From the Pastor

Pastor Bob Albing

A member of our congregation had a baby last month. When was the last time you held a baby in your arms? When was the last time you were at a wedding? Will you be attending a graduation ceremony this month or next? Why am I asking these questions?

Well, weddings, graduations, and births have a way of helping us move our attention into the future. They make us wonder and dream a little about what life will be like for the new couple, or the baby or the new graduate.

During the early months of the pandemic a friend of mine told me, “Three days is long range planning.” And as plans got canceled and events were rescheduled time and again, I realized the truth of my friend’s exaggeration. But as we make our way ever so carefully toward a post-pandemic existence, dare we plan? Dare we dream about the future?

There is a hymn that may be familiar to you: O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come. If you spend time in Bible study or in worship, you know that much time is spent looking back. We study and remember and celebrate how God has been faithful to God’s people in the past. Can we trust that God will be faithful to us in the future? In the present? Do we believe the line from the old hymn?

I believe that God is at work in our lives, in our congregation, in our neighborhood and in our world. I trust God to bring blessings even out of the circumstances and people that we label as “problems”. And I trust that if God doesn’t, then God has something else in store for me, for us. And if I am going to trust God with eternity, then I am certainly going to trust God with tomorrow.

I do not know what God has in store for this congregation in the coming months. But I know that God has something in mind. Or maybe God has many things in mind. Maybe we have the freedom to experiment with many options, big and small. Maybe we have the freedom to change, the freedom to fail. Maybe God will bless both our successes and our failures. What do we have to lose? Not God. Not God’s blessing. Amen?

God’s peace, Pr. Bob Albing

“Resurrection only works on the dead.” I don’t know who wrote this originally, but Pr. Matthew Erickson of Calvary Lutheran Church reminds me of this truth, every now and then. It is good to remember that death is not the end when one is “in Christ.” Death does not mean Game Over, for God. God brings life out of death, again and again.

During the Wednesdays in Lent, we have journeyed with the Children of Israel through the wilderness, led by Moses, guided by God. They are first freed from slavery in Egypt and sent into the wilderness to be changed by God, who is wild. God defeated the super-power of the day, Egypt, and talked to Moses on a mountain in a desert and rained food down from the sky. This sounds pretty wild to me! God can do whatever God wants and can favor whomever God wants. God is totally free. Our attempts to domesticate and control God, notwithstanding.

God re-created his people. They were a slave people, and he made them into a holy nation, and a warrior people. They conquered the land that was promised to them, and they were to be a light to the nations. Their job was to connect other nations, and other peoples to God.

There is so much going on in the world that distracts us and seems to be so much more pressing than our relationship with our wild God.

But the more connected we are with God, the better we are able to deal with the wild things that are going on in our world and in our lives. There is peace, and power, and grace that comes with spiritual health and connection with our creator. There is even resurrection from the dead. When we confess on Easter Sunday that Christ is Risen! We are confessing more than a historical fact. We are confessing a present reality. The risen Christ is the one who connects us, to God and to one another and to ourselves. It is Christ crucified and risen who gives us life and meaning and purpose as we live in this wild world and face death.

You may not be able to control or even predict what God will do next, but you can trust God,… as wild as that sounds.

Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen.

God’s peace, Pr. Bob Albing

Do you ever feel like you don’t know what to do next? Or maybe you know what you want, or where you need to go but you can’t get there. Are you feeling stuck right now? Have you ever felt stuck and then somehow moved beyond it? This Lent we will be reading Bible stories on Wednesdays at noon that tell us about the wilderness. For the Children of Israel, the Chosen People, their time in the Sinai Wilderness was a time where many of the people felt stuck. Some wanted to go right into the Promised Land (they weren’t ready), some wanted to return to Egypt (they couldn’t), and at one point Moses asks God to let him die. Feeling stuck is not fun.

When Israel was in the wilderness it was a difficult time. There were no resources in the wilderness, it was a desert and the people had to depend on God’s providence. They were not in control. They were given enough to live each day. They could not go back but they also were not ready to go forward. For 40 years they were in the wilderness.

It is no coincidence that Lent is 40 days long. Wilderness times are times for God to work on us, to transform us, as God did the Chosen People. God changed them from a slave nation into a warrior nation. He made them a holy people who would be a light to the nations. And God does the same with us in the wilderness times of our lives. The wilderness times, like this pandemic, bring out the worst and the best in people. The wilderness time is God’s most powerful tool as he transforms us into his likeness and gives us the Mind of Christ. Look what the wilderness time did for Jesus!

The wilderness is not something we choose, but the Holy Spirit does some of her most creative work on us in those times. We can cooperate with the process, or we can fight against it. Maybe we do both. Either way, God is working on us. And sometimes, probably most of the time, it is only pain that causes change. I hope you can make it to worship at least a few times at noon on Wednesdays during Lent. The wilderness is always easier to deal with when you can journey together.

God’s peace, Pr. Bob Albing