Lent Project 2016 – School Kits

I love to do the work of the Lord.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy doing things for others. Last week, I was reading a prayer during church that basically said “help us to give as well as receive.”
I’m the opposite.
I’m better at giving than receiving.

And during the season of Lent, what we at TCM are giving are School Kits.
These are cloth, drawstring bags filled with school supplies.
We are collecting pencils, pens, scissors, erasers, pencil sharpeners, rulers, notebooks and crayons.
The essentials for school kids across the world.

For the complete lists, here are the two websites:
Lutheran World Relief
Presbyterian Disaster Response

Please note that LWR and PDA have different amounts that they want for their kits but the basics are the same.

But one special note: the cloth bag
this is not a tote bag or a backpack like we use in the USA but something that we can sew together using any cloth that is not stained or torn.
Or purchased online through a few different retailers who carry the right size.

After Lent, we will be working to assemble the kits.
If you are willing to volunteer, please let the TCM staff know.

Hope that you can help out this ministry of encouraging kids across the world to take education seriously knowing that we support them!

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Transfiguration Sunday

Today is the last Sunday before Lent begins.
A Sunday that is a culmination of the past several weeks with our readings during church that told of the amazing acts and profound teachings of Jesus.
A Sunday when people around Jesus have their eyes open to see the glory of God surrounding the man born in Bethlehem, raised by a carpenter yet with a much larger purpose.

Mark 8:27-9:8 is our text today.
Jesus is walking with his followers when he turns to ask a question.
The question might sound like a simple one, but in reality this is the question that is the point of what Jesus had been doing, the reason for the rest of the journey to come.

“Who do people say that I am?”

In other words, Jesus is getting feedback. He wants to know if people are really starting to figure out what is going on.
Do they think he’s an upstart? A fraud? Someone who is all flash but no substance? A carpenter who should go back to working with wood and not people?
Is he a prophet? Does he stand in a long line of people called by God to bring a message? Is he one like so many before who comes to bring words of caution to those who strayed from God and words of hope for those who wait in darkness?

Or is he something more?

The followers answer. “Well, some say John the Baptist.”
The voice in the wilderness. The man who called loudly for people to repent and turn back to God. The one who stirred hearts and baptized people, that ritual of cleansing so that people can once again stand before God.

“Or Elijah”
A favorite prophet of God. Powerful, able to perform miracles. Powerful, able to make kings and queens nervous when he shows up. Powerful, defeating another god with a hundred prophets. One who did not die but was taken to heaven in a whirlwind, meaning that he can come back whenever.

“Or another prophet.”
A messenger. One sent to bring the word of the Lord.

Then Jesus asks another question.
“But who do you say that I am?”

Asking those who have been there day after day. Those who have seen many great things. Those who have been taught by Jesus.
This is a test question: did they finally get it all figured out?

And Peter did.
This guy known for putting his foot in his mouth answers.

“You are the Messiah.”

The anointed one. The one person who is to bring hope and prosperity back to the people of God. The one who will be mighty and victorious, much like King David of old who defeated enemies and brought glory to God and God’s people.
Jesus is the one people have been waiting for.

Then Jesus turns and begins to tell the followers what is to come.

And it’s not what is expected or wanted.

Instead of glorious victory in battle, betrayal.
Instead of ruling over a proud nation, rejection.
Instead of a long and prosperous life, death.

And Peter voices the frustration. “But how can this be? That’s not what the Messiah is supposed to do and be?”

And Jesus reminds him that God’s plans seldom follow human expectations.

Six days later, Jesus takes a few disciples with him up to the top of a mountain.
And while Peter, James and John look on, Jesus is tranfigured.
He changes before their eyes, miraculously wearing clothing so white it seems to glow.

And he’s not alone.

There stands Moses and Elijah, two of God’s favorite prophets. The one who brought the people out of slavery and the one who sought to remind people that they were the people of God and should act like it.

Peter, with his ability to say the wrong thing, offers to build dwellings for the three.
But the three are not meant to dwell on the mountain top.
Then Jesus and Moses and Elijah disappear in a cloud.

And a voice cries out: “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”

Then the cloud disperses and Jesus stands there alone.
The Son, the Beloved, the one to whom all should listen.

And so Peter and James and John, after seeing with their own eyes, know that the man before them is beyond their expectations or understanding.
Because God is truly beyond human understanding yet walks alongside the people of God on the road.
And all they can do, all any of us can do, is listen.

So may we listen.

May our eyes be open to see what God shows us. May our ears be open to what God says. May our hearts be open to whatever God teaches us and may we follow where we are led.
Amen.

Joys of winter weather

So I have to admit that this blog has not been updated for a long time.
But this is a quick update as I hear the wind picking up and rain has been falling yet a blizzard warning is in place for early tomorrow morning.

Once again, we are playing with our phones as we talk about the weather (cause like all good Midwesterners, we love talking about the weather).
This time, planning for safety.
As of 7:30, McVille Lutheran, Our Savior’s of McHenry, and First Presbyterian in Cooper cancelled. Grace City is waiting on decision about worship but annual meeting postponed. McVille annual meeting being rescheduled for following Ash Wednesday service.

