Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ask the pastor: Why do you want to be a pastor?

The first question I received in my "Ask the Pastor" box is, "Why do you want to be a pastor?"

This is a difficult response to articulate, as I'm not real sure how to describe being a pastor as something to be "wanted". At it's foundation, the role of pastor is about trying to listen to what God wants as the ultimate goal, and following where God is calling, rather than doing what I want, comes with the territory of being a pastor.

To describe being a pastor in terms of a calling as opposed to being a career objective makes for a better fit. Being a pastor is a calling, mostly because I don't get to pick and choose who I'm a pastor to. Instead, I've been called to give people the truth of God's love, grace, justice, and peace, no matter who they are, what abilities they have, who they voted for, or how much they give. God's truth is shown to us in Jesus, so ultimately my calling, is to show Jesus to others.

While being a pastor is not necessarily about what I "want", that doesn't mean that I don't find joy in my call, and that I don't like doing it. I find being a pastor a great privilege and am grateful that I'm called to serve in this way. Here's a list of some of the things that make me tick as a pastor.:

-Serving God- ultimately, having only to answer to the Truth, is very freeing for me.

-Proclaiming Good News-when you share Jesus with people, it is sharing the gift of new life in all things.

-Presiding at the Sacraments: Baptism and Communion- "You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever." "The body of Christ, given for you. The Blood of Christ, shed for you." Participating in these rites is a source of great joy.

-Teaching about God and our place in God's story of salvation.

-The relationships that I get to be a part of, the sacred things that people entrust to me about their lives gives me a chance to be with others during the best and worst times. But whether it is joy or sorrow, God gives me a look at the depth of compassion and love that we are made and held with, and it is beautiful. People's stories are at the end of it all, really stories about God.


-Learning more about myself and human beings as I wonder and pray with the Creator of all things.

-Being around people who are called to serve and use their gifts in many unique ways, and bless me with their lives.

-Learning to see with the eyes of Christ, and sharing this vision in a wide variety of areas, especially in the life of a congregation.

-Having many ways to be creative and try to grow in that creativity in ways that connect with others.

As a final note, I just wanted to write that my calling as a pastor is something that has been formed in me since I was born. My parents, as well as my greater family, made faith a part of our life at home; they read the Bible to us, prayed with us, brought us to worship and Sunday School, shared fellowship with others in our congregation, hosted refugees from Central America, loved us, expected kindness and nurtured this formation throughout the years. Faith; a relationship with God through Christ's church and a relationship with all of creation through Christ's love is a part of who I am. Through this faith, given to me and sustained in me by the work of God and so many others, I have the honor, the very humbling honor, of being called as a pastor.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sermon for May 17, 2015: Birthday Party Testimony

This sermon was preached by Rev. Mark Peterson at Christ the King Lutheran church on Sunday, May 17, 2015.

Second Reading: 1 John 5:9–13
9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.  10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son.  11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
             13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
This morning, our reading from 1 John talks about testimony. Now, if one wants to find an example of testimony, they need go no further, than a 4-year old, giving testimony about how great birthday parties are. I’m not sure if this is universal, but I do know that my 4-year old, Charlie, is so into birthday parties, that he’s been planning his for about the last 7 months, and we still have about 5 months to go.

The plan has been revised over time, which is good, because at one point our house was going to be a Batcave, with Charlie reassuring me that we didn’t have to paint the whole house to make this happen, just some of it.

Young children sure know how to give testimony to how great a birthday is, and it is wonderful that we get to partner with Ascentria Care Alliance, to help give children in the Intensive Foster Care Program a birthday party. I hope that these children share in the same enthusiasm and anticipation as Charlie does for his birthday party. I hope that their birthday party testimonials are filled with imagination and wonder.

When Candace Cramer, from Ascentria, approached me about being a part of their 50 days of Easter campaign, I looked at our calendar, and thought about all that we have going on, and I was a little apprehensive. Thankfully, our Community Outreach Board and Christian Education Coach coordinated things and we were able to be a part of it. This morning, we will send those bags off with a great deal of love and joy, and I’m very thankful that we have gotten to be a part of things in this way.

As a human, this project, and our relationship with Ascentria is a great testimony for our congregation. We can tell people all about the great work that we are doing at Christ the King, and all the ways that we help people in need. Maybe, thinking of this from a human point of view, our work will inspire people to come and join us, so that we can do even greater things together. This project gives us a testimonial to reach out to a people who might be seeking a church that does these types of outreach projects. I do know, for example, that our involvement with Family Promise Metrowest has brought in some people, and most importantly, brought them for for the sake of a great cause, helping to house the homeless.

This is indeed, my human testimony. And when I say that the things our congregation does, the outreach ministries we are involved in are outstanding, I mean it, and giving our testimony about what we do is an important part of who we are. There is a problem though, my testimony is only human. Even if I give my testimony with the enthusiasm of a 4-year old talking about birthday parties, it is still, limited testimony.

