PRAYER LIST for the Week Beginning 8-30-2020

Please keep the following in your prayers:

Margaret Urie – prayers for strength, peace, and hope

Yvonne Lorenz (Dorothy Rossmark’s daughter) recovering from surgery

Karen Voit – recovering from a stroke

Barb Pennell – recovering from cataract surgery

Billy Wilhelm- hip replacement surgery went well. Please pray for continued healing.

Scott Scardina (nephew of Julius Fischer) in hospice care

Beverly (Rob Barnes’ sister) – hospitalized

Robin Morse – COVID-19

All fighting addiction

Jenny Schraeder (Lois Dofflemyer’s granddaughter) health concerns,

Austin Hayes (Lois Dofflemyer’s grandson) recovering from surgery,

Pat and John Haller, surrogate grandparents of Jamie King, COVID-19

Lois Dofflemyer- recovering from knee replacement

Mark Schaefer- recovering from hip replacement

Barbara Faust- many health concerns

Shut in members: Anna Kuta, Beverly Sclimme, Audrey Shaffer, Bill and Bea Schlitzer, Jeanette Tilson, Anis Milad, Betty Dudley, Anne Smith

Kate Litman, Carolyn Gale, and Angela Kurek, nurses working during this time.

Prayer List for August 12

  • Beverly, Rob Barnes’ girlfriend’s sister- hospitalized
  • Ioryn, Rob Barnes’ sister- kidney stones
  • Robin Morse, – COVID-19
  • · The Metallo family on the death of Mike Metallo’s mother Giovanna
  • · The Gunn family, on the death of Ruth Gunn’s twin sister Naomi
  • · Jenny Schraeder, health concerns, Austin Hayes, recovering from surgery, both Lois Dofflemyer’s grandchildren
  • · The family of Catherine Martin
  • · Pat & John Haller—COVID-19
  • · Lois Dofflemyer—recovering from successful knee replacement
  • · Mark Schaefer– surgery August 18
  • · For Billy Wilhelm
  • · For Barbara Faust
  • · For Anis Milad
  • · For Anna Kuta, Beverly Schlimme, Audrey Shaffer, Bill and Bea Schlitzer, Jeanette Tilson, Anis Milad, Betty Dudley and Anne Smith.
  • · For Kate Litman, Carolyn Gale, and Angela Kurek who are nurses working during this time.

Sermon, August 9, 2020

When we left the gospel last week, Jesus had just fed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. After they had eaten, well it takes a little bit to get 5000 men plus women and children headed off down the road. And Jesus needs some quiet time. He sends the disciples off- he’s going to send the rest of the crowd home and then he wants another couple minutes to himself-to pray.

Jesus trusts the disciples. He sends them out in the boat ahead of him. Start heading out- I’ll catch up with you later.  And they were fine, they maybe spent some time chatting about that miracle. They kind of needed a chance to catch their breaths from it too. And they were familiar with boats. You know maybe Matthew gets a little sea sick but most of them are fishermen – or they were until they were called. They are comfortable on a boat. In fact, most of them would have seen storms out on the water already- so this is under control. They’ve got this.

Then the wind starts to blow, and thunder crashes in the distance. They hurry but before they know it the little wind has turned into a full scale storm and their little boat goes up and down the waves almost capsizing and it’s not under control. Things are not OK. They do not have this. They are afraid. All night long they battle the waves- the wind is against them- the waves batter their little boat.

When the sky begins to lighten they are still fighting to keep the boat right and moving in the right direction. Their eyes are tired from straining in the dark. Their arms are tired from rowing. They haven’t slept and they are still afraid and then they see something on top of the water in the distance- walking over toward them. The closer it gets it takes shape- it’s a figure and they think it’s a ghost and their fear becomes all out terror. And just when their terror is ready to take over they hear a familiar voice: “Take heart, It is I, do not be afraid.

To the best of my counting, this Tuesday will be 150 days of this pandemic. If these days have  taught us anything it is how quickly things can change. How easy it is for life to go from everything being in control and heading one direction to out of control. I have felt just like the disciples sometimes, I bet you have too. Starting out in familiar territory- and then the wind starts to blow- the waves start to rock us- the storms come and not only are we not sure anymore, we are afraid.

Because when we are afraid it is that much harder to recognize Jesus even when he’s coming right to us. Sometimes when we are afraid, we interpret whatever else is coming as more danger or threat- even when the opposite is true. When we are afraid it is hard to think, it is hard to worry about anyone else, and it is hard to see God’s hand at work. Sometimes when we are afraid, we don’t see what Jesus is doing right in front of us.

