WHO REIGNS SUPREME

WHO REIGNS SUPREME

Thursday, Sara and I were driving up Fairfax. A line of people, many in camping chairs, ran down an entire block and around the corner. I didn’t see a movie marquee or an Apple logo, so I asked Sara what she made of the line. She pointed to a storefront: “It’s Supreme.” She explained Supreme is a clothing line, featuring expensive sweatshirts, jackets, and skateboards. Thursday was a “drop day,” when new merchandise becomes available for the first time. People were lined up around the block for $150 jackets.

INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE

INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE

Wednesday was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the devoted man of God who founded the Franciscan Order. He is also remembered for his love of all of God’s creation, particularly animals, and for the prayer he wrote, asking that God make him an instrument of His peace.

HEAD UP

HEAD UP

This was a hectic week. So many sectors of my life, personal and professional, pulled me in so many different directions that I felt scattered, strained, and unable to meet any of my obligations on the level I desired. As I tried to impose calm and order on myself, I realized I was making a fundamental error.

GOSPEL IN MOTION

GOSPEL IN MOTION

We have always sat near the front of the church, on the left, because from the time she was a pre-schooler, Sara wanted to be near the praise band. We all love being close enough to see the expressions of love and joy on the faces of the vocalists and musicians. They use their talents to move and lift us all, and they do it purely to give glory to God. I told Tom Gerhold recently, “Watching the praise team is seeing the Gospel in motion.”

LIVE YOUR LEGACY

LIVE YOUR LEGACY

Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about Thelma Simmons this week. While Heaven is certainly happier (and probably better run) now, her absence from our congregation is palpable.

RAISE THEM UP

RAISE THEM UP

At the end of a week when the world has literally been rocked by disaster, as fire and storm continue to wreak their havoc, what a privilege it is to come together in peace, united and reassured by our love for the Lord and for each other, and to remember the mission of our congregation.

LOVE'S LABOR

LOVE'S LABOR

I had a different insert for Labor Day.
Then Hurricane Harvey came.
As I watched the reports, I gave thanks for the police, firefighters, doctors and nurses, and National Guardsmen who literally came to the rescue. I marveled at the civilians who did everything they could to help their neighbors – using boats, rafts, even paddle and boogie boards to get strangers to safety.

NEXT STEPS

NEXT STEPS

This Sunday, I am worshiping at Azusa Pacific University, attending a service to commission Sean and his fellow freshmen. This is that time of year when so many of our young people go off to new adventures or return to their universities or – like Sara – begin their post-graduation careers.

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART

Tomorrow, our world will experience a total solar eclipse. Even though Los Angeles is not in the path of the totality, it is sure to be a dynamic and memorable event, a thrilling reminder of the intricacy of God’s creation.

DEEP CLEANING 2

DEEP CLEANING 2

We’re still cleaning at our house. I continue to be pleased by the calming order that exists in our kitchen cupboards, but I’ve been studying them from a different angle. After last week’s insert, several of you shared with me your craving for spiritual order. I was surprised to realize how many of us work to make sure our cupboard doors sparkle, rather than putting that work into cleaning up the chaotic souls within. And because we present a sparkling door to the world, everyone assumes there is harmony and order inside.

DEEP CLEANING

DEEP CLEANING

Sara and I tackled the kitchen cupboards this week and did a deep cleaning – pulling everything out, scrubbing everything down, and doing a lot of sorting and rearranging. As Sara threw away several jars of stale herbs, she smiled at me and announced, “This is really cathartic.” I agreed. When we were done, it felt wonderful to reassemble the now clean and tidy shelves.

BE A DONOR

BE A DONOR

A friend recently posted on Facebook about Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles’ critical need for blood. Sean saw the post and said he wanted to donate. Sara agreed. I can’t donate because of a previous illness, but I was delighted to take them to CHLA. On the way home, I told them, “Bless you. You just saved someone’s life.”

THE WAY AND THE TRUTH

THE WAY AND THE TRUTH

A friend and I were discussing parenting woes. She asked, only semi-rhetorically, if there was anything more painful than having your child lie to you. I understood exactly what she meant – that sharp blend of anger, betrayal, and disappointment when someone you love so unconditionally chooses to lie rather than face the consequences of their actions. It’s a hard lesson to teach and a tough one to experience.

FREE AND CLEAR

FREE AND CLEAR

I had a doctor’s appointment this week, to get some test results. I tried not to be nervous as I waited, but it was tough. He came in with a smile – which helped – and then told me he had “weird news” for me. “Good weird news,” he hastily elaborated. A condition for which he has been monitoring me for many years, one of the driving forces behind the latest round of tests, had disappeared. He explained this is a condition that does not reverse itself; we’ve been working over the years just to halt its progress. But now, it’s gone. He’s not sure how, he’s not sure why, but he’s sure it’s gone.

