PASTOR'S NEWS & VIEWS
What Are You Looking For?
Jesus asked two of his disciples the question (John 1:37), “What are you looking for?” That is such a great question for us to consider in the fall or anytime when we reflect on where you are in life; reflecting both on the stage we are at in the journey of life, and based even on that particular day (God provides us with both vocational direction our whole life, the big picture, as well as to our daily needs, the small things). In other words, are we clear in ourselves what it is we seek from God?
Some of us would answer, “I want a moral anchor in my life, or a spiritual education for my children.” Others of us would answer, “I need healing, I am suffering and my life is just too stressed out!” Or we would cry out, “my family or my marriage is falling apart and I don’t know what to do.”
Still others of us would say, “I’m looking for purpose and meaning in my life. I’ve tried to find it in great causes or in money and wealth and the meaning and fulfillment is false.” Finally, there are others of us who might say, “I don’t know what I’m looking but I know that something is missing from my life.”
And by blind faith we are led to come to church, perhaps some of us for the first time in a long time, or others of us for a new commitment to a regular dose of weekly worship where we can receive and experience God’s saving grace that comes through his Word, and his sacraments, and through fellowship with others.
What are we looking for? What is it we seek in our spiritual quest? I came to a startling realization a few years back that I had been seeking the "payoff" from God more than the prayer. I thought by praying daily or regularly sharing in study of scripture, along with balancing everything else in my life – being a father to my kids, a husband to my wife, my work at church – that I would become a changed person.
What I found was the same old me. I expected "results." How selfish of me! I found that I was using God to get what I wanted. I was looking for a "payoff." I wanted what God could do for me rather than just wanting God. It looks like I’m now in for the long haul in this spiritual growth journey. No instant change.
Of course, Jesus is looking for something as well. He summed up his life’s work in one sentence, “I have come to seek out and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).” In other words, Jesus is in a search mode for lost souls. He’s looking for people who are drifting and feel they are missing something in their lives. In the 15th chapter of Luke’s gospel he tells “the Parable of the Lost Sheep,” the “Parable of the Lost Coin” and the “Parable of the Lost Son” (We heard these parables in our worship last month). In each parable something is missing and when each is “found”, a great celebration takes place. God throws a party when the lost is found.
So, we are not the only ones looking for something. God is looking for us and when we say we have “found God”, we can equally say that God has found us. When we come to God, heaven rejoices because God has found what has been lost – namely, us! Praise God for that!
See you in Church!
‘Rolling Out the Red Carpet’
For Our Visitors…
There’s an old saying that expresses the value of welcoming someone into your presence. “Rolling out the red carpet” means to give special treatment to someone when they arrive. The saying comes from the early 20th century in New York City where the railroad would welcome people with crimson carpets who were in first class.
Every Sunday morning: I’m happy to report that we ‘roll out the red carpet’ not only through our greeters, ushers, and those serving treats, but it seems by all of God’s people. Everyone seems to reach out and greeting new and returning faces alike. Friendliness abounds!
Garage Sale: Living Waters has been and will be ‘rolling out the red carpet’ to all neighbors and visitors alike this week with our annual huge Garage Sale. Many members and friends have put in countless hours these past weeks sorting through the thousands of items donated by folks within and outside the church. People from far and near have arrived since Thursday to view and purchase these items at very reasonable prices (most items are $1) raising money for the congregation but also creating joy-filled community in Lino Lakes and at the church. Hundreds of visitors have been welcomed by many of you and are admiring the cleaned-up gardens near the parking lot. Thank you to dozens of folks who have contributed items, time and energy to these efforts.
Here Come’s VBS! The ‘red carpet’ welcoming continues! Starting on Monday evening, August 5, for four evenings, Living Waters is joining St. Mark Lutheran, Circle Pines, to co-experience Vacation Bible School for our young people. Vacation Bible School is where preschoolers and elementary age kids are led in games, art projects, music, bible stories and faith activities by our teenagers and adult leaders. All ages will be singing and dancing with our Lord, echoing in the hallways and at home...VBS is a great week!
No doubt about it, Living Waters is a church that very much has caught the Holy Spirit’s blessing of welcoming the stranger through its doors. Praise God!
Why Do You Look For The
Living Among The Dead?
When the women arrive at the tomb on Easter morning the messengers in dazzling clothes ask the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” In many ways this is the central question for Easter and our entire lives as the baptized children of God. Jesus Christ is alive, raised from the dead. A new day has dawned and by God’s grace love triumphs over hate, joy over sadness, hope over despair and that cadence goes on and on.
