Conflict and Healthy Communication

This week begins our summer of lay speakers and guest devotional-ists.  Our writer and speaker for the week of July 5th is Robert (Bobby) Langhorne, a member of the Coop and McMinnville UMC.  We are happy to have Bobby open our summer program and look forward to a season of new voices!

James 1:1-8, 19-25 (NRSV)

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greetings. Faith and Wisdom

2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,

3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;

4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

6 But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind;

7, 8 for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;

20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.

21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror;

24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.

25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

Devotional

The book of James is probably my favorite in the Bible. The Epistle – another word for letter – has a lot of great things to say about ways we can structure our lives to be good Christians. It has a lot of beautiful language and metaphor, using Greek that is rarely found in the Bible. For instance, that part in verse 6 – “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” – it’s a beautiful image. In verse 16, not quoted above, he refers to God as the “Father of Lights.”

James paints a vibrant picture. He speaks of “testing our faith”, using the Greek word δολιμιον (dokimion), which was used in 1st century Greek to mean striking coins to ensure they were true – a great image. He also talks about doubt as δίψυχος (dipsychos) being double-minded, but he doesn’t mean doubt like the small doubt you get occasionally. Here, James is talking about doubt that is a permanent division – a literal dividing of the soul.

It might be fitting that James talks about doubt so strongly – the Epistle is part of Luther’s Antilegomena – books that he questioned the authenticity of. Luther refers to it in different ways, once as “an Epistle of straw and destitute of an evangelic character,” but later Luther described it as a “good book, because it sets up no doctrines of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God.”

The Church has had many conversations and arguments about what is canon, about how to worship, how to live, how to be a Christian. At the Co-op, we have those discussions too. In the last two thousand years, there have been times when the divisions in Christianity looked like the survival of the fittest, but that does not have to be our experience here. We have room for many voices and many opinions. Tolerance has room to occur at the Co-op because we recognize the game does not have to be zero-sum.

James is often described as a book of “how-tos”, Proverbs for the modern man. At the time that the book of James was written, the book of Proverbs was several hundred years old – well past the time for things to be updated. The time that James was written is disputed by Biblical scholars, much like many other Epistles. Some scholars say that the Epistle was written by James the brother of Jesus before his death in 62 AD. Other scholars claim it was written around 90 AD and attributed to James by an unknown writer in order to carry more authority. Regardless, the book has been around since at least the 2nd century AD (it shows up in essays by people trying to decide what books should be in the Bible), which was many hundreds of years ago. Perhaps it is time to add some more Proverbs to how we should approach Christianity today.

An Eastern Orthodox Protopresbyter by the name of Thomas Hopko had a similar idea. He came up with 55 modern Proverbs for how Christians should live, just as James had written his “how-tos” earlier. I’ve chose twelve of Fr. Hopko’s Proverbs for brevity here – I wanted a nice even list of 10, but I just couldn’t get it down that far:

  • Be always with Christ.

  • Pray as you can, not as you want.

  • Spend some time in silence every day.

  • Do acts of mercy in secret.

  • Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings. Cut them off at the start.

  • Read good books a little at a time.

  • Live a day, and a part of a day, at a time.

  • Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself.

  • Be faithful in little things

  • Be grateful in all things.

  • Accept criticism gratefully but test it critically.

  • Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.

I recommend you read the rest of his list if you get a chance, it is really great: http://www.virtueonline.org/modern-proverbs-55-maxims-christian-living-0

I do not always agree with all the things Fr. Hopko had to say in his life, but that is the point. The church is not made up of one voice only, but many voices that blend. Sometimes they blend into unity, but sometimes that point of unity is only if you are standing far enough back.

Here at the Co-op, we have room for many voices, many debates, many ideas. The church is a reservoir filled up by the individual drops of each person’s mind. That reservoir is going to be there for us for a long time, but we have to treat with some care. Strife, unreasoning discord and violent thoughts will drain the drops away until we have nothing left. But if we approach every issue, every situation that we may come across, with the wisdom of James or even Fr. Hopko, that reservoir will be around for a long time to come.

