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Life is both joy and weeping

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.  

                                                                                     —Ezra 3:11-13

       
Somehow in my 30 plus years of studying the Bible I had missed the impact of this verse from Ezra. Dr. Cameron Howard, associate professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary, brought to our attention when we gathered for the Fall Theological Conference in mid-September. The words No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, describes our individual and community lives. In fact, Dr. Howard said it might be her favorite verse. I tend to agree with her. Life is both joy and weeping. Life is both health and illness. Life is both ecstasy and painful. There are times both seem to be happening at the same time and we cannot distinguish the difference; they both exist.

We trust that God will be present in all times, situations, circumstances and feelings. Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us, “When someone asks us where we want to be in our lives, the last thing that occurs to us is to look down at our feet and say, ‘Here, I guess, since this is where I am.’” We have this moment, this stage of life, these people and this life. Many days no one can distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping. But what if we can be all right with trusting God is present in the praise and the crying? What if we understand each other better in the joy and the weeping? What if our faith is built on nothing less?

Peace,

Pastor Lori Hope


 

Dear friends at St. Mark’s, grace and peace to you
in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord!


     I can’t believe it has already been just over a month since I started my internship here at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. It has been such a joy to meet many new people. I am so very grateful for the ways you have welcomed me into your community of faith. I am also deeply humbled by how you have supported not just one, but now, three interns to learn, grow, and form as a pastor in the ELCA. You are doing a service for the entire Church, and I hope you realize what a gift that is!
     Here are some things I have noticed about St. Mark’s in my short time here:

  • You are generous. You are generous with your time, talent, and financial gifts. Whether that’s purchasing new supplies for the revitalized Sunday School program, showing up to help a neighbor, or collecting coins for Laundry with Love, you show up with generous hearts that stem from the grace and mercy we receive from God through Jesus Christ.
  • You are welcoming. Many congregations love to boast the “All are Welcome” slogan, but at St. Mark’s, I think you really believe in the phrase and show signs of welcome to your neighbors. None are excluded at Christ’s table. I am encouraged by how you have been digging into the hard work of what it means to welcome others by reviewing the Reconciling in Christ (RIC) process and discerning your next steps with that program. 
  • You are courageous. You might not think this of yourselves, but I think St. Mark’s has a lot of courage. You are bold to try new things and experiment. I think courage takes a great deal of faith because you know who you belong to, and whose church this belongs to as well (hint: it’s Jesus!) One step of courage will be happening on Thursday, October 6 at 7 PM down at the Full Circle Book Co-op. I’ll be there hosting an event called Brew and Renew. We will be looking at stories of the Bible through a lens known as “queer theology.” Please come if you are able and invite others to join!

     St. Mark’s, I am encouraged by you and the ministry we share – for the Church, for this call that God has called me to, and for the world in which the Gospel has called you to witness Christ’s love and mercy to all people.
 

Your sibling in Christ,
Vicar Sawyer

 

 

 

 

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