Monday, June 14, 2021

Sunday's Sermon

Sunday June 13, 2021
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Ezekiel 17:22-24
Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15
2 Corinthians 5:6 [11-13] 14-17
Mark 4:26-34

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.

Several years ago Billy gave me the book, Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy and the Indolent, by Ruth Stout.  I hope it’s because I’m busy..and not because I’m aging or slothful….eh? 

It was a great read.  And if you drive by our ‘garden’ you can see that I took her – cover the garden with straw/hay very seriously. 

Her personality presents itself throughout the book as she continues to tell readers her methods and how they have worked for years and years and years.  She almost scoffs off readers who say, that doesn’t work with a response of “It has worked for me.” 

But even for advice on gardening ‘without work’, she takes the task seriously and with deep passion.  She maps out her garden each year, takes time to bed the garden down in the winter and loves the spring when perennials return and she is able to add other plants in their seasons. 

Even ‘without work’, she still gives it attention and care and time – she is part of the process. 

I’ve attempted this method…although the straw that we have used in the past has not quite kept all of the weeds out, but it helps.  It also helps the neighborhood birds building their nests. 

But even with Ruth’s guidance and my attempt to garden, it doesn’t always pan out as planned. 

I look at the gardens at Longwood and Williamsburg and Old Dry Road Farm…and sigh…longingly…at their simplicity, beauty and order. 

My garden often seems chaotic, growing out of its bounds and not quite orderly. 

I guess it’s a skill and a work in progress - that depends on so much more than just the gardener. 

In our gospel lesson today, Jesus compares the kingdom of God to someone who scatters seed on the ground and then goes to bed.  Who does that? 

The gardener doesn’t even seem to worry about the growth…the growth is left to the earth which produces of itself. 

Geesh…my garden has not thrived with that treatment, yet. 

Maybe I need to sleep more…

The next description of the kingdom of God is that of a mustard seed….known in those times as weed.  Something that farmers wouldn’t even plant, because they would overtake the crops and grow into a huge bush! 

Needless to say, in these two explanations…the kingdom of God (spoiler alert) is NOT what we expect it to be. 

Both of these explanations of the kingdom are countercultural to the point of sounding ridiculous.  In the words of Debie Thomas, “these explanations make no sense.  They’re big, cosmic jokes, intended to stretch our imaginations far beyond any place we’d take them on our own.  What is the kingdom of God like?  Are you sure you want to know?  Okay, brace yourself:  the kingdom of God is like a sleeping gardener, mysterious soil, an invasive weed, and a nuisance flock of birds.”[1]

Friends, I’m here to tell you that the kingdom is more often than not something we do not expect.  It breaks into our lives and our world in a way that we could not possibly imagine, through people we don’t deem worthy or holy enough, in experiences where we just did NOT expect God to be present. 

I’ve heard it said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

I think, too, the kingdom of God is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. 

Sure, we’re an active living, breathing part of this kingdom, but when we get so caught up in how all of this is supposed to happen, then we miss the actual happening. 

And, here’s the kicker, not only are we making other plans, but the kingdom continues to happens, in us, through us, around us and in spite of us.  

Sometimes we miss it because we are looking for specific signs of growth and change and familiarity. 

Sometimes we miss it because as Debie Thomas says, “the kingdom looks like slow mysterious growth.  Periods of fallowness.  Plants we can neither control nor contain.  Weeds that run wild and still nourish.  Hungry, raucous birds.  Feasts we might mistake for waste.  Gardeners who take naps.”[2]

I’m sure at this point in the year…after 14+months in a global pandemic that we could look around and say…uh oh.  What is happening to the kingdom? 

What is happening to the church?

And even more specifically…what is happening to family of faith here at Trinity? 

We could look around and worry about faces that we have not seen in over a year.

We could listen to the whispers that speak of people leaving in droves. 

We could worry about how our response to a global pandemic has impacted this congregation and community. 

We get anxious that we are not yet back in the building when so many other places are back to normal.  (what is normal anyway…after a pandemic…in a congregation experiencing the death of its senior pastor?)  Normal is gone. 

