Rocks of Hope

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Greetings to All the Faithful at FAITH!

A couple of weeks ago I was made aware of a rock painting movement that is happening in our community, nation, and around the world to help brighten the lives of folks being affected by the COVID19 crisis during this “rocky” time. I thought it would be a fun and meaningful project for us at Faith to rock and “roll” out in order to bring kindness, care and hope to folks who are having a hard time right now (that’s most of us), and in the days still ahead! I’m borrowing the title “Rocks of Hope” from Rev. Bil Hood, Director of Church and Community Relations at Concordia University, Irvine. His idea is spreading among churches and schools in the Pacific Southwest District of the LC-MS and maybe it will start spreading here too!

If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to watch the children’s message from Sunday, March 24, to get the idea – from a Biblical perspective – of why we’re doing this!

Here is the link: http://www.flcms.org/index.php/2020/05/24/childrens-chapel-may-24-2020/

I really just want to keep it simple so that individuals, couples and/or families can do it as a one-time fun activity, or maybe even continue it as an ongoing weekly event.

Also, here are some ideas of what to paint on your rocks and how to share your rocks with others:

  • Paint (or use markers) words, pictures, or symbols that inspire hope and encouragement (“Hope,” “Peace,” “Joy,” “God loves you,” “Jesus Lives,” “Keep the faith,” “He cares for you,” “John 3:16,” “Psalm 23,” a cross, a Bible, a heart, an anchor, a rainbow, a smiley face, etc.)
  • Share a “Rock of Hope” with a relative, neighbor, co-worker or front-line worker.
  • Place them on your property for people to see as they walk by or make deliveries.
  • Bring some that you made to Faith Lutheran Church for our church staff to share with folks who are homebound – including our Rock House friends! (Place them on the mulch in the area to the left of the four main entry doors to the narthex.)

A special thank you to our fellow Faith member, Carol Hoppestad, for the attached picture of painted rocks (from her neighbor) as well as sharing the rock-painting video below!

Here is that cute little video of the “Painted Rocks by Lorraine slideshow:”  https://youtu.be/Akk24jq9gmE to hopefully inspire y’all!

Thank YOU in advance for considering using this “Rocks of Hope” idea in praise to the “Rock of my salvation” (Psalm 89:26) and to bless others with the hope we have in Christ!

As you paint each rock, pray for each recipient, that they would be touched by the peace, joy, love and hope that comes from knowing and trusting in Jesus – during this really challenging time in our history!

God bless you and keep you in His loving care.

In Christ,

Jonathan Loesch

Director of Christian Education

Faith Lutheran Church

Georgetown, Texas

 

 

Gathering for Worship Starting May 24, 2020

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One of the things that has puzzled me over the years is this whole idea of convergence. What I mean by convergence is that weird thing that happens when you’re out walking on the trail, and you see someone up ahead of you that is moving more slowly than you are, then you also see someone approaching in the opposite direction. As soon as you see this combination of events, you know that you’re going to all converge at the narrowest place in the trail. It’s the same thing that happens when you’re driving down the road and you see someone walking on the side of the road, and there’s a car coming in the opposite direction. You know as soon as you see the scenario that everyone is going to converge at the exact same moment. On the one hand, I can’t help but seeing the opportunity this creates to say “hi” and wave to a neighbor. But, as a “retired data analyst,” I have spent countless hours pondering the data trying to ascertain how this could happen. By all rights, it should never happen. Statistically there are far too many variables at play to yield convergence with any consistency. Yet, that is what happens again and again. What is even more puzzling, however, is that I’ve tried to manipulate the system and change the outcome. I’ve tried speeding up. I’ve tried slowing down. I’ve tried speeding up and then slowing down to avoid convergence. But to no avail. It’s tempting to speculate that everyone who is part of the convergence is reacting to the same awareness of the upcoming meeting. However, the teenage driver that was involved in my last convergence experience on Booty’s Road clearly demonstrates that there was no awareness of any opportunities to say “hi!”

In the final analysis, it seems that no matter what I do, convergence is supposed to happen. It’s almost like there is something innate in us that is drawing us to converge. Almost like there is something greater at work that is drawing us to converge. I submit to you that “something” is no less than the Holy Spirit Himself.

Our Gospel readings over the last two weeks have been from the book of John. Last week in John 14:2, Jesus told the disciples:

In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, John 14:16, Jesus goes on to says:

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

And then finally, Jesus concludes in John 16:13–14:

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you. (emphasis added)

Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth would guide (lead) us “into all the truth.” That is, the truth of the Gospel that Jesus died for us and rose again to give us new life. Jesus promised that the Spirit of truth would take what is His and declare it. One of the primary places where the Spirit of truth does this is when He gathers us together for worship around the Word and Sacrament. Luther, in his explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed, captured it this way:

In the same way [the Holy Spirit] calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers.

