Worship for Sunday – July 31, 2022

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

2Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

12I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, 13applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

2:18I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me 19—and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? 23For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 49:1-12

1Hear this, you peoples; give ear, all you who dwell in the world,
2you of high degree and low, rich and poor together.
3My mouth shall speak of wisdom,
and my heart shall meditate on understanding.
4I will incline my ear to a proverb
and set forth my riddle upon the harp.
5Why should I be afraid in evil days,
when the wickedness of those at my heels surrounds me,
6the wickedness of those who put their trust in their own prowess,
and boast of their great riches?
7One can never redeem another,
or give to God the ransom for another’s life;
8for the ransom of a life is so great
that there would never be enough to pay it,
9in order to live forever and ever and never see the grave.
10For we see that the wise die also; like the dull and stupid they perish
and leave their wealth to those who come after them.
11Their graves shall be their homes forever, their dwelling places from generation to generation, though they had named lands after themselves.
12Even though honored, they cannot live forever;
they are like the beasts that perish. 

Colossians 3:1-11

1So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, 3for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

5Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. 7These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. 8But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 12:13-21

13Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

God’s Word is many – many things.

Sometimes our Lord speaks words of comfort and love to us.   Reminding us that no matter what this life brings our way – we are his beloved children forever and always.

Sometimes our God encourages us and cheers us on. Boldly reminding us – we CAN do this. We are never alone. Our God is with us each and every moment of our lives.

Other times – God’s Word aims to move us from complacency to action and service. God reminds us we are ALL called to feed the hungry – comfort the hurting – and share God’s love.

And sometimes – like today – God’s Word makes us squirm. It is a swift kick in the pants. It makes us uncomfortable – because Jesus says something to us – we just don’t want to hear.   That we would prefer to ignore.

I mean seriously – who ever wants to hear from their Lord and Savior that he thinks they should – “Take care! Be on guard! Take heed against ALL kinds of greed – for your life does not consist in the abundance of possessions . . .”

Eww! OUCH!   I don’t know about you – but personally – those sentences hit home! They hit a nerve. They make me squirm – A LOT!

Because I like stuff. I especially covet yarn! Oh – how I covet yarn! In fact – I covet ALL of the yarn in the entire universe. Sock yarn. Cotton yarn. Wool yarn. Linen yarn. Hand-dyed and machine-dyed. Self-striping yarn. Speckled yarn. I covet ALL of IT!   If it is yarn – I likely want it!

I am absolutely incapable of leaving a yarn store without acquiring more yarn.

I understand your problem with material possessions – probably isn’t yarn – BUT – I DO think ALL of us have a lot more in common with the rich farmer in our Gospel reading for today than we would like to admit.

When we get money and stuff – we hang on to it.   We hang on to our material possessions long after they have ceased to be useful to us. We have basements – closets – garages and attics filled to bursting with things we don’t use. Or how about those off-site storage places that are EVERYWHERE these days?

We hold on to our money and our stuff so tightly our knuckles turn white. We have so much more than we need or can use. And yet – we insist on holding on to these things because – it is ours!   Even when sharing could bless other people.

We run around like a bunch of toddlers hoarding and chanting – mine! Mine!   MINE!

We are possessed by our possessions! Our stuff owns us! We know – we spend FAR more time thinking about our stuff during an average week than we do our God!

The rich farmer in Jesus’ parable went to desperate lengths to keep all of his wealth just for himself. He never dreamed of sharing it with anyone else.

Jesus tells us the farmer desperately wanted to hang on to every last bit of his earthly wealth. He didn’t want to lose a single grain of wheat. So – he tore down his original barns and built bigger barns – which was both expensive and time consuming. But it was worth it to him – because he longed for the security and comfort he thought he would have once he was surrounded by his wealth.

Finally – once he had all of his stuff all safely stored away – the rich farmer thought he had it made. He even said to himself – now I can relax and enjoy my life.

But – Jesus tells us – the rich farmer died the very night his barns were finished. (Talk about a blunt commentary on human mortality.)

This parable was Jesus’ response to an argument two brothers were having about how their family inheritance should be divided.

Jesus saw these brothers were putting a greater value on stuff than on their relationship with one another. And Jesus wanted these two bickering brothers to see – stuff really is just stuff!   And stuff should never be the focus of our lives. Stuff is never more important than people!

And yet – Jesus is not telling us in this parable that we are wrong to own things or to save for the future or even to enjoy the things of this world.

What Jesus is telling us is – that it is wrong to center our lives on material possessions and money and stuff. Our God and people should ALWAYS come first – ALWAYS!

Life is more than possessions and wealth.   Our relationships with our Lord – with our families – with our friends – with our sisters and brothers in Christ are what really matter.

Our lives should be centered on our God.   Because – in the end – what really matters – actually ALL that matters – are God and his love for us. AMEN.

