Coming back home from New Orleans, we were seated by man returning to his home in St. Louis from Orlando. He had been at a pet expo all week, related to his job with a well-known pet food supplier. We shared pictures and stories of our four-legged babies. We talked about Nebraska and the flooding. I mentioned Crete, and he said he knew where it was because of his company’s facility there.
Before landing in Omaha, there was just enough daylight left that we could see the flooding and destruction in that region. My, my.
I was thankful to know that our Bishop asked for special offerings to be taken in our United Methodist churches for our brothers and sisters in Nebraska dealing with the aftermath of the bomb cyclone. We did so last Sunday in Milligan and Fairmont, and will accept additional donations this Sunday.
I was thrilled to learn Sunday that folks from Milligan who have ties to Hooper and Winslow were hoping to fill a trailer with collected items for people and animals. They asked to park the trailer at the church during the week. Oh, yes! And they will take the donations to Hooper and Winslow on Saturday.
I had known from Facebook that our niece, Anna Elting, and others had been gathering donations in Thayer County to take to folks along the Niobrara River. Monday, she told me that she, her husband Reuben, and my youngest brother Chance left last Saturday with a 16-foot enclosed trailer of supplies for people and livestock and a small semi of hay. They made stops in Lynch, Verdel, and Niobrara, but couldn’t get 7 more miles down the road to Santee without crossing first into South Dakota. They spent the night in Yankton, then made their way to Santee on Sunday.
It’s all about people helping people. It’s about using your God-given abilities and resources to help meet the needs of people as you see and learn of them. In whatever ways possible. In the church, we call that ministry.
Someone told me Purina in Crete had sent a truckload of pet food up north for flood victims. Hmmm. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Last week as I was pondering, my thoughts were on my husband’s upcoming birthday that we would be celebrating in New Orleans before, during, and after his St. Patrick’s Day birthday.
I remember writing about how we had come to love New Orleans for its great food and drink, but especially for its great people … their resiliency and resolve to remain hopeful, make the best of things, and celebrate life.
And as I wrote last week, I had no idea, really, how devastating the rain and snow falling across Nebraska would be for so much of our state, our communities and infrastructure, our people, neighbors and friends, their livestock, livelihoods, their homes.
It was so hard for me to drive to the airport Saturday morning knowing that many in Nebraska were in emergency status. I would have been helping people in a heartbeat had we not had travel plans. Instead, I prayed. I checked my phone for Facebook posts, most coming from friends in Schuyler or clergy across the state to report what they were seeing or dealing with. I prayed more. I got frustrated that Nebraska didn’t make the national news until Tuesday. And I prayed some more.
Yes, we’re in New Orleans as I ponder this week, but my heart is in Nebraska. I promise you that we are enjoying New Orleans, but I am also tuned into what is happening at home. I praise and thank God for the Facebook posts that show people helping people and the resiliency of Nebraskans in the face of adversity.
Last night, making our way to the ferry for our return trip, we greeted the security guard, as we typically do. Oddly, he didn’t speak. Almost past him, softly, he called to us … can you help me? We both moved toward him. Sure, how could we help you? James hadn’t been relieved by another guard, nor had he eaten for 12 hours. Long story short, God used us and another couple to get James the help he needed … water, orange juice, an ambulance, and a pastor to remind him that God loves him. I guess we were right where we needed to be. For James. For God. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
My husband’s birthday is coming up. Actually, his birthday is March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Over the years, we have celebrated his birthday in a variety of ways. Typically, the celebration includes good food and drink, and good people to celebrate with … as birthdays in particular and celebrations in general should.
Sometimes the food includes a home-cooked meal by him, of corned beef and cabbage and boiled potatoes and carrots, and a homemade dessert by me. Only one time have I tried to recreate his mother’s chocolate layer cake with date and nut filling, a favorite of his growing up. Often, a pie is involved.
Oftentimes, he’ll seek out a local pub for his birthday corned beef and cabbage and complimentary ale. Yet, if encouraged to go to one of his favorite restaurants on his birthday, the food is Italian, paired with a nice glass of wine.
But on two occasions, soon to be three, we have purposely, and purposefully, been out of town on St. Patrick’s Day. We have come to love New Orleans … its great food and drink, and especially its great people … by way of vacations, multiple trips for mission work in the area after Hurricane Katrina, and a clergywomen’s gathering with colleagues. We have recognized that the people of New Orleans, even in the face of adversity, certainly know how to hang onto hope, make the best of things, and celebrate life … and the importance of doing so. Is it any wonder that New Orleans is where Mr. Pat wanted to once again celebrate his birthday?
So as you read this … whether the day of, or the day before, or even a day or two after March 17th … be assured that the St. Patrick’s Day baby is celebrating his 74th birthday in style. With great Cajun, Creole, and home-style cooking. With a Pat O’Brien’s hurricane or two. Attending a couple of St. Patrick’s Day parades. And with purposeful people having a particular determination and resolve to remain hopeful, make the best of things, and celebrate life.
Lord, as we await your heavenly banquet, may we experience every once in a while a foretaste of your feast to come.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Here I sit at my laptop to ponder, once again staring out the picture window for inspiration. Waiting for the Spirit to inspire.
As I gaze, I see first the mounds of snow piled high in order to make our street passable. I see the playground across the street, silent for weeks, because who would dare to slide down a frozen tornado slide or swing in the arctic breeze?
And maybe it’s because I haven’t seen kiddos playing in the snow lately. Or because it’s been an extra long winter. Or I have cabin fever and, unlike my spouse, I find little excitement watching the Alaskan wilderness shows that have us looking at more snow. Or maybe I’m just plain tired of the same ol’, same ol’. But hear me say: I am ready for a change.
I am ready for a change in the weather. I am ready for a change in focus. I am ready for something new in my life.
Actually, if I think about this more deeply, what I’m trying to say is: I am ready for God to do a new thing within me.
Maybe the ashes of Ash Wednesday help us think about life, and death, and the changing of hearts. Maybe the six weeks of Lent remind us that change doesn’t happen all at once. Maybe this time of year can help us fully appreciate the change, the gift, the new life that is to come.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
It is almost Friday, and still I am struggling to find words to express my thoughts and feelings around the Special Called Session of General Conference held in St. Louis last weekend.
As you have likely heard, the One Church Plan, that had been recommended by 2/3 of our United Methodist Bishops as our way forward in unity, did not make it out of committee and onto the floor for vote. Instead, the Traditional Plan was put forth from legislative committee to the plenary session. It narrowly passed even though parts of it are likely unconstitutional.
This Traditional Plan is now to be reviewed for its constitutionality by the Judicial Council, our United Methodist version of the Supreme Court. The Council meets again in April.
So it will take some time before we know how things will unfold from here.
I wasn’t in St. Louis myself, but through Facebook posts on Monday and catching the livestream most of Tuesday, I find that I have experienced the gamut of emotions. Pride in the giftedness of our Great Plains delegation. Hurt. Anger. Disappointment. Anguish. Sadness. Grief.
I’m not concerned so much for myself and how I will get through this as I am for our LGBTQIA+ siblings in Christ … friends, family, church family, and clergy … who have once again heard from our denomination that they are “incompatible” and felt the doors of supposed welcome close conditionally in their faces.
And I guess what I’ve come to realize is this … we will get through this as we have in the past … together. I will still be a pastor who preaches that God loves you just as you are, who welcomes all people to experience Christ at his communion table, and who believes in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring grace and understanding to us all.
And together, we will continue to share and show the love of Jesus to all God’s dear ones … in the ways God has ably gifted each of us to do. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat