Insights and experiences from ELCA missionaries Marissa and Viking Dietrich in Berlin where Viking serves as Regional Representative in Europe, for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Service and Justice Unit.
“He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit” –Jesus
We are either being removed or pruned in that analogy of the vineyard that Jesus uses in John 15. Either way it’s not always comfortable being a follower of Jesus. The goal is bear fruit. So I’m wondering this week which kind of branch I am? Am I bearing the kind of fruit that Jesus expects? If so what does the pruning look like? I think a major part of the pruning is just reminding us that we exist for others not for our own sake. This Christian faith isn’t meant to be something for our individual gain, but meant to shape us to give something of worth to the world. That thing we give is the good news of life in Christ. May the Lord work on us to be more effective in sharing Christ with the world!
“I am the Good Shepherd’”
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what it means to be in Jesus’ flock, under His leadership. We exist in lots of communities in our lives, under lots of different leaders. We debate and usually complain about our leaders, especially our political ones. We have leaders that we really respect and admire. I know I’ve been particularly impressed by my children’s school’s leaders, especially the principal, this past year. We have bosses that may help us flourish or give us headaches. We have church leaders too who work hard on our behalf. A a church leader myself I know how easy it is to disappoint people which I hear about weekly, but I’m the recipient of weekly appreciation as well. All of the other leaders in our life our imperfect and not that different than ourselves. But Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd and we are his flock. He knows us and loves us and lays down his life to protect us. While other leaders may fail, disappoint, abandon or even betray us, Jesus won’t. How can we fully appreciate the gift of being under His care? How can we imitate His leadership?
“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them,
‘Have you anything here to eat?’”
-Luke 24: 41
When I’m teaching first communion seminar one of the key things that we teach is about the real presence of Christ. Trying to explain that the bread and wine are not actually flesh and blood but are the real presence of Christ for us, can get a little tricky sometimes. But they seem to understand that the table of Christ brings us together, it makes us one in the community (communion) of Jesus. It is amazing how life giving it is to gather around a table in community with others.
In the gospel for this week, Jesus shows up to the disciples again. He greets them, has a brief conversation with them, assuring them that it is really him. That he has come back to be with them and assuring them of their mission. He asks if they have anything to eat. They give him broiled fish, and I suspect in the eating of that fish, it is evident that he is indeed with them in flesh and bone. It’s in this exchange I’m assured that Jesus intended for us to come together in his meal knowing that he is always with us, that he is really real, and we can experience it in the bread and wine he gives for us. So, as we teach to those who are preparing to receive communion, Christ is in, with, and under the bread and wine we receive. Just as he is with us always, really real.-Pastor Carrie
Sunday, April 18 at 11 to 12 p.m. on the First Lutheran Lawn
This event is for preschool and elementary-school children and their parents. We will be doing mindfulness practices (think yoga poses in game-style and breathing techniques) from Tracy Daniel’s book Mindfulness for Children: 150+ Mindfulness Activities for Happier, Healthier, Stress-Free Kids. We will also be doing mindfulness games that will help us get in balance with our bodies and snacks will be provided!
Mindfulness is a way to connect to your body and your mind in a way that is relaxing and fun. It is good for when you feel moody, stressed, or just need to relax. These practices are great ways for your children to settle their bodies after long hours in front of screens. We hope this will be a helpful resource for you during this stressful pandemic time, but also activities that you can use whenever you need them.
“Receive the Holy Spirit”
-John 20: 22
When are you most open to new things? Is there ever a time that change isn’t scary?
The disciples knew that the world would never go back to what it had once been. That Jesus who was with them, who they trusted, who was their teacher was gone. But, here in this place, in this locked room they were challenged by Jesus with them again. They likely weren’t quite sure what to do with that, what to believe and what that would mean for their future. I wonder how many felt relief with a heavy sigh, that Jesus is back, things can go back to normal now. But that wasn’t the message that Jesus would bring. Things would never go back to normal. The world would be different and the role of the disciples in the world would be different. They would now have to go and share the good news, they would have to go and make disciples, they would have to share that Jesus is with us always. They could no longer walk behind Jesus and play a supporting role they were going to have to do the work. So just as Jesus had now called them to go forth he breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The gift of the Spirit is upon us, friends. How will we go forth in a world that will never be the same tomorrow as it is today and share the good news?