Thursday, January 7, 2021

To go beyond our minds...

What is going through your mind today?


In the midst of all that has happened this week:


I know some people who are angry.

I know some people are heartbroken.

I know some people are called to deeper reflection.

And I know some people are searching for others who they can blame.


There are so many people in this world who are in such different places of life. Sometimes I wonder how healing can ever come... How can I move toward the people who see the world so differently than I do? I believe the Bible calls us to reach out in love toward our neighbor, but there are days when I don’t know if this is possible.


In the Gospels, there is a very important word that Jesus uses. In Greek, the word is Metanoia.  It is often translated as “repent” but a better translation is “to change one’s heart” or more directly “to go beyond your mind.”  The word Metanoia is one of the first words that Jesus says in his public ministry. I think it is a call for all of us to look beyond what we already have. We are called to look beyond our tribe and really take the time to get to know our neighbors. Instead of simply seeking the knowledge that will confirm our own biases, let us respond to Christ’s Word with hope and love. Jesus stood against hatred and violence by noticing the humanity in others… even his enemies.




If we choose to really love all people and truly see one another as human beings, then we have the ability to to see a glimpse of God’s Kingdom. Instead of giving in to anger, blame, or heartbreak, let us move toward Christ’s Love. Can we move toward new relationships and new opportunities to get to know others in the hope that Christ will show up? This may not always have the results we want, but I believe we shouldn’t underestimate the small but powerful ways Christ may be working. Let us be a church of peace and hope, NOT a church that blames others. Let us stand against violence by loving our neighbor. Let us see beyond our minds…


In Christ,



Brian Ward


Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Candle of Love

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing…



This week we will light the fourth candle on the Advent wreath:  the candle of love.  People talk about love all the time.  It fills Bible verses, songs, movies, and almost anything else you can think of.  Sometimes it can seem almost too cliche to talk about.  Even amazing passages from the Bible can start to lose their power.  There are just too many examples of broken relationships, and families and friendships that have lost hope of any kind of reconciliation.  Love seems like a wonderful word, but what power does it really have?


There are moments in my house when the kids are refusing to brush their teeth, put their clothes on, or sit down in their car seats.  I can get pretty exasperated trying to get them to do anything, but they are perfectly happy right where they are.  Perhaps one day they will start to learn how to listen and prepare for the day better.  However, I may be able to learn from them too.  They can appreciate the love and joy right where they are at.  They don’t need too much at all… They can just enjoy the simple things.


Sometimes the greatest gifts that love can share are in the still small moments of life. We do not have to spend our lives chasing after something God has already shared.  The Bible teaches us that love surrounds us right here and right now.  My prayer for all of us is to embrace all the gifts we have.  May we receive the love God has for us with open hearts, and cherish each moment we are in!


Blessings!



Pastor Brian


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Peace on the Advent Journey

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

-John 16:33


The season of Advent is a journey.  Long ago, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem.  They were not able to take much with them when they set out, and they expected their journey to end with more taxes, more oppression, and more poverty.  However, they did bring several very important gifts with them:  Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.  


Today we still prepare our hearts in this season of Advent.  We may have more wealth and power than Mary and Joseph ever did, but it is also important to ask if we really have what matters?  This week we are taking a look at the spiritual gift of peace.  Jesus never promised to make our lives easy.  However, Jesus did promise to love us in the midst of the tribulations.  Jesus promised to always be present, and if we open ourselves to this love, then I believe we can bring real peace to this world.


Today I hope you can all find a little peace in your hearts, and I hope you can find some way to share this.  Don’t get caught up trying to move mountains or saving the entire planet.  Just ask if there is any way to bring a little peace to your life.


I was taking some time with my family last week, and honestly it was less than peaceful.  Our two year old was refusing to put pants on, and the screaming was getting out of control.  :)  We were setting up our Advent wreath, and it looked a little strange since the candles had sat out in the garage all summer and melted into some pretty weird shapes. (Oops!) However, we wound up just cherishing a few moments of love around the candles.  The boys wound up laughing and playing together, and I saw just a bit of God’s peace that day.  



God is working in this world.  I hope we can all open our hearts and see it!


Blessings!


Brian


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Christ the King

This week has been a whirlwind.  My wife started a new job, my kindergartner started several new projects for school, and my two year old… well he was busy just being a two year old.  To top all of this off, the whole house was exposed to Covid-19 so we had to do all of this while quarantined in our house.  


I can obviously think of a lot of things to complain about, but we are in the midst of a sermon series at CLC all about being thankful.  There will always be challenges in this world… Jesus knew this, and he told his followers this would be the case.  However, Jesus also prayed that his people would come together to face the trials of the world alongside one another.


