St Andrew Blog

Letters from the Intern

Be Kind

be kind

A family of four were heading out to dinner to celebrate their Dad, Joe’s, birthday. Because it was his birthday, he got to choose the restaurant. He picked his favorite little restaurant with, what he thought, was the best burger in the area. Giddy and ready to go, the family piled in the car and headed out.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, there was little parking available. They ended up having to park quite a ways down the street and walk. It started sprinkling, so they swiftly entered the restaurant where they were greeted with a smile. The host told them it would be a thirty-minute wait. Slightly frustrated, they agreed to wait. Thirty minutes turned into forty-five and finally they were seated at their table.

When they sat down, the waiter tossed the menus on the table and asked what they wanted to drink. They all said, “Water, please,” and the waiter scoffed. He said, “Waters all around. Great,” but it was clear he didn’t really think it was “great.”

Events like this kept happening throughout the night. One of the kids spilled their water and the waiter complained and harshly told them to be more careful. The food Joe ordered was all wrong, but he didn’t send it back. One of the kids tried to get them to sing happy birthday, but the waiter laughed and said, “Isn’t he a little old for that?” Mortified, the rest of his family was ready to complain to the manager and rightfully so. The service they received was below sub-par and downright rude. Yet, Joe sat there quietly enjoying his burger and said, “But we’re here together. That’s all I care about.”

When it came time to take care of the check, Joe paused as he began to calculate the tip. About a minute later, he turned to his family and said, “I know it’s my birthday, but I’m going to give our waiter a gift, is that all right?” The family looked confused as he wrote a little note on the napkin and dropped a $100 bill on the table. “Alright, you guys ready to go home?” Joe said. They put on their jackets and started to leave.

They had just stepped outside when their waiter came rushing toward them. He looked shocked and had tears in his eyes. “How did you know?” he said. The family looked at Joe. Joe said, “Something told me that you were dealing with a lot, so I wanted you to know that someone is paying attention.” The waiter started to sob as he unclutched the napkin in his hand where Joe had written, “It’s going to be okay.” The waiter took a breath and said, “My mom started chemo today. And I couldn’t get work off to be there with her.”

The family surrounded him in a hug and began to cry with him. Joe said a prayer for his mom, and they went home.

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I recently heard this story and wanted to share it. Although I cannot verify if the story is true, I am struck by the thought that compassion for one another can truly make a difference.

We can never know what someone else is dealing with, but we can always show compassion. Sure, Joe was probably frustrated. Who wouldn’t be in that situation? But he chose to be kind.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “… and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Let us pray:

God, we give thanks for your presence in our lives in unexpected places. We ask that you give us ears to hear your word, eyes to see your ways, and to protect our hearts from hardening. Help us choose kindness and love over everything.

Amen.

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Letters from the Intern

Our "Good Friday" Moments

good friday 760x506The sun is setting. The sanctuary is lit with candles held in the hands of teary-eyed people singing together. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” rings throughout the building. I hear sniffles as we switch the verses to “Were you there when they nailed him to the tree.” And “Laid him in the tomb.” These words permeate our hearts; remembering Christ’s death at the hands of hate and fear. Yet Christ loved us through it all.

I know what you’re thinking, “Kate, it’s after Easter, why are we talking about Good Friday?” You’re right, we have heard the good news that Christ overcame death and has risen! What an occasion to celebrate! It is joyful and we are Easter people, but the hope of Easter is empty without the experience of Good Friday. Good Friday not only reminds us of the immeasurable love that Christ has for us, but it reminds us that amidst death, there is new hope.

For the people there, Jesus was making the way for love, justice, and peace. His followers believed in him and his message. And then he was killed, abruptly, brutally, and publically. The people there did not hear a message of hope any longer. They watched as their beloved God in flesh was murdered; Killed for nothing more than existing and spreading a message that threatened the power structures in place. An act like this would make anyone question, “God, where are you?” It is this question I find myself asking in difficult times.

Although we are living in a post resurrection world, we too have Good Friday moments throughout our lives. Maybe it’s a cancer diagnosis, or the death of a friend. Maybe it’s the feeling of not knowing where the money for a car repair is coming from, or how you’re going to pay for food for the next week. When we step into unknown territory like this, we are filled with fear and questions.

This fear that fills us does not make us bad Christians or unfaithful people. It’s a natural response to difficult situations. When we experience fear and doubt, it’s our faith that keeps us going. It’s our faith that carries us. In our Easter celebrations, we cannot dismiss the two days before where the darkness seemed to overcome us all.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:9,
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
I love this verse and think it’s so important to our Easter season. Even after Christ was raised from the dead and had ascended into heaven, there were still questions. There was still fear. Yet, in the hardest times, our faith is all we have. It might not completely fix our problems, it might not even comfort us completely, but it reminds us that on this path of life, we are not alone.

Maybe we know that joy comes in the morning but at times, the night seems so long. We might hear the Easter message and know that we have so much to hope for and love to fill our hearts. But if it doesn’t feel like that right now, that’s okay and God is with you. In addition, the community of St. Andrew is with you, and we will stand with you through it all. Because you are a beloved child of God, part of the body of Christ, and God has a plan for you filled with hope, love, and peace.

