The under appreciated

Serving as a pastor is a calling of the Holy Spirit, but it is not a calling that is any more important than any other calling people receive.  As a pastor I am called to the ministry of Word and sacrament.  I preach, lead worship, teach, visit the sick and I am the spiritual leader of this flock that God has called me to care for (among many other responsibilities).  It’s a vocation that not everyone can do but that’s O.K.  Scripture teaches us that people are given different gifts for the building up of the Church.

With that said, I want to highlight a group of ministers that too often go unnoticed and under appreciated (unless they do something “wrong”).  These are the people that serve behind the scenes but also are the ones that can receive some of the harshest criticisms. And unjustly I might add.

These people:
~ serve in the kitchen; hosting host funerals and church potlucks.
~ get up extra early in the morning to make sure the sidewalks are clear of snow. ~ come in at night to vacuum and clean toilets.
~ type up the Sunday bulletin and monthly newsletter.
~ change a flickering florescent tube.
~ set up communion for worship.

And there is a whole host of other things these people do.

Sometimes the person sitting in the pew doesn’t know who these “people” are.  All they know is that what needs to be done gets done…and it had better be done and done right.  I can handle the criticism I receive because this congregation has called me and pays me to be their pastor. But the ones who serve behind the scenes often do so without pay and do so expecting nothing in return. So when these silent ministers receive criticism for “not serving well enough” it is often hurtful.

Instead of taking these people for granted, let’s say “Thank you”.  If you don’t know who does one of those many things that just gets done, find out and thank that person.  But know this ~ these people, working behind the scenes, are often people not looking for thanks but if they get it they will gratefully receive it with a smile and go about their ministry.  They may be behind the scenes because they don’t like attention or because they are just doing what needs to be done because it needs to be done.

These under appreciated people need to be appreciated more because can you imagine if these people in your congregation didn’t do those behind the scenes jobs?  Can you imagine if that someone didn’t shovel the sidewalk?  Can you imagine that someone not cleaning the toilets?  Can you imagine that someone not setting up for communion?

Those people you don’t see are also called to ministry.  My calling is to preach, teach, lead worship, etc.  But others are called to scoop snow, clean toilets and serve in the kitchen.  Let’s seek these under appreciated people out and thank them for serving God the way they have been called.

The pastor -|—

About one thing

Happy 1st Sunday of Advent!!!

May your preparations this Christmas season bring you joy as we anxiously await the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May we not get caught up in the secular definitions of this season.
May we not lose sight of the meaning of this season.
May we not get caught up in the marketing hype of this season.

Christmas is about one thing and one thing only…
a baby
Jesus Christ
our Lord

Let’s prepare and celebrate rightly to the glory of God our Father…

Loving God, we praise for this gift of life, Jesus Christ our Lord.  We praise you that you came to us in such a humble way in order to show us your amazing love to a sinful people.  We praise you that we can have a sure and certain hope through faith in Jesus.  May our preparations this Advent season bring you glory and may we take advantage of every opportunity to proclaim the real meaning of this season. In Jesus name, AMEN!

Merry Advent :-)

The Pastor -|—

Words

Most holy and awesome God, with simple but powerful words, you created the heavens and the earth.  
With spoken words you called your servants to prophesy and proclaim.  
With words you called forth Lazarus from bondage in a tomb.  
With words you proclaim forgiveness, life and salvation.
 And with words you create, build and maintain faith.  

How I am in awe of your Word, for your Word is lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Thank you God for your holy Word through Jesus Christ our Lord and King.

But Lord, I also ask that you may bless my words.  Too often we use words to bring people down through gossip and bearing false witness.  May our witness be true as it blesses and praises your holy name.  May we defend people, speak well of them and explain their actions in the kindest way.  May people see our worship of you through our words.

Dear Lord, may your name be praised throughout the whole world and may your word go out and do what it set out to do.  Bless this day and may our worship be pleasing to your ears.  In Jesus name I pray…

Amen!

Worship the Lord with all your heart for God is worthy.