The disciples are afraid as the waves crash and the storm rages and Jesus comes to them- he defies the laws of gravity and nature to get to where they are afraid. He walks on top of the water to get to them even though when he reaches them, they are so afraid that when the one they have left everything to follow, the one they love most of all approaches, they can’t recognize him, they think it’s a ghost, they see Jesus and feel even more afraid. Jesus doesn’t get angry or frustrated, In response Jesus says “do not be afraid.” “It’s me.” He responds to their fear with assurance.

Even with Jesus’ assurance- look at what Peter does next- He says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” “If it is you …” If.

There are only a couple of other times in the whole gospel when someone addresses Jesus with “if,” and they’re not pretty. The devil does it three times to Jesus when he tempts him in the desert, “If you are the Son of God,” make stones into bread, call down special privileges from God, worship me. When Jesus is hanging on the cross, people mock him, calling out, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” And here, Peter, the Rock, says, “If it is you, Jesus, command me to come to you on the water.” If. How should Jesus respond?

Well what he does is call Peter out of the boat. If you have ever taught someone how to walk or how to do something new, then you will recognize the way Jesus takes care of Peter here. Jesus invites him to try this new hard thing on his own, to step out of the boat and to stand on the water. Jesus never takes his gaze from Peter as he takes his toddling steps across the waves and when he starts to fall, when he starts to sink, Jesus is right there to catch him, and to teach him where he went wrong so he can be better in the future.

I wonder where you find yourself in this story in your life right now. Do you feel like the disciples as the pandemic, economic, politic, just plain ick storms rage around you? Are you trying with all your might to stay on course and just not to capsize? Do you feel alone and overwhelmed? Are you having a hard time recognizing where Jesus is coming to you? Are you Peter- wanting to step into this moment and try new things in faith, but not sure how to walk steadily and sometimes fear grabs ahold of you and you start to sink?

Wherever you see yourself in this gospel, keep your eyes on Jesus. Even in the midst of storms when it is hard to recognize him, Jesus is coming and present at your side saying in a voice that resounds over the thunder do not be afraid. Jesus is coming to you defying all that holds this world captive, even death itself. Jesus calls you to try new things in faith that are sometimes scary and hard, and as you take your first steps there is not one second that Jesus does not have close watch over you,  ready to catch you if you need it. Such is the love of God that you can trust -such is the amazing grace of God that will never let you down. Amen.

 

 

 

March 11- you’re not supposed to go it alone!

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves. Exodus 18: 13-26

Oh Moses, I have struggled with your problem too. In fact, it has been one of my biggest struggles.

Moses thought that being a leader meant he had to do everything himself. Thank God for Jethro’s strong words “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” And so he told Moses to take note of the people God had provided. To notice the gifts all around him- people who feared God and were trustworthy and hate dishonest gain and to lift them into leadership. And what will happen- “you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” In other words, when you try to do it by yourself Moses, no one is happy. If you share the load- everyone is.

When you have work that is too big for you- what stops you from asking for help? For me, I worry that I’m imposing. But the biggest worry, is that sharing the work means someone will think I’m not working hard enough. I bet you can guess what Jethro (and God!) would say about that!

If you are feeling overburdened today, especially if you are feeling overburdened in the ministry of God, look around. Who has God placed near you with the gifts to do this work alongside of you? Lay aside the arrogance of thinking you have to do everything. Lay aside the idea that you are asking something that is an imposition. In fact, not asking might be denying someone the opportunity to DO what God is calling them to do.  Take a deep breath – and delegate.

(a note to all who know me well and who minister with me at New Light- yes I heard that this word is for me! Please pray for me as I try)

Holy God, preserve me from thinking that I have to do it all myself and getting in the way of what you have called others to do. When I need it- send me a Jethro- and may the work in your name be done to your glory. Amen.

March 10… need a hero?

Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
    fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor;
    arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin[a]
    against those who pursue me.
Say to me, “I am your salvation.”

Psalm 35: 1-3

Sometimes life is overwhelming and the things we face too big. We live in a world where lies are easy to spread and attacks commonplace. And so it is easy to feel at war in everyday life. I am praying especially for anyone in our world who feels under siege in that way today.

If this is you- know that you aren’t the first of God’s children to feel that way. The scriptures are full of God’s people praying in response to unjust attacks that God would come to their protection and deal with the problem.

It is so tempting to think it’s all up to us- we must avenge ourselves. But, it is not our responsibility. Instead this is our prayer too- and God will answer. Just remember that God doesn’t always answer the way we expect. And 2000 years ago God answered the world’s prayer and the world’s need by going to the cross.

Holy God, transform the way of the world and bring peace. We will try to love our enemies as you command. Transform hearts that our enemies may turn and love us. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

 

March 5… say what now?

The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians. Exodus 12: 33-36

If you had asked me yesterday how well I know the Exodus story I would have told you I knew it very well. Moses in a basket, the burning bush, the plagues, passover, the parting of the sea… I have both read the book (several times) and seen the movie (animated and not!). But I tell you, I never noticed this amazing God stuff that happened on the way out of dodge once it was God’s time for the people to leave for freedom.

The Israelites- the slaves in Egypt- weren’t asking to leave anymore. Now the former power holders were encouraging them to leave and do it quickly and on the way out-  The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for

Say what now? Not only has God made it possible for them to head to freedom but the very people who were holding them are now handing over their valuables to fund the journey! Sometimes in the midst of already big miracles God is doing something just as tremendous in the details.

Once God makes a way- there is no telling what might happen. What are you enslaved to today? Know that God calls us to freedom and when God makes a way for that to happen- sometimes the very thing that held us captive can be a source of strength in our freedom, I’m thinking a modern example might be the recovering addict who finds a career as an addiction counselor or someone who struggles with depression using that wrestling as a tool to empathize with others. As God leads us to freedom sometimes what was oppressing us hands over what we need for what comes next.

May we be patient as God prepares and astounded by what God can do- today and all weekend.

Holy God, we get ourselves enslaved to all sorts of things – lead us into freedom and shake loose what we need from whatever holds us. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Friday, March 4… a weekend blessing

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word. 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17

If you live in the Baltimore area, outside your door today is one last winter gift. The little bit of snow we received is that perfect wet snow that sticks to the trees and is absolutely beautiful. One more snow of winter to remind us of our favorite parts of winter before we head into spring. A March morning blessing.

This word from 2 Thessalonians is a blessing too- a blessing reminding us of what God has already done for us and praying for the future.

As you go into this weekend:

May God comfort your hearts- and ease your burdens. Strengthen your hearts and give you courage for what is ahead. May that comfort and strength help you live your faith with good works all weekend long and good words too. May the blessings of God be on your tongue.

Holy God, thank you for the blessings you give us- help us be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name. Amen.

*photo credit: Earl Janseen, taken March 4, 2016

March 3… a new song

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love. Psalm 33: 1-5

There are songs of praise that stand the test of time- Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. And, every new person of faith finds their way to a new song of praise- language to shout for joy.

At New Light, we have found ways that music on the radio can be a song of praise. We have brought it to worship- singing “I’ll Stand by you” by the Pretenders and adapted “Here Comes the Son” by the Beatles’.

Listen to the radio carefully today- what song also is a song of praise if directed to heaven? Are there any that will open up your song to the Lord in a new way? Indeed the earth is full of God’s unfailing love.

Holy God we sing your joy in the morning and your praise when the day is done. Thank you for everything! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

March 2…. Beautiful feet

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

These spring like days have me ready to wear my sandals again but I will tell you the truth- my feet are less than beautiful. I will be pulling out my lotion and pumice stone and nail polish to remedy that… but these words from Isaiah remind me God has a different definition.

Beautiful feet are ones that bring good news, who proclaim peace, who proclaim salvation.

Think of all of the places your feet have walked already today. When have they carried good news? When have they brought peace? How have they proclaimed God reigns?

Whose feet have brought that word to you? Think about going back to that person and saying “Hey, beautiful feet!!” (and then explain- ’cause otherwise it’s a little creepy!)

Holy God- thank you for the feet that carry your word to me. Help my feet bear good news to the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, March 1… what do we expect?

** A note- sorry about the last 2 days. I have been sending this blog into my draft box instead of into the world. So now you get 3 for the price of 1!

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20: 24-28

For Jesus, authority looks very different than it does for the world. James and John wanted to be the very big deals. They asked Jesus if they could be the ones in power, next to him of course. Jesus said that for this community of disciples, power is not power over but service.

Today is super Tuesday and many are spending a part of the day casting a vote for one of the many people who are running for the office of President of the United States. Every election year, candidates speak about and are questioned about their faith.

It takes a certain amount of arrogance to believe about yourself that you should be the president. And, for those candidates who claim they are also people of Christian faith, shouldn’t we expect some humility too- for some clarity about service?

And maybe we should expect it of ourselves also? We are fortunate enough to live in a place where we have the freedom to choose our own leaders. Let us approach that freedom with humility and prayer.

Holy God, we pray for all who are running for office – call forth a high degree of accountability and integrity and a large measure of humility and dedication to serving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.