Quotes of the Week

“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them. Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts…” – Robert Fulghum

“It doesn’t matter what you say you believe – it only matters what you do” – Robert Fulghum

“In the end, the aggressors always destroy themselves, making way for others who know how to cooperate and get along. Life is much less a competitive struggle for survival than a triumph of cooperation and creativity.” – Fritjof Capra

“We must never despair; our situation has been compromising before, and it has changed for the better; so I trust it will again. If difficulties arise, we must put forth new exertion and proportion our efforts to the exigencies of the times.” – George Washington

“Prayer is a strong wall and fortress of the church; it is a goodly Christian weapon.” – Martin Luther

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley

Questions for the Week

If you were to put together a guide for how modern Christians should live their life, what kind of things would you include in it?

Can conflict be healthy?

How would you structure a conversation with many differing opinions so that it does not degrade into unhealthy discord?

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From Lament to Praise

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

Lament. The longer you live, the more you will pray these prayers. Life is hard, and relationships are difficult. Our church is in the midst of some lament. We are grieving the loss of pastors and friends. I’ve heard so many times in the past few weeks “This is not an end, it’s a beginning.” And that it true, but we must also do the difficult work of saying goodbye, grieving our losses, and embracing the pain that is present in such separations.

I really believe that some of the most messed-up people I have ever had to deal with were people (and churches) who tried to by-pass grief. Grief is a valley that must be shlogged through. It is very difficult work, but to go around it is to court mental dis-ease.

That’s my prognosis as the spiritual physician in this place. I was encouraged to not use this Psalm as my preaching text for my final Sunday, but I think it is important. However, it is not the end. So I’ve changed the reading to the end of the Psalm. We pick up at the very end of the lament. This Psalm is so loaded. It is the Psalm that the disciples remembered when Jesus cleansed the temple. “Zeal for your house has consumed me” (Psalm 69: 9). At the crucifixion of Jesus they recall verse 21 “for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” This is, in fact, a sad place.

But it does not end there. The Psalmist is able to look up and praise God. Notice that the Psalmist does not do this after they have been saved. It is in the midst of a very troubling time of betrayal and humiliation that the focus changes. After crying out to God the very real pain, the Psalmist is able to entrust their life to God and THEN they are able to praise God. “I will praise the name of God with a song”.

The final word is one of dwelling and future generations. David has received God’s assurance that someone from his family will continually sit on the throne of Israel. His decedents will live in the city forever. This is the three-fold pattern of lament. It is a stark and realistic cry to God of the pain in which we find ourselves living. It moves into a word of trust for God, and praise of God’s work in the world and finally moves onto trust and hope in the next generation.

My father use to say that it was silly to leave a church because of a pastor. “Pastors come and go” he used to say. (He waited one out for over 25 years!) My father knew that churches are made up of faithful people who have dedicated themselves to praising God, providing fellowship to one another and to others, and to working in the world to help those in need. Pastors help to lead those things, but they are carried out by the church–by the people of God. It has been my great privilege to walk down difficult paths with many of the people of this church. It has also been my joy to celebrate the good things that have happened here. I’m going to grieve not being a part of this community any longer. It is indeed a special place doing wonderful things, so I’m sad to have to leave. But I know the wonderful things we are doing will carry on, and I give God thanks for that and for the years that Robin and I have been able to walk with you.

