Today we danced in Church to Justin Timberlake's song, "Just Dance!" A reminder that we are called to dance with the three persons of the Trinity. What great news to know that we have a God who wants to be in relationship with God's self and with us in a beautiful dance of life. And whether we dance cheek-to-cheek or face-to-face, it is in this intimate contact with each other that we get to know each other, discover the pain and joy each of us faces, and lift each other up. Today, we also claim the promise of God, "I will be with you always to the end of the age." In the midst of the crazy thunderstorm of today, when the clouds and rain hid the sunshine, it was sunny on the inside and we sent everyone home with a reminder of God's promise and the hope of sunshine in every pocket!
A number of years ago, I worked at a church where the janitor was watched like a hawk! If he didn't do everything, everyone thought he was supposed to, he would get in trouble. I can tell you from personal experience that it's difficult sometimes to have well over 100 bosses.
I remember once (but it happened often), that a half eaten cupcake was hidden under one of the pews and rather than picking it up, the watchdog group checked each week to see if it was still there. In retrospect, I wish I had picked it up myself or told them to do it. I was fearful of what they might do or that I would get in trouble since I was just the youth director. Since that time, I have paid closer attention to the "that's not my job" mentality that can get in the way of important relationship building. What if we saw what needed to be done and just did it?
"I am reminded of the good words of Acts 2, ""Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people."
..."the goodwill of all the people." What a great way to live life! I hope I pay closer attention to the Holy Spirit's stirrings in me to have "the goodwill of all the people" - even beyond my own fears, even beyond my comfort, even when it gets me in trouble....
The Listening House is moving to First Lutheran at 464 Maria Ave. (our sanctuary basement) and will open on Monday, June 5 at 9:00 a.m. It has been called the "Starbucks for people experiencing poverty" or the Living Room for the homeless, but now more than that, a community center for people searching for meaning and purpose, a community center to receive the tools necessary for a better life - help finding housing, work, small group support, creative expression, and more. We are happy to have them join us in our important work here on the Eastside! If you'd like to join in these efforts, you can call the Listening House directly, 651-227-5911 or First Lutheran Church, 651-776-7210. Thanks for your interest and we look forward to working together for a better life. It was Paul Wellstone who said, "We all do better, when we all do better." I still believe that! Pastor Chris
During the month of February 2017 in the season of Epiphany, digging into the book of Matthew - in particular, the Sermon on the Mount, we have gathered as a community to hear again the depths to which we are called to love! So many things are happening in our country, in our world, and in our neighborhood! We have been drawn together to bring encouraging words of hope to all of it! So, we have collected "Hearts of Hope" on the trees in our sanctuary to give us a purpose and to trust our search for a God that knows no bounds!!! Won't you join us in the search? for hope! for love! for joy!
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in God there is no darkness at all.” I John 1:5
These words of bold hope and comfort are a message to each one of us and to a world that keeps on changing and muddling through daily messes. These words speak to the reality of life that knows deep darkness, but also the brilliant light of a love greater than anything dark.
Maybe you have experienced loss this year or despair over difficult health issues. Maybe you have known loneliness or hurt over broken relationships or economic realities that challenge daily decisions about what to hold on to or let go of.
In all these things, I am reminded that in the darkest of times, I am not alone! That because God is there with me, the darkness can be transformed into light. That the bright light of a baby born and the knowledge that I am completely loved no matter what, changes everything!
Then, once I am open and aware that God’s light and love surround me, I can face each night with the understanding and assurance that the darkness of the night is temporary and tomorrow is a new day filled with hope. I can wake up and “do something” to brighten my days and the days of those around me. I can call someone and have a great conversation or get together with them. I can read a book, I can listen to music, I can make a meal for myself or for others.
May you be hopeful in the darkness and believe that the God who has loved you and sustained you with an everlasting love will be that same God for you and for all the people of this earth in the days to come. God is faithful to all generations through His Son, Jesus, who came as a baby, who lived a life of love, and died to rise again giving us hope for what is and what will be! So shine!
I have to reprint this article every Mother's Day...it's just that good! It's by Amy Young from her blog the Messy Middle...
To those who gave birth this year to their first child - we celebrate you
To those who lost a child this year - we mourn with you
To those of you who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the bade of food stains - we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running way - we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment - we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don't mean to make this harder than it is
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms - we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children - we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heartache, and distance from your children - we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year - we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother - we acknowledge your hurt
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overwhelming testing of motherhood - we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children - we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children - we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent, we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be - we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests this coming year - we grieve and rejoice with you
To those who placed children up for adoption - we commend your for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expecting and surprising - we anticipate with you
This Mother's Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
Happy Mother's Day!
BLESSING OF THE PALMS…
We remember all those who stepped out of the way,
They threw down their coats and palm branches to say,
“Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is the One!
Who comes in the name of the Lord, God’s own Son!”
