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O Give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, and his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 118:1
Some one asked me recently about how to pray. My answer was short and simple, “There are only two prayers, the first is ‘help me’ and the second is ‘thank you’.” This is perhaps too simple of an answer, but it is a place to begin a conversation with God.
There are so many times when we need that first simple prayer, “Help me, God, this problem is too big for me to solve on my own.” “Help me God; I just need to know that you are there.” “Help me, God, I want to help my friend but I do not know how. Help my friend and me, please.” And often all we can say is, “Help.”
November is the month that our country has set aside a day for us to say a collective, “Thank you!” prayer to God. This is an opportunity for us to set aside differences in theology and culture. Together we offer our thanks to the Creator of all! My personal thanks go something like this:
These are just a few of my favorite things. The list of things for which we are thankful is long. What would you include on yours? On Sunday, November 22 we will offer our thanks to God. The Women of the Church will bring their Thankoffering gifts. We are all invited to bring gifts of food or money for the Everett Gospel Mission In-Gathering. If you would like you may bring your list of things for which you give thanks and place it in a Prayers of Thanks basket.
I am truly thankful for each one of you. Trinity is a place of God’s grace where together we share the joys and sorrows of life. Whether you are near or far, you are a cherished child of God and you have a place here to celebrate God’s gifts.
Blessings to you and thanks,
BACK TO SCHOOL FOR ALL!
Happy New Year! Yes, September has always seemed like the actual “beginning of a new year” to me! Children and youth of all ages start school, beginning a new adventure with a new teacher. For some this is a tiny first step away from home and for others they are away at college for the first time. Fall is a great time to begin all kinds of new things and to remember that with God each day is a new beginning!
Here at Trinity, September 13 is Rally Day—a day to celebrate new beginnings of this household of faith. Children will be welcomed to Sunday School and the rest of us will have opportunities to try out some “new adventures.” Then on Sunday, September 20, classes for all ages will begin.
This year our Adult Bible Study will be held on Sunday mornings at 9:45 with our Associate in Ministry, Clara Griffin and on Monday evenings at 7:00 pm with Pastor Jocelyn Carson. We will begin the year by studying the Book of Genesis, using curriculum from the ELCA Book of Faith Series. All are welcome to join as we take a new look at some familiar Bible stories and people.
You are also welcome to be part of a Bible Study beginning on Wednesday, September 9 at 10:45 in the morning. This lively group considers the texts for the coming Sunday as well as current happenings in our lives.
Women with young children are especially invited to be part of a Bible study group that meets on alternate Tuesday mornings. Childcare is available so this is a great time to gather and make new friends. Watch for the dates beginning in October.
As this New Year begins, you can also consider some other “new” opportunities. Maybe you would like to be part of a book club or an in-home Bible Study. Perhaps you have a hobby that you would like to share with a small group of like-minded folks. Maybe you have a new idea for serving our neighbors. You are a blessing in this household of faith!
In September we pray for all those who teach and all those who learn from pre-school to graduate school. Let’s pray for parents, grandparents, and guardians, too! You are your child’s first teacher and we thank you for bringing them here to learn about God’s love in their lives. We all need to be life-long learners in God’s school of love!
Thanks be to God for the new and continuing opportunities to be blessed by God’s Word!
May God bless all that is new in your life!
MAKING A DIFFERENCE TODAY
God has blessed us each with gifts that we can then use to make a positive difference in the people and the world around us. The variety of gifts is amazing—musical talent, abilities to write poetry and prose, a passion for those in need, a warm and welcoming heart, ability to plan and organize, gifts of cooking, mechanics, gardening, listening, public speaking and of course the gifts of the Spirit listed by the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 12: 4-31. We are gifted to make a difference!
I want to make a difference for those who suffer with Alzheimer’s disease and their care-givers and I invite you to join me. Alzheimer’s disease is a very personal concern for me as it caused my father-in-law’s death in 1985 and my mother now has this disease, too.
As I have walked with my mother through the stages of Alzheimer’s, I have mourned with her the loss of the memories of good times, bad times, names, events, jobs, and in fact so many of the things that make her the unique individual she is.
The most important things I can do for my mother is to be with her and love her and pray for her. AND I can walk on Saturday, September 12th in the Alzheimer’s Association “Memory Walk.” Would you join me in walking or make a donation to this great organization? The Memory Walk begins at the Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St, Seattle, with registration at 8:30 AM. The walk begins at 10:00 AM.
The money raised will go to support a 24/7 Helpline at 800-848-7097; Support Groups, Care Consultants, Education, and Advocacy for issues such as research, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care and family support. Most of us know someone who could use these services.
Health Care issues are in the news a lot these days. As a people of God and as a nation we need to make some difficult decisions about how to care for all people with fairness, justice and mercy. There are many people who need our prayers and our monetary support for a variety of health concerns. Thank you for the difference you make when you donate to any worthy health care effort or offer prayers for the ill.
The prophet Micah writes, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
May God bless our walking and our praying so that it makes a difference!
