Is that you?

Is that you?

Dear Friends,

I am sometimes confused.

At a restaurant with my husband, the waiter stopped to check on us mid-meal. “Is everything excellent?” he asked. We looked at him quizzically. Was “excellent” our only option? What happened to “good” or “fine?”

Once upon a time, kneeling was a sign of humility or worship, as when proposing marriage or receiving a blessing. When did “taking a knee” become a sign of defiance?

How are we to think about the way our elected leaders speak to and of one another?  I can’t always tell if the confrontative language spoken between them is a sign of honest passion, or of callous disdain.

Wildfires in Northern California forced people to make split second decisions before fleeing for their lives. What to take with them? Car keys? Passports? Pets? Nothing? How does one choose when the flames are, literally, licking at your heels?

Though the lectionary texts we engage each Sunday are part of a three-year cycle designed decades ago, there is often an eerie connection between them and the issues we face.  This week? Confusion about options, needing to choose, being chosen.

Isaiah introduces us to Cyrus, a powerful Persian (translated: not Jewish) ruler in the 6th century BCE whom God chose to free Israel from exile. (Isaiah 45.1-7) God named Cyrus “anointed,” and gave him power to strip kings of their robes, mountains of their peaks, the wealthy of their treasures.  To the people of Israel, Cyrus would have seemed just one more foreign dictator. How could they have known that God chose Cyrus to do God’s work in their lives? He looked neither “anointed” nor even friendly.

Paul writes to a small church in Thessaloniki, isolated from other Christian communities by geography, and under siege from pagan neighbors. (1 Thessalonians 1.1-10) They faced enormous political and religious pressure to conform or recant. Paul instructed them to choose a way of life, just as God chose them.  “Imitate us. Imitate Jesus.”

The political tension in Sunday’s gospel is unmistakable. (Matthew 22.15-22) Jesus’ enemies banded together to confront him about his true allegiance. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” It was a simple question with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. But Jesus smelled their scheme and asked them a simple question in return. “Whose image is inscribed on the coin for the tax?” The answer was obvious. “Why, the emperor’s, of course!”

Suddenly, they faced a choice. They believed the emperor was a god. Jesus claimed to be the manifestation of the only God. Whom to serve? Whom to trust? What’s the right answer?

Please join us Sunday morning for Sunday Forum, during which James Nieman will further unwrap the gift of Luther’s understanding of “Vocation in Daily Work.” Our Sunday School children will sing and study at 9:30 a.m. During Worship, in addition to tackling tough texts, we welcome Annabelle Forte to the table for her First Communion.  Before she communes, she will serve as one of our readers, bringing the Word of God to us in her clear, calm eight-year-old’s voice.

Though we are often confused about how to think, how to speak, whom to trust, Annabelle is not confused at all. She knows she is deeply loved and protected by her family. She knows our congregation to be a safe and welcoming place. She knows that in receiving Jesus’ body and blood, she receives love and forgiveness and strength far beyond her own. She knows she doesn’t have to choose, because she’s already been chosen.

In a world of false choices and confusing voices, we can live with less than “excellent.” We will always “take a knee” before God whom we love and serve. Our words will be of forgiveness and hope. The gifts we treasure most are those that no fire can destroy.

Not really all that confused,

Pastor JoAnn Post

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Great! Great! Great!

Great! Great! Great!

Dear Friends,

We call it “Brushes with Greatness,” a getting-to-know-you game we inflict on guests in our home. Each person is invited to tell about meeting (or brushing up against) someone great. The “great” person can’t be your beloved Grandma or the neighbor kid who made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for jump roping, but someone of verifiable, public greatness.  Nor can you claim to “brush” someone just because you saw them once. For example, you can’t claim a brush with the Cubs just because you were one of the faithful few awake long enough to witness Wade Davis be crowned King of the Mound.  My go-to brushes? Jimmy Carter. Desmond Tutu. But, great as my brushes are, there’s always a hotshot in the group who caddied for the Pope, or sat next to one of the Tuskegee Airmen on an cross country flight, or spilled coffee on Elizabeth Moss at a Starbucks.

