Mark 4:16-20

“And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

This was the passage, according to the New York Times, that was being studied at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church when the racially motivated terror attack occurred.

I don’t have anything to say. I’m struggling with tomorrow’s sermon (which is Mark 4:35-41 – Jesus calming the storm). But I wanted to write down the passage they were studying. I want to make sure I remember.

Sunday Morning, George Edition

George and chipsEvery Sunday, I stand in a gap in our communion rail to proclaim confession and forgiveness. It doesn’t matter what style of worship (contemporary or tradition), I’m always there, declaring the absolution of sins. It’s a tradition here at Christ Lutheran Church and one that I’m glad we do. Somedays, I need forgiveness before I lead worship. On other days, I know people in the pews who need to hear God’s love for them before the readings begin. And then, sometimes, my eight month old decides to chime in during the declaration. Here’s how it went last Sunday.

Me: Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you and worthily magnify your holy name, through Jesus Christ out Lord.

George: Tbbbbbbbbbppptttttt!!!!!! (he’s busy blowing raspberries in the back)

Then, a few moments later:

Me: In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for his sake God forgives us all our sins –

George: HEEYYYOOOOOO. Daddadadadadada.

Me (continues): As a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ, and by his authority (George: *raspberry*), I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father (George: *raspberry*), and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

George: AHAHAHAH.DADADadadadadadada.

All: Amen.

This might end up as a sermon illustration at some point.

Trash is my Treasure

One of the gifts being pastor of Christ Lutheran Church is the annual Trash & Treasure & Clothing Sale held on the First Saturday of May. This is a beast of an event. Volunteers work for a month cataloging clothing, cleaning pieces donated from the wider community, and sorting and pricing an amazing amount of items. The church building is taken over, an army of volunteers is fed by another army of volunteers, and, in one day, we’ll raise $15,000. This is the most professional and well organized church sale that I have ever seen. Most of the money will be given to organizations outside the church, from our local food pantry to ELCA Disaster Response. It really is an amazing event and I can’t believe the energy, talent, gifts, and skill the volunteers have to pull this off. And since I’m helping as I can (and I’m in the building most days), I have first pick of what comes in.

Star Wars Original Action Figures

So, to whomever donated these Star Wars actions figures: thank you.

Unexpected Facebook Friend

A few days ago, a recently retired professor from the Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia friended me on Facebook. I haven’t seen him in years and yet he saw my name and sent me a friend request. That’s been the extent of our interactions so far. However, I did take a gander over his facebook wall and I noticed that he’s recently started a tumblr. And I’m intrigued by its premise. It’s a personal bible study on the psalms.

In January 2000, my first wife Barbara was diagnosed with terminal cancer. One of the things we did in the months that followed, before her death on 18 May 2001, was to read a psalm together each night. The next morning I would get up and send the psalm to my daughter Emily, who was at the time a student at the College of William & Mary, along with my own reflections on it. At Christmas 2000, my daughter then gave me all of those psalms and reflections back to me as a gift. Now, all of these years later, I want to pass the gift of these reflections on to you. I hope to post one explanation each week, corresponding to the psalm appointed for the Revised Common Lectionary to be read that coming Sunday.

I especially like the reflection on Psalm 126.

And that is the restoration we also long for. These psalms seem to “burst their own boundaries,” so to speak. The psalmist may be thinking of one example remembered joy and present trial, but it so easily becomes my prayer in my situation. There is a universality about the cry of faith that spans the centuries. That is why these psalms are truly “inspired”‚Äîbreathed in by God’s own Breath and Holy Spirit.

The idea of writing a weekly reflection/bible study is a good one. It might be something I should take up to help my study beyond just sermon prep for the upcoming Sunday. Hmmm. Maybe this can be my Lenten discipline this year.