June 2nd, 2021

June 2nd, 2021

ps from ps… Last weekend, Michelle and I got away with a couple good friends to the Allegheny National Forest in PA.  And when I say away, I mean our cell phones went out of service and then we drove and kayaked another 18 miles into the woods.  Off.  The.  Grid.  Just some hammocks, hiking shoes, kayaks and food.

It was needed.  And it was beautiful.  And it was healing.  “And you will find rest for your soul.”

It happened to be a few “extra demanding” days before, but that wasn’t the reason it was so healing.  It was healing because it was a time for self-care, adventure, quiet and space.  Those are four things that often get pushed out of our dailyness.   And those four things helped me reconnect to the beauty of the world, my wife/friends and God’s creation that is right around me all the time.

It’s always interesting to me when I’m first in the woods how many times per hour I reach to check my phone.  Even though I know it doesn’t work where I am.  “My phone” is sort of a symbol for me of focusing on “everyone else’s everything” instead of just being mindful and in the present moment.  

Our gospel this weekend starts: “Jesus went home; and the crowd came together again so that Jesus and the disciples could not even eat.”   Jesus didn’t have a phone but he did often get pulled into everyone else’s everything.  Maybe he was heading home to reconnect with family, to go for a leisurely hike, to have some of his mom’s cooking or to rest from his ministry?  Who knows.  Yet we do know that the demands of the world were constantly in his face and needing his goodness and his god-ness.  

Is your ministry demanding right now?  Is everyone else’s everything pulling at you so hard that you can barely eat?  Have you given yourself time of rest?  Time to reconnect?  Time to heal?

Then, get in your woods!  It doesn’t have to be the National Forest.  It doesn’t have to be kayaks and hikes.  But it should be time and space just to be present, care for yourself and allow the recognition of God right there with you to wash over you again.

This summer at St. Paul’s, I want to pay special attention to that – resting in God.  I want to allow more space in worship to just be in God’s space.  Even at church, we get to rushing around and cramming things in and missing out on the rest/sabbath/healing component of worship.  This summer we will open ourselves up to worship differently.  I would encourage you to come to church at St. Paul’s, or wherever you worship, with a mindfulness toward rest.  Toward space.  Toward recovery.  Toward inspiration.  Set your intentions to be with God.

Your ministry can be demanding at times: your work, your parenting, your caring for your parents, your battling illness, your showing compassion, your mission pulling at you so much that you can barely eat.

Get in the woods.  For a couple days.  For an hour at lunch.  For an early morning walk.  For a phone call to a trusted friend.  For a time of worship in community.

And you will find rest for your soul.

Lord, help me to rest in you.  Amen

Still in One Peace,
May 26th, 2021

May 26th, 2021

ps from ps… Ever been through a power failure?  They are fun and exhilarating…until they aren’t.  
In all the storm induced power failures I’ve been a part of, I really prefer the short ones that happen in the summer.  Like 24 hours is perfect.  Just enough time to get creative with cooking and lighting and not lose everything in your freezer and refrigerator.  It’s the ones that last 4-7 days at 35 degrees outside that test your patience and nerves, along with tempting you to look around at your family and start to ponder who you will eat first if you run out of food.  (Not that this has ever happened…much)
When the power doesn’t work though, you have to have a secondary source.  Like generators.  Or solar.  Or candles.  Or propane stove.  You need to switch over, especially when things are extra challenging.
And this is what Paul was telling the church in Rome.  You can no longer operate by the flesh (human thinking, self-ish thoughts), but instead live in the spirit (God-centered thoughts and movements).  In other words, he was telling them to switch power sources, especially when things got tough and decisions became harder and circumstances were more demanding.  Be God-centered and not human-motivated.
When it’s easy, it’s easy right?  When the normal power is flowing and we’re not pressed, we’re at our best…hopefully.  But when things are more demanding (read: needing to forgive one another, battling prejudice thoughts or actions, welcoming those who are different than us, reaching out to the family member whose lifestyle we don’t agree with, sharing our blessings with those that aren’t as fortunate, etc), we need to switch power sources.  
And the beautiful thing is, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God invites us to do just that.  Living as God’s missionary in the world becomes a perpetual process of switching over.  Time and time again.
What situation in your life today is calling for that power source change?
I hope you have a beautiful transition into summer.  I hope on many levels you don’t lose your power…kinda.  However, I hope you do switch your power source from flesh to spirit in any and all circumstances.  
God gives us the opportunity and Paul invites us into it!  May our summer be powered by this Source.

