As a child, Memorial Day was a family day. We would buy bags of dirt and flats of flowers. We would then plant them in elaborate pots; the same pots we planted them in the year before. Once this was complete, we would load up the station wagon and head out to the cemetery. The headstones of deceased family members would get love and attention as we scrubbed them off, washed them down, trimmed back the grass and placed the pots of fresh flowers. We repeated this at multiple cemeteries throughout the area making sure to “visit” both sides of the family.
I don’t know what this meant to my parents, visiting the graves of their parents and others, but for me it was a time to hear the stories of the people who paved the path. I’d hear how my Grandpa worked hard to make it through the lean years or how my Great Aunts would harass my Grandma growing up. These stories shared with me the fond memories, hard work and sacrifices my ancestors made to lay the foundation of where I am today.
The true meaning of Memorial Day is to remember the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for me; the men and women who paved the path of freedom that I walk down today. We have been blessed with this freedom for so long, with few true threats that it is easy to take it for granted. This is why Memorial Day is such an important day for us to pause and remember.
As Christians, the connection should be easy. We have forgiveness from our Heavenly Father. Forgiveness many of us in the church have known our whole lives. We forget it isn’t “free” or “cheap,” it came at the highest of prices. It cost Jesus Christ His life in exchange for our forgiveness.
This weekend, as you take some time off, consider sharing a story of a hero who paid a high price so you could be blessed. Tell your neighbor, family or a new person you meet of this great blessing you’ve received. Then, consider what stories of selfless love the next generation will tell about you.
Remember the gifts of family, freedom and faith given by God, to us through people past and present. Then thank and praise Him with all of your life.
Cross Family Gathering
It’s that time of year again. On Sunday June 3rd at Noon, after our last service, will have our regular Annual Meeting as a church family. Like most family gatherings, we will catch up on what has already happened; we will talk about what is going on right now; and look forward to the future.
In addition to the Annual Meeting, we will have three Fireside Chats. The first will be this Saturday, May 19th, immediately after our 5:00 PM service. The following two more Fireside Chats will be on Sunday, May 27th at 9:15 AM and 10:30 AM. These will occur during the services so you can attend before or after the service you worship in.
This Sunday, we are celebrating Pentecost by inviting our Spanish speaking mission congregation, Iglesia Luterana Cross, to help lead us in worship. This should be a very meaningful service that helps inspire us to continue sharing the Gospel!
We will also welcome Deaconess Caitlin Worden de Ramirez from Peru. Caitlin Worden is one of our mission partners and will present on our shared work in Peru. Her presentation will be at 9:15 AM in the Fellowship Hall. Please stop in and share a word of encouragement or a “thank you” for her efforts in a foreign land.
Thank you Cross! It is a privilege and an honor to serve the Lord in this place and I look forward to celebrating with you on June 3rd!
Happy Mother’s Day!
This weekend we are once again reminded of a blessing we have each received: the blessing of a mother who God used to give us life. This celebration of moms is not limited to a biological distinction. Mother’s Day is best celebrated when we remember women of meaning and influence in our lives.
I’m reminded of a woman from my home congregation, Edna Stanzel. As long as I could remember she was one of the “church ladies.” Edna was one of half-dozen or so seniors who attended worship every single week. I can’t tell you what caused our connection (maybe my youthful charm), but Edna took an interest in me, and we hit it off. Edna was one of the first to tell me I should be a pastor. She was also one of the first to tell me to slow down when I spoke so people could understand me.
Edna was old when I met her. I have no memories of her before she had the classic white hair with the curled perm. Our nearly 80 year age difference didn’t stop us from connecting at church and eventually out of church. As she aged, my mother would take me to her care facility where I would lead bingo or play cards. I would go past her window when I walked home from school and maybe wave at her looking out or stop in for a few minutes. I was also certain she was the one who would rat me out if I caused trouble walking home from school.
Eventually, on my 16th birthday, Edna’s family asked me to serve as a pall bearer at her funeral and gave me one of her personal Bibles. Edna is one of the reasons I’m a pastor today, not only because she said I should be, but because she prayed for it faithfully. She invested in me as a young man and that faithful influence has never been forgotten.
Mothers come in all types, and rest assured, my biological mother has been an inspiration and blessing in her own right. But “mothers’” true nurtures and influencers come in all varieties. Maybe you could be the “Edna” in another person’s life? Maybe you are an Edna. Don’t stop, even if you never see the fruits of your labor!
Regardless, take a minute this Mother’s Day to thank the women who have made a meaningful impact in your life. Thank You, God, for the many women of faith that pray, love and serve in Jesus’ name. Amen.
21 Days of Prayer
Last Sunday, April 29th, our Interim Youth Minister, Grant Riehle-Moeller, shared his heart for the youth ministry. He and the youth, along with its leadership, are praying for 21 days (starting April 25th) which will conclude on May 16th. During these 21 days he has asked them to pray about people who would be blessed to have a stronger relationship with God. As they pray about these people, their needs and the unique relationships the youth have with them, Grant is also asking them to listen to how God leads them to respond.
When we pray to God He always hears us and always answers. Sometimes we don’t take the time to listen or like the answer we receive, but it is always there. Over the next 21 days the youth will be extra attentive to hear God’s answers, and by God’s grace, be bold to follow where He leads. In short, this came about as Grant was seeking direction himself. God, answering Grant’s prayers, led him to James 5:15: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” It is no coincidence that May (month 5) 16 is the date that ends this 21 days of prayer that were started by James 5:16.
In James 5:17 the author describes the prayers of Elijah that caused the rain to stop for three years and then start back up. This rain started with a cloud no larger than the size of a hand (1 Kings 18:44) and eventually led to a mighty storm to nourish the land after a drought. Grant came before the congregation to challenge us to pray with the youth and for the youth, that this dream to dwell in prayer might grow out from the youth group and nourish the whole congregation. Maybe our whole county…
Will you join us in 21 days of prayer for the community as we seek God’s will above our own? Pick a time (many of us are choosing noon) and pray. If you can, identify some people or causes to pray for, maybe our high school youth and their new leadership. Think about people who might be blessed to know God or know Him better. Seek how God might have you respond, might have our congregation respond. Listen well every day as we watch this cloud grow into a mighty shower that we might be blessed to be a blessing to those around us!
Of course, prayer doesn’t stop at 21 days. Maybe this will start a new and healthy habit! But our intentional effort as a congregation will culminate on Pentecost Sunday May 20th where we will celebrate how God is doing ministry through us around the globe! Please be sure to join us when we celebrate with Deaconess Caitlin Worden de Ramirez from Peru and Pastor Walter Ramirez from Plano!