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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 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 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 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.


April 20th

For Today’s lent Blog I welcome this guest blogger. 

Editors’ Note: This year Holy Week coincides with Earth Day and the one-year anniversary of the horrible oil spill that claimed the lives of 11 men and dumped almost 5 million tons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. What does Jesus’ resurrection teach us about God’s creation and our part in it? In this issue of Faith and Justice Connection, we look at the church’s role in caring for God’s creation.

We wish you a blessed Holy Week.

A reflection on Earth Day and Easter

by Matthew Sleeth

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it… --Psalm 24:1

It is fitting that this year Earth Day falls on Good Friday and that, three days later, the greatest dawn since the beginning of time is celebrated. To those who claim that the earth and the life on it are disposable -- or that God cares only about altar calls and has no time for the call of whales -- Easter Sunday reminds us of something quite different.

God is the author of all life. It pleased God to take the form of humanity and to dwell among us. Christ came to pay a ransom and redeem us. He reminded us that his Father notices every time a sparrow falls from the sky. He is that kind of a God -- no less.

In the fullness of time, God will choose to sound the last trumpet. A theology that says we should force God’s hand by wanton greed or negligence seems dangerous at best. Easter marks the day when all creation held its breath to see the firstborn, the new Adam, the Messiah.

This Easter, let us renew our commitment to love our neighbors with extravagance and to care for this gift of God’s, called the earth. Let us remember that Mary did not mistake Christ for a soldier or even a rabbi on Easter morning, but rather a gardener.

Matthew Sleeth, MD, is author of Serve God, Save the Planet and co-editor of The Green Bible. He is co-founder of the faith-based educational nonprofit, Blessed Earth.


April 19th

We are already deep into Holy Week and as Pastor I am thinking about death and resurrection.  In God’s garden these are realities that we face also.  Yesterday Amy and I snipped off some of the little tomato seedlings in order to allow one plant to grow stronger.  We chose by size and leaf quality.  In our gardens we pull weeds, thin out plants that grow too thickly, we kill slugs, slap mosquitoes and do not always stop to think about death. Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…”  He was speaking realistically, if you plant a grain of wheat, it dies and becomes something new.  He was also talking about his life and death.  Unless he died, so that he could rise again, death would not be overcome! 

In my gloomiest of moments, I remember that death is a part of life.  Acceptance of what cannot be avoided means that we can put our energies into things where we can make a difference.  It would be nice to not ever have to decide which tomato plant is strongest, but we do so that one plant can grow and give us many, many cherry tomatoes, feeding our bodies and enriching our souls. 

What are those things that we must give up on?  Where can we move forward with renewed strength and determination?  These are questions for us as individuals and as a community of faith.  Easter promises us new life in the face of death!  Easter gives us hope for God’s presence with us, always!  First comes Good Friday, but Easter follows!  Always!

April 16th

This morning I took some time to re-read all of the Lenten blogs from Ash Wednesday on.  Mostly I was trying not to be repetitive by any of my comments that will continue through Holy Week.  I was not surprised to find a number of references to rain and cold.  This has not been a warm spring, but rather one that has challenged my enjoyment of being outside.

 I am reminded of the journals of Lewis and Clark, those intrepid Northwest explorers who came overland from Saint Louis to the Astoria area.  They wintered over in a little fort that has since rotted away (this is the Northwest) but has been rebuilt so that we can imagine what it was like to be here in primitive times.  From reading the journals I imagine their winter was as cold and damp as our spring this year.  We of course have warm water-proof jackets and warm houses in which to sip hot tea as we watch the rain fall. 

If you are brave enough to venture out on a rainy Saturday in April, let me encourage you to go buy the Interfaith Family Shelter’s native Plant sale at the Lion’s Club every Saturday in April.  They will teach you which native plants you already have in your yard and have pictures of noxious weeds so you can rid your yard of those.  They also have plants to buy, with the proceeds going to the Family Shelter.  Even on a rainy Saturday, my heart was warmed and I came home with lots of plant info and a lovely pot for my front porch. 

The blog continues one more week, but the garden will keep growing all summer long!  Blessings on your rainy days!

April 14th

How do we ever explain away the presence of those destroying pests in our gardens?  I am feeling particularly guilty this spring over my anger at the furry, cute, totally annoying squirrels who have come into my yard this spring to destroy my lovely daffodil bulbs.  I say destroy because usually they do not even eat the bulbs, but they leave them lying all around the pots from which they have taken them.  They have dug up newly planted bulbs from the ground and in pots, and now that some of the bulbs have come up the squirrels have even have dug up whole flowering plants.  What is a loving, caring gardener to do?

As I prepare to plant my vegetable seeds, I really do not want to just be “feeding squirrels!”

This is only one of the pests that bug gardeners!  What are some of yours?  Moles, weeds, variety of bugs, slugs?  As a “green” gardener I hate the thought of pesticides and herbicides.  Pulling weeds and using weed barriers are better ideas.   I don’t want to ever kill a squirrel and most of the year I enjoy watching them run around my yard—their clowning around always makes me smile. 

What would God say?  In the beginning all creation was good—that had to include the pests as well as those useful plants and animals.  How does God define useful?  I do believe that all of creation is essential to the whole.  We need all things to be part of the circle of life and death and rebirth. 

Maybe I worry too much.  I still have lots of lovely daffodils.  I can put a screen over my little lettuces and radishes.  God has blessed us with abundance—now I need to learn to share!  Even with the pesky squirrels!

April 13th

There in God’s Garden stands the Tree of Wisdom. . .this is the first line of that beautiful hymn that we have been singing all during Lent.  In this hymn the tree of course is Jesus, our source of wisdom, our source of love, our font of grace and forgiveness.  There are trees all through the Bible—so often we think of the tree of Calvary not as Jesus, but as the tree on which he was hung.  And really that piece of wood also started life as a tiny tree from a seed either deliberately or randomly planted.

The Cross is the tree that centers much of our Lenten worship.  As we get closer to Good Friday, we remember that the cross is empty—Jesus was on the cross for a brief time only.  The empty cross speaks to us of resurrection and hope, while at the same time reminding us that in all of our sorrows we have a Savior and a Friend who also knows pain and sorrow, abandonment and despair. 

At Trinity Lutheran Church one of our trees has burst into beautiful bloom.  The magnolia is full of huge, pink blossoms.  It stands outside our front door to welcome us in and it offers a place to sit by the cross and meditate on the multiple meanings of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus did not stay safely in heaven; he came to our messy, life-filled and death-filled world to live with us, to love us, and to lead us home.  Amen.

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