“I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed” 1 Samuel 24

This week we’re walking with David in the Messy middle after he was anointed by Samuel but before he was crowned king. David was chased in the wilderness by Saul and given a chance to kill him in a cave. But David didn’t do it. Why? David didn’t believe he had the right to determine Saul’s fate, that right belonged to God alone. David respected the office of King, even when the King was trying to kill him. David was humble, he was patient and he trusted the Lord to deliver on God’s promises in God’s time. I want to learn how to be like David when life is difficult. To be humble and patient and to trust in the Lord.

-Pastor Travis

Something New

We tried something new last week with outdoor midweek communion on the front lawn. Over 217 attended 3 services on a beautiful Wednesday. Here are a few photos!

Learn With Me

In my own hometown, Superior, Wisconsin, there was exactly one black family, the Turner’s. They owned the Billings Park cafe. The “other side of the tracks” was the North End of town where most of the low-income housing was. I would say the income disparity created a wider divide growing up for me than race did? (Which is funny in itself since we too lived paycheck to paycheck, but, my parents owned their home.) It isn’t to say racism didn’t exist, because with one black family in town, who everyone knew, you can bet that if an unidentified person of color showed up somewhere eyebrows were raised. I remember lots of slurs that if I heard people using today would immediately lead me to call them out. But I don’t think it was until I went to college that I had any real sense of diversity beyond the different Scandinavians and some Native Americans I grew up with.

I have a lot to learn on how to be an ally to people of color. While I would like to believe I’ve always recognized that and tried to be “a good person” I’m realizing now that complacency is not okay, but growth and vulnerability are.

Pastor Carrie

“But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.”
Joshua 24:19

The people said they would serve the Lord and this is how Joshua responds? Sometimes we say things when we don’t really know what we’re talking about. Sometimes we make commitments before we know how hard they will be to keep. Joshua gives the people a chance to change their minds, to reconsider. I think this pandemic era is an opportunity for us to take a hard look at our own commitment to the Lord. Have we been serious about our faith, or have we just been going through the motions? Maybe we can use this week to recommit ourselves to the One who gave himself on the cross to save us. Joshua lays down the gauntlet for his people demanding ‘choose this day whom you will serve.’ I hear a need for the same call today. There’s a lot going on in our world, let’s not get swept away but rather renew our choice to serve Jesus and find in him a sure foundation.

-Pastor Travis

“Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? they are almost ready to stone me.” Exodus 17:3-4

My first thought on this passage is, ‘I’ve been there, Moses!” I can’t help it, I just feel bad for the guy. He’s doing all the right things, and working hard at it and he just can’t seem to get support from his people. As soon as he solves one problem—like splitting the red sea in half and saving them from a chariot army—another problem rears its ugly head. The people are thirsty and they don’t seem to remember anything he’s ever done for them in the past. Honestly, this is just what leadership is like. So buck up Moses and all you leaders out there, this is what we signed up for. In the end there’s no room for self pity, but there is room for prayer. These are God’s people not Moses’ and it is God’s responsibility to give them water. Moses is just the middle man. Maybe that’s the leadership lesson here. Our job as leaders, whether it’s leading your family, or your staff, or your small group, is simply to bring your people’s needs to God. Then listen to the directions God gives, even if they seem silly. Take your staff, strike a rock and watch God do His miraculous work.

-Pastor Travis

From the Pastor

How do we respond to the killing of George Floyd? How do we respond to the protests that followed? How do we respond to the destruction of property that is happening? We all have our opinions and our knee jerk reactions. But let’s stop and ask how our Lord and Savior would have us respond. Too often in these situations when emotions run high and our echo chambers take sides, we forget that we have a Lord, that we follow Jesus. Where is Jesus leading us?

A Christian is called to compassion. Think about your own response, your own emotions. Are you being compassionate? How do we show compassion to the family of Mr. Floyd? How do we show compassion to the protesters? How do we show compassion to law enforcement? How do we show compassion to law breakers? How do we show compassion to the African American community?

The word compassion means literally “to suffer with.” God showed compassion to humanity by coming to us in Jesus and suffering with us. God suffered betrayal, oppression, injustice, violence and murder. Jesus lived a life of compassion. He always had his eye on those who were being oppressed. In his day it was Samaritans, women and children. He spoke harsh words to those in power like Herod and the Pharisees and his own people. But to those who suffered oppression he showed mercy, grace and love. He used his power to bridge divides and offer healing. He never retreated to the safety of his tribe; he never circled the wagons; he always crossed over in compassion and love.

Jesus invited us to follow him and his way in the world. We must therefore condemn racism in all its forms. We must listen to the African American community with compassion and the desire to understand their experience. We must acknowledge the ways that those of us who are white benefit from being in the majority. If we have voice and power, then we must use that to serve our neighbors who are ignored or silenced. And we must confess our own sins of commission and omission. We ask God to forgive us and we repent. That is the Christian way, the way of Jesus.

What would it be like to have an officer have his knee on your neck until you died? What would it be like to be so angry at the oppression of your people that you wanted to march in protest? What would it be like to be so frustrated by injustice that you wanted to destroy something? What would it feel like to live in constant fear that a minor infraction could lead to your death?

I don’t have the answers to systemic racism in American. But I think, at the very least, we can start with compassion. We can suffer with those who are hurting and put ourselves in their shoes. Maybe then we can be part of the solution. In the end it is only God who can change the human heart. May God transform us again and transform our hearts and the heart of this nation. May we all see and treat each person as a fellow creature made in the image of Almighty God.

-Pastor Travis

Evil Be Gone

“Say a prayer for my neighborhood tonight please. It’s under siege. They are finding hidden accelerants all through the neighborhood, at businesses, in yards, in alleys. We’re an hour away, but still terrified. Also maybe a prayer for some peace for me and my family.”

This was how the week started on Sunday evening with a text from my best friend from college. Her family lives in Minneapolis now, just blocks away from the corner where George Floyd was murdered. So I took a deep breath and thought of the Holy Spirit blowing on what was Pentecost Sunday and I prayed for my friend, for all the families in her neighborhood, for George Floyd and those that loved him, and for the breath of the Holy Spirit to sweep in when we can’t breathe.

For the last few days I have been looking at some of the upcoming lectionary texts and this one struck me for the time and place that we are living in today, the text is from Jeremiah the twentieth chapter, here is verse eleven:

“But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.”

In the verses beforehand Jeremiah feels the pain of rejection from those who do not want to hear what he has to say. It reminds me today of all the times and places when the people have spoken out and still haven’t been heard. Yet even in the midst of this rejection, persecution, injustice; the final verse of the passage tells us that glory belongs to the Lord and only to the Lord shall we sing praises, “For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.” And so we pray today that evil be gone.

-Pastor Carrie

“Now Joseph was taken down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there.”

We are starting a new sermon series called “the messy middle.” We begin with the story of the middle of Joseph’s life. After the coat of many colors but before he was in charge of all of Egypt. The middle is a hard place where there aren’t easy answers or a clear road ahead. It feels like that’s where we are now, not just with the pandemic, but with the state of racism in our country. Usually when I’ve read this story of Joseph I’ve thought of myself in his shoes, and that’s been helpful. But today I wonder if I have more in common with Potiphar than with Joseph. I’ve never been a slave. I’ve never been sold out by my family. I’ve never been in jail. As I read this story today, I feel God encouraging me to think of those who have slavery in their not too distant history, who feel betrayed, who’ve been in or threatened with jail. That’s not a thought journey I want to be on, but one that God has put me on this week.

-Pastor Travis

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