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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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Summer

Summer brings us so many opportunities to celebrate.  There are graduations, concerts, Father’s Day, the 4th of July, family reunions, weddings, anniversaries, and for us at Trinity the Salmon Barbeque coming up on Sunday, August 21st.  There is also the day that we celebrate as the Birthday of the Church or Pentecost.  This year Pentecost is June 12th.  On that day we will remember the gift of the Holy Spirit, given by God to breathe life and hope into the hearts of the followers of Jesus.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus himself breathes on the disciples after greeting them with the words, “Peace be with you.”  We greet each other on Sunday morning with handshakes, hugs, and words like, “The peace of the Lord be with you.”  We are happy to see each other and sometimes we visit a bit before we move on to the next person.  We breathe life and hope into each other in our greetings.  We name Jesus Christ as the one who calls us to faith.  We share the joy that we have been given with those we know and with those whom we are meeting for the first time.
We, like all disciples of Jesus, take the peace of our Lord with us when we go home.  We take the peace of our Lord to soccer and softball games, to the grocery store and the mall, to public events and when we visit our family and friends in private homes.  We usually do not greet people with the “peace of the Lord” like we do in church, but God’s peace is with us and becomes part of who we are.  Our responses to those in need, our acceptance and appreciation for those who are different from us, our willingness to listen when someone has a story that they need to share—these are some of the ways God’s peace becomes real in our world.
We are people of the peace of God.  This is what it means to follow Jesus.  We love as we have been loved.  We give as we have been given to.  We are blessed by our faithful God, in order to be blessings to others.  We are carriers of peace and hope into every place we go.  This summer I hope you will worship frequently—here at Trinity when you are in town or in a church or worshiping community wherever your travels take you.  When we gather to worship we are filled with the Spirit of God—this weekly renewal blesses us and it blesses those with whom we are worshiping.  God’s love made real by real people!
On this Pentecost, we can choose to wear the color red, as a reminder of the flames seen on the heads of the disciples in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost Day.  We will sing, “Send down the fire of your justice, send down the rains of your love; come send down the Spirit, breathe life in your people, and we shall be people of God.”*
Blessings as you catch the Spirit and pass the peace on,
Pastor Jocelyn
 
* Send Down the Fire, words and music by Marty Haugen copyright 1989, used by OneLicense.Net #A-706877.

 

Give Thanks to the Lord

Give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good: God’s mercy endures forever! Psalm 118:1

On Easter we heard thankful words from Psalm 118.  In our thanksgiving we also express the trust and the hope that God will continue to be with us.  With the psalmist we declare:  “The Lord is my strength and my song and has become my salvation.”  For the next six weeks followers of Jesus will continue to celebrate the glorious Resurrection.  I am really glad about that because we will have the opportunity to continue singing the great Easter hymns of the church.  One day is not enough for the stories and songs of Easter!

In April, I taught Holy Communion classes for our Sunday school children.  For some of them it was a review of the “Fed and Forgiven” class we had a year ago and for some it was their introduction to the joys of Holy Communion. During the Easter season we will welcome Isaiah and Nikaela Perez and Kylie and Ryan Austin to the Lord’s Table.  As we share in the feast of our Lord, we each have opportunity to experience God’s welcoming grace and forgiveness new each Sunday.

As followers of Jesus, we are not ever finished learning about Holy Communion.  Whether it is on Sunday morning with the community of faith or in a hospital room with a patient and their family, God is present and real for us in the Body and the Blood.  We taste and see God’s love, we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, we give thanks for God’s grace, we celebrate with the community of the faithful in every time and place and we look forward to feasting with God and all the saints in all eternity.  

On Maundy Thursday, we heard the words from Saint Paul to the Corinthians:  “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)  During this glorious Easter season, we also proclaim Christ’s Resurrection each Sunday when we feast at the Lord’s Table.  All are welcome as we celebrate and give thanks!
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Easter blessings of peace and joy,
 Pastor Jocelyn

 

April 23rd - Holy Saturday

It is Holy Saturday on our Lenten journey.  The reality of Good Friday and the Cross are deeply imprinted into our minds.  Those who are busy preparing for an Easter Celebration are looking forward not backwards.  This morning at Trinity Lutheran Church a group of faithful sharers of God’s love and mercy gathered to make 40 sack lunches for those who will eat their dinners at the Parking Lot Dinner at Central Lutheran tomorrow evening.  Thank you for your caring hearts and for your thoughtfulness on behalf of those who have little.

