June 1, 2019
Happy June King of Glory! There are two things I’d like to begin with. First, don’t forget to join us on Sunday, June 9 at 10:00 am for our Unity Service (we only do these twice a year now, so don’t miss out!), plus we’ll be having our summer kick-off BBQ afterward with lots of good food and fun. Secondly, I wanted to say Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and fatherly folks out there. A free picture awaits you and your family between services that day as well as some yummy pastries. We hope you’ll join us and have a blessed day!
It has been such a busy winter and spring hasn’t it? Maybe that’s why I have recently been pondering a word that occurs in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament nearly 74 times. It’s a word that I first heard about in seminary, when I was studying ancient Hebrew (a requirement for Lutheran seminary students). Although there are many words in Hebrew that are difficult to translate directly into English, this word is particularly fascinating, because it isn’t just that we can’t translate it perfectly, it’s that we can’t translate it AT ALL! Why? Because scholars don’t even know what it really means. The meaning has literally been lost over the millennia. What is the word? סֶלָה or selah. Nearly all of selah’s occurrences are in the Psalms. Maybe you’ve noticed it there? Or maybe your eyes just read right past it. That’s what most people typically do, and what I myself used to do, but as I said, my interest in selah has been peaked again recently.
So what do we think selah means? One hint we have comes from where it occurs. Selah almost always either ends a Psalm (e.g. Psalms 3, 24 and 46) or it comes at the end of a verse in a Psalm, though there are a few exceptions. That particular location is one reason why scholars think that this word was meant to cause people to stop and listen, to pause and let the words they have just heard or read or sung truly sink in. Others however point to how selah is similar to another word in Hebrew that means “to hang on” or “weigh”. Others think selah is similar to the word “amen” in Greek and a comment on the desired truth of the prior words. While others yet say it means “forever” or “always” and is an affirmation of the enduring nature of the words just shared.
Although we can’t know for sure selah’s intended meaning when it was scribed thousands of years ago, it can still bear great meaning for our lives today. This word can serve as a reminder from God to us all that it is necessary and prudent to allow for moments of selah in our day. Much like how God calls upon us to take a Sabbath during the week, with selah, God calls upon us to regularly stop and listen throughout our day: to listen to God, one another and the needs of our own hearts. Selah asks us to take a pause from the busyness and stress and worry and to remember the enduring truth and weight of God’s word for us. Selah asks us to hang our hope on God’s promises alone. Could you use a little more selah in your life? What would your moments of selah look like?
As you move into this summer season, may God’s selah interrupt and disrupt the rhythms and routines of your days and provide you opportunities to stop, listen and hang your heart and hope upon the truth, love and grace of our God alone.
May 2, 2019
Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Happy Easter, dear friends and family of King of Glory! I hope you all had a meaningful Lenten season and Holy Week, and a joyful Easter! First, I want to thank everyone who helped make this special season of reflection, study and faith development possible. Thank you to the Wallaces for heading up our Growth Group ministry yet again this year. Thank you to all of our small group leaders for giving of their time. Thank you to Nancy Cotta for arranging our Wednesday Lenten Soup Supper speakers and to the folks who helped to set-up, clean-up and bring soup for these lovely suppers. Thank you to Catherine and Alan Marcum for running sound and projection at these Wednesday services and for all others who stepped up as needed to serve during worship. Thank you to Karen Ronchetti for decorating the Sanctuary and to the staff for their extra efforts during this especially busy time. Thank you to all those whom I am not naming here but who also gave of their time and energy. Thank you also to our two staff members who recently announced their resignation—Penny Benetatos and Heather Stolte—both of whom agreed to stay on until the end of the Easter season. We have appreciated so much your efforts and wish you both all the best on your new endeavors! And lastly, thank you especially to our Sunday morning speakers, who were willing to share their personal stories of God’s transforming and sustaining Grace in their lives: Ned Gould, Amanda Pulos, Rhonda Fisher, Paul Wallace and Jodi Coffman! You all are amazing and touched many folks by your words.
Recently, there has been a Psalm running through my head, Psalm 30, which is one of our lectionary texts for the first Sunday of May. It has some famous lines in it that many of you have likely heard before if not memorized yourselves: “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (vs. 5b). This Psalm also has some other well-known verses, such as, “You have turned my morning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me in joy.” Such juxtapositions as these are common in our faith vernacular, right? I was lost, but now I am found. I was blind, but now I see. I was dead and now am alive. I was a slave to sin, but now I am free. I lived in darkness, but now I see light. What others can you name from scripture or song? Such powerful testimonies of how God’s grace can change one’s life and perspective. Thank goodness we have people who are willing to share such testimonies, like the writer of Psalm 30 and those who did so in our own congregation during Lent, so that others can be filled with hope and inspired to turn to God in their times of distress.