Quotes for the Week

“I was tired of well-meaning folks, telling me it was time I got over being heartbroke. When somebody tells you that, a little bell ought to ding in your mind. Some people don’t know grief from garlic grits. There’s some things a body ain’t meant to get over. No I’m not suggesting you wallow in sorrow, or let it drag on; no I am just saying it never really goes away. (A death in the family) is like having a pile of rocks dumped in your front yard. Every day you walk out and see them rocks. They’re sharp and ugly and heavy. You just learn to live around them the best way you can. Some people plant moss or ivy; some leave it be. Some folks take the rocks one by one, and build a wall.”     Michael Lee West

“Someday you will wake up feeling 51 percent happy and slowly, molecule by molecule, you will feel like yourself again.”  Amy Poehler

The only way to overcome the grief is to go through it!”  Dr Paul Gitwaza

And, finally, the Anne Lamott Section:

“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”

“You can either practice being right or practice being kind.”

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

“I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”

“Laughter is carbonated holiness.”

“You can get the monkey off your back, but the circus never leaves town”

Lesson Psalm 69:28-36

Strike their names from the list of the living;
No rock-carved honor for them among the righteous.

29 I’m hurt and in pain;
Give me space for healing, and mountain air.

30 Let me shout God’s name with a praising song,
Let me tell his greatness in a prayer of thanks.

31 For God, this is better than oxen on the altar,
Far better than blue-ribbon bulls.

32 The poor in spirit see and are glad—
Oh, you God-seekers, take heart!

33 For God listens to the poor,
He doesn’t walk out on the wretched.

34 You heavens, praise him; praise him, earth;
Also ocean and all things that swim in it.

35 For God is out to help Zion,
Rebuilding the wrecked towns of Judah.

Guess who will live there—
The proud owners of the land?

36 No, the children of his servants will get it,
The lovers of his name will live in it.

Questions for the Week

What are some of the “rocks of sorrow” piled up in your front yard? How do you deal with them?

What is one thing about the future of the church that fills you with hope?

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Praise and Justice

Devotional for Sunday, June 21

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

This is a classic praise Psalm. But it has a twist. Notice this is a command, not a suggestion. People of faith have no choice but to praise God. That’s first. Next we are told that to even remember God is to be blessed. And we are to be continually praising God, in every moment of our day–no matter where we find ourselves.   We are also instructed to observe everything God has done and to find praise for that as well. Looking at creation and seeing how beautiful it is and actually taking the time to notice all God has done is also praise. I think that is the most common form of praise in this part of the country. It is also natural that the Psalms are songs. Singing is the number one way I like to give praise to God.

Praise of God is not something that comes easily, or naturally to people. It must be taught; it must be studied and learned. The Psalms are a school of sorts to help us learn how to praise God in this life, and, in a way, training for the life to come. It doesn’t require a fancy building, or a place of quiet (although that can help) or even the right attitude. Just stopping and noticing the beauty around us can lead us into praise.   God is good and has created such a wonderful universe with such astounding creatures and a rich diversity of human beings. It’s amazing. But praise by itself is not enough.

In the last paragraph the whole Psalm changes. God is worthy of praise, but God also acts. In this case God acts powerfully for the poor and forgotten of the earth. God picks them up out of the dirt, and “rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash.” And what does God do with them once they’ve been rescued? God throws them a banquet. This is once again the great reversal. The rich and powerful are ignored, and the poor and oppressed are lifted up and set down to a banquet.

It is hard for me to find quotes for this week. Most people of faith emphasize exclusively the praise part and ignore social justice, or focus only on helping people and seem much weaker on praise. A faithful life requires both. Trying to keep that balance is not easy. Personally when I see all of the poverty and suffering around me it can be difficult to give praise. However, most of that suffering and the system that makes people poor is human-made, not God-made. It is possible to thank God for all of God’s goodness and still be quite angry about the systems that oppress people.

Quotes for the Week
“We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.”                      Pope Francis

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”   Dalai Lama

“God wants us to know that life is a series of beginnings, not endings.   Just as graduations are not terminations, but commencements. Creation is an ongoing process, and when we create a perfect world where love and compassion are shared by all, suffering will cease.”      Bernie Siegel

“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”                       Albert Einstein

“When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, ‘Yes, but is it the God of Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?”   Quentin Crisp

Lesson—Psalm 113 (The Message)
1-3 Hallelujah!
You who serve God, praise God!
Just to speak his name is praise!
Just to remember God is a blessing—
now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to God!

