Semper Gumby

From the Pastor

Now what? It seems we’ve passed the peak of the CoronaVirus in terms of hospitalizations and deaths in El Paso County. The conversation is now turning towards re-opening and what that might look like. I imagine it will look a lot like it did at the beginning of this crisis, only much slower. I remember that first week before we closed, and it seems a new recommendation was handed down every day. We adjusted our practices, stopped passing the peace and refrained from shaking hands. We planned to be open for GOLA and Worship as late as that Wednesday. We thought through a new way to do communion, and then new recommendations came and we made the difficult decision to close everything down.

As new recommendations come from state and church leadership, we will adapt and adjust and lean into a new reality. We can’t predict the future, so instead we will remain flexible and ready to change as needed to do ministry as our reality changes. I had a colleague who had served in the Marine Corps who was fond of the phrase “Semper Gumby” as one of the unofficial mottos of the corps. It means that you must always be as flexible as Gumby and adapt to changing circumstances. That’s not always easy for the church, a 2000-year-old institution used to doing things a certain way. But it is the way of our leader, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus compares to the wind saying, “the wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” I don’t know when we’ll gather together in the Sanctuary for worship again. I don’t know if we’ll need to limit the numbers in our Sanctuary or how we’ll celebrate and distribute Holy Communion. We may need to check temperatures at the door or require masks and hand-washing prior to entry. I don’t know right now exactly how we’ll come back or what it will look like. But I don’t need to know right now.I know that the Holy Spirit will lead us. I know that we’ll figure it out. I know that the gospel will be proclaimed, and we will be nourished by word and sacrament. I know that the church will survive and continue to follow our leader to be light to the world. I know that God will bring great things out of these terrible circumstances that will surprise and bless us and our neighbor. I know God will continue to teach us how to be church in an ever-changing world. These are the only things I need to know right now.

Thank you, church, for being faithful and being flexible. Thank you for trusting your leaders and being willing to try new things. Thank you for being filled with the Holy Spirit who holds us and keeps us on this roller coaster of life.

Semper Gumby!

-Pastor Travis

A Place to Talk

OWLs in conversation
TODAY at 10am
Zoom – https://zoom.us/j/209040388

Do you miss seeing your friends? Do you have a computer? Today we invite our Older Wiser Lutherans (OWLs) to join us online in a place to talk! This is guided conversation with Pastor Maertens, Pastor Ralph and Jan Anderson, and Dr. David Fennell. In this time where we are all at home it is so good to communicate and check in with one another. I invite you to please take advantage of this time to share how things are going, engage one another in conversation, and learn ways that we can support one another in these uncertain times!

If you’re worried about the technical details, do your best to use the link here: https://zoom.us/j/209040388 to sign into our zoom meeting. If you have questions you can email Pastor Carrie at carrie@flccs.net and she will try to help you get signed in!

How do we open our eyes to the faith that abounds all around us? In times that seem dark and perhaps even hopeless who is walking alongside of you, perhaps unseen, yet holding the story of Christ who is for us. The disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t know that it was Christ who joined them on their walk. They had just heard earlier in the day that the tomb of Jesus was empty and they weren’t sure what that even meant. Where was Jesus, what about all that he had told them before he was crucified, perhaps this afternoon walk wasn’t as joyful or hopeful as we might imagine. It seems they lived into the uncertainty of the empty tomb before they lived in the joy and hope of the resurrection. So as this man journeyed with them and heard there story, he offered stories of his own. He must have exuded quiet confidence that they were uncertain of as he reminded them of the story of the prophets and offered interpretations on the life of Jesus. Didn’t they wonder who this man, that knew so much about Jesus was? Did his sharing of the stories bring them comfort in all they remembered about their friend, or were they sad not knowing what the future would hold. They would find their reassurance as they stopped for the night and broke bread together. It was in the breaking of bread that they would recognize Jesus, where they would realize it was not just an empty tomb, but that Christ lives!

I’m wondering what our Emmaus stories are today? While we are walking into the unknown who is walking alongside of you and what is the good news being shared? How is the good news being revealed to you, are you finding it in the scripture, in the kindness of others, in unexpected ways that are being revealed new to us each day? Our faith remains steadfast in the promise of the resurrection yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Easter Blessings!

-Pastor Carrie

Family Reflection

The empty nest is full again…

During this time of stay at home orders most colleges and universities across the country have closed their doors and sent kids home to finish the academic year online. This also means that many parents who were just experiencing an empty nest are now finding ways to all come together again. I know this time can present challenges in everyone being together again, and all the time at that, but it can also bring joy.

I want to share with you an email exchange I had with Chris Lieber last week, after asking how they were adjusting to having two college kids at home again, I hope that you find the same joy in this that I did!

Chris writes:

“Once the kids left for college I never expected to have this kind of quality time with them ever again. It is as if we are a renewed family – fulfilling an empty void that I had unsuccessfully sought to fill over the past several years by working harder, volunteering harder, and playing harder.

