From My Perspective

Reflections through a Lens of Faith from Pastor Jen

The Joy Of Giving

The Joy Of Giving

When I was diagnosed with COVID earlier this year (a reminder that I was fortunate in that I never had any symptoms), I stocked up on tylenol and Vitamin D, I bought a thermometer, I set up a living space apart from the rest of my family, and… I wrote a will.

I guess it was the brief confrontation with mortality I needed to get my affairs in order. I know how important a will is but it was always one of those things on my to-do list that never got done. After all, who wants the reminder that they’re going to die?

Here’s the surprise: I never realized how much joy there could be in putting together a will!

Whatever remains of my estate will largely go to my family, but there are other organizations which have been important to me throughout my life that I wanted to remember. I imagined the smile on the face of some NAACP treasurer when they received a gift from some white person they’d never heard of before. I thought about the future seminarian whose debt-load will be a little bit lower through the ELCA’s Fund for Leaders. I thought of each of the churches I’ve been a part of over the years and the ways I’ve been blessed through their ministries.

There is joy in giving – even when the giving will happen far into the future (far, far, far into the future I hope!)

If you don’t have a will yet, please write one even if you think you won’t have much of an estate – you’ll discover for yourself the joy of giving!

In Christ,

Pastor Jen

Emanuel 9, Martyrs

Emanuel 9, Martyrs

Today is a day of commemoration.

Six years ago, on June 17, 2015, Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson were murdered by a self-professed white supremacist while they were gathered for Bible study and prayer at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (often referred to as Mother Emanuel) in Charleston, South Carolina.

There are Lutheran connections. Pastors Pinckney and Simmons were both graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. It is particularly painful to acknowledge that the murderer was a member – baptized and confirmed – in a Lutheran church.

A colleague, Rev. Lenny Duncan, visited Mother Emanuel church a year or so ago. He posted this photo with the accompanying caption: “Who would have thought a simple bible study listed out front would be the most profound witness I have seen in years.”

Emanuel 9, Martyrs

Today we grieve many things. We grieve for the nine lives lost. We grieve the fact that evil showed up to Bible study. We grieve the sin of racism. We grieve that the perpetrator of such violence was a part of the Lutheran family.

And also we give thanks for the courageous witness of Mother Emanuel church. Evil has not stopped them from sharing with the world that there will be Bible study on Wednesday at 6:00 PM – and all are invited.

In Christ,

Pastor Jen

Don’t Let The Dragon Win

Don't Let The Dragon Win

The dragon was our nemesis.

A couple of weeks ago I went questing at Boda Borg in Malden. If you have no idea what I mean by that sentence, “questing,” is a live gaming experience where teams of people complete physical and mental challenges. Successful completion of the challenge allows entry into the next. Failure results in exiting the challenge and an invitation to start again.

Boda Borg, a collection of 15-20 quests with various themes originated in Sweden and has a single location in the United States…it happens to be in Malden.

Back to my original statement: The dragon was our nemesis.

There is a quest at Boda Borg called “Potions.” Three of us worked together and on the second (or third) try managed to get through the first room…we had to figure out the clues in order to make a potion which would open the door into the next room. The challenge in the second room also entailed teamwork as we worked together to get a ball from one end of the room to the next without dropping it. This one we managed to complete within the allotted time at about the fifth or sixth try. We were thrilled! We were allowed entry into the next room. But EVERY time we tried to enter the final room of the quest, a dragon spotted us and I suppose as dragons do, it annihilated us. We had to go back to the beginning.

But the beauty of questing, is that we didn’t start all over again completely naive. We had learned things along the way. We had learned how to get through the first and second rooms. We had learned that the dragon spotted us when we jumped; it spotted us when we crawled; it spotted us when we opened the door quickly; it spotted us when we opened the door slowly; it spotted us when we ran through the door; it spotted us when we hid behind the door. (Yes, we tried all those things!)

We haven’t yet solved the puzzle as to how to get past the dragon, but we’ve learned some things along the way, and we’re looking forward to going back to try again.

There are setbacks in life. Things don’t always turn out the way we hope them to. Sometimes it seems like we’re starting all over again…a new relationship, a new job, a new doctor, a new teacher, a new pastor. But the gift is to realize we don’t start again completely from scratch. We have learned some things along the way.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

You’ve learned some things along the way. Don’t let the dragon win.

In Christ,

Pastor Jen