This morning I was reminded of a sort-of “brush” while listening to NPR on my way to work. One of their correspondents is a fellow Titonka, IA native named Danielle Kurtzleben. This morning she was reporting on the national gun control conversation. When I first heard her on NPR a few years ago I nearly dropped my morning tea– I recognized that voice, those familiar speech patterns.  Danielle speaks in the same genial, matter-of-fact fashion that all my farm neighbors use. She reports in a patient, good-natured tone of voice, unfolding complex stories so simply that you almost forget she’s an expert on the topic. Though Danielle and I have never met, I can claim to have “brushed” her greatness. She grew up on a farm just a quarter mile from my parents’ farm. I went to high school with her mom. I had a crush on her uncle. She looks just like her grandmother. Her work is something I once longed to do myself. She’s “great” in my eyes.

We are about to do the same at Ascension, to brush up against a great opportunity for ministry. After months of planning and consulting and measuring, on Sunday we launch a five-week capital campaign we’ve called Shine!  Why “Shine!”?  We are still basking in the glow of the “Imagine!” campaign of five years ago that gifted us with our gorgeous sanctuary and sturdy parking lot. From that “home plate” of ministry, we have been able to imagine our work in the world in new ways and on new pathways: worship and the arts, faith formation, community engagement. As our campaign brochure claims, “Five years ago we were invited to Imagine! Now it’s time to Shine!”

So what does  “Shine” mean for ministry? Mirrored walls? Lighthouse beacons? A Windex franchise? No, it means that we will stabilize our infrastructure, making sure our facility is efficient, secure, accessible and welcoming. When so much of our time and resources are spent chasing the latest furnace failure or patching another crack in the parking lot or dodging the health inspector, we are inhibited from greater purposes. Freed of concerns for malfunctioning stoves and modest debt and ancient HVAC systems and impossible-to-open front doors, we will be able turn our attention to the neighbors we have been called to serve.

Though an infrastructure campaign is something less than sexy, it is necessary. Necessary to create and stabilize a space for ministry to great and small, rich and poor, young and old. Necessary in order to Shine!

Please join us Sunday as we launch our Shine! campaign. We will welcome someone I think is great—campaign consultant Phyllis Wiederhoeft, whom I have known for 25 years. She will serve as our “Expert Witness” during Sunday Forum’s Vocation series, and preach at worship. Our children and their families will be invited into a five-week home project of learning to care and share for the neighbor. Our Sunday School Choir will serenade with “This Little Light of Mine.”  You will be invited to home gatherings to learn more about our plans and enjoy one another’s company. (Jim and I would love to welcome you to the gathering in our home Sunday afternoon, October 29.) And after we worship and pray and sing, we will adjourn to Fellowship Hall for a Kick-Off Sunday Tailgate Party.

Though few of us might be named in a game of “Brushes with Greatness,” you might be surprised to know of the “greatness” in our midst on a regular basis.  Our members and friends excel in generosity and kindness and selfless service and warm welcome. Speaking of great, it continues to be one of the great privileges of my life to be your pastor.  Thank you for your faithfulness to this ministry in the past, and your hope for what lies ahead.

As we pray over little ones at their baptisms, “Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  That’s why we need to Shine! For all of them.

Greatfully,

Pastor JoAnn Post

Someone? Anyone?

Someone? Anyone?

Dear Friends,

Someone had to tell Stephen Paddock’s 90-year-old mother that her son had turned a Las Vegas country music festival into a shooting gallery.

Someone has to tell 9 million soon-to-be-uninsured children that Congress allowed the expiration date of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to pass unremarked.

Someone has to tell the people of Puerto Rico that though the island is a U.S. territory and in desperate need, they may be on their own for hurricane recovery.

Someone had to tell my young neighbor that her pet box turtle, Peanuts, had gone missing and that hopes of his recovery were small.

I lived in Connecticut when the Sandy Hook Massacre took place in December 2012. For days, the whole state was in mourning and shock. We grieved for the parents of the murdered children and staff, and for the family of the shooter whose own lives were suddenly in peril. We wept for the Someone’s—our grieving governor among them—forced to tell those clinging to hope that a child, a brother, a mother would not be coming home.

Everyday Someone has to break bad news—some of it enormous, some intimate.

We all have fallback positions under stress—tropes or ideas or habits that comfort us and restore internal order. I typically retreat to literature or scripture, my go-to places for words when my own are not enough, for images when my mind’s eye is clouded. Words that come to mind this week? Sadness. Disappointment. Disbelief. Weariness.

