Leave no trace, unless…

Leave no traceAlbuquerque is a great place to explore God’s beautiful creation. If I ever feel discouraged I just step outside and look up – the mountains remind me that God is so much bigger than I could ever imagine. Hiking the Sandia Crest, biking the foothills, and wandering the Tree Spring Trail can restore any frazzled city-dweller. Throughout these gorgeous landscapes, signs are posted to remind all adventurers of one important thing: leave no trace. Pick up your garbage, respect all plants and animals, and, “There’s No Poop Fairy” (our 8-year-old LOVES those signs). That’s exactly as it should be when we are exploring the great outdoors.

But in the Gospel this week, we are brought to our knees with gratitude that Jesus, our Savior and Lord, leaves a trace wherever he goes.

In Mark 5:21-43 we experience Jesus ushering in the Kingdom of God. His appearance by the sea causes quite a stir, but it doesn’t take long for us to know what Kingdom priorities are. While Jesus may have planned to teach the crowd and preach the Good News, he is approached by a man whose daughter is dying. Immediately, Jesus follows him. Jesus follows so that he may heal her. On his way, a woman daringly touches Jesus’ prayer shawl, trusting that even his garments have healing power. She, too, is restored. Everywhere he goes, he leaves a trace of the Kingdom. He leaves a trace of God’s love, restoration, and grace – for you, for me, and for the world. Hallelujah!

I’m challenged by this text: “Will I leave a trace?” Will God’s love and restoration flow from me? Will others see the in-breaking of the Kingdom where I have been? Will I leave a ‘grace trace?’

Will you?

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,
Pr. Rachael

Don’t do it…

dontI just returned from a great week of continuing education in New York. A double blessing was staying with my sister’s family in Brooklyn. My niece is a vivacious ten-year-old and my nephew is a powerful two. He is very, very two.

It was a blast to see my nephew assert his independence. The second he heard “don’t,” he sprang into action. Whether it was eating off of his sister’s plate or getting in a good punch, whatever was forbidden became his holy grail. Saying “no” to something made it irresistible.

I may be 37 years older but I completely relate. No double fudge brownies, no caffeine at night, no sleeping in – I want them all! But I’ve “matured.” I’ve learned impulse control. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve learned it too well.

The Gospel for this Sunday recalls one of Jesus’ beautiful healing miracles. A blind man who suffered from a speech impediment was made, by the power of God, to see and speak clearly. This is our God! Hallelujah! But immediately after, Jesus turns to the crowd and commands, ‘Don’t say a word about this!’ Yeah, right. I love the way the text puts it, “but the more [Jesus] ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it” (Mark 7:36b). They couldn’t help proclaiming the miracle of God’s love. They wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. All too often, I can.

“Don’t talk about politics or religion,” we’re told. So many times I’ve kept quiet.

What if we don’t take “no” for an answer? What if we reclaim a little two-year-old rebellion? What if we insist on talking about the miracle of God’s love in Jesus? What would the world be like?

One double fudge brownie couldn’t hurt, too…right?

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,
Pr. Rachael

Just a few drops…

dry landGod is good. After a time of drought in the high desert of Albuquerque, the rain has come, thanks be to God!

The last couple of years, I remember feeling a sense of glee and relief when any rain came. Standing out on the porch, our family would watch it with gratitude. Our son would get his Curious George rain boots out giddy to splash around.

Now, securely in the monsoon season, we’re ahead in rainfall. Rain has been in the forecast for days. Last night when it rained I noticed it for a moment and immediately fell back asleep. It’s still a miracle, but I’m used to it.

For me, the Gospel can feel the same way. When I’m feeling emotionally, physically and/or spiritually parched, unsure if I’ll ever hear good news again, a few drops of God’s grace are enough to bring me to my knees. Other times, I can hear God’s gift of love for me and smile for a moment, quickly moving on. Like the rain, the Gospel seems so much more glorious when it falls in parched places.

This Sunday the Gospel reading takes us to a parched place, the palace of Herod Antipas. In Mark 6:14-29 we are brought into a horrific drama ending in death. Yet in that parched place, the Good News of God’s love begins to drip down. It’s slow at first but it doesn’t take long for the heavens to open and the grace of God to pour.

If you’re feeling parched, unsure if you’ll ever hear Good News again, come to worship. God’s grace, love and mercy will flow. By the power of the Holy Spirit, a few drops may just fall on you.

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,
Pr. Rachael

Our God is Powerful

god the greatOur God is powerful.
He stands invincible.
I will hold on to him!
I will hold on to him!

These words kick off the theme song for Vacation Bible School here at St. Tim’s this week. The moves that go with the song call for lots of flexing and pointing “up to” heaven. As I was preparing to lead the kids in this song I started asking all sorts of questions. I was getting concerned. Will this song lead the kids to ask all sorts questions, too?

If God is so powerful, why did my Grandpa die of cancer?
If God is so powerful, why can’t God help me to read better?
If God is so powerful, why are the kids at school mean to me sometimes?

Kids are smart. They ask these kinds of questions, the kind where there are no easy answers. I felt conflicted. I began to think that we should just skip the song altogether.

But then I read the Gospel for this Sunday…

If you haven’t read Mark 5:21-43 for a while, check it out. We’ll hear it on Sunday, bask in the Good News it reveals about the power of God in Christ and then hear the kids belt out, “Our God is Powerful.”

God is powerful. God’s love never fails. God creates and sustains all things. God’s love cannot be defeated by brokenness or death and will never, ever come to an end. God lifts up the lowly and feeds the hungry with good things. God gives us each other so that we can wrestle with the big questions together.

I will hold on to him! I will hold onto him! Hopefully, that’ll be stuck in your head all week, too!

See you Sunday…

God’s Peace,
Pr. Rachael