  numbers, money, power – and other aspects of worldly success may indeed be signs of A kingdom, but brothers and sisters, they are not necessarily signs of THE Kingdom.. I mean, were this denomination of ours a company, then for sure, investors would be scurrying for cover. But, people of God, maybe now is the time for us to take a hard look at the ways in which the church has tended to judge our success on a set of values that perhaps we had no business buying into in the first place.  Namely our society’s free-market corporate American values of what success looks like.

If that is the case, then I repeat – we came by it honestly. Swept up as we were into having banked so much cultural currency in America.  But those days have gone.  They’ve gone.

And so, what are we left with if we are no longer the Lutheran church of 1964?

We in the year of our Lord 2014 have moved our bishop’s office from a fancy office space surrounded by PR firms and media companies in the seat of Denver’s power grid and into a slightly run-down church building in an unimpressive part of town. To some this may a sign that the “church is dying” but to others it is a sign that the church is living. Perhaps our definition of success can shift more toward what is foolishness to the world and yet life to those in Christ. Buildings and budgets and social currency will fall away. But what stands is the kingdom of God. Which Jesus tells us is the Father’s good pleasure to give to us.

Society will still have the Fortune 500 for profits, and non profits for service and day care centers for children and the ELKS Club for socializing and Starbucks for overpriced coffee and many other things we may not ever be. But we should never judge ourselves as the church according to these things because you know what the culture around us will NEVER do? Preach the Gospel, administer the sacraments and proclaim forgiveness of sins. You know why? That’s OUR job.  That’s our main job and while we are free as the church, to participate in any number of other activities in the world that seem bigger and more impressive let’s remember:  We are those who have been, and continue to be, entrusted with nothing less than the Gospel.  And what I’m about to say is a shamelessly prideful (and being shamelessly prideful is, I have been told, “not Lutheran”) but in a world where people are constantly being fed spoonfuls of nonsense and told it is Jesus …we have a better Gospel.

So given what we’ve been entrusted with, we cannot be distracted any longer by a corporate American Empire version of success.

So let me be the first to say, if in your congregation, regardless of size, prestige or property, if the Word is preached and the Eucharist shared and water poured and forgiveness of sins received, then congratulations, your congregation is a success. So when the numbers crunchers and church consultants say the church is dying…may I suggest that we only say this when we forget what the definition of church is.

And when we forgot whose the church is.

Because as the prophet Isaiah said, the Word will do that for which God purposes it and people, regardless of what happens to institutions, and trends and property and budgets…even when the president of the United States stops inviting us to the White House Prayer breakfast – Even if there is never any such things as a White House Prayer breakfast and old church building are more often condos than centers for worship, God will be praised.  God will continue to send for the Word which God has always sent forth.  So let us step back from the worry of how the church is dying, because long after we have gone, the WORD will remain.  Long after the ELCA is gone, even when my beloved House for All Sinners and Saints is gone, the church will not be dead because people will continue to gather in the name of the Triune God, hold up bread, say it is Jesus and that it is for the forgiveness of sins. Just as we will do here tonight so will it forever be done until the time in which we gather around the throne of the Lamb.

But let’s remember this, people of the Rock Mountain Synod, that the Gospel is not just entrusted to you for you to proclaim, it is, to be sure, also intended for you to hear. So since we Christians are a forgetful people – and need to be reminded of that for which the church was even created in the first place – so…

People of God, do not worry because we have this Word-

That there is a God who created us and all that is, this same God spoke through prophets and poets, claimed a people to be God’s own and freed them from the shackles of slavery. This same God led those people through the wilderness to a land of milk and honey, and told them to always welcome the stranger and protect the foreigner so that they could remember where they came from and what God had done for them. Then in the fullness of time, and to draw ALL people to himself, God came and broke our hearts like only a baby could do and made God’s home in the womb of a fierce young woman as though God was saying, from now on this is how I want to be known. And as Jesus, God the Son kissed lepers and befriended prostitutes and baffled authority. Jesus ate with all the wrong people and on the night before he died, he gathered with his faltering friends for a meal that tasted of freedom. He held up bread and told us to do the same thing and he promised us so much: that he would be with us, that forgiveness is real, that we are God’s, that people matter and that death is done for and that after a tough resurrection, grilled fish makes an awesome breakfast.

