By: Leah Lind (April 22, 2020)

I have been thinking about Pastor Kinndlee’s question from Sunday, “Have you found any blessings in this time of Coronavirus lockdown?” Along with most of you, my immediate reaction was “NO!” But as I have had time to reflect, I see abundant blessings.

Most of my positives are related to the slower pace of life. After a 2019 of constant travel that kept us apart, Carl and I have enjoyed our time working together from home. We have spent more time sitting and picnicking in our yard, enjoying the beauty of nature. We enjoy the yellow finches and hummingbirds and wrens happily feasting and singing in the trees. My dog is super happy to have someone home to spoil her all day long. My siblings and children and I have been very intentional about staying in “remote touch” with each other. The skies are clear, there’s no need to set an alarm clock, and the freeways are wide open! Plus, we have all learned something new, how to talk and meet and worship with technology that we never thought we would need! Have you noticed God’s blessings in your life?

But…there is also an awful lot of change, and bereavement experts tell us that change=loss=grief. There have been days when my grief has been very real. I know you have been experiencing those same emotions. We are getting weary of this new normal. The pain of disconnection is acute. Where is the blessing in that?

The psalmist reminds us that we are never alone, even in our isolation,

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 45:18

The Lord is near to us in this time, and that is our greatest blessing. What a grace that our God is always present and that we can lean on Him and into Him during times of trouble.

Are you feeling isolated, disconnected, or lonely? Beginning next week, King of Glory will begin offering opportunities to connect with others in small group studies. Watch for information in our weekly eblast and consider using this time to recognize the blessings of a slower pace, of community, and of the Word of God, near to all who call on him.

Wishing you God’s abundant blessings, Leah Lind

By: Paul Wallace (April 15, 2020)

Easter Reflection

If you had to choose just two words to describe the Easter Sunday we just celebrated a few days ago, what would they be? The two words that come to mind for me are “different” and “same.” I am guessing that most would probably have a similar first word – “different.” We all could relate or sight examples of how this Easter was different. Here are some things that personally struck me as VERY different. No KOG Sunday Easter Brunch. I so enjoy flipping pancakes and serving them for all to enjoy. Of course, not being able to worship together as a community in our Sanctuary. No hectic last-minute prep at home after rushing home from church to get our house ready for family as we usually host 20 – 25 family members. No dodgeball! A family tradition at the Wallace Easter gathering.

What things struck you as VERY different? Maybe one or two of the things I listed may also be on your list. Probably not dodgeball, but perhaps a family tradition that is all your own.

Because it was different, was it less of an Easter? Not for me! Because it was the same. The other word that came to mind for me when I think of this Easter.

How was it the same for me? I was still able to gather with at least 20 family members via Zoom and respect proper social distancing. We laughed and reminisced about things in our past that brought joy to my heart. I was able to enjoy a great meal with my immediate family. I was still able to attend worship with my KOG family, LIVE via Zoom, with Communion. Most importantly, I was once again reminded of God’s promise of redemption and eternal life through the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection.  That is one thing that will never change for Easter.

The Apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

I am sure this 2020 Easter will be one we will remember for a long time because of how different it was. But I hope and pray that I never forget how this holiest of holiest days in our church calendar will always remain the same.

By: Jeanne Steinebrunner (April 8, 2020)

A Tale of Three Gardens

In The Grace of Les Misérables, Matt Rawle’s said that if he had the task of assigning the Bible a title, the most appropriate one would be “A Tale of Three Gardens.” Below is a summary of his description of the first two gardens he discusses in his book.

“The first garden is God’s Word searching for a way to express itself. There is so much love bound up within the Godhead – Creator, Redeemer, Spirit – that it spills forth upon a formless void and God brings order to chaos. God’s love is pouring out and humanity awakens. God’s love is searching for a word to describe the unfathomable beauty of creation and God and creation rest in each other. In essence, creation is love in search of a word. Originally humanity saw that God was good and to be desired. But sin caused humanity to view creation, and not the Creator, as the source of goodness, delight and desire.”

“The second garden is the redeeming work of God in the person of Jesus. God put on flesh and walked among us to show us what love looks like. Through teachings, healings, service and glory, Christ redirected our gaze from the temptations of wealth, power and influence so that we might once again see God as the source of goodness, delight and desire.”

Jesus died and was laid in the garden tomb. “When Mary comes to the tomb early in the morning and first sees the risen Lord, she mistakes him for the gardener. This is not a moment of mistaken identity; rather she sees Christ with the new eyes God came to establish through Christ. Gardening was God’s first job, and now humanity can see the garden’s source. Through the person of Jesus and the resurrection, our eyes now see that it is God, and not the tree [of knowledge from the garden of Eden], that is the source of goodness, delight, and desire.”

