compassion 9: singing together

• August 13th, 2017

On Sunday, August 13, Gethsemane gathered for a "compassion hymn sing," but the realities of the world around us asked for a little more, too. Such as some thinking about why we sing. Some answered Pr Kari's question about that with replies about how singing gives courage, and how it brings unity. Sometimes we sing for joy, others to help us keep going when sad, fearful, or angry.

Using a Ghanian song, "Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love," Pr Joanne invited us to think again about racism in the church and world. The violence and hatred in Charlottesville begged for and was met with love and mercy (compassion!) that bears witness to another way of being in this world. This is the "Jesus way" that invites us to see others as neighbors whom we are called to love and serve. That love sometimes is tough and resistant, but always seeks justice for all. And the service costs us something, not least our preconceived notions of ourselves and our roles. To this loving, serving way we all are called.

 

 

 

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compassion 8: god’s gonna trouble the water

• August 6th, 2017

In this week's reflection, Pastoral Intern Allison Bengfort shares a story from the Lower Elwah S'Klallam tribe, which was shared by Roger Fernandes to the children and counselors at Read-a-Rama camp.  This First Nations healing story sheds light on how the healing stories in the Bible may be about more than physical ailments.  In John 5:1-9, a sick man waits at the pool of Bethesda for the angel of God to trouble the water.  This story, which is the textual basis for the African American spiritual, "Wade in the Water," calls to mind the healing waters of baptism and reminds us that we, too, are sent out to trouble the water of the unjust systems that surround us. 

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compassion 7: the limits of human compassion

• July 30th, 2017

In his research on empathy and decision-making, Dr. Paul Slovic studies the limits of human compassion.  What happens when we encounter a single person in need?  What about when we encounter multiple people?  How far does human empathy tend to reach?  In today's homily, Pastor Kari Lipke makes connections between his research, today's healing story from Luke 7:11-17, and our vocation as Christians.  How do we become more compassionate?  What do we do when we reach our natural human limitations? 

 

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compassion 6: of narrow ways and getting through

• July 23rd, 2017

When the poet Wendell Berry asks, "Why must the way be narrow?" he gives voice to the question many people have when they consider Jesus' words about riches, camels, and the eye of a needle. Why narrowness in a faith so wide as to embrace us all with love? As Pr Engquist reflects on this week's story from Mark's gospel, she is helped by Berry's reflection on the idea of becoming unburdened, less as a way of being right or righteous and more in the way of being helped into another time and space, into the realm of God or what some call "eternal life." Have a listen and see if it helps broaden the narrow way. ;)

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compassion 5: living in the in between

• July 16th, 2017

This week begins our second module which looks at compassion in the gospels. Today Pr Joanne considers a scene from Matthew 9:35-38 where Jesus sees the people's needs and responds. But the response is a little different than we've witnessed along the way as Jesus teaches, proclaims, and heals. In this story, Jesus doesn't do it all. Instead, he longs for more to join in the ways that reveal the nearness of God's reign. Have a listen. And consider what the reign of God looks like to you. How do you know it is here?

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compassion 4: chariots of fire

• July 9th, 2017

Today, we explore another little known story from the Hebrew scriptures:  the story of Elisha at Dothan (2 Kings 6:8-23).  When the King of Aram sends an army to kill Elisha, Elisha manages not only to survive, but to bring peace.  Pastoral Intern Allison explores Elisha's strategy, which includes aligning himself with the enemy and disarming them with love.  This strategy depends on recognizing the chariots of fire that always surround us, even when we feel like we are fighting a losing battle.    

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compassion 2: courage

• June 25th, 2017

In the second week of our summer Compassion Series, we hear the story of Shiphrah and Puah as told in Exodus 1:15-21. Pr Kari Lipke invites us into the story as a way of exploring courage of solidarity and advocacy. She shares stories of others whose courage stood up (and stands up) to oppressors -- and she celebrates the stories of our community's work. What stories would you add? [And yes, that is applause at the end!]

