The Confirmation Class has begun their mission work! They are raising funds for blankets through Church World Service. Each student will be trying to raise the MOST funds...and the one who succeeds gets to have their own success shared with Pastor Pam. If Eliza comes out on top, Pastor Pam has to bake her bread. If Samarra is the top fund raiser, Pastor Pam has to make her Rice Krispie Treats. And Mason...well...Mason has challenged Pastor Pam to cracking raw eggs on her head...in public!! So support these great mission-focused students by going to the "Giving" link on our website and selecting which student you would like to support. The blankets are $30.00 each. The mission campaign will run until August 15. Good luck, Confirmation Students!!
Did you miss the outdoor worship service at Kaleva last Sunday? If you did and you'd like to watch it, you can view the video of the service on our website. Just click the link and scroll down to the video. Yes! It DID rain!! :) But, it was all wonderful!!
Proverbs 16: 3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Do you find yourself wafting between these two verses like I do? One day it feels like everything is going right and then the next day…the Plague of Frogs has descended on our plans. One minute we are rejoicing in the sun and then next day we are grumbling when we see our newly planted pansies covered and frozen in snow. One day we were all rejoicing in worship and then the next day we were trying to figure out how to log on to FaceBook just to see a familiar face…and FaceBook needs a password.
Make a plan and watch God laugh, they say. That doesn’t sound much like the proverbial success that we were planning on, does it? I sometimes that if I hear one more person say, “This is the new normal” I will just sit down and…and…and what? Scream? Cry? Laugh until I cry?
We know that we want to “get back to” where we left off on March 16. And we know that we can’t. So, then, what do we do? In this time of lament and laughter we do need to re-group and go back to what we were working on and look to the Lord in our commitments. Look to the Lord in our questions, curiosities and hesitations. Look to the Lord in all that we were doing so that we know how to ask, “Have you forsaken me…or strengthened me?”
During a time of mediation this week God reminded me through that still small voice that I have the tools that it takes to get through whatever comes my way. Tools to think deeply, reflect mightily and ask myself the tough questions. And one of those tools is indeed the ability to lament. It is also the ability to laugh at the smallest of blessings…especially the still small voice that guides me. As we go forward let me remind you that it is OKAY to lament…and then laugh. Though these two verses seem to be the ones that I find myself reciting almost daily, the one that bubbles up from within the lament is Ecclesiastes 3, “There is a time for every season under the sun.” Right now we make plans and watch God laugh. That’s our season, and I am here with you…right smack dab in the middle of it with you, lament and laughter and all.
When the Spirit overwhelms us, we must respond. When we are frozen in place and cannot move, that is when we must listen. Just sit and listen. We cannot move and yet we must respond.
Silence everything and wait for Wisdom to raise her mighty head, and we will see the direction that She is leading us to, the direction to go in. Just wait. And then respond. The direction comes so clearly that we feel that when we move, we are moving in a dream. We will ask, “Is this a dream? Am I really doing this?” and we will receive confirmation that we are doing the right thing.
This takes work. Work to separate ourselves from asking for advice, from seeking a sign. We move forward in a way that is mystical and yet real. And when we have done what Spirit has told us to do… yes told us, not asked us, we will know that we have done the right thing.
As we wander through this life, we are not in it alone, we are in it together. Together with Spirit and the other. The other who needs us to listen and respond. This is not about us. It is not about what we want or need. It is about what the other needs and Spirit knows that and draws us into the relationship of care.
Spirit comes to us in Truth. A Truth that is as pure and unselfish as the love that confounds us and confuses us all. A love that sometimes we doubt, question, and run from. But it is through love that Spirit speaks, and that love is not selfish, it is all encompassing.
Let yourselves act in confidence…through Spirit, Truth and love.
Have you missed the church calendar and wondered what's happening in the RLCC virtual church world? Well, we have created a "virtual" calendar to help you find out! You can check it out and/or download a copy of the calendar here. Enjoy!
Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains-- where does my help come from?”
“It is DONE!” The three favorite words of any student looking at a looming assignment. For me it was my Environmental Ethics paper… all 5000 words of it. It is such a good feeling of accomplishment when we can say, “It is DONE!” For many of us we have taken on tasks while being sequestered at home during this pandemic. Things like cleaning out closets, washing windows and cleaning up our yards. After each task is completed, we stand back and say, “It is DONE!”
That is how I felt this afternoon when my “word counter” hit 5085. DONE. SEND. RELAX…and then…repeat. The next two papers are not as long or detailed, but I know that after each one I will say, “It is DONE.”
We are all looking forward to the day when we can look COVID19 in the face and say, “YOU ARE DONE.” But what we also must realize is that we are going to continue with those next steps…relax…repeat. What?? Repeat?! Yes, we now realize the ease and extent of how a pandemic works. The scientists and theologians both agree…we will be repeating this someday. This is just the beginning of a new way of the world. No longer is it just the flu that we must be aware of.