Which is to say, God chose to enter the finitude we fear– enter into the uncertainty and danger of mortal human existence in order to point to something bigger.  Bigger than what is fleeting and finite.  In the incarnation God has given us nothing less than a small measure of eternity through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.  And made us an Easter people – not people who vapidly pretend that everything’s ok – but people who live in the Christ reality of death and resurrection. People who live in the reality of a God who brings live things out of dead things.

I say this as someone who a week ago was hiking in those desolate valleys of Cappadocia, a land that for 1,000 years was populated with Christians and now is not. That is to say, we are not the first group of Christians to worry about the decline of Christianity.

Sara and I would climb up into caves and look around at ceilings filled with Byzantine Christian iconography. A thousand years of Christianity and now only ruins left. Yes, the big, impressive, successful Byzantine Empire fell, and yet the church of Jesus Christ did not die, if it had, how could 2 middle aged women stand in old cave church 600 years later and sing Christos Aneste? Christ is risen. A song that no matter what, will continue to be sung, because worry not, the tomb is empty, and God will be praised. Amen.

Peace,
Pastor Charlie


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Embracing Technology

I believe it is a trait I inherited from my Dad - I love new gadgets and tools that make things work easier, faster and sometimes a lot more fun. Now mind you, my Dad was not a very gifted person when it came to tools and figuring gadgets out (I inherited those genes too!), but that didn't stop him from checking things out.  He loved technology, even if he didn't understand how it all worked.

I remember when he bought his first battery-operated calculator. We sat at the dining room table as he unpacked the portable device (about the size of a Frisbee!) and put the 9 volt battery into place. He turned it on, then started to use it for some calculations - adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing (that was about the limit of its abilities). Next to the calculator, Dad had a notepad on which he was doing the calculations long-hand. He wanted to make sure the calculator was giving him the correct answers! And it did, much to his delight.

When Dad got a new device, he put it to use, as soon as he figured it out. Another gadget I remember is the label-maker. Do you remember these?

Dad thought this was greatest thing since sliced bread. We had labels everywhere. Not just to LABEL things, but to give us directions. By the light switch, "TURN OFF LIGHTS." By the stairway, "TAKE YOUR SHOES UPSTAIRS."

Dad passed away about six years ago, but every time there is something new, I can just imagine Dad trying to figure it out. I imagine he would have loved to play with an IPad or a cell phone. He wouldn't have mastered it, but he would enjoy trying to see what it could do.

The question is often asked, "How can we use technology in the church?" "Should we use technology in the church?" It is true that the technology we have seems to be distraction to many. But the reality is, technology is prevalent in our society, and we do benefit from it.

Someone once said we ought to look at our possessions and ask the question, "Is this a tool or a toy?" Is this object we have something that can be beneficial to ourselves and others, or a toy that becomes a distraction that can get in the way of our relationship with others, and with God? So for the church, the question becomes, is this object just a toy that is fun to play with, or can it be used to enhance our call to learn and carry out the will of God?

Another question to ask is, "Are we using technology to enhance our worship, education, etc., or are we doing it because everyone else is doing it?" This was an issue with my Dad - while he loved to try these new things, often it was because everyone else was doing it, too. Did the labels help in reminding us to turn off our lights and take our shoes upstairs? Maybe for a week or so, but soon, the label was ignored.

I am excited about the many possibilities technology can play in our lives, and in the church. We encourage our youth to use Bible apps on their phones. I had a "first" a few months back when a groomsman used the Bible app on his phone when it was time to read the scripture passage. We are looking at ways we can encourage people to use their smart phones to make an offering to the church (many of those younger than me don't carry cash or a checkbook, so when the offering plate comes by, they are unable to put anything in the plate). We communicate a lot with email and messages and web sites because that is where people get their information.

I believe there are many ways technology can be tools for ministry. Dad would be so happy!