Making a Difference Today #2: Your prayers make a difference for your family, your friends, and your church. I hope you have a list, at least in your head, of those for whom you pray. Please include your Pastor, your Associate in Ministry, your Children and Youth Ministries Coordinator, and your Church Council members in your prayers. If you are not yet a member of the Trinity Prayer Chain, you may join it by calling Roz Fry at 425-259-5263. You may also call her when you have a prayer request to share. Thank you for your prayers!
As this newsletter goes to press, we are in the middle of an African Prayer Safari with our Vacation Bible School children and staff. On this safari journey, we have met new people, tried new foods, learned about animals, and learned to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Amy Stamatiou has done a great job as our Head Safari Guide—watch for her full report (and thank you note) in the August newsletter.
There are many accounts of journeys in the Bible. Abraham listened to God’s call to leave his family home in Haran and go to the place God would give to his descendants. Joseph journeyed to Egypt and eventually Moses led the children Israel out of slavery back to the Promised Land. Paul and other apostles embarked on long journeys as they took the Good News to every place in the known world. These trips were not vacations, but they remind us that it is good to go to new places, meet new people and see new things. It is also good to go home again, and to visit families.
Many of us this summer will take trips that are a combination of new places and familiar people. Some of us will travel by car and some by airplane. Some will even hike for days to get to a place of rest. However we travel, God goes along with us. As you rest, you will find spiritual refreshment if you take a devotional book and your Bible along with you. Maybe your summer reading will include a thought –provoking book like “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson or “Picking Cotton” by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton. These are two of my recent favorites and would be good discussion starters in the fall.
In her book, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Anne Lamott describes what happens when a person was leaving for a trip: “’Traveling mercies,’ the old people at our church said to her when she left. This is what they always say when one of us goes off for a while. Traveling mercies: love the journey, God is with you, come home safe and sound.” Traveling mercies means that however you travel this summer, even if it is by book or by watching your favorite travel program on TV, you are held in the prayers of the people of God. Our traveling is not always for fun. Some people might be taking off for a new job somewhere else in the country. Some are perhaps moving into a new home. Some might be traveling for study and some might be traveling for work. Wherever your travel leads you this summer, love the journey, God is with you, come home safe and sound!
Blessings of peace and relaxation be with you all,
“Lord, teach us to pray.” Luke 11:1
Jesus taught his disciples to pray and he teaches us to pray using these comforting words, “Our Father.” The Aramaic word for Father is “abba” and it can also be translated as “Daddy.” For me the word Daddy is a great way to describe the personal, intimate relationship that we have both with our True Friend, Jesus, and our heavenly Father. During this month of June when we celebrate, honor and remember our earthly fathers and others who cared for us in fatherly ways, we remember that our God and Father so loved this world that he gave his only begotten Son for us.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus invites us to pray as he does, to the father who is always available, always listening, and always concerned for our best welfare. We pray for God’s will to be done everywhere in the cosmos, for our daily bread, for the forgiveness of our sins and for the strength to forgive others. We pray that we will not be tested too severely and that God will keep us safe from every evil. This prayer ends with words of praise to the God who is our powerful, glorious King.
We pray these familiar words alone in our own home and we pray them in chorus with others. Whether we are praying during worship, at the bedside of a lonely or ill person, or at the close of a Bible Study, God always hears our prayers. Prayer brings us close together with those we love no matter how far away they happen to be. When we pray for each other, the one who prays is often as strengthened as the one for whom the prayer was offered. In prayer, we do become one; our hearts united by our mutual concerns.
At Trinity, we pray for those who are hungry and each week we give our prayers feet by bringing food items for the Trinity Food Bank. In 2009 we are also reaching out to hungry people throughout the world. Our youth are raising money for a water purification system that will transform a village. Our Sunday school children are raising money to send flocks of chicks to the hungry through the ELCA Global Barnyard program. This Father’s Day, I invite you to honor your father or another man who has inspired you by giving a gift of money to help our children feed other hungry children in the world. Thank you!
In thanksgiving for fathers and faithful men everywhere,
From the Pastor
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13a
These are the words of God spoken to the children of Israel as they returned from captivity in Babylon. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus speaks similar words of comfort to the people of Jerusalem, “How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” Luke 13:34b. It is good to reflect upon these feminine images of God found in the Bible during the month of May when we honor our mothers and other women of faith.
Mothers do gather and comfort their children, as do fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and other family members and caregivers. We honor these important women in our lives not just because of the comfort, but also because of the inspiration, encouragement, and unconditional love they give.
Last fall, we celebrated the life of Helen Sullivan with her children and other family members. A number of people spoke about Helen. I remember the woman who spoke about being in Helen’s Campfire group and how her life had been enriched by Helen’s example of being a strong, capable, caring woman. She said that Helen made her feel like she could do anything with her life. God is this kind of mother to us! We are comforted by knowing that we are loved, just the way we are and yet we are inspired to be better than we thought we could be. This is grace!