How odd that Sunday’s texts (Isaiah 5.1-7 and Matthew 22.33-44) address God’s sadness. God’s disappointment. God’s disbelief. God’s weariness. With us. Isaiah writes of a beautiful vineyard whose vines turned on their vinedresser, producing small sour grapes rather than juicy purple orbs. Jesus tells a parable about tenants who forget that the land they farm is not their own, killing the landlord’s heir in misguided hopes of gaining the inheritance.  Though each of these texts speaks in metaphor, the truth they tell is unmistakable and unavoidable. We fail to recognize the gifts God gives us freely, without our asking or deserving. We fail to understand others to be workers with us in the vineyard, not as competitors or threats.

How quickly after the massacre in Las Vegas we aim accusatory fingers at one another, mirroring the blistering gun barrel aimed at an unsuspecting crowd. How crassly we decide that there is not enough for everyone, that we need to withhold attention and assistance from the “undeserving.”  How callously we rank suffering, pitting victims against one another on some macabre “heinous hierarchy.” Is it more deserving of attention to be shot or starved? Drowned or disdained? Shaken by earthquake or by hurricane or by inexplicable violence? To be white or brown?

Someone needs to tell the world’s grieving and frightened that it is “all clear.”

Someone needs to promise the ignored and alienated that there will be enough.

Someone needs to speak sense into our non-sense, order into our chaos.

Someone needs to break the Good News.

We listen for the voice of God in these troubled times, and the world listens to us. Might you be a Someone who speaks peace?

I cannot imagine God’s grief over the harm we cause one another, in both fits of violence and piques of disregard. To quote Isaiah, God planted a beautiful, lush garden which sprouted bitter fruit To quote Matthew, Jesus placed us in charge of treasure not our own, but we abused it and each other.

Our current trouble is not, fundamentally, about guns or global warming, ingratitude or insufficiency. Our current trouble is that we have forgotten who owns this vineyard, that we are all workers on someone else’s land, that all we need is already ours.

Please join us Sunday for Sunday Forum at 9 a.m., Sunday School at 9:30 a.m., and Worship at 10 a.m. You will be safe here, and loved. God will tend us as a Grower tends the vines.

Are you Someone?

Pastor JoAnn Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Elmer

My Elmer

Dear Friends,

My Elmer called Tuesday night, inviting me to run off to Puerto Rico with him. I had to decline.

Who is this marriage-wrecking, island-hopping Elmer?

“Elmer” is the name given to a person who mentors new ham radio operators. Though my husband (KB1MPN) and I (KD9HXX) have been licensed hams for more than a decade, our Elmer is still our primary link to the quirky, code-ridden world of ham radio.  He phoned to tell us that a call had been sent out to ham operators nation-wide about communication needs after Hurricane Maria. ARRL (American Radio Relay League) was in urgent need of 50 hams who could be stationed in Puerto Rico for three weeks to transmit both emergency and welfare traffic, since most other communication systems have been destroyed.

I would have loved to go. Who wouldn’t want to sit hunched over a crackling radio in a mosquito-infested tent with limited water, food or transportation for three weeks? (Seriously, I would have loved to go.) In fact, within hours, the Ham Call had been answered by more volunteers than were needed. The team left Thursday morning for duty.  Imagine a whole airplane load of poorly-shaved nerds clad in flannel shirts and suspenders, toting enormous bags full of antenna, headphones, radios and cable. It’s every Elmer’s dream.

Though ham radio operators are critical partners in emergency situations, no such nation-wide call went out after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Why? Help can get there.  By truck, tank or airplane, help was on its way to Florida and Texas within hours of the wind and rains subsiding. But Puerto Rico? It takes a container-laden barge five days to get from Florida to Puerto Rico. Airplanes can land, one at a time, every fifteen minutes, provided the airfields are open. Aid workers have nowhere to live. Supplies have nowhere to be stored. Coordination of assistance is a nightmare because of communication failures. And people are desperate. Hungry. Hot. Isolated. Afraid.  FEMA assures us that help is arriving as quickly as possible. I believe them. Mostly.

Part of me wonders if help is slower to get to Puerto Rico for two additional, less publicly acceptable, reasons. First, there is the matter of “compassion fatigue,” the documented weariness we experience when asked to care over and over and over. Second, I wonder if some of the foot-dragging is because Puerto Rico is not us.  I have heard, “Well, it’s not a state, so they are not our responsibility.” Others have murmured something about “real Americans,” barely masking the biases of race and class some of us hold.

