“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

-Pastor Carrie

“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?

-Pastor Carrie

Pastor Travis Norton

They finally dislodged the stuck ship from the Suez Canal. 9 Billion dollars of trade had been lost each day for the week it was stuck. Everything got backed up, people had to make hard decisions about going around Africa or waiting it out, each decision fraught with expense. But now it’s free and the canal is open again and things are flowing. A friend of mine pointed out that this is like Easter. Our lives, our flow got disrupted when death blocked our path to God. But Jesus dislodged the rock from the tomb and got life flowing again. Easter is about hope. That which is stuck will be dislodged. That which blocks our path will be removed. The grief, the sorrow, the despair will all give way to rejoicing and joy. I think this year that message is harder to hear and more needed than many years before. Life is returning!

-Pastor Travis

Jesus often found himself immersed in dying, death, and resurrection. I do wonder what was going through his mind as he entered into Jerusalem during that festival week.  He was greeted by cheers and cloaks thrown down for him to ride over as the people welcomed him. This of course would be short-lived, the cheers would become jeers as the week went on.  Surely Jesus must have spent time reflecting on a life well lived.  From growing up in Nazareth, doing carpentry projects with his dad, playing with his cousin John, teaching in the temple, performing countless miracles, welcoming children, befriending those that others dared to even look at let alone dine with, and now he was entering town with a title he didn’t ask for but knew would carry deathly consequence.  So, what was Jesus hoping for in his last week? Was he able to reflect on all the connections and relationships in his life?  Did he know that some 2000 years later we would still be learning the way from him and bringing others to know him too?  I invite you to reflect this week on the connections you’ve made and lives you’ve touched.  What mark do you hope to leave in this kingdom of God? 

-Pastor Carrie

Pastor Travis Norton

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” John 12:27

I’m always struck by the struggle Jesus has with going to the cross. He’s clearly feeling anxious about the path ahead, but is committed to it nonetheless. I’ve often wrongly believed that people who do the hard but right thing felt good about it. I’ve found myself feeling like a weak leader when I second guess the path or have mixed feelings about the hardship of walking the path. But then I see Jesus with great clarity walking towards his death. Although he is clear about what is required it doesn’t mean it isn’t hard on him emotionally or spiritually. His prayers and comments reveal a man who daily has to quiet his fears and anxiety and continue to do what He knows is right and required. We are called to hard paths in our Christian faith sometimes and we need not feel ashamed when we feel the stress and internal anxiety. Turn those over to God and then, like Jesus, continue to be obedient. No matter what

-Pastor Travis

Pastor Travis Norton

“For God so loved the world” -Jesus

It is a simple statement, but I’m not sure we believe it. Do we really believe that everyone in this world is loved by God? Do we really believe that the world as a whole is loved by God? What do we think that means? What is love? God desires good things for the world. God protects the world. God cherishes the world. God has good feelings about the world. God has high hopes for the world. God gives good gifts to the world. God wants to spend time with the world. How would you define love? Now go back through the definition and add your name to all the ways God loves you. When you have finished that exercise go through and put the name of your enemy in place of the world. when we do those two things and work to believe them, we are getting close to what it means to say God so loved the world.

-Pastor Travis

What gets in the way of us worshiping God? In the gospel reading for this week, it was commerce. It was selling animals and exchanging of money that was taking place in the temple. Quite the opportunists I would think, what better place to capitalize on a crowd of people that at the temple, the center of the community. I wonder what it was that made the people think this was okay and that coming to the temple for a business transaction wouldn’t be destructive to those who were seeking the holy. The perception of what was holy in that space looked to be serving oneself and lining your pockets with money. It was a brazen show that money and power were going to take the seat held by God to whom the temple was dedicated. Jesus was having none of it. He came into the temple and chased out those who were selling, poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and turned over tables for good measure. I have to imagine that this was about as angry as we read about Jesus being, imagine the insult he felt when money and power were so visibly valued over the God who loves us. John’s gospel places this story at the beginning of Jesus ministry which is different from the synoptic gospels and is one of the reasons that John’s gospel is my favorite. Right up front, we get a picture of Jesus who is not messing around. It’s also a place to realize and remember that Jesus has come to replace the temple, that the presence of God is now embodied in Jesus who is with us and for us, and despite any barriers that might be set before us, like those in the temple that day, Jesus invites us all to be his followers and to walk with him in his ministry.

-Pastor Carrie

Pastor Travis Norton

“Take up your cross, deny yourself, follow me”
Jesus

Those are not easy tasks. The cross isn’t about a personal burden or hardship. Taking up your cross means sacrificing for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. It might mean putting your reputation on the line or speaking out on behalf of someone unpopular who is hurting. It might mean tithing and living on less of your income because you support the work of the gospel through the church. Deny yourself is self-explanatory, but it does not make it easy. It goes against every message our culture says to us. What does it mean to live a life where you do not put your needs and wants, hopes, and dreams at the center? Follow Jesus. Jesus went against the grain, cared for those in need, was crucified by the powers in this world. But then he was raised. That is our path, fellow Christians. May God gives us the strength to walk it

-Pastor Travis

Pastor Travis Norton

“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan” Mark 1:9

What do you know about your baptism? I’m not talking about when or where you were baptized, but about what happened to you when you were baptized. Jesus changed baptism, made it what we call in the Lutheran church ‘a means of grace.’ That is God saves us through baptism by uniting us to Jesus and giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Luther said that in baptism we “are redeemed from sin, death and the devil.” It this enormous event in our lives that we are invited to lay claim to, to accept by faith, to believe. It’s also a call to ministry. All of us, by virtue of our baptism are called to join Jesus in ministry and share the good news of God’s love with the world. It’s a big deal!

-Pastor Travis

“Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”
Mark 9:7

Transfiguration Sunday is this week. I’m always a bit sad by that because it means the lull between Christmas and Lent is over and I have to gear back up for a fuller schedule. But beyond my whining, I like this story of Jesus on the mountain talking with Elijah and Moses. I have all sorts of wonderings here. What did they talk about? What was the mood like, were they excited, nervous, geared up? How bright were their clothes exactly? Will we be transfigured in heaven? But for all my questions the key point here I think is what happens when God speaks to Peter, James and John. This is my Son, listen to him. Like Peter we all stick our feet in our mouths from time to time, usually with good intentions, just trying to help. But what is important is simply to shut our mouths and listen to our Lord. I’ll stop there.

-Pastor Travis

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: