Musings

“Then Jesus said to Simon,’ Do not be afraid: from now you will be catching people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:10-11
 
The story of Jesus invitation to Simon Peter to “catch people” is a familiar one to many of us in the church.
 
I hear a story of resistance and mission. Here the resistance comes in contemporary terms as “that is not my experience, but I will comply so you will see for yourself.” The mission comes as a change in paradigm. For Simon Peter, this event was so profound he dropped to his knees, confessed his doubt, then left the life he knew to follow a man he just met. Why?
 
In a world like the one we live in today, there are many good reasons to just stick with what we think we know. We too are resistant to seeing things from another angle/perspective/viewpoint. Who are we listening to? How are we making room for Jesus to continue to transform us?

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Highlighting February Events

As I prepare to depart on my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I’m acutely aware just how much is scheduled to happen at SAKLC right after I return! (That’s the problem with an all-expenses-paid journey provided by an non-SAKLC source; the timing is beyond my control.) So, in addition to the thanks due to Pr. Wogen for agreeing to lead worship here on February 10th; and to Dcn. Kim for her additional labors while I’m gone; I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the following events in the life of the congregation in the month of February:

  • The music classes offered by our Minister of Music, Michael Bodnyk The concert that will be held in our meditation garden. (See February’s Keynotes for details.)
Mondays, February 18, 25 and March 4, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm or
Wednesdays, February 20, 27 and March 6, 10:00 am – 11:30 am.
(Simply attend the day/time most convenient for you.)
 
The following topics will be covered:
 
Session 1 (2/18 and 20):  The Reformation
Session 2 (2/25 and 27): The Lutherans in America
Session 3 (3/4 and 6): What we believe (the Sacraments), and how we’re structured (polity.)
 
Lot’s of opportunities for learning and for fun at SAKLC.  See you there!


“Spiritual Gifts”

Luke 4:21-30 (Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
 
Folks may be tiring of hearing me say this…when looking at a biblical text, take a moment to look at what comes immediately before and after the text at hand – it can be illuminating! Let’s look at the verses which bookend 1 Corinthians 13:
 
But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way (12:31)
Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts (14:1)
 

Clearly, Chapter 13 is related to Paul’s concept of “spiritual gifts.” That’s all the clearer when one looks at the gifts that Paul addresses in Chapter 12, beginning with these familiar words:

 
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  To one is given through the Spirit…to another…(12:4-8).
 
These gifts include: speaking in tongues (12:10, 28, 30); prophecy (12:10, 28-29); and knowledge (12:8). Clearly these gifts are…well, gifts. They are good. But in Chapter 13 Paul reveals a “more excellent way” (12:31). And, to doubly reinforce the connection being made here, the more excellent way is contrasted with the very gifts that Paul has just sung the praises of:
 

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Do you feel called to offer yourself as a Eucharistic Minister at SAKLC?

For many people, the Lord’s Supper (or Holy Eucharist) is a fundamental part of their faith. That encounter with God in Christ Jesus, the grace received, and the forgiveness bestowed, is at the very core of their faith lives. Those in worship each Sunday have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament each Sunday. However, those who are hospitalized, or are resident in a care facility, or are housebound, have no access to weekly communion. The ELCA addressed this reality by including a rite of sending in the new red service book and hymnal (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, or ELW). This rite allowed for the taking of the elements of Holy Communion from the community at the table (that’s us!) and out to those unable to be present. Thereby, our meal becomes their meal; and our celebration, their celebration. So, a lay person taking Communion to someone’s bedside isn’t pretending to be a pastor – they’re not presiding at the bedside! – instead, they’re sharing Sunday’s Supper.
 
In order for all to receive weekly Communion who wish to do so, many ELCA congregations recruit, train, and send out Eucharistic Ministers.  Here’s an explanation and description that ministry which I recently shared with the SAKLC Care Team:
 

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The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

Luke 4:14-21 (Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a)
 
Two weeks ago, we read that:
 
… when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
 
In this week’s text we read that
 
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone (Luke 4:14-15).
 
We can see why word had spread about him; and we can see clearly that the Holy Spirit remained with him and filled him. Or, as a more literal translation of verse 14 would put it, Jesus was “armed with the Holy Spirit.” Thus armed, Jesus began to teach, and with great initial success. And then he went home….

