Saturday, March 23, 2013

Happy Easter! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

            Easter arrives next Sunday, March 31st and the very next day, April 1st is April Fools Day.  I did some research on April Fools Day this week and according to Wikipedia the practice of April Fools Day started in the Middle Ages.  At that time New Year's Day was celebrated on March 25 in most of Europe and in many places it was celebrated as a week-long holiday that ended on April 1. Naturally, those who chose to celebrate New Years day on January 1st made fun of those who celebrated it in April.

            This year, April 1st marks the beginning of another kind of year.  With Easter coming just the day before, April 1st marks the beginning of the season of Easter that will last for eight weeks until Pentecost Sunday, May 19th.  It marks the beginning of a time in the church when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the new life of redeeming love and forgiveness and the sure sign of our own new life in Christ.

            While on the cross, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ And it was indeed.  God’s redeeming work was done.  Easter marks the end of Satan’s reign, the end of Satan’s hope for eternal victory and the end of Satan’s hold on the earth.

            And so this year, April 1st will be more than a day to play practical jokes on each other and it will be more than a day to celebrate New Year’s in warmer weather than in January.  This year it will be a day to celebrate the eternal joke played on Satan, the day when Satan’s victory was turned into defeat and the day when Jesus’ resurrection set us free from the curse of sin and death.

            And so, this year, on April 1st,  let’s all celebrate the practical joke played on Satan.  Let’s laugh and be gay.  It is finished.  He has done it.  Life has conquered death.  Love has conquered hate. Faith has conquered doubt.

            Happy New Year!  See you in church Sunday!


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Kindness of Snow Blowers

          It snowed last night and this morning I cranked up the snow blower and blew out my driveway and then a path for the letter carrier.  Since I had some more time and the snow was light, I walked across the street and blew out two more driveways and the sidewalks for my neighbors.

          As I was cleaning the blower off and putting it away, I wondered for just a moment if they would ever thank me... and then I realized whether they did or not didn't matter. 

          What I did was a kindness to them that had cost me only a little time, money  and effort.. and this morning I had some of each.

          Next, of course I wondered whether I would do it again – if I had less time or if the snow was heavier and more difficult to move with my little snow blower.  Would I be as kind if the next time if it was less convenient?

          I don't know, but in a few days it will snow again and I'll have a chance to find out.

          What I do know is that our wonderful God is busy dispensing kindnesses every day.  Our Lord is never too busy, the work is never too hard and there is always plenty of time.

          … and I think that often we forget to thank God for the gracious mercy he has shown.  Perhaps we're too busy.  Perhaps we're too concerned with other things to notice.  Perhaps we think God owes it to us.  I hope not.

          So far today the neighbors have gotten into their cars and driven away to work and so far there have been no knocks on the door with words of appreciation.  It still doesn't matter.  It's a kindness from God and me to neighbors who may need a little kindness in their lives and no words of thanks are necessary.

          But I hope that tonight when I head to bed, I'll remember to thank God for my little snow blower and the good works it can do and while I'm at it I hope I give thanks for lots of other things, too.

          Easter is coming and the long Easter weekend will begin with the cross on which Jesus gave everything. Let's all remember to give thanks.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Annual Reviews

            I just finished writing my annual report for my work here in Windom and I'm exhausted!  It's not that writing the report was so taxing, it's just that as I wrote I was reminded of all the things we had accomplished in ministry this year and the sheer volume of our accomplishments and the memory of all the hours that it took to make them happen just overwhelmed me.

            Just when I was thinking about how little we had done, I was reminded that we have done so much and come so far - it's truly amazing.

            I was reminded of our upcoming Lenten preaching series on the Fruits of the Spirit. Wow! What a lead in to thoughts about that.

            Each year I plant a garden and then fuss over it endlessly.  Watching every day for things to grow, coming away everyday not sure that anything is really happening.  Of course as the weeks (and months) go by I realize that a lot has been happening - it was just too subtle, to gradual, to see on a day-by-day basis.

            The Fruits of the Spirit in us are like that: subtle and gradual, but real and growing.  The Fruits of the Spirit include love, joy and peace a host of other worthy attributes ( Ephesians 5:22-26).  But none of us will ever wake up one morning to find we have them all in abundance.  They have to grow - and they have to be cultivated which means we have to work at it.

            And even though we work at it, it may seem that we are making no progress, no growth, at all.  I think when that happens we should all do an annual review to look back and see how far we've come and this will give us the enthusiasm we need to keep looking to God as we continue on.

Grace and Peace.  Sarah

Thursday, January 31, 2013


            Last week I heard from someone who wondered why I hadn't updated my blog in a while.  I confess to being surprised that anyone actually read it.  Why, I wondered would anyone want to take time from their already busy life to read the musings of a country preacher?

