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“We need the Resurrection to be a reference point in our lives rather than one Sunday on our calendars." This is a quote from Bishop Tom Berlin’s Book, The Third Day.

As I gave this some thought, it occurred to me that the crucifixion shows what we are capable of doing. The Resurrection focuses on what God is capable of doing. The crucifixion teaches me that God is willing to stay the course--even through my

wickedness, my shame, my guilt. Not only will God stay the course, but God will also take the cursing, the denial, the betrayals, the anger, the wickedness, the backbiting--whatever my shameful fear produces--and God will say, “It is finished.”

It is finished. Jesus’s words moments before he draws his last breath. It is finished.

Jesus didn’t say, “I am finished.” Jesus did not say, “You are finished.” Jesus said, “It is finished.”

The Resurrection of Jesus will always call us to something more. And maybe that’s why we’d rather stay at the foot of the cross instead of making our way to the empty tomb. At the foot of the cross we can confess our anger, our wretchedness, our fear, our sin, our shame—and we’re not asked to do anything. But at the empty tomb? We’re asked to name our “Why?" We’re called to name our grief. We’re confronted with the shame that is no longer there. It is where we face the confusion of how we see Jesus. It is where we hear him call our name. It is where we are asked to go and tell others what we’ve experienced.

For surely, Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Christ has risen above our guilt, above our sin, and above our shame. Through his saving grace, Christ invites us to do the same.

We’re going to dig deep into this beautiful story as we journey together through the Sundays of Easter that will guide us to Pentecost. Join us! For surely our journey continues.

Pastor Jo

April 1, 2024

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“I need time to process,” is one of the most hopeful phrases I have heard in a while. I know it is hopeful, because I have seen the hope and resolve this confession has made in my own life. Taking the time to process is taking the time to reflect, to ponder, to remain curious, and to know that beyond the truth of this moment there are opportunities to experience life with a deeper purpose.

As we process what it means to say goodbye to one pastor and say hello to another pastor, let us not forget that each pastor is also saying goodbye to one congregation in order to say hello to another. And the congregation and pastor must not forget the sacred work that takes place in each good-bye and each hello.

Good-byes offer moments to reminisce about how far we have come, the things we give thanks for, and the things we wish we would have done differently. Saying hello, no matter how awkward, offers us opportunities to weave our experiences into new opportunities.

In her book, Mostly What God Does, Savannah Guthrie reminds us that even in our “failing and floundering” God is loyal and true. So, as we process, let us never lose sight that God is loyal and true, and God invites us to process with honest hearts. To process is to be a part of a continued forward movement. And isn’t this the work of all who profess to be followers of Jesus?

As I think of all that I am processing, a heart-wrenching goodbye and a hope-filled hello, I am reminded of a quote from Oswald Chambers, “Allow God to be as creative and original with others as he is with you.” For truly, everyone we meet is processing something.

May the grace we have received be the grace we offer.

Pastor Jo

March 4, 2024

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Not growing up in a tradition that observed Ash Wednesday and Lent, I admit that it still catches me by surprise how meaningful the imposition of ashes is to so many in our community. Those who attend church every Sunday and those who haven’t set foot in a church in years. Those whose skin is filled with wrinkles and those who are still wearing the glitter from the day before. Folks of all ages and all denominations coming together for one thing.

But what is that one thing?

What is it inside of us that can so quickly embrace the contrast between “Laissez les bons temps rouler” and “from dust you came, to dust you shall return”?

How ironic that the season that invites us to “come clean” starts with ashes. We who spend so much energy trying to filter out all our flaws actually invite the filth of the ashes to be smeared on our foreheads for all to see. Could it be that deep inside of each one of us there is a need to embrace our mortality? A desire to ponder a

deeper purpose? A time to rest? Could it be that our deepest desire is to be seen as flawed, scarred and broken, and still worthy of love, redemption, and freedom?

“From dust you came, to dust you shall return.” I have said this countless times each Ash Wednesday for the past 24 years. But I can’t leave it there. I just can’t. I know that there is more to the story. More to your story. More to my story. As I washed the smeared ashes from my forehead I remembered what I told each child, “When you wash your face tonight, look in the mirror and see a beautiful child of God who is loved by Jesus.”

Join us each week during Lent as we journey to a place where we can truly see ourselves and one another as a beautiful child of God who is loved by Jesus.

Pastor Jo

February 15, 2024

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