Your Church Staff Keeps Working

Your Church Staff Keeps Working

Today’s Word from Pastor Jim

Your Church Staff keeps working! We determined if Home Depot is essential to the people of Washington, then so is our work. Believe me, we are taking this virus very seriously. We are not meeting face-to-face. Our campus is locked down with no visitors. We have no in-person appointments. We are in our offices, behind locked doors, each using different bathrooms.

But your Church Staff keeps working! And the result is more. We have more people taking part in worship than ever before. We have more people following us online. People near and far are finding hope and inspiration in daily emails, beautiful music, and inspiring worship.

The theme is more. We have more of our people connecting with neighbors than ever before. Meals and groceries are being delivered, cards and phone calls are being made. And this week there was an emergency meeting of the Trinity Fun Committee. They are looking for ways of connecting us through levity –trivia, music, and virtual happy hours.

This Sunday, we would like to invite everyone to join us for worship and Holy Communion. That’s right – we will be communing together. What does this mean for you? It means that you are now members of the Altar Guild. The Altar Guild sets the table, puts out the bread and wine, and prepares the Altar for the celebration of Holy Communion.

The service will be available by 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. You can come to worship in your pajamas, at your convenience. But before you tune in, you will need to get out some bread and wine, or an English muffin and grape juice, or crackers and bubble water. Set up your altar, with a candle.  After the sermon, we will move to the communion liturgy and together our homes will be united as we share in this sacred meal.

Every day brings us closer to the end of this crisis. We are not alone; we are in this together.

Be safe, stay home, and keep smiling!

 

 

Pastor Jim

To Donate to Trinity, follow this link: https://trinitylutheranfreeland.org/give/

Can Anyone Tell Me What Day it is?

Can Anyone Tell Me What Day it is?

Today’s Word from Pastor Jim

I am finding this whole coronavirus experience to be very disorienting. I wake up in the morning and I am not always sure what day it is, or what it is that I am to be doing. My entire adult life has revolved around the rhythm of church. The whole week builds to Sunday, on Monday I have a work hangover, and on Tuesday I start all over again. Throw in a few weddings, funerals, baptisms, and an occasional crisis, and my weeks were always full.

Weddings and funerals have been declared illegal in Washington State right now. Baptisms have been postponed. I am not allowed to visit hospitals, nursing homes, or private homes. The church office is locked down for public safety, no one comes in my office to cry, and our staff meetings are now virtual. Last Sunday, I sat for four hours waiting to see if someone would show up for worship. No one did. It is all very disorienting. As a consequence of all of the above, I do not know what day it is.

But I have a calendar, and I have May 17th optimistically circled. Everyday, I get one day closer to May 17th and even if that date is off by a week or two, still every day I get one day closer to the end of this crisis.

One day closer – that is what we are. That is my new theme for surviving this crisis. I am not happy to be in this disorienting situation, but I am glad to be journeying with you!

Keep safe, isolate, and keep smiling – after all, we are one day closer. And if you call me this week, please start by telling me what day it is.

Much love,

 

Pastor Jim

To Donate to Trinity, follow this link: https://trinitylutheranfreeland.org/give/

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step
Today’s Word from Pastor Jim

“Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

If you are getting weary, raise your hand. Come on, be honest. This daily diet of isolation, gloom, and doom takes its toll on all of us. And by almost any measure, we have it better than 95% of the world. We can get out most anytime and breathe fresh air. We can walk the beach. We have a church family who cares for each other. Having said that, if you are getting weary, raise your hand.

For most of us, this battle with the coronavirus is more psychological than it is physical. If we self-isolate and are cautious, we are not likely to be stricken. If we contract this virus, we are not likely to end up in a hospital. We are not wanting for food or shelter. The battle is mostly psychological. That does not make the battle any less real.

Uncertainty adds to our stress. We simply don’t know how long this isolation is going to last. We don’t know how low the stock market can go. We don’t know when we will be able to worship together again. We don’t know when we will be able to see loved ones who live far away. Uncertainty adds to our stress.

