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To Dubai and Back

To Dubai and Back. . . .

In late April I flew to the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, a lovely place which is rapidly becoming a tourist destination due to its sunny climate. It has beautiful beaches, and it has amazing and unique buildings, including some of the most beautiful resorts and hotels in the world. If you add in the great shopping at some of the world biggest and fanciest malls, one of which includes a winter wonderland complete with skiing and penguins, you will know why many people choose to visit Dubai.

None of these wonderful places is why I went. I went to see my best friend from high school and her husband, who have been living and working in Dubai for the last fourteen years. They will retire in June and leave Dubai, so this was my last chance to visit them and see Dubai from a non-tourist point of view. I loved the amazing buildings and I fell in love with Arabic mosaics and designs. I found shopping in the malls and the traditional “gold and spice souks” to be a great adventure and lots of fun, but I went to Dubai for the people. Maggie and I were able to share memories of our mothers that only we have—what a blessing for both of us, now that they are gone.

I was able with Maggie and Russell’s help, to see a side of Dubai that most tourists will not see. I visited with young Emerati women, all robed in black from head to toe in their math class taught by Russell. I had tea with Maggie’s fellow teachers and friends at the Dubai American Academy. I met the attendees of a baby shower, both male and female, who included people from almost every European country who had come to Dubai to work in a variety of fields from engineers to bakers. That evening I was part of an international community gathered to celebrate a baby and her parents.

Far from being fearful when riding the Metro by myself, I felt safe and welcome. Everywhere I went I felt free to be my usual friendly self and had a number of interesting conversations. People I met wanted to know where I was from and were happy to tell their own stories. In many ways it was a very strange land and I was a stranger, but I was welcomed, sometimes because of Maggie and Russell, but often just because I stopped and asked a question. For a week, I enjoyed this great adventure and I look forward to traveling to some other amazing place in the future. My world is now both larger and smaller. Just fourteen hours away by plane, I met people loved by God, who had stories to tell. Thanks Maggie and Russell for this great time!

May we all be blessed by those strangers we meet who become friends and may we always give thanks for our amazing differences and our amazing similarities! Please watch the Pew News for when I will be sharing my amazing pictures and stories.

Pastor Jocelyn

Easter Continues

Dear Friends,

The joyous Easter season begins with Easter and continues until Pentecost.  We have seven glorious Sundays to celebrate the Good News of the resurrection.  Of course every Sunday of the year is a celebration of the “first day of the week” when the women came and found the empty tomb!   During the Easter season we celebrate with special joy because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and conquered sin and death on our behalf.

The resurrection of Jesus gives us reason to trust that God holds our future in his hands!  As far back as the prophet Jeremiah, God promised, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  Easter and the resurrection encourage us to trust in our hopeful futures with God!

What we will do with our earthly futures is a question we ask at every age.  “What will I be when I grow up?” is a question not just for children but for all of us.  In her book, The Gift of Years: Growing Old Gracefully, Joan Chittister, invites us to live hopefully and with purpose every day of our life. This is a book that a small group could use to walk with each other through times of transition and change.  I invite you to contact me if you would like to be part of such a small group.

On April 15th we celebrated the many generations of people who are part of Trinity.  In the Circle of Blessing led by Professor Mark Jackson, we honored those of every age, who are making their own unique contributions to our faith community and the world.  From the youngest to the oldest, God’s grace carries us through the challenges of each day, strengthening us to serve others.

Joan Chittister includes in her book this great poem by Robert Browning:

Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be,

The last of life, for which the first was made:

Our times are in His hand

Who saith, “A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half;

Trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

This poem reminds us that Trinity is a faith community where we can grow older and wiser together.  At any age, we can continue to grow in faith and trust in the God who loves us and holds us!

Blessings on your further

Lenten Journey Coming to an End

Dear Friends,

Our Lenten prayer journey will soon be coming to an end as we walk together through the solemnity of Holy Week and move into the joyous season of Easter.  In just a few short days we will move through a myriad of emotions evoked by hymns, prayers and Bible verses.  I am reminded of the words of Psalm 30:11-12, “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.”

Holy Week begins with the joyful, exuberant procession of Palm Sunday, when our children will lead us up the aisle with waving palms and glad hosannas!  We hail Jesus as our King, and we welcome the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God.  Too quickly our joy turns to sorrow as we hear the words of the Passion of Jesus from Mark’s Gospel.  The story begins with Jesus celebrating the Meal with his friends and ends with some of them placing his body in the tomb. We will receive Holy Communion at the Altar on this day.