Thoughts for reflection: What is our relationship with God’s creation? What temptations have caused us to view creation and not the Creator as the source of goodness?

God’s loving presence is around us if we have the eyes to see it. May the wonder of the Resurrection open our eyes to the gifts of the Creator, Redeemer and Spirit.

By: Amanda Pulos, Director of Children and Youth Ministries (April 7, 2020)

Uncomfortable

We are in about week 4 of this pandemic and I have done a lot of thinking. Being isolated is hard because you don’t always have someone to bounce thoughts off of. (The little hamster in my head does not seem to want to stop running). I find myself doing a ton of internal processing. As I sit writing in my journal something new comes up every night: fear, anxiety, exhaustion or even joy. (If you have never journaled before, I highly recommend it). I guess this will be a season of reflection for myself as I pray it is for you too.

The past few days I had this feeling I could not shake. I have tried and tried to put my finger on it and I was getting frustrated as I continued my writing. Today, just like a magic trick or an April Fool’s joke, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I am uncomfortable!

As I wrote it down I thought, “Wow, that feels so silly to admit, but then again, we are in the middle of this pandemic!” At the start of this it was thrilling, new and even a little fun. More time at home with my daughter, learning all the technology that the kids use, and having nightly family dinners were going to be great – and they are! I felt energized and creative by these new challenges. I enjoy change, or so I thought. But today I sit with this feeling of being uncomfortable in the middle of this mess with no true end in sight. I do have a ton of hope and I know there will be an end to this, I just don’t know when it will be and that makes me uncomfortable!

As I prayed for comfort in the middle of this storm I stopped and reflected on other life events that have made me uncomfortable, and there have been quite a few. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me, “Be Still and know that I am God.” So, I got out my Bible and looked it up.

Psalm 46:10 says,

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

 I had to sit back and laugh because the Lord is telling me to “Be still” while I am self-isolated from all the busyness I have known. But that is not what he wanted me to hear. He was reminding me that He is God and that He is the ruler over all nations and that He will be exalted here on earth. This is what brings me comfort in my uncomfortableness. No matter how many times I listen to the news or read up on the latest studies I cannot comfort myself. My comfort in this time does not come from me trying to make sense of everything, it comes from Christ who is the ultimate comforter and healer!

 I pray you have found comfort and peace in the middle of this uncomfortableness. 

By: Deacon Leah Lind (April 6, 2020)

Create a Holy Week Home Altar

Dear friends,

As we begin the holiest week of the Christian year, we have been discussing how to be community together, even as we are separated through social distancing. In order to participate in this week’s services, you are invited to create your own home altar. I’m sharing some ideas below but be creative and let the Holy Spirit inspire your choices. This altar can serve as your holy space, a place where we honor and remember Jesus’ last week before his suffering, sacrifice and glorious Resurrection. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, altars have been the places where sacrifices to the Lord were offered, and where forgiveness and grace are freely given. At altars we experience and participate in the mystery of God’s invisible grace made visible in the water, wine and bread.

Thinking about altars reminded me of a time 20 years ago, when I found myself unexpectedly working for my home church. In the first Sunday bulletin I produced I typed “alter” instead of “altar.” Oops. Dictionary.com defines alter as: to make different in some particular, as size, style, course, or the like; to modify. How interesting that this year we are creating an alter altar! If you’d like to create a home alter altar for Holy Week, here are some ideas:

  • Palm Sunday – Wednesday: A palm frond and a cross.
  • Maundy Thursday: A pitcher, bowl, towel, Bible, wine and bread.
  • Good Friday: Candles, Bible, pen and paper, black fabric.
  • Holy Saturday: Clear your altar, burn or throw away your handwritten sins, pray for 2 minutes.
  • Easter Sunday: Flower your own personal cross.

FYI, the large cross on Slater Ave. will be draped on Good Friday and Easter Sunday as we recognize these holy days for our community. The Easter lilies will surround the base of the cross, and if you have purchased a lily, please feel free to pick one up throughout the day.

Additionally, Amanda will be issuing us a Daily Challenge so that you can share your alter altar photos on our Facebook page. Share your posts and share your faith this Holy Week.