Let us pray,

Holy and everlasting God, you give us the gift of life. Remind us that in this gift you are walking with us; that you are greater than the ups and downs. Renew in us the joy of salvation and the hope we have in the resurrection.
Amen

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Letters from the Intern

Dirty Foreheads

ashwedforehead 1About five years ago a man stopped me in the grocery store. He said, “Excuse me, miss, but you have dirt on your forehead. Just wanted to let you know.” I paused for a second wondering how to respond. Should I just say thank you? Should I tell him that I know and it’s for Ash Wednesday? I didn’t want to make him feel foolish for telling me because if I really had dirt on my forehead, I’d want to know!

So, I thanked him and said that it was a special religious holiday and although it might look like a blob of dirt now, it’s supposed to be a cross of ashes.

He looked puzzled. I didn’t know what to do, so I waved goodbye and continued to the check-out. I stood there thinking to myself, “Dang it, Kate, you missed this great opportunity to have a possibly awesome conversation! You should have told him more about Ash Wednesday.” To be honest, I still kick myself for missing this chance. But I panicked! Not just because I wanted to be polite, but I’m not sure if five years ago I knew exactly how to put the tradition of Ash Wednesday into words.

Trying to explain any tradition to someone who isn’t familiar with it is difficult. From the inside, it all makes sense. We come to church and we put ashes on our forehead as a ministry leader recites Genesis 3:19, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It’s a ritual we do every year at the beginning of Lent. It reminds us of our fallible nature and the reality of sin.
Okay, now writing that down, it sounds even more confusing and gloomy. Yet, there is beauty in this penance as we acknowledge what we lack. During Ash Wednesday, we acknowledge not just that we are sinners, but that we cannot cleanse ourselves without God.

We live like we are all toddlers trying to eat. We sit in our highchairs with a bowl of apple sauce in front of us. Our parent is close by watching; not holding the spoon or helping because we have exclaimed that we can do it ourselves. We begin to eat. Maybe we get a couple of successful spoonful’s, but eventually, the apple sauce is everywhere. It’s on the ground, all over our eating area, behind our bibs, in our hair, and all over our faces. We are talented at making messes. The apple sauce is like sin that is in our lives. We didn’t necessarily intend to make such a mess, or even know we were, but it’s here and we are filthy.

Thank the Lord we have the most patient parent in the world; God, the one who comes running with a rag to wipe our faces.

“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” God took dirt and ash on the ground to create humankind. God saw that it was good and created another. It is through God and with God that we exist and because of that alone we rejoice in God’s holy presence. Yet, God did not stop there. God came down to dwell among us. It is through Christ we understand the relentless love of God; a love that displays a willingness to die so we could be made free. God washes us through Baptismal waters where we are marked with the cross, renewed and made clean.

So, if you’re asked why you have dirt on your forehead today, remember that you are dust, created by the hands of God. Remember that we wear ashes as a sign of penance, acknowledging our broken and sinful nature that God washes clean. And remember that for God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, so that everyone who believes may not perish but may have eternal life.

Let us pray: Gracious God, out of your love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to serve you and our neighbors. Hear our prayers and strengthen us to face our mortality with confidence in the mercy of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Letters from the Intern

Finding the Courage to Lead

leadership

 I wanted to start this blog post off with a thank you because I have officially been at St. Andrew for 6 months! Isn’t it crazy how time flies? I only have 16 more months with you, and I am determined to let the Holy Spirit lead us through it; showing us God’s grace and love each day.

As you all know, I am still a student. Part of my schooling is to explore leadership and what it means to be a leader in ministry. Just recently, I started listening to the audio book, Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown. She is one of my favorite authors who’s writing is authentic and captivating. In this book, Brené dives into why being a leader takes courage and vulnerability. She says, “The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing, it’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”

Now, I know this sounds nerdy, but I couldn’t help it. After hearing this I immediately thought of the 12 Apostles. Among the miracles and parables, Christ led these 12 through, what I can imagine, were some of the most challenging times of their lives. They traveled all over the place and followed Jesus, not really sure what was going to happen next. Even though they couldn’t predict or control the outcome, they continued to show up.

Now I want to be clear, the Apostles were not perfect people. They were sinners and broken folks just like you and me. They knew that about themselves. They knew that without Christ they would be living their lives ignorant to the blessings and grace God gives us. But no good leader leads thinking they can do it all on their own. The Apostles relied on God to lead them so that they could lead others. After Christ ascended into heaven, the Apostles were left as the faith leaders for the world. Talk about feeling the pressure! Christ told them to go out and make disciples of all nations. They knew they didn’t have all the answers, but they allowed themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. They continued to share the Word of God with everyone, even when they were rejected.

In a letter from the Apostle Paul, 2nd Corinthians 1:8-10, it says, “My friends, I want you to know what a hard time we had in Asia. Our sufferings were so horrible and so unbearable that death seemed certain. In fact, we felt sure that we were going to die. But this made us stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting God…”

Although we may be in different situations compared to the early disciples, the command still stands for us. We continue to rely on the Holy Spirit to help us go out and share the Word of God. So, what does this look like? Did you know the number one reason that people start coming to church is because a friend invited them? It’s true! When people like you invite others to come and experience Christian communities, you are inviting others to hear how much the are already loved and accepted by God. What a gift! But inviting people to church takes courage and vulnerability. It takes vulnerability to reach out, but it takes courage to listen to their response. Sometimes you will be met with a joyful “YES!” and sometimes you will get a no. That’s okay. Respect their decision, but remind them that invitation is always open.

Let us pray,

God, be with us as we go through this day. When we are tempted to give up, help us to keep going. Grant us a cheerful spirit when things don't go our way. And give us courage to do whatever needs to be done. In Jesus' name,  Amen.

 

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