Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and I was running just a few minutes late for church. As I arrived at Our Savior’s, I walked up the front steps and found the doors to be locked. I checked my watch, which seemed a little odd since it was 11:05 a.m. Well, the full parking lot was encouraging as I walked to the parking lot entrance. I expected to hear the opening hymn or a praise song upon walking in the sanctuary door, but there were two rows of people in the aisle moving towards the front. Baffled, I stood there for a moment, wondering if the service was ending. And then I realized they were approaching the front rail for holy communion. oops! Talk about timing. I stood there with a smile as I realized the summer schedule began and was pretty sure that everyone could see the invisible layer of egg that was on my face too.

Well, as is always the case at Our Savior’s, the congregation was gracious. I shared with a few individuals in line what happened and was met with a knowing smile of grace and gentleness. They didn’t tell me to turn around and walk out the door, that I missed the proper ingredients of worship to approach the Lord’s Table. They didn’t greet me with judgment, as if I had missed the mark in some way, they responded with empathy. It was only later on the drive home that I realized by leaping into the line midstream that I missed the opportunity to share in the sung Creed. I missed the opportunity to raise my voice in the Lord’s Prayer with the faithful who were gathered in the pews that morning. I missed the words of blessing and invitation to come to the table. Despite all of those things, I found myself included in the Savior’s gestures of grace as always on Sunday morning – in the bread and wine – but also with the faithful attenders who greeted me in line. I’m not even sure that they noticed the invisible layer of egg on my face.

The Road to Emmaus story in Luke is by far among my favorites of the Easter narratives. It’s beautiful in so many ways. The transparency of the two disciples along the road is one thing that I appreciate. And I love the playfulness of Jesus in his relationship with them. Even though they missed the mark in understanding what he taught them so often in their shared time together, he met them on that road with gentleness and love. They were mourning his absence while he was there the entire time, unknown to them, until he broke bread with them. As their eyes were opened, and Jesus vanished from their presence, they were filled with joy, confidence and urged to “go and tell” about this mysterious visitor that graced their path.

I’m grateful for the mysterious ways the Savior meets us at the table. I’m grateful for the Lord’s graciousness with the disciples on the path that day so many years ago. And I’m grateful for the disciples of Our Savior’s who met me on the path to holy communion on Sunday morning. God’s grace still humbles me each time it seeps into my soul. May the same be true for you, as grace envelopes your being – in times when you miss the mark, or in other moments when you are in stride with life, with God and those around you. Peace of Christ to you.

– Mary Bielke    

Advertisements

Embracing the moment

Posted: September 10, 2013 in Faith, Family, Grace, Humor
Tags: , , , ,

The following is a post from Pr. Erik’s blog from over a year ago.

Scarlett, our youngest, has now gotten into the habit of waking up well before 6am and deciding that she is no longer tired and that it is time to get dad up. The mornings have become fairly predictable.

5:30 Scarlett is at her doorway yelling for dad (not mom, but dad)

5:35 Dad gets Scarlett back in bed, telling her it is too early to get up

5:45 Scarlett is at the door again, I not tired, she says

5:46 Dad is in bed with Scarlett trying to get her back to sleep

5:47 Scarlett starts poking dad, and the next 15 minutes are trying to get her to stop

6:05 Dad gives up, takes Scarlett to the bathroom and down to watch TV, trying to keep her quiet so the rest of the house can sleep

I finally got to the stage where I have stopped fighting her on this. I still try to get her to stay in bed until at least 6, but when she comes down stairs I decided to turn this into daddy/Scarlett time. So we cuddle in the chair, watch some cartoons and joke around with each other.

Once I made that change, from fighting it to embracing it, my morning got a lot less stressful and I started to enjoy my time with her in the mornings so much more.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would still love for her to sleep an extra hour or so every morning, but as long as she is up, I am going to make the best of it.

So what are some areas in your life where you learned to embrace the issue rather than fight against it?

The Valley

Posted: September 6, 2013 in Faith, Family, Grace, Life
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Recently I was reminded about a time when I was sitting with a lady in the hospital as she was struggling with the diagnosis that she was going to die soon, her disease was terminal.  As we talked she said, “There is one thing I know as I enter this last leg of my journey, I am not traveling alone.”

We hear that promise throughout scripture, especially in Psalm 23, and we are reminded that as we journey into what may seem as the darkest parts of our lives, even as we journey to death, we are not alone.  God has promised to light the way for us, and he sent his Son to show how death and darkness have no power over us.

This is the light of God, that his light is never extinguished, and our journeys will only bring us to a greater light, an eternal light, blessed with all the love that God can shower upon us.

