Messiah News

Heart Hands: Wrapped in Love

What a difference a year makes! Last September Pr. Tom and I were just getting to know you. We were working on our Ministry Site Profile and looking forward to a Spring/Summer formation of your call committee. Check, check and check. We've done great so far. Thank you!

The theme we used for last Fall's work was "In Holy Hands." We talked about how pastors are entrusted with (and have removed from them) oversite for a congregation's Word and Sacrament Ministry. That is, the ministries of Baptism, Preaching, and the celebration of Holy Communion. Some of you had been at the Braafladts' farewell service where Bp. Jaech took Prs. Kathy and Peter around to the font, the altar and the pulpit and said "Thank you. Well done good and faithful servants. Now, give this stuff back!" I love that! So, Pr. Tom and I asked where that authority had gone. And, of course, the answer is back to you. You, all together, are the Church. You are the people of God. The ministries of proclamation, baptism and the meal are yours to share and oversee. Pastor comes and go, as do we all, but this is a season for coming and I continue to be excited for what awaits Messiah.

Now though, as we wait, what shall we talk about? I'm proposing "Heart Hands: Wrapped in Love" as our 2023 Fall theme. The picture below was taken at a past Messiah Lutheran Youth retreat. You may know "heart hands" as a shape some people like to make with their fingers, especially if you can look at a sunset through them. It's great. And what a meaningful sign!  

Heart Hands, like our Christian proclamation, are really nothing in themselves. What they are is a frame. What Heart Hands do is help us see – just 'this' or just 'that.' We frame the sunset and give thanks for the beauty God creates. We frame our neighbor and look for a moment at their gifts and needs. We frame our hopes and dreams for the next pastor who will come and minister with us. And often time Heart Hands will capture and embrace what we see as we fold our hands in prayer. (And then, of course, we let it all go again!)

As we move into another Fall season, I do not want you to forget that your hands are holy. I want you to own, embrace, remember and use the gifts you have been given – especially as they relate to our common call to preach, teach, baptize and feed. And then I want you shape Heart Hands and let these gifts fall through the frame. I want you to see your neighbor, your garden, your family, our children in school, or the clients and patients you minister to at work. If we as the Church cannot focus … If we will not look and see … If we do not capture, embrace and pray … If we are slow to serve, hard of heart, judgmental, brittle or impatient … If our Heart Hands become the point, and not the promise, then no one will ever be wrapped in love.

But I know and see you. I know you do garden, and feed, and share, and invite, and guide and pray and hope and proclaim. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the Church in so many ways and walks.

So a year. Yes. And what a difference a year makes. We have done the work we need to do. We are ready to welcome a new pastor. I personally feel a little restless, like when your nose says the cookies in the oven should be done, but the buzzer has not yet rung. ("Alexa, how much time left on the timer?!") There is, of course, always work to be done. There are new friends to welcome into the family of God; hungry neighbors who await our Food on the Fourth collection; songs to be sung and the stories of Jesus to be told yet again. So, we continue unabated, with joy and efficacy. I know, though, that we are a little restless – and I think this is a good thing. Part of the Christian journey is always living with expectation.

Now, here's an idea. While you wait. Make Heart Hands once a day and look through them. What do you see? What do you embrace? What do you release? What will you do with these days of expectation and readiness? The choice is yours! (And how cool is that?!)

Pr. Dave Brauer-Rieke 

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