Category Archives: From the Pastor

A blog of thoughts from Pastor Karl

D.C. Mission Trip: Reflections by the Youth

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Sarah:

This week I learned so much about people experiencing homelessness. We often see them as lazy or people who made bad decisions, but this isn’t true.

We had the opportunity to do a poverty simulation and it was so hard. We had to make tough decisions, and we learned how a minimum wage isn’t always a living wage and how high the prices are in places like D.C. Immediately my “older brother” had to drop out of college; we didn’t even think twice about it. My “twin sister” and I were 13. We couldn’t be on our own and spent all of our school time planning. Our father was in jail and we were alone. Our “baby brother” cost so much. Halfway through the simulation, my “twin sister” was expelled from school and a lot of our neighbors were evicted and had to live with us. I felt stressed and like a burden to my family. There was no time for our family to actually spend quality time together. People experiencing homelessness are often considered rude, but when you are constantly worried about just getting through the week, you have to yell at the bank worker, not pay attention in school or be late to work because you have to buy a transportation ticket you are just now able to afford, to get there.

Throughout the week after the simulation, I started thinking about people experiencing homelessness in every situation and how fortunate I am. The heat was unbearable. Sometimes it felt like 104 degrees. I can’t imagine someone living in that with no relief in sight. I learned how a fresh pair of socks could mean so much. I learned how good it felt for them to just have someone say your name rather than pass by without even looking you in the eye. I learned how I have been wrong, that if you can’t give money, you can give your time by talking to people experiencing homelessness. This mission trip will change me forever.

 

Luke:

For my reflection I did it on what things impacted me:

One of the things was how nice and friendly the homeless people were. It was so unsettling that these people have so many problems and yet are so happy.

We did a poverty simulation and in my group of family was my mom and sister, because Dad left us with ten dollars. The simulation was so stressful and angering. We knew it wasn’t reality, but we still felt stressed.

One thing that hit me hard was the Holocaust Museum. It gave me this empty feeling and there was a different section on Syria. We talked about it that night and I said that there is so much violence and death in Syria, it’s not even news anymore and yet no one does anything.

 

Avril:

Going to Washington, D.C. has been an amazing experience. I believe that through our workshop, simulation, and personal experiences that we as a group have grown mentally and grown in God. One of my most memorable experiences this week has been the poverty simulation. The poverty simulation really showed what people experiencing homelessness and poverty deal with every day. There are so many stereotypes describing people living without a home or dealing with poverty as lazy, mentally ill, and having poor priorities. The reality of it is so much different – many don’t make a living wage, living in a home is expensive, travel is difficult, and many don’t know the benefits that are available to them. During these situations, things can decline very quickly. After this week’s experiences, I have learned to be open-minded, and that I have many things to be grateful for in life.

 

Lilly:

During our week in D.C. I learned and experienced many things that change the way I view the world.

Handing out care packages to men experiencing homelessness made me realize the fear and discomfort I was feeling was due to stereotypes I heard growing up.

I saw God in the workers at kitchens we volunteered at. They were all so patient and kind, even though their daily work is combating such a huge issue of poverty and homelessness.

Overall, this trip leaves me with the knowledge that poverty and homelessness is an issue that everyone should want to end and work towards that common goal.

 

Kayla:

This week has caused me to feel many emotions. Empathy, hope, sadness, and disappointment are only a few of those emotions. I felt empathetic for the less fortunate and those experiencing homelessness. I felt hope when I listened to John’s and James’ stories. Sadness when I saw the Holocaust Museum and disappointment because of how everyone reacted to the Holocaust and now during the Syrian refugee crisis/war. I learned so much about poverty, homelessness, and the Holocaust.

I enjoyed everyone who came on this trip. We shared many laughs and tears. We had very great discussions and talked about numerous things. Everyone was funny, kind, and friendly.

 

Jovi:

The most important thing that I learned from this is that God will overcome and He is always with you. At the Holocaust Museum, it was crazy to think about how people being slaughtered and sent to their death knew that God was still with them. Also, when experiencing homelessness, one may feel unloved and alone, so it is important for them to always know that they are not alone. God will never forget you.

