Tag Archives: mission

Which are you?

This morning I worship with our youth group at Highland Lutheran Church in Denver Colorado. We heard a perfect sermon for the beginning of our mission trip on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Pastor Dena Williams asked us who we are in the story.

Are we the lawyer, the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan or possibly the innkeeper?  Many of us like to think that we are a Samaritan willing to help others. She reminded us that Samaritans were marginalized, foreign, mostly hated people.  Is that really how we see ourselves?

Yes sometimes we are people who give help but we can just as easily be the broken person, beaten up and left for dead on the side of the road. We can be beaten up in so many ways: job loss, broken relationships, mental illness, chronic pain. We can give aid but we also at times need to receive aid.

As the youth of Resurrection prepare to serve in Denver I pray that we may be as open to receiving aid and love as to giving comfort and care. We seek to trust Jesus, the storyteller, to give us our proper role.

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Racing with St. Patrick

Today we celebrate one of God’s great saints.

There will be a variety of St. Patrick Day celebrations, including road races. Many of the races will feature post-race celebrations, including green alcohol.

It has always been curious to me that a day dedicated to an evangelist and missionary should become the focus of such drinking and carousing. Not that I am against parties, since I can  enjoy post-race celebrations very much. But when people think of St. Patrick they seem to focus on the Patrick and not the Saint.

But that is even more curious, since St. Patrick was born in England, captured by Irish raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland. After serving as a shepherd for six years, he escaped and made his way back to England. During this adventure, he had a conversion to Christianity and he felt the call to preach the faith to (surprise!) the Irish people. He studied for the priesthood in France but was not a very good student. His superiors did not want him to go, but still he went. He preached all over Ireland, making converts and founding monasteries. He became a great hero, not only for Ireland, but for the Christian faith.

In his confession he wrote, “If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation, and most willingly, for his name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor. I am deeply in his debt, for he gave me the great grace that through me many people would be reborn in God, and then made perfect by confirmation, one people gathered by the Lord.”

St. Patrick reminds me of St. Paul.  St. Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). St. Patrick, like St. Paul, ran the good race. Maybe we should try to run like him.

Lord Jesus, teach me to run the race of life with you and your saints.

Holy Spirit Business

Holy Spirit comes to work

I am preparing for my first annual congregational meeting at Resurrection Lutheran which will be this Sunday.  Annual meetings among pastors often have the reputation either of being boring, business-as-usual constitutional necessities or of being highly emotional and conflicted debates on peripheral or personality issues.   As a pastor, I don’t want either extreme to happen, but I do pray that the Holy Spirit comes to work: to coax, push, pull and move the congregation towards God’s future.  Discussion regarding a congregation’s priorities can be passionate and yet loving, for we share a common mission to trust, live and serve God.

The book of Acts has a lengthy account of a large church meeting in Jerusalem.  Paul and Barnabas brought a major concern to the whole church for discussion and debate.   Their concern was whether new Gentile members to the church had to fully convert to Judaism before they could embrace Jesus.  Since most of the early members of the church were Jewish and since Jesus was a Jew, many believed that Jewish laws should be upheld.  Paul felt otherwise and a strong debate developed among the leadership of the church.  What rules and regulations, if any, were needed?  After a lengthy debate, the leadership wrote a letter to the many new Gentile believers,  “It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from fornication” (Acts 15:28-29).  What stands out is that they trusted the Holy Spirit to be part of the discussion.  This was a matter of faith, since the Holy Spirit did not fly into the meeting like a dove and deliver a telegram from heaven.  It was in the discussion itself that God’s Spirit worked.

I think every pastor hopes and prays that the Holy Spirit would be the key partner in any congregational meeting. The Holy Spirit is neither boring, nor highly emotional, but is trustworthy.   The Spirit calls us to trust God in all things.   That seems good to me!

How has the Spirit worked in guiding you and your life with other Christians?