Category Archives: In the World

In the World – Denali

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

Denali_Mt_McKinleyYou are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. Revelation 4:11

I’ve been watching President Obama’s trip to Alaska as he talks about climate change and seeing God’s beautiful creation in all the pictures.  God is indeed worthy to receive glory and honor and power for the creation!  Here is a link to a great story today where Bear Grylls prayed for the President while they were taping his show.  Very cool!

In the World – empty

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

He, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. Philippians 2:6–7

syria refugee

Syrian refugees land on the Greek island of Kos on Tuesday after crossing from Turkey in a small boat. PHOTO: YANNIS BEHRAKIS/REUTERS

I know the topic of this blog post is empty, but I’m full.  I’m full to the brim of sad news in the media.  I can’t think about thousands upon thousands of Syrians risking their lives on boats for the hope of something better wherever they can go, and European countries searching trucks and putting up fences.  I am full of Israeli bulldozers knocking down Palestinian olive trees.  I’m full of hearing that 250 people use the food pantry every month at the neighboring church.  I could wipe my hands of it all, easily and just live in my own little bubble.  But then we have this Jesus, who walks the walk and empties himself taking the form of a slave.  Even when I am full of the sadness of the media, I choose to empty myself of that and instead take a deep breath and pray and find a way to serve.

In the World – at church & at home

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

JRLC_InTheWorld_LogoDay by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. Acts 2:46–47

At church and at home. That’s how the first church did it.  And with glad and generous hearts.  I LOVE IT!  Last night the Worship Ad Hoc Team met and I’m delighted that together we asked that third question from worship on Sunday: What weekly schedule will help us be fully devoted followers of Jesus?  Not what do we prefer or like but what do we admire, who are we called to be?  I am soooo extremely excited that we are quickly working on rolling out a new worship schedule and education plan that will allow households at church and at home to practice being faithful together.  Just like the first church.  It will start September 20th.  Stay tuned!

In the World – give thanks

By Pastor Sara, in In the World
Thank you note with smiley face , isolated on white

For what do you give thanks today?

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng. Psalm 109:30

I am feeling thankful these days.  Thankful to be back active with the blog.  Thankful to have a long weekend approaching to spend time with my family.  Thankful.  We are preparing for a thank you meal at our house for all the people who helped with the parsonage fence over the last few months.  It is fun to say thank you.  For me to say thanks by cooking, as a way of showing appreciation.

But the verse today is also about giving things in the midst of the throng.  I had to look up throng.  I know what a thong is, but I don’t think anyone gives praise in the midst of wearing a thong.  lol.  Throng is a large crowd.  And in this instance, the context of Psalm 109 is a prayer for help from a person who may have been wrongly accused by many people.

I always appreciate seeing the example of someone I admire giving thanks in difficult times.  It encourages me to do that same. Today I give thanks for a fence and in times of adversity.  But I’m still not going to give thanks for thongs.

In the World – inviting

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

imageThe master said to the slave, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23

Today was a beautiful, early fall night. We decided to have a campfire with another family. Very low key and wonderful. We encounter someone we both sort of knew, not really deeply connected to the worship life of the congregation and invited this person to join us.  She declined.

Note: Inviting is hard, especially when people say no. But I always say they can’t say yes if you don’t ask!  But it’s hard, even for me. But we are called to keep inviting. Not just “to church”. But into community with other people of faith. Maybe around a campfire. Maybe onto the boat. Maybe our to lunch. Maybe to worship.  Who is God compelling you to call in?

In the World – Inquire First

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

developing storyInquire first for the word of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 18:4

News is still developing today in the story of the live newscast where several people were shot and killed during a report for WDBJ-7 in Roanoke, Virginia, not too far from here. It is all so tragic.  Tragic for the families of the victims.  Tragic for the one who did this.  Tragic for his family.  Tragic for our society.  It has only been a few short hours since the events of this morning took place in Bridgwater Plaza, and since then, in my opnion, more tragedy as social media has exploded.  The number of mean, awful, hateful things that are being said on social media is appalling.  Some, in fact, from public figures that I think should know better.

