Monday, February 1, 2010

February/March newsletter

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

When Paul wrote those words, he wasn’t just talking about a perfect (and imaginary) church. He was addressing a real community of real people. The church in Corinth was about as real as they come—richly gifted for ministry, but also troubled by conflicting loyalties and confused practices. (Just skim 1 and 2 Corinthians and you’ll see what I mean.) Yet it is this community that Paul calls “the body of Christ”!

As we progress through the weeks after Epiphany, heading towards Lent, we have spent some time with Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. In these chapters, Paul tells us how amazing our life together is meant to be: one body, each individual member gifted by God and placed in relationship with the others, all holding together in love.

Sometimes we get to experience that in our life as a parish. For example, if you stopped in to visit our Confirmation class on a Wednesday night, you would see youth and adults from all four congregations in our parish, sharing and learning from one another, growing in faith and in relationship. Or you might see how the body of Christ works by visiting the Minnewaska Lutheran Home, where you are sure to run into volunteers from our community, visiting and working with staff and residents.

Sometimes, however, the image of one body of Christ seems no more than a distant dream. We’ve experienced some of that this past year, as we struggle with issues brought up at last summer’s Churchwide Assembly, and as we try to faithfully respond even though we don’t all agree with each other. We read that “just as the body of is one and has many members…so it is with Christ” (1 Cor 12:12). But that isn’t always what it feels like!

But still, regardless of our experience on any given day, Paul’s words are us true in Starbuck as they were in Corinth: we are the body of Christ. We are the ones who gifted by the one Spirit for the common good—not because of our worthiness, but because “in the one Spirit we were baptized into one body” (12:13a). What exactly does this mean for our life together and for our individual lives? We’ll spend the whole season of Lent (and, indeed, the whole church year!) exploring the answers to just that question.

May God’s love and peace be with us all.

~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lutheran organizations with confusing initials

From CrossWind Photos
In light of a conversation at a council meeting last night, during which we confused LDR and LWR, not for the first time among Lutherans; and considering the earthquake in Haiti, today's post is a brief lesson in Lutheran disaster relief organizations:
  1. There are two major Lutheran organizations that begin with "L" and end with "R": Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR) and Lutheran World Relief (LWR, not to be confused with the Lutheran World Federation, LWF). Both are joint ministries of the ELCA and the LCMS. They serve different (but complementary) purposes, but are sometimes confused with one another because they have similar initials and related goals.

  2. Luther Disaster Response focuses on domestic disaster response, recovery, and preparedness. Unlike the Red Cross, which specializes in immediate crisis response, LDR is in it for the long haul.

  3. Lutheran World Relief is a highly-respected international relief organization, which focuses on a wide array of activities, from collecting quilts to political advocacy. LWR is consistently rated one of the top international relief agencies in the world. Remember that tsunami a few years ago? Newsweek rated LWR with an "A+", topping even the Red Cross!

  4. American Lutherans tend not to know about this stuff, because we tend to be very modest and wouldn't want anyone to think we were bragging.

Over the next few days and weeks, I'm sure there will be many efforts to raise funds to support our brothers and sisters in Haiti (some of whom are Lutherans). LWR already has an announcement on their website, but it is too early for there to be a detailed report. However, should you find yourself wanting to make a contribution in some way, and you are not sure of how best to do that...LWR is always a safe way to go.

They also do chocolate and coffee. Which probably will not help with the earthquake in Haiti, but is still good to know on general principle.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, January 4, 2010


Last year my official blogging-related New Year's resolution was to update this blog more frequently. If you look at the archive links over on the side of the page, you will see 2009 (126) and 2008 (8). I think we can safely call this one a success.

So, in order to avoid any possibility of spoiling my perfect record, this year I do not have a blogging-related New Year's resolution, official or otherwise.

However, if I did have a resolution this year (which, let me emphasize, I do not), it might be to do a better job of connecting with other blogs. I am still in the process of figuring out how that works, but I'll start with a link to the blog belonging to a friend from seminary, who recently stumbled across this one. Very insightful stuff, much more given to Deep Thoughts than I am (I would argue that my "fluff" is also often theological in nature, but you would be perfectly justified in arguing back).

(And, yes, Merry Christmas!)
~Pastor Sarah

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy....what day is it again?

From CrossWind Photos
In the continued spirit of holidays we do not ever celebrate, we have January 1.

January 1 is the Name of Jesus, because it is eight days after Christmas day, and as a good Jewish baby Jesus would have been named and circumcised on the eighth day (see Luke 2:21).

In the Roman Catholic tradition, today is now celebrated as Mary, the Mother of God, although the readings seem to be the same, so the difference appears to be slight. Though it sounds a little odd to many Lutheran ears, "Mother of God" is an ancient title for Mary that is shared by Catholic and Protestant traditions. The idea is to emphasize the divinity of Jesus--so as she was the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is fully God, so Mary is the mother of God.

Or, if you really want to celebrate New Year's, I offer you this litany in Spanish. I can't quite follow all of it, but it sure looks cool. (And you get to say "¡Aleluya!", which has one of those awesome upside-down exclamation marks.)
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

January newsletter

From CrossWind Photos
Although the church year technically begins with Advent, January always feels like a time for new beginnings. It’s time to pull out a new calendar, and get used to writing a new date on checks. We have to answer important questions like “is it ‘two thousand ten’ or ‘twenty-ten’?” Arguably, 2010 isn’t just a new year—it’s a new decade, even. And that’s always a great opportunity to look back on what God has done in our lives, and to look ahead to what God is going to do!

As we move into a new calendar year here are some of the things that I am looking forward to:
  • Next summer’s Mission Trip to the Lake Traverse Reservation. We are going a little farther afield this summer to learn about what God is doing in a community that is quite different from ours, but not that far away! (Haven’t signed up yet? Talk to me ASAP!)

  • The after-Christmas return of K.I.C.K., our after-school program, which has blossomed in the past few months.

  • Joint meetings of some of our women’s groups at MLH, to change things up a bit during the winter. Always a delight!

  • The return of the 30 Hour Famine at the end of February.

  • Lent and Easter, 2010!

  • Our post-Lent adult study on the book of Luke. It’s always great to read the Bible together, and Luke is one of my favorites!

  • Presentations from our Confirmation students during worship. (I can’t tell you all the details—it’s a surprise! But they are going to be great!)
What would be on your list? What are you looking forward to in 2010? Perhaps more importantly, what do you think God might be looking forward to? I don’t know exactly what is in store for us…but knowing God, it’s bound to be good!

So…Happy New Year! And Merry Christmas! (12 days, remember?)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Breaking news!

Have you seen our synod's new website?

Scroll down to the bottom of the page. The photo in the left-hand corner is from our 2009 mission trip! Isn't it awesome to see our amazing youth showcased like that? Thanks to Lois for pointing this out!

No comment on that other photo.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy [insert-day-here]

In keeping with my theme of remembering holidays that occur around this time of year, here is a run-down of the past few days:
  • December 26 is the day for St. Stephen, using the logic that as the first martyr, Stephen deserves to have his heavenly birthday the closest to Jesus' birthday. His day is mostly remembered by American Lutherans only when they happen to be singing "Good King Wenceslas".

  • December 27 is St. John's Day, on which it is traditional to be really confused as to which John is intended. (Okay, not really, but "John" is the masculine equivalent of "Mary" in the New have John, John, and the other John.) Visiting the island of St. John is not a tradition on this day, but it really should be.

  • December 28 is the Holy Innocents, which, no matter how you look at it, is not the most cheerful of feast days.
~Pastor Sarah