4-9 God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.
Hallelujah!

Questions for the Week

Do you have a harder time with praising God, or showing compassion to other people?

How do you praise God in your everyday life?

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Praying the Psalms

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

Praying the Psalms. Jesus did it. It guided him through the heights of glory to the pit of despair. I really like Eugene Peterson’s introduction to the Psalms. I’m going to quote from it liberally today. He talks about how in his life as a pastor people were always asking him how to pray. He would place the Psalms in their hands and say, “here, pray this.” People are frequently confused by this. Aren’t the Psalms songs, after all? They are, but they are sung prayers. As Martin Luther said, that those who sing, pray twice.

People often feel they have to learn the correct language for prayer. You don’t. The Psalms are evidence of that. They are honest and earthy and filled with just about every human emotion there is. Peterson said that his parishioners were often surprised by the prayers they discovered in the Psalms. He expressed surprise at their surprise. “Did you think these would be the prayers of nice people? Did you think the psalmists’ language would be polished and polite?”

Peterson continues: “Untutored, we tend to think that prayer is what good people do when they are doing their best. It is not. Inexperienced, we suppose that there must be ‘insider’ language that must be acquired before God takes us seriously in our prayer. There is not. Prayer is elemental, not advanced, language. It is the means by which our language becomes honest, true, and personal in response to God. It is the means by which we get everything in our lives out in the open before God.”

I relied on the Psalms a great deal when I was on leave for two months. I discovered that no matter what I was experiencing, the Psalmist was there to greet me. Phrases like “I stood there saved—surprised to be loved”, or “God’s word is better than strawberries in Spring, better than red, ripe strawberries”, or “God, my God, why did you dump me miles from nowhere?” It doesn’t matter what emotion you are feeling, it’s in the Psalms. Are you feeling betrayed? How about this, “Don’t let them cut my throat; don’t let those mongrels devour me.” It may be shocking to see such raw emotion as prayer.

I have been praying Peterson’s version of the Psalms for over ten years. I try to read one each morning before I begin my day. Sometimes I am called to reach out beyond myself and praise God, but just as often I am greeted right where I am, in my messed up, non-perfect, secretly wanting revenge, depressed self. I am so pleased to have this chance to preach and pray the Psalms on my way out the door. It is wonderful company. In today’s Psalm we see a stark contrast between those who follow God and those who do not. Those who “Chew on God’s Word” are like trees planted in Eden bearing fruit every month. Those who do not are like wind blown dust. There is something to an authentic life, and a part of that life is struggling with the highs and lows of life and faith. Contrary to what some people say, faith is not all happiness and celebration. It contains the whole gambit of human emotions, and they are all in the Psalms.

Quotes for the Week

“We have to stand up for what we believe in, even when we might not be popular for it. Honesty starts with being ourselves, authentic and true to who we are and what we believe in, and that may not always be popular, but it will always let you follow your dreams and your heart.”   Tabatha Coffey

“Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” Walter Anderson

“The secret of life is honest and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Groucho Marx

 

Lesson Psalm 1 (NRSV/AS/PTC Version)

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,                      and do not take a stand in the path that sinners,                              nor a seat in company with cynics,

2 but their delight is in the teaching of the LORD,                                      and on the LORD’s teaching they                                                    reflect both day and night.

3 They are like trees planted by streams of water;                                       bearing fruit in due season whose leaves never wither,                                In every work that they undertake they prosper.

4 How different the wicked are, how very different!                                         Like chaff blown by the wind

5 the wicked will not stand firm at the Judgment,                                          nor sinners in the gathering of the upright.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the upright,                                     but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Questions for the Week

What is the reward for living a faithful life?

Is your life fruitful? How are you being fruitful, and where are you struggling to be?

