Lent & Rock Ministry

Lent Discipleship Kits

Rock Ministry children and youth received Lent Kits (pictured) this week.

  • Families with young children received a mid-week Lent devotional and new items for their @home altars.
  • Middle Rock youth received materials for weekly online gatherings, including charcoal for charcoal art that Ken Swanson will be teaching them as we begin Lent.
  • High school youth received a Discipleship Box: each item they take out has a devotional or spiritual practice to try.

Thanks to the delivery team for getting out these kits despite the looming snow!

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Lenten Devotions for Rock Ministry

Rock Ministry continues to reimagine how to stay connected to the children, youth, and families of MVLC.

Here are digital versions of some of the Rock Ministry items that are making their ways into homes.

Even if you don’t have kids in Rock Ministry, you are invited to use these materials, especially the soup recipes.

► View the “We Come to the Hungry Feast” Lenten devotional for elementary kids HERE.

► View the Lenten soup recipes HERE.

► View the Middle Rock Lent Challenge HERE.

► View the various “Mt. View Epistles” (2020) and “Rock Ministry Lessons” (2021) HERE.

SEASON of CREATION Devotions

Week Three

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Episcopal Church

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. —PHILIPPIANS 1:23b-24

There are a lot of good hymns and spirituals about heaven and how wonderful it will be to rest from our labors and be there with the Lord. And this is true. The apostle Paul, when he wrote his letter to the Philippian Christians, was in prison and didn’t know if he was about to die. If so, he said, that would be just fine: “To die is gain.” But he went on to say that, although this world and its problems can be tiresome, he needed to stick around because there was still work to do. To remain, for Paul and for us, was “necessary for you.”

Now, “you” isn’t just our loved ones, or even our neighbors, co-workers and folks we meet. “You” is also the world in which we live and breathe, the vineyard in which we toil. To “remain in the flesh” is hard work, because it calls us to be ever more intentional in our care for all around us, including creation itself. German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once affirmed that “it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.” This world, and all that it holds, is in God’s hands. But as long as we remain in the flesh, then by God’s call it is in our hands as well.

Liberating, life-giving God, help us to know that we and the world you have created are truly the work of your hands. Give us knowledge and wisdom to care for your handiwork now and for future generations. Amen.

Suggested hymn: “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” (Lift Every Voice and Sing II, 217).

SEASON of CREATION Devotions

Week Two

National Bishop Susan Johnson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? —MATTHEW 18:21

At the 2018 Bishops’ Academy, theologian Cynthia Moe-Lobeda reminded us of our call to “neighbour love,” to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself. She went on to say that if God loves the creation, then we must think of the creation as our neighbour.

I am reminded of this when I read today’s lesson. What if Peter had rephrased his question to Jesus as “Lord, if a neighbour sins against me, how often should I forgive?” Or, what if the neighbour asking the question was creation asking about us? How many times should creation forgiv us for overfishing, deforesting, polluting, endangering species, desertification, commodifying or even just not paying attention? Whether it is seventy-seven times, or seventy times seven, we are past the breaking point.

The 1854 speech attributed to Chief Seattle included these words: “Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. … The earth is precious to [God], and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator.”

How long until we don’t just know it in our heads, but know it in our hearts, and change the way we treat the creation, our neighbour?

Creator, we pray that you would help us touch the earth gently. Turn us from our ways of commodifying the earth and consuming its riches without thought. Amen.

Suggested hymn: “Touch the Earth Lightly” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 739).

SEASON of CREATION Devotions

Week One

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. —ROMANS 13:11

Discipleship is a lifelong calling to worship, learn, listen and act in the name of Jesus. In Romans 13, disciples are invited to wake up to the significance of the times in which they live.

Waking up to matters of climate justice and environmental stewardship are among the most important callings people have today. Over many years, through many voices, our churches have come to a growing conviction that loving our neighbour includes loving Mother Earth as a neighbour.

Who helps you to wake up?

For our churches, many voices have come from Indigenous Peoples who continue to teach us the significance of land and relationships. The particular “place you are in” at any given moment is important. “Land” is about relationships between earth, water, animals, plants, peoples, environments and climate. Healing relationships with the land are essential for justice and peace among peoples. God speaks to us anew through relationships with the land.