He’s a Valedictorian Again!

Our home is a zoo. Our home hasn’t always been a zoo – but it is now. We have three cats/kittens and a dog.

There is Gracie our sweet – reserved – orange marmalade – tabby cat.   Gracie gives new meaning to stealthy and quiet! Gracie absolutely adores Jason (probably because she knows they are kindred spirits).   She doesn’t talk very often – but when she does – it is significant. When Gracie glides silently into a room or when Gracie meows – our entire family responds. Gracie and Jason have both tried and tried to teach me the power of using your words judiciously and infrequently (BUT I am too much of a goof to learn this lesson!)

There is Ash our sassy – gray – tabby kitten. Ash is my girl. Ash is an absolute diva. She talks A LOT. Ash is demanding and has a huge personality in a small body. She likes everything to be “just so.”   And if something is not up to her standards – Ash will tell you about it over and over and over again until you come and fix it! Jack gave Ash the nickname of Napoleon because he thinks Ash is like our very own little French dictator!

Lily is our mostly white kitten with the huge fluffy tale. Lily is a wild and crazy ball of energy.   Lily is an imp and a blur and just plain hilarious or trouble depending on her mood. She is into everything and all over the place ALL of the time (unless she is sound asleep). Lily talks a lot too. Lily and Ash are sisters (but not liter mates). Lily’s favorite toys are Nerf bullets – and she hunts – stalks and kills them often!

And then there is Douglas the dog – Jack’s Australian Shepherd.   Doug is a beautiful red merle.   He is fluffy and soft and lots of colors. Even Doug’s eyes are both blue and brown!   Doug is a dream come true for Jack. Jack and Doug are side-kicks.

I will be honest – I have struggled DEEPLY with Doug the dog.   Doug doesn’t always listen to me.   Doug has infuriated me by jumping our fence and refusing to come when called. Doug will choke himself and yank so hard it feels like he is going to dislocate my shoulder when I take him for a walk. Doug chases the cats. Doug has almost knocked me down trying to escape out the front door when I am leaving.

I know Doug is not evil – but Doug is often as annoying as rock in your shoe on a long hike up a mountain in the rain with no poncho while trying to entertain a whining – complaining toddler . . .

Untrained dogs are NOT okay. I do not find untrained dogs cute or amusing or endearing (this is my opinion and Doug lives at my house). Jason and I declared we would not live with an untrained – disobedient beast no matter how cute he is. It has always been our policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists (even the really cute ones named Jack and Will).   And we certainly were not starting with Doug the dog no matter how pretty his eyes are!

So – Douglas and Jack enrolled in a 10-week training course hopefully to teach Doug some manners. (Jack already has lovely manners! Jack’s sit-stay is AMAZING and he almost always comes when we call!)

The goal was to earn an American Kennel Club Novice Obedience Certification or more bluntly that Doug no longer acted like an idiot when we take him for walks! I was setting the bar pretty low . . .

Look at that PERFECT heel!

Jack and Doug have spent the last 10 weeks working on all sorts of handler and dog skills together. Everything from heeling to staying to fancy-pants stuff like off-leash figure-eights and down-stays for entire minutes while being distracted. A personal favorite of mine – is NOT barking at other dogs!

Doug is a dog transformed (when he is with Jack). Seriously – Doug is a joy and a delight. Doug heels. He stays. Douglas doesn’t bark at other annoying – barking dogs. Doug does something called an “auto-sit” which basically means when Jack tells him to sit with hand movements – Doug actually sits and stays seated until Jack gives him permission to move!

Doug doing a sit – stay WITHOUT anyone holding his leash!!!!!!!!!

Last night was the final exam and last class.

I went along as Jack and Doug’s cheering section and moral support.

I was incredibly curious how this would all end up. Douglas is an Australian Shepherd (HIGH energy).   Douglas does not listen to me.   Douglas still annoys the daylights out of me every-other walk we take together – and Doug and I take lots and lots of walks together with Jason.

Again – with the NO LEASH!

BUT Doug behaves wonderfully for Jack. Our neighbors have even commented on the day and night difference between the way Doug behaves for Jack and the way Doug behaves for Jason and me . . .

When it came time for their test – Jack and Douglas both did wonderfully. They rocked the test like a couple of rock stars! Doug listened and stayed and came and heeled and did everything he was supposed to do when he was supposed to do it (and so did Jack).

We learned right away that Doug and Jack had passed the class and would receive their official AKC Novice Obedience Certification at the end of the evening.

The valedictorians!!!

But at the end of the evening – when the scores were announced – Jack and Douglas received the top score in the class. Jack and Doug received a score of 198 out of 200!   John Stuart McFarland has been an official valedictorian twice this year! (Jack was pleased with being one of the valedictorians of the duPont-Manual class of 2022 – but I honestly think this may have pleased him even more!)