The pastor -|—

One purpose

5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
[James 3:5-10]

I published a post a couple days ago titled, “A big fat lie”. I am not going to rehash what I said there as a way to get you up to speed here (I trust you are able to look back and read for yourself).  But what I am going to say is something that is rolling around in my heart as I prepare to preach this sermon on the 8th Commandment ~ “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”

How are you using your words?  Are they blessing and praising the Lord or bringing others down; people who were created in the image of God?  Are you crafting words together with the intention to create, build and maintain faith or are your words cursing others through inappropriate displays of power through gossiping and backstabbing.  What we say says a lot about our faith and relationship with Jesus.  What we don’t say also says a lot about us.

So as James says, how can a mouth bless and praise the Lord one minute and curse others the next.

This ought not be so!

As a fresh water spring can not produce salt water the same goes with the tongue.  The tongue has one purpose and one purpose only ~ to BLESS and PRAISE the Lord.

Amen?

Amen!

The pastor -|—

A big fat lie

When I was growing up I was taught a big, fat, lie.  It was not from my parents or a teacher or some other trusted adult.  The lie came through friends who they themselves learned from someone else.  And the lie came in the form of a childhood rhyme that you probably know very well because you were taught the same big, fat, lie.  And it goes like this…

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

I am not too sure why I bought into that lie.  I think maybe I used it as a make-shift shield against bullies trying to make me cry (and believe me ~ I had a few of those people in my life growing up).  Maybe it was because I knew that those bullies would never use sticks and stones to actually break my bones so you might as well stop with the names.  But all the while I was using this rhyme as a weak, invisible shield, I was being hurt more than any damage that sticks and stones could inflict.

Names and words do hurt.

I started thinking about this rhyme as I began my sermon prep this week on the 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  And as I was remembering, all those names I was called as a child came rushing back.  I still remember the pain those names caused.  I still remember the laughter of those kids.  In a way, I wish they had broken some of my bones with stick and stones instead of using words to hurt me.

And today, the use of words continues to be a problem as many kids experience bullying online.  Even rough and tough football players are not immune to the power of words.  In the book of James, the author says that the tongue  is something that can not be tamed.  The same tongue we use to praise God is used to hurt our neighbor.  And I think the worst thing about this is that often times we don’t realize the pain we are causing because so many people try to hide their pain lest they look weak.

Maybe we spread a rumor about someone (true or not, it doesn’t matter).  Maybe we attack a person’s character without all the facts.  Maybe we participate in back stabbing.  Maybe we betray a person’s trust through sharing a secret.  Maybe we use words in a way that sounds comforting but really causes more hurt.  Whatever the form and context of our words, we need to be very mindful of what we are saying.  Luther’s Small Catechism has a great explanation of this commandment; one that we would do well to remember:

We are to fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or lie about our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain his actions in the kindest way.

Romans 10 says that faith comes from hearing.  Since that is true then how do we proclaim the Gospel and build faith if we are using words in destructive ways?  May God be praised in all we SAY and do.

Dear Lord, grant me a kind tongue that seeks to speak well of others and gives you glory.  May my words not harm my neighbor but rather lift them up. In Jesus name, Amen.

The pastor -|—

Worthy

“Loving God, you are worthy of worship, praise and glory. May our song be pleasing to your ears. May our lives reflect your grace. May your Spirit fill our hearts. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Our heavenly Father

I spent 20 minutes this morning holding my sleeping baby girl (who will be turning 7 months old on Monday).  I love those moments.  I love staring at her as she helplessly lays in my arms and trusts me to care for her.  I love the peace I see across her face. And I can hardly wait until she wakes up and smiles at me as I reach to pick her up.

It is such a special privilege to care for a child.

But as I was staring at my little girl, I couldn’t help but be reminded of God’s love for me, for I too am a vulnerable, weak child who needs the love and care of a Father; THE Father.  On my own I can not get out of this world alive.  Against the power of Satan I am powerless. In the midst temptations I am not strong enough.  But God, our heavenly Father, cares for me; loves me; provides for me and gives me life through Jesus Christ (leave it to this daddy/pastor to get theological while holding a baby).

So as I was slowly rocking Mayah to sleep I was imagining myself cradled in my Father’s arms as He longingly stares at me with such a loving smile.  I felt protected, cared for, provided for as a father does for his child. And my hope and prayer is that I will grow up someday to be more like my Father through Jesus Christ. I know I have a long way to go, but our heavenly Father is patient and persistent.  And praise be to God for that.

edh -|—