When life gets rough

My husband Ken and I recently returned from what was supposed to be four weeks in Kathmandu, Nepal working with the Moravian churches and the preschool and grade schools. Ken was also going to be working with friends that have a cafe there; helping them with menu ideas, restaurant ideas and sharing a few new recipes with them.

Well, that’s not what happened. Ken started with kidney stones, moved to a stomach ailment, some heat exhaustion and then ended all this with a heart attack requiring a stent.  We had some good days in the two and a half weeks we were there. We welcomed children to the new school year, we went swimming, me with the five-year-olds and he with grades 1 & 2. He even spent a couple days at the cafe.  I enjoyed giving the message three times in a total of five church services (that was two Saturdays) I attended (Ken missed the last one – heat exhaustion from the first service that day) and helping serve communion for one service. I got the billing ready for the first day of school so parents could pay and staff could then also get paid along with all the other costs of the beginning of a new school year.

Those were some really good days until the Monday he had the heart attack.  We’d been there two weeks and were supposed to go to the main pastors home for supper and fellowship.  That never happened.

We often think that when we are about God’s business everything should go well, but that’s not the truth. Jesus often said in his teachings not to expect things to go well (Luke 9:23, Matthew 8:20).  Even Paul said that he knew plenty and knew want and had learned to be content whatever his circumstances (Philippians 4:12).

I saw God’s providence in many places during our time there. Things slightly out of the norm that helped.  One such incident was that Monday.  I wasn’t feeling well but was determined that I was going to the dinner.  The queasiness in my stomach grew through the afternoon and I decided that I could not go.  My friends called a taxi and worked out a deal with him. Ken had a sample for the hospital and so the taxi would take me home, wait, drive me to the hospital, wait and then return me home for 650 rupees.  Ken wasn’t waiting to give me the sample so I went in hoping it didn’t mean he was feeling worse. I found him in quite the state but was able to get him up and down the lane to the waiting taxi. If the deal hadn’t been made I would have had great trouble finding a taxi in our area and not sure of the results if I had.  My friends, and other friends they called, were racing to our location in case there was need of help. The taxi driver was great. Helped Ken into the back, got directions of which hospital to go to, put on his four way flashers and got us there in record time, including circumventing a long line of traffic that was going in our direction. I expected him to charge a lot but he only charged 500 rupees (that’s about $5 US). God’s hand was in that whole trip.

Yes, Ken still had a heart attack, but he got the care he needed before any harm was done to his heart and there was the right doctor in the right place to put the stent in (more of God’s providence).

There is a part of me that felt let down that our mission trip and time with our friends didn’t go as planned. Surely God could have kept him healthy until we returned to the US. That’s where our faith can get in trouble.  We want God to make everything turn out the way we want and yet we still want to have free will.  God works with us and through us but doesn’t manipulate the circumstances to make us happy.  Most Christians will say that they grew the most or felt the closest to God during or following those times when everything fell apart.

Yes I was let down, but I am so thankful for the time with my friends, I am thankful for their love and prayers. I am thankful that we were able to help some and they were able to help a lot.  People were ready to find some money to help with hospital costs (they won’t release you until your debt is paid – which means if you don’t get them out quick the bill keeps going up) and no one has a lot extra over there.  The love was amazing and the parting so difficult. But I will continue to say that God is good and no matter where life leads I know that God can use us anywhere in anyway.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

God has closed one door for us but others remain open. We are here and we have hope for ministry and life at Redeemer. I believe God has affirmed us moving forward with a cafe that will bring community together and raise funds for us to help train and send people out into the world to help where needed.

Keep praying, God has just begun a new work.

 

Love Your Neighbor

My goal had been to write some thoughts here occasionally for me and you to ponder.  I see occasional is a poor choice of words – rare might be better. For many this will be the end of the first month of their New Years resolution and like mine they may find that they are not as committed as they had hoped and planned to be.

Our Christian walk often looks like this too.  I am not just talking about regular devotions or Bible reading or something like that: I am talking about being and acting as maturing Christians or maybe even remembering and talking to God on a regular basis. Things getting going well and suddenly you’re not sure when the last time you talked to God was. Maybe life has been difficult and you just gave up on spending time with God or even trying to reflect God’s image in the world.