Long gone. 


But the good news? 

The really good news? 

As Jesus reminds us time and time and time and time again, the kingdom of God is far from the normal that we expect or think we can return to. 

Let me say that again, the kingdom of God is far from the normal that we expect to resume or think we can return to. 

Are you catching on? 

The world, our nation, this community and this community of faith has been changed over this past year.  Period.  End of story.  Mic drop. 

Well, except that it is not the end of the story. 

As Kermit sings in the Muppet Movie,

“Life's like a movie, write your own ending
Keep believing, keep pretending
We've done just what we set out to do”

We will keep believing. 

We will keep prepping and planning and working in the kingdom of God. 

Knowing that it is happening all around us.  Trusting the presence of God here and now.  Seeing Jesus among us in the places least likely….and in the places we forgot to look, or just missed because we were looking the other way.  Squirrel!

So, what is the kingdom of God like? 

The kingdom of God is like the member who joined Trinity just before the pandemic who gave the gift of a kidney to someone else. 

The kingdom of God is like the couple who started worshipping with us online, who were overjoyed when they could join us in outdoor worship.

The kingdom of God is like the families and friends of Trinity who have worshipped with us in Missouri, Florida, Indiana, North Carolina, Connecticut, New Hampshire and even Russia. 

The kingdom of God is like a handful of our post college young adults sharing their faith through daily devotions. 

The kingdom of God is the outdoor celebrations of 1st holy communions, confirmations and retirements. 

The kingdom of God is communion in just a wafer…or an all in one hard to open wafer and juice kit, either in a parking lot, or under a portico in the rain or in your car. 

The kingdom of God is families in the parking lot covering it with butterflies for Easter Sunday. 

The kingdom of God is like one of our graduates sharing their name and future plans in front of us all, when 5 years ago public speaking, even in a small group caused fear and tears. 

The kingdom of God is like two members talking to each other every day on the phone, until one of them dies. 

The kingdom of God is this community surrounding one another through great loss and grief.  And shouting Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed! through communal tears as loudly as possible. 

The kingdom of God is the body of Christ struggling to figure out how to be church through and beyond a pandemic. 

The kingdom of God is this place. 

The kingdom of God is you and me…it is us, hearing the call of Christ for our lives and the life of this place and responding as faithfully as we can. 

The kingdom of God is Trinity – in a year of transition. 

The kingdom of God is here…and now. 

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


 

Baccalaureate Homily

 This was a revamped sermon...but it seemed to fit for this year's grads.  

CW Baccalaureate
June 10, 2021
Jeremiah 29:11-14
Hebrews 12:1, 12-13
Psalm 139:1-14

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.  

Hey…

You made it…and we’re able to be together tonight.  To celebrate your accomplishments, give thanks to God for your journey thus far and to bless you for the days and adventures yet to come.  Woohoo! 

As I thought about this opportunity to preach tonight you need to know that I picked some of my favorite Bible verses to be read this evening.  Kind of selfish, I know, but they are verses that have continued to guide me throughout my life.  And might, just might, be helpful for you, too. 

As Layla read in Jeremiah, God has a plan for you.  Each and every one of you. A plan for your future…and a plan for hope.   While this may be a time of uncertainty for some of you…God has a plan for each of you. 

As Journee read in Hebrews, don’t forget…you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses to love you, support you, cheer for you and to be there for you no matter what you face. 

The stadium that surrounds you in your day-to -day lives is filled with loved ones near and far, loved ones living and those who are no longer with us.  And, there is always space in those stands for new witnesses, family, friends, coaches, mentors, faith leaders, co-workers, who will be there for you in the adventures to come. 

And as Olivia read from Psalm 139…be reminded…daily, if need be, that God, the creator of all things…created you…in God’s holy and beautiful image. 

You, yes you, are created in the image of God. 

A God who loves you no matter what, so deal with it. 