As we raise our voices and Lift High the Cross,
We think of this man who knew suffering and loss,
Who on a donkey, did ride through the town,
Who raised up the people and put power down.
We bless these branches today in this place,
These palms that are waved, will bring joy to each face,
As we celebrate Jesus, the one who did come
So that everyone would know God’s love, not just some.
This Jesus did come to lift up the lowly
And remind us all that each person is holy.
So raise up your palms and sing out with a shout
As the story unfolds, love is what it’s about!
PALM SUNDAY BENEDICTION
And so it begins, we walk through this week
From palms now to passion, it’s Jesus we seek
Each moment we walk through these days now with Jesus,
Is time to see people, the way Jesus…sees us.
To watch for the ones, who need hope, who need kindness.
Seeking the light, not the darkness that blinds us.
As you walk through these days, may the love you now know
Be spread to each person you meet on the go.
And may God who now blesses and keeps you in love
Whose face shines upon you with grace from above
Who looks on you with such joy and such favor,
This God, three in One (+) gives you peace - life to savor. Amen!
Proud In The Cloud A Transfiguration Poem, Matthew 17:1-9
So, here is the tale, how Jesus plus three Went up a high mountain, alone they would be But wonder of wonders, right there in plain sight In front of his friends, Jesus’ face shone so bright!
And if that weren’t enough, his clothes turned white too And Elijah and Moses showed up, was this true? No longer alive on this earth and yet there Were the three of them talking with hardly a care.
Now, I can’t imagine what James and John thought But Peter, who seemed in control, not distraught Said right to Jesus, “It’s good to be here, Let’s stay on this mountain, it’s all very clear.
I’ll build three dwellings for Moses and you And one for Elijah, yes, that’s what I’ll do." But before he could finish, complete what he said, A very bright cloud came down ‘round his head.
And out of this cloud that surrounded these folk, Came a voice booming loudly, this was no joke. “Here is my son, my beloved, my pleasure, Listen to him, for it’s him that I treasure.”
But when the disciples heard this, they did fear They fell to the ground, whose voice did they hear? Then Jesus came over and touched them and said, “Do not be afraid, you have nothing to dread.”
And when they looked up they saw Jesus, just Jesus No Elijah, no Moses, no cloud, only Jesus. And back down the mountain the four of them went The disciples now pondering what this all meant.
And Jesus said, “Don’t tell a soul about this Not until…the Son of Man rises in bliss. There will be a joy that will come, just you wait, And love and new life will destroy death and hate.
Now, I’m not so sure what you think of this story, But there’s much more to it than bright lights and glory. And clouds and loud voices can give us a fright Just like things that we hear that go bump in the night.
And miracles can happen, I think that it’s true, But counting on them is not all you can do. The heart of this story, the best thing about it Is that Jesus came back down the mountain, don’t doubt it!
Cause mountaintops rarely are places to stay, And its down in the valleys where we work and play, That everyday people and quite common things Are where we find holy and small things sprout wings.
And we now know God in this Jesus, this man Who lived on this earth and who showed us a plan. That God would stick with us through hard things and pain And God’s presence in us is what would sustain.
This God whom we know, permeates everything And when we slow down, its to this God we cling. The God who will touch us and says, “Do not fear. I love you, don’t worry, I’ll always be near.”
So where now is God in all this, our life’s story, Whether down in a valley or mountaintop glory? As we move into Lent and the promise of spring, May we find God’s true love in the smallest thing.
Humbly rendered by © Christine Bingea Berthelsen, 3.6.11 Spoken Word For Worship
A New Year's poem...
2016! It's the new year, it's coming!
So play a loud horn, dance a jig, do some drumming!
Let's cry out for peace, drop the hate, the pretenses,
let's hug up the world,smile some smiles,mend some fences.
There's no need to divide by religion or race,
not by gender, or status, so tied to a place.
The time is now here to remember we're one!
We're all here on this planet, "us" under the sun!
We all need the same things - food and home and good friends,
we're all searching for love, the kind that never ends.
So, let's hope, live in joy, work for peace everyday,
and then nap, take a pause, spend some time - rest and play!
© 2016 Christine Bingea Berthelsen
Feel free to use these poems in worship or at home. They are intended to be spoken aloud! Today is the candle of joy as we celebrate Mary and Elizabeth. (Note: We are using..."We Make TheRoad By Walking" by Brian McLaren)
We light candle two, and today it’s all joy! We explode this good news of this baby, this boy, Who will grow to become the light for every one. He will speak a new word of love under the sun!
And all those who hear it will now come to know,
That what’s hurt and what’s broken will no longer grow.
Instead, there’ll be singing,let’s join in the the dance,
Put on clothes of joy, wear bright colored pants.
Like Mary with child, as Elizabeth’s babe leaps,
And in Mary’s heart always, this treasure she keeps.
So, let God’s face shine on us, too, from the start,
God’s love will transform every cold, hopeless heart. (Light two candles)