June 18th, 2024

June 18th, 2024

ps from ps “Across the South, we’ve had a deep appreciation of history.  We just haven’t had a deep appreciation of one another’s history.” – Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.

On June 17th, 2015, Rev. Pinckney and eight others were gunned down by Dylan Roof at church, after they welcomed Dylan into their Wednesday Bible study..

President Obama quoted Rev. Pinckney in his eulogy at the church a few days after.  He was encouraging those who were in attendance, and those who were listening, to work harder at listening to those unlike us and sharing God’s amazing grace with them.

I think we could still use the reminder today.

As we move through the anniversary of the Emanuel Nine in Charleston yesterday and Juneteenth tomorrow, it’s abundantly important that we don’t just honor and respect our own history or the parts of history we like, but most importantly, we honor the history of others.  And it takes grace to do that.

This amazing grace could be lived out in many ways this week.  

Maybe we do like Jesus did and stand with someone on the margins of life?

Maybe we learn more about the Emanuel Nine (the 2019 movie on Amazon is VERY good) and remember that Dylan Roof grew up in a Lutheran Church!?

Maybe we stop by Freedom Park in Buffalo or the Underground Railroad Museum there or in Niagara Falls and reflect on the journey that so many made to search from freedom…and yet still had to cross the raging Niagara River?

Maybe we just pray for healing in ourselves and for an open heart?

How can you have a deeper understanding of someone else’s history and journey?  

How can we live out that amazing grace? .

Lord, help me to listen to others’ stories and share your grace  Amen

(For President Obama’s full 37 minute eulogy/sermon, you can view it here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRvBzzR5tdA. It’s a better sermon than I’ve ever preached!) 

Still in One Peace,

ps from ps

ps from ps 
What are you waiting for?

Often when we ask this question, we’re wanting an answer from ourselves or someone else.  And we’re wanting it quickly!  Generally, we like answers asap.

This week, we were shooting some worship services for Church Unleashed at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center.  We decided to do the endings of some of our services around a campfire, much like we do during an actual camp programming day.  

So Pastor Roger left to head to the Council Ring to get the fire started while we finished up some other parts of the services.  When the pastors and crew arrived, the fire was staged and ready to go.  “Ok,” Roger said, “Here we go.”  And he put match to wood…on one of the strangest shaped fires we’d all ever seen.  

And we waited.  And we waited.

And we waited.

After many minutes and several jokes, one of our crew grabbed some extra paper and placing it in the fire, ignited a beautiful blazing campfire.

What are you waiting for?  And can you wait patiently just a little longer so that the extra help and ignition might come along?

Jesus tells a parallel about a sower that went out to sow and he threw the seed extravagantly everywhere he walked.  Some fell on good soil and some fell on rocks and road.  Some ignited with growth and some just smoldered.  

However, even the seeds that fell on the best places needed some help.  And they needed some time.  And space.  And air.  And water.  And sunlight.  And God’s nurturing creation to do its thing!  

Maybe we need that time too.  And that space.  And the nurturing.  And the extra paper.  And God’s process of faithful waiting to yield a beautiful crop.

What are you waiting for?

As you wait today, can you give it a little more time?  Can you allow for more space that God could come along with a little “extra” to fuel the ignition?  Can you hold out and not rush God’s nurturing?  

That sower is throwing seed extravagantly for you today.  May we give God time.

Lord, please help me be patient and assist with lighting the fire.  Amen 

Still in One Peace,
June 5th, 2024

June 5th, 2024

ps from ps 

It’s so close.  You can almost see it.  Taste it.  

The last day of school!  

When I was a full time student, I was completely locked in and focused until the final bell each June.  Ready, attentive and prepared for every question and test.  Sort of.  Not really.

I do wish we had more stories of what it was like when Jesus was teaching on the mount, or at the lake shore, or in the temple and hear more about the level of “focus” from the disciples.  Were they locked in all the time?  Sort of.  Not really.

I mean we can see when they often reply and missed Jesus’ teachable moment completely.  “Turn the hungry away Lord. THere’s too many.”  “Not that one Jesus.  He’s from Samaria.”  “Keep away from her.  She been around the block.”

And yet Jesus keeps working on them.

And yet Jesus keeps working on us.

I give thanks that Jesus, through God’s living Word and the Holy Spirit, keeps that work up.  I give thanks for the teachers, staff and leaders at our schools that do the same thing.  

Summer is almost here.  And so is the end of school.  Reach out to school staff, teachers and professors and thank them for their continued work and upcoming rest.  The last day of school is close.

