Father’s Day

I’m not quite sure what makes a good Dad. I’ve tried different things, like trying to be tougher, tighten up the bed times or mandate the vegetables. I try and do and say the right things, to love my son’s mother, and try to set a good example in all things. Most of all, I am pretty quick to say I’m sorry, or forgive me.

There is a man from my former congregation who I invited to speak one Father’s Day. He said his kids always knew that his “no meant no”. I think my strong-willed-guy thinks my ‘No” is where negotiations begin. But this guy has his youngest of 3 graduating high school and getting scholarships and honors just like the older two. Maybe I’m jealous of that, or wonder how does he do that while another guy molests or beats up their mother? It’s a mad, mad world somebody said.

In Seminary there was a push to have more inclusive language for God. I’m all for the maternal nature of God and the idea that God can’t be “boxed in” as such. I don’t mind the Father language for God. I kind of like the Abba Father, which as you know is a tender term meaning something more like “Daddy”.

Of all the memories of my original weekend the song “Abba, Father” is close to my heart. Such a powerful lyric despite the hand motions (I don’t like hand motions, btw). But I pray for all of us in VDC national and local that we would always be open to allow God to mold us and fashion us. I think we all should pray that we would be One in Christ Jesus. And that in the end, all glory and praise goes to God, who gave His son to die for us, so we could live forever.

Jesus paid a debt he did not owe, so that we would not have to owe a debt we could not pay.

So whether you think you are a great Daddy or not, and whether you had a good Daddy or not, join me tonight in giving thanks for our Father God!

“Your Father in heaven knows what you need before you ask. Pray this way “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day or daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, and do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from evil.” Matthew 6:8

Happy Father’s day (every day isn’t it??)
Peace,
Pastor Doug

RHC

The hospital has a term for when a patient has died. It is “RHC” meaning respiration has ceased. We use those initials so no visitors or other patients might hear the words death, died, passed away, etc. We speak in secret code so that as the nurses make notifications from the nurses station they can say RHC and not “so and so died”.

Tonight I’m paged to be with a family for a woman near death. As I arrive on the scene the family is in tears gathered around the bed. Because the patient has some type of infection we wear gowns and plastic gloves. I come in to be with them and the daughter asked for prayer. We join hands with the gloves on and I pray.

Words come hard at times like these. I make a few words, bring some comfort where I can and hug where and when appropriate and just wait silently. The grandson says something about her favorite TV station that she left on all the time at her home. We switch to that station, the daughter next to her tells her it’s on (she is basically not conscious). A few minutes later she gently stops breathing, and she RHC’s!

I don’t know if you’ve ever been with someone at the time of death. It’s a powerful thing. She falls asleep here and wakes up there. She was so quiet and so peaceful. The difficulty in breathing stopped and she relaxed her body.

This Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday and we celebrate God the creator, Jesus the redeemer, and the Spirit the sustain-er! The family is sustained by the Spirit, thankful for Jesus redeeming their loved one from sin to eternal life.

The love and hug one another and, as death often does, draws them in closer.

Blessings for a good weekend and continue to pray for our team in Denver and for all who will come, not for RHC obviously but for VDC!!!

Peace,
Pastor Doug

My Friend Carl

My friend Carl died last week. His wife, Mary, left the news on my voice mail. Terrible way to get the information but then when is it ever a good time to hear of a friend’s death? Carl and I have known each other for probably 7-8 years. He was a member of my congregation I first served from 2000-2005. After I left there he stayed in touch with me and came over (40 minutes one way roughly) to my current town to worship at our services or to meet me for lunch.

We’d talk about his health, which was failing him rather quickly. Carl was hugely overweight and had trouble with his knees and back. But we’d go over that, issues in our personal lives or I’d share about some problem within the congregation. He’d encourage me forward like a good friend should. The food would arrive and he would say “Do your thing” and I”d pray.

Carl was a fallen away Catholic and was pretty angry with the church. He was angry, generally. Estranged relations with his son, a marriage that was just hanging in there, and a part time job at a local helping agency.

During this last couple of months he spent about 2 weeks here in the hospital I serve. I visited with him as often as I could. Several times I went to his room and he was sound asleep. I knew he didn’t sleep well so I left him alone and when we did visit he would have a few caustic words about the lack of care he was getting and how he never seemed to know what was going on.

So his services will be this week and I’ll make it a point to be at the visitation so I can see him one last time. I’ll greet some friends we have in common, a pastor friend of mine will do the service. Then, I’ll get in my car and drive wherever. And as I do I’ll do what I’ve been doing alot since he died.

I’m thinking about friendships. I am thinking about how I was thinking about visiting Carl at his rehab facility where he’d been sent to get physically better. I’ll wonder why I didn’t go see him that week when I wanted to. I’ll wonder why, before he came to the hospital, the lunch we were supposed to have got put off.

