Tuesday, March 23, 2010


During a children's moments in worship a long time ago I talked with the kids about a God-moment. I was interested in how our children experience God-moments in their homes. Sometimes we feel that a God-moment has to be a religious, churchy moment. But God-moments happen to us every day. And they are not always joyful, happy moments. Sometimes a God-moment can happen after a car accident, or when we learn that a loved one has died, or when our families can't seem to stop arguing and fighting.

Do you have a tendency to experience God only when life is going well for you? For some folks the reverse is true. They find it hard to think about God personally acting in their lives until a crisis engulfs them.

During worship a young child was misbehaving. The parents did their best to maintain order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally the father picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer the child called loudly to the congregation, "Pray for me! Pray for me!"

God-moments are right before our eyes even as you read this. Our job is to notice and be aware.

My prayers are with you all as you lead your church and community through the passion of Holy Week. May we all be ready to experience many God-moments.

Grace and peace,


Monday, March 15, 2010

On Not Liking That I Am a Christ Follower

Sometimes I am tempted to dislike that I am a Christ follower. Case in point. Kim and I celebrated our upcoming 30th anniversary by taking a Mexican cruise over spring break. Traveling on a luxury ship from LA to the Mexican Riviera our first port of call was Cabo San Lucas. No excursions for us other than to walk about the shops and restaurants near the harbor.

It was during a rest stop that I saw her. An elderly woman was rummaging through a garbage can picking empty plastic bottles and anything else that could have a second life other than the garbage dump. When she finished her treasure hunt she took her bag and sat near us.

I didn't think about it...just responded to what could have been my American guilt or the Holy Spirit. I dug out some cash, walked to the woman, gave it to her and said, "Vaya con Dios." I hope that meant "God be with you."

Her toothless smile was all the response I needed. I walked away with no warm glow in my heart. I was just glad to offer some help to this woman. I was just struck by the contrast of my wealth compared to her poverty. But the part of me who wanted to enjoy the luxury of the cruise did not care for this encounter with this poor woman.

Yes, there are days when I would rather not be a disciple of Jesus Christ. But when I affirmed my baptism and was confirmed, and every day since then when I daily decide to be a Christ follower, I gave up the right to choose whom I will love and whom I will not love. God, help me to know when my love for others requires actions that include generous sharing of my wealth.

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Memorial Service Prayer

Today I attended the funeral for Alan Gage, the young husband and father of two, who died in the avalanche a few weeks ago. Alan was the husband of Dalon Gage, an active member and leader at St. John. Rev. Jo Ann Schaadt did a wonderful job of leading this service. Dr. John Dodson shared a prayer that I want to share with you. I thought others may want to copy and file it for future use.

Dear Lord,
We gather in this place of sacred worship to remember Alan Gage. We know him in many different ways as husband, father, son, relative, friend, leader in his work, lover of life, active sportsman, adventurer, a great encourager of people. Our lives will never be the same again and the pain of losing Alan is great. Alan found You best in his outdoor playground, observing the majesty and beauty of your creation around him. Alan found You when he gazed into his children’s eyes and felt the joy of their love. Alan found You when he was surrounded by his wife, friends and family.
Lord, we lost him too soon and we struggle trying to make sense of it all. Come, help us find understanding, bring to us comfort that goes beyond our pain. We need signs of your love and support. Help us to be those signs to each other in love and friendship. Allow us to continue to surround Dalon, Payton, and Jarrett with great love and support. Give us the wisdom to know how to connect with each other in ways that make a difference.
As first you gave Alan to us, now may You receive him with the joy of reunion. May he find in you the freedom to explore heavenly places. May we always remember Alan and his joy in Alaska and in his family and friends.
We give him to you while the joy he shared with us remains in our hearts. So help us now as we share the prayer your son gave us….Our Father

Grace and peace,

Worship in Willow, Alaska

I had a wonderful opportunity to worship with Willow UMC. This vibrant, little congregation is so important to the Willow community. They understand their mission to be the light and grace of Christ for the people who live in the area. Even if they don't attend the church people know that they can count on Pastor Steve and Fran Lynch and the Willow UMC for firewood, rides to the doctor, food, insulation, prayer, and even a memorial service or wedding.

Sometimes it's the pastor who needs help. The night before Steve and BJ's generator shed with two generators burned to the ground. They had to come to the church to shower for worship. It was a member of the church who came in the fire truck in response to the call. And it was a member of the church who provided a generator for the Eldreds. What goes around, comes around.

Here's a brief clip of Pastor Steve leading congregational singing.

Small churches can and do make a difference for Christ in our world. Willow UMC is an example of such a faithful congregation.

Grace and peace,