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Jacob Smith Memorial Service

• June 24th, 2017

Jacob Bert Smith (July 31, 1978 - June 10, 2017)

His fortune read: “You will step on the soil of many countries in your lifetime”. For all of us who knew him, that was certainly true. We just didn’t count on him completing those earthly travels so soon at the age of 38. On June 10, 2017 in Seattle, Washington, surrounded by his loved ones, he left for his last trip, but this time to his true heavenly home. Jacob did not lose his battle to cancer. As in every other trial in his life, Jacob fought valiantly with every breath to hold on to what he loved so dearly. He chose not to focus on his illness and impending death, but to be grateful for his full and fantastic life.

Jacob was a passionate man who fiercely stood up for the things he believed in. He was fun-loving, and especially loved being silly with his precious niece and nephew. He also appreciated the finer things in life, as in good wine, art, music, drama, and great restaurants. Most of all he cherished his family and friends, but he also loved to travel, read history books, immerse himself in politics and sports alike, and share his deep and abiding faith. He was proud to be a member of Gethsemane Lutheran Church.

Jacob was born on July 31, 1978 in Midland, Michigan to his parents Peggy Decker Smith and Richard Smith. He graduated from Midland High School, Albion College, and Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at New School University in New York City, majoring in Political Science, Spanish, and Nonprofit Management.

The highlight of Jacob’s life was the years he spent serving in the Peace Corps. He served from June of 2001 until July of 2003. While there, Jacob had the best years of his life. “I am the happiest I have ever been”, he wrote. He lived in Ivancea for 11 weeks while in training, then moved to Balti to live with his host family for the remainder of his time. In the words of his country director, “Jacob was an exemplary volunteer….a Goodwill Ambassador and has helped to change stereotypes about the United States with his daily interactions and conversations with Moldovans.” He formed deep and forever lasting relationships with his fellow Peace Corps volunteers as well as the citizens of Moldova. He maintained contact with his beloved host family and friends right up until his death.

In his career life, Jacob chose to work for non-profit organizations. He served as Philanthropy Advisor, Major Gifts Officer, Regional Development Manager, and Director of Development in numerous NGOs aiding children around the world. But, it wasn’t just his “work”, it was his passion to help children in need. He continued to foster children even after he moved on to other organizations. He hoped one day to go back and serve in his beloved Moldova, but time ran out.

Jacob will be greatly missed by those surviving him: his mother, his beloved sister Rachael Tencza (Scot), adored niece Stella and nephew Lukas, precious grandmother Freda Somers, loving aunts: Sally, Judy, Donna, Joyce, Carol, and Diane, many dear cousins, his host parents Eugenia and Pavel Bolocan, and his chosen family Ernest Loevinsohn, Kathleen Guy, and Maia McFadden. In addition to family, Jacob will be deeply missed by many dear friends.

Jacob was predeceased by his father Richard, his grandmother Shirley Decker, grandfathers Burton Decker and James Bert Smith, his uncle Burt Decker, and cousins Steven Kindy and Jennifer Ryan.

In Jacob’s memory, please consider fostering a child or doing something else to help children, or giving a gift to Dream Foundation or Meredith’s Miracles Cancer Foundation.

As part of the celebration the gathered community enjoyed cherry pie, which was Jacob’s favorite birthday treat made lovingly by his Gram.

 

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compassion 1: say their names

• June 18th, 2017

This summer, we move away from the lectionary to focus on the theme of compassion ("An Illustrated Compassion").  For the next four weeks, we will be focusing on stories of compassion in the Hebrew scriptures, beginning with this week's story of Abraham showing hopsitality to three travelers (Genesis 18:1-8, Hebrews 13:1-3).

In light of yesterday's anniversary of the Charleston church massacre and Friday's aquittal of Philando Castile's killer, Pastoral Intern Allison challenges us to stretch beyond typical understandings of compassion, which tend to keep power in the hands of the powerful.  She encourages us to consider that the greatest gifts of hospitality may not be food and water, but agency and unwavering confidence in the other's deservingness. 

Today, we remember those whose lives have been stolen, especially The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton Doctor, The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, The Rev. Daniel Simmons, Myra Thompson, and Philando Castile.  #saytheirnames #blacklivesmatter

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turtles all the way down

• June 11th, 2017

Using a story about turtles from the Native American author Thomas King, Pastoral Intern Allison Bengfort explores the idea that relationship is the essence of God.  On this Trinity Sunday, we are invited to join in the creative work of the community of the Creator, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. 

Texts:  Psalm 8 & Matthew 28:16-20

 

 

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