Light

Posted: September 4, 2013 in Faith, Grace
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

night-light-500

Scarlett, like many children, needs a nightlight in her room. But being the girl she is, one night light is not enough. She needs two (it would be more if we let her, but we don’t want the place light up like a runway at night). So when she goes to bed, she makes sure to tell us to leave the hall light on, then checks that both nightlights are plugged in and ready to go.

Light represents safety for her. When the light is on, there is she is more comfortable and the darkness is not as scary. When looking at life through the eyes of a child, it is no wonder that the light/darkness images appear in the gospels as much as they do. Darkness is the scary stuff in life – evil, chaos, frightening things – and light is the good stuff – hope, peace the presence of God.

We all go through times of darkness in our lives. We walk through those “darkest valleys” often fearing what may be lurking out there and where we may be going.

But we have the ultimate nightlight in our lives as well. That wonderful, never-ending presence of God who brings the light of his presence, grace, and love to us in amazing ways. Sometimes our darkenss may be shattered by a call from someone unexpected; sometimes it may be broken by the loving touch of a friend; and sometimes it may disappear with a God moment either big or small that tells us that God is right here, with us now, and blessing us with what we need to make it every day.

So may you see that sliver of light shining in your life. May your darkness give way to the light of God. And may you always be blessed with the knowledge that you are loved, cared for and needed by the one who created all and loves you to the end.

Joy

Posted: June 23, 2013 in Faith, Family, Grace, Life
Tags: , , , ,

 

Okay, I will admit it – there are times I get depressed. There are times I feel down and the happiness and joy of life seems to be missing. There are also times that I am passive about trying to feel better, just waiting for someone or something to come by and pick me up.

 

I read a quote from Joyce Meyer today – Stop giving others the job of making you happy.

 

Too often, I think, we are passive when it comes to joy and happiness. Too often we expect others to come to our rescue and make things better. When, instead, we need to take the step forward ourselves. We need to do something a little different, look at life from a  different perspective, and realize that they joy, the happiness, the blessings of life are there and have been there the entire time.

 

So now, when I get in a funk and feel a little down, I take a look at my girls (like in the picture above) and my wife and my friends and my life and see all of the blessings that I have been blessed with. I also physically move myself to another place to get a new perspective and I don’t rely on others to make me happy.

 

So today, what are you going to do to see the joy in life?

Dreams

Posted: June 12, 2013 in Faith, Family, Grace, Life
Tags: , , , ,

 

As I have mentioned before, there are some nights when I am locking in battle with insomnia. I lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking of everything that needs to get done and trying to figure out ways to get it done rather than falling asleep. These can be long nights and the mornings always come way too quickly.

 

Quite often, during these nights, my mind turns to dreams – dreams I have for the future – dreams of what I want to accomplish – dreams of what I want to see during my journey here. Some of these dreams are realistic, and others are just pipe dreams, but I dream them anyway.

 

Dreams are important. They help all of us to set goals and look beyond the immediate nature of today. It is good to have dreams, and to make time to try and find ways to achieve these dreams. But, as I have come to notice, sometimes we get so caught up in dreams for the future that we neglect the gifts we are given today. We are looking down the road and miss seeing what is happening right here and now. So the question is, how do we combine the life we live today with the dreams we have for tomorrow.

 

Back in college, my friends and I would talk about what we would do after we graduated. After graduation, we talked about where we would be in ten years. Now, some of my friends talk about what they will do when they are retired. But what about now? Are we trying to just make it up another rung on the ladder, or are we rejoicing in the blessing of today? There needs to be a happy medium somewhere.

 

For me, the key has come with the issue of time. We only have so much of it, and we need to take full advantage of what we have been given. Taking time to be with the people we love and to do the things we love to do. When we do that, the other dreams fall into place, for we see that all the other stuff – trips, cabins in the woods, etc – are made so much better when we live those dreams out with the people we love.

 

Humans were created to be in relationship with others. Those relationships take many different forms, but are all important. We need to make time to help these relationships grow in the healthiest ways possible, rejoice in the gift of them, and celebrate the dreams we have with others.

 

So what are your dreams for today?

canada lake

Ever get in a funk and just can’t seem to get out of it?

I’ve had days like that. Days when it seems like no matter what I do I just cannot get out of the bad mood I am in, and even the littlest things set me off.

I don’t like those days. I want to be able to change my mood.

I had been reading through some stuff and ran across a line from Tony Robbins: Emotion is created by motion.

Basically what he is saying is that if you want to change your mood, your emotional state, many times what you need to do is get active, to do something.

