From the Pastor

Credo graphic sept 2016

Warning, yet another nerdy confession follows. In college, I loved listening to an NPR radio show called, “This I Believe.” It was a revival of Edward Murrow’s program from the 1950s. Originally, Murrow launched the program to help people articulate individual beliefs rather than ascribing to religious dogma or patriotic platitudes. The show encouraged famous and everyday people to distill their beliefs into a simple essay, and then read the essay aloud over the air. The unveiled creeds diverged in countless ways, but all of them began with the same words, “This I believe.”

As Christians, we share a common set of beliefs confessed in the Apostle’s Creed. These shared beliefs form the foundation of our faith and our life together. Beyond this, we each hold individual beliefs about the world, the people and the experiences around us.  I believe it is essential to our faith and to the sharing of the gospel that each of us can clearly articulate what we believe.

In September, we will start a new series called Credo. As part of this series, I invite you to share your beliefs in a personal creed. More specifically, I am inviting you to write and read a personal statement beginning with the words, “This I believe.” It might take the shape of a top 10 list, a prayer, or a monologue. The point is not to be perfect or profound, though I imagine that will happen, the point is to articulate the beliefs that inform who you are and what you do.

We will share some of these creeds in written form via this electronic newsletter, eCelebrate. Some of the creeds may be read aloud in worship; others may be recorded to share in worship or on social media (of course with your permission).

So, what do you believe? Think about it. And get ready to share.

Pastor Jen

You can follow this link to explore the original and revived additions of This I Believe.

Just a Thought…

Unicorn StickerA spritely little unicorn sticker greeted me in the top right corner of my paper. It was the kind of sticker with a holographic ring around it; you know the kind that shimmers as the light dances across it. Next to the sticker, neatly lettered in cursive, the words “Well done.” I was elated, proud that my hard work had paid off. This little mythical creature brought an easy smile to my face.

One of my more playful seminary professors, Kae Evenson, likes to add these little pops of joy to seminary students’ papers. (I bet you thought this was elementary school – nope!) She thinks we take ourselves too seriously and need to revel in simple joys. While it certainly did bring me joy, I must admit it also brought a since of pride and approval.

The truth is – I do crave affirmation. I like to hear that my efforts have not been lost in the sea of busy-work and busy-ness. I like to hear that my time has been well used and my labor was not in vain. And while I do feel so loved and cared, sometimes this praise doesn’t come as readily as my fragile ego demands.

Sound familiar? On not so grace-filled days, do you find yourself waiting? Waiting for a friend to recognize how dedicated you are. Waiting for a boss to praise your diligence and productivity. Waiting for your family to realize that dirty clothes don’t wash themselves and tasty meals don’t just appear?

Waiting.

One of my favorite songs we sing at Celebration is Well Done by Moriah Peters. The tune is delightful, the musical stylings excellent and the words speak to my heart. It goes a little something like this:

So when my life’s a leap of faith, I can hear you say, Well Done. Well Done.
I’m gonna chase you Lord, I’m gonna show the world your love.
I’ll run. I’ll run. I’m gonna run this race just to hear you say well done.

This is the praise we need. Well done. In one of Jesus’ parables, the obedient servant is greeted with praise,  “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). While a little praise from this world is always welcome – it is fleeting. This affirmation from Jesus is the one I really long to hear. I need to hear that I am good. I need to be reminded that I am faithful. And I need to hear that this goodness and faithfulness flows from God who loves me beyond measure, just as I am. And with this, I can run the race with perseverance knowing that God says, Well Done. And the playful God I know likely has a shiny unicorn sticker, too.

It’s just a thought.

Vicar Jen

 

Here’s a link to Well Done for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu1VwK0fY9g

Just a Thought…

tardisDo you watch Doctor Who?  I was late to the show… by about 45 years!  It’s a British television series about an ancient cosmic time-traveler known as The Doctor, who travels by  a blue old-fashioned police phone box, who gets into all kinds of trouble, saving all kinds of people and planets with a variety of companions to assist him in his journeys.

It sounds silly, I know. But it’s fun to watch. I started with the new generation of the series (which re-launched in 2005).  It’s science and tech-heavy, but occasionally there are little hints of spirituality that burst through the storyline. That’s what happened the other day while I was watching an episode.  The Doctor says to his current traveling companion Clara, “Souls are made of stories, not atoms.”

Souls are made of stories. I find that theologically accurate.

Yes, Lutherans are science-friendly. We are not afraid of engaging the Sciences to help us better understand the universe and this world we live in.  We don’t believe Science and Faith are diametrically opposed. With that said, I believe that, at the core of our being, we are made up of stories.  These stories include the stories of a God who created the heavens and the earth… The stories of our ancestors who, whether enslaved or free, whether wandering or landed, encountered this God as Liberator, Judge and Lover of all… These stories include our own family stories, the stories of our own life experiences, and even the storied waters of Baptism as we enter THE Story of Jesus, and follow the way of Christ.

We cannot be who we are without the stories that make us who we are. Or, as the Doctor says, “Souls are made of stories, not atoms.”

Next Sunday, as we kick off Learning Curve, the children of our church will be focusing on the Parables of Jesus. These are stories that give us glimpses of who God is and what life in God’s Kingdom is like.

Come nourish your soul this Fall with the Story of Stories!

It’s just a thought.

+pax et bonum
pc

Just a Thought…

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” -Colossian 2:6-7

I was recently reading some writings of a financial “guru” about being better at financial stewardship.  One of the things he said gets in the way of moving forward with debt reduction is that some people don’t even check their accounts regularly nor do they balance their checkbooks.  How can someone move towards financial health if she doesn’t even know her current financial situation or where she spends her money?

It’s the same with health.  If someone wants to become healthier, but has no clue how much he weighs, how many calories he eats, or how much he exercises, it makes it much more difficult for him to make a plan to move toward physical health.

So, what’s the hardest thing you struggle with in faith these days?  Do you struggle with just getting to worship on a regular basis?  Participating in small group life with other believers?  Entering intentional prayer or scripture reading on a daily basis? Practicing the biblical tithe (giving 10% of your income to the work of God)?

What’s the biggest obstacle you face these days in your spiritual growth and development?

The reason why this is an important question is because we can’t grow if we don’t know in which ways we need to grow.  So maybe take some time to reflect on where you’d like to grow spiritually, and then begin working to grow in that particular part of your spiritual life.  You’ll be glad you did.

It’s just a thought!

+ pax et bonum