“See I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me”
“Let every heart prepare Him room…”
"Joy to the World" – Isaac Watts
“For everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under
heaven.” As the folk songs says, seasons change, the year turns and we prepare for yet another Thanksgiving
celebration, Advent in the Church and our annual celebration of Christ’s birth. I wonder…
I wonder where we all are spiritually as our culture begins (or has since Halloween) pressuring us to
get our shopping done – earlier and earlier, even beginning on Thanksgiving Day! Advertisers entice us to buy
all those fancy new toys and gadgets so that we can fill our lives with more stuff. Where is the church and
where is our faith in the midst of such a “me-centered/material-centered” culture?
Several years ago I read a resource entitled "Unplug the Christmas Machine". It included many
suggestions to enable folks to return to the original meaning of Christmas and to live it daily in their family life
during the months of November and December. What would it mean for us to unplug from the materialistic
expectations placed upon us by our culture? What would it mean for us to “prepare the way” for Christ’s
Advent? What would it mean for us to let our hearts “prepare Him room?”
I invite you to begin – this year! Begin by participating in our Advent Workshops to create your own
hand-made gifts that will help you share your love with others. Then, make an Advent Candle circle. Each
night – or each Sunday evening – take some time before dinner to light a candle, read a story and pray that
God will create room in your hearts and home for Jesus. Set priorities for your time together. Choose a
charity to bless with gifts, money or your time. Come Christmas caroling December 22 as we visit our St.
Most of all - take time - take time to stop - take time to listen for God's guidance - take time to count the
blessings in your life! God's blessings of hope, peace, joy and love.
From" Unplug the Christmas Machine: Believing in the true spirit of Christmas I commit myself to:
á Remember those people who truly need my gifts
á Express my love in more direct ways than gifts
á Examine my holidays in light of my deepest values
á Be a peacemaker within my circle of family and friends
á Rededicate myself to spiritual growth
“That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea…
And he told them many things in parables, saying:
‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed,
some seeds fell…’” Matthew 13:1-9
In our recent Council retreat we talked about Jesus’ parable of the seeds. We discussed the seeds that St. Luke’s has sown in our almost 271 years of ministry in Trappe. We looked at what seeds have fallen on a path only to be eaten by birds. We asked what seeds have fallen on rocky ground or among the thorns only to be destroyed and not reach maturity? These kinds of seeds, those that don’t grow, become then, the seeds of experience. These kinds of seeds can teach us more about God’s mission for us and the ways we have – or haven’t listened for God’s voice.
Next we looked at the seeds that St. Luke’s has planted in good soil over the years in order to do ministry for God. Our good seeds have produced fruit through faithful commitment to many missions like our support of the Jerusalem Food Bank, our Compassion Child, the Phoenixville Clinic and many others – and the good fruit of hands-on work through Habitat for Humanity, Guatemala, Honduras and our Youth Mission weekend.
Another seed that has grown is our seed of generosity. St. Luke’s is generous to our community when we open our facilities. Our church is used every day of the week as many outside groups take advantage of our wonderful, handicapped-accessible space.
How did we prepare good soil for these seeds over the years? We have been committed to Bible study, to weekly worship, to fellowship times and activities, to maintaining our facilities and to mission and outreach. And, in many ways we have listened to God’s voice to help us discern ways to prepare the soil in order to give the seeds the best chance to grow.
As we go forward into the future, God is calling us to listen more closely, to discern more clearly the ways in which God is calling us to nurture these seeds we have planted – these seed that have begun to produce fruit for God.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…
a time to seek and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away…”
As there are seasons of life, there are also seasons of the Church year. We have just completed the Easter Season and are on our way into Pentecost – the longest season of the church year.
Seasons – seasons – seasons of life mirror the seasons of the year. Birth begins the spring of life, offering fresh adventures, new learnings and growth. So too for a Church. St. Luke’s began over 270 years ago with a handful of settlers new to the area and new to this country. These pilgrims began our church with enthusiasm and hope and with God’s blessing.
This church grew in the spring of its life – and continued to grow through 3 buildings. The ministry and mission grew and changed with the growing community around it, as we moved into the summer season of the church. Our summer season was one of continued planting and growth as St. Luke’s became more involved in our community – sharing VBS with August Lutheran, becoming more involved with our ecumenical neighbors and expanding our buildings to make them accessible for all.
As he days of summer waned, St. Luke’s moved in its fall season. Fall brings harvest and the results of hard work in the fields, in life and in ministry. St. Luke’s continues in Fall as we seek new possibilities for ministry in our community
The Spirit’s energy and enthusiasm is alive and well at St. Luke’s! It was evidenced in our Pentecost Worship and in our Cottage Talks discussions., where we discerned what we should "seek and lose, keep and throw away." If you missed our talks, you still have an opportunity to make your thoughts and opinions known by speaking with any member of your Church Council. Council will present an overview of the discussions at our June 23rd Congregational Meeting – be sure to attend!