We are very proud of both Jack and Doug the Dog – our valedictorians!!!

Jack and I spoke with the trainer after class. Doug and Jack are such an in-sync team – the trainer thinks they should advance and take more training together. He also thinks Jack and Doug should take their show on the road and enter AKC competitions.

I love the way Doug is looking at Jack in this picture.

We also talked about the blunt – painful truth that the class valedictorian is also a troublemaker for anyone other than Jack! It would seem – Jason and I need to be trained . . .

THE TRAINER firmly believes that I CAN BE TRAINED!?!?!?!?!   I was so proud of Jack for keeping a straight face when the trainer declared that he thought – Jack’s “parents could probably be trained” and then he asked Jack what he thought . . .

(Yeah – she’s bright enough – I suppose . . . but my dad – well he’s a stubborn one . . . )

So  – in the next 2 weeks before Jack leaves for college – Jack gets to spend part of every evening training his mom. Yes – Jack has to teach this OLD gal new tricks!   Perhaps – we should add Jack to the church prayer list . . . HE MAY NEED IT!?!?!?!?!

We Had a Blast!

I am right there in the front row on the left in the green!

I am a cradle Lutheran.

Most of my earliest memories of church and faith and belief are all set at Trinity Lutheran Church in Richmond – Indiana. (My other early memories are set at Zion Lutheran Church in Hartford City – Indiana).   I can still see the asbestos tiles in the basement where we gathered for Sunday school and hear the clicky-clacky sounds the girls’ paten leather church shoes made as they clattered around.

I remember flannel board stories about Moses and Jesus and learning all of the words to all of the verses to “Jesus Loves Me” and “If I Were a Butterfly.” And paste (not glue in the early days). And pictures of Jesus that somehow always made Jesus look like one of the Bee Gees (it was the long flowing hair)!

And Vacation Bible School! VBS was AMAZINGLY awesome!

It was always so hot for VBS week. So hot your little legs would stick to the fake leather seats in the station wagon as you drove to and from VBS every morning and afternoon. (It was central Indiana in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. None of the Lutheran churches had central air conditioning yet! Just a small window box unit in the pastor’s office to keep HIM from melting – if he was lucky and the church council was generous . . .) But – no matter how hot it got – VBS week was a glorious week of joy and fun and happiness and taking over the church.

VBS meant getting to have OUR music in the sanctuary! VBS meant being LOUD in the church and in the SANCTUARY.   This was shocking behavior to us – even though we did it every single summer!

VBS meant playing games and running around at church with our friends!   (Never IN the building – we weren’t all totally wild and crazy about it. Just kinda – sorta wild and crazy about it.)   I can still sing the “magic ball goes round and round song” that Mrs. Seibert taught us.

VBS meant crafting. I don’t remember the crafts being particularly outstanding – but there were crafts and I loved them.

VBS meant lemonade with one – single solitary ice cube floating in it and 2 or 3 store-brand “Oreo”-type cookies for snack.   (I thought this was delicious – fine dining!)

VBS meant sweet – loving – kind – gracious – generous ladies showering us with attention and God’s love for 5 mornings in a row!

VBS was foundational to my Christian faith the way summer weeks at church camp were to other folks of faith. Simply hearing those 3 letters strung together brings a smile to my face – joy to my heart – and a lightness to my soul.

So now that I am an adult and pastor – I rarely turn down the opportunity to be a part of VBS when the opportunity presents itself.   I want to help make a positive memory or 2 for someone else (hopefully). I want to share in the joy and the fun and happiness that is VBS.

Last week – several of the area Lutheran churches joined together with the super talented – dedicated – energetic staff from Lutheran Outdoor Ministries to host VBS. Oh what a glorious 4 days we had sharing – showing and learning about God’s great and glorious love!

There was singing (very passionate – rather un-Lutheran singing with praise hands and everything)! There were crafts. There were all sorts of wild and glorious games. There was so much running and noise and energy! There was daily chapel. There was Bible study. There was Aaron Flynn from Ascension with his wild socks (love those cool socks) – his guitar and his incredible talent to keep everything and everyone rolling! There was story telling with Pastor Andy from Saint John’s in Saint Matthew’s. There was a magic show in chapel one afternoon with Pastor Ken from Ascension. Pastor Kerri from Saint Stephen kept showing up every single day to play with markers and beads – because she loves any excuse to talk about Jesus while crafting! There were gracious – loving volunteers who came every single day to share and show God’s love.

There was so much joy. There was so much fun. There was so much laughter.

It was a blessing. It was VBS!

I am already looking forward to next year . . . You should definitely plan on joining us!

Christmas in July Worship

The Gospel of Luke 1:39-55

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be* a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

46 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 138

1I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name and your word above all things. 
3When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.
4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.
5They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
6The Lord is high, yet cares for the lowly,
perceiving the haughty from afar. 
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
8You will make good your purpose for me;
O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands. 

Titus 3:4-7

4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The Word of the Lord.

The Gospel of Luke 2:1-16

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph went from the town of Nazareth to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8In that region there were shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15When the angels had gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We worship an absolutely – positively awesome God. The book of Genesis tells us our God created the world and everything in it. (Except for sin – of course. Sin is ALL on us!)

Our God created the entire universe out of a formless void by just speaking a few simple but very powerful words!

Our God spoke and created more planets than we can count. Our God created our sun – moon and the stars out of nothing.

God created over 300 thousand plant species and over 1 million animal species! Because God is just that good at creating things.

I know that this isn’t jasmine – but it is very lovely!

Our God created mighty Jupiter and delicate jasmine.

God created huge whale sharks and wiggling worms.

Our God spoke and created human beings in all of our vast and beautiful variety.

And our God is still creating today!

The Bible tells us our God can make the Red Sea part and bring arrogant – puffed up earthly rulers to their knees.

God can raise the dead to new life and free entire nations of people from slavery.

Our God makes rushing rivers in the desert and turns heartless murders into wise prophets.

Our God is so mighty and powerful – it is hard for us to fathom.   God the Father is so amazingly awesome – it can take your breath away.

In fact – the book of Exodus (chapter 33) tells us God the Father is so gloriously awesome – if a mere human being were to see God face to face – she could not survive. God’s glory is just too much for us to comprehend.

Not even Moses was allowed to see God face to face before he went to heaven!

When Moses asked to see God face to face – Moses was told if he saw God’s face – Moses would immediately die. Even the great prophet Moses was only permitted to see God’s back as God passed by.

It would be really easy to think this mighty – powerful – awesome God would simply be too busy to have time for us. That God would have much more important things to be concerned about than us. It would be easy to believe God the Father could never care about us and our problems and concerns and heartaches.

That the God who created the universe and everything in it couldn’t possibly care about what makes us happy or sad. Our hurts – our sorrows – our fears – our joys – our aches and pains and what delights us.

But we are told over and over again throughout God’s Word that God does care. God is really and truly interested. Our Bible readings for today remind us again and again that God cares about us. That our God cares – a lot!

Psalm 138 reminds us – “the Lord is high – yet God cares for the lowly.” God the Father cares for the lowly . . .

God sees you! You matter!

And Mary – the mother of our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ – declares in the Gospel of Luke that God lifts up the lowly and cares for them.

Think about that – God the Father Almighty who created the universe and everything in it cares for human beings just like you and me. And not just that God the Father loves each and every single one of you.

God knows you and will never abandon you – not ever – because you are the work of his hands. You are God the Father’s beloved creation.

God wants to know what is in your heart and on your mind. God wants you to come to him with your thoughts and your concerns. God cares about what fills your heart with joy and God cares about what makes your knees shake and quake with fear.

God the Father – almighty – has all the time in the world for you.

You matter to God. You are important to him. What matters to you – matters to God.

In fact – our Gospel reading for today – is perhaps one of the most important declarations of just how much God cares for human beings.

Can there be a more powerful declaration of love than this?

God loves you so much that he blessed you with a Savior.

God loves you so much that he sent his beloved son – Jesus Christ into the world die for the forgiveness of your sins.

God loves you so much that he promises to forgive your sins and offers you the hope of eternal life spent with him in heaven.

God the Father loves you forever and always. Truly this is very good news indeed. Amen.

With the Flip of a Switch

June 2022 – All about the airplanes!

A few weeks ago Will McFarland was all about the planes.   Planes – planes – planes. Our little boy was ALL about airplanes all of the time. Will played with planes.   He read about airplanes. Will watched innumerable plane videos. He kept one eye on the sky at all times – because one simply never knows when something cool might be zooming by right over our heads! He TALKED about planes without ceasing (or so it seemed to his mom some days).

Our Will believes in taking the DEEP dive into anything that interests him. William McFarland becomes positively encyclopedic about his interests (passions/obsessions). If Will is interested in something – then he KNOWS ALL about it!

When Jason – Jack – Caitlyn and I left Will with the rest of our family in Tennessee to continue vacationing without us – Will had an airplane in his hand and his eyes on the sky above. Will was firmly and deeply committed to airplanes. Less than a week later – when Will returned home – he had a new (old/renewed) passion. William had a TRAIN in his hand and his eyes on the rails! Planes? What planes? Trains! Trains! Trains!   Will loves trains now/again.

The switch flipped in Will’s brain on a trip to Bryson City – North Carolina during his extended vacation. Bryson City has a wonderful train museum which Will absolutely – positively loves. Bryson City was also the site of the filming the train wreck from “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford. Will has never watched “The Fugitive” – but he has seen those wrecked train cars and finds them intriguing. So intriguing that these train cars inspired a whole renewed deep dive into trains!