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Devotional for June 7, 2015 – Waiting in Transition   

    Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background  –  It is extremely surreal to write that this is my last Sunday at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries.  On top of that, I realize that MCM is in the midst of major transition which also feels pretty surreal and overwhelming.  I have to constantly remind myself to be present in this moment because the world around me feels chaotic.  You know the feeling because you are standing close by in this mix.  For me, as I look towards moving, my feet feel like they are trying to land in two worlds and that can be a scary place.  What will I be in the next location?  What will it be like? Will the next community be as incredible as this community (I highly doubt it, by the way)?  What will ministry look like? They only have grape juice in communion??? Will I be able to do what I am called to do? And for this community I am sure the questions look different and similar all at once; What will we look like without Mark and Courtney? What will our ministry look like? Will our community be as incredible as it has been?  Can we move with the changes? Will we be able to do what we are called to do?  In these questions, we get to vocalize how agonizing waiting can be just before the next change.

Paul reminds us in this passage that it really isn’t just up to us. While we might feel that the in between waiting is causing anxiety, Paul begs us to look at it a different way, creating something new in the meantime. Paul takes imagery that we can all connect to, the image of the pregnant woman. Her waiting doesn’t cause destruction, it becomes larger with something new to be born into the world.  The waiting because more joy filled as that anticipation grows. And what is growing, is within us. It hasn’t happened to us but the Spirit is moving within us. God has not left all of us to work it out. Paul reminds us that as the church changes (a struggle from ancient times on) God is right alongside us.  We don’t even have to figure out how to pray around it because God fills in the blanks. While we question and fret, God is already working to remind us that we are not alone.  What will come out of this chaotic time will be beautiful and God filled. God will call us by name and not let us go. God will not leave us where we are. That is the nature of grace.

This gives me great comfort for myself and for this amazing community. It has been my honor and great privilege to serve in this place for the past five years.  This is a God filled place built on sacred ground.  MCM is a place where people are launched into ministry and definitely called by name. This is a place of listening and love.  This place will continue to walk with God in creating the next beautiful thing out of change. Let the joy anticipation deepen. Amen.                                                                                                                                                                                     

 Quotes of the Week – “Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” ― Tom StoppardRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” ― Fred Rogers

 “In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance.” ― Jeanette Winterson 

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” ― Elizabeth Lesser  

“If you have a body, you are entitled to the full range of feelings. It comes with the package.” ― Anne LamottGrace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

Romans 8:18-30 (Message) That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’swithin us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

26-30 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

Questions for the Week –

What is God doing in you right now?   

When change happens, all sorts of things happen in us and around us, what do you do when change is around you?    

 What reminds you of God’s presence alongside you?

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Devotional for May 31, 2015 –   Spilling Over Into Thanksgivings  

  Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background                                                                                                                                                 When Pastor Mark and I sat down to talk through what we should look over the weeks after Pentecost and before I transition to another place, all I kept coming back to was gratefulness for this place. I finally just asked if we couldn’t have an entire Sunday to just talk about what we are grateful for together.  In the midst of transition and change, we sometimes get so caught up in the next steps that we forget to pause, breathe together, and think about all of the wonderful things around us.  This Sunday is for this kind of thanksgiving.

This letter is written to the church in Colosse.  There is some debate on whether or not Paul wrote this letter. The letter claims that Paul is the author along with Timothy. This letter is similar to the letter that Paul wrote to the Ephesians. On the other hand, there is a long line of tradition of disciples using Paul’s name in letters for legitimacy.  The letter outlines what it means to stay true to God’s word (word had it that they had integrated pagan customs in with Christian ones, gasp). While these letters are full of lovely theology, we picked this scripture because of the beginning of the letter.  The author of these letters always starts with thanksgiving for the church who is receiving the letter.  While the author reflects on ministry and life, thanksgiving appears right away as a launching point for everything else.