You are loved beyond compare and are holy, beautiful, brave, bold, kind, proud, courageous, fierce, strong, determined, inspiring and loved. 

So, as you go on your way, I wanted to leave you with my personal top 10…for getting up and facing the world every day. 

A shout out to Chris Pratt, who introduced this as the 9 Rules from Chris Pratt as he received the MTV Our Generation award in 2018. 

You can catch his speech on YouTube…mine is slightly different, but if you need to learn about how to poop at a party without stinking up the bathroom you should look to him, not me. 

Number 1 – Breathe.  If you do anything today, breathe.  You need to.  Your life depends upon it.  Just breathe.  It will help you through the rest of the day.  

Number 2 – Stay Connected.  In whatever form that looks like to you.  There are probably people here who will be with you through thick and thin…hold on to those folks.  Check in on them…be reminded that you are not alone. 

Number 3 – Serve others.  Take time, no make time to do this.  You can make a deep impact in the world when you reach out to others.  Feeding the hungry, being an active voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves, helping in at-risk communities, providing a place and a space for someone who needs it. 

Number 4 – You’re not perfect.  You’re not.  Accept that and continue to be the amazing person that God created you and calls you to be right now.  

Because Number 5- You are made in God’s image.  You are beautiful, holy, strong, wise, creative, brave and needed in our world right now, just as you are.  

Number 6 – Become friends with someone different than you.  Now is the time when your settings, environments and people around you will change.  Be diverse in how you welcome in new friends or co-workers.  Think about it as you scroll through social media.  Are you following people who look just like you, agree with everything you say and offer no diversity?  Friends, this world is diverse and beautiful.  Look at the people that you follow on social media and be sure that they feed your soul, inspire you and encourage you to see beyond your own view.  

Number 7 – Love God, Love All.  Keep on living out of God’s love in whatever way that takes shape in your daily life.  

Number 8 – Be kind.  I know, that seems like a given, but it needs to be said.  The snarky comments on social media, and in person, the posts shared that put down others, not needed friends.  I visited with a 90+ year old woman yesterday who when I asked her what we should pray for she said, that everyone is nice to one another.  Kindness she said, doesn’t cost anything.  Holding the door, smiling at someone, being human to others will make a world of difference and it’s so simple.

Number 9 – God loves you, no matter what!  It needs to be said, over and over again, that no matter who you are and what you have done or haven’t done, God loves you, no matter what, so deal with it!  

And number 10 –Be the you-iest you.  Don’t try to be someone else either to fit in, or make a statement or try to prove a point.  Do you know how hard it will be to keep up that charade? 

Be you.  You…as you….have great power, strength, presence and honesty.

Be you…when you fall learn how to get back up or ask for help.

Be you…when you achieve great heights give thanks and point out those who helped you get there….It’s Abby Wambach who when she was playing professional soccer, that after scoring a goal would point, at her teammates on the field and those on the bench who helped her get the opportunity to score. 

Be you…God created you because God knows the world needs you, the you-iest you. 

Still figuring out who you are?  Be kind and true to yourself as you do and remember that you are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses that you have fans to cheer you on, to listen to your questions, your hopes, your dreams, your future. 

You got this, class of 2021.  

Congratulations & blessings.

Keep being awesome. 
And keep being the you-iest!

And let all God’s people say, amen. 


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Good Shepherd Sunday

April 25, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:5-12
Psalm 23
1 John 3:16-24
John 10:11-18

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. 

Welcome to the fourth Sunday of Easter…yes, it’s still Easter…which means,
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! 

The fourth Sunday of Easter is often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday.  It’s the Sunday where the gospel of John refers to a passage where Jesus talks about being the good shepherd and the appointed Psalm is Psalm 23. 

What I like about this Sunday is that we (you AND me) are reminded that the Good Shepherd or should I say THE Good Shepherd is Jesus.  Right? 

Sometimes as a pastor, myself and others, are seen as shepherds of their flocks. 
That is in part true.  You all called me to serve in this place as your pastor to care for and love, to nurture, to foster growth, to deepen faith, to live out our lives together as members of the Body of Christ.  So yes, in a way, pastors are called to shepherd their flocks. 

