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Back to “normal?”

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love godIt’s the week after Easter and that means things quickly get back to normal. Holy Week brought lots of special worship opportunities, new music and, of course, great food. It was a BLAST and now we get back to “normal.” As I think about returning to normal here at St. Tim’s I have to admit, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

You see, I think Holy Week is great. The music, the flowers, the Easter egg hunt (with 200 eggs this year!) and the proclamation that He Is Risen! It’s all GREAT! But, I LOVE the normal here at St. Tim’s. When we get back to “normal” it means we’re getting back to this incredible Holy Spirit ride we’re on all the time. We welcome the newcomer. We work for justice and peace. We discern God’s call, and how God is calling us to love God and love our neighbor in ever-expanding ways. We shout, “Amen!” to the Good News that the risen Christ is alive and with us every moment of every day.

It’s pretty “normal” around here and I couldn’t be more excited! Amen?!

See you Sunday…

In Christ,
Pr. Rachael

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – Jesus (John 10:10)

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John1010If you’ve ever been in a house with kids you know, when it’s quiet you’re in trouble. Kids love to make noise, run around, throw things, jump off of furniture and generally live life to the fullest. I love it. When kids are too quiet you know something’s wrong. Maybe someone’s climbed the refrigerator and gotten stuck on top or maybe someone’s broken your favorite coffee mug. Whatever it is, it’s not good.

St. Tim’s is really quiet today. It’s Holy Week and so much of our regular programming is on hold. It feels like something’s wrong, off, or not as it should be. How appropriate…

We’re reaching the very end of our Lenten journey. We know there’s plenty wrong in us and God’s beloved creation. It’s the week before Easter and we know everything is not “O.K.” God has to act.

Thanks be to God, God does.

Easter is coming and we’ll be able to make some fantastic Holy Spirit noise on Easter morning. Until then, we gather to hear the unfolding story of God’s unending mercy and grace. The story that takes you, me and all the world from death to life. Come and see the one who takes what is broken and makes it new so that we may live life to the fullest once again.

See you Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday…
God’s Peace,
Pr. Rachael

It’s Palm Sunday– bring it!

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palm sundayI love hearing about, talking about and living into the new life we have been given through Christ’s death and resurrection. I can’t get enough of it! But…

This week is Palm Sunday and new life is nowhere to be found. Sure, we get to wave our palms and sing of the King of Kings for about 30 seconds but so quickly everything grows dark. Matthew’s Gospel gives us all the details of Jesus’ death. It’s not quick or easy. Jesus is accused, beaten, and mocked. He suffers and suffers and suffers. I am moved to ask, “Can’t we just skip this part?”

Yet every year as I make that journey from Palm Sunday through the trials of Holy Week I am reminded: resurrection is impossible without death. And, ultimately, that’s Good News. God isn’t going to make things a little better. God isn’t going to set up a self-improvement plan for us. God isn’t going to cheer us on and hope for the best. God dies so that all that is broken in us and in God’s beloved creation dies, too. We are joined to Christ’s death in the waters of baptism in such a way that we are made NEW. I’m not the “best version of myself,” I am a new creation in Christ because all the old has been put to death.

So bring it, death! Give it all you’ve got. Jesus knows just what to do with you.

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,
Pr. Rachael

Eating dirt— the work of the Spirit?

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I haven’t lived in New Mexico for very long and I love it. It’s beautiful. But, the spring wind is brutal.wind dirt

A full on sprint from my driveway to the garage couldn’t save me from the 40 mph wind carrying clouds of dirt. I threw myself into the garage only after being covered from head to toe in it. My eyes stung. And worst of all, it got in my mouth. I tried to spit it out but it just stuck to the roof of my mouth. Before I knew it, I re-lived the elementary school experience of biting down on grains of sand. Not an experience I enjoyed the first time. But then it dawned on me…

The Holy Spirit is described as wind, right? A wind that blows where she chooses, when she chooses, with the force she chooses. She may not bring clouds of NM dirt but what she does bring is just as disruptive – strength, hope, discernment, enlightenment, faith, and God’s call into deeper relationship with God and our neighbor. The Spirit calls us to sprint, or at least get moving, deeper into the grace of God.

I’d rather chew on that.

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,
Pr. Rachael

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