Pastor Hank is Retiring…. Again

He came to First Lutheran a retired pastor and was quickly hired to assist with visitation and grief counseling. Through the years he has helped many of our members during the darkest times of their lives as they cope with the loss of lifelong partners. He has visited the homebound and brought comfort and the good news of the gospel to those isolated by illness. He became a regular preacher in the rotation for the Saturday night service. In addition to his official duties he has offered counsel and example to the younger pastors still in the middle of their working years.

Pastor Hank has worked long beyond what anyone would have expected. He will continue to volunteer at First, but wants the freedom to be even more active pursuing his hobbies and activities with his wife, Sally. We are sorry to see him go, but fully understand that the time has come. We are grateful he will continue to be seen around the congregation serving as we all do, at our leisure.

I asked Pastor Carrie to share some thoughts and she writes of Pastor Hank “Pastor Hank has always been one who is quietly productive, a straight shooter, willing to step in and take the lead whenever called upon. He and Sally often worshipped together at the Saturday evening service where they were loved by those who regularly attended. He is a gifted storyteller which made for easy listening to sermons that were often filled with depth and character from his years of experience in the parish and in the great outdoors. Pastor Hank has gifts in listening and hearing people, he is relational and combined with his education and intelligence he provided counseling which lead many to relief in their lives and deep gratitude for Pastor Hank.”

Pastor Hank will complete his work the end of December. I invite the congregation to send in cards with notes of personal appreciation prior to his departure. We’ll set aside some time in worship to thank him and share these notes.

God has richly blessed First Lutheran with men and women of considerable talent and generosity in sharing their gifts. Pastor Hank is at the top of that list and for him we give thanks to God.

-Pastor Travis

Covid-19 Update from the Pastor

As the coronavirus continues to spike in our country, I’m beginning to get word of members who are sick with the disease, and one is currently hospitalized. It’s been heartening to hear that relief is on the way in the form of at least three effective vaccines. But we know it will take time to receive that relief and in the meantime, people are getting sick some to the point of hospitalization and even death. Our hearts go out to all who are suffering from this pandemic, both those who suffer physically and economically.

Our county has moved the Covid-19 dial to Red or “Severe Risk.” Not many weeks ago this was the most severe category, but they have since added a Purple or “Extreme Risk” category that will basically be a shut down. What does this mean for the church? While we will continually review and update our policy, we have decided to take the following actions effective Friday, November 27.

· The church building is closed to small groups.

· The church building is closed to 12-step groups.

· The church building is closed except by appointment.

· Only essential church staff will work from the church building and only as necessary. All persons entering the building must be wearing a cloth mask, and that mask is to be worn whenever they are interacting with any other person or in a shared space.
-Receptionist and Sextons must wear a cloth/paper mask at all times since they work in shared spaces.
-Face shields may be used in addition but not as a replacement for a cloth or disposable paper mask.

· We will hold our 3:15 p.m. outdoor Sunday Advent services. The current restrictions limit us to 75 people. So, the grounds will be closed to everyone after the 75-person threshold. Everyone needs to make a reservation through the online sign-up form.

· Funerals, weddings, baptisms and other life rites will be held outdoors or postponed for now.

· We will no longer use volunteers for church activities. Staff will cover counting, folding, setting up etc.

· The only exemptions to these restrictions will be in the case of recording needs to provide online worship services for the congregation.

Please continue to pray for an end to the pandemic. And please continue to do your part as good Christian citizens, to serve your neighbor and take action to minimize the spread of this disease. We have tough months ahead of us, but the good news is that it is likely only a few months until this is all behind us.

-Pastor Travis

This is Grace: Isaiah 43: 1-7

Pastor Carrie Baylis
November 18, 2020
Wednesday Morning Service

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace, peace, and mercy to you from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Today our reading comes from Isaiah, that might seem like an odd choice given that we are in the midst of sharing stories of grace, but grace can be found in Old Testament God and I like to think I came across it in Isaiah.
The books of the prophets are sometimes difficult to read, they warned of disastrous circumstances when people didn’t follow God and sometimes presented cold, hard pictures of God, but those harsh images are also balanced with sections of God’s mercy. They worked hard to get the attention of people and remind them of God’s truth. Isaiah is a long book that spans a time of over 200 years, speaking to different people in different times and places. The first 39 chapters are addressed to people who disobey God, chapters 40-55 are meant for people who have been taken or removed from their homes and the final 11 chapters are for people returning to their homes. Today’s reading comes from the 43rd chapter, just preceding this reading you have to understand that God “gave up Jacob” (42:24). God poured out on God’s chosen people the heat of divine judgment, burning them with the fire of war (42:25). Forsaken, brutalized, and conquered, God’s people became prisoners in foreign lands, where no one, not even God, would claim them. No one would speak for them and say, “They are mine, give them back to me, free my people” (42:22). The new divine word — “But now” — breaks the devastating silence that haunted God’s people through generations in exile. The new word announces an end to judgment and proclaims the promise of life from captivity and death. And so the 43rd chapter begins:

Isaiah 43: 1-7
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

This is the transcendent God whose word created all that is good (Genesis 1). This is also God the potter, intimately present with God’s creatures — who formed humankind from the clay of the earth and breathed God’s own spirit of life into the being (Genesis 2:7). This God will declare to Israel, “I shaped you for myself” (Isaiah 43:21). Like the book of Genesis, Isaiah moves from a panoramic view of God’s universal providence to focus on the radical particularity of God’s love for Israel.

And so in these verses God speaks to God’s people not like a king on a throne pronouncing an edict, but like a lover whose heart is bursting, who has waited an eternity just to say their name. The people of ancient Israel and Judah needed to hear divine judgment against injustice just as the church does today, but also need to hear reassurance of divine love, protection, and presence. This passage from the second series in Isaiah speaks tender, encouraging and empowering words to those who faced uncertainty. It provokes images of divine love and care, it brings grace into a time and place where hurt and separation had been, it brings the people home, not just to a physical space, but into God’s safe care, as God’s people.