It’s never easy being a Christian. Today there are so many different voices telling you what a “real” Christian looks like and how they act and the type of church they go to and…

Jesus boiled it all down into two easy thoughts to remember: Matthew 22:37-40Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

If you love someone you spend time with them. You don’t always do the same things every time and sometimes you go along with each other on a busy day. God wants to walk with you throughout your day. Hi God, glad you’re here; Wow that was close; that makes me angry; how can I help; should I help. These are conversations that you can have with God throughout the day. Placing God with you is a way of loving God – I mean you don’t want to go through tough times or celebrations by yourself (most of us like to have someone to share events with) when you can be surrounded by love. That’s a good beginning – that allows our relationship to deepen – we read the Bible with God’s love ringing in our ears and we ask about the tough times and try to understand how God allows them to happen. Sometimes we learn just to accept God  knowing that someday we will be in God’s presence and understand fully.

That loving my neighbor though is tough – especially if I have trouble loving myself. There is so much fear out there today and a sense that the world is not safe. Well, mostly it never has been in some place in the world.  If God holds my life do I need to fear death? No, not that I want to get to heaven sooner but reflecting Jesus image to the world may mean allowing myself to be in places that aren’t safe in order to help or care for someone else.  We are taught to fear not having enough when the waste in the US is greater than what is available in many countries.

What about when our neighbor who disagrees with us. Love on. We don’t have to agree to act lovingly. The Samaritan (sometimes called dogs – a derogatory word) stopped to help a man who in different circumstances might have helped the robbers to be sure the Samaritan was dead (maybe a little dramatic – but I want you to see a huge difference between these two) and thought he was doing a good thing. Love doesn’t ask if you are worthy – it asks – how can I help, how can I care. You may have to place yourself on the opposite side of your feelings someday to live out Jesus command to love our neighbors – I hope your relationship and love of God will give you all the courage you need to be all that you are called to be.

PS. Don’t worry the Holy Spirit will never let you stand alone when you are standing for God.

Blessings in this New Year,

Pastor Trina

Christmas Celebrations

Merry Christmas.

Rain to blue skies, what a way to begin Christmas.  I guess it’s actually closer to the type of weather that would have been around when Jesus was born.

Tonight we celebrate Jesus birth through a wonderful Moravian tradition – lovefeast and candlelight.  The Moravian tradition is rich with music and symbolism.  I have not missed a Christmas eve service in almost 30 years.  This year we will have music shared between many instruments: piano, flute, french horn, sax and a brass quartet from Scioto Brass.  I am so looking forward to all the different sounds which will accompany our singing.

Our offering this year will go to Moravian Open Door in New York City (they help the homeless men get back on their feet) and the Brethren church’s food pantry.

If you are welcome to come and join us at 7:30 p.m. and sing some of those wonderful Christmas songs about Jesus.  Worship will be a wonderful expression of God with us today and everyday.  See you here.

Pastor Trina

Join us for Advent

It is great to be here and working with the congregation.  How wonderful to begin at the beginning of Advent.  For the Christian calendar it is the beginning of a new year.  I enjoy this season as I prepare for Christ to come alive once again.  What a miracle it is for God to be born of a woman and become very human.  To really receive Christ into our hearts this season of preparation was organized.  We think about the future and the past and what it means to us.

Join us each week as we light a candle and think about the meaning of each – hope, peace, joy and love.

Come and see.  Jesus might have a message for you.

Pastor Trina

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to mom’s and those who mother. I pray that everyone has  a good memory of a mother (or mother type person).  We can be blessed by the abundance of women, young and old, in our lives – I know I am.

Today I was talking about the happenings in Acts 16: 16-40.  I have continued to reflect mostly on the beginning portion.

Paul in his frustration casts a demon from a young slave woman.  Many of the older commentaries lead us to believe that she was saved and set free (from slavery too) and that all was great for her.  But more people seem to wonder what might have happened to her.  Was her life actually better or not…

Slaves, generally, were only treated well if they were of great benefit and no one else could take their place.  When Paul rebuked the spirit in her he took away her value to her owners – which is why the rest of this passage unfolds they way it does.  So if she has lost her value, is her life now less than it was – would her masters actually free her or try to find some other way to use her to their benefit?