My heart breaks for all of the tragedy.  I have to wonder how it would all be different if we did as the leaders did in decision making in 2 Chronicles today.  What if in all situations, for all involved, we first inquired for the word of the Lord.  What is God calling us to say or do in the midst of this tragic situation and all situations? Social media is a wonderful gift and tool, but please friends use it wisely and faithfully.  I encourage you to pause and inquire to God before you join the conversation.  I know I will try.  Prayers for all those involved.

In the World – unexpected abundance

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

crabs with jmy and clTaking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, Jesus gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Matthew 14:19–20 (NIV)

We were striking out all over the place late last week. Justin’s best friend was coming to visit and the #1 thing he wanted to do was go fishing on the Bay. But we were coming up empty. Empty. Hungry for the desired vacation plan. Then on Sunday, a family at church offered to have them go crabbing from their dock. The boys came home from church willing to do it “even though it wasn’t fishing” They left the house Monday morning thinking they would be back before lunch because “they probably wouldn’t want to do it all that long…”

When we are in charge, scarcity can often be the mode of expectation. But the phone call at 11 to say they were not going to be home for lunch, and then the text to say the neighbor was taking them out on the boat, and then the text to say bring Nickolas for dinner they had caught almost 2 dozen crabs, was all abundance. In in fact it was probably the highlight of the whole vacation.

In life, often we are expecting scarcity, and unexpected abundance is waiting from God. Sometimes it is 5 loaves and 2 fish. Sometimes it is a bushel full of crabs.

In the World – Taste and See

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

Indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:3

Manymaple bacon breakfast pie steps of you know that I love to cook.  Most mornings we whip a quick peanut butter and honey sandwich or a simple bowl of raisin bran crunch, but when we have overnight guests I like to make something special.  I decided to try a new recipe this morning.  Maple Bacon Breakfast Pie.  It was fine but not likely to be a recipe that is a keeper.

The scripture verse for today starts with indeed.  The teenage version would be, “well, duh… you’ve tasted that God is good.  Like, um, what did you expect…”  lol.

The maple bacon breakfast pie today was just ok, but each and every day we can be grateful to know and experience and taste that the Lord is better than just ok, but GOOD!

In the World – Hidden or Visible?

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. Isaiah 45:15

LWR kit drop offSome days are hard days, when it seems to me like God is hidden.  Other days, like today, I can see God clearly, through the body of Christ, working together.  Today we dropped off LWR (Lutheran World Relief) kits.  I have always dropped off at a boxcar with other groups, but here the closest drop off site is one of two distribution warehouses for LWR.  It was of course, amazingly expansive, with kits donated in shipping boxes as far high and deep and wide as one could see.  All ready to be distributed.   And today was also a volunteer work day so we had the chance to see the quilt press that “smooshes” 30 quilts down to the size of 10 and then get wrapped for shipping around the world.  Today quilts were going to Nigeria.  And flood buckets and personal hygenine kits were going to Florida.  No hidden God today.  And then we drove home through the most beautiful rolling hills and had wonderful conversation in the car.  No hidden God today.  I will remember this day, on the next hidden day to give me strength.

In the World – unbelief

By Pastor Sara, in In the World

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7 (NKJV)

Nahum is a book where the people have been enduring oppression and  violence from the Assyrians. It is not a happy chapter in their lives. These words of Nahum from God could be taken two ways. Belief that God is good or unbelief.

“UNBELIEF IS AS much of a choice as belief is. What makes it in many ways more appealing is that whereas to believe in something requires some measure of understanding and effort, not to believe doesn’t require much of anything at all.”

– Originally published in Whistling in the Dark By Frederick Buechner

Belief in times of sickness, pain sadness, family stress, job loss, addiction can be harder than unbelief. That’s why Sunday after Sunday. Week after week I’m so grateful for the community of faith in the congregation of Joy Reigns where we do this sometimes hard work of belief together, not alone.  The Lord is good!