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Messages - Eileen Smith

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Your Turn / Re: Christ Is Risen!
« on: April 12, 2020, 09:22:56 PM »
I wonder how we are defining joy.  Is it returning to a life we had just about four weeks ago?  Attending church, visiting friends, grocery shopping, school?  I'm not convinced that's the joy one finds with Easter.  Some Easters are difficult.  The Easter after 9/11 was particularly hard.  Today I shed a lot of tears as I watched services at my church and then at my husband's to find that the Mass was given in his memory.  I may not feel what the world might define as joyful, I am joy-filled; I am content.  Like so many of you I'm restricted in my movements about town and even to not having people in my home.  Just today someone asked if I was going crazy.  I'm not.  I'm content.   The reading from John, singing "Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds" and "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" brought joy.  Even though I was singing alone I knew the members of my congregation were singing with me.  That gives me a sense of peace, again, contentment.  People are definitely suffering.  Jobs have been lost.  I wonder about those for whom this isolation is exacerbating an already difficult situation - people in abusive relationships, those who suffer from addiction.  People on the front lines are staying in hotels, free of charge, as they are afraid to go home to their families.  And yet, in the midst of this we're still able to say, "Christ is Risen."  We live in the assurance of those words and we may not always seem giddy with joy certainly we have contentment and peace. 

Your Turn / Re: Christ Is Risen!
« on: April 12, 2020, 08:47:02 PM »
Pastor Kirchner writes:
Have some Cheetos and grape juice. You'll "feel" better, Charles. 
I comment:
Sorry, Pastor Kirchner, the "winky" emoji does not cover the tone-deaf, cold, unfeeling nature of that response.
   Don't know about your life, but in my life we are shut off from most human contact. Beloved Spouse and I are unable to do most of the things that brighten and enlighten us. We are worried about friends and family in the epicenter of the pandemic, and still adjusting to this damn Minnesota winter, which is right now dumping four or five inches of snow on the spinach we planted on our balcony.
   Let me say it straight. I'm not feeling very "Easter" right now. Tomorrow doesn't look good, either.
   When I wrote "Yes, Christ has risen. But to be honest, today itís going to be hard to feel as if we have," it was a serious statement about seriously feeling bad. Oh, wait, I forgot, feelings don't matter. So I guess your snarky comment connected to a matter of serious disagreement between us felt funny to you.   
   Not to me.
   Everyone have a good day.

But, Rev. Austin, your feelings do not change the fact: He is risen!   And that fact is enough to give real joy, right?

The joy at the birth of a child doesn't remove the pain of giving birth - or surgery if that was necessary. There is pain in the loss of human contact. Why do you discount that? There is even more pain at the death of friends and parents. Belief in the resurrection doesn't remove the loss that we feel. It's been 20 years since my dad died. I still feel the loss. There is no joy in the fact that I cannot see or talk or hug him like I used to.

Even before Mark Allen Powell commented on it, I had heard about translating Matthew 28:17 as: "they worshiped him and they doubted." Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson described the ELCA as the church of the "and": "saint AND sinner" among many illustrations. We can rejoice AND feel pain. It's seldom all of one thing. The largest genre of psalms are the laments - not praise nor thanksgiving. Our human experience is often one of laments. Easter doesn't change that.

And yet many of the Psalms of lament turn to praise.

Your Turn / Re: Christ Is Risen!
« on: April 12, 2020, 11:35:46 AM »
Our Easter service of the Word ó


Thank you for posting.  Your sermon truly helped me.  A blessed Easter to you and all your family.

Your Turn / Re: Christ Is Risen!
« on: April 12, 2020, 10:19:11 AM »
He is risen indeed.  No matter the circumstances of this world - a deadly virus and all that ensues from schools to the economy and, especially today, our churches - that still must be our response as that is our witness to the world.  Even a closed church cannot defeat the hope we have in Christ.   