Yes, we are wonderfully in each other’s way in the kitchen. We collectively use far more data and band width than our modem can handle. It seems the washing machine is always running. Our topics of conversation at the dinner table have now pivoted to hair color, fresh video game downloads and challenges with online classes. The dishes pile up much faster and the grocery bill has grown exponentially. I am convinced that the messiness and imperfections of family life are one of God’s greatest gifts – they can bind us together through laughter and sweat equity.

I love being a family again! Having “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” back in the nest is a tremendous blessing.”

May we all find the joy amidst the chaos!

Easter Blessings,
Pastor Carrie

Prayer Practice Fridays – April 17, 2020

Meditation

I will be the first to tell you that of all the prayer practices I have learned about, this one is still often the most difficult for this seldom quiet pastor to hold on to. That being said, we shouldn’t let the idea of meditation scare us either. There are many different practices that include meditation in different ways. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t have wait for everything around me to align, for the perfect moment of quiet bliss to practice some form of meditation. I actually think that being able to take a moment in the midst of chaos to center ourselves can be a real gift if we allow ourselves the freedom to do it. I have a note on my phone that I open to every now and again that simply says, “If you’re reading this, release your shoulders from your ears, unclench your jaw, and remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth. We physically tend to hold onto stress in the least noticeable ways. Relax.” When I remind myself of those things it gives me a chance to catch my breath, to center myself and to reengage in the present moment. That act of bringing ourselves back to the present, having a sense of self-awareness and clarity in moment often brings me to a place of gratitude. It often doesn’t then come as a spoken prayer, but a recognition of something greater than myself who leads me to a place of centering, mindfulness and gratitude.

Of course there are many ways to practice mindfulness and meditation which are more focused too. One of the practices that I have experienced in many different settings is an exercise called Lectio Divina. I will share the most basic understanding of this practice and suggest a text to focus on this week.

Before you begin find yourself a comfortable space and bring your bible with the scripture marked. Take a moment to invite the Spirit into this time and space with you and to guide you. Read the passage once to get familiar with it and then reread the passage more slowly. As you are reading the second time listen for a word of phrase that stands out to you or lingers with you, you might want to mark that word or phrase. Then spend some time being quiet, listen for what it is that you think you’re hearing in that word or phrase. Does it call to mind anything particular about your life or life circumstances? Read the passage again and pay attention to how your word or phrase ties into it, notice if it leads you to any other words that stand out and how they might tie together. I like to ask myself the questions “I wonder…or I notice…” to help lead me in the passage. What other life experiences might tie into the words or phrases you’ve identified as meaningful? Images or pictures, specific people or places? Remember in this that you are not alone, that in all of those experiences God was with you. Read the passage for a last time, and let it guide you in conversation with the Lord. Tell God what you have noticed, listen for God to help you understand that which you might not. Ask what you should take away from this time together with God.

Finally, a book that I have been spending time with in the last week or so is titled “just this” by Father Richard Rohr. The book is labeled as “prompts and practices for contemplation.” This book is described as being “a collection of brief and evocative meditations and practices.” It

offers many opportunities to experience the ordinary around us in ways that can be eye-opening to beauty unseen and foist us into the mystical experiences of God and faith that we otherwise might not see. Some may find that Rohr is a bit too into the mysticism side of things (I know that I often do) but this book has many practices that allow for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. You might give it a try. I hope you all can find some peace in your prayer life this week. I continue to hold you all in prayer.

Easter Blessings,
Pastor Carrie

“The he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. reach out your hand and put it my side. Do not doubt but believe.” -John 20:27

It just so physical. So different from where we are right now, connecting with people via screens, behind masks, at least six feet apart. But Thomas traces Jesus’ scars with his finger, feeling the places where nails and spear pierced the Lord’s skin. Now those spots are warm with life. The whole thing is affirming of physical life and the physical connection. If there’s anything that’s become clear these past several weeks, it’s that we need to be in touch(literally) with each other. We need hugs and handshakes and pats on the back. We need each other’s physical presence and closeness. We are made to be in contact with one another. We believe in resurrection of the body, not just a spiritual life after death, but a physical one. Jesus’ resurrection reminds us that God cares about our physical lives. God will restore us to life again, where we can see and touch and love as we were meant to. We are more than just spiritual beings, we are physical ones as well.

-Pastor Travis

Many Adorable Servants show Kindness and Support (MASKS)

First Lutheran continues to bless the community once again! 

When asked to help and make at least 50 face masks for MOSAIC, there were 160 masks made and delivered to First Lutheran within 5 days!  More masks continue to come in and we will continue to distribute to the many outreach agencies First Lutheran supports.  Am I surprised about the 160?!?  No way – it’s the amazing and loving support that First Lutheran members continually do each and every day!

Virtual hugs to all!

 Marcia Foret, Director of Lay Ministries

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: