From the Pastor

Pastor Bob Albing

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,

to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Wildfires, smoky skies, record breaking hot temperatures, the new delta variant of the Covid-19 virus, 15,000+ Afghan allies left behind as US troops depart, a drought that is engulfing much of the western half of our country, and closer to home, the death of loved ones, the long good-bye brought on by dementia, the increased polarization of our society, and the list goes on, of things we have no control over.

We are bombarded every day with news and information that leave us feeling helpless and hopeless. We take in hours of screen time and pages of information on things we can do nothing about. “Learned helplessness” is the term that psychologists use to describe what happens to us after years of exposure to all this bad news. On a subconscious level we reason: since I can’t stop the war in Yemen or reverse sea level rise, then there is nothing I can do about anything.

Of course, when you stop and think about it, you realize that is not true. There is a lot you can do about a lot of things in life. We are not helpless victims of life. It is indeed true that you cannot stop the war in Yemen or reverse sea level rise, but that does not mean that there is nothing we can do about anything.

You and I have the power to make ours and others lives better, or worse for that matter. The ones closest to us, the ones we interact with each day are affected by us in ways we may not even be aware of. To combat “learned helplessness” pay attention to the things you can change, like your diet, your exercise routine, your tone of voice, your attitude.

And remember the power you have to connect with others, with neighbors, family, friends and complete strangers. Just starting a conversation can change your day, or theirs. And, yes, you cannot stop wildfires, but you can prepare to evacuate your home, you can prepare a “grab and go” bag or bin. You can’t stop loved ones from dying but you can grieve, you can mark the occasion of their death.

You are not helpless. There is always something you have the power to affect even if it is only your response to what is happening to you.

And finally pay attention to matters of your soul. Learned helplessness can only control you when you forget who is really in control. Every day you pray, you remember. That is what sabbath rest is for. It is to remember who you are and whose you are. And be thankful. Gratitude is the container that receives the grace of God.

God’s peace to you,

Pr. Bob

You are the only Bible some people will ever read.

You are the only Jesus some people will ever meet.

Read those two sentences again. Let that thought sink in for a minute. You and I both know that they are true. Marinate in those two sentences for a while. The mission of Lutheran Church of the Master is “Connecting People to God”. And the Holy Spirit uses us as the connection. This can be disheartening or scary if we pay too much attention to our worthiness as a connector. Instead, we need to pay attention to the power of God that we connect people to. Then our attention is in the right place. Then we can focus on the other and not ourselves.

You and I are part of the plan of spreading the Kingdom of God. You and I are the conductors of the spiritual electricity. Jesus gave his disciples the power to heal and cast out demons and preach and teach. And he told us to love.

This pandemic has changed our world. It has isolated so many and cut many off from important relationships. We have our work cut out for us. Many would rather sit in front of a screen than sit across the table from a neighbor. Having a conversation with a stranger may become a spiritual discipline, like fasting or prayer.

The Fellowship Committee is up and running again. They are planning events, potlucks, chances to reconnect and connect. Our Daily Bread, the Community Garden and groups that meet in Schmidt Hall bring dozens of people onto our campus every single week now. These are all valuable opportunities to connect with people who may or may not know Jesus. And of course, you have those opportunities every day right where you live.

Connecting with others is not something I take for granted any more. A microscopic virus made it dangerous for several months. It has made our mission all the more valuable and precious.

God’s peace to you,

Pr. Bob Albing

The sanctuary is painted. The confirmands affirmed their baptisms. The community garden beds are being tended. (we still have about 10 left) The quilters are here every Monday. Bible studies are gathering regularly. Outside groups are coming into Schmidt Hall again. Attendance is slowly rising for in person worship. Things feel as if they are getting back to normal, the way they were. But is that what God is calling us to do?

We have all had a strange and difficult time these last 15 months. We have lost much, we have had to adjust, we have lost loved ones, we have had schedules and plans disrupted. Surely there is nothing wrong with taking some time to catch our breath. I believe strongly in sabbath rest. Without rest and renewal, we wear ourselves out and expect more of ourselves than God does. So, please pay attention to what you need to care for yourself and your loved ones; draw healthy boundaries.

Because if you do, you will be ready for the changes that lie ahead. We are now in the season of Pentecost, the season of the church year that celebrates the Holy Spirit’s movement in the church. And if you read your Bible, especially the book of Acts, you notice that the Holy Spirit is always, ALWAYS showing up in unexpected places and with unexpected people asking that the apostles do things they did not know they were called to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Holy Spirit showed up and just told us to keep doing what we are doing? I wish I could find the verse that read, “The Holy Spirit declared unto them, ‘Don’t change a thing. You’re fine.’”

Fr. Richard Rohr writes in his book, The Naked Now, (pg. 90) Once you know that the one thing the ego hates more than anything else is change, it makes perfect sense why most people hunker down into mere survival.

I would say, “all people” not just most. These last several months have taught us that we can be light on our feet, we can pivot, we can accept change and we can change to meet the challenges confronting us, we do not have to settle for survival. So, please keep praying for your church, and its leaders. Keep looking and listening for the Holy Spirit at work in and around you. God’s Holy Spirit will bless you (us) in ways you (we) cannot imagine!

Pr. Bob