There is nothing mentioned in the passage about her believing in Jesus – after all it was the demon that told others that Paul and his crew were slaves to the most high God and that it was through their God where one could find salvation.

Matthew 12:43-45 (NIV)

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

Could her life have ended up worse than before…

Lydia, the jailer and his family were ready to believe and change their lives, but I’m not sure about this young slave girl.

It reminds me that we must be careful of our motives and that sometimes even our good actions can still have negative consequences.  When we expect everything we do in Jesus name to turn out right we are setting ourselves up for a faith crisis.  We don’t know what happened to this woman. We do know that Paul and Silas received a beating and a night in the cold, drafty, damp dungeon with irons on their wrists and ankles.

They did not loose faith but praised and worshiped God in the midst of despair. They and many were blessed by their ability to trust God no matter what.

Please know the good you sometimes seek to do won’t always be well received, the frustrations you loose may harm some and help others, the harm you seek may be used to help (not that that is an excuse to be okay with harming), but that if we allow God to be the focus of our lives, everything that happens can be used for good even if we don’t see or feel it today.

Walk in love and faith – love and care for others the way God loves and cares for you. If we can all do this – in the end we will all praise God and embrace those around us. What a wonderful place this could be. These three remain; faith, love, and hope and the greatest of these is love!! (I hope you know where that’s from)

Blessed day to all,

Pastor Trina

The Easter Season

For most people Easter is a distant memory.

The church calendar has us in Easter until May 8 (Ascension Sunday).

We are often too tired to think about Easter once the big meal is over and yet these weeks in worship are spent looking at what the resurrection means to us and how it affects our life.  Jesus didn’t simply rise from the dead, he made sure everyone knew he was alive. He taught, ate, let them touch him, and appeared in rooms with locked doors.

There is something different about the risen Christ as opposed to the pre-crucifixion one.  His words seem to go deeper, meetings seem to have a greater effect on the disciples, hearts are warmed, and knowledge grows.  The disciples are emboldened as well.  They are ready when Pentecost comes.  They are bold and speak in languages that those around them can understand (though they were not linguists). They are ready to go out and tell the world about the Messiah – God in the flesh who came to show love and be the ultimate sacrifice so our sins would no longer be held against us, but could be forgiven. Jesus as a human could only touch those he came in contact with, but the Holy Spirit can touch us all anywhere and everywhere.  We are never alone – for some that is scary for others it is a comfort.

Has this season of Easter readied you to be bold, to share God’s love, to tell the stories of Jesus life, death and resurrection, to go out and help others become disciples of Jesus? I hope so, there is much to do and many people who need relationships with people and with Jesus.

If you don’t know Jesus now might be a good time to find someone or a church that can help you discover this wonderful gift of grace called salvation that is offered to all who truly believe.

2016 Watchword: “The Lord God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20.  Amen (may it be so)

Pastor Trina

April 21, 2016

Lenten Blessings to All

Lent has begun.  That time of reflection, possible change and hopefully seeking to be about God’s work instead of our own.  Most people make New Years Resolutions but I think for Christians Lent is the season for resolutions.  To reflect where we have put ourselves, needs and wants above others.  Where has our Christianity slipped in the past year, where have we grown.  Who is God calling me to be?  Am I getting closer.  Yes God loves us as we are but Jesus came to show us how we can be.

Redeemer’s watchword for 2016 is “David said to his son Solomon, ‘The Lord God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.’” 1 Chronicles 28:20.  There was a job to be done and God would see it through to the end.  Solomon was building the temple that his father David had desired to create, and God assured David that it would be finished in Solomon’s day.

What is the work that the Lord has for Church of the Redeemer Moravian?  Where are we called to go?  Are we following the path?  Those are questions we need to ask once in a while otherwise we will go off on our own and try and accomplish what we are not called to do.  My prayer as we venture through Lent is to spend time listening to God and hearing what we are called to accomplish.  Then we will either continue or we will modify our path so that what we are building is what we are called to build.

May we all take time this Lenten season to be sure we are following the path God has set out for us and if we find we have wandered may we have the courage to correct our trajectory.

Lenten blessings to all.

Pastor Trina