Neighborly Love

Have  you ever walked through your neighborhood and met someone from church who you didn’t even know lived nearby? Perhaps you recognize them but don’t know their name.  You share a casual greeting and then go on.  It’s times like this when the size of our congregation becomes apparent.  It is next to impossible to know everyone who worships at Holy Trinity. Yet, wouldn’t it be nice to connect with those from the congregation who live in our own neighborhoods?  To be neighborly, to care for each other, to share a cup of coffee or just some time?  It is our oneness in Christ that is the core of our relationship with each other and it is the Spirit who brings us together.  We are a gift to each other by being the image of God to each other.

In a world where loneliness challenges the emotional health of many people, the church community can bring a breath of life.  Jesus’ words enrich our life when we  follow his command.  After washing the disciple’s feet, he gave them a new command saying, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34b). The Gospel of love that Jesus lived and commended to his followers, then and now, is a gift for us to live and share with all people.  It brings life, to us and to others.  We can be life-givers to each other in our neighborhoods.  

You are invited to get to know your neighbors from Holy Trinity by joining a neighborhood small group.  This group would be composed of about four households or so, who are members of Holy Trinity and live in your neighborhood.  One household will be the  facilitator household.  The facilitator will contact the group members at least four times a year.  Perhaps it’s to gather for a meal, Saturday coffee, or Sunday brunch after church; whatever seems to be of interest to your group.  Maybe it’s as simple as an email in the dead of winter to check on each other and see how each person is doing.  Maybe it’s to prepare a meal for the couple that just had a new baby in your neighborhood group.  Perhaps it’s a card or contact after a hospitalization.  The purpose of the group is to share God’s love with each other through care and compassion and may be expressed differently depending on your groups desire.

The facilitators will meet with Pastor Pam to identify potential group members and discuss how to get started.  Would you be interested in being a facilitator for your neighborhood group?  If so, go to the website to sign-up.  We plan to start with about a dozen small groups this fall. 

CS Lewis said, “(F)riendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out.  It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”  Discover the blessings of a neighborhood group. In Christ, Pastor Pam Schroeder

Grief’s Journey

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go. – Mary Oliver

 

I laid my “little” brother to rest this week. The truth is, Daniel grew to be physically bigger than me pretty fast. The truth is, in many ways the legacy Daniel leaves, I suspect, also outsizes me in so many ways. I say this not out of jealousy, but respect.

Having stood at the graves of our youngest brother, mother, and father together, I noted the solitariness of standing at his. Not that I was not surrounded by lots of loving people, especially my wife and son. Yet, there was a notable void. The grieving begins. I know it is a journey I can walk with others, but must do, in some way, alone.

The journey of grief has many dimensions and waypoints. It is filled with emotions, memories, tears, and even a little anger at times. I know this, because I have watched you all grieve your losses. I also know that grief is a journey that has a destination. God’s call will be to keep walking until mourning turns to dancing; until tears are, most often, replaced with laughter. I am on my way to letting go, as Mary Oliver puts it.

To avoid getting stuck at some rest stop of sadness along the way requires hope. Hope is a grace I cannot manufacture or purchase. It is a gift. Paul says,  “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) Hope given through Christ and his death and resurrection is the only way to make the journey.

It is the odd lot of a preacher to have to preach at a loved one’s funeral. There is always a sense in which the preacher is preaching to him/herself, but it is particularly true in this sense. One of the things I said to myself as many listened was that I am not satisfied with the insipid means of dealing with death to which many cling.

I am not satisfied to hear that “it was all God’s plan. God called your brother home.” I don’t believe in that kind of puppeteer god. Death came to my brother because of disease and a world where death is unavoidable. God weeps at my brother’s death.

I am not satisfied with the notion that my brother’s “immortal soul” is now loose in some kind of ethereal existence, united with other souls all living as they did, except they cannot eat, drink, embrace or enjoy God’s creation. As Jurgen Moltmann said, “Immortality of the soul is an opinion. Resurrection of the dead is history.”

I am not satisfied to hear that I will see my brother again just as he was in a place I can’t find. I want to see my brother as God made him to be, body renewed, spirit strong and freed of whatever demons possessed him (and we all have them). I want to see his joy at being relieved of every regret and forgiven every misdeed.

My hope is built on resurrection – a physical, getting up from the ashes, embraceable body that is redeemed and renewed along with all the groaning earth and every human we have loved and hated. My hope is that I will not just be united by memory or spirit, but that we will once again eat a perfectly medium rare steak and hug each other with a brotherly embrace that tries to out squeeze the other.

With this hope, I expect I will journey through the tears to laughter; that I will take my time to mourn and share a time to laugh; that I will let it go and let God do what God does.

Pax Christi,

Tim Olson, Lead Pastor

 

copyright © 2019 Timothy V. Olson