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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