Even though the Easter season is upon us, times of trial and temptation, times of sorrow, doubt and despair, they still linger, for the day of God’s Kingdom has not yet fully come. My question for you is, how have you experienced God’s deliverance? What would your testimony be? Below are some of the questions I shared with our Lenten speakers, to help them in their preparations. I share them with you now to hopefully help you as well in naming and articulating your own testimony of how God’s grace has effected your life.
- What biblical story or passage best describes God’s grace to you?
- Max Lucado writes that God’s grace changes, emboldens, strengthens, rewires and softens us. Describe a time when you have experienced the power of God’s grace.
- Grace is God’s promise that Christ will live not only for us but within us, that a new spirit will be put in us, that we get a “spiritual heart-transplant.” When have you experienced Christ living within you? Did you forgive someone who wronged you? Find the strength to choose a better path? Make an unexpected life change? Stand up for others in a way you never expected yourself to?
- Personally, I like to think of grace as when judgment is warranted, but instead favor/blessing is found. Does that spark any thoughts, memories, realizations for you?
If you have not done so yet, I strongly encourage you to consider what your own testimony about God’s grace would be. How has God changed your weeping into laughing, your night into morning, your blindness into sight? You never know who may be needing to hear your testimony today.
Grace, Peace and Easter Blessings to you all from our Risen Lord, who has turned death into life!
April 1, 2019
Hello again, dear friends and family of KOG!
Happy Lent! I hope you are enjoying our Sunday guest sermon series and Growth Group focus on Max Lucado’s book Grace. I am taking a little break from talking about grace for a moment and instead wanted to focus on a recent Netflix program I’ve been obsessing over: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Have you seen it? It’s about a Japanese woman, Marie Kondo, who helps transform people’s lives by helping them tidy and declutter their homes. It’s addicting and touching and inspiring. Each episode has not only reminded me of how much our physical spaces effect our emotional and mental health, but it has also made me want to do some major spring cleaning and purging of my own. And it seems like this is the perfect liturgical season to do it, right? After all, Lent is a time when we are called to declutter and purge the things that have clouded our souls, minds and lives. This is the season when we try to do a fresh sweep of our selfishness and ask God to give our hearts a good cleansing. What in your life needs to be purged? Bookshelves? Office files? Kitchen cupboards? Or perhaps it’s constant busyness? Perfectionism? Past hurts and grudges? I know it is difficult, but only by devoting intentional energy and effort to this physical and spiritual process can we open up and prepare ourselves to receive the new and unexpected blessings God desires for our lives.
I was feeling all ready to go with my Lenten purge . . . then Josh and I sold our condo. This, of course, was/is a wonderful thing, but it also meant there was no time to purge, only pack, and pack we did and then move in the flurry of one weekend with the help of some very gracious church members. We are currently living out of suitcases and boxes at my in-laws in Placentia waiting to move into our new home. My dreams of tidiness had to be packed up as well during this process, to be opened another day. Just as I was about to begin feeling discouraged, I came across a wonderful thought in my new favorite devotion book: Gracelaced. In it, the author, Ruth Chou Simons, discusses Psalm 92:2 in which the Psalmist writes, “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.’” Chou Simons writes about how her tidy home used to be her refuge (before she had 4 boys!) and of her struggle to maintain that refuge with her growing family and busy schedule. Rather than bemoaning it as a loss, however, she says it helped her realize that a tidy home, or office, or man-cave, were never meant to be our refuge. God is our true refuge. Only when we seek to find our rest, peace, and strength in God, will we be satisfied.
Now, you may be thinking, “Pastor Lund, you’re confusing me. First you said that tidiness is good and now you’re saying it’s not?” Yes, it may sound like a bit of a flip-flop, but here’s my point: it’s necessary and good to do our Lenten practice of spiritual tidying, but let us not forget that tidying itself is not the answer to peace and happiness. Let us not let our newly purged and organized homes and hearts become our new idol. Instead, do the tidying, do the hard work of Lent, but then remember that in the end it is not your work that is the answer. The answer is always God and the work God did through Jesus Christ for you. It all comes back to Grace. God’s grace is our true refuge and strength; the one and only place that deserves our trust and devotion. As Lent draws to a close, let us all say to God as the Psalmist does, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
Blessings to you on the rest of your Lenten journey and whatever tidying you undergo, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Peace, Pastor Kinndlee