I willingly admit I am a creature of habit – partially because I am lazy and if I do things in a specific order, I don’t forget things. But also there is a certain comfort to organizing my self and my life in a predictable pattern. If, however, my routine is changed or interrupted, I am able to make accommodations and adapt to deal with the situation.  Such as been the situation for the past 10 days.
It has been a real blessing to me to be able to take care of my sister during her health crisis and tend to my niece while my sister is recovering.  I’ve had a unique and strange opportunity to be a part of their daily life that I don’t experience when we visit for vacation or holidays.  It’s the mundane things like getting up for school, making sure homework is done and there is food for lunches – and all other meals! – and going to basketball games and doctors’ appointments. We even got some things done to get ready for Christmas, just so my sister doesn’t have to worry about it after…

Blue Advent

Part of the symbolism of the Church is the colors associated with the different seasons of the Church year.  In fact, the secular use of colors for holidays and occasions (red and green for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween) is an allusion to how the Church helped an illiterate populace know when there was a change of the Church’s season.
There are six seasons in the Church year (not including Holy Week) with special holy days marking the end of one and the beginning of another, such as Pentecost ends the Season of Easter and begins the Season after Pentecost (clever name!), which is often referred to as Ordinary Time. If you would like to know more about the Seasons of the Church year, there is a helpful poster in the Welcoming Area by the Welcome Table depicting the Church year in a circle and color coded for the different seasons.
The Season of Epiphany and the Season after Pentecost share the color green, as it is a sign of new growth and fertility.  The Seasons of Advent…

I Just Wanna be a Sheep (Baa, baa, baa)!

The title of this blog is taken from a fun song I learned at a Christian camp many years ago (as an adult, not a camper!).  One of the verses says, “I don’t want to be a Pharisee, I don’t want to be a Pharisee, because their no fair you see, I just wanna be a sheep!” This appeals to my love of word play and silliness that has meaning on several levels.
It might seem strange to claim to want to be a sheep, but in the Bible the use of sheep imagery is used many times to invite God’s people into a deeper relationship, one of loving-kindness and tender care-taking.  Those hearing the biblical stories would know lots about sheep – either from personal experience or once removed since it was an agrarian culture.  And while sheep are not known for being very intelligent, putting God in the role of shepherd is a helpful connection.
Our lections for this Sunday are full of sheep – and goats.  Jesus offers a picture of the final judgement to his disciples, saying that the Son of Man will divid…

School for Discipleship

The Church – not the building or the institution, but the Body of Christ – is intended to be a community of believers in Jesus Christ being transformed into disciples that continue Jesus’s ministry on earth.  To break that down a bit, we gather in worship, fellowship and service to practice how to be as Christ-like and Christ-centered as humanly possible.  It is not easy and there is sacrifice involved. There is also experiencing real love, joy, peace and hope.
Part of the decision of being a Christian is deciding if the reward is worth the work.  I pray that we all recognize the value of following Christ, no matter the cost, even when life gets difficult and challenging.  But the reason that Jesus has a group of disciples is because he recognized that doing this work alone is practically impossible. We need the care and support of each other in order to grow and become more of what God wants us to be, beloved and free.
While all of this sound great, the reality is that we need ins…

There is No Greater Love than This

This Saturday we celebrate Veteran’s Day, an important opportunity for all of us to remember the sacrifice that so many have made to serve our country and protect those ideals.  I cannot read Jesus’s words from John 15:13 without thinking of those who serve in the military: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Paul in his letter to the Romans points out what a rare quality this is, “Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.” Romans 5:7  In truth, those who serve offer their lives not only to their friends or those they believe to be good, but to all who claim this country as theirs.  That is indeed worthy of our gratitude and support, both to the Veteran’s and to their families, whose sacrifice is usually unrecognized.
I recently noticed that at the supermarket where I do the bulk of my shopping, they have a separate stereo system at the entrance to the building …

The Protestant Reformation – 500 Years + One Day Later

Our Lutheran sisters and brothers have been preparing for October 31, 2017 for most of the year, getting ready to commemorate the historic event of their namesake, Martin Luther, that changed the practice of the Christian religion throughout the world. Even mainstream newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post had articles about Luther’s actions and how those ripples are still being felt today.
In our modern world of free speech and rallies against all kinds of injustices, we might not realize just how radical Luther’s actions were.  He was a Roman Catholic monk and was intimately aware of the system that perpetuated ultimate power and influence over people’s lives, especially those who were illiterate and uneducated.  The lay people could not read the Bible, only have it interpreted to them, so they did not know to challenge the system.  But Luther did.  He drafted 95 reasons, or theses, as to why many of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church were unjust, even …

Breath of God

At the Women’s Retreat last Saturday, I decided to try the exercise of “Dwelling in the Word”* on a hymn text.  While I love singing and enjoy many of the hymns we use during worship, the richness of their texts gets lost in the moment, so I wanted to take some time to study the words of the classic hymn “Breathe on me, Breath of God,” written by Edwin Hatch around 1878:
Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love the way you love, and do what you would do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure,  until my will is one with yours, to do and to endure.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine, till all this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die, But live with you the perfect life for all eternity.
This seemingly simple song bears great riches. Many of us were struck by a word or phrase in a way that we had not heard before.  I particularly liked the line from the third verse “till al…