[Portions of this Pastor’s Word are adapted from a Taize service and reflection held at Our Lady of Grace Monastery and Benedict Inn in Indianapolis]
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus finds it continuously difficult to get away from the crowds clamoring for his help. He is continuously pressed in upon, even while he tries to make some time and space for his own physical and spiritual well-being.
His public ministry begins in Capernaum where, on the first day, he cures many who are sick and casts out demons until late into the night. He rises early the next morning to go into the wilderness, a deserted place, where he can have quiet time in prayer. But the disciples track him down to tell him that everyone is looking for him, presumably because they want to be healed and helped.
When Jesus goes to his hometown the crowd is so persistent, he does not even have time to eat. After an exhausting day of teaching, he tells his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side [of the sea].” Exhausted, he falls asleep. But when a storm arises, they awaken him in a panic. Reaching the other side of the sea, he is greeted by a demoniac as soon as he steps out of the boat. Crossing back again to the other side, a great crowd awaits him on the shoreline. People grab at the hem of his robe in the crowds. Wherever he goes, his arrival is anticipated, his presence is recognized, and people clamor after him. How exhausted Jesus must have been! Perhaps if Dr. Seuss were to write the gospel, he’d say:
"Jesus cannot have quiet time on the boat;
nor in the crowds where they pull at his coat;
and he cannot have quiet in the remote.
The crowds await him on every shore,
they press and they holler “more, more, more.”
One can imagine that each time Jesus “crossed to the other side,” he hoped something more peaceful and restful might await him.
Can you relate?
Oh, how we would like to get to the other side of this summer: to the other side of this virus, to the other side of our civil unrest, to the other side of our economic woes. And yet, at each turn, we find more of the same… a frightened, hurting, desperate world in need.
I want to encourage you in this time to be true disciples of Jesus, learning to live like Jesus lived; seeking rest and prayer and balance, yet also being responsive to the needs of those around you. Rest as you are able. Pray! But do not grow weary in doing good and serving those in need… even though it may be physically and spiritually exhausting at times.
And, as disciples, cling to the other lessons we have learned in this difficult season:
Did you know that hospitality is considered a spiritual practice? Spiritual practices are those things we do to open ourselves to God’s grace and the transforming work of God’s Holy Spirit. So what makes hospitality an experience of God’s grace? In Genesis, chapter 18, the patriarch Abraham entertains three travelers. He invites them to stop and rest under a tree in a cool and safe location. He brings them water to wash. And he and Sarah, his wife, prepare a meal for the travelers. But, these are no ordinary travelers. They are referred to as men, but also as Lord. So the story teaches us, as Hebrews 13:2 clearly states, that we encounter the divine through strangers and guests. The word “hospitality” means “the love of strangers.” Each time I am on retreat at Benedict Inn, I am amazed at the extravagant generosity and graciousness shown by the nuns. As members of the Order of Saint Benedict, they follow his teaching that guests are to be received like Christ and, in fact, we welcome the presence of God in each person and circumstance.
One of the most important expressions of hospitality at Trinity is through the ministry of our Sunday morning greeters. Many of us have had the experience of visiting a church where we are either ignored or embarrassed. Neither feels good. True hospitality welcomes people while also providing them with space. True hospitality creates a safe, open and generous space that communicates welcome and respect. It means being fully present and attentive to another person. That is a rare gift and blessing in today’s fast-paced electronic culture.
Right now at Trinity, we are in great need of greeters. Please pray about this. Research shows that most people decide within the first several minutes of entering a church whether or not they will come back. So greeting is a very important ministry.
If you would consider being a Greeter, please let Pastor Tracey know.
When we welcome others, we serve as ambassadors for Jesus. And when we are attentive to our guests, we often experience God’s blessing through them. I hope you will consider this ministry need and opportunity.
October is stewardship month at Trinity. We have so much for which to be grateful. I hope you will take some time during the month of October to prayerfully reflect on the many blessings God has given you and how you have been blessed by your engagement with Trinity. At Trinity, our mission is to make disciples and our vision is to grow in love and service through relationships with God and community. How has your involvement with Trinity contributed to your Christian discipleship? How have you grown in your ability to love God and others through your involvement with Trinity? And how has Trinity provided you with opportunities to grow through loving and serving those in need? I am grateful for the difference Trinity makes in my life. I continue to be stretched as a disciple and a servant of Christ through my involvement with Trinity. I hope you can say the same! Even since my return from sabbatical, on numerous occasions people in our community have made remarks to me about situations they are aware of and ways that we have engaged in the lives of those in need in our community and helped and supported individuals during difficult times. What a privilege it is for us to support our church’s ministry that is making a difference in people’s lives.
I hope you will join us for worship throughout the month of October as we reflect together on what it means to give out of a sense of gratitude, as a way of giving thanks to God.
Also, watch your mail and email for stewardship updates, the 2020 estimate of giving card, and a personal letter from
Finance Chair, Eric Danz.
Please return your 2020 Estimate of Giving Card on or before October 27.
Beginning Sunday, July 28, Pastor Tracey returns to the pulpit for a post-sabbatical sermon series entitled, “A Traveler’s Reflections.” This sermon series will share and celebrate reflections from her sabbatical travels. The series will conclude on Sunday, August 25, with worship in the Great Room and that morning’s worship will feature several slides from the trip incorporated into the morning message. August 25, at 9:15 a.m., join Pastor Tracey in the Great Room for more casual conversation and dialogue about her experiences – her travels to the UK, Pacific Northwest and Desert Southwest and her time with diverse religious communities. The 9:15 hour will also include time to talk together about how the practices and experiences of those religious communities compare to Trinity and our experience of Christian community.
August Sermon Series: A Traveler’s Reflections
July 28: When God Appears - Genesis 12:1-9
August 4: A Tall Glass of Water - John 9:1-12
August 11: Welcoming the Stranger - Genesis 18:1-16; Matthew 25:31-46
August 18: The Family You Choose - Acts 2:41-47
August 25: Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies… Caverns, Canyons and Corn Fields - Psalm 19:1-6; 1 Kings 21:1-16
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