Pastoral Voices

June 19
   We are given a gift each and every day that nothing catastrophic goes wrong.  I’m not trying to be fatalistic here. . . I’m trying to be realistic.  We live in a dangerous world that is hostile to God, hostile to the saving love of Christ and hostile to the blowing of the Spirit.  Daniel knew about that kind of environment even better than we do.  He lived it and lived it faithfully. . . and God was fully present, fully faithful.
Now I’m not saying that if you are faithful you will receive the kind of promotions that Daniel received or even that you will be rescued from fiery furnaces like the three young friends of Daniel or the fierce lion’s crushing jaws!  What I am saying is that NO MATTER WHAT each and every day God offers to be our rock, our shelter, our fortress, our strong tower, our shield, our father, our savior.  He offers to us the very fullness of his being no matter what is going on in this life!  What else can we do than cling to him?  Of course we can refuse.  We can reject him and swear against him and turn our backs on him and refuse to pray to him and speak poorly about him . . . OR we can cling to him.  In the darkness there is only one source of light that bring us out of the depths of despair.  In our grief there is only one source of comfort for our affliction.  In our pain there is only one source of healing.
Daniel knew it.  Even in the face of certain death his faith never wavered.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew it.  They told the king that even if their God did not save them from a fiery death they would never turn away from him.  This is not about getting our way or bargaining for a better outcome.  It is about letting go and letting God fill in the spaces, letting grace fill in the cracks, letting God’s love fill us up to overflowing EVEN and ESPECIALLY when we are hurting.
There’s a paraphrase of one of the beatitudes that has stuck with me for many years now from The Message by Peterson.  It goes something like this: Blessed are you when you are at the end of your rope, for there is the place where there is less of you and more of God.  As we let go and diminish our egos, our pride, our self-reliance, our anger, our self -pity (all of which are idols by the way!). . . and allow God to fill us with the fullness of him.  What else could we need if we are filled with God’s fullness?  I can’t think of a single thing.  Amen.

Pastor Amy Little

May 25

"What is clear is we cannot speak, share, or give voice to our stories of what it means to us to have a relationship with God, without the gift of the Holy spirit, without the power of the Spirit, without the guidance of the Holy Spirit.... The Spirit has already been poured into our lives in our baptism, and now we need to nourish our relationship with God in the Spirit by living within a faith community that studies its scriptures and dedicates itself to a life of prayer.  It is through prayer that we make ourselves available to God.  It is in prayer that we seek the Spirit's guidance and leadership.  It is in prayer that openings are created for us to hear God's story and for others to hear our story in God from us."

Pastor Larry

May 19-20

From Pastor Randy O'Donnell

Are we to assume that when we are in a tough situation that we can simply roll some dice and God will determine their outcome, that it is some type of randomness that controls our fate?  Maybe then I should head to the new casino to see if God wants me to me a millionaire.  In our society today many important decisions have grown away from that type of tradition, and that is probably for the better.  Today we strive to realize that God can be involved in our struggles and decisions all along the way.  That does not mean we still do not wrestle for how we see God’s will in our lives and how we accomplish it.  It is just a matter of throwing some dice, or is there more to it then that?  As Christians, we strive to stay open minded for God's help and guidance in our choices.  One important way to do so is through prayer.
            When we are open to working and praying with God in our lives, we can be open to changing our apparent lot in life. There is no doubt that many things occur in life beyond our control.  Indeed it does rain on the just and unjust alike.  But that does not mean we do not have choices, paths, and God’s guidance for dealing with those different and unique circumstances.  Through our baptism, the gift of eternal life, and because of Jesus Christ, we daily can have life anew.  We are free to change our course in life, hoping always to redirect our lives back into focus with God.  We must not forget however, that just because we are in tune with God, does not mean that things are going to go the way that we want them to, or the way we think they have to go.