Then I’ll look to my other friendships and renew my pledge to reach out. I’ll now initiate connection more often and renew those relationships that have gone stale. I’ll set up lunches and invite people over to my home. Join me in not putting off those friends who, when they die, we will miss.

And, ultimately, for Carl, me and for you we can point to the One friend we all have, forever and ever. We can point to the One friend who already died. But, for Carl and all of us, death was not the end of the story. Jesus defeated death and rose again. Wow, that will lift my spirits this week. That Gospel will be the center point of the funeral sermon. And along with other thoughts as I drive away, I’ll give thanks for what a friend we have in Jesus!

God Bless You

Amen,
Pastor Doug

Allergies

Today I visited my allergy doctor for my annual checkup.  I’ll bet you’ve done something similar…the annual follow up to see how things are going.  I was tempted to ask how much weight I might have gained over the year but didn’t!!!

I was tested for allergies about two years ago and I have allergy to pet dander and various outside pollen, weeds, grasses, etc.  I forget exactly how many things were found when I got the test of 100’s of needles in my back!!

Everything went fine today and new prescriptions were written for the two nose sprays I take.  I also take a Claritin tablet as well among all the other meds.

The weird thing was when I went to check out we made my next appointment for May 9, 2013.  The receptionist asked me what time of day was better for me.  I thought it was almost funny to try and imagine what will be going on for me in a year.  I have no idea!  I don’t know what will be going on in my life next year at this time.  I think it is interesting to “assume” that we will even be here at all.  I could die tomorrow, or step in front of a bus as the saying goes.

We may not know what next May will bring, or even what tomorrow will bring.  We don’t know what the national meeting will be like in late July; we don’t know anything about anything more than this moment!  God did not say “I will be” or that “I was”.  God did say “I AM” which as weird as that sounds to us today, it just speaks to me of a present moment God.  Yesterday is forgiven, tomorrow isn’t here yet so we need not be anxious or worried!  Enjoy the present, a real gift!

“There is a time for everything under the sun” says Ecclesiastes!  And I would add there is a time for everything under the SON!!!  There is a time for God to lead us, to walk beside us to encourage us, and a time for God to be behind us as the Lord catches us when we fall.  God Bless you today, tomorrow and always!!!

 Pastor Doug

Tulips — Holy Week, Easter and beyond!

Greetings Friends!

Grace and peace be with you all for Holy Week, Easter and beyond!

Just like everyone else in the neighborhood, I tacked the yard for the first time this spring. I have a fairly large yard and I am thankful for whomever invented the riding mower (I just hope there is no video recording of me trying to get out of the culvert last summer). I feel overwhelmed with the yard. There is so much I could do, but not very much I want to do. I love a nice looking yard, I just would rather someone else do the work. I suppose being on this side of 50, a certain amount of fatigue, and apathy against trying to keep up with my neighbor has something to do with it.

Two years ago we had a new septic system put in and the guy trashed a good portion of the center part of our yard. (btw, do you think this is funny? On the first day the septic guy started to work, I gave him my cell number and said “Call me if anything comes up!”)

So I feel like I’m running on a treadmill as it relates to the yard, and seem to get by with the standard cutting, trimming, and picking up sticks. Having a wooded lot makes me mad…I was prepared to rake but not to pick up sticks. Sticks of every size and shape fall all the time, all over the yard. So it seems like payback to make a pile in the backyard and have a fire! My two dogs make it more difficult to do what I want to do. They leave gifts all over the yard and I have to take my pooper-scooper-upper and a bag and do the walk, once again hope no neighbors are watching. It’s just not cool to wave to someone driving by with the scooper in your hand.

So I’m out in back this weekend and I get a surprise. My wife, Sandi, says that when the septic guy moved dirt he moved her flowers around. So at the edge of my yard, in the midst of some dirt, weeds and whatever else these two bright red tulips bloom!! It was like the poster years ago that showed a dandelion growing up out of the sidewalk somewhere in New York, I think. So cool. So naturally I cut around that and will trim carefully to leave the two tall bright red tulips alone! I love just looking out there and I’ll forward a picture in the next couple days if I can.

Isn’t life like that? In the midst of being overwhelmed with so much to do, and so much on our plate, God brings up some color. In the midst of weeds, dirt and discouragement, God brings the sweet smell of grace and love. Reminds me of Matthew 6 where God teaches us to notice the flowers and birds of the air and remember how much more God will take care of us!! We can get off the treadmill of trying to do it all ourselves…it has already been done….Good Friday-Easter!