In the 5th and 6th verses the extent of God’s call is described in the use of all four directions, showing the wide range that God casts upon his community, that the nature of his call is to come and join the community, sons and daughters from all ends of the earth and echoes back to creation, when all things were formed. And throughout this call to God’s people, we can’t suggest or promise that God will protect us from all danger, but that both the people of the time and place of the prophet and the contemporary church today are assured of God’s presence along our journey. God’s protection is his grace scattered upon us, within us, and shared. We should be so brave as to look at how God led the community back home in Isaiah, where he walked with them on their journey, assured them that “you are mine” and still today we can declare the same for ourselves and for each other. When God led the people Israel home it wasn’t without its’ dangers or fears, and they went on to perform God’s mission, thousands of years later we have the same assurance through the prophets and through the new covenant of Jesus Christ that God remains steadfast and present with us, and works through the church despite the dangers, despairs and disagreements we might face. The church can do its work because God is present and calls us by name.

Listen brothers and sisters, listen to hear him call you by name and awakening you to the grace of God? Awakening to the grace of God, I love that phrase. In the first verse of our reading the words “do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” That might be all the grace that we need to know from God so that we too can live out our calling as the church. It brings us to the baptismal promise that God forgives us, that salvation is ours and that no matter where I am in my own journey of faith, God is present and has called me by name. This passage reads like a love song that God is singing to each one of us, that God’s commitment to us is greater than anything else that the world might have or bring.

In a time in history when so many people are discouraged with work, home, life, and church, let this word from God be healing, enriching, and startlingly attractive. God is present, he is with you and for you, and he calls you by name.

This is Grace: Acts 11

Pastor Carrie Baylis
November 4, 2020
Wednesday Morning Service

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace, peace and mercy to you from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Years ago Monk and I went to Israel on a trip with the seminary. One of the things that is pretty typical on these tours a taking a “Jesus Boat” out onto the Sea of Galilee. We got to Tiberius and went down to the port and the boat was waiting. It was built out of wood and was rocking back and forth. I stared at it trying to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad. It was getting closer to my turn to step on. Finally one of the crew took my hand and helped me down the step. I lasted about 30 seconds and said I have to get off or I’m going to be sick. With me about 4 others stepped off. I wonder about the fisherman of Jesus day. I would bet that their boat was not nearly as sturdy as the one I exited, and certainly didn’t have a motor. Fishermen were manly men, men of action, afraid of little and they worked in the toughest of conditions. Some of these simple fishers would leave their nets and follow Jesus, Peter, imperfectly perfect, was one of them.

Peter, who might have one of the greatest redemption stories of the bible.

In the synoptic gospels Peter was identified as the first disciple called on by Jesus, and in the book of Luke it paints a picture of him and Jesus having a moment of trust and understanding at the very beginning of their relationship. A trust that would serve them time and again when Peter faltered. In that first encounter Jesus tells Peter to go back out on the sea and cast his nets and then when the nets are filled with fish Peter comes back to him and declares his sinful state and gives glory to the Lord before him by falling to his knees and exclaiming, “‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’”. Yet Jesus looked at this wicked man and said, “‘Don’t be afraid;

from now on you will fish for people.’” And it is then that he leaves his nets behind to become a fisher of men. In this moment Peter laid his sin before God, not feeling worthy of just the fish in his net, but as he bears his sin Jesus lifts him up, and calls him to serve as a fisher of men. This is grace.

Peter is far from perfect, he goes with Jesus as a disciple, and while he makes mistakes Jesus continues to love Peter wholeheartedly, and he uses him in the kingdom work. Peter goes on to make proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah (despite that Jesus may not have been ready for the declaration), he is witness to the transfiguration (if seeing is believing then Peter had a front row seat). Jesus holds him close, perhaps it reminds us that even Jesus needed a close knit circle to hold confidence with, to be in relationship with, and that even when those confidences were broken Jesus would continue to love, with no partiality. Jesus desires close relationships just as we do, and he held those with normal, everyday people, and he continues to do with each of us today. Jesus took this man who by all accounts was a simple fisherman and sinful by his own claim and loved him with no conditions and many reasons not to, giving us the assurance that he can do this for us as well.

Peter grew in maturity as a follower of Jesus his spiritual maturity and even integrity wasn’t fully developed from the time he met Jesus but continues to grow as he learns more about himself, about Jesus, and about the world around him beyond just the Sea of Galilee. Peter was eager to have a mighty faith, but was sometimes leary of the path to get there, he would falter, which seems to have been expected. Jesus called him to walk on the sea, to keep his eyes on Jesus, he (understandably) begins to doubt, he gets nervous, fear sets in and Peter begins to sink. Later as Jesus fortells of his death, Peter is exasperated and cries “Never Lord” sometimes I think maybe that Peter just didn’t have an inner monologue? He is doesn’t ever seem to be ready for the things that Jesus is going to tell him or ask of him. I wonder if he ever wanted to just say, “can I get back to you, or can I have a day to think about it?” And then as Jesus is arrested and heading towards trial and ultimately death, Peter denies knowing him, three times. Jesus had already told Peter this would happen saying “I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you , when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” I wonder if in his denial Peter calculated, or did he just respond with that fight or flight response to save himself and deny knowing Jesus, his friend. Sometimes I feel like I get Peter, he seems to be unsure or wavering or in an effort to do the right thing he muddies it up with some other perception of what the right thing is. Fortunately for Peter, and for us, Jesus sees through our uncertainties, our iniquities, and brings us back to him in ways that we might not even know are the work of our Savior. Jesus told Peter before the denial that he prayed for him, that power of prayer, might have be unknown to Peter, but it is a grace that brings him back into ministry and to strengthen those around him, just as Jesus said it would. Jesus love for Peter never faltered, even when Peter did.

And at the ascension, Peter is restored and forgiven and becomes the spokesperson for the apostles. 30 years of kingdom work sharing Jesus message. Showing maturity in leading a Spirit led life where even when we stumble there is room get up.

Peter showed the world that Jesus is for them, for ALL.

