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!!
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.”
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.
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.
Red Lodge Community Church - A place where Spirit and so much more happens!
308 S. Broadway
Red Lodge, Montana