Early Sunday morning, after my morning prayers, I always look at the intercessions of the church for the divine service for that day to add any last minute petitions. As I was doing so yesterday, I saw a news notification for yet another mass shooting, this time in Dayton, Ohio. The day before had been El Paso, Texas. The week before was Gilroy, California.
I’m sad. I’m weary. I’m angry. I’m sickened. How long, O Lord? How long?
I’ve incorporated the psalms into my daily prayer practice in a more intentional way. The monastics pray the entire psalter weekly or monthly; I’m content with two to three psalms per day; four if they’re short. There are 150 psalms in the psalter (151 if you use the Apocrypha), so that will keep me going for a couple of months. This week, I hit Psalm 119.
It’s good to be home again. After a week of rain, humidity, and heat in Tampa, FL at the synodical convention, it’s good to be home. I’ll be home just long enough to wash my clothes, prepare a sermon, and head down to Irvine for the last of the Higher Things Concordia conferences. All things considered, I’d rather be at a youth conference than a synodical convention any week of days.
Something amazing is happening at Holy Trinity. A random, ragtag bunch of kids from the neighborhood – our summer camp and preschool – have become a little worshipping community.
I already knew the outcome, thanks to a passing glance at Facebook, but I watched the women’s World Cup final on DVR delay from beginning to end anyway. It was a great game, well played and exciting. Soccer is not my first choice for sports, but I’ve grown to appreciate the skill and stamina of its players, and, fair-weather fan that I am, I almost always show up for the final.
I was visiting a young family who lived two short blocks from the ocean. “You should go take a walk on the beach,” the wife suggested as I was leaving. I was pressed for time, and rush hour was fast approaching. But it was a beautiful day, and I could smell the ocean breeze. “Why not, ” I thought. What’s an extra hour in traffic on a Friday afternoon anyway?
The driver of the car in front of me was attempting an impossible – and quite illegal – left turn. In the opposite lane, another driver was attempting an equally impossible- and just as illegal – U-turn. Gridlock ensued. I sat and watched the melodrama unfold in front of me.
The little guy came into the sacristy with a question.
“Pastor,” he said looking up at me as I adjusted my stole, “Does church have to be boring?”
“Yes,” I replied with a smile. “That’s because church isn’t Disneyland and Jesus isn’t Mickey Mouse.”
He nodded politely with a look of understanding mixed with confusion and went back to his parents in the pew.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalm 42)
It was supposed to be just a short hike on a warm, sunny day. I left the ubiquitous water bottle in the car and was soon sorry for that decision. The warm dry air quickly dried out my mouth and throat. I was uncomfortable the entire time and missed much of the beauty of that little hike – the song of birds, the rustle of leaves, the smell of grass, the view.
We thirst for God, and in that thirst we miss the beauty that is all around us in nature, in our family, friends, and neighbors, in the world. Our thirst turns us inward on ourselves and our misery. It consumes our entire attention and robs us of the joy of the journey. The “thirst-quenchers” of this world, laced as they are with spiritual sugar and salt, just leave us thirsting for more.
Welcome to my Pastor’s Blog. This is a space where I will post things of interest to our congregation, whether devotional, news, commentary, or just something that is on my mind at the moment. I will try to update this at least weekly to keep things current and in tune with the seasons.
We are entering the season of Pentecost, the “green season” of growth and life where we hear the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of Christ grow in our faith and love as His followers. The Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of life, who has conceived us in the water of Baptism and birthed us by our virgin Mother, the Church, to be the children of God, born from above in a spiritual birth. As children grow in knowledge and maturity, so do God’s children, as we mature from Baptism to our death and resurrection.. The Pentecost season teaches us the way of growth in knowledge, in faith in Christ, hope of eternal life, and love for one another..
You can find current sermons at this link and on the Sermons tab on this web site. These sermons are drawn from the notes of Sunday’s sermon and reflect its content in written style. Sermons tend to be rather intimate speech, intended for a particular group at a particular time and place. As one preacher put it, they are good only in certain locations and have expiration dates. My hope is that you will find these written versions edifying to your walk with Jesus.
Peace in Jesus Christ,