Peace,

Pastor Charlie

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

If We Could See

Last week I stopped to have lunch at Panera Bread. I found a corner to have my bowl of soup and sandwich and work on my sermon for Sunday. Focused on the task at hand, I didn't notice the man who stopped in front of me immediately. When I looked up, the distinguished man wearing a suit and tie said, "I just wanted to let you know how much I like your t-shirt." At first, I thought it was odd that this well-dressed man would be complementing me on my casual attire. Then I had to think, "What about my t-shirt? What shirt am I wearing today?" I had to glance down and see that what I had on for the day was my "Lutheran Aerobics" t-shirt.

He was not the last one to comment on my shirt that day. We talked for a few minutes, and I came to find out that he is an Episcopal priest, and he could relate to the shirt as well!

T-shirts have a way of conveying messages about us to others. When we headed to camp last week, most of the Epiphany crowd had green "Epiphany Goes To Camp" shirts on. Many of us bought shirts at the camp and will wear them to promote the camps and as a reminder of our great week there. We wear shirts that promote our favorite teams, our alma maters, even our political opinions.

In some ways, shirts help us to know something about the people we meet along life's way. But so often, we hide behind the clothes or the masks we put on. The reality is there are many shirts we could wear that would tell others our hopes, our dreams, our pains and our sorrows. To wear a shirt like that would leave us exposed more than covered up, wouldn't it?

The Gospel lesson for this coming weekend is the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with a meager meal of a few small fish and a couple of bread loaves. We call it a miracle. And that it is! But so often our view of this story ends there. We just see the surface of it, and focus on what Jesus did. If we go a bit deeper, we see WHY Jesus did this - because the people were hungry, and Jesus had compassion on them.

Jesus models for us compassion. Caring for the other. He looks beyond the surface and reaches to our hearts and souls and lets us know that he cares. He does not abandon us, but walks with us on the mountaintops and in the deepest valleys. And he calls us to do the same.

This video was produced by the Cleveland Clinic. What would it be like of we could see the heart of our neighbor?



Open our eyes, Lord. Help us to see!

Peace,

Pastor Charlie







Monday, July 21, 2014

A Prayer For Peace

If you have watched the news, read the paper or listened to the radio in the past few days, you have heard of the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Some have asked me if we are still planning to go to Israel this fall. The answer is that is our hope. We pray that the conflicts will subside and there will soon be an end to the fighting that will be sustainable. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. 

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has been in contact with Munib Younan, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) who asks for our prayers. Bishop Eaton has written a letter to Bishop Younan and requests that the letter be shared with our congregations. She is asking that congregations throughout the ELCA to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), that peace might come to Palestine and Israel. I would ask we pray for all who are in harms way, and to guide those who have the power to negotiate peace. 

Here is Bishop Eaton's letter.  

July 17, 2014

The Rev. Dr. Munib Younan
Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land P.O. Box 14076
Muristan Rd.
91140 JERUSALEM


Dear Bishop Younan,

On behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I am writing to express profound concern for you, our sisters and brothers in Christ. Our hearts are heavy as we read about and see images of the violence being inflicted on both Israelis and Palestinians. This suffering and loss of life are inexcusable before God. As followers with you of the Prince of Peace, and as children of God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, we long for peace and a just resolution to the escalating conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people. I want to respond directly to your call to us earlier this week to participate in interventions and actions “to create hope in a hopeless situation”.

The steadfastness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) is a reminder of this hope we have in Christ Jesus. The church’s strong witness for coexistence grounded in peace with justice permeates every level of congregational, educational, and diaconal service. Our faith is strengthened by knowing how, even in the midst of great difficulties, the Body of Christ is working in Palestine and Jordan for the good of all communities.

Along with the witness of your pastors and lay leaders, your witness, Bishop Younan, has strengthened our confidence that peace can indeed be achieved among the two peoples and three religions that share the Holy Land. Your statements, speeches, and sermons have been a model for promoting both political and interreligious coexistence, along with your strong support of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, which you helped found. 

