Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The First Two Sundays Back in the USA

back in the USA for almost two weeks now...
jet lag is over!  They say it takes about one day for every hour of time zone difference and it's true.  Fourteen hours = fourteen days and we finally are not fighting sleep at 2 p.m.

As "global mission personnel" with the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America and Hong Kong,  we are on "home assignment" in the USA for three months this summer, which means we get to visit different churches every weekend and talk about the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, hopes, fears, church life, and the Realm of God moments we get to be part of in Hong Kong, China, and the USA, and in between the two, too!

So far our Realm of God moments in the USA have included:

worship at Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church... an older congregation (my Mom's church) which beats the seasonal trends and is full to overflowing every Sunday in the summer
A fancier church building and a lot more white (and bald!) heads than we are used to in Hong Kong, but vibrant and active church life.

This past weekend we made our pilgrimage out to the cornfields and wonderful university town of Ames, Iowa, where  we were honored to have many people remember us from our younger days as pastors there when Wayne was a grad student at Iowa State and our three sons were small.  We saw some of the kids we had baptized and ran into some of the folks we had married - now their lives are filled with home-making, vocational achievements and growing children. It's humbling to find out some of the ways in which we've been part of God's Realm in their lives.

The folks at Bethesda have an incredible mission/agricultural/cultural exchange/spiritual relationship with a parish in Tanzania, but their hearts are big enough to be intrigued and attracted to hear more about what God is up to in the churches of Asia as well. 
Bethesda Pastor Randy Gehring - Saturday night communion service, worshiping God the Creator with an appropriate altar backdrop for a church in Iowa!

Children's song fills the sanctuary on Sunday morning. Children as worship leaders remind us of God the Son sent as a real human child among us, making childhood sacred for all.

Liturgical dance -- God the Spirit is alive among us!

Surrounded by friends from earlier days... God's mission goes on in new ways!
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  -- Jesus (quoted in Matthew 28, a passage also known as "the Great Commission" which just "happened" to be the appointed text for this past Sunday)

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