But today is that staunch reminder that neither your pastor, nor your vicar, is THE Good Shepherd. 
If anything, I’m Faithfully Mediocre. 

Yup, Pastor Jen, the Faithfully Mediocre Shepherd. 

I know I tell people not to sell themselves short or to not trust in their own abilities…but here I am totally willing to sell myself short.  I am NOT the Good Shepherd.  I am not the child of God sent into this world to save it.  That’s Jesus, the messiah.  Not me. 
Right? 

Lest you confuse the two. 
Jesus, Son of God, Savior of the World, Resurrected One, Messiah, fully divine and fully human, The Good Shepherd. 

Me, child of God, wife, pastor, runner, angler, reader, preacher, fully human, The Faithfully Mediocre Shepherd. 

And, as I thought about this difference this week, I realized there were some things I needed to get off my chest.  Some of my best musings comes in the form of writing, so here’s my letter:

Dear Good Shepherd,

Holy moly.  This year has been rough, like really rough.  Downright hard. 
Look, I know I am called to serve in this place for such a time as this, but Jesus, really…all of this stuff this year? 

I am feeling the heartache, the worry, the sadness and the grief of the people here.  And let me tell you, this is a weight that is hard to bear, because time apart just seems to amplify the intensity of our feelings. 

I am aware that each of the people and families connected to this place is going through a challenging year:

Some have had to bury parents or loved ones without being able to be surrounded by the fellowship and relationships of this family of faith. 
Some have lost jobs and have struggled to make ends meet.
Some have seen long friendships crumble due to this painful and painfilled political climate. 
Some have seen relationships come to an end because working and living at home has brought underlying issues to the surface. 
Some have thrived with online learning and schooling while others have felt deeply disconnected not being part of in-person schooling.
Some have contracted COVID and fared well, thankfully, while many have known others who have not. 

Jesus, so many people have died in our nation and around the world from this virus, we need time and space to just grieve that. 

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, these people, are grieving, not only all of the above and then some…but they are also grieving the death of their senior pastor. 
So yeah, Jesus, this year has been hard. 

And in the midst of finding space to grieve, wondering what the future will bring and wanting to be together…we may have hit our limit. 
Our collective limit, that is. 

Because here’s the thing…I’m trying.  Really trying.
To love your people. 
To keep your people safe. 
To create to connections and maintain old ones while we still find ourselves in a pandemic. 
And you know what, Jesus?  It’s hard. 

I know there are some people who are worshipping elsewhere because other churches are offering indoor worship.

I know there are some people who have up and left Trinity because they did not agree with the tone or tenor of the sermons over the past year.  

I know there are some people who feel disconnected because they are not computer savvy or choose not to be. 

And Jesus, this breaks my heart.  
It breaks. My.  Heart. 

Me?  I’m fed by a congregation in camp chairs and blankets in a parking lot. 
Me?  I’m thankful for online worship when the weather isn’t good knowing that in some way, we are extending the body of Christ and the fellowship of Christ into people’s homes where they are safe. 
Me?  Am I thankful to receive Holy Communion in the form of a wafer alone…well, thankful for the gift even though I miss bread and wine…but I know this is the safest. 

And like you, Jesus, I pray for and long for the time when we can all be back together or at least back in the building. 
But the hard part, is that we’re just not there yet. 

Jesus, this is a wonderfully large congregation, which is a wonderful problem to have. 

But it means thinking about how we figure out safe ways for smaller groups of us to gather inside…which takes time, which takes planning and it means paying attention to how the virus is not yet eradicated and that our actions will have a direct impact on the safety of people wanting to be in this space. 
Ugh. 

And so, Jesus, I’m trying. 
To love your people. 
To serve your people.
And to keep your people safe. 

And somedays…I feel like I’m getting it right. 

