A Prayer for The Wilderness

My wife and I just spent a week at a Lutheran retreat center called Holden Village in central Washington state; teaching and learning with theologians, churchgoers, and artists from around the world. It was a wonderful time of renewal, and I thank you all for providing your pastors with the opportunity to rest and be renewed.

There’s a prayer that’s been handed down through the years as people leave Holden’s literal mountaintop, and go back out to the world. As I preach a brief sermon series on the metaphor and actuality of wilderness, I too give this prayer for all of us:

O God, you have called your servants to ventures
of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths yet untrodden,
through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us
and your love supporting us
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Peace,

Chris

Leaning on The Lord

Seeking inspiration for this week’s paragraph in these dog days of Summer and finding little within myself, I found a quote from contemporary Christian writer, artist and musician Morgan Harper Nichols. She writes:

“You might not be able to see where you’re headed, but I assure you, The Lord can. And he’s holding your hand. He’s breathing life into every aspect of your present and future. He’s shining his light even in the darkest corners of your mind. So hold tight to him. Hold tight to his love, knowing that he will never leave you or forsake you, and because of Jesus, you are in his grip forever. No uncertainty, no broken dreams, and no fear of the future can keep you from him. He is with you always, in all of this. Trust him. Believe. And let him gracefully lead you where you need to be.”

May it be in your life.

Peace,

Mark

Nostalgia

If I were to turn back the clock several decades at this very moment, I would find myself as a child or teenager on the Jersey shore. Making sandcastles, biking to the boardwalk, or perhaps flying a kite. As idyllic a childhood vacation as one could imagine, I believe I had.

A few years ago, I took my wife, Katie, to that same town on the shore for a week. I remember driving over the causeway into town, and suddenly being terrified. What if it’s not like I remember? What if it’s grimy and run-down? What if my nostalgia crumbles to the ground?

Perhaps walking into a church feels that way sometimes. Without even knowing it, we walk in with our childhood memories of Sunday school, beloved ministers, and favorite hymns. But what if we walk in, and it’s not as we remember?

I was happy to learn that my childhood vacation spot wasn’t all that changed. As I’m sure many of us are glad to find a place that reminds us of our youth faith communities. In my adulthood, I’ve become open to new places to visit, and I hope that we are all open to a combination of the old and the new, together in church. Our hope for this faith community is that it might be a place where we feel rooted in traditions and faith, so we are free to innovate, create, and see what God is up to next.

Behold, I am doing a new thing.

Peace,
Chris

God’s Handiwork All Around Us

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
                                                          (Psalms 19:1-2)

As Christians, we are deeply conscious of the way in which the whole of creation and every creature bears the stamp of its maker. August, of all months in the year, is the month to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of creation. The psalms proclaim and reference the marvels of God’s creation constantly. These words are not to be cast aside as something of romantic sentimentality but of down-to-earth, everyday reality. We are God’s beloved and creation is God’s gift to us. With that in mind, may August be a month where you catch glimpses of God’s grace, beauty, and providence in a star-filled night, a sun-filled day, or a quiet walk in the woods.

The firmament of our world proclaims God’s handiwork – and so it does!

Peace,
CC