How do we relax then? I know that once my doctorate is finished it will be another item on my long list of lifelong goals checked off, not unlike cleaning out my closets, so I can relax. But knowing that somewhere out there on the horizon is another pandemic looming? I look to the Word for my instruction on how to relax. And I lift up my eyes to the mountains, knowing that God will move them for us…again. This morning as I shared my thoughts on Good Morning, Red Lodge I realized that I said that the mountain had moved out of the mist. And I did not correct myself. God can and will move the mountains for us.
We just have to relax…and stand still long enough to see them move.
May God’s peace surround you as you relax…and stand still long enough in trust that God will move that next mountain just like God has all of the others before this one.
1 Thessalonians 2:17 (NRSV) “As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.”
Oh how we long to see one another…and we wait for that day when we can once again join TOGETHER in worship, meal and celebration!
Knowing that our community needed to “keep our spirits up” until that time, Bill (the Mayor) and I (the Minister) came up with the idea for a “positivity” campaign. With the help of Junction7 we have been able to plaster our “Together we can do this!” signs all over Red Lodge and those signs are now finding their way across the country. (Please note that this was a personal endeavor and we are funding it through our own donations and those from the community, not the city or the church.)
While this campaign came out of a sense of relationship and community, I can’t help but see the spiritual connections that are celebrated as well. First, we followed a nudge to talk about this as a possibility (ok, so we talk for hours on end every day…so that’s not a stretch), but when this idea “clicked” it was at the very same moment. The nudge had done her work yet again.
We are all longing for a return to our “place” of worship and celebration. We are yearning to be reunited with friends and family, a “yearn to return,” if you will, to what we once knew. “Longing with great eagerness” as Paul put it, to see each other face to face. In the meantime, we are blessed with the technology of Facebook, FaceTime and other social media platforms to “see” each other as best we can.
Some of the conveniences of those technologies will continue long after the “Stay at Home” orders are lifted. Some of the discoveries about quiet reflection time, long walks and home cooked meals will become our new normal. Some of the delightful things that we’ve discovered under the guise of being sequestered for long afternoons we will then yearn for when our doors are once again open to the public.
Separation creates a yearning of the heart that brings us together in a way that is challenging, especially when we do not have an end date. So as we continue this time apart, we know that “Together we can do this!” Together in thought, prayer and technology. Together in our yearning and in our new discoveries. Together in our hearts, minds and souls.
Together with you in every way,
“One protection we desire: that we not stumble in this life.”
From the Prayer of Thanksgiving
Every time that I approach my truck from the berm side to clean off the windshield, I am aware of the unstable-ness of my left knee. I can’t tell how deep the snow is before I hit ground and I’m not sure of what is under the snow…ice, stone, water…so I take a deep breath and very carefully plant my foot and make sure I’m stable before taking a good long reach across the windshield to clear the snow and pray under my breath, “Oh Lord don’t let me stumble.”
In this time of uncertainty, that has become my regular prayer. “Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble.” I want to get my sense of running through life with a certain feel of reckless abandon back. Like that of my granddaughter Kora in this picture, I want to just pick up my feet, spread out my arms and run like there’s nothing that is going to send me sprawling flat on my face. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want my pace to be uninhibited by a fear of making a mistake that will hurt someone. I find myself measuring my words before they leave my usually unfiltered mouth. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want my steps to take me places without having to look down and watch each one. I find myself hesitating before answering a question or giving an opinion. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want to have un-checked conversations about the future that go late into the night without fearing I’m being misunderstood. “Lord, do not let me stumble.” I want to pour out my praise to God without checking it to see if it’s praising God for something that I have that has brought pain to someone who lost it. “Lord, do not let me stumble.”
I have been trained and educated for disasters, including pandemics, for over a decade. And yet, here we are and all I can think is, “Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble.”
For me, the key to not stumbling is to be stabilized in my trust. Trust of God, trust of myself, and trust of the other. Trust that the ground beneath me may move, shift and be altered…and that God will lift me back up when I fall. I will be lifted by not only my strength, but by the strength of the one who discovers that I have stumbled along the way.
“Oh Lord, don’t let me stumble…and when I do, thank you for giving me someone to lift me back up.”
Did you enjoy last Wednesday's music from Red Lodge Community Church? If you did, or you missed it, you can listen again on our "Watch - Worship Services, Music, and Sermons" page!
The video offered below is a Public Service Announcement with safety tips for grocery shopping and bringing home take out food. We hope it serves you well in this trying time.
If you missed the latest live stream worship service held by Pastor Pam on Facebook, or if you just want to watch it again, you can find the video on our "Watch a Sermon" page, as well as Pastor Pam's timeline.
Our new online giving page and process is all set up, tested, and ready to go. You can make online contributions to the Red Lodge Community Church on our Giving Page.
For those of you wanting to do text giving, we do have that process set up. As soon as it is tested, we'll provide you with that number.
Please join us Sunday morning at 10:00am on Facebook as we live stream our worship service! You can find us on Pastor Pam's timeline. This live stream event can be seen by anyone. You don't have to be a "Facebook friend" to enjoy it.
You can find the bulletin for Sunday's service here. Print it out at home or just use it online.
In response to the suggested protocols from the CDC for the CoVid 19 virus, and by agreement of the Congregation following today's worship, we will suspend live worship until Easter Sunday.