And somedays, no matter what happens, I feel like I fall short.  Even with online worship, live-streamed worship, mailed out bulletins, a toll-free number where people can call and listen to worship, weekly emails, monthly newsletters and yearly birthday letters that it’s not enough.  That some still slip through the cracks, intentionally or unintentionally. 

So, Jesus, there you have it. 
In case you were wondering how things were going here with your little flock gathering at Trinity.  That’s it. 
So, any words of wisdom for us all would be greatly appreciated. 
Thanks. 

Sincerely,

The Faithfully Mediocre Shepherd
PS.  Thank you for loving us. 

Here's the response, 

Dear Faithfully Mediocre,
I see you. 
I hear you.
I love you.

With that being said, let me offer a few reminders. 

I have laid down my life for not just you, but the people who gather and know Trinity as their congregation and family of faith. 
I know them and they know me. 
I call to them and they hear my voice. 
This may sound hard, but you don’t need to micromanage their relationship with me. 
What I mean by that, is yes, love them, yes listen to them, yes serve them, but if they fall astray, know that I am and will call them to myself.

Did you hear that?  I will call them to myself. I love them fiercely and have seen and felt each of their hardships, struggles, joys, deaths, celebrations and then some. 

I have not abandoned them.
Nor have I abandoned you. 

Though you and those you are called to serve may feel as if you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I am with you. 
Leading you when needed. 
Walking beside you for companionship. 
Pushing you when necessary and constantly grabbing you out of danger and redirecting you.  Fiercely loving all of you all of the time. 

I got you. 
I got them. 

I am holding you in the palm of my hand and WILL NOT drop you. 
Rest in the security of my arms, in the shelter of my green pastures, along the streams of fresh waters, and in the hope that out of death will come resurrection, hope and new life. 

This dear one, is not the end. 
Rest up.  Keep loving. Keep serving. 
I’ll keep calling them back, to me. 

Faithfully yours,
THE Good Shepherd

PS.  And let all God’s people say, amen. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Christ the King Sunday Sermon

November 22, 2020
Christ the King Sunday
 
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 95:1-7a
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

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. 

I’d like to share a few stories…and I would like you to let me know if you see Jesus in these stories, okay…and all of these are true.

First story – A friend of mine has been diagnosed with cancer.  In the midst of her journey and treatment, she has continued as teacher, mom of two, wife, and awesome friend.  For those of you diagnosed with cancer and other life changing diagnosis, life around you continues in the midst of your own health journey.  This past week was a tough week for her.  At the beginning of the week she heard the town leaf collectors, so she rushed out to rake as much as she could…she barely made dent in her yard and was exhausted when the truck passed and she learned that this was the early drive by.  Nevertheless, she was done. 
The next day her yard was filled with over 20 people, masked for her safety and theirs, to tackle the family’s yard. 

This week was also her birthday, and her wish was to raise $200 for American Cancer Society.  The day after her birthday friends and family had donated over $3000 in honor of my friend. 
Did you catch Jesus in those stories? 
In the friends armed with masks and rakes? 
In the generosity of friends and family? 
In the groups seeing a need meeting it? 

Yup.  Jesus was there.  In the young and the old.  In the active and the generous. 
Jesus was there responding to an individual and family that was in need of help. 
Jesus was that family in need. 

Story number two: 
My father, great guy that Klaus, attended Muhlenberg College and following graduation headed to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia to become an ordained minister in the Lutheran church.  He served his first call in the Bronx and shortly after he stepped down from the roster of ministers.  It was a heartbreaking moment for my grandmother, but even as he stepped away from leading in the church, the church still impacted his life.  We went to church as a family all through my childhood, if friends slept over on a Saturday night, they knew church was part of the plan on Sunday morning.  It was a part of our family life.  Since then…my father drifted away from the church, although he’ll attend when he and my mom are visiting in Robesonia. 

He now meets regularly (at least pre-COVID) with a local atheist group.  It’s funny, because the way he describes himself is as a Lutheran atheist…the only way he can describe his disconnect from the church is through the churchy language he grew up with.  A while back, my father was sharing one of the activities that his group does…once a month (again, before COVID).  This group would prepare and provide a meal for a group of homeless women.  And the location of this meal?  Yup…the local church’s social hall. 

