Happening Now Blog

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wednesday Message

Greetings, Saints of SOV—

I enjoyed my vacation time last month! I had deliberately held most of the days unstructured as a way of allowing myself to discover what was important for each day. I did some cleaning, cooking and sorting; I discovered a lot of boxes of stuff that I have carried with me move after move—sometimes for nearly two decades!—and found the strength and joy to find new homes for many things over which I have been anxious and troubled. And for many of those things the new home was in the recycling or even the garbage bin, if there was no further purpose! It was good to be about the business of letting go.

Our vacation time also brought a final decision for us about following our vocation as God's people in ministry. As most of you (I hope all of you, by now) have heard, I will be leaving Shepherd of the Valley at the end of the month. My heart aches with grief and with hope, as is always the case when the time comes for paths to diverge. Alyssa and I rented a small farmhouse sight unseen early in my vacation time, northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota, just across the border in Wisconsin. From their I will be working with several Synods with ministries in transition. Alyssa will be able to pursue the degree she needs to follow her vocational calling.

And so each day now brings me closer to the parting of our ways.

This coming Sunday's gospel reading is the story of Mary and Martha, the sisters at whose home in Bethany Jesus finds respite from the business of life. Martha is preparing a meal; Mary is sitting with Jesus, listening to his proclamation of God's reign emerging in grace and love. Martha, of course, gets impatient. There are things to do! A good cook always works toward having everything finished at the same moment, which makes the last minutes before setting the table chaotic, at the very least.

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things," says Jesus.

And poor faithful Martha has taken heat along with generations of her sisters, too often from those very ones who expect the Martha's of the world to have everything in place, every meal perfect, every surface dust-free at all times.

I suspect Jesus' words were intended to soothe Martha; I'm sure Jesus thought his words were spoken in love.

And maybe they were heard that way. Or maybe not!

Too many times to count I have discovered that my words are not always heard with the same intent I thought I invested in them. I have inadvertently and stupidly scraped sore spots. I am regularly reminded that my "thinking out loud" sometimes can sound like a papal pronouncement, unassailable and authoritarian. And I am sorry when this happens. And I am grateful (even if it is hard to show) when a trusted friend points this out.

Jesus' words to Martha come to us as a reminder that our successes and failures define us less than these words from the ending of last Sunday's gospel: rejoice not in your abilities and powers, but that you belong always to God . . .

along the way.

Pastor Dan


Kids of the Kingdom Christian Preschool has a few openings left for Fall 2019. If you or someone you know is interested, please contact KOK at 503.645.0236

July 27th
Walk in the Park at SOV

12:00 -1:30 pm

July 28th
Farewell to Pastor Dan

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wednesday Reminders


Wednesday  7:00 am Coffee Group meets at Bethany Starbucks

Thursday     12:00 pm All Church Luncheon meets at Elmer's Restaurant

Friday          5:00 pm Women's Bible Study at SOV

Saturday     5:30 pm  Spaghetti Dinner (RSVP required)
                     7:00 pm  Transport 5 in concert

Sunday        10:00 am One Worship Service
                          Day of Pentecost
                          Affirmation of Baptism (Confirmation Sunday)

Dinner and Concert!

Please plan to join friends on Saturday, June 8, starting at 5:30 for a spaghetti dinner followed by a special concert at 7:00 by the Transport 5.
It has been several years since we have enjoyed the music of Kevin Cope and the Transport 5, and we are in for a treat!
Please RSVP to indicate how many of your friends and family will be attending.
That will give our chef, Bill Hessler, an idea of how many to cook for.
Thank you!

Sunday, June 9th, 10:00 am
Day of Pentecost

Confirmation Sunday

June Newsletter link

Sunday June 16th
Summer worship schedule begins
Worship services at 8:30 & 10:30 am
Fellowship hour in between.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Wednesday Message

When Jesus prays…..

The gospel reading for this coming Sunday is again from John's story of the life of Jesus, continuing with the last few words of Jesus prayer for his followers, the last words before Jesus went to the garden where he would be arrested. Two things have always struck me about this short passage.

First, Jesus prays for us. After praying for God's presence with his disciples, Jesus prays "for those who will believe in me through their word"; that's you and me. That is the church, those who live to follow the teachings of Christ in their lives as individuals, as members of the community of faith and as members of society, the world around them.

Jesus' prayer entrusts those whom he loves, particularly his disciples and followers to God's care.

Second, Jesus prays for the disciples and us "so that the world may believe that you sent me". Jesus prayers are for the sake of the world, as ELCA Bishop Mark Hansen so often reminded preachers. Faith is not for our individual sentimentality or assurance (although that is part of what we experience) but so that the world may experience the real presence of God.

Jesus' prayer calls those whom he loves, particularly his disciples and followers, back into the world.