We are grateful for your continued uplifting of the voices of moderation and against extremism and support to you in these efforts. We appreciate the long-standing work of the ELCJHL schools in demonstrating the importance of education though a curriculum based on peace, nonviolence, peaceful co-existence and the strengthening of civil society for the benefit of all communities. We understand that this present crisis has further hurt the financial wellbeing of the ELCJHL schools, as many parents are now unable to pay tuition. We encourage ELCA members and congregations to assist the ELCJHL by making contributions through the ELCA.

At this time of great uncertainty, we join you in your call for a cessation of all hostilities between Israel and Hamas and a return to direct peace talks to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution and adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law. We wish to convey our solidarity with you and the members of ELCJHL congregations, joining with you in prayers for peace. I encourage all ELCA congregations to participate in a minute of silence as we together pray for peace in the Holy Land.

While I lament that my plan to be present with you and with the leaders and members of the ELCJHL later this month has been postponed, I look forward to our time together in Jordan and the Holy Land. We deeply regret that the most recent round of negotiations have not reached a successful outcome that will lead to peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike. We reaffirm our pledge to work diligently with you and all people of good will to urge political leaders in the United States and around the world contribute to ending this conflict by addressing its root causes so a sustainable peace is possible.

May God be with you, your church and all the people of the Holy Land. 

Sincerely, 


Elizabeth A. Eaton Presiding Bishop



I invite you all to pray for peace.  

Pastor Charlie

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Will and I Ask God to Help Me

There was a celebration at Epiphany Lutheran Church this past Saturday. We gathered for the ordination of Sean Barrett to be a pastor in the Lutheran Church. As a member of the Epiphany for the past 15 years, it was a great opportunity for us to gather together with him to celebrate with him in this next journey of his ministry and faith. Sean has been in seminary for the past four years, including three years of classes and a year of internship in Vandalia, Ohio. The past few months, Sean has been helping out in leading worship at the Epiphany's Austin campus.

Sean has received a call to St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Salisbury, North Carolina. After years of discernment, training, study, and hard work, this day had finally come. We gathered with members of Epiphany, Sean's classmates, family and friends, neighboring pastors and more to celebrate this day. Bishop Dillahunt presided and Dr. Rick Berger of Trinity Lutheran Seminary preached an incredible sermon to say the least. 

As a participant in the service, I was reminded of my own ordination many years ago. Hearing again the words asked Sean this he takes on the yoke of ministry, the service became a time of reaffirmation of call for me and my colleagues as well.

Bishop:   Before almighty God, to whom you must give account, and in the presence of this assembly, I ask: Will you assume this office, believing that the church's call is God's call to the ministry of word and sacrament? 

Sean: I will, and I ask God to help me. 

Bishop: The church in which you are to be ordained confesses that the holy scriptures are the word of God and are the norm of its faith and life. We accept, teach, and confess the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds. We also acknowledge the Lutheran confessions as true witnesses and faithful expositions of the holy scriptures. Will you therefore preach and teach in accordance with the holy scriptures and these creeds and confessions? 

Sean: I will, and I ask God to help me. 

Bishop: Will you be diligent in your study of the holy scriptures and faithful in your use of the means of grace? Will you pray for God's people, nourish them with the word and sacraments, and lead them by your own example in faithful service and holy living? 

Sean: I will, and I ask God to help me.

Bishop: Will you give faithful witness in the world, that God's love may be known in all that you do? 

Sean: I will, and I ask God to help me. 

Bishop:   Almighty God, who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.  Amen.



This was a powerful reminder to me about what it means to be called to be a pastor of Word and Sacrament. It was an opportunity for me to center again and what I am called to do and to be. 

I believe baptism services are similar to this for us as well, as we hear the promises made at the font. The promises to learn about God, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed and the 10 Commandments, to read the Scriptures, to come to worship, and to remember the promises God makes us to the waters of baptism that we belong to God. We need to be reminded of the gift of God's love and grace, and the call we ALL have to ministry. 

God calls us all to ministry. May we be bold enough to respond to God's call saying, "I will and to ask God to help me."

Peace,

Pastor Charlie