Monday, March 25, 2019

God's word shines like the sun.

March 24, 2019
3rd Sunday in Lent

Isaiah 55:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9

Please pray with me,
Gracious God, as you led the Israelites through the wilderness, as you were with Joseph and Mary as they journeyed to Bethlehem, and as you journeyed with Jesus to the cross….you are with us now.  Guide our hearts, minds and bodies on this Lenten journey.  Continue to turn us toward you, creating within us clean hearts, marking us with the cross, lighting our paths and guiding us every step of the way.  In Jesus’ name we pray amen.

On August 15, 1917, Oscar Romero was born.  At the age of one, he was baptized into the Catholic church.  With a full house with 5 brothers and sisters, as a young boy, Oscar was often found at the local church during his free time.  At age 13 he entered minor seminary and was then promoted to the national seminary in San Salvador; and completed his studies at the Gregorian University in Rome and was ordained in Rome on April 4, 1942. 

He served as a parish priest for over 20 years.  In 1977 he was appointed Archbishop of El Salvador.   He was appointed, some believe, because he would follow suit of his predecessors.  You see, on the one hand, some were afraid that his conservative reputation would negatively affect liberation theology’s commitment to the poor.  But on the other hand, those who appointed him did so in hopes that he would keep the status quo of the church agreeing with the rules and regulations of the state. 

These rules gave no hope or help to the poor in El Salvador.  The church seemed to support the government which stood up for and helped the rich, ignoring the vast growing number of poor people throughout the country. 

Shortly after his appointment, Romero presided at a friend’s funeral.  A priest who had been killed assassinated.  It was in that moment that Romero had a change of heart.

From that point forward, he was a voice for the poor.  He felt that the call of the gospel was to give a voice to the voiceless.  He spoke out against poverty, social injustice, assassinations and torture, issues that swarmed through El Salvador in the mist of the civil war they faced through the 1970s and 80s. 

Romero preached out in worship and through radio addresses.  He said, “I have frequently been threatened with death.  I must say that, as a Christian, I do not believe in death but in the resurrection.  If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.  Martyrdom is a great gift from God that I do not believe I have earned.  But if God accepts the sacrifice of my life, then my blood will be like the seed of liberty, and a sign of the hope that will soon become a reality.”

It was this day, March 24 in 1980 as he presided at a communion service in a small chapel that he was assassinated.  His voice and image lives on in the Salvadoran people and throughout the country itself. 

I found this quotation this week from him that I had not yet heard:

The word of God is like the light of the sun, it illuminates beautiful things
But also things which we would rather not see. 

It seems to fit with our gospel lesson this day as well as the general theme of Lent as a time of repentance.

We talk a lot about repentance.  The word for repentance in Greek, metanoia  means “to change one’s mind.” When we think about Lent as a time of repentance and returning back to God, it’s more than giving up chocolate or trying not to swear as much…its deeper than that.  It’s bigger than just us and our individual lives.  Not that giving up chocolate and not swearing are bad ideas, it’s just that the act of repentance is so much more than that. 

When we change or minds, or rather, have our minds changed by God, we are open to seeing the world around us in a brand-new way. 

When we hear God’s word, it lights up the world…we see all the beautiful things around us, but we also see things that have been hidden in the dark.  The call in the gospel of Luke to repentance is to see the world as Jesus sees the world..all lit up by God's word.  

And how does Jesus see the world in the gospel of Luke?  Luke’s teachings on discipleship emphasizes the preference for the poor. 

Jesus first public reading of scripture in the temple as a boy, he reads “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.” 

The refrain comes up again in the beatitudes, “woe to you who are rich.”

We hear the story about a very rich man and a very poor man, Lazarus, begging at his gates.  We are called to see the vast differences between the rich and the poor. 

We hear the story of Zacchaeus.  We see how we can change our ways to reach out to treat others fairly and support others in need. 
Not to mention, the story of the Good Samaritan, the tale where we learn to open our eyes and see those in our midst, in our community, our road who have been hurt and are in need of compassion, mercy and care. 

