Thursday, October 01, 2009 

new blog


Monday, September 22, 2008 

good to know

god has been so good lately, even in the face of a pretty crummy situation (the economy, people around me struggling to put food on their table, etc) that i want everyone...well anyone who reads say praise be to God! i continue to be amazed at how this Lord of ours works, how in the hardest and most difficult times of life God comes and rescues, comes and embraces, comes and moves and breathes hope to the despairing.

okay- so after an opening like that i think i better give some explanation. first of all, our little community of advent seems to be onto something in this neck of the woods and through different ministries i truly believe that we are living out our baptismal calling quite well. we have been offering a healing service of prayer for sometime now- i think it started sometime last winter- it started first with our youth group on Wednesday nights- once a month on the first wednesday- and then we decided to take it to the larger congregation once a month on the third sunday. anyway, the kids long for this service- it is done in a quiet, dark, candle-lit setting, with scripture, silence, meditation, a brief message and music. we then have a time when folks can come and be annointed and prayed for individually by myself or another person. when we started this ministry i was kind of skeptic thinking to myself that this will be nice, but really what are the kids going to think about it. oh how wrong i was. since day one, the kids have amazed me at what they bring forward, what they carry, and what they wish to have taken from them by the Lord. i am so humbled every time we do this that i get to be part of it, and that i get to see god working in such amazing ways first hand.

a couple of wednesdays ago it was time for the service. i got word earlier in the day that a senior in one of the high schools around here died in a tragic accident and knew that many of our kids would be impacted by that at some level. at the same time, one of our youth's father was waiting for a kidney transplant after many months, and a pretty serious kidney disease- so that weighed heavily on the minds of many as well as we were preparing for a benefit dinner to support them. well the stage was set for god to do something- that was my prayer, simple yet commanding- God move this night, do something to instill some kind of hope in these young people- and god answered....god moved, god prevailed....the young many who's father was awaiting the surgery was present, and for the first time in a long time he told me he was able to let go some of his fears, his pain, his anxiety- in fact he was so ashamed that he was visibly grieving that he left and went outside allowing the two of us to have some time to chat- my heart was broken by his plight, but my joy was great knowing that god was reminding him through this community that loves him how special he is, and that god is a god that does not abandon.

then last night...another long sunday- after a full morning we had a congregational meeting, and then the healing service in the evening- i was not that jazzed to be coming back to church at night after just getting home a couple hours before. i was not alone- one of the other leaders, n, admitted at the end of the service that he did not want to be their originally, but once again god moved, god filled, and god came to us in a way that completely and utterly amnazed everyone- the spirit heals, oh the spirit heals.

not sure why i wanted to write this particular note after not writing for so long...maybe i just needed to express how thankful i am for my calling, and for what god is up to. sure, there are do pay off the land so we can begin to worry about a to love those that seem to be wronging us and our ministry, how to control to survive- but man god is good. as i was sitting in silence last night, watching the water fountain, the candles, and the cross, i had this amazing sense of peace- like god reminding me this is where i am supposed to be- this is my calling, this is my vocation, this is my place, and these are the people i have been called to serve- i have had periods of those thoughts before,but last night it was as if i finally understood why this calling every evolved. i am at peace, and my prayer continues to be that i can be an agent of God's grace for this community and for this church. thanks be to god for being faithful, and for taking a chance on a seminary grad from minnesota- going to northern michigan to develop a new congregation- looking back that seems ridiculous, i had no clue....heck i still don't but god's grace is sufficient. amen.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008 


I have been thinking a little lately about the ministry of preaching, and specifically what is the purpose of preaching in my setting here at Advent. I was in Chicago at the ELCA offices this Monday for a conversation with nine other preachers from across the ELCA, a couple of Worship Staff from the ELCA office, and the Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson. Apparently, Bishop Hanson hopes that a Churchwide conversation regarding preaching can begin to take place- frankly he stated that there is a lot of bad preaching in the church. I was quite humbled to be there, and still not entirely sure why/how etc. I was recommended. The day was great and I took a lot back with me, but I continue to wonder what is "supposed" to happen in the event of preaching.

Today in Bible Study I asked those gathered to help me think about this a little more- and we had a wonderful conversation. Answers ranged from "make the Bible make sense to me and my life" to "challenge us to look deeper at our life and how we live out our faith with the Word as our foundation". Good stuff-and all part of it...but what else? Or is there nothing else? Anyone out there have any thoughts on this?????

Saturday, March 22, 2008 

Holy Holy Week Ramblings

Holy Week has been exceptionally special this year. Granted, it has been a very long week with many extra things going on and I have noticed this year the toll on my kids with me being gone every night this week starting last Sunday. Yet, even in the midst of being tired I find myself so spiritually alive, and so excited for the way the Spirit has been at work at Advent. I do have to say however that I am bumming on how the NCAA tournament had to start this week- I mean that should be illegal. How can one focus on the tourney in the midst of Holy Week!

One of the most rewarding things we did this year at Advent was time for individual confession and absolution. I have often wanted to offer this thinking the service in the ELW is pretty good, and it seemed like the right time to do it. I scheduled two days in which I would be available for people to sign up for an appointment. At the outset I did not think many would take me up on it, but by the time the week was over about ten tried it. Now, ten by no means is a huge number, but for me and those ten people I believe it was amazing. I am confident it will grow more and more each year. I was humbled to hear the things I heard and reminded of the amazing call in which I find myself. One person shared something that was part of their inner secrets for 35 years- wow, God opened up many hearts and shone brightly in our little church.

I am not sure where we are headed as a congregation but feel that prayer and intentional prayer at that must be part of who we are. Over the course of the last several months we have started a monthly healing service and the response has been amazing. It strikes me how people crave silence, and stillness and we have tried to capture that during this service as well as during Lent. People come to be prayed for and I believe leave being lifted up. God touches us in so many ways! And apparently, according to my son Logan God comes to us in smell during Holden Evening prayer- Last week as we were singing Holden Logan whispered to me that the candle he was holding smelled like God. I began to laugh, and then wanted to cry at the innocence and openness of that comment. And who know, maybe just maybe God was putting forth a sent for my boy and he was touched at that moment. Where else may God be coming to us?

Well after tomorrow and celebrating Easter we will be heading for a little R and R- can't wait to have the time as a family on the beaches of Florida!


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Wednesday, February 13, 2008 

ebb and flow

so i have been wondering lately when it is okay to "plateau" to use a word that the ELCA EOCM uses as a scare tactic. here is the thing, since the very beginning advent has exceeded mosts everyone's expectations- including my own. the growth has been a blessing from God indeed, but at sometimes that kind of fast growth creates an sense of insecurity and fatigue. however, we have been able to maintain great ministry throughout.

recently, our growth has plateaued a bit, not seeing many new faces for the last 3 or 4 months. part of me wants to panic as I feel a need to continue and push forward and extend our welcome to those in our community that still are sitting at home on sundays- there is such a need and we i believe have a way of meeting that. the other part of me wonders what can we learn during this "dry time" and perhaps what part of this is healthy for any congregation. i guess my biggest fear is complacency- that those have gathered here now for a while are getting comfy with who we are and what makes us up. to me complacency leads to death....

so what insight do you have?