Finally, dear friends, do you remember the Dr. Seuss book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas? I know it’s the wrong holiday, but I keep thinking about the end of that story, where the mean old Grinch had taken everything from the Who’s and he was sure that he had kept Christmas from coming. My sincere apologies to Dr. Seuss…

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
was singing! Without any church crowds at all!
He HAND’T stopped Easter from coming!
IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!…

“Maybe Easter,” he thought, “doesn’t come as before.”
“Maybe Easter…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
And what happened then…?
Well…in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!

 Easter will come my friends, and we will sing our Alleluia’s and shout “He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!” And may our hearts grow three sizes this Easter.

Deacon Leah Lind

By: Deacon Leah Lind (April 3, 2020)

Dear King of Glory friends,

I miss seeing all of you! I miss worshipping with you! I miss being the church gathered together! And I know many of you feel the same emotions, miss the same things, and are grieving that we won’t be together in person this Holy Week. And I believe that is completely appropriate considering our current circumstances.

I’ve also witnessed many acts of care and service, the love of Christ made incarnate through you. Like – phone tree team members who are staying in touch with all of you; others who have offered to help with grocery shopping; those who continue to lead and attend growth group meetings via Zoom; 12-step group leaders who have expressed their care, concern and support for our ministry; and staff, council and volunteers working hard to keep our church and preschool strong.

Thank you for the continued sacrifice and service you are making for the sake of your neighbor. I can’t wait to worship with you this next week as we gather in spiritual communion to remember and celebrate the Love that inspires and enables us to love and serve our neighbor. Watch for more information on that coming soon!

As we approach Holy Week, I hope you enjoy this prayer by Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, as much as I do. It seems very timely.

Blessings, health, and peace, Deacon Leah Lind

Salvation Oracles
There is a long list of threats around us:
terror,
cancer,
falling markets,
killing,
others unlike us in all their variety,
loneliness,
shame,
(*coronavirus),
death –
the list goes on and we know it well.

And in the midst of threat of every kind,
you appear among us in your full power,
in your deep fidelity,
in your amazing compassion.
You speak among us the one word that could matter:
“Do not fear.”

And we, in our several fearfulnesses, are jarred by your utterance.
On a good day, we know your sovereign word is true.
So give us good days by your rule,
free enough to rejoice
open enough to change,
trusting enough to move out of new obedience,
grace enough to be forgiven and then to forgive.

We live by your word. Speak it to us through the night,
That we may have many good days through your gift.

Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People. (2008). Abingdon Press, Nashville.
*(My addition)

By: Rev. Kinndlee Lund

Devotion for April 2: Sanctuary 

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the word Sanctuary. This is an incredibly important word in biblical tradition. In the OT or Jewish Bible it referred specifically to the part of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem where the most sacred rituals were held, the Holy of Holies, thought to be the place where God dwelled. Before the temple’s construction, a sanctuary was generally considered to be any sacred and holy place devoted to God. Nowadays, in the Lutheran church we refer to our worship space as the sanctuary. And generally in the secular world, the word “sanctuary” is used to describe a place of refuge and safety.

In the current crisis, many of us have lost our sense of sanctuary. We cannot gather in our worship spaces and our favorite community spots have been closed or deemed unsafe. Even our own homes can start to feel more like prisons than sanctuaries amidst the isolation orders. And for those who have children that are now home 24/7 as they try to work from hom, well there is no sanctuary in sight, is there? Which is why I have been thinking about this word. Even though sanctuary normally refers to a physical place, the New Testament takes a different approach. St. Paul writes the following in his letters to Ephesus and Corinth:

THAT ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GLORY HE MAY GRANT YOU TO BE STRENGTHENED WITH POWER THROUGH HIS SPIRIT IN YOUR INNER BEING, SO THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS THROUGH FAITH—THAT YOU, BEING ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE, MAY HAVE STRENGTH TO COMPREHEND WITH ALL THE SAINTS WHAT IS THE BREADTH AND LENGTH AND HEIGHT AND DEPTH, AND TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST THAT SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE, THAT YOU MAY BE FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD.  EPHESIANS 3:16-19

 

DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOD’S TEMPLE AND THAT GOD’S SPIRIT DWELLS IN YOU?  1 CORINTHIANS 3:16

In the New testament, WE are considered the sanctuary, the holy and sacred place where Christ’s spirit dwells. One of my favorite camp songs we used to sing was called Sanctuary. It reflects perfectly this idea of Sanctuary as being not somewhere we go, but something inside of us. Here’s a link to a Youtube video of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD6TCHxYfOY

In these days of isolation and loneliness for some and a complete lack of privacy for others, remember that you don’t need any special place to go to in order to to find refuge and safety, to feel peace and joy and to be filled with the fullness of God. God’s sanctuary dwells within you and you can access it wherever you are and whenever you need it. Just take some deep breaths, let God’s Spirit fill you and focus on the blessings of this moment. You are God’s temple, God’s Sanctuary, and God’s Spirit dwells with and in you. Amen.

