High School Trip to San Fransisco!

We had an incredible trip to San Francisco with 18 high school students and four incredible youth leaders (well three anyway- Shelly Schmidt, Michaela Eskew and Marcus Kochis.) The youth spent their days doing service projects, seeing the sights and learning from the scriptures. They will share this Sunday at 8:00 and 9:30 more of their experiences, but I want to share some of the highlights with you too.  

Service Projects: We painted blessings on wooden planks for Youth Spirit Artworks. In the hot sun, the youth thought through messages they want to share with underprivileged youth and painted them on wooden planks to adorn the center’s courtyard. One of them read “It’s ok to not be ok,” and other one read “U deserve the World.” Some painted scripture and crosses and art to bless the center. The youth also spent time at a Crisis Center, a Food Bank, Cleaning up garbage at a Skate Park and helping a local church decorate for Vacation Bible School.  

Experiences: We spent one evening with an ELCA ministry called San Francisco Night ministries. They have what’s called an Open Cathedral, an outdoor liturgical service with hymns and contemporary music on the streets. We worshiped with homeless people and were surrounded with the noise and smells of the busy city. It was powerful to receive communion and hear familiar words in such a different setting. 

Faith Formation: Each evening we gathered for a large group teaching. We learned that we are a “thread in God’s tapestry.” WE even had a loom and weaved thread by thread to think about how we are part of what God is doing in the world. We had individual quiet time, the best of which was when we went to Muir woods and communed with God under 1,000 year old trees. One of our faith formation times was on a beach at sunset and concluded with kids coming forward and reaffirming their baptism and receiving a blessing. 

Community: This is the biggest thing that happened on this trip and why I think they are so valuable. The kids came together as a Christian community. Shy kids came out of their shells and everyone made new friends. They also messed up and got mad at each other and had to confess their sin and ask for forgiveness. They were being made into disciples. They grew in loving each other and I hope that love for one another keeps them coming together for worship, learning and fellowship in the coming year. 

We saw all the sights of course and that was good, but the best part was the work God did in the lives of our youth. Thank you again for supporting this trip and even giving above and beyond when we got delayed for a day and had a full day of extra expenses. This congregation has proven that it cares about youth and is willing to invest in their faith.  

I’m really tired and am going to take a long nap now. 😊 

-Pastor Travis 

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.” -Romans 12: 2 (The Message)

This verse in Romans is one that invites us to examine how we live out our faith in the world.  Do we live through a lens of faith in all that we do, or have we given in to the ways of the world?  When we can embrace, recognize and celebrate all that God does for us, we can in turn do the same for others.  Where are the places in your life that are calling to be changed by the love of God for the sake of the community that we live in?  

Paul’s writing in this chapter is a beautiful reminder and call to live in the goodness of God.  To be cheerful and to keep trying even (and especially) when things get hard.  Together we are the body of Christ, remember that always and we will indeed be changed from the inside out.
Pastor Carrie
PS…I really love the translation of the this from The Message.  You can read the who chapter here.

‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ -Luke 11: 729

Have you ever had someone knock on your door, late at night, after you’ve gone to bed?  It’s an unsettling feeling at best.  Then you have to decide who is going to answer the door, are you going to answer the door, what could the person on the other side of the door want?  The last time someone rang our doorbell after 11pm it was simply a neighbor telling us that our garage door was open.  It was out of kindness, yet hearing that bell ring brought fear.
In the parable today a neighbor is all tucked in bed when a friend stops by to ask for bread.  What a strange request for the midnight hour.  The neighbor does not want to honor the request.  But Jesus sums up the parable by telling us that in asking we will receive what we need.  For me, sometimes the asking and the knowing what exactly to ask for are the hard part.  When you have found yourself in need but not sure what to ask for?  

-Pastor Carrie

“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt” Luke 18:9 

Know anybody like that? Do you know anyone who thinks they are so much better than other people? Do you know anyone who looks down on others for not being X, Y or Z. Actually, that’s probably too easy. The harder question is to look in the mirror and ask ‘am I guilty of regarding others with contempt?’ This Sunday we’ll look at the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector and the warning Jesus gives to all of us who exalt ourselves.  

-Pastor Travis Norton

Looking for last weeks worship? You can find it here!

“And who is my neighbor?” -Luke 10: 29

Jesus doesn’t really leave much for us to guess about in some of his parables.  In this story that holds true, the Samaritan takes care of the man who has been beaten and left to suffer, and he then claims the title of neighbor.  What I find curious about this story is why did the first two pass by the suffering man?  What were they feeling or doing that kept them from stopping and being helpful or even just checking on this man.  I often find my questions in the parables to be about what isn’t said.  Why didn’t the priest or the Levite stop and show this man any mercy.  What were they holding onto that didn’t allow them to stop and help?  According to Old Testament Law a priest couldn’t touch a dead body, it would make him ceremonially unpure, the same would hold true for the religious Levite.  I wonder when the “rules” get in the way of grace and mercy?  When do we find that rules inhibit us rather than allow us to flourish?  What does that do to our hearts when we are held back by rules (real or perceived) rather than living in love, mercy, kindness and grace? 

-Pastor Carrie

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