I think about her often. She lived in a modest home built by her father. She walked with a limp; I was with her when she broke that leg. When I stayed overnight, we made fudge together. She taught me how to play poker. She was the first person I knew who had a remote on her TV, and yet, she never did get a dishwasher. She volunteered tirelessly. Her hospitality was comfortable and gracious, no pretense. Her door was always open. There was always room at her kitchen table. The coffee was always on.
She was my Grandma Elliott. She raised three children in the Great Depression. She carried the family on her back when my grandfather was ill. She loved me. I always knew that she loved me, and she loved Christmas.
She loved Christmas, the tree, the decorations, her family gathered at her house. The cards, the food, the friends, the music. She loved Christmas. She loved the story. The promise of new life stirring mysteriously in the womb of a virgin. The journey by donkey from Galilee to the sleepy village of Bethlehem. The stable, the shepherds, and the angels. The Christmas Star bearing witness to the light of the world. The lamb of God lying in a feed trough. The journey of the Wisemen as they sought the face of God.
It was just a few days before Christmas when she died. I was with her. Struck down by some strange disease that attacked her immune system. She had contracted the disease through a blood transfusion. The doctors did not even have a name for the disease then.
I remember that Christmas vividly. Presents under the tree from a Grandma who was gone. The celebration continued, carols were sung, the story was shared. Grandma loved the story.
▪ The light shines in the darkness.
▪ The cries of a baby who came to dry the tears of a thousand generations.
▪ The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Grandma loved the story.
My friends, don’t lose the story. Don’t let the story be obscured by the bright lights and advertising. Love the seasons. Love the traditions. But don’t lose the story. Come to church and hear. Invite friends to visit the story with you.
For unto YOU a child is born.
It is hard for us to comprehend the magnitude of the devastation; the grief and loss that is being experienced by our neighbors in California. 7,000 homes destroyed, entire communities gone, hundreds of thousands of people displaced.
100% of your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Relief will be used to assist those in fire-ravaged areas to survive and rebuild their lives. Lutheran Disaster Response teams are already on the scene, working with local and state agencies.
What can we do? We can pray, and we can give. We can give generously to those in need. We are Blessed to be a Blessing!
You can give by following this link on our church website.
You can also make out checks to TLC and put “Fire Relief” in the memo. Those checks can be mailed to TLC at PO Box 97, Freeland, Washington 98249. You could also drop a check off at church or put a check in the plate this Sunday.
Together we can make a difference.
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
We have been engaging in serious theological conversation the past two weeks. You are all theologians and I am proud of you. What is a “theologian?” A theologian is one who studies the movement and mysteries of God. It is important to note that theology is not exactly a science. The more you learn, the more questions you have. The mystery and majesty of God will never be fully comprehended by mere mortals.
What is the place of Prayer and Miracles as we consider our life and faith?
If God offers us no insurance, and very little if any protection from the perils of this life, then does prayer make a difference and do miracles still happen?
The answer is YES and YES!
Prayer has the power to change lives, to change families, to change the course of history. When we pray, we open the lines of communication to God. In doing so, we open our hearts and minds to God. The Holy Spirit has entrée into our lives. The Holy Spirit can change our lives.
Prayer puts us in the path of the Gospel. As I said Sunday, I don’t believe that prayer changes God, and it certainly does not provide God with any new information. Having said that, prayer can and does change us, and in that change God can work to change the world. God answers prayer and 99% of the time those prayers are answered by the loving care of the people that God puts in our lives.
Miracles– miracles still happen. I believe in miracles. I have witnessed miracles and have heard your testimony to the miraculous way that God has moved in your lives.
Miracles still happen, but 99% of the time God works through people to accomplish miracles. The Red Sea does not part very often, water is rarely turned into wine, and I have not seen anyone walk on the Sea of Galilee. But everyday people are healed of their diseases, relationships that were thought to be dead are mended, and simple acts of grace bring about miraculous results.
Prayer is critical—keep praying. Open your heart to God. Miracles still happen. But God needs a prayer partner and God needs a miracle partner. And that partner is YOU! Prayer without our participation is like sitting on Santa’s lap at Christmas. The expectation of a miracle does not preclude our participation in that miracle.
Celebrate miracles, but do not bet your future on them. Say your prayers and then get out there and work for good.
You are all theologians! What did one theologian say to another theologian? “God knows.”
See you in Church!
“I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121
The sun had just risen on September 11, 2001. Two days earlier we had rallied for the Fall and used, for the first time, our new gym, kitchen, nursery, and Sunday School wing. The sermon title on September 9th was “The world will never be the same.” The words were unintentionally prophetic.
Seventeen years have passed now. I am quite sure that there has never been a seventeen-year period in human history with more dramatic change. The sweeping change is unparalleled. Our nation is not the same. The world has changed, technology companies have changed our economy, social media has transformed the culture, travel is more complicated, churches and service clubs are closing. The younger generations have been raised with constant war and a fear of terrorism. We are more connected and less intimate than ever before.
The seventeen years have passed so quickly. The man in the mirror sports more wrinkles now. There can be no denying the march of time, the changing of the seasons, the passing of the generations. We are dust and to dust we shall return. What will the next seventeen years hold? Will we survive the next seventeen? There are precious few guarantees.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where is my help to come? My help comes from the Lord, the marker of heaven and earth.”
Everything in life is changing, sifting and decaying, but God is faithful. God is with us. God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. We have nowhere to turn but to God. Our hope is not found in national security, financial security, or the latest workout program.
My help comes from the Lord. Seventeen years later that has not changed. Three thousand years after the Psalms were penned, that has not changed.
I will see you this Sunday in Church. That’s right, I am showing up this Sunday. Wear your tee-shirts and put yourself in the path of the Gospel.