            This morning I think I may have found the answer: theodicy.  What, you ask, is that?  According to a web site I visited, it is: the branch of theology concerned with defending the attributes of God against objections resulting from physical and moral evil.[1]

            Okay, that wasn't much help, but if we define it as a way to see God in the world, or as a way to try to understand that God is at work in the world even when we can't see how it is possible, then perhaps that is a reason to read what people who claim to be people of faith are thinking.

            So what am I thinking today?  As I sit here in my sick bed (I've caught that cold that is going around) I am grateful for the extra time I have this week to sit in the presence of God and to remember that this relationship is the most important one in my life.  I take long, deep breaths and bathe my spirit in the amazing peace that comes from resting in God.

            And I resolve that after I am well, I will try yet again to keep this peace as a priority in my life even when the busyness of ministry again overtakes my time.

            Let's do it together.  Amen.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Crumbs from the Table

It's happened a lot in the past few months: people coming to the church door, hat in hand, asking for help. Sometimes it's shelter to escape an abusive spouse. Sometimes they need money to have the utilities restored. At other times it's a request for food vouchers for the grocery store or perhaps just a few dollars' worth of gas to get them back on their way.
We help them whenever we can and we try to give at least something to everyone. Sometimes they seem truly grateful while at other times they're upset that there isn't more.
Sadly what they never seem to understand is that what they ask for is the least valuable thing we can offer them.
They come looking for enough to help them scrape through another day when Jesus the Christ wants to shower them with blessings for a lifetime.
They want to fill their stomachs with the bread that will leave them just as hungry tomorrow while they pass by a full plate of the Bread of Life.
They come to scrounge for the crumbs that fall from the Master's table and refuse the invitation to the feast of paradise.
They arrive – and leave – full of misery and hopelessness when the church lives to share the joy and hope of redeeming love.
They cling to filthy rags of independence when God longs to clothe them with robes of righteousness.
Days like today I cry for them and wonder why it is that so many refuse the gracious hospitality of God's love. Then I am reminded that God cries over them daily and always has and I leave them to the One who cares for them more than I ever can.

God of mercy and hope, help me love them the way you do. Help me serve them in your name. Amen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Walk, Drag or Carry?

Last week, Max, one of my dogs went to the vet to have a growth removed from his foot.  He came home the same day and the next day he seemed not to want to walk anywhere - and who could blame him?  So I left him at home and walked the other two days without him.

The second day, Max seemed much better.  He seemed anxious to go out for his morning walk but before we had gone 100 yds., he sat down and refused to go further. 

Obviously, I had a decision to make: 1) I could insist we finish our walk and drag him along hoping he might change his mind or that his foot would stop hurting; 2)  I could pick him up and return home with the other two dogs and none of us would get our morning walk; 3) I could pick him up and carry him the half mile or more that our morning walk usually takes us.

I picked him up and we went on our way.  Max got his fresh air and a look at the neighborhood sights from a new angle while the other two dogs and I got our usual walk in.

I've read that 'footprints in the sand' thing a number of times and it always seems too 'cutsey' yet there on that morning was an example of just that kind of love. 

That morning Max was feeling somewhat better and was trying to make it on his own in spite of his injured foot.  He doesn't know how to ask for help but I confess that too often I don't ask for help either.  When we're hurt, our first thought (like Max) is to stop in our tracks or go back somewhere safe.

Or perhaps it seems that God is dragging us forward into a world we want no part of - a world that hurts too much - when we'd rather just give up and go back.

Or - we might let God carry us for a while.  We'd move forward with a new perspective and a helping hand and God would show us the path.

Maybe I'll reread that 'footsteps in the sand' thing again...

Lord, help me learn to trust you enough to let you carry me when I'm weak.  Amen

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's a foggy morning.

            I was out walking very early yesterday morning.  The sky was dark.  The streets were quiet. The wind was still.  The air was crisp and clear.  And it was foggy.
            Living in town we don’t see fog very often.  It’s something that affects those living in rural areas more than those living in built-up ones.  Even yesterday, I didn’t really see the fog unless I looked toward a streetlight.  In places where darkness prevailed the fog was there but could not be seen, but when I looked to the light its effects were obvious.
            I think the work of the Holy Spirit must be a lot like that.  The Spirit is always everywhere.  Its presence pervades everything.  There is no way to escape its presence or its effects.  And yet, unless our eyes look toward God’s light, we just don’t see it.
            Some theologians believe that everything good that happens in the world is a work of the Holy Spirit even when the person doing that good deed is not a person of faith.
            On mornings like yesterdays when I am silently and invisibly enveloped in fog I understand what they mean.

Lord God, surround me with your presence and give me the grace to see your light in the world.  Amen.