By: Judy Goodman (April 1, 2020)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Hello KOG Friends,
During each day’s unfolding events, we look for ways to put one foot in front of the other. But we are also likely to be longing for deeper meaning underneath the fears and uncertainty that come with the pandemic we are experiencing. While a desire to “get back to normal” is understandable because of the relief from threat it brings, this crisis is also an opportunity to change something fundamental in the way we live.
In Matt Rawle’s Lenten study on The Grace of Les Misérables, we just finished the chapter on Building the Barricade. Pastor Rawle points out the difference between fighting for social justice as “a cause” and working forpeace that Jesus brings through forgiveness and reconciliation.
Jesus teaches us to seek knowledge of God’s will.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8.
As we have drifted in this world from our natural sense of interconnectedness, as our planet is suffering, and people are scared, it is impossible to not be humbled by our present circumstances. With attention, focus and God’s help we may be able to maintain new respect for “we’re all in this together.”
Let us pray:
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart, Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art, Thou my best thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Amen.
(Text attr. St. Dallian Forgaill, trans. Eleanor Hull)
By: Rev. Kinndlee Lund
Essential Workers Devotion for 3-31-20
Good evening, KOG! Today I am doing a written devotion for you all rather than a video. I’ve been reflecting on this now common term of “essential workers” which we hear mentioned on a daily basis. As you know, the majority of Americans are supposed to be self-isolating in their homes, but essential workers are expected to continue attending to their jobs which are necessary for the continued function of our society. Essential workers are those who work in areas like agriculture, manufacturing, communication, health services, legal services, public administration, food services, and defense, along with several others. Does your job fit into the category of essential work? Mine doesn’t, according to the government, which has got me thinking about a couple things. First, we should all be so grateful to those who are deemed essential and who continue to do their jobs, despite the risk they face and the sacrifices their families are also required to make. Please be sure to especially lift up the exhausted and overworked essential workers of our nation in your prayers this week. Second though, it got me thinking about the Kingdom of God and the Body of Christ. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 12, he says that in God’s eyes, we are all essential workers.
4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” (NRSV)
In God’s eyes, we all have a job to do and there is no job that is more important than any other. Every function is necessary for the Body of Christ to thrive. What is your current essential work in God’s Kingdom? Are you calling people through our phone tree? Are you making extra donations to LSS or additional contributions to KOG? Are you posting or emailing out encouraging words? Are you using this opportunity to witness to your faith to someone who needs words of hope? Are you leading? Teaching? Providing meals? Sewing face masks? Nurturing children unable to attend school and be with friends? Caring for someone who is struggling? In God’s eyes, every one of these efforts is essential. And in case you haven’t heard it yet, thank you for the work you are doing! Thank you for all the ways that you are helping Christ’s Body to thrive. May you be blessed in your essential work done in the name of God’s grace and the love of Christ for the sake of the world. Amen.
Submitted By: Deb Cooper, KOG Council Vice President
Closing Prayer
O God, whose beloved Son had compassion on the sick and healed their diseases; grant that his spirit may live and grow in us. Kindle within us a holy wrath toward social conditions that make life hard and barren for many, and injure them in both body and soul. Give us the will and power to abolish poverty, ignorance, and injustice, and to assure to all the people the opportunity of a life of health and joy. Lead us to new knowledge of the cause and cure of disease, and constrain us to make help for pain available to every son of man.
Bless all those thy servants who are engaged in the ministry of healing. Help them to walk worthily of the calling wherewith they were called. Give to them the spirit of wisdom and understanding; and let the children of men, even the least, be as precious in their sight as in thine. And above all that man can do for man, do thou, O heavenly Father, make manifest thy saving power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ernest Fremont Tittle (1885 – 1945)

By: Rhonda Fisher, KOG Councilmember (March 27, 2020)

Good Morning King of Glory!

I miss hearing Pastor Kinndlee say that, “Good Morning King of Glory,” at the beginning of church, and I miss her beautiful smile! I miss her, I miss church, I miss singing, I miss communion. I miss my morning lap swimming exercise, my Wednesday afternoon Bible study, being by myself at home, kissing my husband and hugging my children. This, my friends, is my current situation of social isolation. I’m sure each one of us paints our own picture of isolation.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
– Matthew 6:34

However, in keeping with the church season of Lent, Jesus Christ was also in isolation…in the desert! For 40 days! (And I’m feeling sorry for myself after only 1 week). In these 40 days, Jesus got away from his regular routine. He got away from people he normally saw every day. He was isolated from places he normally went every day. He had to isolate himself to be more present and in touch with God.

