Category Archives: In the World

Message from Pastor Sara

By Jen Mabe, in In the World

MIT Vigil for OrlandoSanctuary, by definition, is a place of refuge or safety. Some of us call the room that we worship in our “sanctuary.” This makes sense to me as it is one of the places we can go to be reminded that we seek refuge and safety in God amidst the chaos of life.

In Orlando and across the country, the LGBTQ community feels like they have lost one of their sanctuaries, after being attacked in a nightclub. The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued a letter in response to the June 12th shooting which states, “We must speak peace and reconciliation into the cacophony of hatred and division. We must live the truth that all people are created in God’s image.”

This Sunday at the end of worship, after we have been singing and praying and filled with God’s Word, we will leave our sanctuary and go out into the world. Before you leave Joy Reigns, you will be invited to place one (or more) of 50 pride flags in the front yard to be a visual remembrance of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and also as a sign to the LGBTQ community that Joy Reigns is a sanctuary where everyone is welcome.

We will have time to lament and pray and also to be filled with hope. Please join me.

God’s Peace, Pastor Sara

In the World – Bacon

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

Lord, forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love. Numbers 14:19

BaconSo I’ve sinned again.  Research says we can’t eat bacon and sausage and all other good yummies because it causes cancer.  UGH!  I love bacon.  There is even a restaurant here in Annapolis that has a Bacon Brunch on Sunday mornings.  I know in my head that all things in moderation is key, but today I’m feeling guilty.

But the Old Testament reading reminds me of God’s steadfast love.  For all my sins, bacon eating included.

In the World – God’s word

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

coreyHeaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35

This weekend I saw my friend Corey’s mother while she is on vacation in DC. Corey passed away almost 4 years ago. (In the picture, he’s the one in the football jersey.) Today’s verse says, heaven and earth pass away. People we love pass away, but God’s word and hope and love does not pass away. I’m grateful for that word of hope today and always.

In the World – Every Nation

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation and tribe and language and people. Revelation 14:6

It has been awhilJRLC_InTheWorld_Logoe since I’ve blogged. So I’m back at it thanks to Frank who said he was actually reading this. I was starting to wonder. Yes I was doing this for myself, and my own spiritual self care but it is good to know that others are reading it too. I love that so many at Joy Reigns are reading the same scripture together every day with Faith5. It’s good to know that maybe, just maybe, a few folks will hear the eternal gospel through this, with the possibility of every nation and tribe and language and people.

I think we’ve worked out the kinks for the RSS feed. You should all get this in your inbox. I hope…

Until next time…

In the World – Not Knowing

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

We launched a new feature on our e-news last week.  It is a Faith5 Bible verse box.  There is a bible verse for each day to help households walk daiJRLC_InTheWorld_Logoly with Jesus.  5 simple steps each day:  share highs and lows, read the Bible, talk about the verse as it relates to those highs and lows and/or daily life, pray and bless.  5 simple yet transformational steps to help households be fully devoted followers of Jesus.  That just doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes daily practice: like soccer or football or a musical instrument.

Today’s verse made me immediately think about our Sunday School journey at Joy Reigns.  It is Hebrews 11:8:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and set out, not knowing where he was going.  

We are a bit like Abraham.  We are faithfully leaving our home of traditional age-based sunday school to obey our call from God to be fully devoted followers of Jesus and help others do the same.  Moving into Household Huddle (Please come it’s for everyone, all ages, really!) are in a bit of the not knowing stage of how this Household Huddle thing will go, but what we do know is that God is leading us to spiritually strong on Sunday and each and every day.  I’m looking forward to this faithful bold move together.


In the World – Wretched Body

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

Dove_Real_Beauty_SketchesPaul wrote: Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24–25

Not reading these verses in context you would think Paul was an average woman in America.  He is here talking about spiritual and/or internal struggles, but I will admit that as soon as I read “rescue me from this body,”  I immediately made my list. I think many woman have lists of things they don’t like.  Parts of their body that they want to be rescued from.  There was an amazing video a few years ago from Dove.  Many woman described themselves to a sketch artist and then the other women described them.  Overwhelmingly, the self described image was one of needing to be rescued from this body, where as the sketches from the perspective of the stranger was far more beautiful.  Here’s the link:  Dove Real Beauty Sketch Video

How do we help the next sentence after rescue me from this body be, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”? How do we help each other?

People of faith, you are beautiful!



In the World- Off the Grid

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

JRLC_InTheWorld_LogoI’ve taken a little break from the blog the last few days while I have been off the grid.  Enjoying some time of Family Sabbath.  I’ll be back next week!

In the World – Lifted Hands

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

lifted handsLet us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven. Lamentations 3:41

I serve a “happy clappy” congregation.  Worship is a genuine celebration and unlike other Lutheran congregations, it is not uncommon to have spirited clapping, an occasional conga line for the closing hymn and people with their weekly hands raised up in the air to praise Jesus.

I will clap.  I will sing.  I will dance.  But it’s not in my nature to raise my hands.  But then there was this one song in the first few weeks after I arrived, and many times since.  Only for this song do I find myself unable to keep my hands down.  It is Chris Tomlin’s song, I Lift My Hands, and here’s the chorus:

I lift my hands to believe again
You are my refuge, You are my strength
As I pour out my heart, these things I remember
You are faithful, God, forever

I love that.  I lift my hands to believe again.  Meaning, maybe I’m not feeling it today so I’m going to lift my hands.  Yes, of course, it is easy to see raised arms in happy clappy times of joy.  And in times of deep sorrow we can lift our (hearts) and hands to God.  I am so grateful for this community that is brave enough to have joy and lament standing together.  Those standing side by side who are so filled with faith that it is exuding right through the tippy tops of their outstretched hands and the broken arms of a pastor and so many others that lift their hands to funnel God back into us.

In the World – abundance

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

Stack of One Hundred Dollar Bills U.S.

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance. Jude 2

Baltimore City paid the family of Freddie Gray $6.4 million to settle the case today.  Some may say, that is certainly in abundance, with positive or negative connotations…Do you hear “That is certainly in abundance…” verses “that is certainly in abundance!”?

Today in the context of Jude, a book written to give strength and courage to Christians against those in their midst who are offering false teachings, and encouraging the followers of Jesus to be divided, I am reading scripture through the lens of today’s news stories and am again flabbergasted by social media commentary.  The terrible unkind things that were said about this grieving family and the situation.  Dividing us, instead of uniting us.  Much of commentary is devoid of mercy, peace and love.

In my experience, the legal process is a long painful process for all involved.  Even with the abundant announcement of today, I imagine this was a painful day for the Gray family.  I pray for this grieving family.  No matter who they are.  No matter what they have done.  No matter what Freddie’s past transgressions were.  No matter any of that, I pray mercy, peace and love abundantly for this grieving family today and always.

In the World – in sickness and health

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

imagePaul wrote: Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13

Nickolas woke up Sunday morning with a a fever and an upset tummy. We spent the day resting and watching movies (which was secretly delightful for me even if it was all cartoons). But at the end of the day, Nickolas sleepily said he still didn’t feel well and wanted to go to bed. Then he said could we do Faith5 now?

In sickness and in health, this has now become routine for us.  It has been almost a year since we started this pattern for our household.  We prayed together for our high of a movie day and our low of Nickolas being sick and asked for God’s healing together.  It was wonderful!

Paul gave faithful living instruction to the folks he was with and so I give some to you. I’m so excited to have households of Joy Reigns experience the power of a faithful household each and everyday in sickness and in health sharing, reading, talking, praying and blessing. Try Faith5 tonight and let me know how it goes.  Ok?