The sustainability of Community LC is dependent on a continuing cycle of economic and health issues. Just for the moment assume that we continue to be Christ centered and thus dedicated to service – to ourselves and to the greater community. We are not dependent on the arrival of boat loads of immigrating European Lutherans. We are not dependent on children in our congregation as many like to think; that is a mantra we were taught in our youth back in our home churches. The native Sussex county folks are not of Lutheran background. We are dependent on moving vans of retirees for the replenishment of our congregation. That, of course, assumes a good economy and state and county laws favorable to an aging population.
We must, of course, attract the new arrivals to our door and once in God’s house the spiritual and, at least, partially the social needs must be met. There are many aspects of this whole process; thus, I would like to focus on different aspects over several weeks. Today, I would like to ponder a bit about the tremendous “change” that most folks move into when they retire at the beach. I will take the liberty to generalize a bit. The new family, John and Jane Newcome, have been vacationing at the beach for a number of years and have decided to retire in this area. They used to be very beach oriented and rented or owned a place close to the water. However, based on retirement income they must move inland a bit. Now they have new neighbors and new “jungle paths.” That is, their places for shopping and entertainment tended to be along the coast. Now they find that they are moving and shopping in different areas. Their income has dropped and now entertainment and eating out tend to decrease. Assuming the Newcome’s were church folks, they retain a strong desire to maintain contacts with their “home” church. If Lutherans, they find that now there are fewer choices and they must drive further to attend services. When trying other denomination churches closer to their house, they find unfamiliar worship and in some cases a subtle unwelcome.
The Newcomes are transitioning from the work world to the retirement world in a different culture, with different finances and different friends. Most of us old timers have moved through that stage of our lives. Knowing that folks must pass through this phase and the assimilation of them into our congregation in a timely fashion is dependent on us providing a worship and church home environment that welcomes and supports them. What goals should we have in place to improve this aspect of our ministry? Please share your comments.
It seems that they happen all the time; but are you sure they are just coincidences. What is the definition of a coincidence? It is “A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.”
After I became aware of the Holy Spirit working in my life, I started to “notice” many coincidences occurring. I started to understand many as affirmations of earlier events, readings or writings. Many times I have journaled in the morning and then attended a Bible study only to have the exact same topic come up during the discussions. This past week Jeremiah had a slightly different prophetic experience.
Since I was to do the devotions for our Men’s Discussion Group which meets on Wednesday mornings, I had grabbed a 2014 Daily Guideposts from my book shelf. I opened to October 12 on a whim. The brief story started with Job 42:12 namely, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part …” Job is the least favorite book in the Bible for me – but I continued. The author of the story described a homecoming at an old run down church where he had previously taught Sunday school. Everything was old – the building, the furniture, the piano and all the people in attendance. However, the pianist, Mike, made wonderful music with the old piano. The author reflected that even older folks can still make music. In his closing prayer he prayed “ … And may the latter end of our lives be even better than the beginning.” The two verses given for Digging Deeper were Prv 20:29 and 2 Cor 4:16 which I’ll let you look up. Even though the message was not what I was looking for, I decided to use it as the devotion since us guys in the group are getting on in years.
On Wednesday morning, Dave P. and I were the only two in attendance. After the devotion time, Dave seemed to appreciate the message. At the end of our session, I included in my prayer thanks for all the blessings we had received over the years and to help us in our ministry in the years we had remaining.
On Thursday morning, I received an email from Dave and Susan informing everyone that they had decided to move back to New Jersey to be closer to their daughter. Dave mentioned some recent medical issues and how fragile life was. I almost fell off my chair. My devotions of the day before were not just a coincidence nor was the fact that the other men had not come. The two Dave’s had had a special time together.
The real issue is TO-DO lists. “Are they good for us or detrimental?” – that is the question.
During a recent Monday Bible study, we were reading and discussing the scripture lessons for Oct. 9, 2016. These were 2 Kings 5:1-1,7-15, Psalms 111, 2 Timothy 2:8-15 and Luke 17:11-19. As a supplement, we used some commentary – one from a Scholar and one from a Preacher, Pr. Aimee Appell to be specific. Pr. Appell said and I quote a portion of her writings:
“Unfortunately, the to-do mentality has a tendency to show up in our relationships with one another and with God as well. In Lutheran parlance, our to-do lists have the taste of the law about them. What must we do to get right with God? What must we do to earn God’s grace? Those weeks, even moments when we are able to let go of the to-do list, those are the times we find ourselves resting in the relationship we have with God. And then quickly wondering what we’re missing.” and later in her commentary, she wrote:
“The epistle reminds us that “the word of God is not chained,” and it would be a misstep for the preacher to reduce God’s word to either law or gospel. In a sense, there are not two words (law versus gospel) but one unified word (law and gospel). As preachers, we need to be careful not to reduce this dialectic to a moralistic syllogism ( to-do list = law=bad), versus Sabbath rest=gospel=good). After all, the list is not the law, though it may act on us as the law, particularly when we try to justify ourselves against it and through it. Rather, our problem with our to-do list is the same problem we have with the law – we are never able to do enough”.
Now I am a type A person and I use TO-DO lists all the time. In fact, in 1985 I took a course titled, “Getting Things Done.” It had a profound impact on me and my career. While I can agree with some of Pr. Appell’s points, there is one aspect that I greatly differ with. I learned that the TO-DO list frees my mind to focus on the task at hand. When I sit down to journal, I can meditate and allow the Holy Spirit to guide my pen. All those other things I need to do are on my list and I don’t need to think about them now. I am free from other tasks because the list is holding them for me. My TO-DO list is a key aspect of my spiritual discipline.
A few years ago the title was a popular phrase especially with comedians. But unfortunately it is drastically not funny. Over the years I have become sensitive to understanding situations when everything seems to go south. Monday a week ago I experienced one of those mountain top happenings when I was journaling. I can feel the difference when I am writing whether the words are mine or those of the Holy Spirit guiding me. When I finished, it was a time for a loud Praise The Lord. Within an hour bad things started to happen. I lost an account password which we needed urgently. My wife and I spent several hours searching for the missing password. When we returned from Monday Bible study, our printer had died – it would not turn on. Panic started to set in – we urgently needed a printer and access to the locked account.
When I discerned that I was under attack, I prayed “In the name of Jesus Christ, Satan be gone!” Calmness came over me and within 24 hrs. both problems had been resolved.
Now I do not see Satan as some red weirdo with horns and a long tail but rather a malicious spirit that is just as real as the Holy Trinity. It is constantly probing our subconscious to weaken our spirituality and our attempts to grow spiritually. You might not be aware, but in the book for Occasional Services, used by Lutheran Pastors, there is a service for praying evil spirits out of homes. The clergy take the seriousness and reality of evil as theologically important.
Don’t let bad situations lead you into anger and hate. Pray the evil one away and ask for calmness and directions for resolving the situation.
Posts from various People reflecting on How Christ intersects with daily Life.