Will’s airplanes are now gathering dust and need to be returned to their storage bins (to await the next time they need to be called upon at a moment’s notice). Trains – glorious – TRAINS – we are back into trains at our house. There are trains and train tracks galore around our house these days.

Watching the trains at the train museum.

Trains . . . glorious trains . . . noisy – rumbling trains . . .

Jason and I decided Will needed to be escorted to LaGrange – Kentucky as soon as possible. We hoped LaGrange would be a big hit with William (again) and it was. It really – really was.

We headed for LaGrange on Saturday morning with our fingers crossed that it would be a good day for train spotting.

In preparation for our adventure – I had carefully checked the LaGrange town website for the hours of the weekly Farmers’ Market. I had researched the hours the train museum was open to welcome guests. Of course – I knew when Friends and Fiber – the AMAZING yarn store was open!   BUT – somehow while conducting all of my research – I missed that Saturday was LaGrange’s summer festival – including a parade!

We drove into town to the sound to sirens and honking horns. Most of LaGrange seemed to have gathered for the parade and festivities.

Our first stop was the train museum where we received a very warm welcome from the volunteers who staff the museum. They delighted us with all they had to share about history of the railroad in Kentucky. We learned a lot. We even learned that the LaGrange train depot is haunted by the ghost of a former train engineer named George!?!?! (We didn’t personally meet George – but that was fine with me. It was MORE than enough to be regaled with tales of George’s otherworldly visits!)

Listening and learning!

The basement of the LaGrange Train Museum was bustling with activity on Saturday. There we met the nicest – friendliest – most gracious – group of gentlemen who all share a passion for model railroading. We had a blast chatting with these kind men who answered our questions and taught us so much about their beloved hobby. William was mesmerized and honestly – I was rather intrigued myself.   The detail of the scenes and the trains was fascinating.   Watching the trains was incredibly relaxing too!

We watched and talked and chatted and learned and delighted!

Then we set off to explore the 2 full-sized trains that are part of the museum. These lovingly restored trains are parked just steps from the depot. It was fun to be able to climb aboard and imagine our family preparing for a life on the rails.

Eventually – we decided to explore the rest of LaGrange. There were all sorts of tents and vendors set up around the town square. The Farmers’ Market didn’t have much in the way of farm produce – but William didn’t care.   He got a yummy – cherry snow cone.   Snow cones beat a carrot or zucchini any day (according to the youngest McFarland).

Will and Jason found a nice bench in the shade while I headed into the yarn store to explore and spend time delighting in my favorite things.   (Their interest in yarn stores pales in comparison to mine . . .)   And while I petted the yarn – a massively huge – noisy CSX train rumbled right down Main Street much to Will’s great delight!!! There were 4 engines. Two in the front and two engines right smack in the middle of the train.

(When I heard the sound of the train rumbling into town – I MAY have offered our Lord a quick prayer of thanks and gratitude for blessing Will with an actual train sighting . . . He really – Really – REALLY wanted to see a train.)

After the train sighting – we headed back to the train museum to watch and delight in the model trains. We stayed until the museum closed!

We had such a wonderful day filled with trains – Trains – TRAINS and little boy smiles – Smiles – SMILES!

Worship for Sunday – July 17, 2022

Genesis 18:1-10a

1The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. 3He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” 7Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. 8Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

9They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10aThen one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 15

1Lord, who may dwell in your tabernacle?
Who may abide upon your holy hill?

2Those who lead a blameless life and do what is right,
who speak the truth from their heart;

3they do not slander with the tongue, they do no evil to their friends;
they do not cast discredit upon a neighbor.

4In their sight the wicked are rejected, but they honor those who fear the Lord.  They have sworn upon their health and do not take back their word.

5They do not give their money in hope of gain, nor do they take bribes against the innocent.   Those who do these things shall never be overthrown.

Colossians 1:15-28

15[Christ Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. 17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 21And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him—23provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

24I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. 25I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

The Word of the Lord.

Luke 10:38-42

38Now as [Jesus and his disciples] went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I see cute signs all over the place these days that say things like:   “God bless our mess.”   And “Welcome to our crazy – wild – loud – beautiful mess! ” Or “Please excuse our mess – but our standards have lowered with each additional child!”

And my personal favorite: “Sorry about the mess – but we LIVE here!”

These signs make me smile every single time I see them.

I love their lighthearted look at family life and house cleaning.   These signs also remind me of a beloved sister in Christ and the lessons I learned from her.

Long before these signs were trendy – my sister in Christ – Donna – had a sign hanging in her entryway that read – “Please excuse the mess: we are making memories!”

And Donna meant it. People came first! This was her superpower.   Donna had dust bunny blindness and couldn’t care less about clutter. She was completely and utterly at ease with the pile of work boots and coats by her backdoor.