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Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

In February, I have the incredible blessing to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. (I have never had this opportunity before, and it has long been on my bucket list.) An additional blessing is that the pilgrimage is fully funded by a fraternal organization, the Knight Templars. This very generous organization annually sends around seventy Christian clergy (liberal and conservative, men and women) to the Holy Land. I am so very grateful and will share more about this organization when I return.
 
For now, I ask for your prayers as I prepare for the pilgrimage. It is a physically demanding trip – and, well… have you seen my physique?! There is also a period of study before, during and after the journey. And, of course, the Holy Land is not entirely at peace.  So, please, keep me in your hearts and prayers until I return.
 
And, I thank SAKLC for this study leave. I need it! It is all too easy for a pastor to become focused solely on tasks, challenges, schedules, and the like. To recharge spiritually; focus on Jesus; contemplate Sacred Scripture; immerse oneself in prayer; journey with colleagues… then return to ministry within this wonderful congregation, is an awesome blessing.
My thanks, in advance, also go to Deacon Kim who will pick up many of my responsibilities while I’m away; and to Pr. Wogen who will preach and preside on the Sunday I am gone.  Great colleagues are also a blessing!
 
Pastor Blyth


The First of his Signs

(Isaiah 62:1-5, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

John 2:1-11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Jesus’ ministry begins “on the third day.” Our minds inevitably go to Jesus saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up… But he was speaking of the temple of his body” (John 2:19, 21). But that is not the only reference to Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection in this week’s text. Note the reference to Jesus’ “hour” which “has not yet come” (vs. 4). This is a concept that comes up several times in John’s Gospel, as one scholar points out:

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Important Congregation-Wide Meetings

At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, the leadership of SAKLC proposed several future-focused staffing decisions based on the departure of the director of music, the imminent departure of a long-serving administrative assistant, and the expiring contract of the deacon. As the Finance Committee and Council moved through the budget process, a reasonable assumption was made: that our 2017 drop in income was due to the protracted pastoral transition, and that our 2018 income would return to the normality of 2016 levels. Sadly, our income in 2018 mirrored almost exactly that of 2017, producing a significant and unsustainable deficit.

And so, how to balance our budget in 2019? If SAKLC enjoyed significant pledging, we could estimate future income effectively… but it isn’t. So, chastened by our experience in 2018, a very realistic 2019 budged began to develop. The proposed 2019 budget will soon be mailed to all voting members of the congregation, and be made available at church, via Connections and on our website.


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To Tell the Truth

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 (Isaiah 43:1-7, Psalm 29, Acts 8:14-17)

Many of the readers of this devotion will remember with fondness the old television show To Tell the Truth. During the show, the contestants and the viewers were presented with a several people each of whom claimed to be something/someone interesting – a lion tamer, or some such thing. At the end of the show, the constants were asked to guess who was for real: “Would the real lion tamer please stand up!”

As Luke’s gospel progresses, the issue becomes, “would the real messiah please stand up!” Is it John the baptizer, or is it Jesus? The issue is important, as John himself points out:

I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire (Luke 3:16-17).


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There, is love.

There’s a saying that I come across once in a while:

Those who are knowledgeable, know that Frankenstein wasn’t the monster:

Those who are wise, know that he was.

A similar thought comes to me each time I see this cartoon.

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My soul magnifies the Lord!

Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb (Luke 1:39-41).

There’s a lot going on in this Lukan text. The messenger (John) and the message (Jesus) meet. And, when John (intrauterine) makes a commotion – it’s his very first prophecy! (Remember also, the leaping twin in Rebecca’s womb – Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:20).


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Technology Truly Can Bring Us Together

For several weeks now, our worship services have been “broadcast” live on the church’s Facebook page.  Folks out of town (and even out of the country!) have been ably to join us in real time or catch up later. 


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Rejoice in the Lord always

Philippians 4:4-7 (Isaiah 12:2-6, Luke 3:7-18)

Gaudete Sunday, that bright spot in the somewhat penitential season of Advent, is here! Marked by the joyful color of pink (in churches where the third candle and chasuble change for the day), this is a day of rejoicing:

Gaudete in Domino semper/Rejoice in the Lord always (Phil 4:4)


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