Thursday, April 19, 2018

Not Your Typical Wedding

Dear St. Mark friends,

Like many of you, my role in the family carries multiple titles.  I am a husband, a father, a grand-father, a son, and a soon-to-be father-in-law.  On Saturday, April 28, our youngest son, David, will be married to his fiancĂ©, Maureen.  I am privileged to perform the wedding ceremony at the outdoor pavilion at Anderson Gardens.  The current weather forecast predicts a cloudy but acceptable temperature in the mid-60s.  Whew…we’ll take it!

David’s and Maureen’s wedding bears remarkable similarities to Naomi’s and my wedding in Woodinville, WA, on June 7, 1980.  First, Naomi’s father, Eldon Lyso, (a Lutheran pastor) likewise performed our ceremony.  I was more than a little nervous as to what he might do and say.  Eldon was a prolific jokester, and I wasn’t going to put anything past him.  Thankfully, he was both serious and humorous at all the crucial moments.  It was a glorious wedding ceremony!  I am eager to carry on this paternal tradition with David and Maureen.  Still, I want to keep them guessing just a bit.  I have plenty of fun “material “on David I could share!

Second, in preparation for our wedding in 1980, I wrote a song for Naomi five days before the ceremony.  It was a bold move, but I really wanted to do this.  Immediately following our marriage vows, I sang my song to her while playing my guitar.  Truth be told, I was more nervous about messing up that song than I was getting married!  Thank God, the song came off perfectly.  David has likewise written a beautiful song for Maureen and will sing it to her at their wedding, accompanying himself on his guitar.  Like father, like son!  It will be quite moving, I’m sure.

Jesus loved weddings, performing his first miracle at a wedding in Cana.  There will be no need to turn water into wine at this wedding reception, however.  Franchesco’s Ristorante is well-stocked!  None-the-less, Jesus will be present with us as we celebrate their marriage in the presence of God, family, and friends.  Like all proud parents, Naomi and I rejoice in their marriage.  We trust that you share in our joy!  

By the way, don’t bother looking for me at worship the next morning…I’ll be sleeping in.

Walking this journey of faith with you,

Pastor Mark

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Hoping for Easter

Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like Easter. When the holiday happens before you can qualify your yard as verdant, it can seem like the world itself is not ready to celebrate new life. Maybe your body ached so much that you stayed in your pajamas on the one Sunday everyone goes to church. Like the eleven disciples, the fervent testimony of faithful women might not be enough to release you from whatever place you feel has locked you in.

“We have seen the Lord,” they said, as the hope of the disciples wilted to jealousy.

“My scans came back clear,” she announces in relief, unaware of the doubt that is spreading through your bones.

“We are over the moon about our baby boy,” the birth announcement reads, reminding you once again of the joy you have been yearning for far too long.

It can be so difficult to hear of the good news that comes to others. Even worse is trying to respond with honesty and empathy. Is it harmful to force a congratulations? Because in all fairness, life is wholly unfair. 

This good news of Jesus, though, is different. It is not selective. Resurrection is not something you or I need to work for. There is no room for envy when it comes to the new life of Easter because this is a proclamation of joy for all people. Jesus has traveled through the suffering of the world and made it to the other side. Christ has torn a hole in the shadowy veil of death wide enough to illuminate all of creation in the permeating and all-encompassing light of eternity. 

Despite what Mary Magdalene told those close confidants of Jesus, the disciples still felt the need to lock themselves in the upper room, the last place any of them had any hope. It is in that room where Jesus reminds us all that resurrection is not our responsibility. Jesus breaks through their chains and their shame and their guilt and breathes new life into their lives. Nothing can stop the promise of new life. 

In the eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews, the author reminds us that “faith is the guarantee of what is hoped for, the proof of deeds that cannot be perceived.” (My translation.) During difficult times, it can be hard to have confidence in God’s promises. In this season of hope, though, my prayer is that God might fill you with the faith you need to witness the good news of new life that Jesus has brought to you and all the world.

Pastor Chad

Looking Back

Dear St. Mark friends, 2019 is a year I will never forget.   On January 13 of last year, my second granddaughter, Madlyn Olivia Hagen,...