Tag Archives: Western North Dakota Synod

Weary Sometimes, But Never Alone

A colleague of mine in the ELCA’s Conference of Bishops posted a beautiful prayer today. It’s called, “A Prayer For: The Exhausted.” I shared an image of the prayer on my Facebook page as soon as I saw it. It spoke to me, especially in light of the fact that I’m attempting to take a few days off for the first time in several weeks. I’m not sure if I’m exhausted, but I’m definitely a little tired. As I’ve offered this prayer today, Jesus’ words from Matthew’s gospel echo between the prayer’s poetic verses.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

(Matthew 11:28-30)

Being called to serve in the church is difficult in the best of times. I’m not sure what kind of times we are walking through today, but the best of times might not be the first descriptive word most pastors, deacons, church staff, or volunteer church leaders would use? This truth is compounded by the ongoing reality of COVID-19; our daily struggle to navigate digital and in-person worlds; the seemingly unending cycle of political rhetoric; and a million other things that seek our attention. In my first few months serving as a Bishop, the conversations I’ve had with church leaders usually don’t involve joyful exhortations because everything is going exactly as they had planned.

But God is faithful. And God is still God. Jesus is still Jesus. And Jesus will always be our Savior. May Jesus’ words in Matthew’s gospel remind us that we don’t walk this journey alone – in the best of times and in every other time that we encounter along the way. As tired, or maybe even exhausted, as we are sometimes, remember…we are never alone. Thanks be to God!

Together we pray…

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It’s a New Year…Thankfully!

It is the first day of a New Year!! And all God’s children say, “Thanks be to God!!” One of the scripture readings from the lectionary for the first day of this new year is the Aaronic Blessing or Priestly Benediction. It’s a fitting scripture for us to hear today. It’s comforting in ways I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about before. Comforting to know that the previous year is finally gone! Comforting to know that God is always with us!

To say that 2020 was difficult…is…well…an understatement. To say that 2020 was filled with fear and trembling doesn’t begin to describe the journey we just traveled. To say that 2020 revealed human behavior showcased through some of the most disgusting tendencies we’ve ever seen, behaviors that none of us should be okay with, was disheartening.

BUT – and this might surprise some of you – I am thankful for 2020.

“God bless you and keep you,

God smile on you and gift you,

God look you full in the face and make you prosper.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Message)

I’m thankful that 2020 reminded me of the importance of family. 2020 forced my family to grieve deeply at the untimely death of my mother. COVID-19 is pure evil and leaves death and destruction in its wake. As a family, we experienced this death and destruction first-hand. Grieving the death of my mother has reminded me, and I believe everyone in my family, just how significant family is. Just how important and beautiful our relationship with God is as it is lived out through our family. Thank you 2020. I love you mom!

I’m thankful that 2020 gave Wendy and me an unexpected experience of the healing power of God’s touch. The holy work of God’s hands guiding the hands of doctors and nurses and medical staff we never dreamt we’d ever need has been a sacred time. Wendy continues to heal from her July 28th accident. It was an accident that will change her life, and mine, forever. God’s healing hands have been upon Wendy this year. And both of us have been changed as we’ve witnessed the healing power of those hands. Thank you 2020.

I’m thankful that 2020 revealed to me a deeper understanding of call. This was revealed to me most directly during the Western North Dakota Synod Assembly on July 17th. God has continued to reveal this to me as I have served as Bishop since September. The church is a big, beautiful reflection of God’s presence in the world, albeit far from perfect. Thank you 2020. May God continue to bless and keep Christ’s church!

Sisters and brothers in Christ, as we begin our journey into a new year, may God’s presence in our lives remind us just how much we are blessed and kept by the God of all creation. May God’s face shining upon us, bring grace upon grace in all we say and do. May God walking with us through whatever 2021 throws at us, give us peace beyond all understanding. Amen. Let it be so.