Monthly Archives: May 2012

Going Out To Where There’s Need

At the BC Synod Convention, this month in New Westminster, our church discussed “being church” for this day and age.  Alan Roxburgh, of The Missional Network, was invited to speak at a couple of sessions of the convention.  If I could sum up what he said in one sentence about church-mission for today – and perhaps filter it through what I’ve experienced as where the church needs to go these days – it would be: “determine the need of the community – even disregarding the church’s desires for the future – and go and meet that need.”

In a poem I wrote a few years ago, I said that the we, in the church, fear our own demise.  Why is that?  I mean, of course, let’s not get suicidal – but why are we so scared of death?  As Christians – as ones who believe in resurrection life – why does dying to the way we’ve known scare us so much?

It seems to me that we need to connect with groups that work at meeting need.  And that’s the beginning.  If we can connect with, even hold up and support, groups that are working to meet needs in our communities, we can get a real sense of what it is to engage in need in our local contexts.  Then, our mission as the wider church, and as local congregations, becomes that need-meeting kind of work!

The thing is, it also means giving ourselves away.  Obviously, that means going places we haven’t gone before.  We’ve been able to make it pretty comfortably to this point by expecting people will be here to support our church-efforts and church-structures.  No one can remember a time when the church struggled for existence.  But the church has struggled for existence before – and it did ministry differently in that day.  It’s struggling for existence now, and we must engage in ministry differently than we have been.

You’ve probably heard me use this quote before… Walter Brueggeman identifies five primary marks of the Christian life (he draws upon the writings of Paul).  We are to be generous, be hospitable, not covet, not be vengeful and observe Sabbath rest.  If we did those primary things, all the secondary issues would evaporate because we wouldn’t have time for them!

If we can let go, step out in faith, and engage in ministry with those needing our compassion, our grace, our patience, and love, imagine how we could change the world!  And we don’t do it with conditions or questions – we don’t go out to meet need only if the one we help commits to being in church on Sunday morning; we don’t offer help only if it means that eventually the one helped will be contributing in the offering plate.  We must step out in faith by giving of ourselves – sharing of our individual resources so that our congregations might share of their collective resources.  We must step out in faith by showing hospitality in the most radical way – welcoming and inviting people like us and people not like us, without judgment or attempt to change, and we must find it in ourselves as individuals to welcome in this way so that our congregations and wider church structures might also be radically hospitable and welcoming!  We must look beyond our desires and wants for the future and for the church structures we’ve created so that we can see need that is more pressing, need that is more imminent, need that means life or death for someone else.  And if we can work to meet need, and work for life for all people, we may find ourselves doing Jesus’ work in the world!

May, 2012 – Paradox newsletter

From the Pastor…

“Walking the way, Christ in the center telling the story to open our eyes; breaking our bread, giving us glory: Jesus our blessing, our constant surprise.(Worship hymnal #377)

Sometimes I am asked how Lutherans read the Bible.  It is key, in a Lutheran reading of Hebrew or Christian scriptures, to read ‘through a lens of Christ,’ which means, if something doesn’t fit with the way and teaching of Jesus, it is of secondary importance and not vital to a life of faith.

The words of the hymnist remind us of walking the way: we are to live what we say we believe.  As you may know, early Christians were not called ‘Christian,’ but ‘followers of the way.’  In effect, it’s a far more challenging identity – do we follow in the way Jesus lived?  Do we hold up the needs of all, especially those who may be oppressed or living in poverty?  Do we give up ourselves for the sake of the greater good?  Do we deny ourselves?

Our sacraments – Baptism and Communion – remind us of our connection to life, our connection to each other. We all enter into life in the same way and are part of the great web of life, and we celebrate that, and acknowledge the gift that life is, in Baptism.  We recognize that we all need sustenance on the way – food, shelter, clothing, but also friendship, compassion, peace – and we celebrate that, and experience receiving from the same cup and loaf, in Communion.

Our challenge, as we go into the world, is to live in these society-confronting ways.  To live as followers of Jesus’ way is to keep all in mind, and to show compassion.
-Pastor Tyler Gingrich

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THANK YOU…

– to Katrina and Peter, and Delores for soup on April 15th!

– to Karen and Jesse for their participation in the Easter Vigil and representing All Saints

– to Roy for his part in organizing the Good Friday walk, and for helping with Souper Sundays

to Wally and Vern for their words of wisdom in reading-introductions and conversational sermons

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FAITH IS ABOUT QUESTIONS

The Eternal Truth Inside

the Myths of Resurrection and Ascension

Over history the resurrection stories of the various gospels have flowed together in the common mind until their differences have become totally blurred and their content blended into a kind of harmony that a careful reading of these texts will not sustain. I have tried to separate them, but in order to make the stories complete I need to point to a uniquely Lucan narrative which many people confuse with the resurrection. I refer to the story of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Why Luke needed to develop the ascension story is itself noteworthy. More than any writer before him, Luke transformed the resurrection into a physical, literal account of a resuscitated body. When Luke has Jesus appear to the disciples for the first time, they think they are seeing a ghost. To counter this nonphysical interpretation, Luke has Jesus invite them to touch his hands and feet. Ghosts or spirits do not have flesh and bones, he argues. It is a very physical claim. Then this risen, non-ghostlike Jesus asks for food. He is provided with a piece of broiled fish, which he eats, thus demonstrating that his gastrointestinal system is working fully. Then he does for them what he had previously done for Cleopas in Luke’s first resurrection narrative – he “open[s] their minds to understand the scriptures” and provides the disciples with their missionary marching orders: “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached…to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” He then commands the disciples to stay in the city until they are “clothed with power from on high” (24:44-50). Only then does Jesus part from them (v. 51).

John Shelby Spong, Jesus for the Non-Religious, pp.125-126

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“There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Celebration of Ministry

 Saturday, June 9

1pm – service

2:30-5:30 – potluck/social

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Ascension Day Church Music Festival

Thursday, May 17th, 7pm at Christian Reformed Church!

All Saints hosts this seventh, annual, ecumenical celebration of song!

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Worship Leaders in May…

May 6 – Lector – ________; Host – Plamondon; Liturgist – Myrle

May 13 – (11am at Christ Lutheran); Lector – Lynette

Thursday, May 17 – Hosts: Plamondon, Stebner, Whiteman

May 20 – (soup) Sundmark, Gingrich

May 27 – (10:30am at Highlands) Lector – _______; Liturgist – _______

can you help by filling in a blank? email: pastor@allsaintslutheranchurch.com

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see our online calendar for dates/times of events!