Looking for a Rainbow by Pastor Ryan

At the end of forty days, Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Genesis 8:6-7

There is nothing better than road trip to get you thinking about biblical stories and images. Wandering across the country in a 26-foot moving truck can make you think of the Israelites in the Wilderness or of Noah and his family crammed into the ark. These stories of our ancestors in faith are our stories. they are God’s Word of promise sustaining us through the hard times and proclaiming a world yet to come…a world that is bright and new.

As my youngest son, Toby, and I were traveling on I-94 just a little past Billings, Montana, jagged streaks of lightning decorated the distant horizon. Soon, dark clouds gathered above our yellow Penske moving truck, and the rain began to fall. Gentle drops morphed into angry pellets and then into unrelenting sheets. With terrifying force, the rains began to fall in eastern Montana.

Thunder shook the cab and continued to pound our little ark all the way across North Dakota. After what felt like forty days and forty nights, the deluge finally let up just as we approached the Minnesota border. I could have rolled down my window and sent out a raven, but there was no need. I could see the dry land of our new world with my own eyes. Toby and I pulled over at a rest stop and breathed in the heavy summer air. To a weary traveler and his son stepping out of their modern-day ark, it almost tasted fresh. If I squinted in just the right way I could even see a rainbow hovering over the new world ahead.

In a time of excitement and uncertainty, I cling to the stories that proclaim God’s truth. I invite you to do the same. Read the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9) or any other biblical story that talks about a journey into something new. And, think about how the stories of our ancestors in faith are our stories. Think about how they connect to your own journeys of loss, terror, redemption, and new hope.

I am so very excited about being called to serve as the pastor of Christ Memorial Lutheran Church. I am excited to discover all the new ways that God’s promise of love and redemption will play out in the life that we share. There will certainly be rainy days and even times when we will huddle together in our little church boat waiting out the storm. But, there is a constant in this biblical story that is our own story. The constant is God’s unfailing love. There is a rainbow cast over the new world before us. Together, ours is the gift of continuing this journey where our own lives are renewed.

Thank you to each of you who have already worked to welcome me and even help unpack my little ark. Hospitality means so much when you are new. Join me in looking for God’s rainbow. God has blessed our journey and this new day that is to come.

Peace,

Pastor Ryan

The Greatest Love of All

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.  Already the stores are filled with chocolates, cards and gifts.  All the end caps are loaded with Valentine’s Day merchandise.  You can buy socks with little hearts on them, earrings with little cupids and even “unmentionables” in Valentine décor.  The radio and television are filled with ads from jewelry stores encouraging us to buy that “special gift” for that “special person” in your life.  It only costs a few hundreds or more—but she’s worth it.  Everything you could ever want to express your love on Valentine’s Day is there for you to buy.  All the stores and merchandisers want us to get into the “Valentine mood”.

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers.

 In our Christian faith, one can claim every single day is a day for lovers.  For we know the greatest lover of all.

Each and every day of the week God loves you.  Each and every day God loves you with a love that is so pure and unconditional that God does not wait for your response.  Each and every day God loves you deeper than a parent loves a child.  Each and every moment of each and every day God loves you—unconditionally.

 God’s love cannot be bought .It can only be received.  It is pure gift from the Giver.  Like a child opening a Christmas present or a birthday present, filled with wonder and joy, so we joyfully receive the gift of God’s love into our hearts.

 Luther once said, “God is a holy furnace of love”.

 God’s love burns bright for you this day, shining with the light of Jesus Christ.  To paraphrase John 3:16, “God so loved you that God gave His only Son…”.

 God’s love for you is so strong, so pure, so steadfast, that God sacrificed his only Son for you.  Jesus, the babe born in Bethlehem, is the pureness of that love in the flesh.  Jesus was born, buried, and was raised from the dead on the third day so you might know the wonder of God’s great love for you.

 “When will that love end?”, we might ask.

 Never.  God’s love never ends.  It burns with the flame of the spirit each and every day.  For who?  For you.

 Today is your Valentine’s Day from God, the greatest lover of all.

 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.—1 John 4:7&8

In God’s Love,

Pastor Dave Grant, Interim Pastor

 

 

 

 

 

I Am Making All Things New

Revelation 21:5 “And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See I am making all things new’…”

January 1, 2019 brings the beginning of a new year. It’s a time for celebration and joy as one looks to the future; it’s also a time for reflection and contemplation as one looks to the past.

Christmas is over. All the packages have been ripped open. The toys have all been played with. The batteries are all worn out. The rush and joy of Christmas is no longer. All those brand new things that filled eyes and hands with joy and excitement are already things of the past, played with, worn out, used.

We take new things and quickly turn them into something old and used. Our clothes, our cars, our toys are all consumed by us and quickly become old and used. Even our personal life and relationships move from new to old. What was once new and exciting (maybe even thrilling) quickly becomes old and routine. The pattern of our life moves from birth to death; from new to old.

Not with God. God is recreating and restoring the world. God is saving us, doing away with the old and bringing in the new, killing the old sinful Adam and Eve and bringing us into a new relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, creating in Him that new being that flourishes in His new creation.

Years ago, we brought “Stubby” into the shop. “Stubby “ was an old beater of a car my wife used for commuting. It was worn and rusty and had 170,000 miles on the odometer. It was running rough and dying on us. We feared ol’ “Stubby” was dying. We left “Stubby” in the mechanics’ hands and said “Fix it”

A couple of days later we picked up the car, stepped on the gas and “Zoom!”, away we went. It was amazing what had happened. Our old car was just like new. It had “Zip!”

