Monthly Archives: August 2015

Why Bother With Church?

churchWhy Bother With Church?

August 30, 2015

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Romans 12:9-21

Matthew 16:13-19

“Vanity of Vanities” the Teacher says.

All is vanity.

Generations come and go.

People come and go.

Days, weeks, and before we know it, even years,

Roll by one into the next.

In two days it will be September!

Where did the summer go?

What will make us say to ourselves,


Pay attention before yet another day is gone!”?

Ecclesiastes, part of the Old Testament

Known as ‘wisdom’ literature,

is told from the perspective of a wise old person,

Known as the “teacher.”

The teacher looks back over his or her life,

And shares some things he/she has learned.

One of the things this wise teacher has learned,

Is that time passes quickly..too quickly

Spending that time mindlessly …

striving after things that won’t last – riches, pleasure, success, and even wisdom

according to the teacher,

Is like chasing after the wind. (Lutheran Study Bible)

One of the things that stops me from chasing after the wind…

One of the things that derails me,  stops me up short,,

Pulls me back from a life just chugging along day after day…

One of the things that re-centers me

Is church.

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Silver Specks of Paint

Silver Specks of Paint

I should probably toss out the tee shirt. It looks old. Its bright orange color is faded and spattered with silver specks of paint. But those specks of paint tell a story of Hurricane Katrina, and so I am not ready to part with it yet.

Our group was assigned to work on sprucing up the home of Thelma, an elderly African American woman who lives in the 9th ward of New Orleans, the area hardest hit by the storm.

It was 2009, fully four years after the hurricane, but there was still work to do. Thelma’s home is on a street corner. As we stood at the corner she pointed out where her friends used to live, where the grocery store used to be, where the senior center once stood. We used our imaginations, because for the most part, all we could see were cement slab foundations or abandoned buildings marked with large red “X’s” indicating that rescue workers had searched and not found anyone still trapped in the building.

Thelma had a list of things which needed work around her house. One of the items on her list was repainting the silver chain link fence around her property. (It’s hard not to spatter paint when painting a chain link fence!)

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3 (Not So Obvious) Reasons for Prayeryer

whatpeopleprayfor3 (Not So Obvious) Reasons for Prayer

Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Philippians 4:4-9

John 17:15-24

According to the most recent Pew Research Center survey,[i]

more than ½ of Americans say they pray every day;

and about ¼ pray weekly or monthly;

Which means over 3/4  of Americans pray regularly!

Even among those not going to any church

and not affiliated with any faith group,

21% pray every day!

By and large, Americans seem to be a praying people.

As far as what people pray for…

In general, more than 8 out of 10 respondents say that they pray for family or friends,.[1][ii]

about 20% say they have prayed to win the lottery;

(presumably to help out those family and friends! )

and 13% say they pray for sports teams (though I think that number may be a little bit higher in New England this summer!)

Now here’s an interesting survey…

how often does God answer all those prayers we send out?

The authors conclude that

when God answers prayers, God tends to do it in the South.[iii]

Southerners are twice as likely as northerners

to say that all their prayers are answered.

Today we continue our sermon series on ‘why’

and we’re looking at the question: “Why pray?”

I’ll share 3 reasons

which may not be the most obvious.

Why pray indeed?

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Do Not Give Up

Friday Reflection from Good Shepherd’s Pastoral Intern Wasihun Gutema

don't give upDo not Give Up

I was sitting in one of the University of Maryland Cafeterias during my usual break time on August 13, 2015 and I heard a young girl whispering to another young girl that she is not going to give up.  I was not quite sure what their point of discussion was but I repeatedly heard a young girl speaking to her friend that she is not going to give up.  Within a brief conversation they had, I heard “I am not going to give up,” five times.  As the two young girls adjourned their conversation and left the area, I started to think what not to give up is meant about. As I continued to think a Bible verse came to my mind; John 5:7 While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.
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Why Read The Bible?

WhyWhy Read The Bible?

August 16, 2015

Deuteronomy 11:18-21

2 Timothy 3:14-17

John 1: 1-3, 14-18

For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at a few questions…

The answers might seem obvious…at least on the surface.

They are questions like,

“Why pray?”

“Why bother with church?”

And today’s question: “Why read the Bible?”

So “Why read the Bible…?”

If you’ve grown up reading the Bible,

you’ve probably not thought about it much…

it’s something that you just do, (or something you think you should do)!

But if you haven’t grown up reading the Bible,

it’s not really obvious in this day and age why anyone would choose to pick up a Bible…

Why read a book of which some parts were written

thousands of years ago?

Why bother with a book which contradicts itself…

Were there two pairs of animals or seven pairs of each kind in the ark?

Was Jesus crucified on the day of Passover or the day before?

Why consider a book which seems to accept the institution of slavery;

Which instructs parents to kill their disobeying children;

Which tells women to be silent in church?

Why struggle with a book which is frankly so boring in parts?

Why plod through the run-on sentences and bizarre symbolism?

Perhaps you’ve seen “The Lutheran Handbook,”

and in particular it’s listing of the 5 grossest stories in the Bible?

Great topics of conversation for dinner parties

but what benefit is it for us to read gross stories or violent stories in the Bible? Continue reading

Holding Bread

holding breadPentecost 10B – Holding Bread

Exodus 16:2-4;9-15

John 6:24-35

August 2, 2015

Retreat leaders Matthew, Sheila, and Dennis Linn tell the story[i] that…

During the bomb raids of World War 2,

thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve.

Some were rescued and placed in refugee camps.

But, even though they now had food and care,

many of these children

could not sleep at night.

They were afraid of waking up to find themselves

once again homeless and without food.

Nothing seemed to reassure them.

Finally someone hit upon the idea of

giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime.

Holding their bread, these children could finally rest.

The bread reminded them,

“Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow”.[1]

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