Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Coming to an end

Can it be that summer is coming to an end already - September 1st is right around the corner and autumn begins Sept. 22nd. This year summer has literally flown by and it has been busier than ever. As a busy pastor I always feel that when summer comes it should slow down because many activities are suspended for the summer. But then again, there are many activities that happen only during the summer. I think it's time to stop deluding myself - this life is a busy, relentless one and if I am going to have time for myself I have to MAKE it! Thus, the focus on conscious self-care. I haven't done well with that this summer and I am recommitting myself to focus on my spiritual needs and intend to find ways to nurture my spiritual self apart from my job. Intention is the key - and then finding some things that nurture me away from the community of faith I serve. Maybe it will get easier because we are finally getting a second pastor on board - our Pastor of Youth and Family ministry begins at the end of September and I am so excited! He's a young man, fairly newly married, and has charisma and sound Lutheran theological grounding. His wife is a teacher and has just begun her job in the nearby school district so they are in the "in between" of leaving one call and beginning another. Both of them are excited about the posibilities here and look forward to establishing themselves in this community. I like them both and look forward to building a strong pastoral team focused on the mission of the gospel. I'm also looking forward to preaching only half the Sundays of the year! I'm thinking also that a vacation in October is in order - time to get away and just relax; read some good novels, take long walks, have great meals with my hubby and spend time just talking and sharing life without all the distractions of the parish. Life is good! I'm enjoying my call and now will enjoy it even more fully with a partner to share ministry with. As this new season change comes it's really a metaphor for my congregation - we are now out of interim and heading into a new season for this church. I pray our leadership is effective and the presence of the Holy Spirit will guide and direct this church toward the fulfillment of the mission of the gospel.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

God's faithfulness

I just preached a sermon on Matthew 14:22-33 focused on Peter and the disciples in the storm and early in the morning Jesus comes walking across the water toward them. They're scared - who wouldn't be? Is it a ghost? Even after Jesus assures them it's him, Peter isn't convinced and essentially tells Jesus to 'prove it!' Once in a seminar given by Martha Stortz, professor of religion, she encouraged us to read a Biblical story from the perspective of all the characters in the story. This time I was curious about the perspective of the other disciples. In their minds, Peter wouldn't have been showing great faith - which is traditionally what I've heard about this text. In their experience they are trying to keep the boat from capsizing, they are scared, and they need Peter's help since he is an experienced fisherman. So, might they see Peter's actions as foolish, arrogant, selfish, or even downright stupid? Because if Peter goes over the side of the boat they'll also have to figure out how to fish him out of the sea! I see the action in this text, the faithfulness, on the part of God in Christ - not in Peter's action. God is always reaching to us whenever we are foolish, arrogant, selfish and stupid - God is always saving us. It's is God's action, not ours, and certainly not Peter's that constitutes faithfulness. And then I asked the question, "what happens when the last act of your life is a stupid one?" I proceeded to talk about my nephew Taylor, who died in a car accident - not wearing a seat belt and running a red light. It was stupid of him - and it cost him his life. And yet, Taylor had grown up in the faith, he believed in God, he was baptized, but the last few years of his life he struggled with many things. His faith, his sexual orientation, God, and the feeling he didn't belong and wasn't loved. He was deeply loved! By his family, by his friends and co-workers. Over 500 people attended the wake and funeral. But Taylor didn't love himself and his last act was a stupid one. Yet - God reaches to him and saves him. God draws him into his arms of mercy and grace and loves him so fully now that Taylor has to know he's loved. It isn't our faithfulness that saves us - even when we do our best - but especially when we're at our worst. It is God's love and faithfulness to us that saves us!