It will be different for all of us.  It is my first Easter without my husband.  I cannot remember an Easter when I did not attend church.   As most of you,  I'll be watching church from home, singing alone, not receiving Christ in the sacrament.  It is a time such as this that we must proclaim Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia

Your Turn / Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« on: April 11, 2020, 08:06:13 PM »
This prayer composed by St. Alphonsus Liguori in the 18th century is prayed at each Mass at my husband's congregation:

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Your Turn / Re: When it's over...
« on: April 09, 2020, 08:09:19 PM »
I don't pretend to know what life will be like when we have moved past the worst of this pandemic and we resume our lives.  Difficult as it is for us this is not the first crisis this world has met.   I'm certain that plagues and wars brought change.  9/11 brought many changes to our financial world and the way we worked.  Changes in trades, settlements, off-site backup facilities grew out of this tragedy.  Yet less than a decade out from that day we were engaging in financial instruments that crashed the market and preyed on the most vulnerable.   Initially people returned to church but I'm not convinced that religious fervor lasted.  But something did remain and that is relationships.  I do believe we put more value on relationships.

I'm certain that this crisis will see changes in the business world.  Some helpful some will be harmful and, unfortunately, harmful to the most vulnerable.  I think that people are anxious to return to church, synagogue, mosque.  When we have our on-line worship people sign in with a greeting.  I see names of members that attend (maybe) once a year.  Will they return?  I'm not as convinced as some that it will be long lasting.

I pray our relationships grow stronger.  I pray that we once again shake hands, that we hug one another.  I pray that we don't let fear dictate our lives and keep us away from one another.  On this night we have a liturgy filled with touch.  The pastor places his/her hands on our head with words of absolution, feet are washed, we exchange God's peace with a handshake.  Will we change our liturgies so that on Ash Wednesday our pastors no longer place ashes on our forehead or pronounce absolution with hands on or heads?  Will we confirm children from a distance?  When God speaks in Genesis the words it is not good for humans to be alone I don't think he simply means husband and wife but each of us in the communities in which we interact - family, friends, church, work.   

I am immunosuppressed.  I'm told that I'm to stay in and my doctors prefer that I not have people in my home.  I've not held a hand, shaken a hand, hugged another person in a month.  I long for these days to be over, to get back to the business of living life fully in whatever relationships God has placed in our lives.  I long to turn to the person sitting next to me in the pew and with a handshake exchange God's peace.  Dr. Fauci may be the expert, but I pray the biggest change after this is over is that we do not live in fear. 

Your Turn / Re: Online Worship Resources
« on: April 05, 2020, 09:22:07 PM »
  Thanks Steve.  I don't know how you or others are experiencing it (and in your case providing pastoral care to a dying member), but I'm finding the live-streaming thing in an almost empty sanctuary to be more emotionally and physically draining. 
Perhaps a time that we lay people should more fervently pray for our pastors ... and reach out to them to encourage and thank them.

This week's email included a list of the ways to contact the pastor who closed by saying "If you wonder "Should I call the pastor?" The answer is Yes!"

Call him ... thank him, tell him you are praying for him! At least one pastor I know tells his parishioners that he covets their prayers ... one type of coveting that is God pleasing.

With worship services on Youtube I am able to be part of my husband's Saturday evening Mass.  Last night I thought the pastor looked drawn and tired.  I can't imagine the burden our pastors are carrying from providing worship and the logistics therein, caring for members yet not allowed to visit nursing homes or hospitals, caring about the financial impact to the church.  It's overwhelming.  I agree,  James.  Prayer is quite in order.

Your Turn / Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« on: April 05, 2020, 09:16:29 PM »
As we started to see closings of businesses and learned more about safe distancing, pastors whom I know had a very difficult time in making the decision to close.  In the case of the congregation in which I'm a member we closed a week after the Roman Catholic congregations [did so].  The Roman Catholic priests had it a bit easier in that they were mandated to close.  As to closing and its ramifications (tele-communion being one) wouldn't it help the parish pastor to have a bishop just say no.  A friend told me that the bishop of MNYS has a weekly Zoom meeting with his deans and in one of those meetings said no tele-communion.    I understand that Lutheran bishops/presidents do not have the sort of oversight as does a RC bishop, but in these difficult days couldn't an exception be made to allow that authority?  Who knows - the Holy Spirit may be working in, with, and under those bishops/presidents who choose to give guidance.   

Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: April 05, 2020, 07:33:59 PM »
Figuring out how to do "virtual worship" is a real challenge, as we're all discovering. What's the balance between "keeping it familiar" and "not just trying to do a regular service with no worshipers, but adapt to the new situation"? My daughter (who has the benefit of a parishioner with video editing experience) put this Palm Sunday procession together, which I think is really quite remarkable:

We sort of copied the idea at our church, but with much less expertise, so we just used still photos rather than video. It wasn't nearly as engaging, but still quite moving to see the faces of people we are missing.

Thank you for sharing this very beautiful video. 

Your Turn / Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« on: April 03, 2020, 02:19:46 PM »
I'm not sure I understand, Pastor Morris, why "preventing parishioners from attendance" in this situation should raise eyebrows. If the building department told me the roof was about to fall in, I would prevent people from coming to church. So if the dangers of infection, transmission of a terrible virus, or disease existed when people came to church, why should we not tell them: "Right now, don't come, we won't have services"?
I wonder if, in the days of persecution those earliest centuries, whether the elders of the community might have said at times "The Romans are really on the prowl for us this week; let's not get together."?
Except services are still happening. In the building. But no one is allowed to come. Nor can they simply move to a different location and meet there, as they could if the roof were collapsing. No invective here: if you don't see the difference, I think I may be at a loss to explain it. And this inability to see the difference is part of what surprises me in the church's response as a collective.

One last try, though: if this happened 25 years ago, before the advent of broadband, most churches' plans would look entirely different than they do today. How can that not represent innovation? Yet some innovations are opposed because they are innovations and some innovations are not... that's my last and best attempt to articulate what I am getting at.

Peace in Christ,

It isn't simply that this is an innovation.  It is that it introduces doubt into the Sacrament.  When the pastor first used a microphone when he spoke the Words of Institution, that was an innovation but no one wondered if it was the Sacrament.  However, when a pastor speaks the words and neither the elements nor the recipients are there, there is doubt.  What is the "this" of "this is My Body...this is My Blood"?  Who is the "for you"?  Who is giving this (the pastor, who stands in the stead of Christ, is not handing it to the recipient)?  That's a lot of doubt, from a lot of places: the giver, what is given, to whom it is given?

I do agree that some, perhaps many, will doubt that they are partaking of Jesus body and blood and that is, in and of itself, the reason not to live streamed in any way.   I've not read all the posts herein so I apologize if this has been addressed but what sort of doubts does this introduce as to the role of the pastor?  We have seen all sorts of authority, be it civil, our schools, our church, give way to the watering down of authority.  How much more will this do after things return to normal - or whatever normal turns out to be.  Years ago (late 70's) as more and more congregations introduced LBW/LW we saw laity taking on roles that were solely the function of the   A confirmation student pointed out one Sunday that her mother distributed communion that day and other laity also had roles. Her question:  why do we need pastors?  This came from a 13 year old and I don't think we are in danger of councils meeting and dismissing the pastor as non-essential.   But can some of that authority to preach, teach, and administer the sacraments be diminished if too much of that authority is seen to be given away, albeit temporarily.  Musings from someone with way too much time on her hands.

Your Turn / Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« on: April 02, 2020, 03:10:58 PM »
Agreed that we cannot be consumed by fear of the virus. But that could lead to a casual attitude towards mitigation of the disease or protection for others.
And in my not-so-humble-opinion, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" was a phrase that seemed to have caught on and did some good, given its time and source. Today? Not so sure.

That makes absolutely no sense. There is a world of difference between fear and acting prudent and in love for one's neighbor.

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
ďFear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior ..." (Isaiah 43:1-3a)

The piece above (bold) is my confirmation verse.  I've always loved it and it helps guide my life.  But to the discussion, in the midst of this time I think of something Pastor Johnson shared early on in the discussions .... be mindful, not fearful.  I cannot control what is going on around me nor can I control what may be in our future (more virulent, more hoarding, perhaps even violence), but I can be mindful. 

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: March 31, 2020, 11:10:23 AM »
Ms Smith,

A similar situation here in Minnesota, though certainly on a smaller scale. Twin Citians are fleeing to their cabins "Up North," bringing the virus along with them. Is there something about "Stay put!" "Stay home!" "No unnecessary travel!" that people don't understand?