Of course I love a good storm, especially when it leads to snow days 🙂
Just like every school child, adults can also take joy with a day off.

My favorite joys of winter:
– Drinking hot chocolate (or another hot drink of your choice)
– Snuggling under afghans or quilts
– Watching the flames of a fire or candle
– Wearing sweaters and flannel pants
– Catching up on reading or TV shows

It’s the little things in life that are the greatest blessings after all.

Ash Wednesday – Invitation to Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day when we are reminded of out human frailty facing death and sin.
This is also the day when begin our journey through Lent, a beautiful season of reflection.
Last year, TCM put together a devotional. This year, we did not do that.
So we are encouraging you to find a devotional.
Here is one that is free to download: http://www.luthersem.edu/lent/
If you are already signed up to receive Luther Seminary’s GodPause, then you will automatically receive the daily devotional in your email.

Prayer part 2

I’ve lost track of how many times people have asked me to put forth special requests to God.

Sometimes, I am humbled, honored and blessed to be entrusted with your concerns while other times I want to roll my eyes and ask “Do you really expect me to pray for that?!”
I am always willing to take time to pray for people, but I’ve learned to be careful and considerate with my prayers.

Sometimes, when asked to pray, I am taken aback and want to either giggle or groan, depending on my mood and the request.
For example: I might groan if you ask me to pray for a really hot, sunny day (mainly because I think anything over 75 degrees is unfit for humans and consider such prayers to be ridiculous). I might laugh if you ask me to not pray for snow, even though you live in North Dakota and it’s December (partly because I happen to like snow and cold weather and why would I ever agree to pray against something I enjoy?).
But I will faithfully pray that God sends the weather that we need and to watch over those who are out in the elements.

I draw the line with some prayers. We all have our limits, and even as a pastor I occasionally hesitate to ask God for some things.
I won’t pray for a sports team to win. I will pray for safety of players.
I won’t pray for you to win the lottery. I will pray that God will work through others to help you.
I won’t pray for the things that I believe are wants or desires. I will pray that God sees your need and gives you what you need.
I will not pray for what appears to be self-serving, but I will pray that God watches over all of us in all aspects of our daily lives.

So here is a word of advice: be careful what you pray for.
When we pray, we better be ready for the prayer to be answered (whether the answer is yes or no). Praying for a snow day because you want a day off might be answered with clear skies.
When we pray, we better be paying attention to exactly what it is that we pray for. Praying for health may not mean that a miracle cure happens or the physical ailment is “fixed” when health might be the emotional or spiritual acceptance of our own mortality.
When we pray, we better be ready to change. Praying for something and not receiving it could lead us to turning away from God (as we claim that since the prayer wasn’t answered how we wanted means God doesn’t listen) or else teaching us patience and trust that God provides, even if we don’t get what we want when we want it.

Whatever the prayer, I use honesty and caution.
Honesty because prayer is the time when we can share our deepest concerns and wishes with God, knowing that God sees into our hearts and knows when we are trying to hide.
Caution because God is paying attention, and sometimes we know what we ought to be praying for even if we don’t want to pay attention to what we feel deep in our hearts/guts should be our prayer.

After all, prayers are powerful and life-changing.

August update

Okay, people of God, it’s been some time since I last posted.
I have some updates for you on what has been going on this summer:
– pastors traveling for continuing education and vacation (serious amounts of travel). I went to Minneapolis twice this year for clergy conferences, whereas Sherri headed to California for an intense week of classes.
– camp at Red Willow Bible Camp. Pastor Sherri and I each spent a week at camp. We both enjoyed our time away while still being near enough to get back when needed. Sherri so much that she is back this week for wilderness training
– we’ve had numerous baptisms, weddings and funerals. All cause for celebrating life that is truly a gift from God.
– Pastor Sherri and I ventured to the International Peace Garden last week and even made a quick side trip to see Lake Metigoshe (since we were so close). Two places I had never seen before and it was a beautiful day!
– worship continues, with us doing sermon series. We started with Ruth and are wrapping up Wisdom (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) tonight. We will reflect on spiritual gifts once before switching back to lectionary
– parish worship this Sunday. Come and join us at RWBC for worship that includes communion, a baptism, blessing of the quilts made in our parish, and fellowship time! If you want a ride, please contact others from your church or your pastors

Pastor Kara at RWBC

So I am blessed this week to be the Pastor of the Week at RWBC.
Yes, it’s not far from my permanent address, but in many ways it might as well be on another continent.
I’m here for AMP! Camp, which is the camp dedicated to high schoolers. It’s a small yet amazing group of teenagers who are excited to be at camp and see familiar faces they meet during previous trips to camp.
But I’m not staff, so I get to do my own thing as well.
Like skipping some of their activities to go kayaking with Becky/Nellie (if you call the camp, she’s the person you are most likely to speak with).
Or sitting around talking instead of going to crafts.
Or catching up on emails and summer worship planning instead of partaking in “Tie-Dye Tuesday”
But I make sure to attend worship times and Bible studies, hikes and time on the water.
This has been relaxing, yet also quite the workout.
I’m doing lots of walking up and down hills, been kayaking, and walking my dog a few times a day.
It’s relaxing when the birds are loud and the squirrels are everywhere.

Here is a picture from on the water last evening:
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