We, the members of the Genesee Lutheran Parish, in receiving God’s gracious gifts, are committed to be living examples of Jesus’ love by strengthening and encouraging each other. We commit to love every person and serve anyone we can through word and deed, following the example of our Lord.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

2019 Pentecost Sunday with Pastor Holly

Pastor Holly prayer over the burning flames that consumed the concerns, sins, and bad feelings which we had written down on paper flames and placed in the silver bowl. She asked that we never take back those words and never live with them again. What a lovely Pentecost Sunday!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

"Geeks and Greeks" podcast by Pastor Dave Deckard and Pastor Justin Timber____

I was listening to "Geeks and Greeks" a podcast by Dave and Justin, two Lutheran pastors, who discuss their ideas about religion:  A couple of irreverent reverends talking about faith, church, scripture, and life in general.  It's a little like Theo on Tap for pastors.  They have some really neat ideas...even doing Bible Study!  You may enjoy the 22 podcasts that they have already done since January.

You can also hear Dave's sermons at:  http://www.myboisechurch.org/

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

May 12 Message John 10:22-30

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John 10:22-30

22 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

May 12 Message
On Saturday after I had written and thrown out what was probably my fourth version of what to say I decided to use some of the things I learned while researching this gospel.  I came upon a site called working preacher.org. Working Preacher is a ministry brought to you by Luther Seminary. These people seem to be able to say it better than I am. I broke it down from different sermons to Faith and Doubt, Listening and Following. These things are taught in this gospel and they really do go hand in hand with each other since without one you really don’t have the others.
I am not sure where I found the part on Following, so I can not give credit to any one individual.
In the words of Karyn Wilson about Faith and Doubt:
Many in our communities of faith experience doubt. They doubt their abilities to overcome difficult situations, they doubt if they will make it through without succumbing to an old addiction, they doubt their friends or parents are aware of how much pain they are in, and they doubt God’s presence in their lives and their connections to God. Doubt and questioning are normal parts of our lives as people and as persons of faith.
When we acknowledge that reality from the pulpit and in our teaching, we give permission for people of faith to admit their doubt and make it normative. And we empower folks to claim their own journeys. So often in church we talk about faith and that is a powerful thing to talk about, but to not claim the flip side of faith, the perpetual travelling companion of faith -- doubt -- means we are not leaving room for the real life experiences of people. Even the most faithful have moments of doubt.
My grandmother used to say that “God never gives us more than we can handle. I just wish God didn’t have such faith in me.” It’s a common saying and for me it expresses the doubt she felt in handling things all on her own. Then she would immediately start telling us that she really was not alone in the journey.
Jesus is saying much the same thing. He is telling the doubters that he is one with God, that he knows his followers, and that they know him . He is continuing a strand of teaching from earlier in the chapter. He is using the same vivid image of sheep to describe his followers from the Good Shepherd passage. And he is declaring that he knows all who follow him and they know him for who he is. This is also a continuation of the questioning from the previous week’s text. Jesus is once again providing proof that his actions are sanctioned by God.
Again we hear the allusion to a thief coming to steal the sheep of Jesus’ flock, but his followers are protected by One who is more powerful than any thief coming to do them harm. There are two marks to being part of Jesus’ flock: hearing his voice and following him. The folks who are once again pestering him about his identity are not part of this flock.
You are preaching this text to people who have known hard times, who have been afflicted by disease and lost loved ones, who have been addicted and known loss, who have not felt protected from loved ones who abuse or belittle them. This is the context into which we are called to bring the Gospel message of peace and grace. This is the context into which we are called to bring a word of hope. We are called to help folks hear the voice of the shepherd and to follow him in their lives.
So how do we do this? We do it by being aware of what is going on in our communities and being true to that reality in our preaching. We do it by providing a way out of the lostness -- by providing again or for the first time a chance to be invited into a relationship with God. We do this by reminding our people of the gifts of God’s unmerited grace and forgiveness. We do that by once again bringing our people to the font to remember the gift of grace at baptism and to the table to remember the abundant hope we receive from the body and blood of Christ shared in the sacrament.
In the words of Elizabeth Johnson on Listening
We hear so many different voices each and every day, so many opinions, and it’s very hard to focus, and to listen to the voices that are truly relevant and important. It’s tough to filter out God’s voice, it’s very hard to hear God’s voice (especially since many claim to speak in the name of God), we easily get confused and unsure, and consequently we have trouble listening and following that voice.  Listening to God’s voice usually involves some effort, some discernment, because life isn’t one dimensional and black and white. Even God’s clear voice and word need some interpretation. Yes, we are called to love – but then there are so many different ways we understand and show love, and we have to figure out HOW. For some, it means calling on people and visiting them, for some, it means to be charitable, whereas for someone else, it means to be politically active, and, and, and…
But then there is yet another obstacle to listening.  We may hear well, we may have filtered out God’s voice, we hear it loud and clear, but – we decide to not pay any attention to it, be it because we are stubborn or scared or convinced our idea is better, or because it would inconvenience us to follow God’s voice.
Think back to your childhood for a moment, or even better, your teenage years. Were there times when you didn’t listen to your mom, your dad, your grandparents, your teachers, those who tried to give you guidance in life and help you through it?  You heard their voices loud and clear, you knew exactly what they wanted, and still you refused to follow their council, their advice, their demands? Even though you knew, deep inside, that they are right or at least have a point? I think it’s easier for us who have gotten older and wiser to confess that we didn’t always listen to our elders as much as we should have.  20/20 hindsight and our own experience as parents or teachers probably have helped, too.
But let’s put this in perspective to what God is telling us, do we listen, truly listen or do as we did when we were younger and hear what is easier or even question what voice we are hearing?
Yes, we need to listen, and listen very carefully and purposely, for God’s voice in our life.  And then boldly take the steps to follow God, even if we can’t be 100% sure if it’s really God’s voice we’re hearing.  There is always the option to turn around or modify our direction once we figure it out, maybe it wasn’t God’s “voice and will” after all…that’s where Martin Luther’s appeal to ‘sin boldly comes from’ by the way.  Not to purposely do the wrong thing, but to act determinedly once we’ve prayed and discerned and made up our minds.
The Good Shepherd tells us that everything depends on belonging to him. Never does our status before God depend on how we feel, on having the right experience, on being free of doubt, or on what we accomplish. It depends on one thing only: that we are known by the shepherd: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish”
The voice of the Good Shepherd is a voice that liberates rather than oppresses. It does not say, “Do this, and then maybe you will be good enough to be one of my sheep.” It says, “You belong to me already. No one can snatch you out of my hand.” Secure in this belonging, we are free to live the abundant life of which Jesus spoke earlier in the chapter: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”  Bishop spoke of this last week when she talked to us about what we have here is “abundance” and to recognize that abundance.
The abundant life of which Jesus speaks is not necessarily about abundance in years, or in wealth, or status, or accomplishments. It is life that is abundant in the love of God made known in Jesus Christ, love that overflows to others . It is eternal life because its source is in God who is eternal, and in Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life.
Amidst all the other voices that evoke fear, make demands, or give advice, the voice of the good shepherd is a voice of promise -- a voice that calls us by name and claims us as God’s own.
So we come to what I brought out of these lessons and how I feel it pertains to us as a church, as a family and as individuals?  We put away our fear, our uncertainty, we listen and we follow, and we believe in God, we believe in ourselves and we believe in us as a church family. We turn our worries over to God and we have faith that he will lead us, that we will hear his voice so that we may follow him where he is leading us. And in the words of Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive”  only change it to “We Will Survive”.