On Maundy Thursday, we are invited to worship with our friends at Central Lutheran.  We will hear the words of Jesus about loving and serving one another and we will take part in the Lord’s Supper.

On Good Friday, we meet in our darkened sanctuary to hear the Passion Story again, this time from the Gospel of John, interspersed with familiar hymns of the Cross.  As our worship concludes we have the opportunity for Prayers around the Cross.  This time of personal and corporate prayer echoes the prayers that we have prayed during our Lenten journey this year.

On Easter, we sing our glad Alleluias once more when God indeed clothes us with joy!  Our Lenten journey becomes an Easter journey as we walk with our resurrected Lord through all the days to come. 

We are truly Easter people—even as we walk through the shadows of Lent, we have always known that our journey ends in joy at the empty tomb!  As we move through our personal sorrows and joys, we know that God walks each step with us and that our journey with God always ends with the peace and joy of the resurrection.

Blessings on your continuing journey—may it lead you ever closer to the heart of God,

Pastor Jocelyn

Lenten Journey Continued

Dear friends,

How is your Lenten journey going?  I know it is the early days, but I am hoping that you are feeling blessed as you spend time each day in prayer.  If you have not yet received a copy of “Prayers for a Lenten Journey” please stop by the office or call and have us mail you one. 

It is no accident that the prayers for each week are connected to the Lord’s Prayer.  Jesus taught his disciples to pray using these words and we are “bold” to pray in his name.  It is also no accident that you are being asked to read the same lesson and pray the same prayer for the whole week.  Repetition is good for us, each day we will find new blessings for which to give thanks or new people who are in need of our prayers.  These prayers can deepen our faith and fill us with peace.

The “Taking Faith Home” bulletin insert is another great resource for us to use in our homes not just during Lent, but all year long.  The conversation starters could be shared with people at work or with neighbors and friends.  We all appreciate a chance to be heard and your listening to one another is a gift.  I hope that some of us will take time to memorize the “Scripture verse for the Week”.  Memorizing is something many of us did as children; it is good for growing minds of any age! 

During Lent our prayers on Sunday morning are being framed with “prayer songs”.  This time of singing and reflection unites us in our praying and gives us opportunities to add our own concerns to the community prayers.  Thank you for sharing your prayer requests and for your kind thoughts and prayers on behalf of others.

Blessings on your Lenten journey—may it lead you ever closer to the heart of God,

Pastor Jocelyn

Lenten Journey

Dear Trinity friends,

On Wednesday, February 22 at 7:00 pm we will host the Ash Wednesday worship and welcome our friends from Central Lutheran to worship with us.  This day marks the beginning of the season of Lent, our journey with Jesus to the Cross and to the Resurrection.   The three traditional disciplines of Lent are almsgiving for the poor, praying and fasting. Most of us are familiar with almsgiving and prayer, but not the practice of fasting.

Fasting in the classic sense means to give something up for a time; often we think of things we particularly like such as food or a habit that isn’t really good for us.  The six weeks or forty days of Lent could give a person time to adjust to a new habit and make it part of their daily routine.  Hopefully giving up something would somehow bring a person closer to God. 

In the Small Catechism Martin Luther answers the question of whether fasting prepares a person to receive the sacrament worthily with these words, “Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, “given for you” and “shed for you . . . for the forgiveness of sin,” is really worthy and well prepared.” 

While fasting might be good discipline, it is not required of us as we journey through Lent towards Easter.  What is required is a desire to grow in faith and we can grow in faith through prayer, giving alms and spiritual disciplines such as fasting.  The prophet Micah says it like this, “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 

This Lent we will have opportunities for almsgiving.  In February our local benevolence is for Open Door Ministries and in March it is for the Ethiopian Chicken Hatchery.  We have some extra opportunities to pray during Lent: Wednesday worship at noon here at Trinity and at 7:00 pm at Central Lutheran. Our Good Friday worship will include a time for personal prayer around the Cross.  On Sunday mornings your prayer requests are always included.