This is not such a bad way to start a conversation I find.  As I reflect on ministry and life and the relationships created here, I can’t help but find myself giving thanks.  I have found that as I talk about the CoOp to others I can’t help but spouting off all of the things I am thankful to be a part of here and the call that each of us has in our mission. This place is truly a called and special place that we need to give gratitude for in our life together.  I can’t help but spill over into thanksgivings.  There will be reports of how this church has remained steady to God’s call and larger mission to love and serve with all people to restore all of creation to God’s loving embrace.  Thanksgiving then spills into constant prayer.  The letter outlines this so well. Thanksgiving, while part of prayer, leads us to a life of prayer for one another. May it be so.

Quotes of the week 

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart                                                                                                                                  

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” ― Anthony Robbins

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  ― Elizabeth Gilbert

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.” –Albert Schweitzer

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh

Colossians 1:3-12 (Message) Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.

The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Questions for the Week                                                                                                                        What do you give thanks for? Who do you give thanks for?

What do you pray for these days?

If you were to write a letter to someone outlining a prayer you have for them, who would it be and what would you say?

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Happy Birthday!

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

At one point or another Trinity Lutheran Church and McMinnville United Methodist Church have dreamed about being out of the downtown area. The Methodist still have land at the very edge of the Urban Growth Boundary. The Lutherans looked at many, many properties, but couldn’t find one that would work. When I came here I was suppose to built a facility with green grass and plenty of parking at the edge of town. My brother Dave, a much better and more successful pastor than I, has done just that at Trinity Lutheran Church in Dallas, Oregon. Of course now they are dealing with a 3 million dollar mortgage.

Visions of where the church might go, and what it might do are powerful. The vision to start the Cooperative Ministries did not come from the pastors. I was against it from the start. But the Methodist cheated. They put Roba Rathkey on the Joint Ministry Task Force! Roba’s kind, loving, calm leadership was irresistible.

It seems to have been the Holy Spirit that led this movement of cooperation. The original euphoria of the union has worn off a bit. (Perhaps we are in the midst of the traditional seven-year itch?) Today, Pentecost Sunday is the day we celebrate the birth of the Cooperative Ministries, and the birth of the Christian Church. It is the day the disciples were driven out of their hiding places and into the community. They head out and are filled with the Holy Spirit. Everyone, no matter what their mother tongue, understands what they are saying. The community moves in together, they share everything in common and the Church thrives. But even that paradise of community had difficult times. Infighting is well documented, as well as the hard feelings on the part of some participants against others. Why can’t we all just get along?

Why, because it is harder than the dickens to cohabitate with anybody. Tearing things apart is as easy. Choosing to bend our will towards another takes practice and patience. Our mission statement says that we have been “Inspired by Christ”. It is the Spirit of Christ driving and directing us. That means we may have to put away our own personal agendas at times. But we feel it is worth it to do so. Our personal agendas are limited. But together we believe we can accomplish so much more. We believe God wants all people and all creation to come together and experience God’s loving embrace.   That’s a tall order, but together (and with the help of the Holy Spirit) we believe we can take on this impossible task.

Quotes for the Week

“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.”       Franklin D Roosevelt

“The only thing that will redeem humankind is cooperation.”               Bertrand Russell

One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”    Wallace Stegner

“All of us–bright atheists and committed religionists–need to wake now and hear the earth call . . . . We need to give and receive as love shows us how, join with each pilgrim who quests for the true, give heed to the voices of the suffering, awaken our consciences with justice as our guide, and work toward a planet transformed by our care.”                   Scotty McLennan

Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause — united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future — and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.”  John F. Kennedy

“A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists.

Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.”    Vera Nazarian

“I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.”    Neil Gaiman

Lesson Acts 1:1-8 (NRSV)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

Questions for the Week

How do we help people feel God’s loving embrace in their lives?

Where do you think the Holy Spirit is leading this church?

What do you think we are doing well? Where do we need to grow?

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