My grandmother (the Norwegian one) kept prayer diaries throughout her adult life. No one, not even her daughters, was aware of this practice: she believed that "wearing one's faith on their sleeve cheapens it" as she once explained to me. As she aged her mind began to fail as her brain started to wear out. After she was moved into a facility where she could receive the level of constant care she needed for her safety, her daughters cleaned out her house. They found this amazing collection that reflected her spiritual discipline. She kept track of her prayers and how they were answered; not always how she expected, maybe not in ways she wanted, but how God was revealed in the answers as they were revealed. Her diaries had nothing to do with how often she got her way with God but were a constant confession about God's presence in the world and in her own life in community.

When we pray so we entrust our cares and concerns to God and releasing our desires and wants to God's way of responding? Too often I suspect my prayers are more about what I want and when and how I want it. Too often my prayers, I suppose, are about letting God know what I think the right way is for God to be about God's business. The longer I practice, though, the more often I am able in some way to release my concerns to the God I trust to be God.

Jesus entrusts us to God's care for the sake of the world God so loves. May all my prayers be summed up in this along the way.



Wednesday  7:00 am Coffee Group at Bethany Starbucks

Friday          5:00 pm  Women's Bible Study at SOV

Saturday    9:30 am Choir rehearsal
                   3:00 pm Memorial service for Cal Sugyima's Mother,  All are welcome

Sunday     10:00 am One Service
                  11:00 am Annual Congregational Meeting and election

Please plan to attend the Annual Congregational Meeting this Sunday following worship at 10:00 am

All Church Luncheon
Thursday, June 6th
Elmer's Restaurant

Next Saturday, June 8th
Transport 5 Concert and Spaghetti Dinner
If you have not done so and plan to attend the dinner please RSVP to Tammy or directly to Linnea

Sunday, June 16th
One Service at 10:00 am
Confirmation Sunday
Pentecost Sunday

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wednesday message

The lectionary we follow for worship walks us through an amazing amount of the Bible in a 3-year cycle. For each Sunday there is a 1st reading, usually from the Old Testament; a 2nd reading, often from one of Paul's letters, a Psalm and a reading from one of the Gospels (1st year selected mostly from Matthew, 2nd year from Mark, 3rd year from Luke). The Gospel of John is featured on particular occasions, church holidays and during significant seasons such as Lent and Easter, as is the reading for this coming Sunday.

Actually John is featured twice in this Sunday's appointed readings. Occasionally there is an "alternate" reading listed. This week our Gospel reading is a short section from one of the last teaching conversations Jesus had with his followers who are concerned about how they will recognize him in the Holy Spirit. Jesus reminds them that as his followers, they will know him.

The alternate reading is the story of a man who had waited by a pool for healing. The Spirit was recognized in the movement of the water: when it stirred, those who could get in the pool in time might be healed. This man's condition had, for 38 years, made it impossible for him to get in the water while it was stirring; he would be caught and cast aside in the stampede. There was no one willing to help him get into the water. Jesus restored the man to health and he was able to walk.

Most of my 30+ years of serving as a pastor have been marked by faith conversations about who has the "right" answers. Fundamentalism suggests a God unable to be those who haven't yet invited God in the "right" way to be with them. Literalism holds that there is one "right" way to understand the bible, usually the way of the loudest voice at the moment. Debates raged within our tradition questioning God's call of women into public ministry or the inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons in the worshiping community.

Rarely do faith communities acknowledge boldly how much people of faith need one another. The man at the pool needed to be recognized as one of God's beloved and assisted in his quest. The disciples needed one another to discern the presence of the risen Jesus in the Spirit. Paul needed partners like Timothy and Lydia to make real the gospel in his life and message. And each of us needs others to know the presence of God.

Like Paul, we need companionship in which God's love becomes real.

Like the disciples, we need the community to point out Christ's presence in life.

Like the man at the pool we need partnership that affirms.

We, too, need to be carried at times. When there is loss, change, fear and doubt, we need others to speak the presence of God and to remember for us who God is; we, in turn, will remember faith for them when they are in need.

An early theologian of Christianity suggested that faith was like wandering in a wilderness filled with thick cloud. Once in a while the fog parts, the sun is bright, we see clearly and adjust our courses before the clouds close in around us again. Good thing we're not alone in our wanderings,

along the way.



Wednesday  7:00 am Coffee group at Bethany Starbucks

Friday     5:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday  9:30 am  Choir rehearsal
                 12:00 - 1:30 pm Walk in the Park at SOV

Sunday    10:00 am One Worship Service
                 1:30 pm OEC

This Saturday, May 25th
Walk in the Park at SOV

Transport 5 in Concert and Spaghetti Dinner
June 8th
Dinner at 5:30 pm
Concert at 7:00 pm
Please RSVP/Sign up so that we can be sure to have enough Spaghetti

June 2nd, One worship service at 10:00 followed by Congregational Annual Meeting

June 9th One worship service at 10:00 Day of Pentecost (wear Red Sunday) Confirmation Sunday