That is why during this pandemic we all have hungered and desired so much to gather again for worship in God’s house of prayer. Thanks be to God, on May 24th at 11am many of us will be able to gather for in-person worship at Faith!

Yet, not all of us are able to gather in-person at this time. For those who are at risk, it is still too risky. So what does that mean about convergence? Is the Holy Spirit not able to bring us all together at this time? Absolutely He can, and absolutely He will! While not everyone can attend our first in-person worship services, we can all gather together around God’s Word either in-person at Faith, or in-person online. We have an amazing opportunity to be converged and continue to be connected by coming to worship at exactly 11am on the 24th, either in-person or online knowing with all certainty that what Jesus said is true, “[the Spirit of truth] will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Jesus has not left us as orphans. No, our loving Triune God is actively gathering us together to converge around His Word, Jesus.

Praise the Lord, Pastor Bill Crowe

 

A Message from Austin Angerman, Associate DCE

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(The following article was written in mid-March, 2020.)

Greetings! I hope this newsletter finds you doing well, with plenty of food, hand soap, and extra toilet paper. As the world changes every single day, and nobody quite knows what will happen next, it can be easy to slip into the fear of not knowing what lies ahead. There is a lot that could go wrong. I find this thought entering my head quite often these days. I probably don’t need to share this thought with you either, you are probably hearing it several times a day already from every major news and media outlet. I am reminded of the second verse of the hymn, “Before the Throne of God Above”, which begins with the words: “When Satan tempts me to despair.” For a lot of people, the temptation to fall into the pit of despair is very real now more than ever. Let me be clear, I do not mean to say that we should take any of this lightly, or that we should dismiss a very real threat that is present in the world today. There is a difference, however, between precaution and panic, and being afraid does not mean that we are hopeless. God never calls us to despair. In fact, through His Holy Spirit we are strengthened to do just the opposite: to hold strong to our faith in spite of the world’s fear, to pray without ceasing in spite of the world’s panic, and to trust in God at a time when nobody has any idea what will happen tomorrow.

We have been living in a world and in a country where people, by and large, do not feel that they need God. Many people are safe and secure in their health and in their finances and do not view themselves as needing anything, especially God. The last few weeks have changed all of that, and now people who once found a false sense of security in their healthy diet, their low-cholesterol and their IRAs have had the floor dropping out from beneath them. In the closing remarks of the sermon on the mount, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7 that those who live according to His teaching will be like a wise man who builds his house on solid rock; which will withstand the rains, floods, winds, and in our case the chaos of an ever-changing world. Those who do not, however, will be like one whose house is built on sands that wash out from under them when the situation becomes dire. The world is currently going through a period of proverbial rain, winds, and floods, and it’s starting to look like things might get dire.

I find myself having to pull myself away from the news headlines and get some fresh air every once in a while to keep from going mad. With the extra time that I now have, while getting into the Word of God and spending time in prayer, I have realized something beautiful. There is also a lot that could go right. I find this thought not entering my mind often enough these days. It’s easy to become so fixated on things which could go wrong, that we miss out on opportunities that God is giving us to shine a light into increasingly darker times.

In Matthew 5, Jesus calls His followers “the light of the world,” “the salt of the earth,” and “a city on a hill.” The idea that there is something that sets God’s people apart from the rest of the unbelieving world is one that has been around since the beginning. Jesus was just re-iterating this idea to a new generation of people, using new metaphors to illustrate His point. The truth is that every generation needs to hear it; every generation of God’s people needs to be reminded that they are sacred, holy, and set apart from the rest of the world because of the God that they follow. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity before us to show the rest of the world the love, truth, and grace of God at a time when they might be willing to hear it. Jesus tells His followers in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is precisely moments like this in human history where doors are being opened for God’s people to love one another and be a blessing to the world. With many parents home from work and kids home from school, this is a time when many families will be spending more time closer together than they have in possibly years, or even ever. Modeling Christ’s love for one another starts in the home and flows outward from there. Do you have a neighbor who might be unable to shop for themselves right now and needs assistance to get basic supplies for living? Would a stranger at HEB be blessed by having the humility of Christ shown to them as we strive to put others before ourselves as Jesus did? Philippians 2:3-4 reminds us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”, and God is giving us a golden opportunity to model this to the outside world.

We continue to lift up in prayer those who are sick with the new coronavirus disease, as well as those who are caring for them. Doctors and nurses, first responders, and law enforcement need our support, prayer, and cooperation now more than ever. God remains good in the midst of this crisis, and while we have not yet been delivered from this current pandemic, we have been delivered from sin and death once and for all. It is this blessed assurance that strengthens us as we face each new day, filled with the hope of the resurrection of Christ and confident that no matter what happens to our earthly bodies, we have a place prepared for us in God’s house. I pray that we might come together as the body of Christ, even if that “coming together” separates us with a healthy amount of social distancing, but that nonetheless, we may seek to serve God and our neighbor in this difficult time. I am excited to see the ways in which God will redeem all of this.