Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
I played a lot of golf with my father. He grew up on a farm in the Great Depression. It was a family farm; it just did not belong to the Lindus family. The farm belonged to the Watsons. They owned the farm and a few others in Dekalb County. My grandfather was a sharecropper. He would tend to the soil and the crops, most every detail on the farm was under his stewardship. When the crop came in, if there was a profit, he got a share, a much smaller share than the Watsons. My father enlisted in the United States Navy and was soon off to the Pacific Theatre of World War Two. He would return from the war, but he would never return to the farm. He had a cordial but somewhat contentious relationship with the demanding taskmaster of his youth.
I played a lot of golf with my father. My love of the game brought him back a pastime that he had given up. Working long blue-collar days to provide for his growing family and coaching Little League baseball left little time for golf. A child of the depression, he was careful, conservative, he suffered no fools, he was a no-nonsense kind of guy. He provided me with every opportunity in life. On occasion on the golf course, I would be overthinking my shot options. Can I get the ball over the tree, can I carry the water, is it a seven iron or an eight iron? After too much deliberation, he would look at me impatiently and say, “Do something son, even if it’s wrong.”
Those words and so many others still echo in my mind. Wisdom from a man who retired from work at 67 and was dead by the age of 69. The problems of the world can be overwhelming. Turn on the news or pull up CNN on your computer and you will see images that are devastating and debilitating. Most of the carnage that we observe there will have no readily recognizable consequences for us, and clearly we are mostly impotent to effect any change in Israel, Palestine, Ukraine or on the streets of Chicago. For the past week, I have intentionally not turned the TV on, not for news, not for sports, not for weather. And guess what? I have been sleeping better.
This reality does not give me a pass, rather it challenges me to choose carefully how I use my time, energy, and money. I can hear my father saying, “Do something son, even if it’s wrong.” I also hear the voice of Jesus saying, “the poor you will have with you always.” Equally important, I hear Jesus challenging us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter those without shelter, and welcome the stranger. Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The key is to apply ourselves in places where we can make a difference. We should not waste time wringing our hands, overwhelmed with grief of the human condition, considering ourselves helpless. The key is to make a difference where God has put us and to act as we are able to assist those who are in any kind of need.
Trinity Lutheran Church does a great job helping our neighbors on Whidbey Island. I thank you for your generous support and volunteer efforts right here at home. We also partner with relief and social service agencies in Washington State and across the globe. One of our global partners is Lutheran World Relief. Under their umbrella, and with the generous gifts of several large ELCA churches we were able to change the lives of villagers in remote Bihar, India. We now have the opportunity to partner with Lutheran Immigration and Relief Services (LIRS) to make a real difference in Guatemala. Many in Central and South America find themselves is such dire circumstances that they make the long, arduous, and dangerous journey to the southern border of the United States. Some find a home and welcome in this country of immigrants, others are sent back to their country of origin. https://trinitylutheranfreeland.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/LIRS-Jan-23-2024-1-42 PM.pdf
Lutheran Immigration and Relief Services has started a new program to assist those returned from our southern border to build their lives in the communities where they live. Lutheran Immigration and Relief Services manages the funds and the program, but they have hired local people to run the day-to-day work among their neighbors. I am including an attachment that will allow you to read a few stories, stories that remind us that though we are a small church on an island in Washington, we can still make a difference in the world. Camino a Casa Success Stories Dec 2023
If you would like to support this effort, you can do so by writing a check to TLC and designating LIRS in the memo line. I will keep you in the loop as progress is made. Most of us are not in a position to solve the complicated immigration crisis at our Southern border, but that does not render us helpless. I had a meeting last week with Jon Buuck of LIRS, he assured me that together we can do something, there is hope. I would invite you to join me in helping refugees to build a better life in their own countries. I would invite you to join me in turning off the TV and making a difference where we can.
One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread, I am your
Contact Pastor Jim if you have questions at [email protected]