Jesus said, “Little children, I am with you only a little longer…where I am going, you cannot come. 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 you are my disciples…” John 13:33-35
We began the month of April with Easter. As we enter May we are still in the Easter season, reading about Jesus’ resurrection appearances and the empowered disciples. On May 19 we will celebrate Pentecost when, after Jesus’ ascension, the promised advocate, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and all those gathered in Jerusalem – and the Church was born!
The Church was born! In these past 2000 years, has the Church been fulfilling the mission Jesus gave us? Have we been loving one another as Jesus loves us? Have we been going “into all the world” and making disciples by sharing God’s truth and love? If not – why not? If not, what are we to do next to fulfill Jesus’ commission?
St. Luke’s Council is offering Cottage Talks to address these questions. We want your input, ideas, comments, discussion about the ways we, as God’s people in Trappe, are called to share God’s love and truth in our own community. St. Luke’s has been a vital part of this community for over 270 years. How is God calling us to continue our ministry and mission? What are the things we are doing that need to be discontinued – stopped? What needs to be revitalized and/or improved? What are your suggestions for new ways we can do mission and ministry in Trappe?
Does everyone in Trappe and Collegeville know that we are Christ’s disciples? Is our love evident? Are we living our own St. Luke’s Mission Statement:
Centered in God, guided by his Word, we share Christ’s love with all?
I invite you to take this opportunity to become involved in a new way in your church during our Pentecost season. Let's learn together to live God's commandment to love and serve in Christ's na
God’s blessings of Easter joy and Pentecost fire!
Excerpt from Isaiah 53:1-5 -
"He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed." HAPPY EASTER - Christ is Risen!
I wanted to share with you a wonderful story by Elissa Johnk. It gives us a new understanding of all the Christ did for us during his life, his death and resurrection.
Here is the story:
"There once was a man who made beautiful things with trees. His hands, dirty and calloused, seemed to meld into the rich, rough bark with which he labored. He chose his materials carefully, looking for things that others considered flaws: here was the year of heavy rain. There, it had suffered - the black tattoo of a fire scarring the yearly rings. In his hands, those disfigurements were beautiful
. Indeed, they were the focal points of the tree's new creation - signs that it had seen hardship, and survived.
And when he was done transforming trees, he moved on to people. In the same way, he looked for what others considered flaws - sins and scars. And, in his hands, people found their wounds became beauty marks - signs that they had seen hardship, and survived. Many, however, didn't want their wounds exposed, and so they sent him back to the trees.
The trees greeted him lovingly, the darkness of his skin once again melding with the wood. As he had once done for them, they stretched him into a new form - one where his wounds were the centerpieces of new life. Our
new life. You see, we tell this story not out of guilt, but hope. Hope that, in its telling, we might feel our wounds exposed. That we might feel our sins, our scars – our very selves – melded to the cross. That we might feel ourselves being carved, stretched by the Master Carpenter into a new form – one that allows us to proclaim not simply "He is risen!"
But, "I am risen!" too."
May this Easter Season be one of resurrection for us all - Pastor Ann
Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?”…
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you
Before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.”
Read John 13:36-38
Questions – questions – we are always asked questions – and asking questions. Our parents question us – where are you going – where have you been? Our children question us – why – how come? Our colleagues ask us – when are you going to finish – what do you have left to do? We often have questions of our own – of our spouses, our children, our bosses, and our pastor.
But what about the questions we ask concerning our faith? What are the questions we have of God on our faith journey? Why did that happen God? How can I go on? Where should I go next – and what should I do?
During our journey through Lent, we will be looking at the questions Jesus asked his disciples – and, consequently, asks of us. What (who) are you looking for? Who do people say that I am? What do you want me to do for you? Why do you call me Lord, Lord, but not do what I command? Will you lay down your life for me? Do you also want to leave?
Ask you look at the questions in the previous paragraph, I invite you to take some time in prayer and meditation. If Jesus were to ask you those questions – how would you answer? Who would you say Jesus is? What would you ask Jesus to do for you? Are we willing, as we walk this journey to Gethsemane with Jesus, to lay our lives down for him? What would that mean?
Lent is the time in the church year for questions. It is a time to discover who Jesus is for us. It is a part of our faith journey on the road to discovering who we are as followers of Jesus the Christ. I invite you to join me and the members of St. Luke’s on this exciting trip to discover the possibilities for us and our faith.
God’s blessings of shalom!
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples…
Read Isaiah 60:1-6
As I write this reflection we are concluding our Advent journey, preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. We are looking forward to Epiphany, when the first Gentiles, the Magi from the East, gathered around Jesus. As a nation we have also just experienced the worst school tragedy in the history of the United States. It seems that this kind of tragedy happens over and over again in our country. Amid tears and mourning we are yearning for words that can help us make sense of one more tragic event in our nation. What does God have to say to us in the midst of celebration and tragedy?
