I know this isn’t our new theme, but it seems God isn’t done with the old one yet, at least where I am concerned. During last month’s reflections on repentance, some of the posts mentioned that true repentance means turning around, doing something different, returning to God. It’s not enough to just say “I’m sorry” and then keep behaving in the same way.
At St. Paul’s our leaders have been praying about how we need to repent, individually and corporately. Here’s one thing God has impressed upon my mind: a pastor in India, Pastor Duiggi, and his ministries. We’ve met this man. He actually visited our church, twice I believe, years ago. Since then my husband and I have received periodic emails from him, telling us about the things he is doing and asking for our prayers and support. He runs an orphanage, supports a Women’s Ministry and is now associated with the Lutheran School of Theology in India. Sad to say, I have done nothing.
Why? Well, I could come up with any number of excuses. I’ve been busy with many things (like Martha), things that seemed closer to home and more pressing; he’s not affiliated with our particular Lutheran denomination (the AFLC); our church is small, not wealthy, and truth to tell I’ve been more worried about whether the church can afford to pay its Pastor (my husband) then suggesting we support a mission in India. All of these reasons are wrong and just plain sinful. This is not easy for me to even think, much less say out loud.
So I’m going to repent. I’m going to start talking to our church about Pastor Duiggi, beginning with our Sunday School class. I’m going to model the behavior I’d like to see in others. I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world.
Sometimes we agree with that famous quote from A Tale of Two Cities,
“It was the best of all times and the worst of all times.”
We look around and see deep divisions between people of different ethnic and religious groups, scammers, fake news, wars and immigration problems. Recently I read a book about the famous “Siamese twins,” Eng and Chang. They became Americans and lived through the Civil War. The author followed the personal and professional life of the twins, and the history of the times in which they lived. Guess what? Many of the problems that worry and distress us today were around then as well.
At that time, the nation was divided politically, economically and racially. I imagine many citizens could not imagine how the United States could come back together and truly become one again. Resentments and economic problems abounded. The scammers of that day were men like P.T. Barnum who preyed on the public’s appetite for the bizarre and unusual, and Yankee peddlers who sold useless remedies to gullible customers. Fake news was around too, as newspapers then saw how sensational (although fictitious) stories fueled sales. There were immigration issues as well–but they centered around the Chinese rather than Mexicans.
My point? The worldly environment will never be perfect. The “good old days” weren’t really so good. The Bible tells us that:
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
We can’t change the fact that sin is in the world and will remain with us until Jesus comes again. However, we can make positive changes in ourselves, and those changes will affect the environment around us. Go in peace and serve the Lord!
P.S. If you are interested in reading the book I mentioned it is Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with History by Yunte Huang
As I reviewed my Via de Cristo talk on Environment, I began to see what our Fanning the Flame project is really all about. Our team has been called together to change our environment, and just as we are told in the talk, that change must start with us.
First and foremost, we are learning to be more prayerful people; to rely upon God and look for His leading. We are discovering our spiritual gifts and how we can use them to help others, in our church and in our community. We are being taught how to become better planners and to work with a goal in mind – the goal of bringing Christ into the lives of those around us.
None of this is easy. It means changing old habits and stepping out of our comfort zones. There are not many of us; most of us are not young; all of us have other responsibilities. It is a daunting responsibility. However, we have one big thing going for us, and that is the most important thing of all. As long as we are seeking to God’s will, He is on our side.
As the apostle Paul says in Romans 8:31b-32:
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
And as the angel told Mary,
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
I ask our readers to continue in prayer for us, and our church. May we follow God’s leading and be molded in accordance with His will for us.
In 2016 a couple of ladies from St. Paul’s Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg decided to start a blog: The Lutheran Ladies Connection. About a year into their blogging adventure, they became book reviewers for B&H Publishing. In return for posting unbiased reviews on their blog, the B&H website, and Amazon.com. they received free Christian books. As the pile of books grew larger, one of the ladies asked, “What should we do with all of them?” Starting a Little Free Library seemed to be the obvious answer.
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that builds community and encourages reading, by creating neighborhood book exchanges around the world. Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds. At a Little Free Library you may take a book, trade a book or bring a book. They are sponsored by organizations or individuals. To learn more visit their website www.littlefreelibrary.org.
The grand opening of the Little Free Library of Leitersburg was celebrated by St. Paul’s on July 28th with an ice cream social and free drawing to win a variety of books donated by the Lutheran Ladies. Members of the church and community attended to see the library unveiled.
Pictured are library builder, Rob Waltz, along with the Lutheran Ladies (from left to right): Beth Ann Deardorff, Joan Culler and Michele Edgel.
This prayer, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, reveals one of the first principles of changing an environment: you must change yourself first.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow 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;
fir it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.