Do we have any opportunities for fasting during Lent?  I invite you to consider giving something up or adding something that will help you focus on God’s presence in your life.   If you do plan to make a fast part of your Lenten journey, I would love to hear how it goes for you and I will include your fast in my prayers.  My personal Lenten fast will be to give up playing solitaire and free cell on my computer and phone.  Hopefully I will find many positive uses for that time—maybe I will even exercise more as I move closer to God.  On my journey I will be thankful for your prayers, too!

Blessings on your Lenten journey—may it lead you ever closer to the heart of God,

Pastor Jocelyn

New Year

 Dear Awesome Trinity friends,

On the 7th Day of Christmas, Dave and I thank you for the Christmas cards, greetings and gifts to our family.  It is a joy everyday to be partners with you in this welcoming faith community.

On the 7th day of Christmas, I also wish you a very Happy New Year!  New Year’s Day can be celebrated with lots of noise and merriment but it can also be a day for quiet reflection.  Our calendar is based on the ancient Roman calendar and the first month is named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces. Janus symbolizes change and transitions because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other.  Many of us spend part of New Year’s Day thinking about the past year and writing resolutions for the New Year.  We, like Janus, look forward and backwards.

Every Sunday morning we have an opportunity to look both into our pasts and into our futures when we gather for the time of confession and forgiveness.  We take time to review our past week and ask for forgiveness for those things we have done and regret and to ask for forgiveness for those things we should have done but neglected to do.  We also hear words that inspire us to look forward in hope.  Our prayer each week is that with God’s blessing we can become more and more the people God creates us to be.

When we gather for worship we meet God and we meet each other.  We bring our regrets and we bring our hopes.  We hear words of forgiveness, we hear words of hope, and we feast together at the Table of Grace set for us by Jesus.  We join our hearts in prayers that also look both ways.  When we look backwards we find many reasons to be thankful and when we look forward we pray for God’s presence in all that lies ahead.

Each New Year, each new week and each new day, God invites us to live in the present time, with our pasts forgiven and blest and our futures wide open to God’s presence and purpose.  In 2012, Trinity Lutheran Church is truly “Growing into God’s Future!”

New Year’s blessings of peace and hope,

Pastor Jocelyn

All Earth is Hopeful

All Earth is Hopeful

The words of this joyful Advent hymn were originally written in Spanish by Alberto Taulé with the title, Toda la tierra.  This Advent we sing it every Sunday morning as the Advent wreath is lighted as a reminder of God’s presence in all of creation and in our lives.  The lyrics of this song remind us that the world is waiting for God’s truth and justice to set all of us free. 

The word all seems really important this year at Trinity as we begin work on the two platform lifts and the handicap accessible bathroom which will allow us to be a lot more inclusive in our welcome of all people.  “All” and “everybody” are words that we do not use lightly.  We ask ourselves who is not here?  Whose voice is not being heard?  How can we let those not here know that we recognize their importance in the kingdom of God?  As we move into this new church year, together we embrace the changes that welcome all to this community of faith!

How to be sure that all are included is an issue that goes beyond the walls of our church building.  In these days of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Everett, as our representatives and senators meet to plan state and national budgets, we remember those who do not have enough food, healthcare, jobs, or housing.  As we sing this Spanish song, we remember those most affected by our immigration laws. For some people truth and justice seem in short supply. 

God’s Good News is for all, the poor, the proud, the persecuted and the privileged.  Jesus has come to bring light and hope for all of us.  Jesus has already come—we do not have to wait any longer in order to be working for the coming of the kingdom of heaven.  The time is now for all to be welcome!

In Advent we open our eyes, we light more candles, and we look for a new vision of what God’s presence will mean for our world.  God’s truth and justice sets everybody free! *

Jesus is coming!  Jesus is here! Advent blessings!

Pastor Jocelyn

*Alberto Taulé, b. 1932; tr. Madeline Forell Marshall, b. 1946.  Music: Alberto Taulé. Spanish text and tune © 1993 and tr. © 1995 Centro de Pastoral Ligurgica, admin.  OCP Publications

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What Kind of King?