After Jesus death and resurrection and ascension Peter continued in his discipleship. He went to Caesarea and there after a dream he was directed to meet Cornelius who had also had a vision and had sent men to bring Peter to him.

Peter went to the house of Cornelius, a gentile, after being summoned, and was invited to share all that the Lord has commanded. Peter shares with them his story and then says to them “‘if God gave them the same gift of the Holy Spirit he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?’” And in response to Peter’s faithfulness the Jewish Christians respond, by having “no further objections and praised God saying, ‘So then, even to the Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.’”

God wanted to be sure the whole world knew that when He gave His life for all, He meant for all. And He used Peter to make this clear, to show us just how big His love is and just how capable His grace is—that it can forgive the sins of all and give all everlasting life. For as Romans 3:22-24 states, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

At least at this particular moment, this is the essence of the gospel for Peter: the local efforts of Jesus to heal amongst his neighbors take on a universal significance with the resurrection. In this way, Jesus shatters the distinction between the local and the universal, the provincial and the all-encompassing.

Were we to understand our faith in a nutshell, what theological elements would remain as most essential? Were we to tell a simple story of Jesus’ deeds and his person, what would we say?

Of course, our answers may depend on the context of our confession of faith. Peter’s gospel story or understanding emerges from a specific series of experiences full of significance. From the three-fold vision that led him to Cornelius to the miraculous outpouring of the Spirit, Peter must express the gospel in a world radically changed before his eyes. This sounds familiar to those of us who have had to grapple with change, whether tragic or wonderful. Whether as an effect of loss or gain, our lives change, and the gospel must respond. This text reminds us that in the midst of change, the Christian’s instinct ought to be to restate anew the living word of God and to remember that God is the ultimate actor who has moved ahead of the church to embrace all of the world’s people. God is a God of grace and it seems we are still trying to catch up.

Peter stumbling doesn’t remove his identity in Christ.

As we are learning to catch up we remember that we are made in the image of God, and in that we are also one with Christ. As a disciple Peter made a decision to follow Jesus, to learn from

him, seeking to be Christ-like in his life. In the time that Jesus was with Peter his first words to him were “follow me” and I suspect with great intention his final words to him were also “follow me”. Between those first and last words all of the ministry that Peter accompanied Jesus with happened, and also Peter’s denial of even knowing Jesus. Jesus who was brought to earth to understand our failures and trials, understands our weakness and could forgive Peter, again understanding what it is to be imperfectly perfect.

It was also in this in between time that Jesus reminded Peter of his identity, and told him that the church would be built upon the rock. And I wonder where are the places that Jesus reminds us of our identity in him, how do we continue to build the church upon the rock? Just as it was for Peter we are gifted with forgiveness when we fail, but also just as Peter our relationship with Jesus continues to mature and Jesus continues to say “follow me”.

Peter’s story is one of coming to faith through stumbling over and over again. For every time that Peter stumbles I can think of a time in my own life where I have stumbled, sometimes in doubting that my faith is strong enough, sometimes in doubting that I am worthy of God’s grace, sometimes in hiding the truth for protection or out of fear. Like Peter I too am imperfectly perfect. But here I am, a child of God, forgiven and chosen, called and sent, living as a disciple in a world that still needs to know God is with us and in us, overflowing with grace, and that even though we are imperfect, our perfect lies in him. Amen

