God’s Work. Our Hands.

God's Work.  Our Hands.  is an opportunity to celebrate who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. 

Service activities offer an opportunity for us to explore one of our most basic convictions as Lutherans: that all of life in Jesus Christ – every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life – flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.

Each fall we join with Lutherans all over America to do God's Work.  Our Hands.   We hope you enjoy these photos from our last event.


Where is the good seed?

Do you feel like you are surrounded by weeds? Like Jesus says in the parable, the sower sows good seeds and someone comes by and sabotages the crop by planting weeds. So, when the crop grows, it is impeded by the weeds.

I’ll admit that at times I feel surrounded by tall weeds.  It seems like the people that believe in Jesus and the people who try to be good are few, and cannot be seen over the weeds. Even the people who should be good seed sometimes look like weeds.  Maybe, at times, I look like a weed.

What Jesus is saying is that we can’t tell the weeds from the grain until the harvest, when the seeds are different.  I don’t think this is a predestination idea but to know that the people around us may look like weeds but in the end actual be grain.  That somewhere along their growth, they become grain—disciples of Jesus Christ.  Or maybe, while it looks like we are alone in faith, we may find in the end, that we are not as alone as we thought.

I think this parable also suggest that we need to grow as tall and as strong as we can. We need to be nourished with the water, soil, and sunlight of God’s word. And that takes our reading the bible, our praying, our worshiping, our giving of ourselves, our service, and our having and being spiritual friends. It is not easy to grow in a weed infested land, but for God’s sake and the people around us, we need to grow as individuals and a community. Because it is what we are. We are good seed.

Pastor Gerry

The Gospel Reading:  Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43

[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”

The Parable of the Sower

A parable (Greek for “turn around or turn aside”) is a story that leads you to an unexpected conclusion and a different way of thinking about something.  It usually has a shock value.  If the parable that you hear in the Bible doesn’t shock you, then I think you don’t fully understand it.
In this parable, there is a story, but originally (at least for me), there is no shock.  I hear it and go, ok, I get it.  We all do different things with the grace we have been given.  So where is the shock?  As a farmer in Jesus day, they grow a crop and careful divide a portion of the harvest to save for seed next planting season.  You don’t want to place too much seed aside and have some left over, because you could have sold it and made money.  You don’t want to place aside too little and jeopardize the size of next year’s crop.  So, you want to make a thrifty decision with what seed is going to be saved for next year’s planting.  When next year comes, the sower is very deliberate and stingy with the precious seed.  He certainly does not want to waste any.  Yet this sower is careless with the seed and throws it on a path and rocky ground.  This carelessness would have gotten the ire of the farmer’s listening.  Why wouldn’t the sower just sow only on the fertile soil?  The carelessness of the sower would have driven the sowers that heard this “crazy.”
Jesus is saying that he gives everyone a chance to get the seed and to grow.  He is generous with his seed. The seed is his responsibility and the growing is our responsibility.  He may even know that the seed might be wasted, but Jesus will give us a chance with the hope that some crop will grow.
Pastor Gerry
The Gospel Reading: MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Come Unto Me…

This picture is of those that are weary with heavy burdens.  These people have been devalued, displaced, with nowhere to go.  They have only what is on their backs and what they are carrying which isn’t much.  Worst yet, they can’t see the future being good for them. Everything we can see from this picture and what we know tells the tale of extreme outside pressure that weighs these people down.  Through no fault of their own, they are caught and they can’t get out of it.  I think this is the extreme of being weary and with heavy burdens. 
These people cannot change their fate.  What happens to them depends on the saving grace of other people.  They need someone to step in and help them.  Someone that will give them rest and a new start.
Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and with heavy burdens and I will give you rest for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
            From the extreme situations of these pictures, we can see the people’s burdens thrust upon them and we can understand the need for grace from others.  That is the point for us this morning.  But this pattern is not just for such extreme situations.  We are all captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.  We can fool ourselves that we are pretty good, but we have an inherent selfishness.  Some people think because of their success or accomplishments that they are above and beyond sin. Today we hear St. Paul talk about this and Jesus offer a promise of grace for us.  This promise lightens our load.  It gives us hope.  Let’s see.  