 

Carol:

Many words or thoughts have been spoken by many, including myself, about people experiencing homelessness and poverty. Most of the time they are words that speak a story created in our own mind. Who of us would appreciate someone telling a negative story of us without ever meeting us. Words like lazy, poor priorities, mentally ill, addicts, etc. These are words spoken of people of homelessness and poverty. Through our experience, we learned the truth about this problem people experience. The top five causes are never the stories we tell. As people of God, who are called to love our neighbors. We need to seek to know people so that we can be empathetic and show God’s love.

What now? – Thoughts on the Election

Dear Messiah Family,

As predicted, following Tuesday night, half of the country is rejoicing and the other half is grieving. We have seen in this bruising election and divided vote that we are a country of hurting people. We are a congregation of hurting people.

Many who have seen their livelihoods disappear or who feel at risk are experiencing hurt and anger. Leaders have not responded to the realities they are facing and they hope the next president will. Their pain is real.

There are also those who fear that the rhetoric and promises of this election will lead to a continuation of the oppression and violence they have experienced throughout our country’s history. I have been with those this week who have shed desperate tears. People who already felt vulnerable are feeling more vulnerable today. Their pain is real.

What now for the people of God?

The answer has always been in Christ. Christ who got dirty. Christ who lived among dirty people. Christ who stood with the outcast and marginalized until he was crucified.

It’s time to get dirty. It’s time to take up our cross. It’s time to bind up wounds, live alongside hurting people and seek justice and righteousness. We are called to love, and love is dirty and costly.

Love will have us getting into the mix of things. And in the mix of things, we are called to bind up the wounds of all those in our divided country. We must bind up the wounds of rural and working class people. We must bind up the wounds of immigrants, Muslim-Americans, and sexual assault survivors. We must bind up the wounds of people of color, LGBTQ folks and people who are poor. We must bind up the wounds of one another.

But as children of God, we must not only bind up, we must confess and repent of the wounds we inflict, and once doing so, we must speak out against those who would inflict wounds on others. As people of Christ, we must be clear that we are called to repent of any prejudice or violence in our words and actions. We must be clear that we will call others to do so as well.

What now is a good question to have and so we ask it of God. While the election has ended, God’s loving work continues. As the body of Christ, we will continue to seek to know the hope of God’s call. And we will do it together.

The Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love;  Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

God’s Echo in the World

It was one of those beautiful days full of sunshine and I walked down the street to meet some friends for happy hour. It was a good day. A breezy, relaxed day. A day for friends.

As I walked down the sidewalk I came to a group of guys crowded together – the sort that could be described as “upstanding” looking, if we were going to use those empty kinds of descriptives – and they were laughing and having a good time. A day for friends, after all.

Wanting to move easily on my way, I quietly spoke as I came to them, “Excuse me.”

“Show us your tits and we’ll let you pass!” one of them shouted.

My shoulders tightened. I didn’t take a precious second to look to see who said it, but pushed through these laughing men surrounding me. Not stopping. Not looking. I just kept walking.

I just kept walking.

This memory came to me as I read the recently exposed words of one of our presidential candidates. Words that described harassment and assault with laughter and entitled bravado. Words of violence that were met with assured murmurs of agreement.

I’m writing because I know that I’m not the only one for whom those words will conjure up images and memories. I’m writing because I know that those words squeezed the breath from some lungs and tightened the shoulders of many – a painful reminder that in so many spaces and so many places, from streets to boardrooms, women are not safe. I’m writing because for some, they are living in those places and spaces in this very moment.

Beautiful daughter of God, you are created in the image of God – your laughter, your smile, your tenderness, your resilience, your joy, your sorrow. You move with God’s love and care on your shoulders. From the crown of your head – whether straight or curly, loc’d or buzzed – to the soles of your tired, weary feet, you are a blessing of God’s own making. You are God’s echo in the world.

You are like the women of Scripture. You are Hagar – who was cast out into the wilderness by her child’s father and whom God protected and promised to build nations from. You are Vashti – who told the most powerful leader in the land, “no” – and you are Esther – who took what little choice she had and gambled her life for others. You are the unnamed woman, outcast and alone, who took a risk, grabbed the garment of Jesus in the midst of a crowd, and was healed. You are Mary, who Christ called by name and made a first witness to God’s kingdom, before any other disciple.

You are beloved. While those words of violence are condemned or brushed aside as “locker room talk,” you may still be left with the memory of words spoken or actions done to you. I hope you know that those words and those actions are NOT okay. I hope you will know with stronger clarity and with greater conviction, that you are beloved. You are the image of the divine.