Because isn’t that our continued call to repentance this Lent and every day of our lives? 

We are continually called to turn away from selfish ways and actions to see our neighbors, our friends, our enemies and reach out in mercy, compassion, generosity and care. 

We are called to bear good fruit and to do it constantly. 

When we turn from our own selfish ways, when we change our minds, to see God’s world around us, we see it in a new way. 

We will see things that we have always seen…maybe for you it is the beauty of creation, the joy found in this community, the love found in families and friends. 

But, big BUT here, BUT, we will also see things that we’d rather not see. 
The harm inflicted on people of other faiths because they do not believe what we do. 
The pain families experience through divorce, illness and death.
The impact we have on this earth (God’s creation) through our buildings, roads and vehicles. 

The truth behind all the happy posts on social media that our lives are far from perfect. 
And the treatment of anyone because they look different, move differently, sound different, love different, smell different, or act differently than we do….

All of these truths exist each and every day of our lives.  God’s word shines a light on all of this.  

But here's the thing, something holy happens when God's light shines on these truths.

You see, God’s word is a word of promise and hope, so it shines in the midst of violence, and calls voices to rise up praying for peace and working toward solutions.

God’s word comforts the pain of brokenness, death and loss we feel in our families by surrounding us with a family of faith that surrounds and upholds us in times of need. 

God’s word calls us to see the beauty of the earth and to raise hands to care for all God has made as we work to protect it for generations to come. 

God’s word sheds light on our imperfections reminding each and everyone of us that we do not need to compare ourselves to anyone because we are created in God’s image, loved beyond all measure and perfect in the eyes of God. 

And these are the things that we may not want to see, but when we do, we live into the fullness of who God created us and calls us to be every day of our lives. 

And that, my friends, is when the kingdom breaks in…again, and again, and again. 

So live in that light, serve in that light, love in that light. 

And let all God’s people say, amen.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Lord, in your mercy...hear our lament.

March 17, 2019
2nd Sunday in Lent
Psalm 27                                                                                                                        
Philippians 3:17-4:1
Luke 13:31-35

Please pray with me,
Gracious God, as you led the Israelites through the wilderness, as you were with Joseph and Mary as they journeyed to Bethlehem, and as you journeyed with Jesus to the cross….you are with us now.  Guide our hearts, minds and bodies on this Lenten journey.  Continue to turn us toward you, creating within us clean hearts, marking us with the cross, lighting our paths and guiding us every step of the way.  In Jesus’ name we pray amen.

As we enter into our Old Testament reading today, Abram is awaiting the promise of offspring.  Maybe you remember back to chapter 12 in Genesis where God makes a covenant with Abram that he will bless him and make his name great so that he will be a blessing.  Yet, Abram and Sarai have been waiting for the fulfillment of this covenant.  And in the midst of waiting, Abram cries out in laments to the Lord.  He cries out in lament to make his problem God’s problem.

God made this promise and so, Abram and Sarai went and then journeyed to the land. They waited for a child -- a child who would become the first of their many descendants, who would in turn become a great nation, blessed to be a blessing.
Time passes. They go to Egypt. They come back. No child.
They became prosperous, even wealthy. No child.
Their nephew Lot separates from them. Lot is captured. Lot is rescued.
You know the refrain, and still no child.  
And then, finally, the Lord breaks the silence.  In today's passage God responds to Abram.  R. Jacobson

Just as Abram and Sarai wait, so do we. 

We are awaiting the coming of Christ, the promise of a peaceful world, the end of illness, sickness and pain, the end of sin breaking into to our lives…and in the middle of waiting – in darkness – we cry out in lament….we make our problem, God’s problem.

