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It’s tough to sum up faith in a catch phrase.

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In a world of sound bites, catch phrases get attention. The arena of faith is no exception. “What would Jesus do?” “Got God?” “Jesus is my co-pilot!”God-Is-Love “Jesus isn’t my co-pilot, he’s behind the wheel!” You get the picture. But I was reminded of one this week that’s hard for me to swallow, “God helps those who help themselves.”* Why would I need God if I could help myself? If “God is love” (yep, I do believe that one) why would God sit idly by and watch me suffer just waiting for me to do something? Thanks be to God, Paul has something to say about this.

This Sunday we get to hear Romans 5:1-11. There’s grace upon grace in Romans 5 but the verse that soars for me is, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (5:8). God didn’t wait for us to do something, to get our act together, to help ourselves. God just loved us enough to die for us. For me. For you. Period.

See you Sunday…

In Christ,
Pr. Rachael

*See Sundays and Seasons Year A 2014 ©2013 Augsburg Fortress, p.139

A little ambience, anyone?

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lent word

There’s nothing like heading out to a crowded café, restaurant, or local watering hole to chew things over with a friend. The background noise, music, art, etc. encourage vigorous conversation and invite a settling in of body and spirit. It feels good.

In our Gospel reading for Sunday Jesus meets a man named Nicodemus for an important conversation but the ambience is more than a little lacking. Nicodemus comes to Jesus “by night.” Darkness is not a welcoming environment in scripture. Darkness represents all the powers that work against God. In John’s Gospel, darkness signals unbelief. Nicodemus wants to talk with Jesus but he wants to talk from a position of darkness, unbelief, a man firmly planted within the religious authority that is working diligently against the Messiah. Yet, Jesus doesn’t hesitate. Immediately he engages Nicodemus in conversation. Darkness? Not a problem for Jesus. He will meet Nicodemus anywhere and anytime.

If it feels pretty dark where you are, Nicodemus shows us it can’t get too dark for Jesus. He’ll meet you anywhere and anytime. Lent can get pretty dark, all of this self-examination and repentance going on, but Jesus is not afraid. He enters in without hesitation. I’d bet the bank he’s with you now whatever the ambience…

See you Sunday…

In Christ,
Pr. Rachael

Lent – Does it get any better than this?

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lentDon’t get me wrong, it’s rough out here in the wilderness. From here I see how much of a mess I’ve made things. I see how often I hurt myself and those I love. My knees get sore as I fall to them day after day asking God’s forgiveness for me and for this world that struggles mightily to love. Violence, poverty, addiction, isolation, despair – all forms of human brokenness take up residence here.

And yet here, in this great messiness, God comes.

God refuses to let the wilderness overtake us. God will not leave us to our own devices, thanks be to God. God reveals, on the cross, that God will stop at nothing to deliver us. From where I sit, alongside all of you beautiful, broken people in the wilderness, I see God racing toward us. “I love you!” God shouts, “You are mine! Return to me!”

See you Sunday…

Pr. Rachael

It stinks in here. I love it.

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Paint CansMy office at St. Tim’s is a few feet from the “community room” where countless gallons of coffee have been consumed and countless spirits have been lifted through loving conversation in Christ’s name. St. Tim’s members, visitors, folks from the community, friends, family, and more have filled that space in love for God and one another. At present it stinks because the ceiling was just painted by a group of kind and capable painters. We’re sprucing things up…reaching out, inviting and hoping. In God’s grace we trust that space will continue to be filled with a love that comes from God and spills over out of each of us to others. We trust that God, through us, will continue to invite joyful, broken, addicted, despairing, successful, uplifted, questioning, and rock-solid- faith-filled folks to St. Tim’s to experience community together in Christ.

It stinks in here. I love it.

See you Sunday…

Pr. Rachael

Is there room in the kingdom for me?

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Brothers and Sisters in Christ, matthew sermon on the mount

The Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel is relentless. Verse after verse, section after section, God’s commands pile up – commands that sound more and more impossible. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” (5:8) Jesus says. “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” (5:20) Jesus says. In the Gospel reading this week we hear, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” But Jesus saved the best for last as Matthew chapter 5 ends with Jesus boldly calling us to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48). Really?!

Umm, what happened to the GRACE of God? What are my options here? I know perfection isn’t one of them. I’ve wasted enough of my life trying, and failing, to achieve that. Is there room in the kingdom for me? Amen?!

See you Sunday…
Pastor Rachael

This is not the kinder, gentler Jesus…

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Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In Matthew 5 we hear Jesus speaking of the Kingdom of God, a place where God’s love reigns.  He speaks of the Kingdom of God which he has ushered in.  However, this Kingdom love is certainly not the love of fuzzy teddy bears and pink hearts.  This is a kind of love that calls us to a new way of life.  This is a kind of love that calls us beyond our human brokenness to work for justice and peace even if that peace needs to be made under our own roof.  This is a kind of love that must come first from God for us, for you and me. And it does…oh, how it does…
How, you might ask?
See you on Sunday…
Pastor Rachael