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Fourth Day of Lent

I was not able to work outside much yesterday.  Even when the rain stopped, the garden plot was pretty soggy.  So I pulled a few more weeds and then went back inside to plot what other than potatoes I might plant this year.  On the way back inside I checked some of my flower beds to see how my tulips and daffodils are doing.  The squirrels have had a great time digging them up, but some are beginning to sprout. 

Squirrels and mud instead of dirt make me think that planting seeds directly in the ground is not my best bet for a productive garden.  So today I will buy some of those little peat pots in which my parents used to start their tomatoes.  Our bedroom window was the sunniest place in the house and so every winter, we girls had the joy of watching little plants sprout and grow.

For my small garden this year I will also buy herb plants that are already growing strong.  They will be safe from root rot and the pesky squirrels!  Good news—the rhubarb is growing strong!  It is a cherished gift from those who gardened in this plot before me.


Third Day of Lent

One of my hopes from all of this digging in the dirt is that we will have fresh vegetables to eat and to share with others.  In past years I have raised a few cherry tomatoes and grown raspberries.  That’s not enough to impact how I shop for food or prepare meals.  This year I hope to grow much more of our own food and I am also hoping to buy more foods produced locally.

“Eating ethically” is one of my goals.  I am humbly reading a number of books this Lent, knowing that others have already thought about the “food chain” and are ready to teach me.  One book that I am finally reading is called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver.  Her family changed their eating habits for a year, eating locally produced food.  Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, has a new book out about eating locally—I have lots of folks from whom to learn.

I think best when I am digging or weeding in the garden or flower beds.  I am hoping for good digging weather today and if not I will “dig” into Kingsolver’s book.

Second Day of Lent

I am still thinking about dirt this morning.  Back in January we had an amazing warm Sunday afternoon and so I went out to the former garden plot to see what would have to be done to resurrect it into a producing garden.  I took my pruners and a rake and a shovel and over a couple of hours filled the yard waste bin (one of the big ones) completely full of dead branches, leaves, moss, pine and fir cones, and weeds.

When I got down to the dirt, I was thrilled to find it dark and rich looking.  As it sat at rest the soil had been enriched by all of the compost that had been allowed to just sit there and soak in.  I flashed back to a brief memory of helping to pick potatoes at a relative’s farm near Denver.  The warm dark earth smell was the same.  One of my crops this year will be potatoes!  I think I have just the right dirt to grow potatoes. 

An added bonus—I love to eat potatoes.  Baked, mashed, in potato salad, even potato soup sounds delicious when made with my own crop!

Dirt, earth, soil, all are the dust of which we are made.  If we are dust, then we have the opportunity to grow new things in our life.  Our lives, like my abandoned garden plot can be resurrected.  We can choose life.  We can do something different that brings life to others.  Bless us and our dirt.  Amen.

Ash Wednesday

Dear readers and myself as well,

This year for Lent instead of giving up something, I have decided to do something.  The something I am doing includes writing this daily blog, but it also involves some physical labor—that of planting a garden, the weeding, the cultivating, the figuring out what might grow in my little plot of earth.

This Lent I am thinking about three gardens—my personal one, the Giving Garden which is sprouting at Trinity Lutheran in Everett, and God’s Garden—this entire planet where God has planted us.

On this first day of Lent—Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011—the word I am considering is humility.  Remembering that we are dust can be an exercise in humility, but I was actually thinking of the humility I feel when I think of all those who have gardened before me.

I am first of all a humble gardener because I am not an expert.  I am an experimental gardener; I will try planting a variety of seeds, expecting that some of them will not do well in my soil or with my amount of sunlight.  I am humble because I know that someone else first prepared the garden plot that I now work in.  Someone else built the raised bed and planted raspberries.  Someone else had a vision of growing things.  Someone else did a lot of work long before I got there.

I am a humble gardener because I know the lessons I learned in my parents’ gardens will be needed for my little garden to grow.  I am a humble gardener because my little plot is nothing like the irrigated farm on which my grandparents raised their nine children.  Another day this blog will re-visit that farm. For today, I will think about the dust from which I came and God’s tender care of each of us in God’s big garden plot.  Amen. 

Making a Garden Grow

Dear friends,

What does it take to make a garden grow?  It takes soil, water, light, heat, nutrients, air, and in the case of our own “Giving Garden” it has also taken imagination, ingenuity, cooperation, investigation, and a lot of hard work.  Together we have dreamed, discussed, planned, built, and soon we will be ready to mix soil and then plant.  

The word “Lent” means to lengthen and we rejoice as the daylight portion of our days
lengthens during the Lenten season and we move from darkness into light.  The days will be lighter and warmer, God will water our gardens with showers, and growing things will “lengthen.”  