We come into this space…ready to pray, to sing, to be fed, to be with others…this space is sacred, holy….
On Friday, in Christchurch, New Zealand, our Muslim brothers and sisters entered into their space, ready to pray, to worship, to be fed, to be with others…

On Friday, in the United States our Muslim brothers and sisters awoke to this fear filled, tragic news.  Some wondered if they would be safe to worship that day, on Friday, their holy day.  Some have been living with this fear for years.

Just like Abram and Sarai, we are waiting….
Waiting for the end of violent shootings, and hate-filled actions. 
Waiting for the day when doctors won’t say the word cancer, because it will be no more. 
Waiting for the day when we are able to live freely with one another despite our differences. 
Waiting for the day when wrongs are forgiven, friendships and relationships are mended, and when we can share a hug or a kiss of peace without worrying about what others may say or do. 

We wait, as Abram and Sarai waited.  In response to Abram’s lament, God reaffirms the promise and Abram responds in trust and in righteousness and then….God expands the promise! 

No one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ 
He brought him outside and said, 
‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ 
Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’

As many descendants as there are stars, as if Abram could even count all the stars in the heavens.  Abram had been looking inward, inside himself, to his own ability to produce offspring.  And God, the Creator of all things, says, NO!  Look up!  Look outside of yourself, see all those stars?  That, is how numerous your descendants will be.  

Too often, we ourselves turn in upon our selves.  That’s really what sin is, right?  When we gaze at our bellybuttons only worried about ourselves, not thinking or caring about others.  Just like Abram seems to have done in this situation.  But God calls upon Abram to look up!  To see beyond himself …to see the vastness of creation beyond him and to see the renewed promise God has made to him. 

When we are struggling, searching for meaning, dealing with the troubles of this world, in whatever shape they may take for you, we too, turn in on ourselves.  Yet God calls us to look up, to look out. 
When we do that, we realize that we are not alone; we are able to see beyond ourselves and cry out to God in lament. 

When we cry out in lament, we make our problems God’s problems, and God hears our cries, God reaches out to us, reaches into our hearts and says I have marked you with the cross of Christ, you are my child, my beloved, attend to me, I am enough for you. 

And so we cry out to God to end the hate-filled acts of violence in our world.  Lord, in your mercy, (hear our prayer)
And so we cry out to God to break the bonds of sin that keep us from truly seeing and loving our neighbors, Lord, in your mercy, (hear our prayer)
And so we cry out to God for an end to sickness, illness, depression, loneliness and feelings of being forgotten.  Lord in your mercy, (Hear our prayer)
And so we cry out to God help us to see you, to know that you are here, to know that our voices are heard.  Lord, in your mercy… (hear our prayer)

And so we cry out…

Yes, we cry, because some times that is all we can do.  That's all I could do in response to the tragic news from New Zealand on Friday morning.  All we can do is cry out in lament.  God, hear our pain, feel our pain, know our pain and make it yours. 

And when we cry out, (just like we did responding with hear our prayer) we hear the cries of others and we respond in care, compassion, justice and generosity. 

Our prayers in this place are those cries.  When we lift up the prayers of the people here in worship, we are crying out to God…we lift up names and places near and dear to our hearts that we want God to know about, care about and be present with. 

When it comes to the prayers this day, you will be invited (as you are every week) to lift up names aloud as we pray.  I encourage you to say the names in your heart and mind aloud. 

Listen to the many voices in this place raising their concerns, cares and worries to God. 

We lift up these names in this place, and in our own prayers outside of this place confident that God hears our prayers, our problems, our worries and our concerns and makes them God’s problems, too. 

God knows we can’t solve the problems of the world on our own, so we give them to God.  Confident that God hears us, knows us and walks with us in the midst of all that we go through. 
Let me say that again, we cry out in lament, because we are confident that God hears us, knows us and walks with us in the midst of our troubles. 

So as we cry out, for whatever it is that weighs on our hearts, know that as you do, as we do, God does hear us.  God takes on our fears, worries, angers, frustrations, laments and makes them God’s own. 

