Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going”


We know that we can make a difference , if we just utilize our God graced talents or urgings to make this difference.

Here’s a story that brings this verse to life for me and want to share with you the importance of the smallest effort may make a huge difference in the kingdom of God. There are many versions of this story, but I believe the original story is credited to educator and author Loren Eisley. 

 Once there was an old man who had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. 

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  

The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.” 

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.” 

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!” 

So, here’s a thought–actively search out new opportunities where you can make a difference. 

I’m sure you already make a difference, but I’m thinking something new. Maybe it’s at church, in your organization, in the community, or it could be in your family. Think where? Think what?

You can’t make a difference if you don’t make an effort.

Rob Scarborough

 
“(Thomas) said to them, ‘Unless I see…I will not believe.’ “   John 20:25

How do you prove the reality of something as powerful as love? Is it a feeling, an emotion, a response? It is difficult to prove, but it is essential to experience. Love grows in the midst of relationship and it becomes a powerful reality.

God’s love came alive in the resurrection of Jesus. Faith in the resurrection cannot be proved in terms of physical science, but its reality can change us when we experience it.

How can a truth that cannot be proven be so real?

Ron Nicholas

Last Sunday, on what everyone would admit was a spectacular spring afternoon, a few of us from the Staff Parish Relations Team went on a short field trip into Minneapolis.  Our aim was not to wander the Lowry Hill neighborhood enjoying the warmth of that Sunday sun; we were there to work, by gum!

Our work was to learn what it means to be a better people who are charged with upholding our church staff (and Pastor Becky Jo too!) while we listen to the dreams and concerns of our congregation at the same time.

Two hours of learning gave us a lot of insight.  But I had two takeaways in particular that I shared with my wonderful carpoolers on the way home.

The first was that we at Glendale need to discontinue the term ‘volunteers’ when we speak of our lay members who serve the church in so many great ways.  We need to begin to talk of servant hood; we need to begin to think of ourselves in terms of being servants and of serving, not volunteering to do tasks.

The second was that in these days leading up to our HCI visioning, all of us servants, both paid and unpaid, need to process a vision statement for what we do personally.  We need to be able to ask ourselves how what we do advances the Kingdom of God.

And here we thought we might be wasting a beautiful Sunday afternoon…

Mike Shultz

Daily Fruit

Galatians 5:22-25

Six years ago I wrote a sermon on the Fruits of the Spirit when our oldest grandson was six.  This week Max will turn twelve. 

He had come across a series of books he called the value books.  We currently have most of them in our existing church library. These books fit the fruits of the Spirit scripture very well.  If you have younger ones or are grandparents and are curious, check them out.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians we are given and blessed by his message of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Fruit is fruit but we all know that fruit is grown not made. Each one of us has been given all these gifts but some come easier than others.

If we want to see the fruits of the spirit in our lives, if we want to show those fruits to others, then we need to feed on that which makes it possible. Because God is with us, God’s spirit is in us and God’s love lives in our hearts.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; are wonderful things that will grow in each of us if we let them.

God of justice, love, mercy, and power, we thank you for being with us and for giving us every good gift. Open our hearts, minds, wills and all our efforts, so that fruit pleasing to you might grow in each of us and serve to make your kingdom grow in our world.

Blessings,

Shelley Shultz

Somewhere years ago I ran across an aphorism which read:  “The greatest joy in life is to do a good deed by stealth and be found out by accident.”  For some reason it stuck with me, and on occasion I have tried to live by it.  Many years ago, I was driving through a poor neighborhood in Minneapolis, a slum really.  I went back later and took down several addresses, then went to the bank and cashed a one hundred dollar check — asking for five 20s.  I wrote anonymous notes, saying simply, “God wants you to have this”.  I enclosed each one in a plain envelope along with one of the $20 dollar bills and mailed them.  I don’t know who received them.  This side of the Kingdom the recipients will never know who sent the money or where it came from.  I hope they were puzzled over the note.  I won’t have the joy of being “found out by accident”.  It doesn’t matter.  The greater joy is that God knows.  That’s enough!

Anonymous

New life!

When we celebrate Easter we are celebrating the possibilities and the hope for new life where things have seemed dead and buried.

Jesus was placed in the tomb, and with him, the expectations of his followers connected to their belief that he was the Messiah, the one for which they had waited.  They buried his body and all the new life and hope that came with those expectations.

When we read the accounts of Easter morning, those who went to the tomb went in despair and loss.  They saw no way forward.  They only saw death and anguish and defeat.  So they went with spices to prepare the body for burial.  They went to finalize what had happened on Friday.  There wasn’t a way out of death.  It was as final as anything they had ever known.

Have you known times like that?  Times that feel final? Events that fill you with despair and defeat?  Situations that leave you with seemingly no way forward?

When they buried Jesus AND buried life and hope in that tomb, it did not stay there!  Not only did God raise Jesus from death, defeating it once and for all, but God also raised hope and life from the tomb.  Just when it felt like there was no way forward, God made a way!  A powerful, life-changing way forward that none of us could ever have imagined.

The same is true for whatever has you entombed in despair and defeat.  The same is true for whatever buries you in its finality.  God can make a way, a powerful, life-changing, life-giving way forward.  Just when you feel like there are no possibilities left, God can bring new life.

May you know, in your own tombs of despair and defeat, the powerful new life of the Risen Savior!

Pastor Becky Jo Messenbrink

LOVING AND SERVING

Last night at our Holy Thursday service, we experienced the opportunity to reflect on Jesus washing his disciples’ feet as described in John 13.  Have you ever participated in a foot washing ceremony as either the one washing or the one being washed?  The truth is that most of us are pretty squeamish about having someone else wash their feet.  We have a lot of concerns about what our feet look like, and let’s be honest, touching someone else’s feet, in our culture, feels very personal!

We’re not so different from Peter.  He wanted nothing to do with his master washing his feet.  In his culture, that just wasn’t done!  Yet Jesus tells him he can have no share with him unless he is willing to let Jesus wash his feet.  In other words, being washed by Jesus is to choose to participate in his work of revealing God’s saving love to others. Peter quickly changed his mind, and invited Jesus to also wash his head and hands.  But Jesus indicates that all of that is not necessary.  Peter needs only to have his feet washed to know that Jesus, whom the disciples always called Teacher and Lord, is acting as a servant.

The first time I experienced a foot washing was at a three-day spiritual retreat weekend in which I was on my feet serving others for the first 2 ½ days.  At one point the leaders of the retreat called us together and invited us to sit and rest our weary bodies, and they washed our feet.  I cannot begin to describe the love I felt coming from the leaders as they washed and dried our aching feet! I felt so restored that I was easily able to get back on my feet to complete the weekend with energy, joy, and love for all who were there.

The next time I experienced a foot washing, I was the one washing other people’s feet. I don’t really know what their experience was, but my own experience was that in the process of washing their feet, I felt love pouring out of me that could only have come from God. They were no longer the people I knew and talked to regularly; each one became for me a person whom God had created and loved and cherished and forgiven. And in that moment, each became beautiful in my eyes!

Foot washing moments are usually a bit awkward for people, even Peter, who knew Jesus well.  They are also moments of deep connection and love.  While we may not ever participate in an actual foot washing, really serving people can also sometimes be awkward, either for them, for us, or for both.  Those moments can also be moments of deep connection and love.

After Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he gave them this new commandment:  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 34 NRSV).  This is the invitation and commandment we, too, are given as his disciples today. 

Where can I be a servant?  What actions might I take that will demonstrate my deepest love for those around me?  How can I show others how much God loves them? 

Barbara Moore