Worship also wakes us up. Worship helps open our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits to our relationships with creation and to the possibilities for action. We are grateful for the worship you regularly offer in order to support many on the journey of learning, listening, discerning and acting.

We are excited to share these devotions with you during the Season of Creation. We share with you these hymns that speak to our spiritual connections to creation:

  • National Bishop Susan Johnson
    Touch the Earth Lightly (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 739)
  • Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
    He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands (Lift Every Voice and Sing II, 217)
  • Archbishop Linda Nicholls
    Now the Green Blade Rises (Common Praise, 237)
  • Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
    Light Dawns on a Weary World (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 726)

Perhaps you will have an opportunity to sing one or more of these hymns during the Season of Creation.

What songs, prayers, words and practices encourage you as you express your discipleship through caring for creation? What helps you wake up?

Loving God, we thank you for the gift of life in all its diversity and beauty; renew us in discipleship and in love for the earth. Amen.

Texts from the Empty Tomb • 05/29/2020

A devotion from MVLC Director of Music Ministries Susan Bloomfield.

This Sunday marks one of my favorite church holy days, the Day of Pentecost. 

Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit in many forms – as tongues of fire upon the heads of the disciples (Acts 2:3), as wind (Acts 2:2; Genesis 1:2), as a dove (Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:22), as Advocate or Comforter (John 14:16), and as Inspirer (2 Timothy 3:16).

As a sacred musician, I rely heavily on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  When I am choosing music for worship, I try to listen for the voice of God – both in the Scriptures and in what is happening in the world – and follow the nudgings of the Holy Spirit.  I always know the Spirit has been at work when the readings, sermon, prayers, and music come together in such a way none of us could have planned or predicted.

That is the gift of the Holy Spirit – to experience the unpredictable movement of God working in our lives.  The Holy Spirit seen in the image of a dove is the same spirit that comes to us as fire which can be warming, life-giving, but also destructive and all-consuming.  The advocate and comforter is also the wind of a gentle breeze or a powerful tornado.

In baptism we receive the power of the Holy Spirit, trusting that God will give us the words, wisdom, and grace to act upon the stirrings of the Spirit. 

Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Come, Holy Spirit, from heaven shine forth with your glorious light.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Come, Father of the poor, come, generous Spirit, come, light of our hearts.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Come from the four winds, O Spirit, come breath of God; disperse the shadows over us, renew and strengthen your people.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.
Most kindly warming light! Enter the inmost depths of our hearts, for we are faithful to you. Without your presence we have nothing worthy, nothing pure.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.
You are only comforter, Peace of the soul. In the heat you shade us; in our labour you refresh us, and in trouble you are our strength.

Veni Sancte Spiritus.
On all who put their trust in you and receive you in faith, shower all your gifts. Grant that they may grow in you and persevere to the end. Give them lasting joy!

Where is the Spirit moving in you today?

Let us pray.

O God, you open the hearts of your faithful people by sending into us your Holy Spirit. Direct us by the light of that Spirit, that we may have a right judgment in all things and rejoice at all times in your peace, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Image: “Pentecost,” oil on canvas, 1545, by Titian. Public domain.

Texts from the Empty Tomb • 05/27/2020

MVLC Director of Music Ministries Susan Bloomfield’s devotion.

Today’s devotion is inspired by last week’s Jazz Vespers service for Ascension of Our Lord. (If you haven’t had a chance to watch it, please do!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhXt685OSco)

For me, the service was very uplifting and brought a renewed sense of hope. 

It has been difficult to be separated from one another, to learn new social protocols, and to have to deal with increased stress and constant change, including Pastor John’s transition away from Mountain View. But even in the midst of all this, Jesus’ words come to us as they did his disciples, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.” (John 14:18)

Reading

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. 

—EPHESIANS 1:15-23

The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.

He has established the world; it shall never be moved;
your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.

More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters,
more majestic than the waves of the sea,
majestic on high is the Lord!

Your decrees are very sure;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.

—PSALM 93

Song

Alleluia!  Sing to Jesus ELW 392 (vs. 1, 2, 4)

Listen to it at https://mtviewlutheran.org/hyfrydol.mp3

[1] Alleluia! Sing to Jesus;
his the scepter, his the throne;
Alleluia! his the triumph,
his the victory alone.
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion
thunder like a mighty flood:
“Jesus out of ev’ry nation
has redeemed us by his blood.”