WE CAN BE HEROES

WE CAN BE HEROES

I thought a lot about heroes this week. On the Fourth, I thought of my grandmother’s ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War – and my other three grandparents who bravely arrived as immigrants in the early 1900s. I also went downtown with Sara and Sean for Anime Expo; I was delighted and intrigued by the attendees dressed as superheroes from anime, comics, and film. By Friday, as I sat in the theatre, awaiting Spider-Man: Homecoming, I was wondering how hard it is to be a superhero.

MORE PERFECT UNION

MORE PERFECT UNION

Stuck in traffic on Friday, as so many people sought an early beginning to the Fourth of July weekend, I was listening to the radio. One of the commentators mentioned that this is an ideal weekend to consider all the work that still remains, two hundred and forty-one years after the first Independence Day, “in order to form a more perfect union” (as stated in the preamble of the Constitution).

WE'VE GOT THIS

WE'VE GOT THIS

This week, a number of friends posted concerns on social media, ranging from quotidian frustrations to grave challenges. In each case, someone replied, “God’s got this.”

A FATHER'S GIFT

A FATHER'S GIFT

If, in preparation for today, you’ve been in a card store, you might be persuaded that being a father is about either drinking beer or playing golf. It’s a challenge to find a humorous Father’s Day card that doesn’t refer to one of those activities. But even among the serious cards, there is little mention of the greatest gift a father can give his children – a strong relationship with the Lord.

A FIRM FOUNDATION

A FIRM FOUNDATION

Eighth Grade Recognition Sunday is a beautiful day in our church’s year. It gives us the chance to congratulate the students who will graduate later this week. We rejoice in them as individuals, and as manifestations of our church’s mission to educate young people and to offer them the opportunity to draw closer to the Lord.

I’d thought this day might lose some of its luster for me as our children graduated from WLS, but I continue to enjoy it. In fact, I appreciate it on a whole new level now. This year, as Sara graduates from college and Sean from high school, they still stand on the foundation they built here at WLS and draw from the lessons that the faculty taught them – in the classroom and by example. While their academic journey was rigorous and rewarding, the moral and spiritual formation they received here was even more important, and continues to support with them as they grow as citizens of the world and the Kingdom.

As we celebrate the class of 2017 and the foundation their years at Westchester Lutheran have given them, we also have an excellent opportunity to examine our own foundation. Are we as eager to learn and grow as these young people are? Are our feet planted on the Word of God or on the cheap promises of the world? Are we anchored by truth and grace or by selfish desires? Do we stand on God’s will or our own? Are we serving the Lord or ourselves?

As we pray for the future of these wonderful young people today, let us also pray for the future of all the children of God, no matter their age or circumstance. May each mind be open to growing and changing. May each heart be always ready to serve God and love one another. May each soul yearn to be fully His.

Congratulations, graduates. God bless you.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Ephesians 2:19-21

WHEN WE GATHER

WHEN WE GATHER

Many people mark Memorial Day Weekend as the beginning of summer. My marker comes this weekend, with the Westchester Lutheran Carnival. This marvelous event celebrates the end of the school year and so much more.

This year, I was one of the volunteers in the “Sonscreen” Booth (a booth staffed by the Outreach Committee to share church literature and free sunscreen with attendees). Being in the booth was a wonderful opportunity to admire how beautifully the carnival is run. Months of preparation and hard work by school and church families translate to a joyous event for our community and for the entire neighborhood. People’s smiles, the happy shouts and laughter, even the dirt-streaked and weary faces of smaller visitors at day’s end spoke of the fun and wonderful memories that were created in the course of the day.

All this also spoke to what is possible when we come together as a community. From large events to one-on-one interactions, whenever we gather together as the people of Westchester Lutheran, as the people of God, we can do great things. When we remember why we are together – because we love the Lord and seek to honor Him with our devotion and service – we can have a huge impact. We can make people smile. We can demonstrate grace. We can lead people to Christ.

As we prepare for summer, many of us will head off to vacations and other activities. Even when we are apart, let us remember our strength and purpose as a community. If you are going to be away for a while, remember to continue to pray for our church and school, stay current in your giving, and – most of all – hurry back. The strength and beauty of this community rests on our gathered gifts, dedication, and love. May it stay strong, as we strive to support the work of this church and school, in honor of our Lord.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:19-20