Pastor’s Corner – April 2021

Last year’s Easter was definitely strange! There was no “call and response” of “He is risen!” “He is risen indeed!” Last Easter was a little like the first Easter. In stunned silence, followers were separated. While we learned to worship in a new way, there was community togetherness that we missed. We had to adapt, to change, to learn to worship in new ways.

But our God is like that, always adapting. God made covenants with Noah and Abraham and then God adapted to working with humanity through kings and prophets. Then God adapted to working with humanity through Jesus. Adaptation is not always smooth. In fact, often it is wearisome, tiring, and frustrating.

But there’s an adaption that I am thrilled to experience. This year, while we are still caring for the other, particularly those not vaccinated, it pleases my heart so much that we can worship in person, together! I’m guessing that I’m not alone in that joy. We’ve been worshipping together, in person, for a while now and that has been a privilege and a light of hope. Being in community, in any of its forms (in person, online, etc.), is how we are created to be. Being in community, in any of its forms, is how we are supposed to follow Jesus.

While the virus is still with us and we are still protecting the neighbor, the light of hope shines brightly. Worshiping together at Easter will be great. Worshipping together in the second Sunday of Easter (sometimes otherwise known as Holy Humor Sunday) will mean joy met with the sounds of laughter – sounds that were too much absent from last year. What joyful adaptations!

For being in community, for hope, for a God who always adapts, let us give thanks.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor’s Corner – March 2021

March is like a messy patchwork of images. March marks the beginning of spring. This year, March marks the one-year anniversary for most of the pandemic responses and restrictions in the U.S.  March, of course, contains the commemoration day for Saint Patrick. Also, March is deep into the Lenten season.

In adult Bible study, we’ve been reading, discussing, and reflecting on the book, “The Walk” by Adam Hamilton. It walks the readers through five spiritual disciplines (worship, prayer, study, serve, and share). Hamilton writes, “I wrote this book to be a simple guide for the Christian life written for ordinary people whose faith is sometimes messy” (page 8).

Faith is sometimes very messy. As we deepen our faith this lent and as we reflect on the teachings, Passion, and salvation through Christ Jesus, I invite you to consider (study, pray about, imagine) the scripture you encounter. For example, below are three healings of Jesus. Imagine for a moment that you are there too, witnessing these miracles. Use your imagination and your senses. Notice the patchwork of images, sounds, sensations, and smells.

Jesus heals Bartimaeus (who was blind) as Jesus is leaving Jericho (Mark 10:46-52).

Bartimaeus cries out loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” He is credited as having faith.

  • Loudly? How loud do you suppose he was?
  • Why would he throw off his cloak to meet Jesus? Does that make noise when he does that? Does it kick up any dust?

Jesus cleanses a leper (Mark 1:40-45).  Jesus responds, “I do choose.”

In the Bible, leprosy means any kind of skin condition.

  • How does skin feel when there is a rash or break out of some kind?
  • How does skin look once a rash is healed? How does it now feel? Smell?

Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-34). She is “lifted up” (raised up). She begins to serve them.

  • What kind of serving do you imagine that she is doing? For example, is she preparing food or feeding them?
  • What do you hear?
  • What do you smell?

As we journey in this calendar month and in this season of lent, may the messy patchwork of it all invite the senses. And may you be “healthy as a trout” (1)  – however that may look, feel, and smell.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor’s Corner – February 2021

We’ve crossed into a fresh new year and I wonder how are you doing? Really, how are you doing? Are you able to see hope and the promise and a vision of what the future will be like? Are you able to see hope in the coming vaccines? Are you able to imagine excitement for this, our 100th year at Saint Paul? I pray that, despite COVID and other realities, you are able to hold hope and gratitude in your heart. If you are struggling to do that, consider this the sign you were waiting for. Please reach out to me. I’ll listen as you vent, we can pray together, and I will continue to personally pray for you. 

In this second month of our fresh new year are a few things. February, this year is quite the potluck of events. February 7th is Super Bowl 55 and the 14th is Valentine’s Day. Lent begins in February this year, beginning with Ash Wednesday on the 17th. Because I have to get very near to impose ashes, it would not be safe for either of us in this pandemic. We’ll have an online-only Ash Wednesday service. Spoiler alert – you’ll need a candle. 😉 

This Lent, the mid-week services after Ash Wednesday will be in-person services. We’ll look at God’s covenants, beginning with the early ones like Noah and Abraham. Please see the rest of The Pilot for a clip-and-save of the dates and times. 

I’ll sign off this month with a reminder about our hope. 

“but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31 

Soli Deo Gloria!