This Lenten season, we are invited to consider all the world as God’s garden.  As we think about growing food we also think about growing our faith.  Our communal garden is a reflection of God’s grace and love.  Our Sunday Lenten worship will focus on what it takes to grow both faith and food.  We will be refreshed in the waters of baptism and at the Table of the Lord.  We will consider what it might mean to “eat ethically.”  We will continue to bask in the light of God’s love and we will grow in faith and in love towards all the world.

I remember gardening with my whole family when I was a child.  Mostly I remember the day we planted the seeds, but I now know there was a lot of preparation and work that happened before we patted the tiny seeds into the ground. As the plants grew the work continued—weeding, watering, harvesting all happened before the eating.  My parents’ garden was a necessity for us.  They had five hungry, growing children to feed and the miracle of the abundant harvest from the small seeds was awesome every year.  

You are invited to come and take part in the Trinity  “giving garden.”  You are also invited to come and grow your faith in the sunshine of God’s love and grace.

Planting seeds and growing love,
Pastor Jocelyn


A Valentine from God

A Valentine from God for all of us

Valentine’s Day can be a romantic, sweet time of sharing love, but God’s love for us is so much greater than we can imagine.  

When I looked up the word love in my Bible’s Concordance, there were listings for “love” as a noun and listings for “love” as a verb.  One of my favorite promises from Scripture is this one, which has love as both: “I have loved you with an everlasting love,” from the prophet Jeremiah (31:3).  We have God as our example of how to love so, we, like God, “love” (verb) the one for whom we have great affection, our “love” (noun).  We are the objects of God’s great love—we and the cosmos which God created and sustains.  We are loved by God and so we are able to love each other, not just in words but in deeds of compassion and affection.

Our Monday and Wednesday Bible Study groups have been studying Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.  The whole letter is a love letter from the Apostle Paul to this new faith community who are trying to figure out how to act loving and kind, even when they do not like the other person.  Paul has much advice to give them about living together in faith and hope, but the words that most of us remember best are from the thirteenth chapter.  We often hear these words at weddings, but they are really not about romantic love—they are about the day to day “putting the other first” kind of love that we all need to give and to receive.
In these verses, love can be both a noun and a verb—love can be the impetus for our giving of our best to those whom we love by choice and those we love at Jesus’ command.   This Valentine is for you, from the God who loves you!

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13: 4-6, 13

Sharing in God’s love,
Pastor Jocelyn


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Many people take time at the beginning of the New Year to write resolutions regarding their lives during the coming 365 days.   This is a good exercise, but it too quickly can lead us to guilt and frustration as our resolutions fall by the wayside.

One evidence of God’s grace is that God always invites us to take our lives “one day at a time.”  One of my favorite hymns is Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  It was inspired by words from the Old Testament book of Lamentations in which Jeremiah reminds us, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

God’s mercies more than match our failings in life, whatever those may be.  Every day we get a new dose of grace that fills us to the brim with hope.  The wisdom to “live one day at a time” is wisdom that all of us can use, whatever our age, our social status, our personal successes or failures.  Each day God greets us with mercy and fills us with power for that one day.

In Matthew’s Gospel we read, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:34)  These words are not permission to live recklessly without regard to our own future or the future of our planet, but they do remind us that living in God’s grace is healthier for us than useless worry.

In this New Year, we have opportunities for taking on something new.  Let us live in God’s grace and take on something new for “just a day.”  So for today, you could set aside time for reading the Bible or another inspirational book, take time for a quiet time with God, or take time to spend some time with a friend or family member.  And if it does not happen  today, there is always tomorrow.  God invites us to come with our heart’s concerns whether we come to God “on the run” or whether we are sitting quietly in prayer—God comes to us, new every day with grace and forgiveness and love.  Just what we need for this day!

On a personal note, thank you all so much for your Christmas cards, greetings and gifts to Dave , me and our family.  We are blessed to be partners with you in this welcoming faith community.

Pastor Jocelyn


A New Worship Time - with an Old Welcome

Psalm 33 tells us to worship God with a New song.  The book of Lamentations tells us that God’s mercies are New every morning.  The prophet Ezekiel brings us a message that promises that God will give us a New heart and a New spirit.  Jesus gave us a New commandment to love one another.  At Trinity we have a New time for worship!  However, our Old word of welcome still stands!

In part it reads: EVERYONE IS WELCOME—EVERYONE.  People of all backgrounds, colors, sexual orientations, gender identities, addictions, economic classes, languages, mental/emotional states, talents, marital status, parents, children (quiet & noisy), adults (discreet or nosy), sons, daughters, youngsters, oldsters, all states of health, religious beliefs, responsible or flaky, true blue or straying, obedient or disobedient, happy, sad, lonely, mad or searching.  

