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Date: 8/7/2012 4:25 PM CDT

John 6: 22-35

In our gospel lesson for today, we get a glimpse of the day after,

the day after Jesus feeds the 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.
the day after Jesus leaves the crowd because the people are so impressed with his teachings, miracles, and healing powers that they want to make Jesus king.
the day after Jesus crosses the sea without a boat, walks on water, and gets to the other side of the sea, only to, ONCE AGAIN, be followed and confronted by a crowd of people.

This time the people have lots of questions. What strikes me about these questions is that the people who are questioning Jesus are asking surface questions that are focused on Me, Me and did I mention ME.

And Jesus, well Jesus answers the questions much more deeply then imagined by these questioners, and Jesus focuses on God, God and did I mention, God!

It is as if the people asking the questions see God as a cosmic vending machine. I ask the questions, or put in the proverbial coin, and you ... vending machine called Jesus, just give me the answer I want ... the item I select and I will be happy and on my way.

How do I go about doing the works of God? ca-chunk ca-chunk ... just tell me what I should do right now, this moment, I will go do it and I will be good, my soul will be saved.

And Jesus, does not give them a list of things to do ... but instead, says this. BELIEVE IN ME. (Collective Heavy Sigh!)

OK ... I will consider believing in you, but what sign are you going to give me to prove that you are worth believing in? ca-chunk ca-chunk ... Never mind the fact that I am following you because I am amazed by your teaching and recent miracles you showed us. What sign are you going to give me now? You know, something like Moses feeding the people manna from heaven when they were hungry in the wilderness.

I can imagine Jesus shaking his head, maybe even pulling his hair out at this point and saying something like ...

• "I AM NOT your portable vending machine ...
 I am not here to give you your whim of the moment that will make you feel better about being a good disciple or follower or minister."
"Instead, I am what you need.

 I am not what you want.
 I am not your luxury item or the newest and best desire of your heart.
 I am not your mister fix it."

"I AM WHAT YOU NEED ... I am your staple. I am the bread of life. I am your sustenance. I am your SAVIOR!"

"In time, I will fill your every hunger by breaking down the barriers that keep you away from a healthy relationship with your Creator ...

"Soon, I will quench every thirst you have about faith, and you will come to learn that your salvation is NOT at all about what YOU DO! .... your salvation depends upon what I DO. And I will give you all that you need!"
"I will be the bread you hug when you sleep at night. Like in the story the children heard this morning. We can rest assured that we are beloved children of God because we sleep at night knowing the Jesus is our Savior."

NOW ... knowing that our needs were met yesterday, are met today and will be met tomorrow, NOW the question becomes real, not from the surface, but from the heart.

BECAUSE God loves me, BECAUSE God loves you, what can I do, what can you do, what can we do to further this kingdom of love, acceptance, abundance, and hope?

It is in the hearing and understanding of this question that our Family Camp participants harkened back to our first lesson for today. Not as a list of things to do IN ORDER THAT GOD WILL LOVE US ... but as an invitation of how to live with one another BECAUSE GOD LOVES US. (Eph 4: 1-8, 11-14)
“lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,”
“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
“But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.”
According to our folks at Family Camp ... we are all ministers of God.
We have all been given gifts from God that we are to use in response to God’s love for us.

We are to use our gifts of ministry in unity with one another ... in ways that further God’s love and our community!
This is our vision as children of God. To collectively use our gifts to the Glory of God!

What gifts, you may ask ... that ability to

mow the lawn
cook and/or bake
write notes
make banners
make phone calls
share connections
play an instrument
proof read
follow up
be a worker bee
feed the hungry
stand for justice
write curriculum
hold a hand
be last in line

And what are we missing as gifts of ministry.

Because sometimes we sell ourselves short.
Sometimes we do not believe we have anything to share.

BUT, as a child of God, you have been showered with gifts ... gifts that are given to you from God. Gifts that tell us the truth of our Savior:

I AM WHAT YOU NEED ... I am your staple. I am the bread of life. I am your sustenance. I am your SAVIOR!