I have been blessed to be surrounded with loving and capable women all of my life. My mother, daughter, grandmother, mother-in-law, sisters, professors, co-workers, and way too many friends to count have given me comfort and hope when I have needed it. They have encouraged me in the past and still inspire me to move forward into being the person God created me to be.
This month we remember mothers and other special women in our lives. As you think of ways to honor them, I invite you to give the gift of water through Lutheran World Relief. Our youth have adopted a water purification system as their giving project for this year. With our support they can provide clean water to an entire village and then women will not have to walk miles to find clean water and carry it back to their village.
Thanks be to God for all the ways we are comforted and inspired. Thank you God, for mothers!
May God bless you with comfort and hope,
Singing Easter Alleluias!
The Sabbath was over and early the next morning the women, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, met and went together to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. On the way they asked, “Who will roll the stone away?” The answer to this question was so much more than they could ever have expected. “Jesus of Nazareth has been raised, he is not here!” God had gotten to the tomb before they did. Alleluia!
God’s grace continues to go before us in our lives. Whatever questions we are puzzling over this day, God is there before us. Whatever the challenges that you face, God is facing them with you. The stones are rolled away from all that keeps us living in fear. God’s answers to our prayers are so often much more than we ever expected. God’s presence in our lives gives us the peace that is beyond our understanding. Death lost the battle on that first Easter morning. We can triumphantly sing, “Christ is Risen! Alleluia!”
When the Church gathers on Easter morning we will sing joyous Alleluias! At both 8:30 and 11:00 am we will gather joyfully at the table of our Lord to celebrate the Resurrection. This is the feast in anticipation of the Great Feast that awaits us in eternity. We gather for breakfast (between 7:30 and 10:30) and for conversation and catching up, too. This is a time when the faith community rejoices to welcome each other with joy. At 10:30 the children will hunt for Easter Eggs and their joy will be contagious!
On Monday, we will go back to our ordinary days. But remember, the Risen Lord will go with you on Monday, Tuesday, and every ordinary day that follows. The promise of Easter is never failing and never ending. God’s grace holds you up, God’s love surrounds you, and God’s peace blesses you every day. Whatever challenges you face, God is there before you, rolling away the stones and taking away your grief and fear.
May your Easter Celebration be blessed with joy. And may all of your ordinary days be filled with the presence of God.
Peace and joy,
Pastor Jocelyn Carson
Our Easter special offering this year will be in support of the Trinity budget with a tithe going to support the work of Bethany of the Northwest, our local benevolence for April.
Every Day is Earth Day!
April 22 is Earth Day! We have celebrated Earth Day for 39 years, but there is still much work to do to preserve God’s creation for future generations. This last year we have heard a lot about Global Warming and our personal “carbon footprint.” There are many ways that we can become better stewards and caretakers of the earth.
As a congregation we are in the process of moving towards using the environmentally friendly compact florescent light bulbs in as many fixtures as is practical. We have recycling containers available for aluminum cans and we recycle a lot of paper. It is good that we consider the environment as we plan gatherings and events. Carpooling is a very popular way for us to enjoy each others company and save on fossil fuels and carbon emissions.
If you are interested in issues of faith and caring for the earth, the ELCA Social Statement on the environment is found on the What We Believe page, www.elca.org. A good local source of information is www.earthministry.org.
Concerns about clean water affect everyone on the planet. Our Youth are caring for people in need by raising money to fund a water purification system through the ELCA World Hunger program. I thought of their work when I read this Water Prayer from Lutheran World Relief.
I hope this Easter season is a time for you to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus in many ways as you care for God’s creation and for others.
GOD’S Valentine to the world: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son!” (John 3:16)
February is the month when we think about relationships and love, especially on Valentine’s Day. Most of the greeting cards and gift ideas make us think of the kind of exclusive “couple only” love, but God’s love for us is inclusive and opens us to the love not only of one person, but to our neighbors and the world. This month, you are invited to be part of a number of events that speak of God’s love for us and our love for each other. Come for a great movie about welcome on February 8 and for a fun dinner on February 15.
You do not need to be part of a couple in order to be a part of Trinity! This is one of those statements that seems so obvious that we would not have to say it, but like the other categories in our Welcome Statement we want to say it out loud. All are welcome! When you come to Trinity you are among friends. Trinity is also a place where your friends are welcome. The door is always open and God’s grace abounds!
Jesus says to us, “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Our Youth invite us to share our love with the hungry on February 1 by bringing soup and a dollar bill for the hungry. On February 8 our Sunday School children and their Angel friends share God’s love with each other. On February 22 we have an opportunity to see how our Wills can be a lasting expression of love for our families, the church and others.
When we come to worship we hear of God’s love for us and for the world. Worship offers us a place of comfort and rest, and it is a time when we give thanks to God for all of the blessings we have received. Worship is a time to bring our prayer concerns for our families, our neighbors, our friends and the world. Worship also gives us a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of others and it helps us grow in our faith. We come to worship not just for ourselves but for others. Come and worship next Sunday and the Sunday after that. I invite you to make Sunday morning your time with God and with your friends here at Trinity.
Welcome in the name of Jesus, who welcomes all and loves all!
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