Wondering Questions

WONDERING…Real questions from real people to learn more about faith! Questions are asked by people of all ages, children through adult. Read Pastor Trudy’s thoughtful answers.

What’s the deal with First Communion?

I could probably guess your generation based on when you received first communion; when you were confirmed, some time during confirmation, fifth grade…and now third grade.  There are even some churches that give everyone communion.  The only real ‘requirement’ is that you are baptized.  The reality is, whenever we receive our first communion, it is definitely not the last time we learn new things about communion. We learn new things all the time!   At GLC we celebrate First Communion at third grade and above because we have found that this is an age where the students are more engaged and aware of things that are happening in worship, in the world and in themselves.  They learn that they will be served this gift to strengthen them for the work God calls them to do…yes, even third graders to do!  They practice this work by serving their families using the chalices they painted, serving the congregation with the bread they baked, AND serving Lazarus House by making the meal on the GLC serve date.  How does the gift of Holy Communion prepare you to serve? —Pastor Trudy

How do I know if I’m praying the right way

Jesus gave us instructions on how to pray in Matthew 6. As you read it, you might recognize the words of the Lord’s Prayer! He gives us some other instruction surrounding the Lord’s Prayer that I find helpful too. Jesus tells us to pray in secret, and to pray what we really feel, without adding too much embellishment. The message that I get from chapter 6 is that prayer is meant to be honest and open communication between you and God. So whether you stick to the words of the Lord’s Prayer or use your own, even if you don’t have words, the God who meets with you in secret already knows the desires and worries of your heart. As long as you bring an honest and open heart to God, your prayer is just right.—Vicar Sharai

Why do we talk about the devil at church?

This question is from a confirmation student.

Where else would we talk about the devil?  The word in Greek for devil is ‘diabolo’ and it means one who accuses.  Like its companion ‘satana’, it has become personified into a man with red horns and a long tail who tries to make us do bad things.  If it were that obvious, we would know how to avoid it.  That’s why thinking about the devil as an ‘accuser’ is helpful to me— evil that actually tests me is more subtle.  In Matthew 4 the devil tries to get Jesus to do good things (like making bread from nothing) at the wrong time and with the wrong purpose.  See how subtle that is!!  This helps me to see the accuser (devil) in those times when I want Jesus to do what I want on my timeline or in the doubts that keep me from taking action when I know that is what Jesus would want me to do.  That is a much bigger challenge to my faith than a guy with red horns asking me to do something bad!  —Pastor Trudy

Faith Resolutions part 2

When we change our eating habits or exercise routine, we might be able to see and feel the difference in our bodies pretty quickly.  But we know there are often benefits that we may never fully realize because we made those changes.  The same is true with faith resolutions.  You may find more focus in your day because you intentionally set aside time to pray or read the Bible.  You may look at your budget differently because you give more to organizations that are important to our community.  But the real benefits of a deeper faith life don’t show until a time of testing.  Our prayer practices can help us to center, the Bible can offer encouragement, and the organizations we supported may end up helping us on many levels.  Stay strong! —Pastor Trudy

What is a good ‘faith’ new year’s resolution?

Start with an assessment of where you are.  Are you happy with your prayer life?  Bible reading?  Worship attendance?  Did those questions just make your heart beat faster?  Like every resolution we make, the temptation to go all in and see immediate results is what will end it.   Start with one thing that is easy for you to keep…a minute of silence, read the Scripture from the last Sunday each day, look at your calendar to see if a Saturday worship may work out sometime.  Make it pleasant, not a chore.  It is a gift to you to set aside time!  Invite your pastor or vicar to coffee and we will ponder with you some places to start or help you navigate questions that have you stuck.  Then watch for things that can help you…like adult confirmation or a small group or Vicar’s project (more soon!).   I’m praying for all of you! —Pastor Trudy

When was Jesus really born? Where was He born?

We explored this together with our eighth grade bridge students.  First, the story of baby Jesus is told only in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew and it is told in two very different ways.  We can’t exactly make them work together, nor can we figure out an exact timeline based on them since telling exact dates wasn’t the point of their stories.  Calendar systems have also changed.  It seems likely that it was within 5 years on either side of what we may consider year zero.  It is likely that it wasn’t the winter, as shepherds are not in the fields in the winter.  The point of telling the story of Jesus’ birth is not for historical accuracy but to give us hope that God can work in all kinds of circumstances, through unlikely people to share His love with the world.  Maybe He can share it through us! —Pastor Trudy

Can people change their viewpoints?

This question is from a Confirmation student.

Changing your point of view can be a really hard thing to do! It takes being open to new ideas and letting go of the idea that there is only one right way to see something. Sometimes other people don’t understand why you’ve changed your point of view, and they may not be very happy that you’ve found another way to see things. When Mary got pregnant with Jesus, Joseph thought the only thing he could do was quietly call off their wedding. But, God sent him an angel to tell him that Mary’s baby was from the Holy Spirit and would save people from their sins! Joseph changed his point of view, married Mary, and cared for her and Jesus. Jesus ended up showing so many people new ways to see the world! He loved his enemies and befriended the outcasts. So, I think part of living out God’s love is being open to changing our viewpoints. —Vicar Sharai

What did we learn from the Sanctuary update survey? (Part two)

Last week we had part one of things we learned on the worship survey.  It’s not surprising that not everyone agreed about what works and what doesn’t but some interesting questions also arose.  Like…Why do our preachers not often preach from the pulpit and the companion question, why don’t our preachers preach on the floor level?  Back before there was the ability to amplify voices in church, there were pulpits…set up to help people to see and hear the preacher.  In some spaces, like ours, it also emphasized that the pastors are ‘set apart’ for their work.  The distance was a design choice following church trends at the time it was designed/built.  I preach from the pulpit for funerals because I am stepping in to the strength of the call and the witness of all of the saints.   But I find the pulpit a little confining for my style for weekend worship.   When I started at GLC I did preach from the floor.  It took a little while, but eventually some folks told me that I wasn’t as tall as I may think and I was difficult to see.  Since then, I’ve been preaching from the top step, especially when the sanctuary is more crowded.—Pastor Trudy