Thanks be to God that we do not go through life on our own.
Thanks be to God for the gift of this community that offers strength, experience, love, compassion and support when we are in a time of need. 
Thanks be to God for the voices we have to speak out against violence and hatred in our world as we work towards a peaceful future for all God’s children. 

And thanks be to God, for the gift of Jesus, the way we know and are connected to God…for his living, his teaching, his dying and his resurrection….for that is how we know we are named and claimed by God, marked with the cross and called forth from this place to love and serve others. 

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Blazing through Lent.

March 13, 2019

Please pray with me,

Gracious God, as you led the Israelites through the wilderness, as you were with Joseph and Mary as they journeyed to Bethlehem, and as you journeyed with Jesus to the cross….you are with us now.  Guide our hearts, minds and bodies on this Lenten journey.  Continue to turn us toward you, creating within us clean hearts, marking us with the cross, lighting our paths and guiding us every step of the way.  In Jesus’ name we pray amen. 

I stumbled upon this illustration while preparing the homily tonight.  It came from a reflection from Adam Hearlson:
In North America and elsewhere, the outdoor trails of our parks and forests are marked with blazes. Blazes are small directional signs that assure the traveler that she is on the right path. The hike requires following the blazes.
But the blaze is not the destination, just the marker. Hikers are bound to leave the approaching blaze in the past. The marker is a reminder that you are on the right trail and that while you might not see another marker for a while, it will show up.
Indeed, if you travel far and don’t see a marker, it is time to backtrack and remember where the last time you saw a marker.

The trail marker is not just reassurance that you are on the right path, it is also a reminder that the trail is bigger than any one person. It’s not just there for you…it’s there for anyone who hikes this trail.  And the goal of the marker is to keep all hikers safe and on the right path.  (

For me, the season of Lent is like the blazes on a hiking trail, a reminder during the year, to turn to God, to stay on the right path, to be guided by God in my everyday life.  I’m a pastor (you knew that already) but the struggle for me is real when it comes to devotions and meditation time.  As I shared in breakfast Bible study on Monday, my current devotional after some short readings offers a time for meditation.  I have to tell you, at this point I’m good for about 5 minutes…and when I say good, as long as I inhale and say ‘God within’ and exhale and say, ‘God without’ I can focus. 

When I try just breathing, my mind wanders or I’m distracted by the cat tapping me on the shoulder or I’m drawn to take a sip of coffee or tea.  
But one of the things that Lent offers to me is the time to try this meditation and devotional practice…and that’s what it is, a practice.  And through this practice I’m drawn into a holy time and a holy space with God.  The table in my kitchen is transformed into sacred space as I read, breathe, sit in silence, pray and write. 

This daily devotional time is a blaze that sets me on a path towards God, towards Jesus’ journey toward the cross and ultimately toward the empty tomb on Easter. 

How does or can this season of Lent be a blaze in your life?  How does this season draw you closer to God in a time of prayer, worship or service?  How do the words we pray and sing in this place remind you that God’s guidance and presence is always with you? 

Because God is always present: calling us, marking us with the cross, guiding us and loving us. 

So, while we journey this path through the season of Lent and though this journey that we call life, we do so in the certain hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We know that God is with us on this journey giving us blazes and signs to light up the path and point us in the right direction. 

And for that, we give God praise, just as our psalmist does this day.  Praise for God’s goodness in the world and God’s greatness seen throughout all of creation. 
We praise God in this place in song and prayer with others. 
We praise God in our devotions, meditations and prayer life outside of this building. 

May the closing verses of tonight’s Psalm be that reminder of God’s presence in this season and in our lives. 

I invite you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and listen again to these words…

Our soul waits for the Lord;
   he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
   because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
   even as we hope in you.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
   even as we hope in you.

And let all God’s people say, amen. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Plan(t) ahead.

As my year of growth continues, it's time to look ahead AND plan(t) ahead.  These came in the mail this week:

The veggies!

And the herbs!  