On Easter Sunday, it is the same question for us. Why do we look for what is wrong instead of celebrating what is right? Why do we share critique more quickly than affirmation? Why do we assume the worst instead of looking for signs of hope and new beginning? Why do we live in anger and not by gracious love? Why do we concentrate on what divides us instead of listening for the common ground where your story meets my story?
Why? Because we are broken, fragile human beings who know well the hurt, fear and anxiety of life. We tend to live from that story of brokenness and not the Easter story of new life. The beauty of this moment is that the question does not come as accusation, but invitation. Jesus Christ is alive and invites us to look for life among the living. There we will see God. There we will see one another in new and wondrous ways.
In the name of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ,
Pastor David Wrightsman
PS: For further study and prayer... Prayer Guide in the Week of Easter
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! We join with all earth and heaven in singing our Alleluias! The question of the messengers, the angels, is our prayer question for the week(s) ahead: why do we look for the living among the dead? Why do we expect the worst? Why do we resist change? Why do we seek comfort over surprise? May this beautiful message of Easter shape your daily prayer this week: Lord, how do I now seek the living among the living?
Luke 24:5: The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the man said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen.”
Sometimes I wonder if the church should adopt a one-word mission statement: "Stop." Just getting people (including myself) to slow down and to reflect is what one might call a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal)! Our ministry programs and our worship at Living Waters reflect this mission. Most of what we do involves an invitation to step back for a period of time in this season of Lent and reflect.
“Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:14-27
The Season of Lent starts this week! Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent on March 6. Some have called Lent, "Spring time for the Soul." Initially Lent was a period of baptismal instruction for new believers. New converts would study in preparation for their baptism on Easter morning so that they could celebrate the resurrection of our Lord with new-found joy.
I encourage you to make this season of Lent a time of great spiritual renewal. Come to the Ash Wednesday service at 7 pm on March 6. Have ashes put on your forehead and hear the words, "Remember from dust you have come and to dust you shall return." While the words remind us that one day we will all die, they are intended to be life-giving in that they remind us of how dependent we are on God for true life and salvation.
Join us on the following Wednesday evenings for our Lenten Evening Worship at 7:00 pm starting on March 13. Along with the beautiful music of the Holden Evening Prayer liturgy, we begin a 5-week drama series revolving around the theme, "Faith and Doubt".
Our theme comes to us from Mark 9, where we hear the familiar story of Jesus healing the young man who was possessed by an evil spirit, and who was convulsing in a terrible seizure. Yet before Jesus casts out this spirit, he has a dialogue with the boy’s father. Jesus asks him, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” the father answered. “ But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus replied, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.”
How often do you feel this way? Asking things like, Lord, I do believe, and yet I often have doubts. Lord, I know that I should trust you in my daily difficulties, but sometimes I question whether you are there, or whether you hear my prayers, or whether you love me like others.
Perhaps somewhere in your upbringing, you may have been told that you just need to believe. You need to put your doubts aside and simply trust God. You need to not be weak but stand strong in the promises of God. In other words, doubt was seen as the enemy to defeat.
Yet in and through this series we want to reassure you that not only does doubt not need to be a bad thing, it is often an important part of developing and growing one’s faith. In other words, you cannot have a strong faith if you have not struggled with doubts.
Faith and Doubt. How would you assess where your spiritual life is at these days? Make sure you worship these weeks not only on Sundays but on Wednesdays and invite others to come with you.
It is with great joy and anticipation as I come to serve Living Waters Lutheran Church in Lino Lakes as your new interim pastor. Thank you for the kindness that you have already extended to me since meeting several of you this month. I am humbled to serve with you and ask for your prayers as we together seek God's mission and ministry in the months ahead.
I live in Stillwater along with my wife, Lauren, and three teenage children: Carolyn 18 (a first-year student at Luther College in Decorah, IA), Benjamin 16 and Adelee 14, both students at Stillwater High school. My wife Lauren is also a pastor and serves at Roseville Lutheran Church in Roseville.
I have served the church in the Twin Cities for the past 29 years in a variety of ways; as urban youth worker, teacher, community partnership builder, campus ministry, interim pastor and as pastor. I have worked in the urban, campus, small town and suburban ministry settings. Along with serving as part-time interim pastor at Living Waters, I also serve during the academic year at Augsburg University in campus ministry.