Dear Friends of Jesus,
On Sunday, November 20th we will celebrate Christ the King Sunday.  That is also the day that we are all invited to bring our Time and Talent sheets and our Financial Commitment Cards to the Altar.  it is a very good day for us to consider the kind of King whom we follow.
In the Psalms, God is often described as a mighty King who reigns over heaven and earth.  The Psalmist is moved to praise the awesome God who is our Creator and our Judge.  While it is good to be able to claim a God of power and strength, sometimes those are not the adjectives taht move us to faith and trust in a God who loves us.
In the Gospels, we come to know Jesus as a compassionate healer, as a teacher who welcomed the outcast, and as the one with the power to calm the seas and the wind for the sake of his friends int he boat.  Jesus is the God who inspires our trust and Jesus promises us that in relationship with the Father, our faith will grow.
What kind of King do we follow?  We follow the King who rode a humble donkey not a white stallion on Palm Sunday.  We follow the King who on Maundy Thursday, tied a towel around his waist and washed the feet of his friends.  We folloow the King who humbled himself to the death on the cross.  but before those events, come the words of our King from Matthew 25:34-26 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'"
When we wonder when it was that we did all those things for Jesus, he tells us what he said to his disciples, "The King willr eply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"
We follow a King who taught us to love one another because God first loved us.  We follow the Kign who conquered death and lives and rules eternally.  In our following and in our loving, we "dof ro Jesus" what we "do for others."  We do not get it right every time and we cannot do it all by ourselves.  One of the reasons to be part of a community of faith is to share in both the celebrations and the work.  As we gather to worship on November 20th we will give thanks for a King who loves us, forgives us, and has taught us to live like servant kings ourselves.  Thanks be to God!
Pastor Jocelyn

Building Toward the Future

Dear Friends,

Thanks be to God for his unending mercy and grace!  In our meeting on Sunday we were informed, inspired and encouraged to take bold steps towards the repair and accessibility of our church building.  The vote was nearly unanimous to move forward in obtaining funding for the inter-related projects, including the repairs of our south wall, the tear-off and replacing of our roof, the upgrading of our electrical system, and the addition of two platform lifts and a unisex accessible bathroom, which will make our facility accessible to all.

Thank you to all who came and asked questions and thoughtfully considered the proposal.  Thank you to those who set up and cleaned up and to all who brought delicious food to share.

It was good to hear the latest developments from our Handicap Access Team who have been working on these issues for the last two years.  The move towards accessibility for all has been a process here at Trinity for many years and we give thanks for all of the foundational work which has been done in the past bringing us to this point.  Many plans have been considered and many prayers have been prayed.

With this very positive vote, we now move into the funding portion of the project. Gifts towards the project are now being received.  Any gifts that are given at the beginning of the project will mean that less money will need to be borrowed and less interest paid.   When you give towards the project please mark your gift for “The Building Fund”.  Please watch future Tidings, our Website and the Pew News for further updates.

What the Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Ephesus applies also to us here at Trinity.  “God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.” -Ephesians 2:20-22 from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.

May we all be blessed as we build towards the future,

Pastor Jocelyn

A Lifetime of Learning

Dear Friends of Jesus,

I have always been a fan of lifelong learning!  My faith today is not what it was when I was confirmed many years ago.  My understanding of God’s grace at work in the world has grown and matured.  When our daughter was a baby, a friend gave us a needlepoint picture of a little girl with these words, “Please be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet.”  It was a good reminder for first time parents and over the years that saying continues to be true.  God is not finished with any of us yet—we are still being invited to grow in grace and in faith!

In Ephesians, Saint Paul writes about the followers of Jesus growing up in this way, “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NRSV)   As a faith community and as individuals we grow in love and understanding, never standing still! 

Some of our growing happens through “book-learning.”  The most important book we are invited to know is the Bible.  As we grow in faith, we need to read and consider more than the Bible stories of our childhood.  As we are being built up in love, we are invited to ask difficult questions and challenge some of our child-like views of Holy Scripture.  Reading Scripture alone can be growth producing, but even better is reading and talking with other growing Christians.  When we study together, we hear the questions and answers from a variety of perspectives.  Our response to someone else, “I never thought of it in that way,” is a sign of mutual understanding and encouragement.

Our growth in faith also happens when we put our faith into practice.  Acting on what we believe, strengthens our own faith and is a witness to others.  This is true in every part of our life together as “friends of Jesus.”  Whether it is giving away socks to children, making sack lunches for the Parking Lot Dinner, praying for a friend or neighbor, giving an offering, or buying a bag of food for the Food Bank; your faith grows every time you act on behalf of someone else. 

There are many opportunities for both study and service here at Trinity Lutheran Church.  Be ready for growth—God is not finished with you yet!

Blessings as we grow together,

Pastor Jocelyn

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