Archive for the Pastor Paul’s Ponderings Category

“Wake up”

Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death . . . Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  +Revelation 3:2-3

 

“Wake up.”  These words can come gently, as when I find myself waking up one of our children from sleep to start her day.  Or sometimes they come urgently, as when Heather notices me getting sleepy at the wheel:  “Wake up!”  During this season of Advent, the Lord Jesus speaks to us in both tones as well.

 

“Wake up.  Wake up to a world of wonder, a world filled with grace and peace, mercy and hope.  It’s all around you, if you would or could only have the eyes of your heart opened to their presence, like a child is gently awakened to the wonder and beauty of a new day unfolding before her very eyes.

 

“Wake up!”  You are heading directly into danger!  You must snap out of it now or there will be dire consequences to your health and the health of those around you!  Whether it’s the danger of crazy Christmas consumerism, complacency to the Christ-child who comes, cutting competition (three words:  Christmas light displays), or some other December minefield, you’d better be alert or else you’re headed for a crash.

 

In each of these calls to wake up, there is a moment, as pregnant as Mary on December 24th with possibilities.  The Bible calls it a kairos moment, sometimes translated as an “opportune” or “right” time.  “At the right time, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6).  “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”  (2 Corinthians 6:2).  These wake up calls are an invitation to step off the maddening treadmill of life long enough to reflect on the patterns and moments of our lives and ask a very important question or two, such as why?  Why am I behaving this way?  Why does this always seem to happen?  Or what?  What might God want to teach me about myself and God’s world in this moment?  Or how?  How might my life as a Beloved Disciple Making Disciples be different moving forward?  Our reflections than can move toward action, new and renewed actions motivated and directed by God’s Holy Spirit at work within us, bringing about deepened faith in Jesus and a more certain hope in God’s coming salvation or deliverance, both for us and the world God so loved that he gave us his only begotten Son.

 

As we move through this season, let’s keep our eyes and ears and hearts open for such moments, such signs.  Some places that may be especially full (dare I say pregnant?) with hope include the Wednesday evening Advent vesper services, the Advent Small Groups where 35+ people are gathering in community to read and reflect and prepare for Christ’s coming, the “Joy of Christmas” gathering December 8th, our caroling outing to St. John homebound members December 22nd, and of course Christmas Eve worship at 4:00 p.m. (a repeat engagement of the “Meet Me at the Manger,” no-rehearsal children’s Christmas pageant we started last year) and 7:00 p.m.  Through these and many other ways, may we “keep awake” to the possibilities of God’s salvation and healing reaching out still today to us.  And may the end result, once again, be Christmas JOY.  A Blessed Advent, all – and Merry Christmas, too!

 

In His Grip, Pastor Paul

“Thankful”


My vows to you I must perform, O God.  
I will render thank offerings to you.

(Psalm 56:12)

I am thankful for our seven new members who joined St. John last month.  You can get to know these fellow Beloved Disciples Making Disciples—including seeing their picture so you know who they are—in our November newsletter, posted under ‘news’ elsewhere on our website.  Be sure to give them a warm St. John welcome when you see them around church.

I am thankful for Lois Sharp’s faithful years of service as St. John’s custodian; please join me in praying for God’s blessings upon her as she hangs up the mop and moves on to other adventures.  I am thankful for an awesome and loving staff, a committed Council, and a character building school that meets in our building, led by people of character themselves.

I am thankful for warm quilts, school kits and health kits collected from all parts of Northeastern Indiana (and beyond!) to be sent to those in desperate need of them.  I am thankful for warm meals being served weekly free of charge to any who wander in from the increasingly colder outside.  I am thankful for money gladly given to the Good Samaritan Fund, used to help both members and neighbors in need.  I am thankful for the growing number of people caring for our homebound brothers and sisters in Christ, including our fledging Caring Visits ministry.

I am thankful for faithful bulletin and slideshow makers, deacons, ushers, altar guild, offering counters, soundboard team members, noisy offering collectors, organists and pianists, choir and handbell members, pew card replacers, acolytes and assisting ministers, without whom we would not be conducting regular and meaningful weekly worship.

I am thankful for the gifts of faith, family, fall, friendship, fun, food, flowers, flavors, and the Fort—just to name a few ;-).

And in all these ‘thankfuls,’ let me clear—lest there be any doubt—that they are directed to God, the giver of all good gifts, and no one else.  My vows to you I must perform, O God; I will render thank offerings to you.  Let us all be full of thanks—thankful—at all times (not just November!) and in all places (not just in church!).  Amen!

Thankfully Yours,

Pastor Paul

Interested in learning more about Revelation?

The link below is mostly for those attending the Brown Bag Bible Study on Thursdays at noon in room 205 at St. John, but anyone who is interested is more than welcome to click on it and check it out for yourself.  It is a link to the classroom lectures of Professor of NT Craig Koester of Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  Having only listened to about 5 mins of one of them at the point of posting, I cannot vouch for its content beyond this:  Luther Seminary is a reputable ELCA seminary, so I doubt whatever he teaches could be considered out of line (i.e., heretical) to ELCA teaching.

Enjoy!

Luther Seminary – Book of Revelation Course Audio.

Reflections on the New Bishop Elect from Voting Members | New Creation Church

I noticed the following blog post on the website of our September  8th Church of the Week, New Creation Lutheran Church in San Jose, CA.  I believe it’s written by the pastor there.  Regardless of author, I think it shares some good insights and reflections on the process in which our denomination, the ELCA, elected a new presiding bishop in Pittsburgh, PA, last month.  Hope you like it!  Pastor Paul

Reflections on the New Bishop Elect from Voting Members | New Creation Church.

Looking for Poetry in the Everyday Madness: disarming

A friend of mine from waaayyy back in grade school (at St. John Lutheran Church and School, actually–only this was in Wheaton, IL, not Ft. Wayne, IN) posts a blog entitled, “Looking for Poetry in the Everyday Madness.”  Her name is Amy Wolgemuth Bordoni.  She is married with two boys and lives in the far western suburbs of Chicago.  Occasionally I will  be sharing one of her blogs that I find especially meaningful or touching.  This one from last month, “Disarming,” is one such blog.  Powerful.  Touching.  Worth the five minutes of your time it will take to read!

Looking for Poetry in the Everyday Madness: disarming.

Daily Bible Reading — a Lifeline amidst the Chaos

For almost a year and a half now, I have been listening to the Daily Audio Bible (aka DAB) podcast, also available online, via Facebook and through free iPhone and Android apps.  DAB includes daily readings from the Old and New Testament, plus a daily reading from the Psalms and another from Proverbs.

DAB has proven to be an invaluable resource to help me stay more centered on God’s Word, the Bible, as I seek to follow Jesus as his disciple.  The soothing voice of Brian Hardin, the usual reader, doesn’t hurt either–nor do his thoughtful reflections and prayers after each day’s reading.

Just Google “Daily Audio Bible Brian Hardin” to learn more.  In addition, below is a link to a more extensive review of Passages, a book by Hardin that contains both the Daily Readings as well as some personal reflections for each day:

Tammy Is Blessed: Book Review: Passages by Brian Hardin.

May we all center ourselves daily on God’s Word!

In His Grip, Pastor Paul