Today we live in a time of physical separation, but we are still a church.  We are still united through the body of Christ, and this weekend we are celebrating the glory of Christ the King.  This is also the last week of the church calendar year.  The cycle starts over next week as we begin the season of Advent.  




As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded of so many times when the trials got the better of us.  Instead of working together, we pushed each other apart.  However, this week we remember that Jesus is King.  God is in charge, and my hope is that we would all open our hearts to the love Christ offers.  Let’s look for ways to see the glory of Christ in the world around us.  Let us find hope in the world!


Blessings!


Brian


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Living with Gratitude

 Are you living with a spirit of Thanksgiving?

 There is a lot going on in the world today… elections, corona virus, economic uncertainty… It is easy to get distracted by all of it.  In my family we have also been dealing with the fallout of the time change.  I know there must be somebody out there who looks forward to flipping the clocks an hour back or an hour forward, but I am not one of these people.  Even in the fall, when we should gain an extra hour, I feel like I still lose.  Instead of sleeping in, my kids just wake up an hour earlier! (It’s a cruel twist of fate to always lose an hour!) However, earlier this week, when I was trying to get my two year old to go back to sleep for a few more minutes, he looked right at me and said, “I love you daddy… Let’s go eat.” I guess it struck me in that moment that there will always be things I can complain about, but I should probably be thankful!


 This week, Community Lutheran is continuing a sermon series all about gratitude and thanksgiving.  We are asking what is on your heart.  Are you upset? Afraid of an uncertain future? Excited? Angry?  Emotions are a gift, and I believe it is good to embrace them and understand them.  However, I do not believe we should spend our lives being ruled by our emotions.  At the heart of everything is the all-powerful love of God.  This is a love that we can always embrace, and we can also share. 

 Blessings!

 

Pastor Brian

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Reform in the Church

 Happy Reformation everyone!  This weekend we are celebrating the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.  Five Hundred years ago a German monk named Martin Luther opened his heart to the Spirit.  The church at that time did not sing together with hymns.  It did not preach in the language of the people.  Communion was not shared freely with the everyday person.  Luther trusted God, and he believed the church could be so much more. 

 Today it is easy to feel that the church is confined.  Personally, the corona virus has left me feeling like my hands are tied in so many different ways.  I want the church to be something more.  However, Reformation is a day where we remember that the church always goes through difficult times.  In the Bible, the people of Israel had times of victory, and they had many moments when everything fell apart.  Their temple was destroyed.  The people lost their homeland.  Everything seemed hopeless.  However, the story is one of hope.  The Holy Spirit continued to work, in spite of chaos all around.

 

 In the past year, the world has changed so much, but God is still in charge.  I have spoken to people who have become involved in our church in new ways.  I have seen the church reach an unprecedented number of people.   I have been able to share some incredible moments with my own family.  God is still here, but we will always need our hearts to be open to the Spirit’s work in these changing times. 

 Today I hope you will let your hearts be opened.  I hope you will experience what new life means.  God is working in you.  Let’s celebrate this good news.

 Peace,

 

Brian Ward

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Stop... Listen... Look

 This week at Community Lutheran we are continuing our sermon series entitled KCLC Radio, and this week we are featuring the 1967 hit by Buffalo Springfield:  For What It's Worth.  Personally, I feel like this song is very recognizable, or at least the chorus is:

I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down 

It is a pretty catchy tune, but the words are also filled with some very valuable lessons that show up in the Bible:  Stop… Listen… Look…  Jesus even tells us not to rush to conclusions.  Are there times in your life that you need to allow a little space for the Holy Spirit to move?

Jesus said to the disciples and us, “But when the Spirit of truth, comes,
it will guide you into all truth. It will not speak on its own; but will speak only what it
hears, and it will tell you what is yet to come. 

I know I find myself rushing from one thing to another every day.  No matter how early I wake up, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for everything.  Every morning I try to start my day with a workout.   Next, I make breakfast and feed the kids.  Then I try to help get the kids dressed, brush their hair, and feed them their second breakfast.  After that, we have to change their outfits because they got dirty, search for their missing shoes, brush their teeth, and by this time they are hungry again.  Life can move pretty fast, and regardless of how your life may look, it is important to stop and breathe.  The Holy Spirit is working in our lives, but we do have to take a moment and experience it.

I am blessed in countless ways every day.  I can see amazing acts of kindness, love, and mercy, but I need to slow down a bit to really cherish it.

Today I hope you can all allow the Holy Spirit to move in your lives.  I hope you feel the presence of God, and I hope you can all share a bit of God’s love today!

Blessings!

 

Brian Ward