Happening Now Blog

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wednesday Message

Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?' He replied, 'Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

These words are part of Sunday's gospel reading from Luke; the intended Lenten focus is on repentance. Luke keeps reminding us of the illusion of having plenty of time by reminding people of faith that, while we do not know when God's rule will break into our lives, our job is to be ready.

At a council meeting years ago in a small rural parish we were discussing (for maybe the 100th time) the removal of the dying old tree in front of the building. Each year it held less evidence of live and more obviously became a threat to the church building fifteen feet away. That night the vote was about to happen to remove the tree when Vern's voice broke into the president's call: "Dig it and dung it."

What? The question swirled around the men at table (yes, just men; that congregation was unwilling to consider yet that women could serve on council!) Vern's voice broke out again, "dig it and dung it. That's what the bible says." And with a few words from Luke's gospel the tree's life was spared.

Vern spent much time that summer and fall loosening and fertilizing the ground around that ancient tree. Spring came and the tree was dead. Council gathered with tractors and trucks, axes and chain saws and within a few hours the tree was gone.

That congregation is now gone as well. Their time of service and ministry to that small community came to an end and along with the old tree passed into history.

We began the season of Lent two weeks ago with the mark of ashes and the words "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return." Luke's question for us is this: what do you do with the gift of life in between?

Along the way,

Pastor Dan

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THIS WEEK

Wednesday  5:30 pm Lenten Soup/Bread Supper potluck
                     6:30 pm Holden Evening Prayer Service

Friday          5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Sunday        8:30 & 11:00 a Worship
                    9:45 a Adult Education
                    1:30 p OEC

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday Message

Greetings, Saints of the Valley

Chickens are a new thing for me. The owners of the stable where we have our horses have a flock of chickens of all sizes and colors wandering around randomly. They are, for me, an unending source of humor and curiosity. One old hen in particular like to jump up on things—the tractor, the half-height walls, the lower part of stable doors—and then screech in panic, afraid to jump down! One day they all insisted on following me everywhere after a spilled a little bit of horse feed on the floor; when I went searching for a broom to clean it up, they did the job for me, gorging themselves on a feast of tiny hay pellets and rice bran. What amazes me most is their randomness: and how intentional they are about it!

As we move into the season of Lent I invite you to find a way to make it a journey of intention: that it have some shape or feature that sets these few weeks apart for you as we prepare for the central Christian festival holiday of Easter. One idea might be to read slowly and reflectively through a book of the Bible.

On Wednesday evenings during Lent we gather to pray at 6:30 p.m. (following a soup supper at 5:30). Our scripture reading during the Evening Prayer service will be from the book of Acts, the continuation of the writer of the gospel of Luke, focusing on the first Christian community that would become "church". One discipline or pattern to set this season apart might be to read through the book of Acts in the Bible. It is filled with drama (who knew!?) and moves quickly. The book raises questions regularly that have consistently been part of faithful conversation among believers. There are 28 chapters in the book; about four a week through the season!

The focus of the gospel reading for this Sunday (Luke 13.31-35) puts some shape and context to Jesus journey to Jerusalem and the last days of his life. Within the context of his daily life and service (which he calls "today and tomorrow") he begins to move toward its purpose-filled outcome in the city of the faithful ("the next/third day"). The manipulative and murderous King Herod, who continues to be threatened by Jesus teaching, is of the world and cannot interfere with Jesus' holy duties. Jesus' sights are set on the city which rejects the prophets, and will in turn abandon him.

The "city" is, of course, a metaphor for the people of God who consistently reject the prophets and fear the call to faithful living in the face of the world's desire for power and control. Jesus calls Herod "that fox"; Jesus calls God's people the "brood" of a hen; that is, those little chicks, vulnerable and confused, racing around in random panic, whom Jesus wishes to gather under his wings.

May this season of Lent and your journey through the wilderness bring you comfort, hope and purpose.

Along the way,

PD

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This Week

Wednesday 5:30 p Lenten Potluck soup/bread supper
                     6:30 p  Holden Evening Prayer service

Saturday     6:00 p Movie Night at SOV

Sunday        8:30 & 11:00 a Worship
                    Scrip Sunday
                    9:45 a Adult Education
                    10:00 a Jr High SS
                    11:00 a Little Lambs SS

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Wednesday Message

In each of the three years of our lectionary cycle, the Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent tells the story of Jesus' temptation.  As one might expect, Matthew's is the most decorated. Marks is, of course, the shortest and most impatient. This year we read the story from the Gospel of Luke, a down to business narrative which sets before us three central principles of faithfulness:

One does not live by bread alone.
Worship and serve only the Lord your God
Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

With these three anchors Jesus resisted the lures of fame, fortune and power in order to teach a faith of compassion and care for the least.

One does not live by bread alone. An accumulation of the worlds wealth in possessions and financial security does not bring faith. Have you ever noticed the abundance of storage units that have sprung up in the world over the last twenty or thirty years? At one time I was paying rent on four units in three different states! While this is happening, faith communities are dwindling and failing.

Worship and serve only the Lord your God. I am and have been amazed for years at fierce loyalty and worship sports teams, especially college and professional, enjoy. I served my parish internship in the metro-Denver area and had to be very careful to keep worship short on Sunday's when the Bronco's played. (Of course my teams have been the Twins and the Vikings, which is in itself a bit of a spiritual discipline tending toward humility.) I am also often dismayed correlation between major sports events and the domestic violence, sexual exploitation and crime.

Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Despair comes easily when expectations are not met. I often meditate on the prophet Elijah whose grief over failed expectations led him to pray for his own death. God fed him, nurtured him, guided him to shelter and still he remained lost in despair—contrary to the current rash of Facebook posts on how a little food and a little rest made Elijah able to make good choices. God bluntly told him that his job as a prophet was not yet done and to get back to work (1 Kings 19).

We are tempted nearly every day to gather wealth in whatever form feels best to us; we are lured to put our trust in human efforts which separate us from one another; we expect to find the magic words to make it all good in the way we want it to be. In the season of Lent we are called to turn around so that God alone is at the center of our lives; that our trust is in the one who creates, reclaims and sustains all that exists and that we are called to continue to do God's work in Jesus name.

May this season of Lent be for all of us a time of honest renewal and awareness of the presence of God in our lives.

Along the way,

PD

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Ash Wednesday
March 6th
service at 7:00 pm

All Church Luncheon
Thursday, March 7th
12:00 pm
Elmer's Restaurant
All are invited to attend

Walking the Way of Lent
The Sacred Labyrinth Path
Saturday, March 9
10 - 12 pm
Christ the King Lutheran Church
1135 SW Bull Mountain Road
Tigard, OR 97224

Daylight Saving Time
Sunday, March 10th
Spring forward one hour before bed Saturday night

Daylight Saving Time

Sunday March 10th

Turn your clocks forward 1 hour before bed Saturday night.