The Church has Issues: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-17

Pastor Travis Norton
14 October 2020
Wednesday AM worship

We’re finishing up our series on the Church has issues this morning. Today we go to the church in Thessalonica, the capital city of Macedonia in Greece. We believe that these letters to the new Christians in Thessalonica are the oldest books in the new testament. Paul traveled through Macedoniain the 40s and likely wrote this letter in 50 A.D. You can tell Paul had a special fondness for this churchmaybe because it was among the first that he planted on his missionary journeys. I know as a pastor I have a special connection to the first church I served, Our Redeemer’s in Helena, Montana. Mostly because they knew me as a 26-year-old pastor who made a lot of mistakes which they met with patience and grace. Paul is pastoring the Thessalonians from afar and through his associate Timothy. But even though he has a special place in his heart for them, or maybe because he does, he writes to correct them on some of their issues. As he does with all the churches he writes to, he urges them to be holy, to begin to live as Christians, set apart from the world around them. We’ve talked about that a lot in this series, most of Paul’s letters are heavy in the theme of sanctification. We are saved by God’s grace, but we are saved for God’s work and witness which asks us to live holy lives, free from sin. To the Thessalonian’s, the two main issues Paul addresses is their sex lives and their work lives. As for their sex lives, he tells them that they can’t be promiscuous like the gentiles, they are not to sleep around. In 1 Thessalonians 4:4 he says, each one of you know how to control your own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion like the gentiles who do not know God, that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this manner. We could do a whole series on sexual ethics, rooted in this passage that sex not be used to exploit others for our own benefit. Christian sex is meant to serve our spouses and not ourselves, a lesson believers and unbelievers still need to hear today. The second issue that Paul addresses is the work life of the Thessalonians. In chapter 4 of 1Thessalonians, he says that they should “aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs and to work with your hands as we directed you.” I think the whole of the protestant work ethic is contained in that verse. Mind your own business, work with your hands. What is that phrase, idleness is the devil’s plaything/workshop? Paul really gets after this issue in his second letter. He tells them to stay awayfrom those who don’t work, who are being idle. Having nothing to do with them. If they aren’t going to work, they shouldn’t eat. Everyone should earn their own living. Now, we have to be quick to saybecause this passage has been misused politically over the years, Paul is not talking about people who can’t work because of disability, illness or circumstance. Paul is not saying that we shouldn’t help those who are poor, unemployed or in need. Paul is talking about people who choose not to work and because of that choice become busybodies who have nothing better to do than disrupt the community. One of the issues was that some believed that Jesus’ return was right around the corner, they thought the end of the world was at hand, so they quit their jobs to wait for Jesus to come back. And once they quit their jobs, they all of a sudden had a lot of free time to fill up. Apparently, they used that free timeto bother the rest of the community, and cause problems. We don’t know exactly what they did, but it was bothersome enough for Paul to tell the community to bar these people from Holy Communion. Although Paul does say that they should still be treated as believers, as members of the community. But they shouldn’t be allowed to eat with the community if they aren’t contributing and only causing trouble. Paul wants the busybodies to be ashamed of their actions and change their ways, go back to work and reenter the community. The goal of all of this is a church where everyone contributes, where everyone is helping to build up the community. So that the church can help believers grow in holinessand then be an example to the community. So, others might come to faith in Jesus. I wonder what the lesson is for us. We don’t have many people who quit their jobs just to cause trouble at the church. We may have people who don’t carry their own weight, although we don’t’ really try to identify them. I know many of us were surprised when we looked at the giving chart of our communityhow the greatest giving to this ministry was done by a relatively small number of people. I think there is something about what Paul is saying that would urge us to contribute to the good of the ministry, to carry our own weight. I remember being counseled early on by a Pastor saying that he’d discovered that those who complain the loudest about the church often give the least, if at all. I know I’ve found that to be true in terms of volunteering. Someone will come to me with a complaint but when I ask if they willvolunteer to help solve the issue, they suddenly become very quiet. And I will be honest that I tend to give greater weight to the critiques of those who serve and support the church than those who don’t. We aren’t meant to be mere consumers of the ministry the church offers. We are meant to be producers of the ministry as well as recipients. So, we must all ask what we can do to make this congregation strong and healthy so we can share God’s word with the world. In our giving, in our volunteering, in the words of encouragement we offer. Even coming to worship at 9am on a Wednesday is an encouragement to those of us who put forth the effort to create this service. Our singing, our prayers, our attendance are all important ways of showing support. Most of what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians show up in lines like verse 4. “We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command.” I would like to echo Paul’s words that you are already doing what is needed for this congregation. You are supporting the ministry with your gifts of time, talent and treasure. When we proposed the Peel house project you overwhelmingly supported it. When we ask for donations for the hungry, you exceed our goals. When we need volunteers to deliver bags to the congregation, we had more volunteers than we needed (I say that because we’ll be asking again for Advent ����.) When the coronavirus forced us out of the sanctuary, you continued to adapt and pivot and support the new ways we are worshipping.So, all I can really say is keep it up. Keep doing what you are doing and watch how God uses it to bless others. We are seeing new people come to the church, people passing by on Cascade seeing us worshipare now joining us and becoming part of the community. We don’t have to do something crazy or out of the ordinary we just need to keep being the church. Keep working on getting stronger, more united, more faithful. Keep learning and practicing the ways of Jesus, keep identifying and repenting of our sin. Keep worshipping and growing, don’t be idle but be active in doing the work of God and watch as God continues to bless and grow this congregation for the sake of our neighbors and the sake of the world.Thanks be to God.

The Church has Issues: Colossians 2:6-3:1

Pastor Carrie Baylis
7 October 2020
Wednesday AM worship
Do Not be Led Astray

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace, peace, and mercy to you from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 

The question I asked myself when reading and studying this text, especially in the understanding that “the church has issues” is: What does this letter urge the church to believe to hope for, and to do?  And like all the weeks before us, it is amazing how we find ourselves in the same place thousands of years later looking at how we can live fully into the body of Christ without letting the “outside” world distract us, or misguide us, or lead us astray.   

Our faith shall not lead us astray like the world will.  

This letter was written to the people of the city of Colossae who were stretched beyond just the faith and belief of Jesus Christ as the full embodiment of God.  The possibility of religious syncretism was perhaps stronger here than anywhere else in Paul’s world.  (Judaism, local religions, standard pagan cults, gentiles) they could be considered people of a multiethnic church. Throughout the city some were judging others for not following certain dogmatic ideas and self-abasing practices.  There was more than just a faith towards God, but a looking towards authorities and rulers who provide philosophies and promises through practices and beliefs that are not of God, but of human tradition and ideas and that promised good life and needs being met if they put their faith there. 

As Paul heard of this call to faith in people and promises other than in Christ and God the father his response in writing to the people was to urges them to be rooted in the Messiah, in whom the “entire fullness of deity dwells bodily.” Since they too have “come to fullness” in this Messiah — having been baptized into his crucifixion and resurrection — they need not be “dogmatized” by any self-appointed “authorities and rulers” who seek to undermine their faith. 

What might it look like to undermine one’s faith?   

I will venture so far as to say that you can pick up a paper, turn on the news or answer a robocall these days and probably pick out a handful of different places where our faith is undermined by a call to serve the interests of things that are not of God, but of economy, loyalty and tradition. 

Paul warns to beware of anyone who would trap you with deceptive philosophies that strip your experience of life’s fullness and value — whether based on human tradition or ideas about the universe. The writer here is not attacking “philosophy” per se, but rather beliefs and practices (which in this case are clearly spiritual and religious) that are not rooted in the Messiah, those that might undermine one’s faith. 

Looking a little more closely, however, there is another threat to the church, a threat that has been common to the human condition ever since we failed to live our lives in the image of God and embraced earthly/human images instead. While idolatry doesn’t get named until chapter 3, the rhetoric of the argument in chapter two indicates that idolatry is in the author’s sights. Remembering to always read the New Testament with Old Testament eyes, an argument that dismisses an opposing worldview as “empty deceit”, mere “shadow” without substance, a “human tradition”, and a “human way of thinking”? It speaks to our OT understanding of idolatry and reminds us substance is of God. 

So today I invite you to consider the idolatries that continue to have a deathly grip on our lives. Might we need to name something like the financial markets of the global economy as a “shadow” without substance? If our identity is “in Christ,” might it be time to recognize all patriotic nationalism as a “human way of thinking”? Might we need to see where we are living into empty and deceitful practices that don’t provide for the least and the lost, but allow us the self-indulgence of helping the “other” through a self-imposed piety or humility. 

One of the text studies I read this week suggested that this text and the people of Colossae (and I believe us today) were in the midst of trying to understand competing worldviews.  Pastor Karl Jacobson from Good Shepherd in Minnesota identifies three competing views that could be summed up as opposites when trying to understand and live this text.  It includes: 

  1. Philosophy and the true word of the gospel;  
  1. empty deceit and the knowledge of God;  
  1. human tradition and spiritual wisdom and understanding. 

