Some nights I lie awake, wishing for sleep, because I’m fretting about you. I’m worrying about your health, hoping for your peace. I’m tossing and turning about what to teach and preach. I’m vexed about simply keeping track of your coming and going. Sometimes I try counting sheep as I fret about counting and tending the sheep.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
For most of recorded history, access to music was not always a given. If you lived prior to the late 1800s and you wanted to listen to music, you would need to either play it yourself or go somewhere where music was being played or sung, most likely the neighborhood pub or your church.
WORD. WATER. WINE. BREAD.
During this season of Lent, our theme is Word. Water. Wine. Bread. It is drawn from one of our core beliefs: God's love is poured out when God's people gather around Word, water, wine and bread. We dare to believe that when the people of God gather these simple, ordinary things become a means of receiving God’s grace.
MESSAGE FROM BISHOP CURRENT
Dear ones of the Southeastern Iowa Synod,
I am writing to you today, at the beginning of Lent, a season when we journey together as the Body of Christ returning to God in repentance and focusing on practices of fasting, prayer, and charity. It so happens that the season of Lent often aligns with legislative sessions at the state and federal levels. I give thanks for elected leaders, their staff, and all engaged in public service. It is the practice of communities of faith to pray for “ the church universal, its ministry, and the mission of the Gospel; for the well-being of creation; for peace and justice in the world, the nations, and those in authority, the community; for the poor, oppressed, sick, bereaved, lonely, and all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit; for the congregation, and for special concerns, and for with thanksgiving for the faithful departed.” (ELW p. 105-106) I hope in the season of Lent and throughout the year, we pray for public servants, for those in authority, and for the complex world in which they govern.
The world is rich with calendars. They dangle from racks in every bookstore, card shop, and supermarket. They lie on office desks, hang on kitchen walls, and ding at us from our phones. These calendars divvy up our time into months and days, helping us organize our lives around the tasks we need to accomplish.
THE YOUTH ARE NOT THE FUTURE
I’ve heard it a thousand times. I’ve said it myself. “The youth are the future of the church.” This notion makes a case for youth ministry rooted in institutional survival. If we don’t raise up young people to be faithful, then the church won’t exist – tomorrow. While I understand the thought process that makes us say this, I have come to the conclusion that it is a fallacy.
LORD IN YOUR MERCY
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
On Monday morning a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey. There have been numerous aftershocks since that time. At this time, the death toll is over 19,000 people with many, many more injured. Countless homes have been leveled. It is estimated that over 300,000 people are displaced because of this natural disaster.
CYNICISM OR HOPE?
As I watched the horrifying video of police officers beating a man to death, I realized that I was seeing evil in a new way. This was certainly, sad to say, not a unique eruption of violence perpetrated by those who swore to protect and serve. We’ve seen similar scenes unfold all too often. Most of those past incidents were framed in the context of America’s long struggle with racism. In this case, the victim was once again black. So were the perpetrators. I realized as I watched that it is not just racism fueling the violence in our culture, it is something deeper, broader, and more insidious. Cynicism, of a most cancerous sort, is part of the fabric of our culture. Cynicism is the birthplace of racism, sexism, and all the ways we diminish others.
all shall be well
All shall be well. All shall be well. Every manner of thing shall be well.
So wrote the mystic Julian of Norwich; she was the head of an order of nuns in England some eight centuries ago. “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” Her words beautifully capture the spirit of Psalm 23. They, too, are words of assurance and comfort.
PURSUING HAPPINESS. RECEIVING JOY
Happiness and joy are two different things. I know that there are smart, even brilliant, people who would argue that this is not the case, that happiness and joy are the same. Perhaps in a time gone by, the two words had more in common. Today? I don’t think so.