As summer begins, I am thinking of all the wonderful and beautiful things that will be happening and taking place this summer. From cook-outs to Lock-ins, to bon fires and Hog Days! We want summer to be a time of relaxation and sleeping in. Keeping commitments (especially to church, unfortunately) is a hard thing when the weather is beautiful and our lives are busy.
But it is during those "busy" times that we have to make our faith a priority. And trust me - I understand not wanting to wake up on Sundays for church - I was called into this gig (I haven't always wanted to be here every Sunday either :) ) and I thoroughly enjoy sleeping in! But church is still there. Every Sunday it is open with the sounds of song, praise, prayer, and Word, to show us the way and to love us.
So as you are planning your summer, I encourage you to keep church, and your faith on the schedule as best you can, and we will do our best to help you to nurture your faith in all forms. (and also - if you aren't a Sunday morning fan - come on Wednesdays at 6:30pm - short, sweet, and to the point worship)!
Hope to see you this summer!
Last weekend, I was able to take some time for Continuing Education and head down to Florida for the ELCA Youth Ministry Network's Extravaganza. This event brings children, youth and family ministers, volunteers, and workers together for a common goal: to teach and live into the word of God by sharing it with youth.
The theme this year was #Disrupt - the Gospel disrupts, faith disrupts, and God disrupts. Throughout the event many of the schedules and items were disrupted in some way to show us what the power of disruption can do. It is this disruptive nature of God and the Gospel that we have to live into on a daily basis. We are constantly being disrupted in some way shape or form, and its up to us as to how we are going to respond. Sometimes our disruptions might be small, like a burned out light in your bathroom, or it might be large, like where you are going to go to college. But navigating these disruptions make us who we are today.
God disrupts our lives in ways we don't fully understand, but we want to know - we pray for one thing, but then if we get a response it is almost never the one we want or are expecting. When we recognize that God is doing it however we sometimes have to let go of our pressumptions and follow God. And this is hard work, it doesn't come easy to truly rely on something or someone, but sometimes when we do that holy disruption we are facing all comes to light in the end.
So I encourage us all to pay attention to the the disruptions in our lives, and to live into them, because we never know where they might lead!
As we journey into this Christmas season, we have been living a life of patience (or impatience for some of us). The busyness of our lives is something we are constantly focusing on - and patience and waiting become an inconvienence we no longer are willing to wait for. And yet, our whole season of Advent causes us to wait, to reflect, and to recognize our feelings.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, and yet for some it is a time of self doubt, lament, and sorrow. Everyone in this world does not always want to celebrate Christmas. And yet, it comes each year, at the same time, to enter into our lives like a frying pan to the face. The Christ child is born, and our whole lives change, and yet, do we feel that change, do we recognize that change, do we want that change? Well, it doesn't matter if we are ready or not, it is going to happen, the baby will be born and enter into our world to claim us, love us, and show us what God has in store.
So I hope, whether you are feeling sorrow or lament because it is the Christmas season, or if you are ready for the celebration, that Christ meets you where you are, and that you can open yourself up to him. May the miracle of Christmas fill your heart with peace.
Pastor Mara Ahles-Iverson grew up in Bettendorf, Iowa, attended the University of Iowa, and Wartburg Theological Seminary. She was married in 2012 and had a beautiful little girl in 2015. Zion is her second call in God's church, and so glad to be a part of the Kewanee community.