Sharing the Message

In my sermon yesterday I wondered about the power of listening and wondering who is listening to the messages we share. Could someone be leaning in because it is a seed of hope that they need to hear at that moment in their lives. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of my ordination and I shared a message with a small group of people in the courtyard, but trusted in the Word that this was a mustard seed message that has power beyond appearances and thanks to technology can be shared with those that I can’t see who may long to hear the gospel message. You can read the sermon HERE.

Three years ago, I was the pastor at Holden Village a retreat center in Washington State on my 9th ordination anniversary and even though I was not planning to preach for the Village’s Eucharist service that night, I ended up having to fill in. I shared a message about how my grandfather may have been sent to the wilderness to be Holden’s first director probably because he was seen as a troublemaker and he made church leaders nervous. He may have been in a remote location in the mountains, but the community of Holden sent out signals of the gospel to a church hungry for a reminder of God’s creative and dynamic work in the world.

My grandpa said when he preached, he preached to the person dying in the back pew, and I try to carry on that tradition, believing the proclamation is a life affirming and sometimes life-saving operation, especially for those that don’t think God’s love could be for them. I know sometimes the person dying for the good news, the person thirsty for forgiveness is me. I know I need to hear words of hope and encouragement and the best preachers are the ones who hear the word and share it with others, who broadcast it back to me and others.

That’s why I greatly appreciate the support that the Council recently approved as part of the Letter of Call to First Lutheran that will now finally be completed and submitted. In a time of unprecedented changes to our norms, we can get lost in frustrations, anger, and disappointment. The way we get through this is by remembering to be kind, forgiving, and supportive of each other. Remembering as the Body of Christ, we represent Christ and live into his forgiving and redeeming work in the world. That means sharing love and having “ears for justice” as Solomon was granted in our Old Testament text yesterday.

It’s amazing how the people who are able to listen with love and show kindness and forgiveness in dark times like these, shine like the brightest lights. I hope we can be that for each other, and we can shine that light into the lives of others who need it now and will continue to need to hear that message again and again. Sometimes we share it and sometimes we lean in to hear it. But the good news is still for you and me and for all, and we need it now more than ever.

Thank you for your support and encouragement, your kindness and forgiveness during difficult times. I hope you will join the Council in supporting me and my ministry in these and other ways.

Note: “WE” will represent the congregation of FLC

  1. We promise Pastor Josh our prayerful support and ask God to bless his labors and the mission to whom we are all called.
  2. We welcome him as our Pastor and will give him the love, respect, good will, and cooperation due his life’s call. We will be patient and open-minded to changes, provide honest, open and thoughtful feedback and ensure open and honest communication. We will work with him to form a mutual ministry team for confidential support, reflection and advice and provide quarterly/yearly reviews with the council and FLC.
  3. We will offer our time and talents to assist and support Pastor Josh and FLC in doing work done now and by being open to establishing new mission ventures and procedures for carrying out our ministries.
  4. We will assist, support and encourage Pastor Josh to socialize with others outside the FLC family with whom he can “step outside” the pastoral role to bring “those not here yet” and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
  5. We will provide a key functional role in our West Allis community by providing a place of refuge, service and convening meetings by opening our doors, hearts and minds to a diverse population without discrimination

Pastor Josh