Lord, be my power source this summer.  Amen

Still in One Peace,

“PS from PS” update:  Written devotions will be a bit sporadic through May.  May will be some creative time for a new offering: Digital Audio Guided Devotions.  These audio guided dofferings, created by PS and engineered by Andrew Gruszka, St. Paul’s new Director of Digital Ministry, are designed to be used on 30 minute walks or runs over the summer.  As you “abide” this summer, Steve wants to invite you to be more and more active and allow your faith journey and devotional time to sync up with your activity time.  So, we’ll test run several by the end of May and send you links to try them out.
May 5th, 2021

May 5th, 2021

ps from ps… What does it look like to “abide?”  I imagine it looks a lot like Billy on my bed every morning.  After sleeping from 10pm-7am, he awaits us letting him out, making him breakfast (read: pouring food in a bowl) and heading off to work so he can return to my bed and sink into the comfort, quiet and warm embrace of the most expensive dog’s bed known to man.

Maybe that’s what abiding looks like?  Maybe that’s what Jesus is inviting us into?

Two weeks in a row in church life we hear Jesus’ invitation to “abide in him.”  It’s a simple invitation, which also includes a lot of pronoun confusion of “I in him and him in me and you in us and one for all and all for one” or something like that.  Don’t get confused and lost in that though.  It’s actually a pretty simple invitation.  

Abide – I love the third definition of the word – “continue without fading or being lost.”  That’s a pretty great invitation right?  Not only from a comfy bed for a dog like Bill, but from a Savior for a missionary like you!  From a rabbi/teacher for a student like you!  From a guide for a journeyer like you!  From a healer for one in need of healing like you!  From a Shepherd for a sheep like you!  

We’ve all felt “lost” at some point.  We’ve all felt like faith has “faded” at another point.  And maybe you’re at one of these points right now?  

Well if you are, there’s an invitation that maybe we need to hear two…or three…or four weeks in a row.  It comes from the warm, quiet embrace of Jesus today.  “Abide in me.”  

It’s an invitation of grace, compassion and welcome for someone just like you!

Lord, thank you for your invitation to abide.  Amen

Still in One Peace,

“PS from PS” update:  Written devotions will be a bit sporadic through May.  May will be some creative time for a new offering: Digital Audio Guided Devotions.  These audio guided dofferings, created by PS and engineered by Andrew Gruszka, St. Paul’s new Director of Digital Ministry, are designed to be used on 30 minute walks or runs over the summer.  As you “abide” this summer, Steve wants to invite you to be more and more active and allow your faith journey and devotional time to sync up with your activity time.  So, we’ll test run several by the end of May and send you links to try them out.
April 14th, 2021

April 14th, 2021

ps from ps….A few weeks ago, I wrote about nicknames.  Specifically, some that were given to Jesus.  Savior, prophet, messiah, teacher, etc.

But today I wonder about our nicknames again because of an interaction that happened after Easter in a locked up house with the disciples.  The disciples were gathered up.  Jesus shows up on scene.  But Thomas was missing.  So after they tell him what happened, Thomas says: I really need to see this to believe it.

And BOOM: Nickname cometh!  From this moment henceforth you shall be deemed – Doubting Thomas!!

And that’s how we’ve referred to this poor guy for generations.  

One wrong move.  One slip up.  One honest comment about the struggle of faith.  One bad take while a guy is mired in grief.  And now his nickname is Doubting Thomas.

Be careful what you say today!  You might have a new name forever!

I was just talking to some friends about nicknames.  The wife of a classmate of mine is hiking the Appalachian Trail as I type (she’s at mile 200 of 2010 or something crazy like that).  But she’s a fast hiker.  Both fast pace and larger number of miles.  So the nickname she received on the trail: Roadrunner.  

When you reflect on the disciples that Jesus called to follow and then sent out to begin the movement, what other types of nicknames would they receive on their trail?  Doubter, Thief, Selfish One, Betrayer, Rule Follower.  And still Jesus called them and loved them!