“Of course, we know that Jesus was not truly alone, He was tempted by Satan; he was also ministered to by angels. No matter how alone you may think you are, you will always have spiritual companions. Satan and his angles (the demons) will be there to temp you. But God and his holy angels will be there to aid you. They are always there, but the noise of the world drowns them out. Isolating ourselves for a time allows us to more easily discern their presence” (excerpt from WCU Catholic Campus Ministry).

I feel tempted by the evil one EVERY day during this time of social isolation. My workdays are not easy and are extremely challenging. I really don’t feel like coming home and having to talk to people (my family) who have been locked up all day and can’t wait to see me. I am tempted to not be “nice,” to say, “I don’t want to talk, just leave me alone.” On days off, I am bored. I am tempted to eat, to overeat. I once weighed over 200 pounds. I feel temptation at every turn. Social isolation for me is the perfect storm for giving in to temptation, to be angry at people who are not isolating in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. So many mixed feelings.

The good thing…we are Christians! We can use this time to go one day at a time. We can use all this isolation and free time to dig more deeper into our souls and renew our spirit with our Father. He is also there around every corner, calling on us to look to Him for strength to get through these 40+ days, just as if we were in the desert. Let’s keep our hearts and spirits open to what God is giving us during this very challenging time.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

So now we wait. We wait for an indefinite Easter celebration. Will we gather again at KOG? Smell the beautiful lilies? See the beautiful flowering cross? Hear Pastor Kinndlee say, “Good Morning King of Glory,” while we all respond together, “He is risen.” I don’t know. None of us know. I do know that day when we will all worship together again will be glorious. Just like getting out of the desert. Jesus knew his days would be awful, but the Holy Spirit pulled Him through to His resurrection, and he relied on God His Father, just like we must do NOW.

Prayer for the Day:

Dear Heavenly and most Merciful Father,

We need you now. Help us to only rely on you during this time of crisis in our world. I pray for healing for those who have contracted the virus and for the family’s grief stricken for those they lost. I pray for the KOG congregation, for the leaders of the world and for medical experts working furiously on vaccine development. Help us to call on your spirit to avoid temptation. We look forward to the time we worship you, in person, TOGETHER. Light up our path until that day comes.  I ask all this in your Holy Name.  Amen

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

– Romans 15:13

Rhonda Fisher

By: Deacon Leah Lind (March 24, 2020)

Dear Friends,

Have you noticed over the last week how challenging it can be to be still? There is so much to know right now. So much to do. So much to plan for or worry about. With the COVID-19 virus and associated fallout, many of us are feeling stressed, lonely, and depressed. Even downright afraid. Jesus tells us repeatedly in Scripture to “be not afraid,” but how do we really do that in the midst of a global pandemic? Do we just tough it out? Or add a layer of guilt to our already exhausted minds and bodies?

But…did you know that our brains are “wired” to relentlessly scan our environment for danger as a matter of survival? Our minds have evolved with a “negativity bias” where positive thoughts and feelings “slide off like Teflon” while the negative thoughts and feelings “stick like Velcro!” In a time like this, it really is perfectly understandable to be experiencing all kinds of difficult emotions! One proven antidote is to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is about learning to pay attention in a different way to what is going on inside of us so that we can make more informed choices about how we choose to respond. It is shifting out of automatic pilot mode – out of a “doing” mode into a “being” mode. Mindfulness teaches us not to deny or push away our difficult thoughts, feelings and sensations, but to change our relationship to them. We can learn to step back and de-center or de-fuse from our thinking and emotions, letting them pass by in a gentle manner without grabbing on and letting them take us for a wild ride. If we practice mindfulness over time, we can actually re-wire our brains and experience more of the peace and stillness that Jesus promises.

Want to give it a try? Below are a couple of links for practice. One is a simple mindful breathing exercise and the other is a longer centering prayer practice. The benefits of mindfulness practice is cumulative, so a daily practice is most effective. Let me know how you experience these practices! Do you have questions? Need more resources?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEfs5TJZ6Nk

https://www.thecontemplativelife.org/cp-audio-and-video-resources

Praying that we all find the time to be still and at peace in the presence of our God,

Deacon Leah Lind