The chorus of creation makes the most beautiful music under the direction of the Director; perfect music for a weary soul.
I sit down and the concert begins; shielding me from the noise out there, giving peace to my noisy heart. I sigh a happy smile, and enjoy.
The Director leads the way, cueing every sound. Soon I’m lost in perfect harmonies, the world out there is forgotten. But soon a person jogs by and startles me away from the creation chorus, my heart races, but I quickly reengage the concert. Again I am lost, and my heart is calm.
Birds sing their melodies. The wind adds its part. The trees applaud with joy. The flow of the river keeps everything together.
The Director’s composition is perfect. Nothing did He miss.
As I stand to reenter the world; I applaud, praising the Director. I am ready now, ready to reenter the world, with a heart that is at peace.
On Sunday, I got to lead worship and preach at this little church in Elbe, WA; Historic Elbe Evangelical Lutheran Church. What a neat place and what an incredible privilege and honor to be invited.
~ This is not a mega-church
~ There are no projection screens inside
~ There was no fancy multi-colored bulletin
~ There was no loud worship band
Just people, from different congregations, worshiping our awesome God; people who traveled a distance to get to this beautiful part of our beautiful state.
This worship service brought me back to my roots; back to SW MN. I grew up in a small town but in a large church. I eventually moved to a larger town but served in two small churches; one being a small county congregation. Even though I love serving where I do; at Living Word Lutheran Church, is was nice to reminisce with myself and be reminded of an important aspect of the local church.
You see, the size of a church does not equate ministry success. Too many people think that if you have a small church then there’s something wrong. Hogwash. It’s not quantity but rather quality, and I humbly believe quality is what we had on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t because of me but rather the Spirit working through me and the many volunteers that are responsible for this little church in the mountains. There is a reason that this church in Elbe is still operating. There is a reason that people come here on Sunday afternoons to worship. The Spirit is alive here.
So thank you to those volunteers and for the opportunity to worship with you. I hope to be able to come back again sometime. May God continue to bless the ministry of the Historic Elbe Evangelical Lutheran Church.
To anyone who says there is no God; that we are just a cosmic accident; or that life/creation just happened, I say hogwash. Check out God’s handiwork from today:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalms 8 (ESV)
This pastor is officially installed. My wife giggles at this because it sounds like I’m an appliance or something.
I just nod and smile 🙂
In any case, I have been installed as the Senior Pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in Puyallup, WA; a LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) congregation serving in the south Puget Sound area. And what a blessing it is to be here serving with these brothers and sisters in Christ. It was definitely God thing that my family and I got connected to this congregation. Yesterday was also special because my good friend, Pastor Dan Taylor, flew out from Iowa to preach and preside at my installation. We began serving our first calls in the same small MN town at around the same time (2 months apart and at different churches) nearly 12 years ago. It was fun to serve with him then and a joy to spend time with him this past weekend; listening to him share the Word of Christ with my new congregation.
And now, as I sit here writing this, I am beginning my 3rd week at Living Word. I am learning more and more names. I am learning the rhythms of the congregation. I am learning the lay of the land. And I am even starting to get used to city life; and that is a huge leap for the small town, rural Minnesota boy. I remember not so long ago saying that I would never ever live in a city.
(cue the chuckling)
Evidence, right there, that God has a sense of humor. I imagine God smiling when I was talking like that, but I am glad God took this small town boy out of his element and placed me somewhere outside my comfort zone. It forces me to fall back and rely on God even more because at times I am scared silly. Driving back from the airport last night in Seattle, I remember thinking, “Wow, everything moves so fast“. But God didn’t place me out here to abandon me, but rather to do something amazing. And for that I am excited. I just hope I never get comfortable here, so much so, that I cease relying on God to guide and strengthening me.
And so I look forward to learning more of what God is up to here. I look forward to getting to know people better and better. I look forward to seeing amazing things. And I look forward to more restlessness as God continues to place his hand upon me as He continues to put me at ease.
Oh God, may I always be restless but yet cling to you. Amen.
You may have noticed a lack of activity here recently. That is due to the fact that we have been packing and getting ready for a new call in Puyallup, WA. Yesterday (Fri, May 27) we arrived in Puyallup and today we unload. Tomorrow (May 29) is my first Sunday. I will be back at it soon, posting as usual. I do miss writing but it just became difficult with the transition.
So in the meantime, may God bless you as you prepare to worship our awesome God tomorrow.
I am thankful God brought us safely here through some difficult driving through two mountain ranges pulling a trailer.
It is Monday (or it WAS Monday…since I wrote this yesterday and am finishing this post today) and I am back in the office. As you know from my last post my wife and I were out in Washington visiting my internship congregation. It was such a relaxing time…visiting with friends, hiking, shopping, eating AWESOME seafood, gazing at the beautiful scenery and spending time with my wife. It was just what the doctor ordered.
So now…as I sit here in my office…I am feeling refreshed (never mind feeling overwhelmed yesterday morning trying to catch up); ready to get back into the swing of things:
I am ready to get back to the craft of preaching.
I am ready to write some lesson plans.
I am ready to begin getting caught up with people here.
I am ready to begin planning the end of the program year.
I am ready to lead this congregation once again.
I am ready to breath the air of SW MN once again with a renewed sense of ministry.
I am ready…
I have talked with people who think vacations are not a priority; that they are a waste of time and money (especially in our struggling economy now days), but I do not regret spending the money I did these past two weeks. I do not regret it because I feel blessed and since that is the case I need to take care of myself and my wife. I need to be able to continue the ministry God has given me to do. And I am ready once again to take on the challenges that are ahead and for that I give thanks and praise to God.
So with that I must move forward…because…I am now ready.
I know I said that I would be back here until April 27 but I decided to pop back in and share with you where I am at right now.
This morning my wife and I woke up on Fir Island; 5 miles south of Mount Vernon, Washington. Fir Island is an island that is formed by the splitting of the Skagit river as both forks drain into the Puget Sound. This is also the place where I spent a wonderful year of my life doing my internship at Fir-Conway Lutheran Church. In about an hour I will be at the church building to see people…and taking a little trip back into time.
Before I go forward anymore I should be a little more specific about my waking up this morning. When I got up I went into the kitchen and got some coffee. I proceeded out onto the deck where a magnificent view was waiting for me; one created by God to welcome me to Washington. As I sipped my coffee I peered straight ahead and caught a view of Mount Rainier…and what a sight it was. It has to be a clear day up here before you can see that majestic mountain from here. After a couple breathtaking moments I moved my gaze to the left where I caught the beginning the the sun’s approach over the Cascade Mountains that are just miles from my current location. After a few moments recalling the many times I got to experiences views of the Cascades I shifted my gaze to the right where the Olympic Mountains were waiting to greet me. What a sight they are as well. I stood on the deck sipping my coffee; being greeted by this wonderful creation and gave thanks to our God for His awesomeness and faithfulness…and for my little trip back into time.
I say that this is a trip back into time because as I sit here I am reminded of all the things I learned while here; things I still employ in my ministry now:
(1) Monthly recognition of baptismal anniversaries.
(2) My sermon prep routine that my supervisor taught me; a routine that has served me well for 5 + years.
(3) Basic self care practices.
(4) The affirmation that God, family and self come before council meetings, committee meetings and other last night church events that “need” you there.
…and there are more “little” things that I won’t get into here. In any case I am very thankful for my time here and I am very thankful that I get to come and visit for a few days.
I am not sure if I will be back here before I return next week, but if I am not have a wonderful week and I look forward to sharing some pictures from this beautiful corner of God’s creation.