I like having dates on the calendar. My family thinks that I am a little crazy. And I say, “Compared to what?” Sure, I circle dates on the calendar and yes, I start countdowns to family vacations months and months before they are to occur. “Eleven months and we will be together in Cabo!” That litany continues for eleven months; for ten months, I annoy my family. Anticipation builds as I look forward to a date on the calendar.

Before the virus changed our world, my son-in-law was on the road a lot for business. Having Daddy gone is not easy for my three-year-old grandson. What helped a three-year-old cope? A circled date on the calendar, marking the return of Daddy. This is how it works with circled dates. No matter what else happens, circled dates get closer with each passing day.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We need to circle a date on the calendar and begin the countdown. It is a hopeful, forward-looking exercise. The CDC has prohibited all gatherings until the middle of May. So, I am proposing that we circle the date of Sunday, May 17th. Each day we will move together, closer to that date on the calendar.

If you are weary, raise your hand. My hand is up right now. But I will not grow weary of doing good. I will not let the weariness take away my hope. We are not alone and we are not hopeless. We have a date circled on the calendar. We are people of hope, moving one step at a time toward a day in the future when we will worship together again.

Thank you for all of your thoughtful emails and acts of kindness. We will emerge from this crisis. Together and better, we will arrive at a date on the calendar and it will be party time.

Stay home and stay connected.

Until next time,

 

Pastor Jim

Click Here to Donate to TLC:
https://trinitylutheranfreeland.org/give/

May You Live in Interesting Times

May You Live in Interesting Times

Today’s Word from Pastor Jim

I am getting dozens, if not hundreds, of texts and emails these days.

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “May you live in interesting times.” OK, enough already. I am ready for a little boring, routine, mundane. But as with most things in life, I have no control over that. Each morning I just get up, take a shower, and put one foot in front of the other, asking, “What is in my control today? What can I do for good?”

The first text I received this morning was this one: “I know that you don’t have a direct conversation or phone number with God, but I am being extremely serious about this question…. Does the thought ever cross your mind that the world might be coming to an end?”

Let me assure you all, as I did this text writer, that the world IS NOT coming to an end. The world as we have known it has changed. This change will likely last some months. Most all of us will make it through those months, and life will go on. The consequences of those months could drag on for years or more. The world is not coming to an end, but the world as we have known it has changed.

“May you live in interesting times.” Enough already! I want to go back to the days when Tom Brady would have been the big news. But time only goes in one direction. Our world, at least for now, has changed.

This dramatic change, and the uncertainty of the path going forward, has led to rampant anxiety. The anxiety in our country is probably as dangerous as the virus. People of all ages are anxious. Trust me, I have not been immune to this anxiety. I have been worried about the large percentage of our church population who are considered “vulnerable.” My baby Emily is about to have a baby, and we are not allowed to see her. My 401K has become a 201-Dud. I worry about our church staff and their families. I worry about local restaurants, small businesses, and Boeing.

“May you live in interesting times.” What is in my control? What can I do today for good? We have organized more volunteers than ever before to keep in contact and to care for our shut-in population. At home every other night, we order take-out from local restaurants. I called Boeing and tried to buy a 787, but my credit card was denied.

Financial anxiety at church led me yesterday to send a donation to Good Cheer. That seems counter-intuitive, but it is actually God’s way. Thank you for supporting TLC, and because you have done so, we sent $2,000 yesterday to help our island neighbors.

Is the world coming to an end? No, but the world has changed. Change brings anxiety. We face the future, but we are not alone. God is with us. We have each other, even in a time of social distancing.

The next text from another parishioner said, “Please remember to tread lightly! Batman and Spider-Man can only do so much!”
“May you live in interesting times.” What can I do today for good?

My love to you—be not afraid.

 

Pastor Jim

Aunt Alice Lee

Aunt Alice Lee

Today’s Word from Pastor Jim

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice… for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” The Apostle Paul

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Ghandi

I mentioned my Aunt Alice in my morning writing yesterday. My grandfather’s sister was a strong Norwegian woman who had been raised on a farm. She married Louie Lee and gave birth to my cousin David. My Aunt Alice would greet me and my siblings each week at the Sunday School opening. She would hold our cheeks, give us a kiss, and speak good news: “Aunt Alice loves you, and Jesus loves you.”

