My Holy Weekend

Note: I must warn anyone who is preparing to read this. I will most likely ramble and go on tangents during this blog. These are my raw feelings following a great weekend of worship. I hope you find something of worth in these writings and that your Easter was as equally meaningful.

The churches in which I am honored to be called the Pastor had some amazing worship experiences this weekend. I am moved and humbled by God’s spirit that was present during these times of community. It was a great thing, both personally and professionally to be a part of these 4 worship services (Good Friday and 3 Easter).

Good Friday was a tenebrae service where we reflected through readings and song. It was something new for both me and the church to experience. This was also the first holiday season worship that I was given complete control over as a pastor. The former associate had always taken care of Good Friday, so we didn’t change that, but I did include the senior pastor in the service this year. As dark and sad as this service can become, it really opened me up spiritually as a person and leader to prepare for the Easter celebration. I was moved by the response of those in worship, as they felt somber following the service. This night reminded of why I responded to my calling, and why I continue with all the stress that is involved at this point.

Easter Sunday was amazing. I must admit, I wasn’t too crazy about the 7:00am service, but felt renewed once it was over. The choir (which we only have twice a year) sang wonderfully, with new voices joining them this Easter. A choir can always get you in the Easter spirit. It seemed like everyone who came to worship today was prepared to be joyous, and it helped me lead worship. I lead everything but the children’s sermon and the sermon. I was blessed with being able to preside over Holy Communion on this Sunday. I used the liturgy for the most part, but from memory, and gave the story of how that night came to be when Jesus shared with the twelve. I hate to say this, but my best sermon may have not been a sermon at all. I hadn’t pre-planned very much of what I was going to say, but truly felt moved this morning to the point where I knew everything would be just fine and people would experience God’s grace through the Bread and the Cup. Being able to serve the congregation in this way is one of the most meaninful things that I experience. Using the rememberance of Christ in this way to welcome all to commune together is the theological high that cannot end for me. Easter was real for me this year, very real. I don’t know that I’ve experienced such a thing before, but hope to experience it much more.

Grace and Peace,
Z

A Prayer For The Day

Gracious God,
Your unending love shelters us,
guides us,
empowers us,
no matter our place on the journey of life.

You came to be with us and among us,
traveling the roads,
feeling the pain and hardship,
giving freely of yourself.

May we recognize this presence among us,
and act similarly in love towards one another.
Guide us in the ways of peace in our relationships,
our communities,
and our soul.

We know we fall short and often are troubled,
but you are there with us.
Help us to recognize the pain we cause others,
and forgive those who harm us.
This truly is the way that leads to life.

This Holy Week we journey together,
realizing Christ’s struggle for us.
As we journey, we experience you in our midst,
and receive tangible gifts of love and compassion amongst the pain.
Through the struggle of life, we see what means the most.
Be with us, comfort us, live among us.

In the name of the Risen Christ,
Amen.

Random Acts of Kindness

I saw this article in the Lincoln paper last week, and then we discussed it at our weekly Lenten study. It sparked a lot of good discussion about helping others and what we should do as Christians. There were many diverse opinions on whether social justice is merely enabling people to live off of others or if it was needed. It was test of my skills as a pastor and teacher to stay calm with my own opinions and allow the discussion. All in all, it was a really good discussion and I wish more people could have been involved. Check out the article below!

Grace and Peace,
Z

Anonymous Club Donates to Others

“I chose the little gal who got raped at the tanning salon.”

A woman with pretty fingernails turns the pages of a scrapbook. She stops on a pink page devoted to the 19-year-old tanning salon clerk.

She read about it in the paper. She doesn’t know the 19-year-old’s name and the young woman won’t know hers. That’s one rule: You stay anonymous.

She glued a copy of her letter into the scrapbook.

Hello,

I belong to a group of anonymous local women called RAK. It stands for Random Acts of Kindness. We meet monthly and put a little money together for people who could use a ray of sunshine sent their way.

She sits with her group at Buzzard Billy’s. They drink margaritas and beer. They play old-school trivia. They laugh and chat.

They quiet down when it’s time for the woman with pretty fingernails to announce this month’s recipient.

She tells them how, the other day, she walked into the tanning place with the letter and the $240.

Whoever hosts the monthly meeting chooses to whom that month’s money goes.

You panic at first, when it’s your month. But something always comes up.

“Unfortunately.”

You read something in the paper, she says, or you hear a friend tell a sad story.

Her fingernails glide across other pages of the scrapbook, stopping on photos of people the group has helped.

There’s a picture of a Lincoln High kid from Sudan. A woman in the group had heard how he worked and cared for his younger siblings and how someone stole his van.

There’s a 2-year-old Minnesota boy killed in a tornado. The photo shows him smiling under the brim of a cowboy hat that’s too big. He holds a toy horse, as if he’s ready to ride.

