All posts by Pastor Liz Lowry

Join Us in Advent

The pastors looked over the Old Testament texts for Advent and identified key words. We invite you to reflect on these words each day and how they either give you hope for the new work God is doing or lift up the brokenness that God is making whole again. Your reflections can be with words, pictures, drawings, songs, poetry, and more! Share it with us on Facebook, email or by dropping it off at the office. Share on social media with #adventmessiah2018. We hope to share your thoughts in worship at our midweek Advent Worship services 7:30 on Wednesdays. Enjoy this Advent journey!

Violence and the Kingdom of God

I had just gathered a group of girls to practice a praise dance for Sunday when they decided they’d walk to their friends’ house to recruit more dancers. “Okay, walk over together and come right back,” I told them. They ran away giggling.

Just a couple minutes later I suddenly heard a series of “pop, pop, pop.” Gunshots. I ran outside wildly looking around, trying to guess which direction the sound came from. Was it a couple blocks away? It sounded further away, right? The girls walked west. Did it come from the west?  

My heart was pounding, especially since this was a week after I’d had my own life threatened by bullets. There was nothing to do but walk back inside and wait for them to return. Except there was one other thing to do. I sat in the Sanctuary and I prayed. I heard the sound of ambulance sirens, and I prayed.

When the girls returned, safe and sound, breathless to tell me about the shots, I hugged each one of them. I got them into a circle. We held hands and prayed again. I thanked God that they were okay. I prayed for those who had been shot, and I prayed for the shooters. We said, “amen.”

And then we danced.

 

We all want safety. We need safety. We need to be safe in our homes. We need to be safe on bus stops and in grocery stores. We need to be safe in churches, mosques and synagogues.

“Those who live by the sword die by the sword,” Jesus says. A powerful statement that does not guarantee that those who don’t live by the sword don’t die by the sword. Jesus died by the “sword.” Early Christians died by the sword. Our safety is not guaranteed when we follow Christ. Our safety is not guaranteed as human beings in this world.

And yet we need safety – violations of our safety have lasting effects on us.

As people of faith, how do we respond to a world so broken that our safety is not certain?

Questions like this arise in faith communities when events like the recent Pittsburgh shooting occur. Should we have armed guards? Should we lock all our doors? Should we ask ushers to keep an eye on strangers? How do we respond to violence?

In Chicago, there is a group of mothers who responded by pulling out lawn chairs and sitting on corners of streets that have the highest incidents of gun violence. In Pittsburgh, Muslim leaders raised money and volunteered to escort those in fear. In Charleston, clergy linked arm-in-arm to face white nationalists openly carrying weapons. My girls and I held hands and prayed together.  

Here is what I first believe: We respond together.

We do this together, because safety is for all of us. Safety is for my family. Safety is for my neighbor. Safety is for my Muslim siblings and my Jewish siblings. Safety is for those who are marginalized. Safety is for the inner city and the suburb. Safety is mine when all are safe.

But even more so, as Christians, we respond by continuing to live out the Kingdom of God even when the kingdoms of this world threaten to break us. We take Jesus’ words to be “peacemakers” seriously. We speak out, together, against words of hate and fear. We welcome the stranger even when the stranger frightens us. We take the hand of the sibling next to us and we pray. We worship God even in the places where we are least safe. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness;” Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

This is not easy. This does not come with an instruction manual, but we are siblings in Christ called to figure out what this kingdom-living looks like. Because of this, I do not support arming ourselves in church or treating visitors with suspicion. The need to take precautions for the sake of our safety is important, but I believe that our precautions cannot become barriers to the calling that Christ gives us. Kingdom of God living comes first. And safety isn’t guaranteed.

So, how do I respond to a shooting in a place of worship? I am convinced that I must walk the way of the cross, the way of Christ, for the sake of my neighbor and for my own sake. I must love where there is hate and I must make peace where there is violence. I must put myself in positions where I am actively seeking peace, justice and safety for all. And while this may not guarantee my safety, I am guaranteed that my life and death is held by my Savior. In him, I seek to put my trust.

My hope today is that this reflection engages your own reflections. How is Christ calling you to respond? Together, may we pray for the families of Tree of Life synagogue and all those who suffer from violence – maybe you too are one who has suffered. And then, may we pray with our feet. May we go and live out the Kingdom of God. May we dance.

Peace,

Pastor Liz

Capital Campaign

Our building and property need our love.

Our roof, parking lot, wooden eaves, and gutters all need major repairs or replacement next year. We are asking every family and individual to commit to a special gift for these projects on Reformation Sunday, October 28th.
Ready to make a commitment? You can fill out the form below! You are also able to set up your giving online to include your commitment to the capital campaign. If you’d like to RSVP to our delicious celebratory luncheon on October 28th, please email Phyllis Sneed. Join us!

Celebrate with Us

Sunday, September 30th

St. Francis of Assisi was an important Christian leader in the 12th century. He is known for his dedication to the poor and his emphasis of a love for all creation. His life and work is usually commemorated on October 4th.

We’re taking his feast day as an opportunity to mark our own dedication and celebration of God’s gifts in creation on Sunday, September 30th. Join us for a special day of worship with music, prayers and reflections! If weather permits, we will hold worship outside during the 9:30am service with a special pet blessing. You are invited to bring your pet to be blessed by the pastors.

SEPT 9th Service Time Change

Join us as we “rally” together as a congregation and celebrate the start-up of many of our programs after a summer break. Rather than our normal 3 services, we have two worship services that morning.

8:00am Traditional Service

10:00am Combined (Traditional & Contemporary) Worship Service

Followed by a Meal, Ministry Fair and Games for children and youth!

Our Mission: Summer Sermon Series

As part of a year-long process, leaders at Messiah worked together to discern God’s vision for us and how to move forward in that vision. Our new mission statement now reads: “Filled with the Holy Spirit, we worship and serve as one body of Christ to share God’s love.” 

This summer we are reflecting on our new mission statement and the values of Messiah that shape our mission.  Join us as we celebrate the gifts God has given us and the new thing God is doing in us and through us!

June 24th: Our Mission

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, we worship and serve as one body of Christ to share God’s love.” 

July 1st: Discipleship

Empowered by the Spirit, we live out our faith proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed.  We share our time, talents and abundance serving one another and the world.

July 8th: Inclusiveness

Created in God’s image we embrace our differences.  We invite and welcome all as we worship and share God’s love with the community around us.

July 15th: Growth

God is always doing something new.  We seek to discern God’s will and are open to taking risks and dream new possibilities for ministry.

July 22nd: Servant Leadership

We are called to be Christ’s light in the world.  We raise up and equip faithful leaders to be loving, honest and passionate servants.

July 29th: Fellowship

God gives us to one another to be in relationship.  We gather in many ways to build a community that loves, serves and encourages.

August 5th: Education

Grounded in Christ, we deepen our faith by asking questions that arise from scripture, our experiences and the world in which we live.  We encourage the joyous gifts of curiosity and learning in people of all ages.

August 12th: Outreach

Because Christ first showed us love, we share that love with all who hunger in body, mind and spirit.  We have a heart for the world, seeing and responding to the need around us.

August 19th: Worship

Shaped by our gratitude for all that God has done and is doing for us, we glorify God through Spirit-filled worship with Word, Sacraments and music.