February 2023

Pastor’s Page 1

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are… Matthew 5:1-3 Years ago I purchased something from the Youth and Family Institute at Augsburg College called a Blessing Bowl. It came as a set with some clay stones that had symbols representing such things as things that needed to be Cared about or for, Remembering things that mattered, Gratitude, Valley Lows (negative things or tests), Mountain Highs, Sacred, Quests, Beginnings and Completions, Loss, and a Blank one for you to name a significant topic to you. The purpose of the bowl and stones was to help families have conversations about things that mattered to them and their faith. The ceramic stones that you place in the bowl depict various family faith milestones. Each stone has its own meaning, such as beginnings, gratitude, remembering, quest, loss, etc. When you hold one of these stones, you are invited to share your stories, thoughts, and prayers relating to the stone’s meaning. I never found it to work very well, but for some people it was a meaningful way to foster faith conversations. I was thinking about the bowl and stones, because of the two stones called: Mountain highs and valley lows. February brings us face to face with a change of church seasons. We have the mountaintop high of Transfiguration, a heavenly vision of Jesus in his glory, which moves immediately into a descent into the valley of the shadow of death in Ash Wednesday and on toward Good Friday. Life is like this, up and down, sometimes somewhere in the flat lands in between. No matter where we find ourselves, we know that Jesus has been there too. That is one of the gifts of the church year. While the world’s calendar leads us through the cycle of the earth around the sun, the church’s calendar is led by the Son, through whom the earth and sun were made. We follow him on his earthly journey, we see his love and wisdom come into the world, hidden by the ups and downs of life, even as the eyes of faith catch glimpses of his presence here and there. Along the way of faith and discipleship, there are all of the experiences that made up the blessing bowl and its stones. We too have mountaintop highs and valley lows, losses, beginnings and quests, things to care about and remember, experiences that are sacred or quests on which we find ourselves engaged.

It is a reminder to look at all of what happens to us through the life of Jesus, who has shared these things with us, so that we might share in what God offers through Christ: life and hope.

All these things are tied together, not by our own effort, but by the Spirit working in us a way to live our lives in Christ, with Christ and through Christ.

These experiences are the things we remember when we think about our lives, but they matter mostly because they are tied up with the life of Christ, whose death and resurrection makes it possible to speak of such experiences in light of eternity.

The church’s calendar is one more reminder of the interconnection between our lives and Christ, hidden in the day in and day out life of the worldly calendar that often seems to rule our lives. The sun and the moon help us count our days, but the church’s calendar places those days in the context of eternal life, won for us through Jesus Christ.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:7-10



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