Let’s clear the clutter from our lives, pull the weeds, cut back on the self critic, and enter into the color of this coming week. Easter is the key to all that we believe, love and live for. Pray, read up on the Bible, attend services, and celebrate Easter…the new beginning, the new love of Christ Jesus. Makes the yard seem like small potatoes in the big picture…..

God Bless,

Pr. Doug

Jesus is the “light of the World”

It’s just a random trip to Kroger’s.  And as I’m apt to do I peruse the clearance items and, lo and behold, I see Old Spice deodorant on sale.  I open it and take in the familiar fragrance.  I tear up remembering that’s how my Dad used to smell.  I don’t think he wears that now, but as he and my mother face deteriorating health and financial issues I know he is not long for the world.  He is not “churched” but over my time in the ministry he asks me questions.  On Sunday’s when the family gathers, he wants to know what I preached on.  I wish he knew Jesus and understood what a life of faith can mean. 

We attended when I was young, but stopped along the way.  So I have no real memory of VBS, Sunday school, and knowing a pastor.  I find sometimes I am angry at him for not raising us (I have two brothers, unchurched) in the faith, but that’s life.   I have made peace with him and forgiven him. The smell brings me back to memories of my Dad in a suit leaving for work as we got ready for school  I think why the memory is so strong is because for about the last 20 years he’s been in real estate.  No suit no set hours, and for him not much joy.   

My uncle’s on his side of the family are religious and attend church and so did my grandparents on his side.  I end up feeling kind of sorry for him, and my Mom, for what could be.  Do you have family like that?  So, anyway, a smell brings back a memory.  Life is like that.  Our senses are alive and often we pick up a familiar smell, sight, taste or touch and have a wonderful memory to go with that.  I loved the smell of fresh bed sheets hanging on the line on a summer day for an example. As we travel through Lent, remembering our sin, we ask God for that forgiveness and grace in Christ.  The fresh smells of spring remind us of the new growth and hope in Jesus Christ.  And we carry on…knowing Jesus as “light of the World” for all those who travel in darkness.  (John 9:5).   

Peace be with you, Pastor Doug

Friends:

 I wonder why we pinch people who are not wearing green today, St. Patrick’s Day.  Was that invented by 11 year olds (like mine) who would enjoy the search and pinch mission?  I found out the color of green is important to the Irish people because it represents their land and heritage.  Under English rule, they weren’t allowed to wear any green and could have been killed for it.  So after that was over the pinch became a teasing sort of substitute.  And the green beer will flow tonight and some fountains or rivers will turn green.  Indianapolis has a long history of a St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown.     

 We still have places in the world where you could not wear a cross, and if you did you might be killed.  How do we show our faith?  I’ve often thought that our Christian symbol should not be the symbol of death, like the cross, but an open tomb.  I don’t suppose that works very well on a necklace but it’s just an idea.  In this Lenten season we tend to move away from thinking about the open tomb…but it’s ok to, it is the greatest aspect of our faith life.  I have a sticker on my car that says “God rules” and I have the fish emblem on the back of my car.   Did you hear about the woman who was at a stoplight and when the car in front of her did not move on a green light she began to beat on her steering wheel and honk her horn.  She rolled down the window and cussed up a storm!  A police officer pulled her over and asked if she had stolen the car.  Exasperated, she said that she had not that it was her car.  He said “Well, I figured you’d stolen it with the way you acted toward that car in front of you back at the light.  You see, I was behind you and saw your “Jesus loves you” bumper sticker and cross emblem and I figured you must have stolen the car.”  Don’t we want to make sure what we wear on the outside reflects our inside?

 Nicodemus is my favorite Bible story.  John 3:1-17 is the Gospel lesson this Sunday for the Second Sunday in Lent.  “Nic at Night” comes at night to find out from Jesus something about this faith.  Their dialogue leads to John 3:16 which we all know so well.  What is fascinating about Nic is that “wears his faith” later in front of others in chapter 7 of John.  Nicodemus listens to his colleagues threaten to jail Jesus and he asks the question about having a trial before someone is found guilty.  Later in chapter 28 it is Nic who joins Joseph or Arimathea at the cross to take down the body of Jesus.  And Nic brings with him, according to the Gospel of John 100 pounds of spices!   Wow…think about it…not only is that incredibly expensive but heavy to move.  And how many pounds of that is needed to anoint a body?  10?  15 pounds?  Even that seems high…but 100!!!  Nicodemus wears his faith right out for everyone to see and I’ll bet (while there is no known record what happened to him) he went on after the resurrection happier, joyful and more fulfilled.

 You may or may not have green on, but join me in making sure we have our faith “on”!   It is our heritage of the life in Christ!

God Bless you!

