Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reflections on Reformation red

I thoroughly enjoyed Reformation Sunday, which is always one of my favorite occasions in our church year. I love the opportunity to be really, completely, totally Lutheran, to sing “A Mighty Fortress is our God” and talk about Martin Luther. Lutheran history, especially around the time of the Reformation, is fascinating.

But mostly, on Reformation Sunday, it makes me smile to see a church full of people wearing red. It’s bright, it’s cheerful—and yes, it happens to be my favorite color. Maybe you enjoyed wearing Reformation red, too—or maybe you were just wondering what on earth was going on (or maybe you were at a church that hasn't picked up this particular tradition).

I used to always ask, “why red for Reformation?” Red is often used to represent the blood of the martyrs, but that doesn’t quite seem to fit. But eventually, I realized that red is the liturgical color for another occasion, as well—it’s the color for Pentecost, the day when we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of wind and tongues of flame. (Red is also the liturgical color for ordinations, which turns out to be another Holy Spirit reference.)

On Pentecost, the color red reminds us of the fire of the Spirit—and that’s what it does on Reformation Sunday, as well. We take this opportunity to reflect on the many ways that the Holy Spirit has worked in the church. We celebrate the activity of the Spirit during the Reformation, working through Reformers like Martin Luther to call God’s people to renewed faithfulness. We also celebrate the activity of the Spirit today, calling Lutheran congregations in Starbuck to form CrossWind Parish in order to better serve God’s mission in our community--and working in many other ways, too many to count, sometimes even when we least expect it.

So when I see red on Reformation Sunday, I always smile, and it’s not just because I’m seeing my favorite color! It’s also because I am reminded that the Holy Spirit is still at work. Even as the season turns colder and the snow starts to fall (yes, that happened this week as well!), the fire of the Spirit comes to us again and again, calling us to renewed faithfulness and new life.
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hey, it's Thursday!

How quickly this week has gone! It's Thursday already! Where does the time go?

Pastor Paul and I were able to spend the first part of this week at our synod's Fall Theological Conference in St. Cloud. I always enjoy synod events because they give us a chance to connect with friends and colleagues from across our region--but also because they remind me that we are part of a church that is much larger than just our little community. I am loving Starbuck, and God is doing some exciting things through the congregations in our town and parish--but through our ties to the synod, the ELCA, and beyond, we are part of something much, much bigger. I love that about the church--there is always more to it than meets the eye.

One of the things I learned this week is that there are a number of pastors in our area who have figured out this whole blogging thing (and they've been at it for a while). So, if you are interested in more reflections and news from Southwestern Minnesota, check out some of these:

~Pastor Sarah

Friday, October 17, 2008

Give to God the things that are God's

This week, I've been reading about hunting. This coming Sunday will be Hunters' Sunday in our parish, and we are encouraging everyone to come to church in their best camouflage and orange gear. I am not a hunter, and I don't know a whole lot about hunting, so...I've been reading.

One of the things that I've noticed is that there seems to be a certain unexpected kinship between hunting and my favorite leisure activities (knitting and spinning). There is a lot of time for quiet reflection--for some that sounds hopelessly boring, while others will cherish those moments. There are exciting moments (okay, I admit that turning a heel on a sock does not sound nearly as exciting as sighting your first deer), but if that excitement is the only part you enjoy, you are going to be bored most of the time.

Our gospel reading for this week includes the great line, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:20). The point is not so much about whether or not we should pay taxes. It has more to do with recognizing God as the true source of all that we are and all that we have. "The things that are God's" include much more than just our coins--they include literally everything. Our whole lives are formed according to God's gracious gifts to us. Even our leisure time.

So what does this look like? For a hunter, perhaps it comes during those moments of quiet reflection. That time can be a prayer, in appreciation for the beauties of God's creation. It doesn't have to be a constant internal monologue, either--sometimes the most profound prayer is the one you pray by simply sitting still, listening.

For you, maybe it's not hunting. Maybe it's not knitting, either. But whatever it is that you do this week--hanging out with friends, singing in a choir, sports or other physical activities, even simply studying--that can be an opportunity to think of God, who makes all these things possible.

~Pastor Sarah