So please, take the gifts I give you and lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called

Because friends, we are loved~and in that love we

must go about the glorious response to God’s love for us by sharing our gifts and being ministers in a questioning society.

Let us proclaim the sustenance of our Savior ...
Let us point to the bread we hug when we sleep at night.
Let us share our gifts in ways that transform our world in love.

So be it. Amen.

This is the sermon from August 5, 2012 at Bethel Lutheran Church. I share it, in part, because the people at family camp missed it, and since they were my main source of ideas ... I wanted them to see it. (You will have to ask to see the power point part as I have not included it here). I also share it to say to those who were at worship ... the blue section above was what was on the misplaced page 3 ... I hope I did it justice, off the top of my head. I found the page in the office on Tuesday. HAHAHA. I hope all enjoy this post. Feel free to comment.  God bless you!  Pastor Brenda

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Date: 7/31/2012 3:50 PM CDT

A portion of the sermon from July 29, 2012 ... and a few prayers written during the service:

Do you have a prayer story that took the form of a miracle, somehow?
Maybe the answer was not what you wanted, but what you needed?
Maybe the prayer itself moved you to a place where you were ready for whatever came next.
Or the prayer was answered in a way no one expected, but in the end, it was the best answer give the circumstances.


With a closer look at our second lesson we see that this is a prayer from the apostle Paul ... a prayer for the children of God ... a prayer for us ...

“I pray that ... you may be strengthened in your inner being ... in the Spirit ... and that Christ may dwell in your hearts.” 

“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend ... the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ  ... that, with Christ, we may accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine  !!!!” 

Amen?  Amen.

What an empowering and loving prayer.  
People of God, we are blessed to be prayed for ...
we are empowered to be about the message and love of God ...
we are invited to pray such powerful prayers and trust in our God to answer our prayers.

So, what are your prayers for this congregation?  For this neighborhood?  For your community?  For this world? 
Lord, listen to you children praying,
Lord send your spirit in this place.
Lord, listen to your children praying
Send us love, send us power, send us grace!

With you, for Christ,
Pastor Brenda

A couple responses from the congregation:

"Dear God, Please continue to show your love to the people of Bethel.  May your love for them and their love for you so shine that the congregation grows.  Be with all who gather at Bethel services of praise and thanksgiving, so all feel welcomed and loved.  Be with each of us while we are in church and in the community.  Amen"

"I pray for Bethel's growth, that we are able to reach out to our neighbors, family and friends to join us as a family of love.  For world peace and decline in homelessness, hunger, lost people and those in pain.  Help us strengthen our family units, beginning with our own."

"Pray for the kids who need to be adopted."

"God, Please help our congregation come together and grow in your Word and outreach to our surrounding community.  May we be able to broaden our horizons and welcome all who have a desire to worship in our name.  Amen"

Did you miss your opportunity to share a prayer for Bethel, our neighborhood, your community and/or our world?  Feel free to share it here ... or email it to (let us know if you want your name attached when we use it on Facebook, in this blog, in a bulletin or newsletter!)  Thank you!  And God's continued blessings.  PB

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Date: 7/23/2012 12:13 PM CDT

Allow me to share with you a promising and bold paraphrase of Psalm 23 … originally written by a blogger named Geoff McElroy … and something I have quoted and expanded upon.  A paraphrase:

I am not certain about what is going on in my life right now,

BUT the Lord is my shepherd.

I may be struggling to make ends meet,

BUT I will not lack.

I might have trouble sleeping because of everything going on around me,

BUT God MAKES me lie down in good pastures.

Storms, tsunamis, floods, and hurricanes may bring damage to life and limb,

BUT God will lead me beside still waters, and God will splash newness upon my soul.

Death happens every day – naturally, savagely, accidently, unexpectedly, in war, at home, on the streets, and in hospitals

BUT I will fear no evil, for my God is with me.