Donna was a dairy farmer – a mom – a wife and a volunteer and there were only 24-hours in the day. So – when push came to shove – she shoved the boots into a pile and welcomed folks with a smile and a cup of coffee. She believed – if someone had a problem with her housekeeping – it was THEIR problem.   Not hers!

Honestly – Donna kinda melted my brain – because I grew up in a household where we literally cleaned the attic before parties. Our toys had to be put away every evening before bedtime and those same toys weren’t permitted to leave our rooms.   Cleanliness and order were worshipped like they were part of the Trinity.

And then I met Donna and read her sign. And I was drawn to her because she didn’t sweat the small stuff.   She was totally and unapologetically warm and welcoming and present.

Folks loved this about her. Her kitchen table was often busy with friends – family – neighbors – and folks from church. Because she cared more about you than the piles and the clutter and the chaos of life.

Donna was busy living her life and making memories . . .

I am not always so great at making memories. At being fully present with other folks.

Far too often I start moving too fast. I get too busy doing stuff. And I get too wrapped up in proving my worth or showing that I am being productive enough.

I get tons of satisfaction out of saying – “Look at me – look at me” with an earnest desperation usually reserved for job interviews and college applications. – “Look at how many things I knocked off my to do list!” “See how busy I am being super-duper busy!”

I am VERY easily distracted by many things! And I don’t think I am alone in this . . .

It is easy to let the busy-ness of life take over. To forget to take time for the things that matter like – our Lord.

We behave like marking a few more items off of our to-do lists is more important than prayer or Bible study or coming to church.

Or work is more important than spending time with our sisters and brothers in Christ.

Soon God takes a back seat in our lives.

In our Gospel reading for this week – we meet two sisters – Mary and Martha. They were Jesus’ dear friends. Jesus and his disciples often stopped by their home to visit.

And each time they stopped by – it was probably the same. Martha welcomed them warmly into her clean and tidy home.   But she didn’t have time to sit down for a visit. Martha had too much to do. She was a mover and doer and a worker bee.

But when Mary was different – she actually sits down with Jesus and they visit for a long time. As Martha marks job after job off of her to-do list – Mary visits with Jesus.

Finally – Martha is fed up with her sister. So – Martha rather huffily tells Jesus – “Lord – do you not realize I am doing ALL of the work around here ALL by myself?!?!?!?!”

Sighing – Jesus replies – “Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. You have missed the point entirely. You are missing out on what is really important in life.”

Jesus was not angry with Martha. But Martha had gotten her priorities mixed up. She was putting work and busyness before people and before her Lord.

Mary was no different from anyone else. Mary had work to do. But Mary also made time for her Lord.

In the Gospel reading – Jesus is not condemning Martha for working. Jesus is not saying Martha was wrong to prepare a nice meal for her friends.   Those are good things.

But Jesus is saying these things should not be our top priorities. Hard work has great value – but it is NOT more important than spending time with God!

The Gospel of Luke’s message to us this week is powerful. Jesus is telling us we need to make time for our Lord – even in the midst of our busy daily lives.

Busy-ness can be very seductive – but when we read our Bibles and pray and worship our Lord – we are opening ourselves up to even greater blessings than a clean house and a perfectly manicured lawn.

When we take the time to be with our God – our relationship with Him becomes stronger and so does our faith.

The blessings we receive when we spend time with our Lord last forever. Truly this is Good News – AMEN






So Not a Fan . . .

I am the dramatic McFarland. I talk with my hands. I love to spin a good yarn and have been known to exaggerate because I think it is fun and funny. I (may occasionally) make huge – sweeping statements. I feel deeply and passionately and will likely tell you ALL   about it. I use A LOT of exclamation points. I have already earned my high school diploma and my Bachelor of Arts and my Masters of Divinity and have very intentionally decided to ignore my writing teachers and professors who warned against the dangers of exclamation points!

Jason does no such thing. Yes – he is a man of words (but he prefers to read and absorb his words – not spew them into the universe like his chatty – chattering wife does).

Jason is the definition of calm – cool and collected. Logic – that’s Jason.   Jason is steady and even. Jason may have used an exclamation point once or twice – but it was likely in a direct quote (likely of his goofy wife)!

I am noisier and full of much more bluster.

Jack took this rather uncomplimentary picture of me and yes – I am sweeping and TALKING . . .

We complement one another nicely. I bring the goof and Jason brings the gravitas. Jason brings the logic and the questions and their meticulously researched answers). I bring the   . . . well – I bring the . . . hmmm . . . I bring the Kerri . . .

So – this past weekend – I was more than a bit surprised by Jason’s response after I rather dramatically declared – “2022 has been a wretched – miserable – stinky – awful – dumpster fire of a year. I hate 2022 with a white-hot passion! 2022 is SO NOT going down as my favorite year ever.   2022 is the year I want to blow raspberries at and tell to get lost!”