When God creates something new, God just doesn’t tune us up or refurbish us. God is actually creating someone new, brand new. Not like a recycled tire or a repaired car but one that is brand new, all new, with no wear or tear. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

As we look back on the past year, not all of us are filled with joy. Some are tired; others are old, just plain old; still others look back on personal tragedy and difficulties that fill them with grief and sorrow, frustration and even depression.

As we look to the future, know God is working in the world, know God is working in you and me. Before us in the One who saves us, the One who takes our sinful worn-out self and, in Jesus Christ, creates something NEW! You are a new creation, a new being in Jesus Christ, our Lord! Listen to the LORD, “See, I am making all things new.”

Our Confirmation Students are Asking for a Faith Friend

You soon may be receiving a phone call or having a conversation with one of our confirmation students.  Consider it a great honor that the student has thought of you.  Being invited into their life is a great privilege.  Our student and/or one of their parents will be asking you to be their friend in Christ and a confirmation mentor this year.

What is a confirmation mentor?

“A mentor doesn’t need to be a trained theologian or someone who has all the answers.  Rather, a mentor is an adult who is mature in the faith and can walk alongside a young person on the confirmation journey.”

A mentor is not a parent, a peer, a bank, God or perfect.

But a mentor IS

Someone to talk to.

Someone to say, “You matter to me.”

Someone who can listen

Someone who takes students seriously.

Someone who doesn’t judge.

Someone who is understanding.

Someone who loves to laugh.

Someone who can be serious.

Someone who cares.

Confirmation mentors will be asked to do the following things:

Attend the training session in October.

Meet five times for intentional conversation about the Christian faith.

Discuss matters of faith honestly, helpfully and candidly.

Pray regularly for their new young faith friend.

Be a friend who cares.

Take interest in their faith friend’s life & activities.

Be present on Confirmation Day, May 19th, as their young faith friend affirms their Baptism.

If a confirmation students asks you to be their faith friend/confirmation mentor for this year, please prayerfully say “Yes!”

Feel free to talk to Pastor Dave if you have any questions or need more information about this exciting new program in our church.

"The Little Church That Can" by Pastor Dave

Do you remember the children’s fairy-tale, “The Little Engine That Could”? In the tale, a long train must be pulled over a high mountain. Larger engines, are asked to pull the train; for various reasons they refuse. The request is sent to a small engine, who agrees to try. The engine succeeds in pulling the train over the mountain while repeating its motto: "I-think-I-can. I-think-I-can. I-think-I-can.”  1

 Christ Memorial is not a mega-church or even one of the larger congregations in our area. But that does not prevent us from being an active living congregation filled with Christian love for God, each other, and our neighbor.

On Sunday, July 8, many children and adults made a difference. They assembled bread, meat and cheese into sandwiches for the homeless. These are people none of them knew. People from different backgrounds and different stories. Yet they are all God’s children. In God’s world, they are our neighbor. “God does not need our good works,” Luther said, “but our neighbor does.”  2

 On Monday morning, we delivered 228 sandwiches to Our Savior’s Housing, a community of hope for those who have no home. We know not who will receive those sandwiches made by the hands of children, young adults, adults and the elderly; but this we know, we have served Christ by serving our neighbor. “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...” (Matthew 25:35, NIV)  Jesus calls us to “love God” and “to love our neighbor as our self.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  Like two hands folded in prayer, it is not an either-or but both. So we followed Sunday morning worship with an act of service to our neighbor.

 A congregation does not have to be big to make a difference. Like “The Little Engine That Could” all we need to do is make up our mind, keep saying to yourself and each other “I-think-I can. I think-I-can” and follow the call of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. God will give us the strength to climb that mountain!

 In the two months I have served you, I have been simply amazed by all the little things that people are doing to help that little engine make to up the hill. Each month, a group of people get together and laugh and talk as they assemble the newsletters you are reading. Worship on Sunday never has just one person leading but a multitude of people participating, all helping us worship and praise the Lord. One Monday morning I walked into the fellowship hall and was overwhelmed by all the beautiful decor for Vacation Bible School. One wall was filled with scenes from the jungle: jaguars, monkeys, toucans, and macaws filling green trees. On the other wall stretched a long empty beach and sky blue ocean with sea gulls flying in the air so realistic it felt like you were standing right there. Many of the children and many adults gave their time so we could imagine what it would be like to be shipwrecked on a tropical island and learn how no matter what comes in life, Jesus rescues.

 Christ Memorial is not a congregation that will expect you to sit still. We want you to share your gifts; to bring your energy and enthusiasms into our fellowship, to be about loving God and loving our neighbor each and ever day. We don’t put our faith in our back-pocket when we leave worship. We “go in peace and serve the Lord.” As we love God in thought, word and deed; Jesus leads us to love and serve our neighbor as ourselves.

So get on board. Our little engine is pulling up the mountain. With your help, we are climbing that mountain as we live out our vision “The Small Church with a Big Heart.”             

 Thank you for all you do and are doing! 

Yours in Christ,

David Grant, Interim Pastor

 1   Wikipedia. The Little Engine That Could. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Engine_That_Could         

  2    Gustaf Wingren, Luther on Vocation, 10