The sermon text for this morning is Mark 7:24-30 (The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith) and the following is the prayer I wrote to precede the message. Let us pray together…
God of glory and wonder, we seek you this morning as dogs unworthy of even a morsel of your grace from your holy banquet table.
We scavenge this life for self-fulfilling food while ignoring the fact that you have sent Jesus to give us the bread of life. We ravage others of dignity through selfish pursuits.
But holy God, you don’t turn your backs on us. You don’t withhold the glorious morsels of your grace. You don’t treat us as the dogs we are.
Rather, you wait for us and offer your forgiveness.
Loving God, may we curl up in the arms of your grace and bask in the glow of your love. May we be filled with the Bread of Life and may we find all we desire in you. Heal us of pride. Restore us to Life. Strengthen us to live a life of repentance.
All glory to you, holy Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May this Lord’s Day bring glory to God as you offer your worship and praise; and while doing so, I pray that the Word take root in your hearts. May faith be created or strengthened. May you be send forth to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins. And may you be at peace as you cling to the hope of the resurrection.
As I reflect on my adoption journey I find myself feeling very thankful for the community of people around us.
Monday night we had an adoption fundraiser at the Pizza Ranch here in Jackson. The event was called “Tip Night”. How it works is that my wife and I received a percentage of the proceeds from dine in meals, deliveries and carry out orders starting at 4 pm…and the community turned out. My wife and I (along with a crew of wonderful friends), cleared off and cleaned tables, visited with people and provided adoption information. Our case worker was also in attendance helping us. A huge thank you to everyone who attended and helped us. Also…a huge thank you to the Pizza Ranch for doing this for us 🙂
We received just over $900 from proceeds and “tips” that people gave. That doesn’t included the money people gave us in the weeks proceeding this event. In a word…my wife and I were –> Overwhelmed.
Praise be to God!
Ever since we started this adoption process we have received so many well wishes, prayers, financial support and other displays of love. We have said over and over how blessed we feel to live in such a caring community with such wonderful friends. The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child“. Well…we are blessed to be living in this “village”.
And now…we anxiously await the birth of our daughter.
That’s right…a girl…due March 1. The call could come at any time. But we also know a lot can happen. Nothing is final right now. The one thing we do know is that God is faithful and that God is in control. If this adoption falls through we will be sad, disappointed, etc…but…we know God will continue to guide us in this process. In the mean time we pray for this birth mother and her baby. We pray for her family. But most of all we pray that God’s will be done and that we may have the eyes of faith to see that because in the end, glorying God is what matters.
Loving God, you have blessed my wife and I with a wonderful family; caring and supportive friends, and a caring and supportive “village”. Thank you for showing love through all these avenues. In Jesus name, Amen!
Yesterday the congregation I serve celebrated the 5 year anniversary of my ordination (which is on July 2). There was a special recognition of this occasion during worship in addition to a number of other surprises my wife and others cooked up (and let me tell you…as a pastor who is used to leading worship, it was a little uncomfortable not knowing what was going on in worship…but I still really enjoyed and appreciated what they did). Connie’s very musical family was there to provide special music and brass accompaniment during the hymns and offering. My mom read scripture and the church presented me with a gift. After worship there was a cake/coffee reception for me (something the community was invited to, along with worship). These were all things I was truly unworthy of, but it was nice to experience this affirmation of my call here. I feel incredibly blessed for God has done amazing things here through all of us.
So many people were involved to help make this a special day and they tried so hard to keep things from me (which was tough considering we live and serve in a small town and small congregation), but they did a great job. So if you are one of those people reading this…THANK YOU!…yesterday will be a day I will always remember and treasure. But the main we all need to remember (and something that people highlighted yesterday) is that through it all…in everything that happens good and bad…PRAISE BE TO GOD!
Thank you to Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches and to the community of Jackson. Connie and I are very happy to be part of these communities. PRAISE BE TO GOD!
I had a neat thing happen to me while serving Communion this past Sunday. As people come forward I typically serve the bread and one of my deacons serves the wine. For those who have not been instructed or for those who choose not to receive the bread and wine, I offer a blessing. In this case it is typically children younger than 5th grade.
On Sunday I was serving communion as usual and offering a word of blessing for the children. For the blessing I place my hand on the person’s forehead and say, “The Lord guides you as a sheep of his own pasture.” And while making the sign of the cross on their forehead I say, “You are a beloved child of God“. On Sunday I gave this blessing to a child but when the adult behind this certain child approached me to receive the bread she said, “I want that” (referring to the blessing). She wasn’t refusing the bread…she just wanted both. So I gave her the bread and then gave her the blessing. She walked away with a big smile on her face.
I will never forget that phrase…”I want that“…it still makes smile 🙂 …and gives me hope. There are still people that desire to have God’s blessing on their lives. There are still people that value the words of promise that Jesus offers us. There are still people that want God’s guidance. Watching the news I sometimes wonder if allegiances are shifting from a dependence on God to a dependence on government. I don’t want to politicize a beautiful moment from worship but these are things that are weighing heavy on my heart recently.
Let’s, as a people of God, announce and proclaim a blessing upon all our leaders, hoping they are faithful to God’s call and responsive to God’s guidance. Let’s announce and proclaim a blessing upon ALL people who are searching for meaning.
I look forward to our next communion service. I look forward to inviting people to receive a blessing and I look forward to seeing how many people respond. In the mean time…I hold my hand out and say “The Lord guides YOU as a sheep of his own pasture” <making the sign of the cross> “YOU are a beloved child of God, Amen”
Once again I am late in getting my Christmas lists off to the various members of my family. For the most part Connie has it almost done on the computer but we just haven’t finished looking it over one last time. As is the case every year, I feel little guilty sending it off. And now with our economy officially in a recession I feel even more guilty. Maybe people should just save their money or put it to more worthy causes. Frankly…I would be happy if people bought a flock of chickens through Heifer International in my name. At least that way someone else would benefit as I continue to be blessed here. And I am indeed blessed…what more could I possibly want. I have a loving wife…a great family…awesome friends…I live in a wonderful community serving a caring congregation…and I could go on. God has blessed Connie and me and for that I am thankful.
But there is still that side of me that wants a couple DVD movies and some more music CDs. I would like some new shirts/sweaters and other things that only my wife and mom seem to now that I need (I don’t know how they do it every year…I guess they pay attention).
So Connie and I will email our list off to our family tonight (did you catch that mom…it’s coming tonight). We will make suggestions on what we would like, but in the end Christmas is about spending time with family and friends; counting the blessings that we have already received and continue to receive from God through Jesus Christ. We will continue to buy presents for our family and friends and look forward to their expressions as they open their gifts. But one thing I do ask and pray…and that is that we do not lose focus. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and thanking God for the life that came with him.
May God continue to richly bless you in every way as you live in the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.