So, there is a group of women being fed, in a church, by a group of atheists. 

Do you see Jesus there? 
In the church that opens its doors for this ministry? 
In the actions of a group of atheists?
In the women receiving the gift of a meal and company once a month? 

Jesus is everywhere in that story…at least he is for me. 

Was it easier for you to see Jesus at work in the story of my friend? 
Not even knowing the beliefs of those who showed up to help and serve? 

Was it harder to see Jesus in the second story when I told you my dad was an atheist? 

And does it even matter? 
No seriously, does it even matter? 
 
When we see the love of God shared in service and care for our neighbors…
When we see actions taken to feed those who are hungry…to (safely) visit those who are imprisoned…to give water to those who thirst…to clothe those who are naked, to heal and work for the health of those who are sick…
Does it matter who is reaching out in those actions? 

I don’t think it does. 

In our gospel reading today, we hear about the sheep and goats. 
While they are separated after doing or not doing certain things…they aren’t even aware of how they were active in God’s kingdom and how they were inactive. 
The sheep didn’t recognize when they had cared for the King in their midst. 
The goats didn’t recognize when they had not cared for the King in their midst. 

It seems that both of these groups had just been living their lives. 
Some with care for others and some neglecting care for others. 

As we talked about this passage in our weekly clergy Bible study on Wednesday, we felt that on any given day, any one of us could fall into the category of sheep or goat.  It’s like we say in the confession….we ask for forgiveness for the things we have done and the things we’ve left undone.  The sins of commission…the ones we know we committed and the sins of omission, the ones we don’t realize that we’ve done and ways that neglect or ignorance have kept us from loving and serving our neighbors. 

We could sing about how we just wanna be a sheep – you’re welcome for getting that one stuck in your head…sing it all you want on the way home 😉…but if that’s our song?  Our everyday actions – words AND deeds should reflect that, right? 

Now this is where it gets tricky…because the truth is – we don’t need to do anything to earn God’s love and grace and forgiveness.  Those are all free gifts from a God who loves us unconditionally. 

So do we need to do what the sheep do? 
Not to earn God’s love we don’t. 

But to live in the kingdom here and now…and to bring the presence of Christ into a broken and hurting world?  You bet we do! 

We have an amazing opportunity to take action today and, in the weeks to come, that will help care for our neighbors in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. 

The simple act of wearing a mask shows everyone around you that their wellbeing, safety and health is important to you.    

When you wear your mask around the community you show your love for friend and stranger and the care you have for both of them. 
When we give space between ourselves now like physical space…and not gathering with friends or family for Thanksgiving (even though it’s stinkin’ hard).  We do it so that when this season of pandemic passes that we will all be here to hug and high five one another in celebration. 

Seeing Christ in our midst is sometimes hard…I could give you a list of people that cause me to really struggle and squint even…to see the image of God in their faces…but that’s exactly where Jesus shows up…in the places least likely. 

So you need to know, that even as a pastor, this is a good but challenging gospel lesson. 
And some days, your pastor will be the best sheep in the flock. 
And other days, your pastor will be a goat.  (And not the greatest of all time.)

But, BUT, because we live in this community – together – we will continue to love and care for one another…and we will help one another live out the call to love and serve our neighbors as best as we can. 

And as we do, they (our neighbors, friends, family and even enemies) will know we are Christians…by our love. 
By our love of God and love of neighbor. 
By our love of this world and care for creation.
By our love for the health and wellness of this nation and the hope for its future. 
By our love. 
Period.

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. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Holden Evening Prayer Homily

The readings and homily from Holden Evening Prayer...

A reading from Philippians,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


A reading from Psalm 34,

Come, O children, listen to me;
   I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Which of you desires life,
   and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
   and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
   seek peace, and pursue it.


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. 