You are God’s echo in the world. An echo that drowns out all other taunts or threats or “locker room talk.” An echo that drowns out the foolish violent voices of rulers or rulers-to-be. You are God’s echo in the world. Sing.

REBLOGGED FROM:

God’s Echo in the World

Children’s Minister Michelle Miefert is leaving us.

From the pastor…

I have surprising and disappointing news for our Messiah community. Our Children’s Minister Michelle Miefert has resigned effective October 1, 2016. Though she has only been with us one year, she has already impacted our life together. Her task was to bring our preschool ministry and children’s ministry together,. She started us on that road. Preschool families have shown up in greater number to Messiah Night, Children’s Sunday, Breakfast with the Bunny and just yesterday at our Rally Day Picnic. We have more students from Messiah and more members on staff and as volunteers in our preschool. Michelle came to us when our preschool was healthy and the changes she has made in just one year leave it even healthier. Less changes had begun with our children’s ministry, but we were starting to see a new direction that welcomed families and encouraged their efforts to raise their children in faith. Everyone who encountered Michelle this year has been drawn in by her positive nature, smile, concern and love of children and families. She will be missed. Continue reading Children’s Minister Michelle Miefert is leaving us.

From the pastor…

School begins for our children next week! Can you believe that? Where has this summer gone? Sign number 7461 that I am becoming an old man is that time seems to fly by (sign number 7460 is the hair I have to keep plucking from my ears, why does hair grow where I don’t need it and not…). In May, I was dreaming about a peaceful summer. I even suspended some meetings for June and July to help slow it down further. And yet, I have felt three steps behind since Memorial Day. Continue reading From the pastor…

Summer Worship and Ministry

Unfortunately, our worship attendance at Messiah has historically declined in the summertime, anywhere from 15 to 20%. This is not a unique problem for churches. Many combine or eliminate worship services because the trend in their congregations is even greater. It can cause a problem with the finances of a congregation, since it is the offering given in worship that provides the bulk of the funds that keep the ministries going. Continue reading Summer Worship and Ministry

From the pastor…Life off kilter

From the pastor…

I had a good run this morning, but I still felt anxious and uneasy afterward. I had listened for my entire Monday morning run to the CBS show Face the Nation, podcast version. Now, I have a lot going on this week, so there could be multiple reasons why this run did not relax me, as most do. Still, I think I was put on edge by hearing interviewed all but two of the seven candidates running for president.  

This presidential campaign season I am starting to wonder if I have let my interest get out of kilter. I am filling time in the car or on runs with endless pundits talking about this election, rather than listening to music or great storytelling shows like This American Life or Snap Judgment. My interest is not a civic virtue. I am not trying to decide on who to vote for in our own Ohio primary in March. I am transfixed at the spectacle of our brawling candidates. Like a traffic accident, I can’t seem to take my eyes off of it, hourly, daily, weekly.

I think it is hurting my spirit. There is wholeness in having balance in life. There is goodness in trying to see the world through eyes of faith, not Democratic or Republican eyes. I have enough information to be a good citizen of my country and cast my ballot. I need to move on now and fill my time better. Our lives can get distorted so easily by interests and passions that move us away from God rather than closer. This intense passion feels as though it might be distorting me.

How is your spirit doing? I hope you are filling this Lenten season with rituals, habits and interests that bring you closer to God’s hope for you, rather than further away. I hope the risen Christ is giving you eyes of faith to see the world. Pay attention this Lent to how you are feeling. Maybe, you need what I need, not to ignore the world, but to not the let world dominate our priorities or concerns.  Peace, Pastor Karl

From the pastor…

2015 has been an exciting year for Messiah.

We have welcomed great new staff people. A call committee worked diligently to find a new associate pastor. Messiah has benefitted from their hard work. I have been amazed at how well Pastor Liz has fit into our congregation and added to our life together already. Messiah has added a new full time Children’s Minister position to build more bridges between our Preschool and the church. Michelle Meifert has joined our staff and her hard work and great ideas have made the transition smoother than I would have imagined. I am excited for the possibilities in 2016 that come from these new opportunities. We added a quarter time position to our staff, Jim Diehm, to assist Pastor Liz with Confirmation and Teen ministry. Jim has been a key volunteer leader in this ministry for years, so it is no surprise he is already invaluable since he has shouldered even more responsibility. Continue reading From the pastor…