But not for our discipleship.  That education powers on!  Give thanks with me that the Holy Spirit continues on with us, in our study, work and rest.  May your summer be filled with moments to be locked in and focused on God’s love and calling for you
Lord, keep the teaching up!  Thank you!.  Amen 

Still in One Peace,
May 29th, 2024

May 29th, 2024

ps from ps 
“Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath; therefore the Son of Man is Lord even on the sabbath.” – Jesus, to the Pharisees that were trying to trip him up in Mark’s gospel

Sabbath.  Sunday for us Christians.  Or Saturday maybe.  

The time isn’t as important as the space.  And the intention.  And the community around you.  And the God who gifted you with it and will meet you in it.

My dad is going to preach with me this weekend.  It’s like “Bring Your Dad to Work Day.”  It’s his 60th Anniversary of his ordination so we thought we’d do a thing together.  

He was always a big stickler for Sunday morning.  That was the sabbath.  As a kid, it was church and not much else.  No buying gas or going to the store.  I recall him saying: “People shouldn’t have to work on Sundays”…which was fairly ironic because he was working on Sundays and now I do too.  

But is it really the day or time that’s the key factor?  Because Jesus never does pick out his favorite Sunday service start time.  What does does give us comes from this verse:

1.  We are given a gift to take some sabbath- reconnections, rest, restoration, recreation – time with God and community.
2.  We shouldn’t assume that it’s only one way/one time/my-way-or-the-highway or then we’re as bad the Pharisees that were accusing Jesus back then.
3.  Whenever we intentionally take it, we will see and feel God there.

Life is challenging now.  Culture is demanding.  Priorities pull us in multiple directions.

Jesus just wants us to know we are God’s priority.  And that God invites us to give that relationship with Jesus and others in the church to spend time each week for reconnection, rest, restoration and recreation.  

What can that space look like for you?

Lord, help me focus on keeping some sabbath with you.  Amen 

Still in One Peace,
May 22nd, 2024

May 22nd, 2024

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ps from ps 

I’ve settled in at about a 37% pass rate for the “I’m Not A Robot” test.  Who knew that bicycles and stop lights would be such a problem?  Or maybe I really am becoming a robot?

Anything ever make you question who you really are?  Or maybe tougher yet, ever question who God really is?

This weekend we celebrate Holy Trinity Weekend.  It’s the weekend in the church year where the pastor has the greatest percentage possibility to over theologize a sermon and completely confuse everyone.  Good luck at St. Paul’s Kristen!!

However, it’s actually a gift.  Because it’s mainly just a reminder that God is big and multiple personalities.  And that’s not from a tough mental health diagnosis perspective.  That’s from a God wants you to know and experience God in many and various ways perspective.  

How’s this: Essentially God is one of those “I Am Not A Robot” quizzes but every box (all three of them) is one aspect of God and all checked boxes are correct!

Ok, maybe that’s a reach.  

I’m just trying to remind you that God as Creator, Savior and Guide really loves you a ton and wants you to be able to access that God-ness love in a bunch of ways.

That’s all.  

Or maybe that’s what the robot wants.  

Either way, that’s the deal.  Happy Holy Trinity Weekend!

Lord, thanks for being so big that it hurts my head.  Amen 

Still in One Peace,
May 15th, 2024

May 15th, 2024

ps from ps 

I’m sitting on a train.  Next to my Dad.  And we’re going on a journey.  In fact, he might be reading over my shoulder.  Luckily, the font is so small he can’t read it.  (And for full disclosure, I can’t anymore either without readers)

We’re heading to Manhattan and Brooklyn, childhood home of one Chick Biegner.  He wanted to see everything over there one more time and isn’t able to travel there on his own..  (And for full disclosure, I probably shouldn’t be able to travel on my own anymore without my readers.)

I guess I’m here to help him have a good trip and see as many things as he wants to see.  I’m an advocate of sorts.

Not The Advocate.  Just an advocate.

This coming weekend, in church we remember when The Advocate arrived for the train trip the first time.  In Acts 2, the promised Advocate, the Holy Spirit, descends on the people and creates the church – and oh what a journey they are in for as they become the beginnings of the Church.

Jesus had been telling them – The Advocate is coming.  He’s going to come up beside you and journey with you.  Watch over you and care for you.  Lead you and guide you.  And stay with you!  God’s present and presence.  

And The Advocate never left.  Couple thousand years later, that same Advocate rides with me and my pops on a train to NYC.  That same Advocate rides with St. Paul’s.  That same Advocate meets us in community and the meal we gather around.  That same Advocate sits with you.

The Advocate doesn’t “take the wheel” or whatever the song says about Jesus.  Taking the wheel is our job.  But that Advocate that arrived on your train through your baptism will journey with you as you drive, sit in the passenger seat or let the conductor move you forward on the tracks.  Leading.  Guiding.  Caring.  Loving.

My dad and I do not travel alone today.  You do not make your trip alone.  You have an Advocate with you. God’s present and presence.  

Lord, thanks for being on the trip with me.  Amen 

Still in One Peace,