This IS the gardening year.  Soonish, these will be planted inside to start the growth process.  
Then I'll head outside to reclaim the garden space.  
The plan is a two level garden.  

Herbs, Brussels sprouts, peppers and squash will end up in the actual garden plot.  Just to the right of the hop bines.   

The tomatoes, lettuce and kale will be in planters on the back porch.  They'll receive great sun and they will not be an all you can eat salad bar for the local rabbit residents.  (They have been snacking on and leaving the remains around the spent grains from our last two brew days.)  

While I'd love to have even more in the garden, I give thanks to God for my proximity to great local farmers who have been the sole providers (in addition to generous parishioners) of our summer produce.  

It's an adventure...for sure, but now that the seeds are here, let the adventure begin!    

I'll keep you posted on the growth and the tasty eats.  

Until the next post...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Coming down to the plain.

February 17, 2019
6th Sunday after Epiphany

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

When I was working at Camp Calumet, the Lutheran camp in the New England Synod, I had a wide range of learning opportunities as I spent 10 summers as a counselor, and staff member. 

Yet, one of the memories that I go back to time and time again is this one. 

I’m not sure what day it was, but it was a sunny one. 
I was sitting on the front step of my cabin, no doubt taking in the view of the lake as the two buddies of mine and the Executive Director of the camp walked by with buckets, a hose some gloves and other random cleaning supplies. 

“Want to come with us?” they asked. 
“Sure,” I said. 

As we walked toward the family camping beach, I asked what we were up to…I said we, because clearly I was now part of this activity. 

They shared that during the night someone had knocked over the port-a-potties and we were headed over to clean them up. 

Oh boy, I thought.  This is one of those times when you think back to the contract you signed at the beginning of the summer and in addition to your specific job description, there is a line that says, “and other duties as assigned.” 

Pardon the pun, but this was one of those other ‘duties.’  (Ha!)

But seriously, I was invited to help out with this clean up job…and while thankfully, I don’t remember much of the cleaning process…I must have erased that from my memory, I do remember that I was working side-by-side the executive director of the camp. 

I’m sure, he could have walked up to a number of folks and asked them to do this job and continue the work he was busy doing, but he did not delegate. 

He was there, in the muck…doing what needed to be done, for the sake of a beautiful camp, a clean property and by making a huge impact while he did. 

In our gospel lesson for today, we hear at the beginning that Jesus came down. 
This isn’t the sermon on the mount where Jesus’ location is above the others.  While that location helped him to be seen and hopefully heard, that is not where he is in today’s reading. 

Today our lesson is the sermon on the plain. He is preaching to a great crowd and a great multitude of people.  Preaching in and among the people must have been a different experience. 

The people around him, no doubt had to strain their ears, lean their heads and try to get a glimpse of this teacher. 

Yet, Jesus’ presence in and among the people, sheds more light on the words he speaks. 

Blessed are you…who are poor, who are hungry, who weep, or when people hate you…
When we hear the world blessed we think of it as something given to us by God maybe based on merit? 

But perhaps a better definition would be satisfied, unburdened or at peace….

So be at peace…be satisfied….not be happy or joyous, but be at peace, in the place in which you find yourselves, because God is with you in these moments. 

And here, Jesus demonstrates this by being in and among this throng of people reaching in to be touched and healed. 

The Greek word for woe…comes in some sense of a warning…it’s a call to repentance…just a reminder, Jesus says, that getting caught up in the comforts, of the world around you thinking that all your needs are met…look around…look out, Jesus says…where you think you have security…in wealth, in happiness…you think things are going fine….

But Jesus says, what if these are allusions, what if these are the things that keep you from seeing God at work in your world, in your life…in your heart. 

Where are you putting your trust, Jesus challenges the crowds.

Where do we put our trust? 

Is it in the things that surround us?  In our wealth?  In our possessions?  In what we think our happiness is? 

We are so often trapped by these things that we think feed our souls, minds and bodies. 