My Uncle Louie was struck and killed by a train. The gravel roads that crisscrossed the farm fields of Northern Illinois were not well marked. There were not warning lights or indicators of approaching trains. Aunt Alice became a single mother. She never lost her faith.

David, her only child, was diagnosed with cancer. It was a brave fight, but the disease would win. My aunt would stand at graveside once again as the 23rd Psalm was read by a Lutheran Pastor: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Alice Lee was an inspiration to me. She was there when I was baptized, confirmed, married, and ordained. She would always greet me with a kiss and a smile. In her final years, she lost her vision. Now blind, she could no longer live in her apartment. So, she was moved to the County Home – the poor farm, as it was known in DeKalb, Illinois.

My father and I went to visit her there. We checked at the nursing station. The nurse said, “She is in room 24, but good luck finding her; she is never in her room.” When we did track her down, the old, blind widow who buried her only son, was sitting with another resident, sharing laughter and prayer.

She told us that there were so many lonely people in the County Home and she had decided that the best way that she could serve was to make the rounds each day and visit with the residents. She smiled and gave me a kiss. She loved me, and Jesus loved me.

The isolation, anxiety, and loneliness that we are feeling today are real. But we need not be defined by what we have lost. We are not alone. We can choose an attitude of gratitude. We can count blessings and ride this disruption out knowing that better days are coming.

Some quotes for your day:

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at stars.” Oscar Wilde.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Epictetus.

“Two things define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.” George Bernard Shaw.

May God bless your day!

Pastor Jim

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”
Today’s Word from Pastor Jim

When I was boy, I never wanted to go to bed. Today, they would call it FOMO—Fear of Missing Out. I wanted to stay up late. My siblings were all older. They had a later bedtime and I did not like it. I was not especially fond of the little rug that I took to kindergarten, either. At the appointed time we were supposed to roll out that little rug and take a nap. I wanted nothing to do with it. Finger painting was fun. Story time was good. There were lots of things I liked about kindergarten, but I had no use for naptime.

The exception to this rule was in church. My family worshiped at Trinity Lutheran Church on Seventh Street in DeKalb, Illinois. My extended family was there as well. A Norwegian family church made up of farmers and blue-collar workers.

My Aunt Alice was there to greet us each week for the Sunday School opening. I liked Sunday School. My teacher, Mrs. Eike, challenged us to memorize the books of the Bible in order. There was a prize for everyone who could accomplish this feat. I do not remember what the prize was; remember, my best subject was recess. I still do not have those books memorized.

My mother was a Sunday School teacher or superintendent every year. When class was over my mom would round up her three kids and go upstairs to see if my dad had arrived yet. Once he got to church, we all moved toward our family pew. My grandparents’ assigned seats were up front, but with little kids in tow, my parents sat back right.

Church was boring. We began with the same opening hymn most every week. Three lessons, everything predictable, no jokes, no Smarties, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It did not take long for me to be asleep. I would just lay down in the pew, put my head in my mother’s lap, she would run her fingers through my hair, and I was out. Wake me up when it is time for breakfast.

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

I would love to go back for a Sunday and be a boy again. I would love to sit in that pew with my now deceased parents and my older siblings. But I guess what I am really missing right now, is you. I miss our hugs on Sunday morning. I miss greeting each of you. I miss the teasing, touching, and praying. I have a greater appreciation now for the beautiful way that we share the journey together on Sunday mornings.

This Sunday at 8 a.m. we will post the worship service at the following locations:
Trinity’s Website: www.trinitylutheranfreeland.org
Facebook: facebook.com/trinitylutheranchurchfreeland
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/channels/tlcfreelandwa

Join me please. Karl will be singing, I will be preaching from an empty sanctuary to homes that are filled with cabin-fever people. I am hopeful that we will be together again very soon. Until then, be safe, stay positive, give thanks, isolate yourselves, and keep smiling! I need to see those smiles.

Much love, my quarantined friends!

 

 

 

Pastor Jim