Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Top of the mornin’!
It’s St. Patrick’s Day! This is one of our very favorite holidays – and not JUST because we love corned beef and dancing jigs. St. Patrick is one of the most inspiring missionaries in our faith!
Patrick was trafficked in slavery. In the fifth century he was a Christian child in England – then under Roman rule. According to the Confessio of Patrick, when he was about 16, he was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Great Britain, and taken as a slave to Ireland – then NOT Christian but Druid – and very violent. He was put in slavery looking after animals, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After becoming a priest, he felt called to return to northern and western Ireland as a missionary, sharing Jesus in the land he was once enslaved.
St. Patrick was known for the creative ways he articulated Christianity to the native people of Ireland, using their symbols like the shamrock to describe God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in one. He used creativity, inspiration, and reliance on prayer to share Jesus with a dangerous society. That desire to share Jesus (to even difficult people) is the true lesson of St. Patrick!
So today as you enjoy some of the frivolous aspects of the day, remember your faith. Offer to pray for someone else’s need. Be generous and bless someone who needs it – even if is just a second shamrock shake for a coworker. Invite someone to church this weekend. Sunday will be a fun worship with Palm Sunday and a little more St. Patrick’s celebration!

Who Do You Care For?

Who do you care about?
It’s not easy to care. Caring takes effort. Caring isn’t convenient. Caring take resources, money, and time.
Jesus was asked a pivotal question, “what is the most important thing to God?” Jesus made faith simple: “love God and love your neighbor as yourself… every commandment boils down to these things.”
Though Jesus’ answer was simple, it certainly isn’t easy. Love is choosing to care. Caring digs in and gets to know the other person. Caring understands the struggles, and the celebrations. Caring is measurable, in our thoughts, emotions, time, and money. Caring is the highest bar.
So how do you care for God? How do you care for others? What does your love look like? Does it invade your thoughts, emotions, time and money? Does it transform your ideas into action?
In the version of this story in the Gospel of Luke, the person asking the question had a follow up, “who is our neighbor?” In other words he asked, “ok, so who do I have to care about? Who do I have to love?”
Jesus answered by telling the famous story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) In the story, a man was attacked and badly hurt. Every religious leader passed the injured man by, avoiding the mess, but a member of a race despised and even avoided by Jewish people of that era, a Samaritan, took the injured man and paid for him to be nursed back to health.
The illustration is clear. We only love when we get involved. We must care. It feels like the messiness might be too hard… like it might be too much for us. We aren’t alone when we feel that way. But we are wrong. The truth is the opposite, that we were made for love – even in the mess.
Modern society has shown over and again that when we don’t care, when we isolate and ignore, when we avoid caring for God and others as a way of life, the cost to our soul is so high, so damaging, that we literally waste away in our selfishness, meaninglessness and even sickness. Our souls starve and die and then the bodies follow. We see it happen over and over.
Caring is the ONLY antidote. Caring is our ENTIRE purpose. Caring for God and others is our FULL life’s meaning. Caring is how we get to the big life.
So who do you care for? How can you care for God and others more deeply?

Full of Hope

Another round of snow! Man, does it ever feel long waiting for spring this time of year. The little tastes of warmth, the change in the sunlight, it all indicates something is coming… but here we are scraping cars and shoveling side walks… and waiting.
Waiting is part of life. Patient waiting is hard. Something within us is wired for expectancy. That we look forward to things coming is uniquely human. Hope is a beautiful thing!
But looking forward can also make life more difficult. Worry is looking forward with fear. How often do you find yourself imagining what is next and dreading it? Worry can eat away at our peace, our joy, and increase the stress that drains our health.
So how do we fuel the positive side of looking ahead? Like so many aspects of life, God’s answer is built on gratitude. Last Sunday we opened with a song built around Romans 8:28, “We know that God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purposes.” To stay centered on hope rather than worry, we must start with what we already know about God. How has God already worked things together for good for you in your past? When has God gotten you through your difficult seasons? Who has God drawn near to you to be an encourager when you needed it? Did situations you worried over in the past turn out okay? Give gratitude and be full of thanks for these God-actions in your past.
As you train yourself to look behind and reflect on God’s good work in your life, you will start to look forward with hope. As you identify the way God’s hand guided and is repairing your past, you will trust God to work in your future. And as you look at the imaginations of circumstances that now cause you worry, you will start to trust and have faith that God will also work in those circumstances for good. It is one of the many promises of God that we can really grab a hold of to live a richer, more abundant, big life!
Join us Sunday we devote our hour of worship together to growing in our understanding and trust of God’s work in our lives. We believe committing our hearts to God during this one hour of worship each week can change every other hour we live.