What nickname will you receive today on your trail?

I hope that you give yourself a little break today on the hike.  I hope that you show yourself a little grace today.  I hope that when you reflect on the Biblical story, you’ll see your own imperfect and yet loved/called face in that scriptural mirror.  I hope that you know that the nicknames can’t define and override who you really are.  I hope you’ll remember that you aren’t who you are at your worst moment.  I hope that you remember that your original nickname is Child of God.  And that each week we gather in worship you should hear your current name of Forgiven – Loved – Graced.

Lord, help me to define myself by the name you give me.  Amen
 Still in One Peace
March 24th, 2021

March 24th, 2021

ps from ps… How many thresholds have you already walked through today?  Doors?  Transitions?  I bet more than you think!  And I bet you barely noticed.

I mean think of your morning.  Mine went like this: bedroom to bathroom to bedroom to hallway to stairs to dining room to kitchen to coffee pot.  Eight thresholds before I even got my first cup of coffee.  This clearly explains why I didn’t most of them!

Door, thresholds and transitions take us from one thing to the other, one place to the other, one room to the other.  From home to car to work to lunch to work again to car to home to dinner to random sporting event on tv and back to bed again.  Some days we blitz through them so fast, we barely notice a thing.  Think through your day already today…how many did you walk through?

The door that we walk through this coming weekend is the threshold and transition between Lent and Holy Week.  And Jesus DOES NOT want those who were there the first time, and those that are going through it this time, to miss it.  He’s been going toward the cross since he came through the door in the stable into a manger.  However, many on that first Palm Sunday are just noticing the threshold themselves.  

“Get the donkey so they notice.”  Cue the Palms!!  Make it obvious!!  But even when they noticed, they didn’t fully understand the threshold they were in.  “Hosanna.  Hosanna!”  But that’s not what Jesus was there to do.  

Jesus knew the door through which he was walking.  And he knew the threshold it would allow to open for us.

Did you notice THAT doorway today?  As we move toward Palm Sunday again, will you realize the depth of what this transition holds?

Notice the doorways today.  The ones you’ve been through, the ones you’re about to enter and, of course, the one Jesus opened for us all.

Lord, thanks for the important door being open for us all.  Help me notice!  Amen

Still in One Peace,
March 17th, 2021

March 17th, 2021

ps from ps… This is my friend and colleague Lee Miller (pictured above).  When he’s not being the lead pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran or Dean of a group of Lutheran churches or a husband or dad, he’s running.  Running with a purpose.  Running for self-care.  

Now some would say, myself included, that he looks a lot like Forrest Gump when he does….

but that is not his intent either.  His intent is simply to make sure that there is enough time in the day for self-care, prayer and reflection.

He started at the beginning of the pandemic and just kept it going everyday.  Here’s what he said yesterday as his streak went to 365 straight days.

“One year ago I began this running streak committing myself to 30 minutes of #selfcare each day of the pandemic and inviting you to #loveyourself with a little bit of daily exercise, too. Remember when we only thought this would last a few weeks? 365 days later I’m still running. I’ve gone through three pairs of shoes and have run the same day as a colonoscopy and a root canal (not the same day.) I hope you can take time to care for yourself as we continue to take time to #loveoneanother. I acknowledge that I run with privilege and so on my runs I remember #ahmaudarbery and many more. Let’s keep on #runningtherace until we can all be together again. What’s your preferred form of self-care?”

Wow.  One full year of running everyday.  One full year of self-care.  One full year of giving himself time for reflection and centering each day.

As we move through Lent, I invite you to start or restart that self-care for yourself….that reflection, meditation, centering and prayer time for yourself.  Your Self!  You deserve that time to bless and re-bless what God has created!  Walking.  Running.  Counting steps.  Movement.  Yoga.  Silence.  Sitting with your coffee.  Reading.  Whatever it might be, take it for you and for your time to reconnect with God.  (I do highly encourage you to merge your meditation/prayer with your movement, if you haven’t already, to be able to bless your body, mind and soul all at once.)

So today, whether it’s Day 1 or Day 366, run, you, run!  (Catch the Forrest Gump reference there?)  Whatever it is, take the time for your Self.

Lord, thanks for blessing my Self.  Help me stay connected to it and you!  Amen

Still in One Peace,