Michael Hyatt, a leadership expert, said if you don’t believe this then try this little example:

Slouch in your chair.
Round your shoulders.
Take shallow breaths.
Close your eyes.
Frown and then sigh.

If you do this there is a good chance you will start to feel down right away. What you do physically can effect how you feel emotionally.

And it is the same for feeling positive, for changing your mood for the better. Here are a few things I do to help get me out of my bad moods:

1- Get up and get out for a walk. Just leaving the space I am in and doing something different, even if it is just a walk around the sanctuary on a cold day, makes a huge difference in how I am feeling.

2 – Think back to a good thing that has happened during the week. No matter how bad or tough my week has been, there is always at least one thing that has been good and positive. I take some time to focus on that moment.

3 – TAPS prayers – TAPS stands for Thanks, Ask, Praise, and Supplication. I take a moment to pray through the TAPS prayers because it helps to move me away from focus on self only and lift up the good things and others that are in my life.

4 – Music – I crank up my i-pod with the most upbeat music I can find. Again it takes me out of that moment and brings me to a different place where things are better.

So if you need a change of mood, push yourself to do something a little different, a little more physical, so that you can make the move into a more positive area. May your eyes always be opened to the blessings of God in your life.

 

I number of years ago I heard this phrase, and it has stuck with me – EGO = Edging God Out.

There are many times in all of our lives when we think we know best – we think we have the one and only answer – we think we know the right direction to go. And quite often, this really is our ego getting in the way. As humans we often want to be right, because it avoids embarrassment and having to say we were wrong. And yes, I am as guilty as that as anyone.

I told this story in a sermon a number of years ago, but it illustrates the point well.

It was my first Sunday at my first call, and one of the teenage girls walked up to me and said, “We are going on a trip in the summer. Everything is planned, and you are coming with us.” What else could I say but, okay, what are we doing. The plan was to go to Glacier National Park, go whitewater rafting, and then head to an Indian Reservation to paint a church and teach VBS

It was a long drive, the kids got rowdy, and soon the teasing began. After first pit stop, the cars divided up by gender, the girls in two cars, boys in the other two. Well, we made it to Glacier and had a lot of fun rafting. When we finished on the water, we started to head to my friend’s church that we were staying at for the night. We stopped for gas, and I did something I shouldn’t have.

One of the ladies driving a van full of girls asked me – Do you want a map?

I turned to her, and in my most defiant voice said – I don’t need a map, I know where I am going.

Oops!

So we started out, and yes, I made a wrong turn. I even knew it was a wrong turn about five miles down the road, but did I admit it, NO! EGO

I kept going, hoping that there would be a turn somewhere I could take to get back on the right road. Plus, the boys in my car said – you can’t let the women see you were wrong.

We wound up in the middle a cow pasture.

So, I turned around and started down another road. Then, here comes the girls lead van. As it passes by I notice there is a note in window. It said – We are women, we have a map, follow us!

Ego – it gets in the way sometimes, and when it does, we get lost and need that guidance to get back on the right path. It is not always easy to ask for help, but we need to because we are not perfect, we do make mistakes, and we need others to support, care for, and guide us at times.

May all of us have the courage to ask for help when we need it, and may our ego’s take a backseat to God’s will for us.

 

025.JPG

 

I don’t know which of the four worship services at Our Savior’s you tend to gravitate towards most often, but I usually find myself in a pew at the 11 a.m. service. For me it’s not a preference of style of music, or even the ability to sleep in on Sunday (which I secretly enjoy), but I appreciate the small group and the laid back nature of the service. There’s a beautiful way we share the creed that’s unlike what I’ve experienced before – it’s sung in an upbeat fashion that is unique yet sacred. It’s refreshing.

 

Yesterday we had an overwhelming experience at the 11 a.m. service. There were six children gathered at the font to receive the waters of baptism. I’ve seen and experienced countless baptisms over the years. But this was the first time I noticed how awesome it was to see the light. There were so many children up there it took three people to prepare the candles to share with them and their sponsors. It looked a bit like a miniature candlelight service. What a gift their presence was to us yesterday.

 

Eugene Peterson’s translation of Matthew 5:14 is beautiful. He writes, “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.” Yesterday was a good reminder for me to pay attention to the light. And to wonder, for myself, and to invite you to consider in your life, how am I carrying the Savior’s light in my heart? Even though I miss the mark sometimes, and maybe you do too, I trust that the Savior’s light is at work in the tapestries of our lives “bringing out the God-colors in the world.” I love that baptism is just the beginning.