Yet, the blessings of God come upon us, come among us when we don’t even realize it.  When we are trusting in God, not worrying about how we try to meet our own needs, then we see God’s blessings.
And so I really think there is something to be said, for Jesus speaking these words in and among the people. 

He comes down…he is face to face, body to body, with the people in deepest need in the world around him. 

He is walking among the sick, the poor, the hurt, those with unclean spirits, those with the deep desired to be touched and healed. 

In Jesus, God comes down to earth, he suffers and dies. 
He does all this for each and every one of us, before we were even here….
God frees us from sin and death, through the resurrection of Jesus, so that we are free to love and serve others. 

God came down to save us.  God came down in Jesus Christ to open scriptures to us, to love us, to teach us, and to empower, strengthen us and prepare us for service for our neighbors. 

God has given each of us the gifts and skills we need to offer compassion, love and support to others in times of need.

It isn’t up to just me (up in this pulpit) to provide those in need with words of comfort and hope…it is God who does that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is the company of all the saints that offer strength, love and support to others. 

In this place, among you all…the people of God…we walk this journey together. 

Look around…we are all together in this place. 

The place has been leveled. 
We are all welcomed into this place, as the body of Christ, as members of God’s family. 
We come clamoring in to be touched, healed, forgiven, saved…

We come to this place, in the company of one another…shoulder to shoulder…no better or worse than any other…knowing that the love and grace of God will reach us, will teach us, will heal us, will save us. 

(and then I stepped out of the pulpit)

This is the plain on which Jesus preaches, teaches, loves and saves. 

This is the plain on which we are healed, transformed, blessed and sent to walk side-by-side with Jesus and with one another…in a response to love and serve all those who surround us. 

(At each service the sermon ended a little differently, but the gist was this...if you are feeling low down, Jesus reaches our a hand and brings you up onto the plain.  If you are feeling better than ever before, Jesus invites you to come down to the plain.  Because wherever you find yourself, Jesus will invite you into this place.  It is into this place, where we gather shoulder to shoulder with people who have very different opinions of .... the color of the carpet.... not to mention lots of other things, but this place is where we come together, in spite of our differences to be gifted with the presence of God.  All we do, is put one foot in front of the other, open up our hands and receive this amazing gift of God in bread and wine.  This is the plain on which Jesus is and invites us to be with him here.) 

And may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

What's your excuse?

February 3, 2019
4th Sunday after Epiphany

Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable and suitable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

An excuse becomes an obstacle in your journey to success when it is made in place of your best effort or when it is used as the object of the blame.
(Bo Bennett)

Let me say that again, an excuse becomes an obstacle in your journey to success when it is made in place of your best effort or when it is used as the object of the blame.

In light of our reading from Jeremiah today, I would also add that an excuse becomes and obstacle not just in our journeys to success but also as we follow the call of God in our lives. 

And here’s the thing, I bet we’ve all made excuses.  Right?  At some point in our lives we have made an excuse.  We’re probably all well versed in the art of excuses. 

I was particularly good at them when I was asked about attending seminary and becoming a pastor. 

When I was in high school, my pastor at the time said, have you ever thought of becoming a pastor?  My quick reply, “Nope.”

As friends lifted up gifts I had for working with youth and connecting with people of all ages, I said, “I’m not sure about this…I want to be a vet, no wait, a teacher, no wait, work with before and after-school programming, and I want to work at camp!

But you have the gifts for ministry said friends, family and people working at the seminary. 
Eventually I gave in, okay, I’ll go to seminary, but I’m NOT going to be a pastor. 

As you can see me up here, clearly God had other plans….yet even with all my excuses…here I am. 

I’m well aware that God does not call everyone to be parish pastors, I believe God calls each of us to be part of God’s plan of salvation for the whole world. 

So, what’s your excuse? 

Is it Jeremiah’s?  I’m only a boy!  Too young? 
Is it Moses’?  I am not good at speaking.
Is it Jonah’s?  I hear your call, but I am NOT going to Nineveh! 