It seems that the words of Isaiah 60 are the reality we are living with: For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples. As a nation, as a people, we are covered by the thick darkness of evil. We are stunned that this kind of violence has happened again and we feel helpless. Together we are called to mourn with the people of Newtown Connecticut. Together God calls us to pray.
Isaiah 60 brings us a word of hope: Arise, shine; for your light has come. Unlike the people of Israel in Isaiah’s time, we know that the Light of Christ has already come into the world. We know that God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We trust that God is holding the families of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We know that God is with us.
Isaiah 60 is calling us to arise and stand in the light of Christ’s peace. The Prince of Peace is here with the promise of hope. As the Magi were guided by the light of God’s star, let us too depend on God’s light to illuminate our path as peacemakers.
I pray God’s blessings of hope, peace and love as you enter a New Year,
“Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.”
Isaac Watts – Joy to the World
Advent is here and it is time to prepare room in our hearts, our lives and our homes to receive Christ. Each Sunday there will be a theme to help us in our preparations. The biggest challenge for each of us will be to create time – time as individuals to be with God and time as families to light the Advent Candle each week and talk about the season and the coming celebration of Jesus’ birth.
During the first week our theme is hope. Reflect on your hope for the next year of your life, your hope for your family, your hope for your career, and your hope for the world. Then ask God to guide you in making your hopes a reality.
During the second week our theme will be peace. Where do you need peace in your life? How will God direct you in seeking that peace?
The theme for the third week is love. God loves you deeply and wants to spend more time with you. How is God asking you to share that love – with family, with friends, with neighbors and with those you don’t know?
Joy is the theme for the fourth Sunday in Advent – the Sunday before we celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve. Make a list of all the joys in your life. Post it on your fridge, on your Facebook page and let others know the reason for your joy!
The season of Advent offers us opportunities to reflect on our lives and the ways in which God is present to us each day. I encourage you to make time – to take time to journey with your family and with God through this season of preparation. Then, on Christmas Eve when we sing Joy to the World, it will have new meaning for our lives.
The blessings of God’s hope, peace, joy and love on your Advent journey,
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God... Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds...” (Romans 12:1-2)
THANK YOU ALL for the gift of my sabbatical time. I was so blessed – and continue to be blessed by your love, your support and our ministry together. My time of sabbatical was indeed an opportunity for me to stop my duties as St. Luke’s pastor, to have times of rest and to be deeply renewed physically, emotionally and spiritually.
During my sabbatical time I was privileged to be able to travel to the Isle of Iona, Scotland, for a 10-day pilgrimage, led by leaders of Shalem Institute. The day after landing in Glasgow, Scotland we walked to the Ignatian Spirituality Center where we were privileged to spend the day with the Rev. Dr. John Philip Newell. Rev. Newell, a Church of Scotland minister, has served as pastor of St. Giles’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, as Warden of Iona Abbey and currently is companion and theologian for the American Spirituality Center of Casa del Sol at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. His workshop was inspiring and energizing. I read several of his books on Celtic spirituality during my sabbatical time.
The next day we traveled by bus and ferry to Iona, Scotland. The Isle of Iona has been called an otherworldly rock, one of Europe's most striking holy places. It is located among the Hebrides off Scotland's west coast. St. Columba established Iona as a Christian center in A.D. 563, and used it as a base for converting Scotland to Christianity. There is a ruined Benedictine nunnery and a fully restored cathedral where 50 Scottish kings were buried during the early Middle Ages. Hundreds of Celtic crosses once adorned Iona; today, only three of the originals remain. Now part of the National Trust, the island is home to an ecumenical group dedicated to the perpetuation of Christian ideals.
A Benedictine Community sprang up on Iona in the 12th century, but fell into ruin 400 years later. The Abbey was rebuilt in the 1930s when Rev. George MacLeod, a Church of Scotland minister, organized unemployed laborers to work together with seminarians during their summer vacation. After work on the Abbey was completed, the men wanted to stay together, and thus the Iona Community was formed. Today there are 300 members of the Iona Community--both women and men--who live out their vocation in ordinary daily life all over the world.
My time on the island was spent in twice-daily worship led by members of the Iona Community in the Abbey. Worship was as varied and diverse as the leaders. We used the Iona Abbey Worship Book and other resources as the leaders chose. The music was amazing and varied, including piano, guitars, flutes and singers who presented music in the styles of jazz, Taize, traditional hymns and more contemporary songs. The Abbey is a place of history and a center of spirituality. From the Iona marble baptismal font at the entrance, overlooked by the Night Stairs where monks would watch for and welcome pilgrims entering for worship, to the wooden benches and pews lining the aisle that leads to the marble altar, to the side chapel, called the Quiet Corner, the Abbey invites worship, prayers, singing and silence. There are some pictures on the bulletin board.
You will continue to hear about my sabbatical time as I look for ways to incorporate what I’ve learned and experienced into our life at St. Luke’s God’s blessings of joy and peace!