Regardless of our politics or the media outlets we favor, as Christians we are responsible to and for all in need. When, in our Sunday morning prayers, we pray God’s mercy and protection for “all people,” we mean ALL people, no matter where they are or how we might feel about them.

Sunday’s scripture readings weigh on the injustices of the world and God’s attitude toward those injustices in uncanny ways. It’s almost as though God were speaking to us!  Please take a look at those readings in preparation for Sunday worship: Ezekiel 18.1-4, 25-32; Philippians 2.1-13; Matthew 21.23-32. In addition to worship, I will be teaching Sunday Forum, examining scripture texts in the light of “Vocation in Daily Life.”  Sunday School Children will sing and study God’s love for the unlovable.  I hope you’ll join us. It’s just not the same when you are away.

Meanwhile, hams are stringing make-shift antennae all over the island of Puerto Rico. Sweaty, exhausted volunteers are ferrying water and supplies to isolated corners. Help is on the way. And, as the two sons in Sunday’s Gospel reading—one of whom promises assistance but fails to act, and the other who refuses but later lends a hand—reveal their hearts by their actions, our hearts are exposed in the same way. Please join me in care and action for all in need.  If Elmer can do it, so can we.

This YL QSK to report QRRR, 73*

Pastor JoAnn Post (KD9HXX)

*YL: young lady

QSK: breaking in

QRRR: distress

73: best regards

 

Just Call Me Jonah

Just Call Me Jonah

Dear Friends,

God sent Jonah to Ninevah (near modern-day Mosul) to invite the city to repent. (Jonah 3.10-4.11) Jonah wanted nothing to do with it. He wanted the people of Ninevah to stew in their own juices for having earlier bested the people of Israel in a bloody war.

The church at Philippi struggled with unnamed “opponents,” whose presence tested the patience of this young church. (Philippians 1.21-30) What to do about those who opposed Jesus’ fledgling flock? Paul wrote, “Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Or as a friend summarized, “Mind your own knitting.”)

A fictional landlord hires fictional day laborers for his fictional vineyard. (Matthew 20.1-16) When the landlord paid all the workers the same wage, whether the worker started at dawn or only clocked in ten hours later, the early risers were enraged.  That the landlord would compensate them all the same, regardless of the duration or quality of their labor was an unmitigated affront. To his self-righteous workmen the landlord said, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Are you envious because I am generous?”

Each of Sunday’s texts raises the issue of “fairness.”  Shouldn’t the murderous people of Ninevah get what they gave? Couldn’t the early Christians turn on their “opponents,” beating them over the head with Jesus’ gospel of peace? Don’t hard workers “deserve” more than lazy ones?

The parent in me would respond, “Life isn’t fair.” The pastor in me would respond, “Who knows the mind of God?” The Lord whom I serve would respond, “Are you envious because I am generous?”  Hard to believe, but God does not view us or the world as we do.  And, too often, rather than seeking the mind of God, we expect God to agree with us. It doesn’t work that way.

On a recent road-trip on the buckle-side of the Bible Belt, I listened (briefly) to a Christian radio station. The talk show I heard was mulling the question, “What is God trying to tell us in sending recent hurricanes and earthquakes?”  What a stupid question. Before any of the guests could respond, I was yelling at the dashboard. You see, I have bitter memories of the blame laid at the feet of Muslims, persons who are gay and lesbian, liberal politicians after the events of September 11, 2001. It was clear to some who call themselves Christian that God allowed the Twin Towers to be obliterated as punishment for our nation’s wicked and promiscuous ways. (You may recall the same bullying blather after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.)  I expected more of the same.  After all, there is a dark swath of the Christian church that believes we get what we deserve, that sins (as they determine them) are punished, that all wicked chickens come home to roost.

When I stopped shouting at the radio long enough to listen, I was stunned. One of the commentators, a well-known conservative writer, began by apologizing for having promulgated those destructive views in both 2001 and 2005. “I was wrong,” he said. “God does not send disasters—whether those disasters involve airplanes or hurricanes—to punish anyone.”  I nearly drove off the road.  He went on, “Ours is not to lay blame for events outside our control. Ours is to care for people caught in harm’s way.”

What a disappointment. I hate it when hard hearts are softened, when closed minds are opened, when the Gospel does its work. Just call me Jonah.

