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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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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pentecost

• June 4th, 2017

The Rev. Kristy Daniels, pastor at the Church of Steadfast Love, joins us this week as guest preacher for Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:1-21, John 20:19-23).  She shares insight about her experience working with men who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness, and she emphasizes the importance of hearing the good news in one's own native language.

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ascension & mystical union

• May 28th, 2017

After returning from two weeks away from Gethsemane, Pastoral Intern Allison reflects on how her understanding of the Gospel of John has changed over her seminary career.  Drawing from Christian mystical writers over the centuries, she describes Jesus' hope that we be one with God, just as he is one with God (John 17:1-11).  On this Ascension Sunday (Acts 1:6-14), it is crucial to remember that God is not located far away or up above, but in and among us. 

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easter 6: orphans?

• May 21st, 2017

Thinking about the shocking words of Jesus in John 14:15-21, 25-26, Pr Joanne asks us to think about orphans. And to understand that figuring out how to live without the embodied presence of Jesus is one way of us living as orphans. But the point of the passage is to remind us that even without Jesus, the promise is that we won't have to go it alone. An Advocate, the Paraclete, is promised to be with us always.

 

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come and journey with me

• May 14th, 2017

stones.jpg

For many of us, hiking is a joyous pursuit. Pr Engquist invites us to think about treks we have taken and those instances we may have felt lost (or actually have been lost!). She asks us also to think of what helps us stay on track or what guides us along the way? Reflecting on Jesus who calls himself the Way (in John 14:1-14), she invites us to consider how his life was a living signpost. And layering on the images from I Peter, she asks us to imagine ourselves as living stones being built into a sanctuary or serving as a guiding cairn along life's way. There are a lot of images. Have a listen to see if one works well for your life's journey.

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the content of abundant life

• May 7th, 2017

It's Good Shepherd Sunday, and the texts are all about sheep, the shepherd, the gate, and abundant life (Psalm 23, Acts 2:42-47, John 10:1-10).  Pastoral Intern Allison takes up the question of what the image of the Good Shepherd has to teach us about abundant life.  What exactly does abundant life look like?   

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no right way

• April 30th, 2017

How did you come to join the Christian community?  If you have been baptized, were you baptized as a child or as an aldult?  Have you ever wondered why Lutherans practice infant baptism? 

Using today's readings as a guide (Acts 2:36-42 and Luke 24:13-35), Pastoral Intern Allison explores different paths to entering Christian community and experiencing Christ's love.  No matter your story, you are welcome here.

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