This inclusive, welcoming statement reflects God’s gifts of mercy and grace and reminds us that yes, God’s promises are New to us every day.  Lutherans hear God’s Word of forgiveness and grace and want to share that with others.  Lutherans have a heart to care for those in need.  Lutherans love to sing and praise God with New songs and Old hymns and everything in between.

At 10:00 am on Sunday morning, God’s praises will be sung, God’s Word will be heard, and God’s Table of Holy Communion will be set.  Come and bring your praying, singing, listening self and be blessed!

When we say ALL are welcome, we mean ALL—come be a part Celebrating God’s Love this week!  Remember it is at a New time—10:00 am.

Pastor Jocelyn Carson


Promises to Keep


Recently I have had connections with seven couples who are now married or will be shortly.  For two of the weddings it was my pleasure to be the pastor, one of the brides is my daughter, for some I was or will be a guest, other couples getting married have a strong Trinity connection.  For our faith community all of these weddings and the promises that are made are a sign of hope and a reason for joy.

As I witness two people making promises of faithfulness to each other, I get teary-eyed because in our sometimes selfish, me-first world, promises are hard to come by.  Some couples write their own vows, some use words that are traditional and some use a mix of the two.  The words are important but the intention to keep these promises is what really touches me.  

Congratulations, best wishes and thank you to: Tyler & Jessica, Kymmie & Matt, Kael & Jamie, Peter & Mary, Les & Megan, Brendan & Stina, Bill & Lisa.  When I hear your promises I reminded of the promises Dave and I made 35 years ago and I remember that it is God who has enabled us to keep those promises.   It takes all of us to support and encourage marriage partners!  Please keep these faithful ones in your prayers.

When I am at weddings I am also reminded that God is faithful in keeping promises made to us.  God’s grace and forgiveness covers us whether we are married or single, widowed or divorced.  God blesses all of our relationships.  Our reconciling God seeks to reconcile us to God and to each other.  Marriage and all other relationships are only possible in an atmosphere of trust and forgiveness.  It is God who gives us the desire and the strength to forgive as we have been forgiven.

When I am the pastor at a wedding, these words are part of the prayers I pray on behalf of those making promises and those who witness those promises. “Gracious and tender God, From your great store of strength give them power and patience, affection and understanding, courage, and love toward you, toward each other and toward the world.  Make them gentle and patient, ready to trust each other, and when they fail, willing to acknowledge their fault and to give and receive forgiveness.  Strengthen and bless friends and family gathered here, call to mind those separated by distance, console those who mourn the loss of loved ones, and be present with those for whom love is a stranger. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings of joy and peace for you in all your relationships,
Pastor Jocelyn Carson


Welcome Back!

Welcome: Back to School, Back to Work, Back to Church!
In many ways September is like New Year’s Day!  Even though it has been years since I helped my own children “get ready for school,” I still remember the great smells of the new box of crayons and the big fat jar of paste.  I loved wearing my new winter clothes, even on the warm fall days.  Now children use markers and glue sticks but the fun and excitement is the same.

Rally Sunday, September 12th promises some new things for Trinity this fall.  It is the Sunday morning we return back to worship at both 8:30 and 11:00 am.  This fall, our Sunday school classes for children will be at the same time as our 11:00 am worship.  Children and parents will begin together in worship with singing and the passing of the peace and then the children will go to the classrooms for learning about God’s love for them.  Our Sparks Bible curriculum highlights one of the lessons read in worship so parents and children can continue the learning at home.

The Youth/Adult Forums will take place in the Fireside Room beginning at 10:00 am on September 19th.  We begin this fall learning to be Advocates for justice.  Pastor Paul Benz and Advocacy Chair, Cyndi Nielsen will lead on September 19 and 26.  Beginning in October, Susan Grazier and I will co-lead a 5 week course called “Hunger Causes/Hunger Hopes.  This interactive course is full of information that will educate us about the realities of hunger and inspire us to be part of ending hunger in the whole world.  All are welcome to participate!

Wednesday Bible Study begins September 8 at 10:45 am.  Monday evening Bible Study begins September 13 at 7:30 pm.  Both groups will be studying the writings of the Apostle Paul using a variety of resources.  We will look especially at Paul’s attitudes towards women in the church, but will cover a number of other topics as well.   Bring your Bible and your questions about Paul or any of his writings.

There are always new things to learn in God’s school of Grace and Love.  September is a wonderful time for us to begin anew learning of God’s love for the world!    Welcome back to church this fall!  We gather for praise, prayer, thanksgiving, and service in the name of Jesus, our teacher and our friend.

Blessings of joy and peace,
Pastor Jocelyn Carson

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