Please join us Sunday as we study these texts, tackle these questions, face the hard truth of God’s love for sinners and Jesus’ appalling generosity. Before worship, we invite you to 9 a.m. Sunday Forum, where we continue “We Are Called” with James Nieman, and to Sunday School at 9:30 a.m.

Homes and businesses are hurricane-darkened in Puerto Rico, and will be for some time. Bodies lie unnamed and unclaimed under earthquake rubble in Mexico City. Suicide bombers and vehicular terrorists or gun-wielding gangs wreak havoc on quiet streets among unsuspecting people. What are we to say to this? Do any of us get what we have coming? What would it mean if we “got what we deserved?” What is our responsibility to those in need, regardless of how we feel about the “origins” of their plight?

Perhaps we could begin by mulling Sunday’s Prayer of the Day:

Almighty and merciful God, you show perpetual loving-kindness to us your servants. Because we cannot rely on our own abilities, grant us your merciful judgment, and train us to embody the generosity of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Sadly, still judging the judgers,

Pastor Jonah Post

Played

Played

Dear Friends,

Now that the hurricane winds have subsided and damage is being assessed, some say we were played.  Not by the meteorologists who worked tirelessly to track a constantly-shifting storm. Not by the millions of people caught in the hurricane’s headlights. Not by federal and state officials or insurance companies struggling to bring assistance and relief. Some believe we were played by our own insatiable desire for drama. Admit it—you spent more hours than you can count watching TV newscasters shout over the wind, palm trees bowing in homage to the gale, yachts sailing belly-up in parking lots. I’ve heard criticism of the networks and media outlets for shamelessly stoking the embers of our curiosity, but Anderson Cooper (of whom my mother always says, “What a lovely young man”) didn’t plant his winsomely handsome Self in the path of the storm for fun. He knew we were watching. And we were. If we were “played,” we have no one but ourselves to blame.

Sunday’s readings expose an apparently baked-in willingness to deceive ourselves.

The Old Testament reading (Genesis 50.15-21) is but a snippet of the much-longer Patriarchal Narrative. We get plopped into the last chapter of the Narrative, finding Joseph (remember the “The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat?”) seated on the throne, surrounded by his deceitful brothers.  The story is much too long to recount here, but the brothers fear that Joseph, now holding the highest office in the land of Egypt, will retaliate for their wicked deeds toward him. They tell a colossal lie, playing on Joseph’s affection for his recently deceased father. “Daddy’s last words were that he hoped you would forgive us.” (Their “Daddy” said no such thing.) Did Joseph buy the lie? Was he played?

We continue reading in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome (Romans 14.1-12). Paul urges them to cut each other some slack, to back off the game-playing and one-upping. Meat eaters criticized vegetarians. Saturday Sabbath Keepers mocked Sunday Sabbath Keepers. And the vegetarians and Sunday worshippers flung the insults right back at them. These early Christians were constantly elevating themselves by stepping on others, slathering their smallness with all sorts of noble-sounding motives and rationale. Was Paul played? Did God fall for the con?

And dear Peter. He can’t seem to keep his foot out of his mouth. (Matthew 18.21-35) Wanting to impress Jesus with his largesse, he offered to forgive anyone who sinned against him seven times. He expected Jesus to say, “Wow, Peter! You’re amazing! Seven times! I love you best of all!”  (Spoiler alert. That’s not what Jesus said.)

In each of the three readings, someone is seeking the upper hand, hoping to deceive another. And in all three cases, the player gets played.

Sunday morning finds us hard at it, after a blessedly calm summer.  Sunday Forum meets at 9 a.m. with an introduction to our year-long study of Vocation with James Nieman. Sunday School adopts a new schedule with class beginning at 9:30 a.m. During worship we introduce Sermon Story Time for our children. (Sunday School parents have received all this information, and we are happy to share it with anyone who asks.) During worship we wash adorable Zachary Gil Given in the waters of baptism. And we welcome everyone’s favorite Nursery Attendant Justine Mancilla back to the nursery during worship. (Be sure to wish her Happy Birthday—she turns 21 on Monday.)

Please join us Sunday. Please don’t succumb to the self-deception that you don’t have time for worship or education or Christian community, or that you can manage your ridiculously hectic life by yourself. We major in honesty here at Ascension—honesty about the storms and the sin and the sadness that blows around us all.  We may not be fancy, but we try to be faithful. To God and one another. And with no games.