Philosophy is not gospel, nor are human traditions.  Even (and maybe especially) religious, church-related traditions–the same thing as spiritual wisdom or understanding that might be the toughest one for me, I love some tradition but when pressed on the spirituality of all tradition or where we find the gospel in it, I can talk until I’m blue in the face and still just be making stuff up. We don’t need to hold these things in steadfast opposition, but perhaps need to find where it is that they live into the divine reality of Christ for us. Philosophy and the gospel need not be in opposition; nor are human traditions in and of themselves hurdles to wisdom and understanding. When philosophy attacks the gospel, or human tradition, piety, dogma and patriotism becomes a burden to faith it is right to set them aside, but when they serve the church and the proclamation of the gospel they may be embraced. It is only deceit and the knowledge of God which are in pure opposition of each other. 

The tension in Colossians lies in what the governing influence in one’s life is. These opposites we speak of could also be identified as “the elemental spirits of the universe” in one column and t “the Christ,” in the other and it is here that the real tension comes to the fore. Does one orient faith and daily living according to the elemental spirits of the world, philosophy, empty deceit (whatever form that takes) and human tradition or does one orient faith and daily living according to the who fullness of God in Christ through the true word of the gospel, knowledge of God, and spiritual wisdom and understanding (which we are always learning new.)  Will we stumble, will we fall?  Yes, the church has issues, for thousands of years we are still learning to  turn towards God in Jesus Christ, to understand that our loyalties fall to God through the crucified Jesus Christ and authority comes through him, not through people of this world.   

The piece that accompanies this writing to the Colossians and really to all of Paul’s letters, is to remember that there is no embodied faith without forgiveness. When this text comes up with the regular lectionary it echos the OT, Psalm and NT readings and Colossians takes us to the place of forgiveness in the cross. Something remarkable happens at the cross. Our author doesn’t tell us exactly how this works, but at the cross, is nailed all that stood against us, all that held us guilty, all that would strip us of the fullness of embodied life.   Trespasses, transgressions, sins are forgiven and no one gets to rule us out of the kingdom again! 

And if we are to understand this text as a tract against idolatry (and empire), we need to ask today, which rulers and authorities are disarmed at the cross and paraded behind the Messiah in triumphal procession? Dare we imagine these to be our rulers? Our political, economic, military, and even ecclesiastical authority structures? Are we in the captive procession? And if that is where we find ourselves, maybe not all day, everyday, but even some of the time, we should join Paul in learning how to live a life fully embodied in Christ,  and then remembering the final verses of today’s reading, “if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” Amen. 

The Church has Issues: Philippians 1: 27-30 and 2: 12-18

Pastor Carrie Baylis
30 September 2020
Wednesday AM worship
Hold fast, Stand Firm 

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace, peace, and mercy to you from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 

Philippians is probably one of my favorite books in the bible.  I love Paul’s writing and truth telling that we need to live into the cruciform Christ Jesus.  In the final verses of the first chapter he tells us to “live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel.”   

Whoa. 

Did anyone watch the presidential debate debacle last night? 

Does anyone have someone that they love dearly, but can’t see eye to eye with? 

Do you sometimes wonder if the troubles of today, and there are many, so take your pick, are too insurmountable for us to overcome so we will just live in defeat, in fear, and in doubt? 

The church has issues.  The world has issues. 

What does it take for us to “stand firm and united?”  Paul has us understand that unity is a derivative of faithfully embodying the truth that Jesus is Lord, even in the face of opposition. 

What might it look like if we were able to stand back sometimes and reflect on what separates us from one another?  So often these days I wonder how all of us, people of faith, can look at the world with such radically different perspectives and all claim Christ as Lord.   

I think that is part of what Paul is getting at in his letter to the Philippians.  Paul’s overriding concern in is the unity and integrity of the community in the face of opposition.  He and the Philippians turn to the story of Christ’s life, his incarnation and death, and the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord to also be the story of their lives as citizens in a society that doesn’t always see eye to eye.   

The Philippian community was founded in and continued to live in a climate of suffering for the gospel, yet Philippian believers were both generous and joyful in their affliction. The shared experience between Paul and the Philippians is at the heart of their gospel fellowship, they are united in Christ by their common suffering for him and their common joy in him. 

Paul’s suffering was imprisonment. He composed a letter that relates the story of Christ to the ongoing story of the Philippian community.  Paul wants the story of Christ to shape people who will live out their citizenship in ways that are worthy of the gospel story of Christ.   

What does that mean?  It means we live as Christ lived.  Self-humbling, self-emptying. Obedience to God. 

Paul proclaims love for others that is self-sacrificial, power that is self-emptying rather than self-serving, hope that suffering for God is always followed by divine vindication and exaltation.   

As a community the church has both internal and external responsibilities. Internally we are to love one another, learn with one another, bear one another’s burdens. If one suffers, all suffer, and if one rejoices, all rejoice.  Externally we are to bear witness to our neighbors and to love all, even our enemies.  And if persecuted, like Paul, would be expected neither to be surprised and not to retaliate. We are to share faith, express love, and remain secure in hope as we interact with the world around us. 

In reading on this text, many refer to it as being Paul’s most ego-centric letter.  I think that might also make it one that we most clearly identify with.  And it certainly shouldn’t be discounted as within this letter are many passages of great power and truth.  That itself is due to the grace of which Paul is not yet truly aware. Maybe that’s where our ego lies too, in not yet truly being aware of grace given to and for us.  Sheesh.  Not yet truly aware.   

From the end of the first chapter through the beginning of the second Paul had been encouraging the Philippians to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel. He had been teaching on unity, harmony and humility. And he had highlighted Christ’s example of perfect obedience and self-sacrifice. With all this in mind, therefore, Paul urges the Philippians to obediently put this teaching into practice. From verse 2:12, Paul explains to the Philippian church how to apply what he had been teaching them. 

