St Andrew Blog

On Bringing Simple Kindness and Comfort to Another’s Need

002I read this E devotion below from Luther Seminary this morning and decided to share it.  As we approach Faith in Action/Neighbors Helping Neighbors Weekend on May 16th and 17th, we are reminded that as a community of faith we feel called to bring simple kindness and help to our neighbors.  Sometimes this takes the form of a newly painted house, rebuilt porch or steps.  Sometimes it takes the shape of a quilt made by hand and sent to a family on the other side of the globe.  Sometimes our kindness looks like a ditty bag filled with things that make a seafarer’s months aboard ship a bit easier to bear.  Sometimes we bring hope to a family when we build a wheelchair ramp to help someone stay in their home.  We do all of this not because of how it makes us look to others or because of how it makes us feel [although it feels GREAT!]; we do it because sharing a simple kindness or comfort or giving help allows us to heed the call of God. We love God by loving our neighbors—one by one; quilt by quilt; meal by meal; yard by yard; roof by roof; ditty bag by ditty bag.  No fuss.  No fanfare.

 “In Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych, it is a sorry group of friends and family who, like Ivan Ilych himself, despite marked accomplishments and status, are found woefully wanting in time of mortal need.  Rather, it is the butler’s young assistant, Gerasim, who brings comfort to his master, cheer to his room kindness and candor to his dying.  “We shall all of us die, so why should I grudge a little trouble?”  Raising Ivan’s legs to ease the pain.  Attending to the needs of illness.  Bringing closeness and comfort to one used to being left alne.  “It is God’s will.  We shall all com to it some day.”  For Gerasim, God’s will meant bringing simple kindness and comfort to anothers’ need.  No fuss or fanfare.”

Dear Lord,  We thank you for those neighbors, known and unknown, who simply bring your love by their unheralded kindnesses to those who need it.  Help us to follow their example.   Amen.

To Have a Seed is to Have Everything

seed“Inside that tiny seed, lives the roots, branches, bark, trunk, leaves, twigs and apple fruit of that apple tree. You can’t see, feel, hear, taste or smell any of that yet; nevertheless, it is all inside that seed. The moment the seed is in your hand— all of that is in your hand, too, from the root to the bark to the fruit! All you have to do is to push the seed into the soil. And what makes anyone plant any apple seed? It is the belief that in the seed, there is the tree. So, believe. To have a seed, is to have everything.”

C. JoyBell C.

It will soon be planting season.  The seeds for this year’s organic garden will be ordered:  cucumbers, zucchini, beans, peas and more.  We’ll prepare the soil and add some of Mike Merner’s magical Earth Care Farms compost.  Though all we plant are little seeds, we’ll make teepees of bamboo for the anticipated bean plants to climb on.  We’ll haul out the stakes for the tomatoes and peppers we expect to grow tall and heavy with fruit . . . though we’ll start with only small seedlings. 

Gardening is a practice dependent on faith; on the belief that in the seed there is the tree!  We believe that in the seed of Jesus’ death there is the tree of life. And therefore, we, too, have everything.

Easter 2015

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So pastors, musicians, bread bakers, reads, singers, and administrators worked hard to get everything set for lent, Holy Week and Easter.  We planned services and experiences to draw people into the spirit of the Lenten season and into the events of Holy Week. 

This year at St Andrew we invited you into some “dinner church” experiences that allowed us to eat together, spend some relaxing time around tables, and also reflect a bit on scripture and our lives.  We shared communion all three evenings and last Thursday—Maundy Thursday—we shared in the experience of stripping the altar and the worship space in preparation for Easter.

Together we worked  on music and narration for a moving Good Friday experience that followed Jesus from the end of his ministry to the cross.

Many hands prepared the worship space for Easter morning.  Many households contributed flowers that made our space both beautiful and fragrant!  Great music was again shared.  Bulbs were given away in keeping with an Easter sermon about the cycle of death and rebirth which lies at the core of nature’s cycles—but also at the heart of the spiritual life.

With all of the build-up to Easter, it’s easy to feel as if we’ve somehow made Easter happen.  But this pastor needs to hear the words of her own sermon that suggested we let go and let God give us more and more of the life promised through Jesus’ cross and resurrection. 

So join me as we move into this Easter season and [finally] into spring as we let go of fears, let go of self doubt, let go of control, let go of whatever holds us back . . . from letting God embrace us with resurrection life—real  and now, and eternal.

I'm Thinking About Resurrection

I’m Thinking About Resurrection . . .

What moments have been life-giving for you in this walk of faith?  What do you think about resurrection and life after death? Where do you find yourself in the balance between being already a “new creation” in Christ and waiting for that future moment when all will be made fully new?  Email me and share your thoughts as I prepare for Sunday’s sermon on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18! 

And Want to Share a Blog Post About It from Writer and Theologian Brian McLaren: 

What if Easter …. ?

What might happen if every Easter we celebrated the resurrection not merely as the resuscitation of a single corpse nearly two millennia ago, but more - as the ongoing resurrection of all humanity through Christ? Easter could be the annual affirmation of our ongoing resurrection from violence to peace, from fear to faith, from hostility to love, from a culture of consumption to a culture of stewardship and generosity . . . and in all these ways and more, from death to life. What if our celebration of Easter was so radical in its meaning that it tempted tyrants and dictators everywhere to make it illegal, because it represents the ultimate scandal: an annual call for creative and peaceful insurrection against all status quos based on fear, hostility, exclusion, and violence? What if we never stopped making Easter claims about Jesus in AD 33, but always continued by making Easter claims on us today - declaring that now is the time to be raised from the deadness of fear, hostility, exclusion, and violence to walk in what Paul called "newness of life"? What if Easter was about our ongoing resurrection "in Christ" - in a new humanity marked by a strong-benevolent identity as Christ-embodying peacemakers, enemy lovers, offense forgivers, boundary crossers, and movement builders? What kind of character would this kind of liturgical year form in us? How might the world be changed because of it?