Thursday, July 25, 2019

Christmas in July!

It is 110 degrees in Las Vegas, and it’s time to get your Christmas sweaters out!   This week we are celebrating Christmas in July at Community Lutheran!  It may seem a bit cheesy… (And it probably is!)  However, it has been fun to dust off some of the Christmas decorations, and I think there may be some real value in considering how this old story affects us today…

Listen to the words of the Angel:

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy for all the people…
-Luke 2:10

This familiar line from Luke chapter 2 is forever etched on my heart.  I grew up in the church, and whenever this chapter of the Bible was read I felt a certain amount of joy and anticipation.  Even in the middle of July, just one line can stir something inside of me. 

It is also important to remember that the first Christmas arrived when people least expected it.  The Roman Empire controlled everything.  The people of Israel were oppressed and hope was fading.  The baby, the manager, and the shepherds all represented the bottom rung of society.  Yet that is exactly when hope arrived!

Today you may feel far from the magic of Christmas.  Sometimes we don’t feel like we have received any good news.  Just this week, I heard some very unexpected news of sickness and death.  There are days when it is hard for the Good News to overcome the bad.  However, the Christmas story isn’t just for a season.  It doesn’t last just one day.  It arrives every day, in the good and bad.  Today I hope you can take a little time and look for Christ.  I pray that you would be able to find a little hope in a world that dwells on the hopeless.  May you see that God is with you!

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Brian

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hospitality and Hope

What does hospitality look like to you?
Can you think a moment when you felt welcomed?
What does it mean to be accepted, loved, and even cherished?

When I was in college, I worked at a Lutheran camp in Colorado for a couple summers.  I did not know anyone else at this camp very well.  I just headed west and hoped my gifts could be utilized.  Trying something new can be a risk, and up and to that point in my life, I had never imagined myself as a leader in ministry… I was just a chemistry major who wanted to go to the mountains and serve. J

I love being welcomed by this guy!!
When I arrived at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp, I was embraced by an incredible staff.  There was an environment on site that valued everyone’s gifts and encouraged us to be all that God called us to be.  I met many wonderful people who changed my life forever, and I also learned the power of hospitality.  I was embraced by the warmth of others, and I was part of a staff that offered hospitality week after week to a new group of campers. 

The Bible will often speak of the power of hospitality.  There is something sacred about welcoming another.  Throughout the scriptures we learn welcoming others welcomes God.  In our scripture text this week, two women find their own unique ways to welcome Christ.  I have to admit that going home and being welcomed enthusiastically by a dancing 4 year old and a screaming 11 month old is almost always the best part of my day!  Grace and hospitality are gifts we can all share.  I hope we can take a little time and share these sacred gifts with our world!



Thursday, July 11, 2019

Choose to Love

Where do you feel called?

Is there a time when you feel God present and working within you?

These are incredibly important questions for people of faith, and I believe God is constantly calling us to grow in our walk with Christ.  Nevertheless, I personally admit that I rarely give these questions the space they deserve.  I just get wrapped up in the day to day experience of life, and I regularly need something to open my eyes to the Spirit’s work! 

A couple weeks ago, I was on a trip with the youth group in Los Angeles.  Now, I believe you do not have to travel to serve God, but there is something sacred about setting aside a bit of time to join other people to serve, pray, and love.

Called to serve in LA!
I grew a lot that week just by watching the kids love their neighbor and love each other.  Grace abounds on this trip, and the kids inspired me to intentionally leave space to look at my neighbor with love.  (As youth mission trips go, the kids also took time to share plenty of drama and a few weird smells too, but that is all part of the journey.J)

Wherever you are, I hope you believe you have a special calling right now.  Jesus tells us in our scripture this week that we always have opportunities to love.  There are times I feel like my life is mundane… Sometimes the most exciting thing is discovering what strange new rash the kids have, or how many times did their bowels move? (Seriously, I call my wife for updates!)  But we are all in a different place, and my family is certainly part of my calling!  Today, I hope you can be present… right here and right now.  I hope I can believe in power of this moment, instead of dismissing it.  God’s Holy Spirit is before us today!  Let’s choose to embrace the gifts that are given!