Pastor JoAnn Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storms on the Horizon

Storms on the Horizon

Dear Friends,

As fires overtake the West, and earthquakes rock Mexico, and the Gulf and Atlantic coasts recover from and prepare for storms of biblical proportions, and immigrant “Dreamers” fear for their future, I’ve been thinking about another storm—“Isaac’s Storm.” (Erik Larson, Vintage Books, 2000)  In 1900, Galveston, TX was overwhelmed by a hurricane that left 6,000 dead—a hurricane made more destructive because no one saw it coming.  Larson juxtaposes the true personal story of meteorologist Isaac Cline with a chronicle of the infancy of scientific weather prediction.  Cline refused to believe that a storm of such magnitude could strike the Texas coast—he trusted his own instincts and experiences more than the incredible (but accurate) predictions and advice being offered by “experts” on the East Coast. 117 years after the fact we view Cline as a hopelessly naïve, hubris-filled failure, but perhaps we should be gentle in our assessments of him. We are not so unlike him.

Can trouble come? Of course. Can it overwhelm us? Absolutely. Are we foolish enough to pretend it can’t happen to us? Too often.

Sunday’s readings address the inevitable storms that surge through our lives.  The prophet Ezekiel (EZ 33.7-11) warns Israel in exile that unless they repent of their wicked ways (their specific wickedness is not named), they will surely die. Do they repent? You can guess the answer.

Paul writes to the fledgling Christian congregation in Rome (RM 13.8-14) about God’s absolute and un-nuanced expectation that they live in love toward one another.  But the love to which they are commanded has nothing to do with how they feel, after all, “love” has little to do with feelings. Love is an action. A decision. A way of life. The love to which Jesus’ disciples are called is not an emotion, but an unrelenting refusal to submit to our baser instincts that lead us to unfaithfulness, violence and envy. What happens when we ignore Paul’s admonition to love? Storms.  Storms in our homes, in our hearts, and at the highest levels of government.

Jesus instructs his disciples (Matthew 18.15-20) to do everything in their power to remain in relationship with one another. He outlines a process that we have turned into legislation (see “ELCA Model Constitution for Congregations”) because it is too difficult to live without being forced by law.  Jesus begins, “If another member of the church sins against you . . .” I know how to answer that question—at least my small, self-centered heart does. What do we do when we are harmed? We harm in return. We speak ill of the other. We hold a grudge. We magnify the fault. We claim victim status.  But Jesus intended neither legislative action nor cold calculation.  Jesus’ intent for us was that we do everything in our power to come to peace with those who have harmed us. And if the person who harmed us is unrepentant, we are to treat that person “as a Gentile and a tax collector.” That means we get to throw the bums out? No. It means we start over with them, we regard them as Jesus did—sinners worthy of his supper table, scoundrels in need of a second chance.

In the face of all the fear and trouble in the world, it seems a small thing to invite you to worship on Sunday. But if soaked-to-the-skin Houstonians and homeless Puerto Ricans feel the need to gather, it is important for us, too. Sunday is God’s Work Our Hands Sunday at Ascension and across the ELCA. We worship outdoors at 10 a.m. (Wear your yellow God’s Work Our Hands or your red Ascension shirts!) We fortify ourselves with brunch afterward, and then attend to two service projects for Lutheran Campus Ministry at Northwestern (LCMNU).  All you have to do is show up—battle the winds of apathy or cynicism or weariness and join us to sing, to pray, to offer shelter in the storms.  (And consider a financial gift to our days’ projects—we need another $300 to underwrite our service projects.)

We are not so myopic as Isaac Cline, closing our eyes and ears to dangers around us. We will not be accused of hopeless naivety and hubris. We will bear responsibility for our brothers and sisters in every place who suffer storms meteorological and political. Though we do not yet know what sort of material support is needed in storm-ravaged areas, we know that we can be there through our national church. Go to www.elca.org or www.lutheran.disasterresponse@elca.org to make a financial contribution to storm recovery efforts. As opportunities to act are offered, we will let you know.

It seems hard to believe that so much of our country is engulfed in tempest and tumult. I am grateful for today’s peace. But I know that storms will come—in the heavens, in our homes, in our congregation, in our political systems. Do not be surprised when the winds blow. Decide now how you will respond—with Repentance, with Love, with Refusal to Give Up.

Deciding today to Love,

Pastor JoAnn Post