Pastor Doug

Come and See

There are a variety of names of churches when you gander at our Indiana-Kentucky Synod directory.  I was looking through it this week and noticed that there are 17 churches in our Synod with the name Christ Lutheran Church!  There is only one church named Antioch Lutheran and only one church that has the Lutheran name first:  Lutheran church of the Cross!  And there is only one church with the name Come2Go located in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  You can Google them by that name and get to their website.  The statement right below their name is “Rock your Soul”!  They meet in a warehouse and after starting several years ago now have a vibrant ministry in their part of town.

Isn’t the name “Come2Go” so appropriate?  We are all called to come to worship in order to be fed in Word and Sacrament and then to go to the places God will send us.  We go with that Good News to share with others; we go to tell others about Jesus and to bring the grace and love of the Lord wherever we go.  This fits in well with our theme for our Council retreat around the idea of Gather, Grow and Go in Christ!  G cubed….G3 as it is called!

Tomorrow in our Gospel lesson from John 1 we will see Andrew in action.  He FIRST finds his brother and says, essentially, come and see!  Come and see, says Andrew, we have found the Messiah and he brings his brother to Jesus.  And Jesus knows him and names him.  It is the same for us…we are called by name and gifted in grace to go forth and tell others to “Come and See”

Grace and Peace!

I think one of my favorite church announcements is “we are sorry to announce this, but we’ve lost the lost and found box!”  We don’t really have a box we just kind of leave things hanging on the hanger or set them out and the owner finds them.  Sometimes I am sure we loose things and don’t even know it until much later.  During these cooler mornings my son, Joel, looks for his cotton jacket to wear.  Unbeknownst to me, I see it hanging at the church today…I didn’t even know it had been lost and I’m sure his mother didn’t know….  

My memory jogs back to a family vacation to Disney World.  I remember (barely) being on the Robinson Caruso island house and it being a large reconstructed replica of his home.  All I can recall is being on the top floor of this deal on the deck/patio and looking away down yonder and seeing my family exit the area.  Sort of like the movie “Home Alone”….I smacked my cheeks and yelled!  I don’t know the rest of that story but just the sheer terror of being lost, and seeing where I needed to go, but no idea how to get there.  

I don’t know why I can remember obscure details of my past and constantly loose keys, cell phone or other things.  I get very angry when I loose something that’s obviously should not be lost.  I’ll check with the others in my home to see who carried off the item when, lo and behold, it is where it wasn’t supposed to be.  More like out of order than lost.  

We probably all have many stories of being lost.  We can all thank God that we are never lost in Christ.  God is always searching for us and rejoicing with all the angels in heaven as our Gospel lesson for this Sunday teaches.  Luke 15:1-10 (read it before Sunday and be doubly blessed) reports a parable of Jesus for the Pharisees about being lost and found.  Jesus uses the analogy of lost sheep and lost coin.  When they are found there is rejoicing…”over one sinner who repents”.  We cannot get there and yet we can see it in the breath of a baby, in the fresh air, in the sunrise and sunset, in hospital room prayers, and the weeping and rejoicing we do with one another.  We see it in our love for one another and we can’t get there on our own….we get there thru Jesus the Christ.  

You’ll remember that “repent” is from the Greek word “metanoia” meaning a change of mind.  We must always and forever change our mind from the lost ness of sin and remember that we are found in grace, found in God and found in the love outpoured from the Cross in Jesus the Christ.  This is most certainly true as we gather around the Table to eat bread and wine and to do this “to remember Jesus”.  

This is our Lord and Savior the same one the Pharisees grumble about….”This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them” and I say AMEN, THANKS BE TO GOD!!!

You Shall Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself” Luke 10:25-37

You Shall Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself”  Luke 10:25-37

Clay lives a block from our home and he and my son, Joel, have become friends.  They are in the same Cub Scout pack that uses our church building and they run around quite a bit together.  So far this summer, they seem to be really close.  I have “prodded” Clay and his parents (and brother Sam) to come and join us for worship and, so far, to no avail.  I believe they do occasionally go to church but I am not sure exactly where.

We have become friends and we’ve had them over and vice versa.  Last night Clay spent the night at our home.  His mother came by in the evening and brought over a change of clothes, etc for him.  As we all talked his mother headed for the door but not before Clay could run up to her and say “Mommy, bedtime prayers, bedtime prayers.”   And they hugged one another and prayed right there in our doorway.  Something we don’t even do…in fact as our son has gotten older we’ve moved away from our routine of bedtime prayers/Lord’s prayer.

 I thought, wow, here is a family that I thought was without and they were with.  I mean they don’t’ have a church home, they don’t attend anywhere regularly, and I am sure they don’t give much money anywhere……

But they pray at bedtime….and who am I to judge anyway?  Just like the Good Samaritan in our Gospel lesson Sunday, just love people where they are and give them help in times of need….and renew yourself in God’s grace and love……and have your bedtime prayers with our without another…

Peace,

Pastor Doug