Paul speaks of integrity and commends the Philippians for being people of integrity. What they have done in Paul’s presence as people of faith they continued to do in his absence.  We need to have a faith that is more than just an outward show of Christian values which are displayed in the presence of certain people.  We should expect the same of others. A genuine faith in Jesus Christ should be the driving force in our life, a force that shapes our inner attitudes and our outward behavior. 

Paul persistently taught that salvation is through faith and grace alone, and is in no way dependent on performing deeds or rituals associated with the Jewish laws; but here he tells the Philippians to work out, or work at, their salvation. Which might have us asking just who is doing the work in verse 13? God is the one working within every believer and working within the church. While God is the one working our response is to work alongside of him, to live in righteousness not to earn our salvation but to respond to it through good works.  I like the Greek word for “work” used in verse 13, it is a strengthened form of the word for “work”; it is the word we get “energy” from. God is the one who is energetically at work within each believer and within the church, actively transforming us, individually and corporately, according to his will, according to his purpose. We’re reminded in Romans 8:28 that, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Paul didn’t just want to tell folks about Jesus, he wanted people to come reach Spiritual maturity and perfection, that Christ would be formed within us. God is the one who is working in us, and it is up to us to respond obediently to the promptings of the Spirit. Paul wanted the Philippian church to work together and cooperate with God’s work to produce a mature, united community of believers. Individual and corporate spiritual maturity is the product of “working out” our salvation. 

We are not only told to work out our own salvation, but to do it with “fear and trembling.” Isn’t there an expression about a healthy dose of fear?  When it comes to God I think Martin Luther likes to begin his understandings of God remember that we are to “fear and love God so that…” So today, it seems that one of the most lamentable characteristics of our modern Christianity is the lack of fear, awe, reverence and wonder that God’s transcendent and awesome nature warrants. The Bible has so many examples of people who were met with God and by God and were terrified by his brilliance and power. Yet many modern Christians treat God with flippant familiarity. 

While it might seem impossible, at this present time, in this state of our world, to have a truly accurate understanding and appreciation of our holy, majestic God, we need to be wary about being too casual and complacent in our relationship and conversation with him.  

God abides with us in a close spiritual union, he guides us, and graciously and generously assists us. But God is much more than that. God is also gloriously powerful, transcendent, and holy. 

The Creator of the universe is at work within us, using his tremendous power and benevolence to recreate us in the image of Christ. Our part is to cooperate with God in his transforming work and just as Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor. 7:1) to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God”.  You cannot have holiness without reverence. 

Paul continues his letter with some practical advice: “Do all things without complaining or arguing”. There is something awry about a Christian who always seems to have a pessimistic outlook on life, or a contentious, never satisfied demeanour. Paul doesn’t want the Philippians to be whiners and complainers; he wants them to be joyful. By refraining from grumbling, complaining, and dissension, the Philippians would prove themselves to be blameless and innocent, in contrast with the surrounding pagan society. 

Back in Moses’ time, the Israelites had been guilty of murmuring and complaining. Not only had they grumbled and complained about Moses, they also grumbled and complained about God. God took these sins very seriously. While we need to honestly face problems and difficulties, and not dismiss them with blind optimism and loyalties, we need to be wary about becoming pessimistic complainers, whiny gossips, or promoters of dissension. 

And finally after all of that, which is a tall order, Paul speaks of having joy in the face of sacrifice and death.  The Bible actually encourages us to be joyful and happy as a church. 

In his letter to the Philippians Paul not only says in 2:14, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” he says the opposite, positive command just 4 verses later, “So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Paul doesn’t just not want churches full of complainers. He wants churches full of happy, joyful, laughing people. 

So one of the ways we obey God is by being joyful. Remember back at the end of the first chapter Paul says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  

Somehow Paul manages to find joy despite his circumstances. 

Paul is being poured out by suffering under house arrest for the gospel. The amazing thing is Paul says, “This sacrifice makes me happy and it should make you happy too.” What could possibly make Paul willing to pour himself out as an offering? He’s willing to do it for their faith.  The faith that ultimately centers on Jesus who was first poured out as an offering. Just as we’ll share in the sacrament here in a moment we remember that offering in our gospels where “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” 

Jesus’s body and blood became the bread and wine of our offering. He poured himself out so that we can have life, and laughter, and joy. Why would Jesus do this? Because saving his people is his joy. Anyone who puts their faith in him. At the cross, Jesus loaded up all the sin and grumbling and complaining of any who trust him upon himself, and then he died. But that means our sin and grumbling and complaining are put to death too. And when he rose from the grave, he left it behind, banishing it forever. Now Jesus offers us joy where we once only knew grumbling.  

Find your joy in Jesus. When we understand Jesus offers us his eternal joy, we realize Jesus is worth our joy. Amen. 

The Church has Issues: Ephesians

Pastor Travis Norton
23 September 2020
Wednesday morning worship
Ephesians 4:17-30 
 