There’s Dick and Jane Kreifels, who’ve taken in three men with disabilities, Bob, Scott and Mark. Mark’s arm is around Jane’s neck in the photo.

I want you to take this money and do something fun with it.

Some of this group’s women are teachers. One works in real estate. One is a counselor. One does fingernails.

Several pages of the scrapbook are devoted to group fun nights. Like the pajama party at Mahoney State Park. White wine. Smiling women.

That’s another rule: Find fun people for your group.

Fun, responsible people.

Use it to pay a bill you’ve needed to take care of, get a new outfit, go get your hair done. WHATEVER!!

Last April, someone in the group chose a 17-year-old who was riding in a car that crashed into a tree. His page includes a newspaper photo of the crumpled car.

The woman with pretty fingernails started this group after her own teenage daughter got in a wreck, one so bad the driver died. Her daughter spent a long time in the hospital.

One day in those dark months, a woman she knew handed her an envelope. It contained money. And a letter.

“Oh, my God.”

Her eyes fill with tears, remembering the moment.

“I still have her letter. She said just to pay it forward.”

So she started this group.

She took her daughter with her to drop off the money and letter at the tanning salon.

We want you to know how exceptionally sorry we are for your recent troubles, and let you know there are people everywhere thinking and praying for you – some you’ve never met.

Take care and God Bless you!!!

Random Acts of Kindness.

My bad…

It’s been a few days since I last posted. So much for every day during Lent, but things happen and here’s where I am. I’ve been busy and at times not so busy lately, but I’m okay with falling behind on the blog.

As I stepped away from the online part of my life this last weekend, I had a great time. For the first time that I can ever remember I chose to set aside meetings and events I needed to attend to just enjoy myself and do what I wanted. I feel really good about that. I was able to spend time with some people I haven’t seen enough of, and was able to meet some new people. Taking time to enjoy life when it seems like it’s the hardest to do really does pay off. I’m less stressed about things right now, and just want to enjoy a couple more days and this beautiful weather.

So my challenge to you is to take a moment or two, or if you can a day or two, to just pause and enjoy things you did before. Take the time to rekindle your passions and joys. These are the things you take with you, that remind you of how great things can be. If I can do it, I think anyone can.

Grace and Peace,
Z

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference;

Living one day at a time;
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it:
Trusting that you will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with you forever in the next.

Connection…

I claim that human mind or human society is not divided into watertight compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one another. – Gandhi

Short and simple post for this day. Everything is connected in our world, we cannot separate things into nice compartments and hope to keep things apart. Religion will influence politics and society, just as each of them will influence religion. Our mission is not an either/or mission. We must integrate these different aspects of life in order to remain relevant to people. These are real situations, and need to be thought about.

What are your issues this day that connect to multiple areas of life? How do you work through them? If you can’t work through them, how can the process begin? What do you need?

Grace and Peace,
Z

Our Community…

After looking at my work load for school next week, I realized that I had less to do than I expected. So I decided to relax and enjoy the day today. I wish the weather was nicer, but being indoors is just fine at this point. I spent the morning watching and listening to old sermons and songs that I have kept for one reason or another. Many are from my experiences at General Conference in 2004 and 2008. I save these things as reminders of why I keep going and why I need to stay where I am to work on things.

There is a huge community to come together in God’s name, and it’s not easy or pleasant all the time. No matter how things get, we need community. We need each other. As I was watching a sermon for the 2008 conference, I kept watching the worship and a very simple song came up. In its simplicity it overpowered the service and the conference, driving home the message of the day, we all need to work together and be there for each other.

I need you
you need me
we’re all apart of God’s body
stand with me agree with me
we’re all apart of God’s body

It is God’s will that every need be supplied
You are important to me
I need you to survive

I’ll pray for you
You pray for me
I love you
I need you to survive
I won’t harm You
With words from my mouth
I love You
I need you to survive

I pray that each of you find that community to feel welcome and loved. Whatever troubles you this day, whatever is heavy on your heart, I hope that you find comfort in the prayers and love of others. I know I am thankful everyday for my community, and pray daily for them. We need each other to survive.

Grace and Peace,
Z

Let’s Give It A Try…

I wasn’t sure how I was going to find time to blog today, but thankfully my class this morning is like freshman biology again. We are hearing a presentation on the basics of plants. It wasn’t really that exciting the first two times I learned it, and nothing has changed this time.

Recently after a discussion with a friend, I was made aware again of the need to share our goals and dreams with one another. We may find new ways to make them happen with the help of others. We can work together to change a lot of things. Thanks for the reminder, Katie! 🙂

Today, I want to encourage some interaction and discussion. In my last few blogs I have shared my hopes and dreams for ministry for the church. What are you hopes and dreams for the church? for your ministry? for you life?

Share, discuss, travel the journey together.

Grace and Peace,
Z