Over 4 years ago, I found myself at Conrad Weiser High School in the classroom/studio of Stef Schneck.  I was watching the morning announcements happen as I was waiting for the first block to begin.  I was there to be interviewed for a film by then student, Matt T.   After I finished that interview, Stef asked if I could stay around for another quick interview.  Sure, I replied. 

Then student, Adam S. was working on a film about the course of the upcoming election and asked about what I thought was needed for the future. 

Even though I can’t remember the specific question, or my specific response, I remember responding with the importance of healing…that whoever was elected in 2016 needed to work to help unite a divided country. 

I think if anyone asked me that same question today, I would have a similar answer…and then some more to add.  

While I think healing is deeply needed and peace, yes peace….

I think it takes more than just the leadership of the country modeling it and leading us into it. 

When I asked folks earlier this week to share their hopes and their prayers for this week for our nation.  The overwhelming response was for unity and peace. 

Unity and peace. 

One friend asked for double shot of the peace that passes all understanding.  😉

I mean…who couldn’t use that these days?

But seriously, there is a deep, deep desire for unity and peace. 

But friends…while we can actively pray for that, it will take more than that to see it come to fruition. 

Not that we can’t pray for it…but friends, we are the Body of Christ.

We are…the hands and feet of Christ…here and now. 

We were created and called for such a time as this. 

If we are praying for peace and unity, we must voice these prayers in our hearts and bring them to life in our actions. 

I don’t believe when an outcome is announced that we can just dust off our hands and say, okay here we go, it will all be good now. 

We – all of us – need to be actively involved in the healing of this nation. 

Friends, this is the hard stuff when it comes to being church, but friends, you are equipped to do this hard stuff. 

You were created, called, baptized, claimed and now sent…into the community, into the nation and into the world to proclaim God’s love and grace and peace. 

It is our words and actions that will show and share God’s love and God’s peace in the world around us. 

Irish poet, Padraig O’Tuama was talking about working towards peace – and he knows the long tough journey it is living in Ireland.  Yesterday, he said this about peace, “Peace takes every fiber of your being to stay in the same room.”  He was explaining that it is much easier to walk away, to leave a tough situation and just hope for the best. 

Staying in the same room is where the hard work of peacemaking is done. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they find themselves in hard conversations, difficult situations and world transforming opportunities. 

Blessed are those working towards and for peace – talking not only with random folks about differences, but talking with those we love about our differences and learning about what unites us…and our faith…and our communities…and our nation. 

Blessed are those who do this hard work.

Blessed are you…who pray for peace.

Blessed are you…who work towards peace. 

Blessed are you…who pray for unity. 

Blessed are you…who work for unity. 


Together, let me say that again, TOGETHER, is how we move forward. 

Washed in the waters of baptism,

            We are ready to pray and respond.

Washed in the waters of baptism,

            We are ready to listen and then speak.

Washed in the waters of baptism,

            We are able to do the hard work of peacemaking…in our own hearts, in our own homes, in our own community and in our nation. 

My mom shared this me this week…she saw it shared on Facebook:

"Out beyond these discussions of the right and the left, there is a place. 
The place where we listen, understand, respect each other, work towards harmony and a shared sustainable future…Let’s meet there."

Friends, lets meet in that place…that place of sanctuary…where we are safe to talk with one another, not about one another…as we listen and respond with grace and love. 

Friends, let’s meet where we can work towards harmony and a shared sustainable future…

Friends, let’s meet to do the hard work….to model to friends and family and community and nation to how it is done. 


Just a heads up, it’s gonna take some time…it won’t be a quick and simple process, but healing never is. 

It takes time.

It takes work. 

It takes willingness.

It takes learning.

It takes falling and getting back up again.

But friends, in the long run, it will be so worth it. 

And in the short run…do you even say that…no…in the meantime, we will be modeling the kingdom of God here and now.  Bringing moments of peace and glimpses of hope to our nation and the entire world. 

I’m glad to be in this with you…because we’ll need each other, desperately.

And the good news, is that we have each other, because God has called us into this one family, together…and together we can do the hard work of peacemaking. 

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