- On Thursday evening of last week we went to the dress rehearsal of the musical "Honk!" "Honk!" is the story of the ugly duckling. Though the focus is on outward beauty, I couldn't help but think about how often we all go along with the crowd to lable and misjudge those who are different. The story is from Hans Christian Anderson and may be autobiographical.
- On Friday I heard a wonderful sermon from Craig Lundstad-Vogt at a funeral for James Goetz, former pastor of the church in Taylors Falls. Pastor Craig's message was based on the scripture from Romans 10:8b-17. He said Pastor Jim had "beautiful feet" because he brought the message of salvation from God's word to help people trust in the one Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Though Jim's physical feet may have been ugly, and though he was a sinner through and through (just like me), bringing the good news of Jesus' love made his life beautiful.
- I spent Friday evening and most of Saturday with gorgeous people (in the sense of the above) at the Alpha retreat at Green Lake Bible Camp. About 20 first time participants joined about 10 leaders and helpers in sharing the beauty of God's Word and the healing Joy of the Holy Spirit. I am very thankful for Alpha and all those who make it possible in our church. Lives have been, and are being, transformed.
- On Sunday I shared two versions of a sermon I called "God is in Business" based on readings from Zephaniah, First Thessalonians and Matthew. God promises joy when we use everything God has given us for his saving purpose, multiplying God's investment in each of us to bring many others to the Lord. This in spite of the fact that God speaks harshly when we try to keep God out of what we think of as "our" business. God meddles in every part of our lives because of his great love. He wants us to share his joy!
- On Monday we met for our so called "large staff meeting." We always begin with a scripture based thoughts and prayer. This week intern Paul Gustafson read an item from the Lutheran Digest called "Welcoming the 'Strangers' In Your Life." In the article Jan Johnson mentioned a "three minute guideline": For three minutes after worship we were asked to talk to people we didn't know. Jan concludes her article by saying: "No doubt Jesus knew how awkward [paying attention to others] would be for us, so He gave us this tip, to see Him in the eyes of every stranger... (Matthew 25:31-35)." That's beautiful too!
I hope to see many of you in the coming days. Tonight our church council meets. Tomorrow evening at YDT we'll learn the amazing risk God took to save sinners by coming to live with them. We have a wedding at church on Saturday. Sunday we celebrate Christ the King. It's all challenging yes, but, as we follow our Lord each day, joy and beauty will be ours.