I believe they understand it quite well, Pastor Kirchner - as it pertains to others.

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: March 31, 2020, 10:02:25 AM »
"Coronavirus live updates: Pastor arrested for holding church services
The pastor acted in violation of Florida's stay-at-home order, officials said."

Pentecostal pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of a megachurch in Tampa has had his fair share of controversies already.  He is also known for that interesting phenomenon called "holy laughter."  He's probably not laughing right now....

Florida is really irritating New Yorkers right now.   Not so much Florida, but their governor.  The governor blames their corona virus acceleration on New Yorkers coming down even as he's OK with spring break partying on the beaches and was the prince of delay strategies in implementing appropriate measures.  So how many years have New Yorkers been coming down and moving to Florida?  100?  And how many billions or trillions have New Yorkers pumped into Florida?  The whole east coast of Florida is us - now we're the bad guys because our relatives are there?  It's not primarily the governor's bad behavior?  As Andew Cuomo might say, "Come on, man - get your act together!"  Prayers for Florida specifically are in order because of the magnitude of the senior population there.  I'm starting with the prayer posture, but feel depotentiated.

Dave Benke

I have to disagree here.  New York is the epicenter of this virus and those with means are getting out of Dodge.  They're going upstate where there are a lot of summer rentals and they're headed out to the Hamptons.  A friend who lives year round in Hampton Bays gives an account of what this looks like.  But first it should be noted that many of these areas that live on summer money are depressed communities the remaining nine months of the year.  There is a lot of poverty and most year round residents are in lower paying jobs.  My friend who gives the account is in her early 70's and still has to work as she cannot afford to retire.  City folks with means have flocked in.   Obviously this is not like the summer flocking where jobs are a result of the NYC exodus.  They are purchasing already scarce commodities.  There were no cases in Nassau and Suffolk initially and they started having cases in areas served by the Long Island Rail Road coming out from the city.  But that's the least of it.  They are coming in from the epicenter of the virus and, as we've seen, without testing one has no idea of who actually has the disease.  Cuomo should get his own house in order before he looks to criticize others.     

I will admit that Cuomo has done a very admirable job in NY.  But, as may be evident, I am growing weary of his New York schtick.  The tough guy act is growing old as is his constantly speaking in first person pronouns.  "I need," "I want."  New Yorkers need, the sick need, etc.  A minor thing but it says a lot.   The accolades that are coming in seem to have gone to his head and I wonder does he see himself as governor to the governors.   

The following arrived today from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  Timing is tight but we will be posting it on congregation's social media sites as well as sending out an electronic message to the congregation.

I am writing to extend an invitation we have received from Pope Francis, through the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches to join in the Lordís Prayer tomorrow, March 25, at noon your local time. Please share this invitation through your synods, congregations, ecumenical communities and individual networks.

During the global pandemic of COVID-19, the church can and should give witness to our unity in Christ and express our deep concern for Godís creation. Despite social distancing, through prayer we are able to enter together into the presence of Christ and the communion of believers. By praying the prayer that Christ taught us, we are united with followers of Jesus in every time and in every place. When the church gathers in this way, we can be assured that Christ, our eternal hope, is present in the midst of suffering.

In Christ,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton

Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Your Turn / Re: Prayer Requests
« on: March 24, 2020, 07:56:20 PM »
Dear Friends in Christ,

I've been wanting to post for several weeks to thank all of you for your prayers on the death of my husband, Joe.  I want to especially thank Pastor Donna Smith for sharing this news and Pastor John Hannah for being with me at Joe's funeral.  Quite honestly, I felt that I was held in prayer by all of you through the gift of Pastor Hannah's presence.  I will admit that the past weeks have been quite difficult and my lethargy prevented me from posting sooner.  Each time I wanted to respond to a post I felt I first needed to acknowledge your gift of prayer.

The church has many forms, many expressions - and I am grateful to be part of the expression of the church on this site for I am reminded that as heated as our discussions may become we are at heart united in Christ's love and therefore we share that love with one another.


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