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Worried? Trust Jesus!

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

The summer fun is about to end, and “school days, dear old golden rule days” are about to return. I’ve already seen people buying school supplies and clothing for their children, and from conversations, I know people are already trying to get their minds around their return to fall work schedules. It is a busy and often anxious time of year!

Whatever age the child of God might be, we are to look toward the same direction for our hope and encouragement. No matter how big or small the worry, whether your anxiety is about your lack of time, treasure, or talent, you are not meant to be alone. Jesus wants to walk with, guide and comfort you.

Above the hubbub of our days or amidst the darkness of any fear, turn to Jesus. Stop and listen for his still small voice. It can indeed be found in Bible study, daily prayer, and corporate worship. Martin Luther wrote, “I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done.”

Now, we don’t have to spend three hours in prayer, but we do need to be attentive and intentional to help us hear the voice of Christ in our lives. Martin Luther has some things to share with us about prayer:

  1. His theology of prayer was centered on scripture. – To know the Word of God, we all need to spend time immersed in it. Hearing other viewpoints from sermons and group studies helps us avoid our own voices from unintentionally shouting down Christ’s own.
  2. His theology of prayer recognized its importance. – Think about your own human relationships. Does conversations and quality time spent with the one’s you love help you to grow closer to one another? It is the same with our relationship with God and Christ’s church.
  3. His theology of prayer understood the human and humble aspects of it. – We need God. We need others. Prayer helps remind us of these needs even as it helps us share them. Prayer is can be both talking and listening, spoken or sung, original or rote. There’s perhaps no such thing as a bad prayer, but simplicity and honesty can make them better. And if you can’t pray? Remember that the Spirit prays for us as can the church!
  4. Luther’s theology of prayer is practical. – No issue is too small or unimportant, for we matter to Christ. We don’t need to prattle on, for our prayers can be as simple as calling for help or saying thank you. It is our heart that matters more than our words. Even dwelling upon a daily passage or verse of scripture can help shape our prayer life.[1]

Do not be anxious, but do not forget whose you are either. You belong to Jesus, and you are meant to be a gift to the church and the church a gift to you. So come on by and stay a spell. We have a place for you, and your brothers and sisters need to see you too!

 

[1] For a more complete exposition on the topic, I commend the essay “Martin Luther on Prayer” as found at gfcto.com/articles/church-history/martin-luther/martin-luther-on-prayer. I owe a debt to it for my thoughts in this article. Even pastors need to listen!

 

Originally published in Messiah Lutheran’s newsletter, The Messenger (August 2017). 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2017 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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Starlight, Starbright

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Forest Wander/Wikimedia Commons

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)

One of my favorite activities during the summer is to leisurely walk my little buddy, Boomer, as the sun sets and the summer heat subsides. More often than not, we become witnesses to a wondrous spectacle of birds settling in for the night, rabbits and deer foraging, and a magnificent burst of colors as the sun recedes and the moon and stars appear. What a special time of year!

I hope as you travel or recreate closer to home, you take an opportunity to pause in your own wonder and worship. Consider the same loving God who created the world and stars created you. Like all of nature, you have a purpose and place in God’s loving, creative plan. In the hush of the evening, I suspect you might better hear and understand your call to reflect God’s beautiful light.

Yet like the stars above, we remain called to be in communion with one another – reflecting and sharing Christ’s love. We are asked to plant seeds of faith, justice and peace – as when volunteering at vacation bible school, local humane societies, food pantries, or serving in many other ways. At all times, we are invited to raise our voices in worship and praise of God with the mountains, seas, and firmament.

No matter where you go or what you do this summer, please contemplate our shared call to be church. We remain Christ’s, and it is Christ’s light and beauty which we are called to reflect and share. It is you, me and others that were created, called and baptized to be Christ’s church together.

 

Originally published in Messiah Lutheran’s newsletter, The Messenger (July 2017). Revised version, 26 June 2017. 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations for this article are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2017 The Rev. Louis Florio. All content not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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The Root of Freedom

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

True freedom isn’t found through political struggle, economic independence, or rugged individualism. Freedom comes ultimately through the heart alone. When we honestly look at ourselves, we find some level of both brokenness and beauty. Despite any of our gifts, we can’t be complete on our own. Realities of the world limit us. We need help. We need others. We need Christ. It might not seem to make sense, but rooted in relationship, we discover the meaning of true freedom.

In a healthy (not perfect) community founded on the love of Christ, we best discover a glimpse of who God created us to be. Whether or not we come from troubled homes or seem to have no one to call our own, we discover ourselves as part of a larger human family and purpose. Love, trust and mutuality help us mature and flourish. Forgiveness received and given makes us and others new. Shared service brings healing. We are never the center of the universe, but we discover our uniqueness can be used to bless others and our world. Best of all, through such a loving communion, we are drawn more deeply into the heart of all life and love, Jesus Christ himself.

Yes, we will all remain human, weak, and imperfect. The social structures that surround us will likely continue to reflect the brokenness inherent within each human heart. Yet despite these “realities”, Christ makes us free to love. Trusting him, we can therefore choose to bravely claim and embody the love given us first. Imperfect as we are, right now, no matter the risk or cost, we can seek to establish heart to heart relationships in his name. Within these relationships, we live out the gift of reconciliation, accept differences, and are empowered to help address any doubts and darkness within ourselves and our world. Miracles will happen. Hand in hand and guided by grace, we will experience the true freedom and transforming power found uniquely within the communion of saints. Rooted together in Christ, new life will most certainly grow.

Peace to you, and Happy Independence Day!

Pastor Lou

The above pastoral letter was originally published in Messiah Lutheran Church and School’s newsletter, The Messenger (July 2011 edition). To view the entire issue of The Messenger or to see the full calendar of events, visit: http://www.mlcas.org

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.

© 2011 The Rev. Louis Florio. All contents not held under another’s copyright may not be used without permission of the author.

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