And then I proceeded to list and illustrate why I hate 2022 so very – very much:

– 1 surgery in January (me)

– 1 root canal – also in January (ALSO me)

– 1 car accident and an unethical – lying liar (I have developed a strong aversion to all electric bikes because ALL electric bikes remind me of the yucky – slimy dude who hit Jack and totaled Jack’s car and then lied about it. Mr. Unethical owns one of the electric bike stores in town . . . He was 100% at fault and lied over and over again and there was nothing we could do about it. Why yes – I am having a hard time letting this one go . . . Maybe someday – but not today!)

– 2 more surgeries in May (these were mine too)

– I may have added a lengthy whine about my deep worries over the health of the entire Lutheran Church – because attendance and participation and interest are terrifyingly low

– I listed some other stuff here like the price of chicken (inflation really is shocking these days!) – but I think I have made my point . . .

– AND now – Jason – Will and I had COVID-19!!!!!!!!!! And Covid-19 stinks – A LOT! I was an exhausted – fatigued – coughing mess with a side of muscle spasms . . .

I HATE 2022!!!! I HATE 2022 A LOT!!!!

“Indeed -” came Jason’s very Jason-ish reply. (He may have agreed with me – but he is still Jason.   It is not like he was going to get all chatty about it!)

I was expecting Jason to meet my bluster and steam and hand waving and overwhelm with a different response.   But nope – Jason – agreed with me. Even the logical – analytical McFarland asserts that 2022 has been a bit of a slog so far. This year hasn’t been filled with dazzling delights at every turn. There have been days – weeks even – when it feels like 2022 has been kicking our buttons (as I prefer to say). 2022 has been a bit of a bear. (I looked it up – 2022 is actually the year of the tiger in the Chinese zodiac which makes sense to me. Tigers can sometimes acquire a taste for human flesh and 2022 is a human-eater!)

Then – Jason and I came home. Yes – we were walking more slowly than usual because Covid-19 has slowed me down a bit. And sitting in the cozy chair beside our front window sat two of the cutest creatures known to this lady’s heart – our sweet – hazel-eyed boy and his fluffy – white kitten . . .

Will with Mimi’s Dolly and our Lily.

And I thought to myself – okay – YES – 2022 has been a bit of a slog and it has messed you around a bit BUT . . . you know better than to focus on the junk and to allow yourself to get mired down in the messy stuff. You know navel gazing is dangerous and never leads to anything positive.

So – I decided to make a blessings list and to try to think of all of the blessings and things I am thankful for (even though Thanksgiving is months and months away.) I decided to make a special effort to focus on 2022-centric blessings.

– Jack received a wonderful scholarship to his first-choice university! (The day Jack got the call from Morehead State University – I was so proud of him – I cried.)

– Jack graduated with honors from high school in May. And we were able to celebrate with a great – big – glorious party with so many of our beloved family members and friends and sisters and brothers in Christ in June. It was amazing!!!

– Jason and I celebrated 30 years as a couple in early June and later in June we celebrated 25 years of marriage. Jason . . . Jason is always at the top of my blessings lists.   The man has the patience of a saint and he loves me!

– We adopted Gracie our sweet – formerly VERY sad orange – tabby cat.   Now our Gracie is our sweet – reserved – content – orange tabby cat. Gracie is happy as a McFarland and this thrills us!

– We also welcomed Lily the hilariously funny – fluffy white kitten into the McFarland family zoo. The interview and vetting process to adopt Lily were quite stringent. For a while we weren’t certain we would make the cut.   Jason’s mom eventually relented – and decided we were worthy of one of her precious kittens. But it took time – background checks – home visits and proof that Jack was turning out okay . . . (She was less concerned about letting John and me marry her children than she was about letting us adopt Lily!)

– I will include Doug on this list . . . Jack loves Doug the dog even if I am still working on feeling and finding the love. I love Jack – so I will keep working on it.   Doug is a puppy and Doug is a quirky – traumatized – rescue puppy. We are Doug’s 3rd family but Doug and I need to keep working on our relationship. So – lots of the time Doug doesn’t feel like a blessing to me – but I am working on it!

– William is William. Seriously – this kid is a ray of sunshine. Whenever we leave the house (every – single – solitary time) he tells us that he “hopes we have a good time!” Off to the grocery store – “have a good time!” Off for a walk – “have a good time!”   Off for a blood draw or MRI or to the dentist – he truly and sincerely wishes you joy and a “good time!”   I tell Jason over and over again that I want to be just like Will when I grow up . . .

– the love and support and prayers of my sisters and brothers in Christ during my three surgeries and my recent bout of Covid-19 – have been such a blessing. I feel so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by so much love and care and support.

