Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More of the same...

As we creep closer and closer to Holy Week, the snow is falling yet again. It seems that's all anyone is talking about these days--the weather. School has been canceled in Starbuck, but I don't think students are particularly excited about that. Apparently, it is even possible to get tired of snow days.

Edit: I stand corrected. It seems that most of the kids I've spoken with will taken whatever snow days they can get. It's only the adults who are tired of it.

There's probably something appropriate about this. Lent, after all, is supposed to last for 40 days, which is a biblical number that means, roughly, "a really long time" or "as long as it takes". Like the Israelites wandering for 40 years in the wilderness, or Noah and is family enduring 40 days and 40 nights of rain (and then having to wait for the waters to go back down), Lent is supposed to remind us that God comes to us in the midst of all our wilderness wanderings, however long they take. We rehears this every year--and it always ends with the joy of Easter, which far surpasses the patient (or impatient) waiting that has gone before it. And knowing that we can get through the 40 days of Lent--or the however-many days of snowfall--gives us the strength to face other challenges with hope.
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prayers: Weather-related

I'm really trying not to complain about the weather, despite the fact that it is snowing again, which is getting to be irritating.

However, I think it's appropriate (and rather obvious) to pray for our neighbors to the north and west, especially around the Red River. They don't seem to be getting a lot of breaks right now. I don't personally know anyone who lives out that direction, but a lot of folks do. Not only are they dealing with flooding and threats of flooding, but they also have to put up with people asking "why would anyone choose to live there?", which seems like a good question if you're far removed from the situation, but for those who live there, it has to be enormously frustrating.

This is also a good time to say an extra prayer for people who experience varying degrees of seasonal affective disorder. For most of us, the extended grayness is just mildly discouraging, but for some people, it is more serious.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, March 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

No, really--we finally had the children's Christmas program at Immanuel this week. It seemed oddly appropriate, given the lectionary readings (especially John 3). It's a little unusual to hear about baby Jesus during Lent, but not actually inappropriate, it turns out.

And it was kind of fun to be able to say "Merry Christmas" in March. (So, in honor of the season--you can pick which one--I finally put together a proper banner image for this blog. Pretty, isn't it?)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

It's kind of refreshing to have a saint's day that is actually commonly remembered as a saint's day. Even though most people in the U.S. do not retain any religious associations with the Commemoration of Saint Patrick, at least we haven't lost that from the name, as we have with St. Valentine's!

Saint Patrick--the real Saint Patrick--makes for a remarkably good story. For one thing, he wasn't Irish--he was taken to Ireland as a teenager after being kidnapped by actual pirates. And we know more about him that about many other early saints, because we have some of his writings. We know that he worked to support Irish Christians and to convert the Irish to Christianity--we don't know a lot of the exact details, although of course there are many stories. My favorite is the legend that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Apparently, there never were any snakes in Ireland (it being an island), but still, it's pretty impressive, isn't it?

But what is really impressive about Patrick is that apparently he really did go back to the land where he had been enslaved. One might think that he would have hated the people and places of Ireland, but instead he loved them enough to share the gospel with them. That is a story I think we all need to hear from time to time.

Another interesting fact: Apparently, Saint Patrick's Day doesn't count as Lent in certain (probably Irish) circles, so if you were, say, giving up chocolate for Lent, today you could eat as much chocolate as you liked. (It's kind of like Sundays, which are always feast days, even during Lent, which is how you get the math to work out to have "40 days" in the season. Of course, if you exempt St. Patrick's Day as well, you end up with only 39.)

And, finally: Did you know that Saint Patrick's original color was actually blue? The thing with the color green is apparently a fairly recent innovation (in the last century or so).
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, March 16, 2009

The heavens are telling the glory of God!

The opening of Psalm 19 (which we read yesterday) certainly seems appropriate on a beautiful day like today, doesn't it? Just last week, we were getting blizzard warnings, and now the sky is sunny and clear (and warm, too). Sometimes, you have to look closely to see the beauty of God's creation--and sometimes it is really, really obvious.
Day to day pours forth speech,
   and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
   their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
   and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:2-4a)
Actually, the part of me that remembers being a physics major in college is thinking, "well, actually, the stars in the heavens kind of do communicate, not with sound but with light". And there's a whole involved metaphor there. It's amazing how much the stars are telling us, for example. What scientists do is listen to what they have to say--which, in a way, is like listening to their proclamation about God their creator, isn't it? (I've never really understood why people sometimes think that faith and science are incompatible.)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blizzard Warning!

