Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Sometimes I hear interesting questions like: Why go to church if it’s the same every Sunday? Why confess our sins if it feels like a “downer”? Why spend time serving others if it takes time away from “my” pleasure? Why listen to a Bible that is 2000 years old if I can “make my own way”? Honest questions – definitely worth pondering! Perhaps the following story might begin to shed some light…
A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. “I’ve gone for thirty years now,” he wrote, “and in that time I have heard something like three thousand sermons. But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time, and the pastors are wasting their time by giving sermons at all.”
This started a real controversy in the “Letters to the Editor” column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone shared the following thoughts.
“I’ve been married for thirty years now. In that time, my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today.”
Worship, like many other events in our lives, often works quietly within us to strengthen us and build spiritual muscle. The fact is, human beings are always worshipping something. If we are not worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are worshipping the “gods” of culture (wealth, prestige, power, position, etc.) otherwise described as a religion of “me-ism” – my wealth, my pleasure, my status and so forth. In reality, most Christians worship a combination of the two. If we live in this ambivalent state, we do not know who we worship and we are like “salt that has lost its saltiness” (Mt 5:13). In other words, we lack spiritual depth or “roots.”
One way to gauge whether we have grown sufficiently deep “spiritual roots” is to ask how we would handle different situations. For example, would we have the inner strength and courage to stand up in the midst of apartheid or the Nazi holocaust and say, “This is wrong!”? Could we stand up to a boss who wants us to “adjust the financial statements? Are we able to exhibit the gifts of the spirit consistently in our relationships – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? If another kid were being teased mercilessly at school, could we stand with her? Can we tell the truth?
So, how do we grow into “spiritual redwoods”? How do we become so devoted to our Lord Jesus that the gods of culture and the temptations of the world, have minimal effect on our behavior? The answer is worship. Worship, Sunday School and Bible Study inform and reform us every time we enter the experience. Jesus, in speaking to Satan, reminded him that we are commanded by God to “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only (Mt 4:10).”
God’s gift to each and every one of us is a quiet working of the Holy Spirit, nourishing and strengthening our minds and hearts with God’s life-giving Word… opening us up to the joy of life in Christ. It is the gift of life!
Blessings, Pastor Mary Ann
A message from Cindy Townsend
May of 1990 was the beginning of an exciting journey for Peace when six of us joined Pastor Steve on our first delegation to develop a partnership with a rural community in Nicaragua. We visited the municipality of San Francisco Libre which is composed of 32 villages and is located a few hours drive from Managua. We returned home transformed with a greater awareness of the deep interconnectedness of all of God’s children and with a better understanding of the injustices that create desperation and violence in our world.
In 1992 we realized we needed a more intimate relationship than one provided by the municipality of 32 villages and thus we partnered with Laurel Galan, one of the very poor villages in the municipality. We have had many delegations to Laurel Galan plus two delegations from Nicaragua to Peace Lutheran. With each experience our heart connections, faith in God, and global consciousness have deepened. This relationship built on solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the South have taught us so much – humility, hospitality, generosity, and a deepened faith and reliance on God’s Light and Love. Give yourself a precious and irreplaceable gift by joining a delegation in 2013. Contact Arlene Reed for more information.
October 1 through October 31, The Orinda Art Gallery is presenting the Sculpture and Paintings by Bill Carmel. Please join us for the Opening Reception on Saturday October 6, 3:30 to 5:30PM. 26 Orinda Way, Orinda, California (adjacent to the Orinda Library).