[2] Alleluia! Not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! he is near us;
faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received him
when the forty days were o’er,
shall our hearts forget his promise:
“I am with you evermore”?

[4] Alleluia! King eternal,
Lord omnipotent we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary,
earth your footstool, heav’n your throne.
As within the veil you entered,
robed in flesh, our great high priest,
here on earth both priest and victim
in the eucharistic feast.

Prayer

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Image: Photograph, 2020, by Troy Kehm-Goins. Stained glass window in the MVLC Gathering Space, 2020, by Mark Gulsrud.

Texts from the Empty Tomb • 05/25/2020

MVLC Member Peggy Thurston’s devotion for Monday, May 25.

The passages I am going to be commenting are from the daily devotions I do each day with a group of ladies online. We all read the same passage, and send one another our thoughts. These are mostly Lutheran women I have come to know from different parts of our country. Last Wednesday our readings were Ephesians 1:15-23, and Psalm 47.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. —EPHESIANS 1:15-23 (NIV)

The night before this reading, I did not sleep well. I know many of you are having that problem as well. When I wake up like that, I often try to pray myself back to sleep. Or I name God’s attributes alphabetically until I doze back off. Sometimes I get up and read the Psalms. But that night my thoughts kept turning to my older sister, Julie, who’s mother-in-law died while convalescing in the Kirkland Life Center Home, after falling and breaking a hip. She was only 81. She was one of the first, along with so many in the home to perish because of this terrible pandemic. I prayed for the family, especially my brother-in-law, Mark, the oldest of the 6 children.

I would love to say how I persevered in prayer for this family, but somehow, like often, my prayer came back to myself.  “How can God make my life easier; how can I take care of my family and friends during these uncertain times?  How can I be a better witness in loving them to Christ?” I was stunned eventually by how the words “I,” “me,” and “my” came into my head even though I thought I was praying blessings on others.

So, lo and behold, we have this text during Easter that Paul gives us to pray for others. This prayer shows Paul’s deep love and concern for the spiritual growth and well-being of the Ephesian church. It is also a prayer that we can learn much from, particularly for our own prayer lives. He raises the bar for what prayer can be. He shows us that we can go deeper. There are places we can go in prayer that we’ve maybe never imagined. These places draw us closer to knowing God, his goodness, his power and His promises for us.

In these few verses, Paul shows us that our prayers can be more than just a list of needs.  While we can never plumb the depths of God’s love and grace for us, we need to pray that God would help us understand more and more about who he is and what he has done. 

Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.


For the Lord Most High is awesome,
the great King over all the earth.
He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.


God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
for God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.


God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nation’s assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.

PSALM 47

Clap your hands and shout! This made me think of the song “Twist and Shout” from the early 1960’s.  Remember: You know you make me wanna (Shout!)? Well, that is all I will say about that. But isn’t it a great thing to think about shouting for joy for the work that our Lord Jesus did for us on the Cross? God reigns! God sits on his holy throne.  

We are living through this terrible pandemic, and we are afraid. But can we sing this psalm to the Lord, and remember that He is with us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We can be that excited about our Lord! He is that awesome. Sing and praise him for he rules over all the earth. There is no where we can go or be that God is not there in power. Thanks be to God.

Hymn: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Songwriters: composer Charles Crozat Converse and lyricist and Joseph Scriven. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2kbogwgBM

Wonderful teacher God, we want to live according to Your Word. May our prayers be acceptable to you. Amen.

Love, praying for my sisters and brothers, Peggy.

Image: Photograph, 2020, by Peggy Thurston.

Texts from the Empty Tomb • 05/22/2020

Pastor Glenn Petersen’s devotion for Friday, May 22.

I share with you a story from a Sunday school class. Some 40 years ago, the Sunday school teacher for third graders got a lovely idea for her children. She collected L’eggs pantyhose eggs, which were popular at the time. A few weeks before Easter Sunday, she handed out an empty L’eggs egg to each of the eight children in her class. She asked them to find something in the house or in the yard, something small that would fit inside the egg, something that represented spring, symbolized life, and reminded them of Easter. Each child got a L’eggs egg. Stephen also got an egg.

