Nothing But Net…

This coming Sunday, April 25 is World Malaria Day. 

If you haven’t heard about the ELCA’s Lutheran Malaria Initiative called Nothing But Nets  (a partnership with the NBA), check out the following article:

“These days $10 doesn’t buy much—a couple of drinks from the local coffee house or perhaps a solo trip to the movie theater (with no popcorn). But when you take that same amount and purchase and send an insecticide-treated bed net you get something priceless—the chance to protect a life from the devastating effects of malaria… read more.

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CLF Visits the “Storehouse”

Last week, as part of Wednesday Night Life on April 14, 2010, people of all ages from Custer Lutheran Fellowship (CLF) took a tour of and did a little cleaning for the new “Storehouse.”

Formerly called the “Food Pantry” and the “Exchange,” both had outgrown their basement locations.  They will now be housed together at the Storehouse.  The Exchange is being moved out from CLF’s basement on May 1.  Anyone with trucks and/or trailers is invited to come to CLF at 12 noon to help load up and move things.  The Food Pantry is moving out of the Custer Senior Center’s basement on May 8.  Again, anyone wanting to help just needs to show up at 12 noon at the Senior Center back parking lot.  The “Grand Reopening” is scheduled for May 15 from 2 to 5 pm.

Thanks to director of the Storehouse, Kim Canete, for serving as host to us as well as to Keith Burden for giving his permission to use his song, “Take the Love of God and Pass It On” as part of the video.

Why Adventure?

A number of weeks ago I was reading syndicated columnist Val Farmer.  Farmer was writing about a study that showed couples who had been married for many years could strengthen their marriages by doing something adventurous and challenging together every now and then.  He didn’t mean that couples needed to climb Mount Everist, but couples who traveled to new places, learned new skills, or did challenging activities together tended to report more satisfaction in their relationships than those who did not do such things.

Over the years I have pondered why we spend the energy and time to go to Bible camps, to prepare large congregational meals together, to plan mission trips to Colombia, or to climb mountains as church activities.  I have always known that I feel better after such events but have never really understood why.  Perhaps Farmer’s “adventure study” sheds some light on this feeling.

When we participate in activities that push us out of our comfort zones, in addition to releasing the “feel good” chemicals in the brain, we must trust one another more fully, rely on the skills of the people around us, and open ourselves to the creative possibilities of what might happen.  These are all ways in which we grow as individuals and as communities.

We’re getting ready for another chance for adventure together.   From July  5- 8 the Rap Group is sponsoring a trip to the Big Horns to backpack, camp, and climb Bomber Mountain (weather permitting).  This trip is open to high schoolers and adults.  If you want to find out more details there is a meeting this Sunday evening, April 25, at 6:30 in the Lower Fellowship hall here at church.

View of Cloud Peak taken from the top of Bomber Mountain and wreckage from the 1943 crash that gave the mountain its name.

Seeing and Being Seen

Thanks to the internet, we are able to stay more easily in touch with people who have made an impact in our lives.  Six degrees of separation quickly is whittled down to two or three degrees.  Last week a couple of degrees made their way to me.  I was visiting with Gloria Schaffer in her home shortly before she moved to the hospice house.  She handed me a printed sermon that my predecessor and long-time friend, Pastor Dave Van Kley, had preached on Transfiguration Sunday at the church he now serves in Michigan.  A friend of Gloria’s had read the sermon on the internet, passed it on the her, and then Gloria gave it to me.  I called Pastor Dave this morning to make sure he had heard of Gloria’s death and to ask if I could quote him.  The following is what Pastor Dave said to help his listeners understand the glory of the Transfiguration event. (You can read about the Transfiguration as described in the Gospel of Luke by clicking here.)

“In the last congregation I served, I knew a well spoken, gracious woman who was a high level school administrator. Physically imposing—taller than me—she stood out, literally and figuratively, above the crowd. She also spoke in tongues, believed in miracles, and sometimes raised her hands above her head during the prayers and songs. I always worried that she’d bolt our church for one of the Pentecostal congregations. Ironically, her name was Gloria!

Then she developed stage four breast cancer. Some of her friends told her that if she had enough faith, it would go away. She prayed for all she was worth. And so did we! Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy helped! But the cancer came back. Gloria endured more treatments. The cancer would go away for awhile only to return and eventually, work its way into her bones. Gloria was forced to take disability and retire. She lost inches of height. She has suffered much and become physically weak.

She has lived with cancer for nine years now, much longer than her doctors expected. Through it all, she has grown tremendously. In her weakness, dependence on God has become her bread. She has become more and more thankful for each day. More and more compassionate toward others. More and more transparent about her doubts and fears. I think she shines more now than she did when she was healthy: she is positively, absolutely radiant. Visiting her is like standing at one of the earth’s thin places. The best part is, that she doesn’t even know it.

It seems that the thin places of this world are not only on mountaintops. That Christ comes with us into the valley of our suffering. He went from the Mount of Transfiguration to the Mount of Calvary. The God who remains hidden from our view most of the time reveals himself under the sign of the cross. In our suffering, in our weakness, even in his rebukes, Christ is there, emptying himself in love to heal our souls, our selves.”

I’m certain that anyone who visited with Gloria understands when Pastor Dave speaks of being in a “thin place,” a place where we can see through the veil and glimpse the work of God more clearly.  When we are gifted with standing in such a place all that we can say is, “Thank you.”

You can read the entire text of Pastor Dave Van Kley’s sermon by clicking here and scrolling to the entry for February 14, 2010.

“Sharing the Dream” trip to Guatemala

Please consider this invitation from Diane Nesselhuf to join a “Sharing the Dream” trip (a ministry that Custer Lutheran Fellowship has actively supported) to Guatemala this summer…

Sharing the Dream in Guatemala will be offering a group trip to Guatemala June 17th -27.  The theme of the trip will beSample Text “Fair Trade and working with sustainability as part of the Kingdom of God”.   This will not be a “mission” trip; it will be a relationship trip where we will be meeting with and learning from our brothers and sisters in Guatemala.     The cost of the trip is $1100 plus airfare.  The $1100 is all inclusive in Guatemala.   You can read about previous trips in our journals at www.sharingthedream.org   For more information contact Diane at diane@sharingthedream.org.

Good Friday Crosswalk

This video is of the Good Friday “crosswalk” (April 2, 2010) around Stockade Lake near Custer Lutheran Fellowship (3.5 miles east of Custer on Hwy 16A).

Music is from the album “Live in Vermont” by Kent Gustavson and Micah Schonberg (availble for purchase on iTunes; Copyright 2004, Ninety and Nine Records, used with permission).