To bring it back to that birthday-party testimony. In my experience, what makes birthday parties wonderful aren’t really the things that 4-year olds have in mind. Sure, a good theme, decorations, cake, and presents can be a part of a great party, but there is no thing or experience that you can give to a child that is melt-down proof. What really makes a birthday party worthy of such a testimony, are the relationships the child has, and the feeling of people celebrating with you, because they care about you. The type of relationships that aren’t always so readily available in the lives of foster children.
As we send these bags off this morning, if our testimony is only concerned with telling our story about the great work we’ve done, then like all human endeavors, what we’ve done becomes pretty insignificant. Without loving relationships, without people celebrating with you because they care about you, we could throw a birthday party for these kids in the actual Batcave with unlimited Batmobile rides and it would still fall short of giving them what they really need, which is love and nurturing.
Christ the King prepared birthdays in a bag, and they are packed
and ready to go to the children in Ascentria Care Alliance's
 Intensive Foster Care Program

Thankfully, we aren’t giving these bags to those children so that they receive our own, human testimony, nor are we doing this so that everyone who follows are facebook page will receive a testimony about how great we are. Rather, the testimony that we are sharing is much greater than us, it is the testimony of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The testimony of Christ testifies that continues to call us into relationship with God and with each other. The testimony that calls us to love the sisters and brothers God has given to us. That calls us to love God’s children, as our own children, no matter who they are.

And, even though we fall short even in that regard, this is the testimony that saves us with a life poured out on the cross and that is given to us in all times and places through the power of Christ’s resurrection and ascension. The testimony of a love which knows no boundaries and a life given to save a world so broken, it would even have a need for foster programs in the first place.

This is the testimony, the testimony of Jesus Christ, that we are sharing with those children, and the testimony they are sharing with us. It is a testimony of love, and we send these bags on to those children because we do love them. And we join in the work of Ascentria, because this partnership helps us to share this loving testimony in ways that we aren’t able. And most of all, by this testimony, we remember how short our own love and actions can fall and fail, and in doing so, we hear the testimony of Christ, saying to us, “This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you.”

May we grasp hold of this testimony, and know that though our life is short and our love limited, we will never be without Christ’s eternal life. And may we grow in our trust of this promise, so that we may live in the joy of sharing this love, and rise together, with all of our fellow sisters and brothers in the resurrection of Christ.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stewardship Castles

The following was written for the May 2015 edition of Christ the King's newsletter. 

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
Did you know that there is a castle at Christ the King? If you take a look in our narthex, you will find a castle that has been handmade by the students of the Blessed Beginnings Preschool. This one of a kind castle is made out of such things as egg cartons, paper towel tubes, and pipe cleaners, and it is a great creation.

What’s really great about the castle, is that the students did it cooperatively and without the help of their teachers, on a special day called, “Work Together Wednesday.” While I’m sure the students got a lot out of the experience and had a great time, “working together,” this lesson is really for adults, and it is a lesson in STEWARDSHIP!

The first point of this lesson, is that we have been given what we need to accomplish the task at hand, more specifically in our case, the work of God. The students weren’t given a fancy Lego set, they just had an abundance of things that usually fill up our trash and recycling bins. They could have pleaded or begged the teachers to give them different or better materials, or they could have sat around and complained to each other that they didn’t have enough, but instead, they joyfully went about their task with what they had.

God has given us enough, an abundance even, to commence taking up the mission or task God has given us to do. This is simply using the lives that we have, to share the loving gift of each day with each other, in a world of fellowship and plenty for all. Carrying out God’s mission is our joyful, everyday duty, and if we have breath, we have enough.

The second point of this lesson, is that we are called to do this work together. It wasn’t “see who can make the best castle Wednesday” it was “Work together Wednesday.” In order to work together, the students had to be in constant communication together. Imagine if one or two students decided to take over the whole project, the other kids would have found other things to do. Or if one or two four-year olds decided to throw a temper tantrum, the cardboard tubes would have been no match for a child that decided if they couldn’t have their way, no one could. This task depended on the efforts and voices of all children, their ability to share the work, and the humility to share in a communal vision.

God calls us to work together. The process of working, sharing, and learning to communicate culminates in something that has been created by many hands, together in One Spirit. Carrying out God’s mission requires being stewards of the vision and work that we have been given, and a commitment to the sacred space where we are called into an ever greater spirit of humility and not accomplishment.

The third point of this lesson is that the fruits of our work, are there to remind us of the joy, fellowship, and love we share together, and encourage us to continue in that Spirit. The castle that the children put together is really great, but the image it gives us into the work that they engaged in is the real treasure. Great works of art are nice to look at, but they come alive and truly magnificent when we hear the story, sentiment, and spirit that went into making them. The castle is a great work of art, and that time the children spent working on it is truly a priceless gift to both them and us.

God calls us to stewardship not as a way to build great things, but in order to grow in our trust and relationship with God, and to be reminded of all that God has done for us and for all people. When we give our money, our time, our commitment, our spirit, and our lives over to the church, it helps us to realize the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, that is alive in us and is given to us so that we may know joy. This joy is the joy of being alive, the joy of working together, the joy of the creation that God has given to us, and especially the joy of the love that Jesus has for each of us, the joy that called him to the humility of the cross. As stewards of God, may we continue to grow in our humility, so that we may experience the joy of God’s loving presence, and tell the story of God’s saving love.

Thank you to Blessed Beginnings Preschool, and its dedicated teachers, board, and volunteers, for sharing such valuable lessons with us all.
In Christ,

Pastor Mark