The teacher was a bit worried about Stephen, because he was a special child. Eight-year-old Stephen was a happy boy, pleasant and kind, but slow and simple, developmentally disabled. He had been nurtured in the life of the church—baptized, communing, participating in Sunday school with the other kids his age. Stephen did not seem to be aware of or worry that he was not equal to the abilities of the other children. They were his friends. He loved them. The other children, for their part, fully accepted Stephen and loved him. The teacher just worried a bit that Stephen might not understand the project and then he might be embarrassed when they all shared their Easter eggs.

On Easter Sunday, the third-grade Sunday school class had a special time together in order to share their eggs. Every child was excited to share his or her “find.” The teacher, in order to save Stephen from any possible embarrassment, decided to collect the eggs and open each one. The first egg contained a flower. “Very pretty,” said the teacher. A child burst out, “I brought that one.” “Yes,” said the teacher,“it’s a good sign for new life and springtime.” The next egg had a rock. The teacher thought this might be Stephen’s egg, since rocks don’t symbolize new life and springtime. She started to move to another egg when one of the children said, “That’s crazy.  Rocks aren’t alive.” But Billy spoke up, “It has moss on it. Moss is alive.” “That’s right. Very good,” said the teacher. In another egg was a handmade butterfly, and the child who brought that egg bragged that it was the best symbol for life. “Yes. Well said,” the teacher remarked. She opened a fourth egg. It was empty.  The teacher thought to herself, “This one must be Stephen’s,” as she immediately reached for another egg. “Please don’t skip mine,” Stephen pled.  “But it’s empty,” answered the teacher. “That’s right,” said Stephen, “just like Jesus’ tomb. That means new life for everyone.” The teacher, silenced, smiled and then her eyes welled with tears.  The children gave Stephen high fives.

Later, during the summer, Stephen, who also had other health problems, caught an infection.  Other children were able to overcome the illness. Stephen could not. At eight years old, he died.  There were so many flowers for the funeral service that there was barely room in the sanctuary to place them. The third-grade Sunday school children brought a different offering to honor and remember Stephen. Instead of a flower spray placed on the pall-covered coffin, there were eight L’eggs eggs, from the children and their teacher—each one opened, all were empty. 

New life begins at the cross and in the graveyard. From an empty tomb we first hear the Easter proclamation. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?…Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Death could not keep Jesus, nor the tomb hold him. God had the last laugh. As Stephen said, “That means new life for everyone.”

Image: “ A mix of modern, diasporan and traditional Ukrainian pysanky,” photograph, 2011, by Luba Petrusha. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)].

Texts from the Empty Tomb • 05/20/2020

MVLC Communication Director Troy Kehm-Goins’ devotion for Wednesday, May 20.

“I dwell in Possibility—” writes the poet Emily Dickinson. She is writing about poetry itself, but could easily be talking about a house, a home. Two years earlier, she wrote in another poem, influenced by Jesus talking about his promise of the many dwelling places in his Father’s house (John 14:2) that “Mansions must be warm! / Mansions cannot let the tears in— / Mansions must exclude the storm!”

Yet here we are, in the middle of a “storm,” a global pandemic. And, like the disciples after the crucifixion and death of Jesus, we are hiding out in our homes, in our dwelling places. Sheltering in place. Shut in. Feeling “trapped,” perhaps. I’m sure that you, like myself, like the disciples, have experienced moments of fear and cold and tears in your home as the storm rages.

The hope, though, is that God is always trying to reside with us. God wishes to dwell in our midst. Salvation history is filled with such reminders of God taking up residence alongside us, among us.

“Have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them,” God tells Moses. “I will dwell among the Israelites, and I will be their God.” (Exodus 25:8 and Exodus 29:45) So the people construct the Ark of the Covenant and build the Tabernacle to house the presence of the Lord.

This “Tent of Meeting” was movable, just as the people were in exile, nomadic, on the move. Once the united monarchy of Israel and Judah was established under Solomon’s rule, a Temple was built to house God, so that God could reside in the city.

After the destruction of the Temple, the city, the monarchy, the nation, the people will still remember God in their midst through the cries of their prophets. “My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” Ezekiel gives voice to the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:37) “Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord,” Zechariah reminds us. (Zechariah 2:10)

Without a tent, without a temple, without a nation for his people, God “dwells in Possibility.” He imagines. He improvises. He takes up residence in the poetry, in the flesh of his Son. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.” (John 14:10) Jesus is the new Temple. And when Jesus departs during the Ascension, he leaves the Advocate, the Comforter, the Spirit in our midst. He doesn’t leave us alone, but provides for us.

