(A newsletter column for Trinity Lutheran Church, Nampa)
Dear Friends in Christ,
Trivia and faith. Many of you have heard me talk about Trivia Night at the Flying M Coffee Garage. This has become a kind of ritual for me, a weekly event I can count on with a second family. Our team is made up of Lutherans, Methodists, Nazarenes, Episcopalians and a Done (someone done with the church). We work in congregations, NNU, and one of us is retired. Does this sound familiar? Often times I hear people describe their faith communities the same way. Both include a place to be refreshed, a people to whom I belong, something I can return to each week, though I won’t be judged if I have to miss occasionally. Each of us brings something to the table (always trivia, sometimes knowledge, rarely wisdom) and we have to work together. We usually place in the top three teams so we often celebrate at the end of the evening. This is your pastor’s newsletter article so you know what’s coming next—what is different between Trivia Night and faith lived out in Christian Community? Yes, there are some absolutes in Christianity but, at least in our tradition, there is a great deal of interpretation (of both scripture and tradition) and we are faced with, and hopefully come to relish, mystery (case in point—the name of our congregation is Trinity—something Christians have been confessing and simultaneously trying to explain for centuries). What’s good about mystery in a culture that likes to separate black and white (metaphorically and literally), right and wrong, inside and outside, holy and unholy? The world outside of Trivia Night holds a lot of ambiguity and questions and it’s freeing to me that when it comes to my faith, I don’t have to figure it all out; it’s not an expectation because it is not possible. At the same time, I am completely loved and forgiven by the Triune God. There are perhaps more and less faithful ways to worship and serve in this broken world but it is enough to keep growing and encouraging one another to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. And in the end, it is the Holy Spirit (another wonderful mystery), not you or me, who is doing the working, the ministry. That is something to celebrate.
“It was a brilliant story, if you didn’t have to live it like the Larsons did.” This is my favorite line from the the opening of Dinosaur 13. Directed by Todd Miller, Dinosaur 13 (13) won the 2015 Science and Technology Programming Emmy and was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. I love the film and I hate that I have to admit it is biased (for a review which acknowledges the bias and praises the film).
April 30 is the one year anniversary of Trinity New Hope. Here are ten things I’ve learned through our affordable housing adventure:
- Affordable Housing has more acronyms than the church, which I never anticipated. Some essentials for us are IHFA (Idaho Housing and Finance Association), LIHTC (Low-Income Housing Tax Credits), AHIT (Affordable Housing Investment Trust), and Idaho AHMA (Affordable Housing Management Association)
- Excavation is necessary after 20 years. When I learned in a board meeting that we would be hiring someone to excavate the 16 homes I was puzzled and then went out and looked at the houses. Oh my! I have no idea how much dirt was put around the foundations of each house but it was substantial.
- File cabinets that are both fireproof and lockable are expensive. In order to be part of the team I offered to secure some office stuff. I love any excuse to go to an office supply store.
- Our congregation’s decision to purchase the houses and become affordable housing landlords was a surprise to some people in our community.
- The best part of Trivia Night at the Flying M Coffee Garage is that, unlike the statutes guiding property tax exemptions, there is no place for interpretation. Answers are right or wrong. Thank you Team Ravenclaw!
- I’ve heard and read it many times but I have now witnessed in person the truth of Margaret Mead’s famous quote, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” This is my shout out to the Trinity New Hope Board, Trinity Lutheran Church Council, and entire Trinity Lutheran Church congregation.
- The individuals I’ve met through Idaho’s Region III Housing Coalition along with Trinity New Hope’s Property Manager have deep compassion and are tremendous teachers.
- There are no stupid questions for pastors trying to grasp the work of affordable housing. (I was already pretty sure about this but I appreciated it whenever someone told me that I was not a burden).
- Paint, Carpet and a new door can transform an office-turned Sunday School Room-turned Storage Room back into a warm and welcoming office.
- We need a greater variety of housing in Nampa.
This Sunday, Trinity’s Worship and Music Team and Altar Guild will sit together and imagine what our worship space will look like this spring and summer. We will also review the Season of Lent and Holy Week. So I have been remembering the way Lent began for me.
A few weeks before Ash Wednesday I received an email message from a colleague belonging to a congregation which just began celebrating Holy Communion weekly. “Do you have an extra processional cross or know where we could find one?” Continue reading
I had the honor of delivering the invocation at the Canyon County Democratic Caucus Tuesday evening at Sage Valley Middle School. It was wonderful to see so many people participating in the political process. Several people have asked me to share the invocation. Here it is: Continue reading
A few weeks ago I went to see the film Race about Jesse Owens. I went on a Thursday because it was the last night it was showing in an Edwards Theater in Nampa and I wanted to see it on the big screen. I couldn’t believe it had such a short life in the theater but I am very naive sometimes–I assume that because a film tells an important story, everyone will want to see it. (For those of you near Nampa, it is now in the second-run theaters).
This Lent at Trinity Lutheran we are reflecting on the promises made in the Affirmation of Baptism (sometimes known as Confirmation) ELW p. 236. On Wednesday, Feb. 24 we focused on this specific promise:
“To hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper.” Continue reading