I asked folks on Facebook this week, “Say God calls you, to be part of this plan of salvation, grace and love...what's your excuse?” 

I’m thankful for wide range of responses from people younger and older than me, male and female.  Here are a few things they said, knowing that they would be shared anonymously. 

I won’t be in control.

But So and So would be so much better at this than I would be. 

Same excuses we all use, right?
I have to take my kid to the dentist, or sports. I’m way too busy. I really need that time for “me time”.

I’m waiting until the time is right.

Maybe when my 401k is vested. Maybe after my kids graduate. I’m not talented enough in that way. It’s better not to rock the boat.

Someone else should set a precedent so I’ll know what to do. It’s not socially acceptable to get people stirred up about sensitive things.

It’s too hard to find a night that works for everyone.

But my kids need me…

A combination of self-doubt and impatience:  Am I qualified?  Why me?  How will I know what to do?  What if I fail?  Will my failure affect others?  God, I’m waiting for an answer.  What’s the plan?  No answer?  I’m not qualified…I shouldn’t do this. 

When I finish this project. 

Who would make the schedule?!!!!!

I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I don’t know how to start or what to say. I might mess up the friendship we have.

I’m not sure I can do this. 

Any of these excuses sound familiar? 

Any you would want to add to these? 

What’s your excuse? 
Looking around the room, ages aside, experience aside, how common are our excuses? 

More common than we may realize. 

Jeremiah’s vocation (calling) was in calling all members of the community back to their vocation as followers of Israel’s God.  This was Jeremiah’s mission to all the people.  (McKim)

That’s a tough call, no doubt.  When called to be a prophet, you are called upon to preach God’s word in the community of the world.  Often times, the word of God calls upon God’s people to repent, to turn from sinful ways, to respond to injustices in our communities and world, and to move into a place of action.  That’s not always easy…

Yet God never said this call would be easy. 

And as we’ve seen throughout scripture, God continues to call all people to serve God no matter what their condition, situation, or status. 

We can hear God’s call to us in Jesus Christ, no matter who we are or what we are. 
God calls and connects us with others. 

So, let’s think about this a little, together. 

Not just is God calling you, but how is God calling you to be part of this mission of salvation?

That may be the first step in this whole responding to God’s call thing…that yes, God is calling you. 

Let me affirm that.  We all have gifts that God has given us to be used in mission and service to others as part of God’s plan of salvation for the entire world. 

So, knowing that God is calling you….
What does that call sound like? 
In what areas of your life…parenthood, work, on a sports team or club at school, in the ministries of this congregation, in your circle of friends….how is God calling you? 

{These slips of paper were scattered around the sanctuary throughout worship.}

Take a moment or two to jot down your sense of call…your excuses…and if you can right now how you might say yes. 

If you want to talk more about this, please put your name on the paper. 

There will be a basket up here following the service for you to leave the papers if you want to talk more about this…or you can take them with you, place them in your Bible or devotional book at home to take time to pray about this call from God. 

Thank you for taking time to think and pray about how God is calling you to be part of God’s mission of love and grace in the world today. 

I pray that as you continue to think and pray about God’s call in your life, you are empowered, no matter who you are, to say yes. 

To be open to new and various ways God is calling you.
To be affirmed that God meant to and means to call you. 
To be ready to work with others and come together in ways that we can continue to live out God’s mission in our lives and in our world. 

Would you join me in prayer?

Gracious God,
You call us, as your beloved children. 
You have gifted each of us with the abilities needed to share your light, your love and your peace in the world. 
Help us to hear your call…and to respond with a YES. 
Surround us with brothers and sisters in Christ to guide us and guard us as we continue to work together to share your gospel message. 
And may the peace, which surpasses all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.  

Post Script:  Many papers were returned and there are some followup conversations to have as well.  I'm thankful for a place where people are wiling to think and pray about how God calls them to live their lives as a part of God's plan.  How about you?