Others gathered to prepare a delicious Easter Breakfast.  It is free, with a place to make an offering if one is able.  This breakfast is cooked by those who have prepared it for many years, as their gift to all who come!  Again, thank you for your caring hearts and your busy hands.

And then there were those who gathered to prepare our worship space for the glory of the Glad Easter Alleluias!!  Thank you for your caring hands and hearts! We have a colorful Garden of flowers to remind us of the beauty God gives.  We have shiny bells, beautiful banners, and a Table set, ready for us to share in the Celebration Feast of our Risen Lord!  Alleluia!

In the beauty of the day, we remember those who do not have enough, those who are living with tragedy, those who suffer debilitating or fatal illnesses.  We remember those who are so busy caring for others that they are not able to take a moment for themselves.  Jesus says to all, “Come to the Table, this is my Body and Blood given and shed for you!  Come and be strengthened for service, come and have your faith renewed, come and celebrate this moment together.  Go forth, knowing that I am with you always.”

God, we thank you for the abundance of food, clean water, and the natural beauty of the earth. We petition on behalf of those who live with the daily realities of hunger, pollution, and poverty. May we all experience your abundant life. Amen.

Thank you for your part in this Lenten blog.  Reading or writing, we have journeyed together and grown in God’s Garden!

April 22nd

Today is Good Friday and Earth Day.  Two days of great significance for us as followers of Jesus Christ.  How do we faithfully follow on the way to the Cross without abandoning what we have learned about loving each other?  In the horror of the crucifixion we must allow ourselves to know the deepest hatred of humanity in order to know God great love for us.  But never do we allow ourselves to hate those whom we imagine put Jesus on the Cross, because if we are truly honest we know that it was us, and people just like us, who cried for freedom for Barabbas and death for Jesus.  Good Friday is not a time for blaming others, but a time for self-reflection and most importantly a chance to let God’s love over power the Cross and all hatred.

On a Good Friday a few years ago, we heard the story, heard the clang of the nails being driven into Jesus’ hands and then heard the voice of God, “For God so loved the world…..”  Amen.

Earth Day is not separate but integral with Good Friday.  I celebrated by renewing my membership in Earth Ministry.  Their tag line reads, “Earth Ministry leads the way in caring for the Earth from a faith perspective.  Please join us and help spread the good work of religious environmental stewardship!”  They are found at www.earthministry.org.  They will send my newsletter via e-mail in order to save paper.  It is good to know that there are many, many thoughtful people making choices everyday for the safekeeping of our planet, God’s Garden, not a gift but a trust for safekeeping.

When this Lenten blog is over, I will continue my small steps of environmental stewardship and my joy in the beauty God has given us in this garden.  Amen.

April 21st

Today is Maundy Thursday and Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you should love one another as I have loved you.”  This new commandment to love includes loving the creation as well as the humans who are a part of the creation.  Is it easier or harder to love non-humans?  I suppose easier if the thing being loved makes few demands on us.  When we love each other, we do respond to each other’s needs—otherwise it isn’t love. 

Loving nature is never a substitute for loving other human beings.  Today I had an opportunity to think about the choices we make as a community of faith.  To choose the highest good is not ever easy, because my highest good may not seem like your highest good.  Talking about difficult choices is hard, but from these conversations comes growth in faith towards God and love for each other. 

Today’s conversation reminded me of Jesus and the woman who anointed him with fragrant expensive oil.  He defended her actions and reminded us that we will always have the poor with us.  In the past I have seen that as a choice between honoring Christ and caring for one another, but more and more I believe Jesus was saying that we can do both.  We can care for each other, care for our planet earth, and enjoy gifts of beauty—music, art, flowers, poetry.  All of these things are gifts from God and always the conversation about priorities is a good one to have.  The obvious answer may not be the best one in the long run.

Here in God’s garden we are cared for and loved.  Thanks dear readers for sticking with my random almost garden thoughts all through Lent.  Good Friday is also Earth Day—How will you celebrate the gift of Creation this year?  How will you remember the cross and the one who gave his life for you?  The gift of abundant life comes from the cross and is lived out in creation.  Thank you, God!  Amen.

 
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