I know I should probably be complaining about this, like everybody else, but I still get a real kick out of having an actual blizzard warning. In central Ohio, where I grew up, we did not get blizzards. (There were actual blizzard conditions last winter, and they're still talking about it a year later.) Actual blizzards always belonged to the world of, say, Little House on the Prairie, so for me to say "we're supposed to be having a blizzard!" is kind of like stepping into one of the stories I read as a child.

That, and it really impresses my classmates from the South.

Still, as I type this, there are kids who need to get home safely from school, workers who need to get home safely from jobs, and probably all kinds of folks for whom this weather is really threatening, not just inconvenient. So, even as I secretly thrill to hear the word "blizzard" being thrown around, I'll also say a few prayers for those who do not have that luxury.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, March 9, 2009

CrossWind Parish in the news

We have been in the Starbuck Times several times in the past few weeks, and I thought I would share a few:
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Prayers: East and West Zion

I have learned that our neighbors at East and West Zion are having their 30 Hour Famine this weekend. Since I am still taking care of paperwork and clean-up after our Famine event, I figure it's a good time to pray for our brothers and sisters who will be experiencing some of the same things this Friday and Saturday (they have a more typical Famine schedule, starting on Friday at school).

Apparently there is a standing agreement involving adult leaders dyeing their hair if the youth reach a certain goal. I'll have to think about that. I wonder if cutting it short would be an acceptable alternative? (If I dye my hair, I wouldn't be able to donate it when I eventually do cut it.)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March newsletter

I had to wait to post this so that the references would make sense. Sometimes it's a challenge, writing something you know will be read after the events you are trying to describe, which haven't happened yet.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” (Matthew 25:35)
Although I am writing in late February, by the time you are reading this, it will probably be March, and we will have completed the 30 Hour Famine. A group of youth from our parish, supported by lots of adult volunteers, will likely have learned a new appreciation for this verse from Matthew. By fasting for thirty hours, we experience first-hand what it is like to be hungry—and by collecting donations from sponsors, we play a part in giving food to people who are hungry, not just for one day, but every day of their lives.

At the same time, it’s also the first week in Lent, a time when we reflect on what it means for us to be baptized children of God. (Historically, Lent started as a time of preparation for new Christians who would be baptized on Easter.) If, as we claim, we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, what difference does that make for us?

We explore this question in Lent, as we remember the story of what Jesus has done for our sake. That’s part of what we are doing at the 30 Hour Famine, or at our mid-week Lenten services, or on Sundays, or in our regular daily devotions. We even think about Jesus’ suffering and death, not because it’s depressing and we want to make ourselves feel guilty, but because Jesus’ death two thousand years ago has a real effect on our lives here and now. And because, even in Lent, we know what happens next: Easter is coming!
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hello and welcome (again)!

This month, I finally felt brave enough to put a note about this blog in the parish newsletter. So, if you are visiting for the first time, welcome! Feel free to browse through the archives (there are links on the right side of the screen--note that I've mostly been active since January of this year).

If you are new to the world of blogging, you may discover that one of the really great things about this medium is that you are able to leave your own comments! If you are not sure what to do, blogger has a tutorial that will explain the process (with pictures). Under each post, there will be a link that says "0 comments" (or whatever number). Follow that link to leave a comment! You don't even have to sign in--you may comment anonymously. Leaving comments is a great way to let me know that you are out there (otherwise it feels like I'm just talking to myself) and to encourage me to keep updating (or to stop updating, if you feel like I'm just rambling!). Remember, your comments are available for all the world to see, so be careful about posting private information.
~Pastor Sarah

Behind the scenes at the Famine

I had a great time at the 30 Hour Famine this weekend, and more importantly, I was tremendously proud of our youth and our parish. We raised over $2,400 to help support hungry children and their families! Even though money is tight for most people right now, our youth were still able to top last year's number, due both to their own dedication and the support of the people of our community. This event is a great example of how small contributions can add up into something incredible!

I'm sure I'll be sharing all kinds of stories (there are so many!) about the event this year, but for now, here are some behind-the-scenes things that even Famine participants might not know:
  • The night before the Famine, LaVonne spent four hours pressing fabric for us to cut into quilt squares.

  • Participants likely didn't see much of Pastor Paul on Saturday afternoon. That's because he spent most of that time processing donations. (It's not the most exciting thing, but somebody has to do it!)

  • Does 6 am seem a little early to be having breakfast? Remember, somebody had to get up before that to set it up!

  • Throughout our parish on Sunday, the folks who were setting up for Communion went a little (or a lot) out of their way to receive the gift of bread baked during the Famine. Communion servers, some of whom had never handled bread instead of wafers before, bravely gave it a try.

  • Last Wednesday, the kids at K.I.C.K. (our after-school program) made cards for the Famine participants, many of whom they had never met. They put a lot of thought and care into this activity!
~Pastor Sarah