They were stealing for crying out loud
when we say the church has issues 
we’re talking about some very basic things 
Like Christians should obey the commandment 
that says thou shalt not steal 
Paul has to write to the Ephesians 
that Thieves who are now Christians 
must give up stealing 
But he goes beyond just what they  
need to stop doing 
He says that they should instead 
work honestly with their hands 
so as to have something to share with the needy 
There’s a whole other sermon there 
about the point of work being not just to provide for yourself 
but to share with others 
But for this morning 
we are just going to focus 
on the fact that the early church was so messed up 
Paul had to tell them to stop stealing 
I like this series on the church has issues 
because it makes me feel better about the issues 
the  modern day church has 
Well, maybe not better, 
but I take some satisfaction in knowing 
that those early Christians struggled just as much as we do 
At least our congregations 
aren’t full of thieves 
(that I know of) 😊 
Paul insists on something 
that maybe the early Christians weren’t aware of 
He insists that they need to change the way they live 
that they can’t keep living like the Gentiles 
The word gentile just meant  
non-Jew originally 
or the nations 
We would probably say Non-Christians today 
or even more simply 
call on Christians to act differently 
than everyone else 
Christians are supposed to live a unique kind of life 
following the values espoused by Jesus 
We should be known for being a bit strange 
for standing out from the crown a bit 
because we have standards that others don’t follow 
Paul names some of them 
here in Ephesians 
Christians shouldn’t lie 
we shouldn’t misconstrue the truth 
we should put away all falsehood 
When we get angry 
we shouldn’t use our anger as an excuse 
to misbehave 
And we should aim to resolve the conflict 
before the day is over 
No evil talk should come out of our mouths 
but only what is useful for building up 
Do you hear that 
Paul goes so far as to say that Christians should talk different 
We should be known for using our words 
for the purpose of building people up 
encouraging them and giving them grace 
Christians should not harbor bitterness or wrath 
we shouldn’t be known for arguing or slander 
There should be no malice in our hearts 
no wishing ill of anyone 
Instead we are to be kind 
tenderhearted and forgiving 
These are just some of the things 
that Paul urges the Ephesians to correct 
Now we may not have a problem with thievery 
but how many of us have bent the truth? 
How many of us have used our words 
to tear down instead of build up? 
How many of us have been unkind 
or hard hearted 
We have issues too 
don’t we 
Sometimes Lutherans have been particularly  
guilty of this particular issue 
We emphasize that we are saved by God’s grace 
that we can’t do anything to save ourselves 
And that is good and right 
we are unable to lift a finger to save ourselves 
God has done all the work  
in Christ Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection 
Even the Holy Spirit 
is the one who gives faith 
for us to believe and receive Christ 
However, that doesn’t mean 
that we shouldn’t put forth any effort 
into living a life worthy of the salvation we have received 
At issue here is the difference 
between justification and sanctification 
Justification is the act of salvation 
where our sins are forgiven 
and our assurance of salvation is secured 
We are saved by Grace through Faith 
as it says in Ephesians chapter 2 
Not by works so that no one can boast 
 
But then there is sanctification 
which is the process by which the Holy Spirit 
makes us a Holy, Set apart people 
In justification there is no growth 
you are transferred from being outside the kingdom of heaven 
to being inside the kingdom of heaven 
You are either saved or not saved 
there’s no in-between or back and forth 
That is not the case in sanctification 
 
There are indeed some Christians 
who are better Christians than others 
Not in terms of salvation 
but in terms of how their lives reflect 
the commands and expectations of Jesus 
now that’s a bold statement 
and you can argue with me after the service if you’d like 
I might like that actually 
But stick with me for a minute 
 
We are saved by pure gift of God 
but once we are saved we are expected 
to grow up and mature in Christ 
God expects us to get better 
 
to get better at holding our tongue 
and letting our words reflect the one we follow 
to get better at being honest 
telling the truth, even when it’s hard 
to get better at being generous 
sharing with those in need 
from the wealth we’ve built with our honest work 
to get better at forgiving 
those who have sinned against us 
God is at work in us 
 
That famous verse from Ephesians 
chapter 2 vs 8-9 about being saved by grace through faith not by works 
Is followed up by chapter 2 verse 10 
“for we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works 
which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” 
I was thinking about this life we are upposed to live 
as something we improve upon every year 
to offer a better gift to God and our neighbor 
some of you may know  
that I’m an amateur woodworker 
I’m learning how to create furniture 
from wood, mostly cheap lumber from Lowes 
I made this Adirondack Chair 
from $100 worth of Cedar 
But I’m not sure I improved upon the value 
of the wood 
I’m proud of this chair 
glad to sit in it on Saturday mornings and read the paper 
with my coffee sitting in the wide arms 
But it is far from perfect 
there are so many mistakes 
In the arms you’ll see six holes 
even though there are only three screws 
because I had to adjust the arms as initially they were too close together so that only my kids had small enough butts to fit 
 
On the back you’ll see a big piece of pine 
and multiple screw holes where I had to experiment many times 
to get the seat secure enough it wouldn’t break when you leaned back 
One arm is rougher than the other 
because I traced and cut the pattern on the wrong side 
The back is square 
and the whole thing unstained 
because I got so fed up with all the mistakes 
I just quit and said good enough 
But is it good enough? 
it makes me happy 
but I wish it were better 
Our lives are like this chair 
 they are meant for us to enjoy 
but they are also meant to be a gift to God and our neighbor 
And for that reason 
we can never stop growing and improving and perfecting them 
Everyday we get a chance 
to try again, to do better, to honor God with our lives more perfectly 
that’s not meant to dismiss what we did before 
God will always use the imperfect things of our lives 
to bring goodness and value to the world 
We don’t try to be better to earn anything from God 
we try to do better to improve our thanksgiving for what God has done for us 
Verse 30 says 
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, 
with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption” 
What does it mean 
to grieve the Holy Spirit of God? 
I think it simply means to give up 
and prevent the Spirit from doing the work the Spirit 
wants to do in our lives 
The Holy spirit is the one 
who is sanctifying us 
the one who is working on us to make us more like Christ 
Let’s let the Spirit do his work on us 
on our hearts, on our mouths, on our minds 
until our lives reflect the truth about Jesus 
Our salvation is not dependent 
on how well we live a life that imitates Christ 
But wouldn’t it be nice 
if our lives were lived 
so that people saw Christ in us? 
I think we’re all pretty good 
and I know I see Christ in you 
but we’re unfinished 
so let’s let the Spirit finish His work in us. Amen? 
 
 

Factions and Unity

Pastor Carrie Baylis
16 September 2020 
Wednesday a.m. worship 
1 Corinthians 11: 17-34 

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace, peace and mercy to you from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 

The Corinthians were a pretty divided people.  Paul wrote his letter to them about six decades after the death of Jesus, and it’s safe to say that they were not one cohesive community.  Most would say that they worshiped money and all that it could buy, though not everyone had money in this sprawling town that was second in size and affluence only to Rome.  Paul came here on a mission to convert this crossroads of a town to Christianity, believing that if conversion could take hold here, it could be viable anywhere. 

