Greetings, everyone –

This morning as I arrived a bit early at church, I was treated to an interesting experience. Our church was covered with birds. Okay, that might be exaggerating a bit but there were three crows sitting in a row along the peak of the education wing, three smaller birds sitting on the top and each arm of the cross, and a small flock flitting in and out of the Japanese Elm in front of the Fireside Room window. Definitely left the impression of birds everywhere! And they were all singing! Well, “singing” might be generous for the crows. Whatever the case, they were all sounding off and it was incredible to hear the variety of calls and vocalizations coming from all over the place. I stopped and stood for a few moments just listening. I found myself feeling very grateful that I had shared in those moments of song with some fellow creatures that just seemed happy to be alive this morning.

I had another opportunity to feel grateful as Paul and I loaded all the grocery bags you collected into my surprisingly spacious Honda Odyssey minivan. I was grateful for his help. I then drove over to Second Harvest with this mobile cornucopia and figured there would be plenty of volunteers there to help me unload. There weren’t. Fortunately, several people arrived right behind me to pick up items for their agencies and they volunteered to help me unload. Again, gratitude. We filled four pallets full of grocery bags. By then, a person from another agency had arrived on the scene. She was amazed! Astounded, even, that a congregation could have gathered so much food to give away. She asked, “Was there a challenge of some kind?” I said, “As a matter of fact, there was.” They all laughed at the story. More gratitude and joy from your giving. There’s a verse that reminds us that our generosity could well result in others giving glory to God for our kindness. This was one of those rare occasions where I got to witness someone else giving thanks to God for the blessings of this food given by us for the sake of others. Her actual words: “Thank God for this. So many people will be blessed by this generosity.” As one further step in her own praising God, she took a picture of us and all the food and intends to put it in their organization’s newsletter. (I believe my helpers were from Shiloh Ministries and she was from the Lighthouse.) More gratitude.

Remember the passage that says “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”? (It’s Luke 6:38 in case you were wondering.) I hope you can feel a sense of this in this story. The food hasn’t even gotten past the Second Harvest warehouse and it is already inspiring gratitude and thanksgiving to God. Never underestimate the work that God can do with the smallest gift.

Finally, the stats…the least important part of this whole thing. We collected 76 bags of groceries to give away. According to Second Harvest, this resulted in…wait for it…1,003 lbs. of food!!! Thanks be to God, indeed!

PRAYER REQUESTS

-          Please keep Ernie Buckler in your prayers as he continues treatments and testing.

-          This coming Tuesday finds Mary Robinson’s family members going through a second kidney transplant. This time it’s Darcy giving to Kevin. Please keep them in your prayers.

TOMORROW AT CENTRAL

The memorial service for Judy Kinney is at 10am. Judy hasn’t attended for several years after becoming ill but she was a pretty regular worshipper Prior to that, coming to us as a friend of Nina Byrne and Eleanor Delatte. There will be a fellowship time following the service. Judy’s interment took place last weekend in Hermiston, OR.

THIS SUNDAY AT CENTRAL

Education Hour (Upstairs at 9:45am): This week we look at our Lutheran musical heritage through the lens of the 17th century.

 

Coffee Hour: CLC Choir

 

In Worship: Today we hear James warn against selfish ambition, while the disciples quarrel over which one of them is the greatest. Jesus tells them the way to be great is to serve. Then, to make it concrete, he puts in front of them an actual flesh-and-blood child. We are called to welcome the particular children God puts in front of us, to make room for them in daily interaction, and to give them a place of honor in the assembly.

 

Readings and Psalm

Jeremiah 11:18-20

The prophet led like a lamb to slaughter

Psalm 54

God is my helper; it is the Lord who sustains my life. (Ps. 54:4)

James 3:13--4:3, 7-8a

The wisdom from above

Mark 9:30-37

Prediction of the passion

 

The Most Challenging Spiritual Practice

The writers of today’s readings express to God their fears about death and those who do evil. They rage against the cravings, coveting, envy, and selfish ambition that lead to disorder and war, within and around us. They describe one caught in this reality who is led to slaughter, tested with insult and torture, and faces a shameful death. Through our lenses we see Jesus. In fact, Jesus keeps describing what is going to happen to him, but his followers can’t understand. They don’t want to understand. Instead, they argue about who is greatest. Putting a quick end to that line of argument, Jesus brings a child into their circle. Embracing the child, Jesus invites disciples into humble service—this is how we draw near to God and God to us.

 

It is easy to be fearful in view of events outside us. It is easy to be thrown off course by feelings inside us or to work hardest for the wrong things. But Jesus invites us to practice what may be the most challenging spiritual practice of all. Jesus invites us to love our neighbor. Jesus asks that we look around for someone concrete to invest our time and energy in, someone who cannot necessarily return the favor. Jesus challenges us to receive others’ ministry to us, since we are also little children in faith.

 

In real life, there is no way to avoid shame and death. At some point, it comes to each of us. However, for now, wherever we are, we can participate in God’s way of life. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, disciples look where Jesus points and see those whom they can serve. They do not escape death but can know that resurrection is on the other side. Each day, God is with us through dying and rising.

 

See you in worship!

 

Peace,

Pastor Dave

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