April 21-22

From Pastor Randy O'Donnell

Well the Indians are at it again, and I can't say much as a Pittsburgh Pirate fan, but there is a story about the famed and long retired manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda.  He told a story about a time when he was still managing in the minor leagues.  In 1971 his team had lost seven straight games.  After their seventh loss, Lasorda stormed into the locker room where the team sat dejectedly with their heads down.  "Hey, get those heads up," he shouted, "Don't ever let me see you act like that again.  Just because you've lost seven games doesn't mean you are not a great team.  The best baseball team of all time was the 1927 Yankees and they lost nine straight games."  Suddenly heads went up and expressions changed. It was a turning point and by the end of the season the team had actually won their division.  A few days after the speech, Lasorda's wife asked him if the 1927 Yankees had really lost nine games in a row.  "How would I know," Lasorda answered, "I just knew I had to get those guys believing again, and it worked."

We know we, at times, need to get believing again, placing our trust and hope in the Savior of the world.  The Bible's accounts and stories of the resurrection were chiefly written to remind us of what God has done in the cross event.  

For reflection:  What story would "get you believing" again?  Do you have a story you could tell to somebody who is discouraged about discipleship that might "get them believing again?"  

April 14-15   
From Pastor Randy O'Donnell
.... Did you notice what the disciples' first reaction was to the appearance 
of Jesus?  It is almost silence.   It is quiet.  Apparently there were some question or perhaps even doubt, whether this was Jesus for sure.  Jesus comes within locked doors, stands among them, and greets them.  But there is absolutely no recorded initial response.  So then Jesus shows the disciples his own hands and feet.  It is only after that do the disciples say, "Ah ha, it is him!" Then they rejoice. And then Jesus once again greets them.

...Jesus ends up greeting them twice in order for the disciples to believe it themselves, that this could be their risen master.  We know that for Thomas, he wanted to place his finger and hand in Jesus’ scars in order to prove for himself that it was true, but often we forget that the rest of the disciples needed to see these marks as well.
Here were the disciples huddling together in fear, with the doors locked, scared of their own death, and a man appears among them, and they are still looking for another sign.  We might wonder what does it take for them to get it?  Wouldn't it be good enough for any of us to see the risen Christ or would we want to see more, would we want to go even as far as Thomas in requesting to personally touch him to verify his presence?  Part of what comes out of this lesson is another reminder of just how human the disciples were, just how much they, in spite of all that happened, are still like the rest of us, even today.  When we are caught up in a difficult dilemma or a tough decision, many of us often look for something to give us a sign, a direction to go.  Sometimes, it is the smallest of things that occur that help direct us a certain way.

... Sometimes we are like the disciples, we want to see unmistakable signs, and we want to remove every shadow of doubt possible.  We want some grand image, some authoritative voice, to be given to us, so that we may take the proper course in life, make the most beneficial decisions, and reap the good harvest of our choices.  But sometimes, perhaps, we miss those signs.  Sometimes, it takes us to be hammered over the head in order to get it.  Sometimes, we think small signs or small events are too trivial, too insignificant, and quite possibly we miss the Holy Spirit.  In our logical world, it is always safe and comfortable to chalk up every event to simple coincidence.
... If we see God only present in this world rarely and obviously, are not we guilty of putting what we often label as an all knowing and all seeing God into a shoebox? If, on the other hand, we believe God in the Spirit has no limits, has no boundaries, can we always write things off as merely coincidence?  As we look throughout Scriptures, as we look through out the Church, as we look throughout this cross event of Christ, yes we can find undeniable events and actions of God.  However, more often we will find God acting in the small things in life, acting in the everyday matters of life, so as to affect greatly the lives of those whose eyes are open to see the activity of God.
Jesus comes and stands in a room with the disciples.  In another resurrection account Jesus is revealed in the simple act of breaking the bread on the road to Emmaus.  Mary Magdalene opens her eyes to Jesus' true identity, only after he utters one word, her name.
These are significant events for the Gospel stories, but that does not mean God has stopped working in our world today.  May we be able to recognize God's guidance for us, as the Spirit works in all our lives, and in our congregational life, today. "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."  

No comments:

Post a Comment