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” writes the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 3:16) And to the Ephesians he writes, “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, [the Father] may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” (Ephesians 3:16-17) Father. Spirit. Son. And we, God’s people, as dwelling place.

No longer is there a need for a tent, for we are the tent. No longer is there a need for a temple, for we are the temple. We are “members of the household of God…with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:19-20)

Emily Dickinson writes about seeking the aforementioned mansions: “Could the children find the way there— / Some, would even trudge there tonight!” When I see your face on a Zoom meeting or hear your voice on the telephone, even though I cannot be in your actual presence, I believe that I have already found the Way toward those mansions and believe that I have already completed part of the journey to the promised dwelling place.

I too “dwell in Possibility!”

I am glad to call you brothers and sisters. I am glad to call you community. I am glad to call you dwelling place. I am glad to call you home.

Image: Photograph by Ian Schneider, unsplash.com/photos/PAykYb-8Er8, via Unsplash. Public domain.

Texts from the Empty Tomb • 05/18/2020

MVLC Members Hannah Johnsrud’s and Gretchen Johnsrud’s devotion for Monday, May 18.

Today, we invite you into a modified practice of Lectio Divina, “divine reading.” Together, we will READ the scriptures, REFLECT on the text and its messages today, and PRAY for God’s presence in our lives. We invite you to contribute your own reflections to this or other texts that are meaningful to you.

READ

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” —MARK 4:35-41

REFLECT

On that day, when evening had come, [Jesus] said to [the disciples], “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.

What day was it again? “That day”? The one where we packed a school lunch, tucked our children to bed, laid out an outfit for work. The one where we prepared for our normal routine, along with everyone else, not knowing what was coming. We went as we were, not stocked up on beans or flour or toilet paper or sourdough starters or DIY home-improvement supplies.

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.

A great pandemic arose, a dangerous and contagious virus arose, unemployment arose, work-from-home arose, and the fear and anxiety and depression and claustrophobia beat into us. We were immediately being swamped, with too much or too little work, with learning to homeschool and work from home, with the knowledge that we can’t work from home, with caring for ourselves or other vulnerable loved ones.

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

But God didn’t seem to be there. In fact, God seemed to be sleeping. And we were angry and frightened and upset, and we wanted to just shake God by the shoulders and wake Him up. We wanted to shout “Don’t you care, God? Don’t you care that we are perishing? Don’t you care that we are sick? Don’t you care that we can’t see our family and friends? Don’t you care that we can’t have graduations to recognize and celebrate our hard work? Do you not care that we are lonely? Do you not care that we can’t go to church? Do you not care that we feel lost and sad and angry without our senior pastor? Do you not care that we don’t know when this will end?

Do. You. Not. Care.

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

And God heard us crying out. He heard us yelling and making an almighty racket. And He was not angry at us for shaking Him awake. Instead, He looked at the storms inside our hearts and commanded “Peace! Be Still!” (And maybe there was a part of us that wanted to scream – We don’t want to be still! We’ve had quite enough of that, thank you very much!) But in knowing His presence with us through the storm, there was a certain kind of peace.

 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

And then we were filled with something beyond our words, all that “God-With-Us” teeming inside us. We turned to each other, through FaceTime and Zoom and Skype and GoogleHangouts, and we asked one another, “What is this? What is going on? Who is this God?” And we reminded each other, in the gentle I’ve-told-you-this-a-million-times voice of Jesus who is with us on the boat, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith? Do you not remember that we are children of the resurrection, that we know the end of the story? Do you not know that death and fear and illness do not have the final say in our lives? Do you not remember that the storm has been stilled and the grave is empty? Do you not know?”

Still, we knew that the storms would arise again, stirring up the sea. But we also knew the storm would still. And we sang and prayed and carried on. And we reminded each other that we are Resurrection People.

PRAY

Almighty and Loving God,

We are in the midst of a great storm: beaten by waves that seem to have no end. Hear our cries of distress. Remind us that you are in the boat with us. Calm our troubled hearts with your Word. Nudge us away from fear and towards faith. Open our ears to hear your invitation: Peace, Be Still.

Amen.

Image: Photograph of the Sea of Galilee, November 2018, by Hannah Johnsrud.

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