Pastor Gerry

The Gospel Reading: : MATTHEW 11:16-19, 25-30

 Jesus said to the crowd, “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
        ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
       “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Potluck Picnic

Join us after Worship on Sunday for our Annual Potluck Picnic. All are welcome!
Hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, condiments and drinks will be provided. You are welcome to bring a favorite side dish to share with all.
A Free Will Offering will be taken to help defray the cost of the picnic.
We also invite you to donate a homemade dessert for the dessert autction to be held at the picnic.
Please label your dessert with your name and phone number along with the name of the dessert and a list of ingredients for those who may have allergies. Please place your desserts on the designated table in the Fellowship Hall on Sunday morning.
Proceeds will benefit the Holy Trinity Family Emergency Assistance Fund.
If you have questions, please contact Sandy Phillips (703-777-1008) or Rita Sims (703-622-4105)

Summer Reading

I have a couple of books that are great books about churches that have been successful and prosperous. Reading church books can be interesting and fun. Most of them are short easy reads. Come to my office and pick up a spare copy. Here are some recommendations:

It, How Churches and Leaders can get It and Keep It, by Craig Groeschel
This is a book about the presence of the Holy Spirit within a church and how we need to focus on hosting the Holy Spirit in our churches in what we do and say.

Speaking Christian, by Marcus Borg
This is a great book to open our eyes to how we speak about God and what that says about what we believe. There are other ways to speak about and understand God within our realm of Christianity. This will challenge us to see the similarities.

Change your Church for Good, by Brad Powell
This book talks about good change. It talks about keeping the important things important. You would be surprised how much churches lose focus on that.

Making a Good Church Great, by Steve Sjogren
This book is about how to develop a service culture in your church and live it out. This book really gets the reader to the heart of joyful service to others.

Power Surge, by Michael Foss
This is a book about spiritual development of people and of a church. It is a simple book that highlights what a Christian does to be a Christian. It is really a wonderful model for Christian living.

I also have spiritual development books and Bible books that are great. Just stop by if you want some great summer reading.

Pastor Gerry

Our Role in the Kingdom of God

As we know what the Kingdom of God is, how it works and that that it has the ability to be visible through us, what is it that we are supposed to do?  Is just being in the Kingdom of God enough?

I think that if we see the Kingdom of God and are part of it, then it is pretty hard to keep this discovery to ourselves.  We can’t go around like pious angels and say we are worthy because God has revealed himself to us.  We can’t be satisfied that God is here and we all are happy.  Frankly, I do not think God would be satisfied with that either.  In fact, biblically, Jesus says so—a zillion times.  Today, Jesus tells us to go be fishers of people.  We think of the happy pictures of a great catch and we think that it is all fun and joy.  We may even think if we don’t catch a fish that we are not cut out to be a fisher of people.  But what is fishing like really and what do you think Jesus said and the disciples understood about fishing for people?  Today we may find out a little more and we hope it makes us be better fishers ourselves.

Pastor Gerry

The Gospel Reading: : MATTHEW 4:18-25

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

KingdomOfGod, Virginia… Where is it?

The Kingdom of God is within you.
To be clearer, maybe we should say the power of the Kingdom of God is revealed through you.  Yes, God works through all of us to reveal his kingdom.  Sometimes we know it.   Sometimes we don’t.  Most of the times it is after something happened that we look back and say, “What just happened there?  That wasn’t my intent.  That wasn’t me that made that happen—there were too many other factors.”  That is the power of the Kingdom of God.
When we realize that we are the vehicles that the work of God gets done, we pause and we start asking questions.  What is God doing through me now?  What is it that God could do through me?  How do I make myself ready to do what God needs to spread the gospel?  These are all the tough questions that prime us for our next mission whether we know it or not.
Today, we talk about the parable of the mustard seed ( an underestimated parable of the Kingdom of God)  to lead us in an understanding of the power of the Kingdom of God within us.

Pastor Gerry