Once I got started on my blessings list – I realized I could go on and on and on.   2022 – is likely never going to be my favorite year ever – but it has been filled with joy and happiness and God’s blessings. And I am going to start focusing more on the joys and blessings and less on the price of chicken and the scars on my stomach.

Counting and giving thanks for our blessings isn’t just for November.   We can do it anytime.

Worship for Sunday – July 3, 2022

Isaiah 66:10-14

10Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her—
11that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious bosom.

12For thus says the Lord:
I will extend prosperity to her like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm,
and dandled on her knees.
13As a mother comforts her child,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

14You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bodies shall flourish like the grass;
and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants,
and his indignation is against his enemies.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 66:1-9

1Be joyful in God, all you lands;
be joyful, all the earth.

2Sing the glory of God’s name;
sing the glory of God’s praise.

3Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great strength your enemies cringe before you.

4All the earth bows down before you,
sings to you, sings out your name.” 

5Come now and see the works of God,
how awesome are God’s deeds toward all people.

6God turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot, and there we rejoiced in God.

7Ruling forever in might, God keeps watch over the nations;
let no rebels exalt themselves.

8Bless our God, you peoples;
let the sound of praise be heard.

9Our God has kept us among the living
and has not allowed our feet to slip. 

Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16

[1My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. 4All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride. 5For all must carry their own loads.

6Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.]

7Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

11See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! 12It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised—only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh. 14May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! 16As for those who will follow this rule—peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

1After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’”

16“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

17The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” 18He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our family spent last week vacationing with our extended family in the mountains of Tennessee.

And frankly – it can get absolutely – positively bananas when you throw all 12 of us and our 4 large dogs (why yes – I did say 4 large dogs) into a cabin on the side of a mountain for 7 days of family bonding and fun.

The house is never – EVER quiet. Because there is so much barking. There is even more eating. There is so – so much laundry. There is gaming. There is teasing and texting. And scary movies MUST be watched late into the night. There is also joking and chatting and chatter and banter galore.

Plans are made and schedules coordinated.

Adventuring is essential. Because adventuring makes these family gatherings fun.

But before I give you the impression – we spend our time in the mountains singing and dancing in coordinated outfits while working together to defeat the Nazis just like the VonTrapp family in “The Sound of Music” – let me assure you – we keep it real. Really – Really – REALLY real!

Our family is so far from being a Disney movie – it is laughable.

We can and do push one another’s buttons. We have skill and flare when it comes to being colossally annoying. We are gifted at driving each other batty.

On more than one occasion – I spotted a beloved family member eyeing my knitting needles like they wanted to rip them from my hands to use against me.

But I have noticed – we are pretty decent at bearing one another’s burdens too. At helping one another. At getting each other through those tough spots and over rough patches.

When essential medicine was forgotten at home (over an hour away) – Uncle John just went to get it without complaining. Not once – but TWICE!

When the trail felt SO long – chatting and listening ears helped tired feet and bored little ones keep going.

When the path down to the river was dangerously rocky and uneven – the strong – steady arms of a son and grandson were there to lean on and rely on.

Sure – all 12 of us – (16 if you count our mangy mutts) – are often a white – hot mess – but we try to help one another along the way. We try to “bear one another’s burdens.”

To care for – support – nurture and be there for one another to lean on and rely on.

We try to be sisters and brothers in Christ to each other while we are also busy being parents – cousins – aunties – uncles – friends – sidekicks and traveling companions.

In our second reading for today Saint Paul boldly declares to us that we are ALL called to – “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way [we] will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Think about those words. As Christians – as God’s followers and Jesus’ disciples in this world – we are ALL called to “bear one another’s burdens.”

These words sound pretty simple – but their message to us is far from simple. Their message is truly – deeply radical. Their message is wildly counter-cultural. Paul is telling us – we are called to be different. We are called to be encouragers and people who spread love and kindness. We are called to build one another up and to help one another. To be there for others to lean on and rest in and rely on. We are called to make one another’s lives easier.

Saint Paul declares to us – we are supposed to be people who actively spread God’s love in this world. We should be looking for opportunities to help others and to be kind and loving to one another ALL of the time.

Saint Paul makes it very clear that this whole “being a Christian and a person of faith” thing – means responding to God’s radical love with some radical love of our own.

We should ALL be actively encouraging one another. We should be busy building one another up.   We should be speaking words of love and thanks and appreciation and encouragement to one another. We should be helping one another and working to make one another’s lives easier.

Our God calls us to be different. Our God calls us to be encouragers. Our God calls us to be loving and kind and helpful and gracious and supportive.

So – encourage one another. Thank each other. Share kind words. Spread love and kindness and appreciation. Share God’s love and your own. Be there for one another. Help ease those burdens. Show up for each other. Support one another. Pitch-in.   Help out. Volunteer.

Bear one another’s burdens. Be who your God has called you to be. Amen!