I might be beaten down and hurt and broken right now,

BUT my very being is daily restored by my Shepherd, my God!

The details of life overwhelm me and I may be to busy to care about taking care of others, let alone taking care of myself,

But God anoints my head with oil, God knows the numbers of hairs on my head, and God likely knows me better than I know myself.

In the midst of all the chaos of life, sometimes I believe I am lost, I am alone,

BUT only goodness and mercy will follow me because I belong to God.  My past, my present and my future remain with my Shepherd, this day and forevermore.

Psalm 23.  This is a psalm of comfort and proclamation, but it sometimes gets a bad reputation.  As you know, it is often used in funerals.  Which is certainly appropriate, extremely appropriate ... however, because that is where we hear it the most, we often ONLY associate it with death ~ when, in truth, Psalm 23 talks about every aspect of our life now, as well as our life eternal to come. 

o   Psalm 23 brings us compassion and guidance,
o   lessons and healing,
o   certainty and relationship.
Psalm 23 brings us Jesus.

As truth tellers, this Psalm is hard, maybe impossible, to believe in times of crisis.  The Psalms of lament, like Psalm 22, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” might well feel more appropriate in Aurora, Colorado this week.  Psalm 22 is a call for God to be present in crisis, in terror, in hate, in cruelty, and in fear.  Psalm 22 groans for God's presence, God's intervention, God's compassion.

Friends, it is not a mistake that Psalm 23 follows such a psalm of laments.  Psalm 23 is
God’s answers to our prayers. 
God’s tears in our sadness.
God’s compassion in our lives ... individually, as a community, and in all of creation. 

So, let us claim the fullness of this Psalm.  Let us find the compassion, intervention and presence of God in our lives today, as in our eternal lives to come. 

So be it.  Amen.

(sermon, in part, July 22, 2012 at Bethel Lutheran Church)

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Date: 6/13/2012 4:33 PM CDT

Reflections on a Service of Ordination and Installation

Joyful occasions l-o-n-g for opportunity to somehow express heartfelt appreciation – thanksgiving that will  -- just barely  -- touch the surface of awe that was June 9, 2012, and continues to soar in our collective lives! 

As I stood in front of about 300 of you (and so many more in spirit)  … all participants in my faith journey/graceful engagement/extended trip to ordination … and was presented as a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ,  I have to admit, I was not sure what to do!  I had dreamed about that moment for years … and when it became a reality, I was stunned, blessed, and at a loss. 

Yes, I pointed to God in praise and thanksgiving.  Yes, I blew a kiss to my dearest mom in her heavenly home.  Yes, I signed THANK YOU to those present many, many times!  But it just does not seem enough … words and actions limited to a few minutes there and a written page here – it is just not enough to touch how blessed I felt, how sacred the moment, how much love continues to surround each of us, how good God is – even in the midst of the chaos we call Church. 

Friends, God is Good!  And I am honored to be a part of the priesthood of all believers that is the ELCA, through Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church.  THANK YOU … and I know that is not enough!

On Saturday, a dear friend of mine shared the following with me.  I share it with you as a prayer for us … at Bethel … as we step into the places between us, within us and surrounding us.  Take it to heart, breathe it in, pray it, and let’s celebrate with joy and thanksgiving the call that is ours in the priesthood of all believers.

For Priesthood by John O’Donohue
in “To Bless the Space Between Us”

May the blessings released through your hands
Cause windows to open in darkened minds.

May the sufferings your calling brings
Be but winter before the spring.

May the companionship of your doubt
Restore what your beliefs leave out.

May the secret hungers of your heart
Harvest from emptiness its sacred fruit.

May your solitude be a voyage
Into the wilderness and wonder of God.

May your words have the prophetic edge
To enable the heart to hear itself.

May the silence where your calling dwells
Foster your freedom in all you do and feel.

May you find words of divine warmth
To clothe the dying in the language of dawn.

May the slow light of the Eucharist
Be a sure shelter around your future.

With you, for Christ,
Pastor Brenda L. Froisland

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