Serving is …..

Serving is sometimes struggle.  Serving always takes you out of your comfort zone. When we went to feed the homeless in partnership with Chickfila and a Girl Scout Daisy Troop, we had 12 adults and about 10 young children along.

I was interested to hear about how both adults and children processed the experience of serving among people in real need.  As adults, we are impacted with the need and the sometimes helpless feeling that what you brought just scratches the surface.  Sometimes you are confronted by your own abundance and how you live in relative peace and safety and there are people right outside your neighborhood who can’t even sleep in safety.

You realize how LITTLE you think about and how quickly you forget about people who are victims of life, poor choices, injustice, etc.  You consider how, as individuals working together, you can not completely meet the need but you make a difference for a few families on a particular afternoon.  It breaks your heart but it also gives birth to hope in your heart.

One family observed that a distraught couple’s pain was eased for a bit when they gave a wellness bag (after they had already run out of lunches) that was received with appreciation by a woman who was crying and her barefoot husband who was trying to console her.  The man spotted the socks in the bag and said he really needed socks.

One family with two very young children gave lunches to a group of individuals living on the streets and there were many young children among their group.  The little 4 year old boy serving wondered where they could receive their Christmas gifts if they had no home.  His 6 year old sister explained they have no toys, no home and their daddies sometimes have no jobs.

There were good family conversations about the need of others and the opportunity we have to be Jesus’ hands and feet to serve others in love.

I am grateful for the struggle. Service always come with a price. Often the price is we leave a piece of our heart behind.

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A Call to Community.

I think alot about community…..what it looks like, how it’s fostered, how to promote it, what are the components, how does community grow, etc. Community is part of my call. Good thing it’s part of my “job” description as Community Life Coordinator.

I wrote an article in the Missio Apostolica journal entitled: “A Call to Community.” HERE is the journal article if you want to read it.

An excerpt:

“It is remarkable to consider that God made us to need each other, be for one another, live in community with each other, and worship Him in ever increasing community with Christ and one another. ….. We need each other to grow together in Christ just as the parts of the body need each other, with the network of supporting ligaments, to live and thrive in each other’s company.”

A time….

There is a rhythm to life. There are times of weighty burden (for you or others you care about) and there are times of lightness and buoyancy. It is good to experience times of repentance and times of refreshment. We are entering a time of repentance observed in the historical church called Lent. I personally don’t give something up for Lent (although these are good spiritual practices) but rather want to fix greater attention to going deeper in seeking and giving God’s mercy. Who needs a hot meal, a warm touch, a glimpse of hope…. a word of kindness? Where will I create space and focus for such things. Time for these things mean less time for other things. What are those other things? Don’t much know …all I can do is focus on what is ahead, not what is left behind. That is my prayer for this season. Kyrie Eleison!

 

This is Love at Concordia!

One of Concordia’s highest purposes is to show what love is. We know love is first born in God’s heart. We experience that and our “job” is to help families live their love life and tell their story!

This month the teachers are helping our families tell their love story. I LOVE IT! What an amazing thing to sit down and dedicate time to working with your child on your family love story. What a profound and beautiful thing!

I am so grateful we get to do this. I am grateful for a team of teachers and staff here at Concordia who are communicators of love. Here is a glimpse at some of the love stories. Each one is as powerful as it is unique. In the telling of story the children learn that they are loved……by God and by their families.

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An open letter to the fine people of Concordia.

I am grateful for the vote of confidence and sacred trust given by the Concordia community in extending me the privilege of serving you as FULL TIME Community Life Coordinator.  I am grateful for the leadership of our pastor who saw giftedness in me years ago to do the work I am doing here presently at Concordia.  What we believe in matching people to giftedness is most certainly true for me. I am fulfilled and I believe fruitful serving here for this important time in Concordia’s history. 

Thank you friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we serve the purpose of the Church and the mission of Concordia together!

Melissa

The Beauty of Belonging….

Last Sunday at our Concordia Orientation gathering, I had the privilege of getting to know a little better a group of people who have caught the vision of what God wants to do here at Concordia and are connecting in community here. When I meet people who are connecting at Concordia, it feels to me like I am encountering people I already know and with whom I feel comfortable. Remarkable!

I love that we talk about what it means to live in community as a family. It is a beautiful thing. A pastor friend wrote this on his blog and I thought I would share it here. Tell me what you think.

dominicThanks Pastor Dominic for being our “guest” blogger today.

There is nothing like the feeling of belonging, the sense of being part of something greater than ourselves…invited, connected, and accepted in community. We cannot underestimate the joy of belonging, particularly in a world that stresses that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as the pinnacle of human satisfaction. While I would never deny that uniqueness and individuality are valuable contributions to our joy, they cannot and will not lead to joy itself. Belonging requires the participation of others. Without this fellowship the promise of hope and a joyful life quickly fade into the darkness of loneliness and despair.

“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:49-50

In our desire to make a life for ourselves we often sacrifice the blessings of belonging, particularly in the community Christ alone freely offers. As our life spins deeper into itself and we’re feeling most alone our soul cries out for what has been lost. We may even cry out “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” And yet still, here in the lonely darkness,God remains. Here He answers in words that remind us we have been invited into a relationship with Him, connected by His love and accepted through His sacrifice…

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:14-16

More than just a feeling of belonging, you have been brought into community with God through an invitation spoken from a cross, a connection made in a death and acceptance through a self-sacrifice you and I could never make for ourselves.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”- so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13-14

The blessing of Abraham is the Spirit of faith that binds us together in community. Together we experience the overwhelming joy of belonging through His generous love and are led to live a truly generous life! While there is certainly belonging here in this electronic community, I encourage you to invite others to connect face to face where you live, remembering how a little acceptance can go a long way toward a community that values the joyful life!

Read Psalm 119:49-56, Isaiah 49:13-23, Galatians 3:1-14, Mark 6:30-46. Peace!