While Paul was able to bring Christianity to life in his mission, the Corinthian believers had to try to figure out what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ in their particular cultural context.  In a city where competition for status and privilege governs social relationships, Paul was trying to help them understand and practice a religion in which the embodiment of love is called the highest of the “spiritual gifts.”  It was going to be a new understanding of love, love for the neighbor, love of Christ, love that was not inward or self-centered that idolized money and status, that separated the haves and the have nots and that couldn’t see past schisms to find common ground. 

Throughout 1 Corinthians, Paul is dealing with fractured communal unity caused by the attitudes and actions of various groups within the Corinthian congregation. The letter’s overarching theme involves his appeal that there not to be divisions, factions and schisms among the Corinthians, but that they be continuously united in the same attitude and the same resolve for each other through Christ. Many were practicing Christianity, gathering in house churches, and celebrating the Eucharist.  But the ways in which they are doing it draw upon or call differences to what their status is in society and all the things that entails politically, socially, economically.  All are welcome at the table, but not every table is set the same. 

Paul is able to find the Lord’s Supper as the place to both call us out for making it about us and in the next breath call us to unity in what God has given us in this meal. If factions and division and status are going to be a part of gathering Paul was not going give thanks for the fact that they simply gathered, he was a truth teller. He tells them that their gathering is not for better but for worse. That’s a tough pill to swallow in itself when they believe they have gathered to share in Christ’s meal for them, but he goes on and tells them that gathering together with factions and division among them and status to even further separate them is in contempt for the church of God.  It makes me nervous to hear Paul call them in contempt.  I had to stop and think about why that makes me nervous today, is it because we still live in a world of haves and have nots, is it because we are divided on so many things in this world yet make claims of righteousness and unity in the church, is it because we come to the table and receive God’s meal of grace despite ourselves.  Maybe it’s all of these things. 

Paul saw the Corinthians gathering to share in the Lord’s Supper and criticizes them for problems associated with their practice of the Lord’s Supper. The Corinthians, it seems, were allowing the divisions that characterized their culture to shape the way they celebrated their common meal. Paul was not happy about it. 

The Greco Roman culture was divided into social levels. Status is always relative: my high status only has meaning when juxtaposed to your low status (or the other way around).  

Virtually all social interaction was shaped by this hierarchy of status. The church at Corinth had members of relatively high status, with the power and wealth that went along with such position, as well as people of relatively low status. This mixing of status then posed challenges for the Christians at Corinth. 

Status often showed it’s ways, if a host had guests for dinner, perhaps gathering for house church, it was common for guests of high status to be served more and better food and drink than others, and for guests of lower status to be served less food and drink of poorer quality. Differences in status resulted in differences in treatment. While not everyone was happy with these differences, most accepted them as a part of how the world worked. 

This status driven culture was so taken for granted that it shaped the practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper at Corinth. So, Paul takes the Corinthians to task for what was happening when they met for the Lord’s Supper. The Corinthians observed the Eucharist in conjunction with a common meal, and at that meal social divisions were visible in a way that Paul believed compromised the Gospel. “For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal, and one is hungry and another is drunk”. 

For Paul it is unacceptable, especially since the Lord’s Supper was intended to demonstrate the unity of the church in the mutual dependence on the grace of God shown in the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

Paul’s response to this situation was not to abolish the system of status. That task would have been impossible and ultimately out of the control of the Christians at Corinth. Rather, he instructs the Corinthians to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in a way that doesn’t marginalize the poor among them. 

Instead of turning the Lord’s Supper into an occasion to exhibit social distinctions, the Corinthians needed to be reminded of what the Eucharist is for: remembering Jesus and proclaiming his death until he comes. They ought to partake in the Lord’s Supper in a way that demonstrates their unity rather than their divisions. 

Perhaps the question we ought to be asking ourselves is how do we come to the table today, is it in unity with all our brothers and sisters in Christ or do we take our divisions to the table and home with us again. 

The supper’s purpose is to remember Jesus. The church gathering together in fellowship and coming to the table is to remember Jesus.  This meal is a time to reflect on what Jesus has done in giving his life for others. It is a time, Paul later explains, for self-examination, not a cross examination of others who join us. The Corinthians are to discern the body — both Christ’s earthly, human body and the corporate body of believers — so they can overcome division and re-member the body of Christ to which they belong. One of the things that I’ve learned from Paul is that overcoming division is not the same as giving in to someone else’s truth.  As we come together at Christ’s table, we are reminded that we are shaped by the self-giving love of Christ and it is only through him that we are made whole.  As we live into the gospel truth, we repent our sins, and we come to the table of grace with a thankful heart, we are made whole. 

Paul’s concern is not (or at least not primarily) about the proper understanding of the sacramental presence of Jesus in the bread and wine, but about the recognition of the body of Christ in our brothers and sisters. To properly discern the body at the table means that we cannot come while leaving others uninvited and unwelcomed, or without mourning their absence. We cannot leave the table and be content to leave anyone hungry for it is a table where all are welcomed and our fellowship proclaims the scandalous message of God’s grace. To discern the body in the Supper will send us into the world with new eyes and new hearts, to encounter Christ there again and again.  Amen. 

Christian Caregiving

We have now just passed 5 months since we have started living in ways that are meant to slow a pandemic. We have stayed at home, we have worn masks, we have stayed at least 6 feet apart from people that we don’t live with. If someone had told me a year ago that this is 2020 would look like, I most certainly would not have believed them. what

As we lean into the Fall of this strange year we’ll be looking at ways we can reach out to continue caring for one another in the midst of a pandemic. Our Christian Caregivers program has long been one that includes visiting the homebound and hospitalized, writing notes, and making calls. In this time the pastors and caregivers have not been able to make visits to homes or hospitals, this has been hard for all involved as people do indeed crave community and contact. We are currently exploring the possibility of “front porch visits” for our homebound members, continuing with calls and notes, and gathering together online.

If you would like to learn more about ways that you can stay connected to our congregation through different ways of offering care we will be having a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, September 8, from 7 – 8 pm. For more information and the Zoom link please send an email to Pastor Carrie at carrie@flccs.net.

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