This Is Why We're Here!

This has been a truly difficult and unusual beginning to the new year... we've had 5 funerals since the beginning of the year - seven if you go back to just before Christmas. Just in the past week or so, two members have lost family members, two have had significant medical issues come to light, and at least three have lost jobs. It's so far been a difficult year for many of us.
"Difficult" is not really a sufficient word to describe the experiences that some are going through. Devastating, gut-wrenching, horrific, agonizing, soul-numbing, heartrending, hopeless, helpless, disheartening, insurmountable, unbelievable, shocking, ... with the volume on all of these turned up to apocalyptic levels. But fortunately, these aren't the last words for us.
I've been (understandably, I think!) spending a lot of time in funeral service part of the hymnal lately. The service begins with this paragraph:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of all mercy and the God of all consolation. He comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others in their sorrows with the consolation we ourselves have received from God. Thanks be to God.
 "Thanks be to God" indeed!  God is the source of all consolation, and he does comfort us as we struggle with these truly difficult struggles and trials that come to all of us. And because of Jesus' death on the cross, and because he was raised from the dead, and because, through our baptism and faith, we are connected with him in that death and resurrection, we do not have to roll over and die. God truly speaks to us, heals us, strengthens us - and as we experience God's comforting presence, we are able to comfort others. We are drawn together to care for and support each other. God uses the Body of Christ - the church - us - to support and care for each other. 
So share your burdens with one another. Support each other, care for each other. Don't just care about each other. That's too distant, too unfeeling, too easy, and not real. Care for each other. Do you see the difference? To care about something or someone, makes us feel good but does nothing for the person in need. But to care for someone, well, that's where Jesus comes into the situation. Care for each other. That's why we're here.
I wish you blessings, peace, and a real sense of God's presence,
Pastor Larry
Tacos and Karaoke Night - TOMORROW, 5 pm. BE THERE!!!!!
Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday, March 9th - The service is at 7 pm, and Pastor Anna-Kari and I will be on the street praying for people and offering ashes from 7 am to 1 pm. Pray for us, and maybe join us if you would like!