Pastor Pam, our Deacons and Musicians will be working on creating on-line worship throughout the week. The sanctuary will remain open for private meditation and the church office will remain open for church business throughout this time.
If you have any pastoral needs please call Pastor Pam's cell phone at 203-631-9994 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your prayers and support at this most challenging time.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
“but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Oh how I have missed writing The Nudge these last few weeks. It isn’t that the Spirit hasn’t been nudging me…oh my no. Those nudges are coming fast and strong, guiding and encouraging, holding and lifting me as I learn to fully live into this role of pastor, teacher, mentor, coach, student and person.
Person? What? Learning to live into being a person? Yes… actually, that has been one of the greatest works that I’ve been doing recently. Learning to fully accept the joy that comes from following that nudge, learning to trust myself in my decisions and celebrating life to the fullest. It also means doing the work of living in the present. The sign that hangs above my desk at home reads,
“The practice of staying present will heal you. Obsessing about how the future will turn out creates anxiety. Replaying broken scenarios from the past causes anger or sadness. Stay here, in the moment.”
Some of the nudges that I received over a year ago did not make sense at the time. Now they do. While I am working hard (really, really hard) at not “replaying broken scenarios from the past” it’s fun have those “aha” moments of, “Ohhhhhh THAT’S why I got that nudge that day….” and I am so glad that I followed it. So here I am, living fully into the nudge, fully into my person-ness, fully into this journey of discovery, adventure and spirit. I hope that you will continue to accompany me on this journey of joy.
(trigger warning, this blog post is about suicide)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest. (from Psalm 22)
I’m beginning to think that suicide is like polio, a disease that strikes us when we are least expecting it, with no warning and total devastation, except…we don’t have a Jonas Salk. And rarely do we get the chance for an iron lung.
I first learned of suicide as a “thing” when I was 11 years old. Someone’s uncle had died by suicide and I remember being mystified. Shortly after that the hit TV series M*A*S*H came out and the theme song, “Suicide is Painless” became a tune that we all hummed…without even realizing the words. And then when I was about 13 a close family member made their first suicide attempt…and I began life under the pall of the suicide threat for the next 30 years. My family member finally found the right kind of help and is still with us… for today. My own journey with suicidality lasted from 1996-1998; that was two very scary years that I hope never to repeat. With the right medication, a great psychiatrist and a good divorce attorney I got through it. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Our children are killing themselves. There’s no easy way to say that. As a Trauma Chaplain I held the hands of too many parents whose children had died by suicide. In the shock of the moment they were, and may very well still be, completely perplexed. On a rare occasion a family member would admit that there had been multiple attempts, but for the most part it was a first, and horrifically regrettable, only attempt.
We have absolutely no idea why the human brain decides to self-destruct. We know some of the stories; bullying, relationship failure, financial failure, addiction, pharmaceuticals, school failure, a host of mental illness diagnosis; but in the end we do not know what causes the human brain to choose death. It seems to simply self-destruct.
As I sit by my window in the early morning hours waiting for the sun to rise and the snow to start, I open my hometown paper…and there’s another one. 30 years old, a fellow classmate of my nephews from back home. Gone too soon. I text my daughter-in-law just to say hi…but really…it’s to check in…and I find myself humming an all too familiar tune…”Suicide is painless It brings on many changes”…but we can no longer take or leave it if we please…Amen.
From the Psalms…”Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, In the city of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King.”
I often wonder how “city folk” understand eco-spirituality when their lives are filled with constant noise and movement, concrete and metal, haze and light? How do they see the moon amongst the streetlights, the stars amongst the glow of the city? How do they smell spring with the smog and hear the birds amongst the din of traffic?
I’ve lived in two cities, Philadelphia and Hartford, and I remember how it felt to get a glimpse of a sunset or to hear a robin chirp. My heartbeat would quicken, and I would stop whatever I was doing to take it in. And I would wonder, “How do people live their whole lives in cities?” The Old Testament Scriptures speaks of cities as being “fortified” and a place of being “established.” In the beginning God might have created the Garden of Eden, but it didn’t take long for humankind to put up a gate and lay claim to the property rights. Zion is referred to as the “City of God.” One of my favorite hymns is “Marching to Zion,” where all the righteous march to the City of God. I’d rather be sitting in a field watching the moon rise through the trees or sitting along the creek bank listening to the rushing water and taking in the wonder of the mountains.
I realize that my opinion sounds like judgement against the city folks, but it is more of a curiosity about how we managed to get from a garden of perfection to a world of crisis. How much of that has to do with humankind’s need for fortification and establishment? And at what cost? This semester I am enrolled in “Environmental Ethics” and part of the requirement for that class is to sit and observe my neighborhood. I am thankful that my neighborhood is fortified with trees, deer, turkey and moose. I am thankful that my establishment allows for the free movement of friends, family and visitors. And while I sit and observe what I have around me, I cannot help but wonder, is this not the original intention for the City of God?
Red Lodge Community Church - A place where Spirit and so much more happens!
308 S. Broadway
Red Lodge, Montana