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.
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
December 1, 2022
On the worship survey we learned that our space is warm and inviting. And we learned that it is cold and not inviting. We learned that it is just right and shouldn’t be changed and that it is not perfect and should be changed. Prayers for wisdom for the architects working on the plan! But there were also good questions like, why are the worship leaders so far away and tucked behind the pulpit and lectern? The architect who designed GLC built in chairs up front for the leaders. At that time and for him, it was important to set the clergy/leaders apart. There is even a little room on the north side that was the pastor’s place to get robed so he (yes it was always a he then) would be in the front as people arrived. This is not really my style so before we started
livestreaming, I would sit in the front pew. This made me feel so much
more a part of worship. When we started to livestream I found myself
trapped by camera angles, unable to move freely without walking in front of a
shot. Logistically, it is easier just to stay put up front during 10:30
worship, though I do venture out on Saturday evening! Knowing that you
notice small things and that they matter to you is really encouraging to our
team as we plan and lead worship and as we ponder what big or small changes we
can make to our space to make it more accessible and meaningful. —Pastor Trudy
November 23, 2022
Finding healthy ways to express our fear, anger, and sadness is an important step in changing how we react when people hurt our feelings. I think Habakkuk was using prayer as a tool to do that; Habakkuk was a prophet during a time when there were Empires conquering the land around Judah. Habakkuk lifted up his anger, fear, and sadness to God in prayer, and God reminded Habakkuk that God is with him. By the end of his prayer, even though all the problems weren’t solved, Habakkuk was rejoicing in God. We can try to stay calm in the moment by taking deep breaths, or focusing our thoughts on something else like doing a math problem or reciting something we’ve memorized. But, sometimes we don’t have time to control our reaction and we just react! God has grace for us either way. —Vicar Sharai
November 17, 2022
What is the best way to respond when we are hurt? Let’s think through some of our options: hurt someone back, walk away feeling sad with it unresolved, ‘forgive and forget’, tell others about our pain and gain sympathy, attack the other person, hold back from relationships in the future to avoid the pain. I’m guessing that most of us use some combination of these and they may seem to work to some degree, often in the short term. The pain may then show up in other ways in our lives or we may miss out on deep, meaningful relationships because we are trying not to be hurt. Honestly? This all sounds pretty painful. God’s work of justice, walking humbly and showing loving kindness requires that we do the hard work of learning and growing from each and every painful experience. This requires staying open, letting go, and watching what Jesus does and teaches. We will see that Jesus experienced great pain, hurt and death…and new life followed it. —Pastor Trudy
November 10, 2022
In Micah 6:6-8 the people are asking Micah what they can do to appease God, and Micah’s response is that God has already told them what God wants, “do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” But these are actually really challenging things! How do I “do justice” if I can’t see injustice around me? How do I love kindness if I don’t know who needs kindness? Doing justice sometimes means that we have to search for people who are being treated unjustly, or search for faithful and meaningful ways to help. We can’t always know when people are struggling, but loving kindness often means treating people with love and grace just in case they are. Maybe part of walking humbly with God is asking God to show us how we can help and answering His call when it comes. —Vicar Sharai
October 27, 2022
Yes! There is another ELCA congregation in Geneva called Rejoice. Their pastor is Mike Willis. Pastor Mike and I invited members from our congregations to meet together to determine if there is any way we can serve our wider community together. Meeting in August and September, the groups really enjoyed good conversation and looking behind the scenes at another church. We learned that Rejoice made two really bold decisions: to sell their building because it was not serving their mission (they are still awaiting a buyer) and to focus on Wednesdays for worship rather than Sundays because they had good energy for their dinner and small group ministry. Ultimately, every congregation must seek to live into the unique call that God has in mind for them. It is not easy for churches these days, it is important that we support however we can. What that looks like right now is to hold each other in prayer as we seek to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ love; also if there is some Saturday or Sunday that worship at GLC doesn’t fit into your schedule, there is no reason not to pop in at Rejoice (at their building in Mill Creek) for Worship at the Table on Wednesdays! —Pastor Trudy
October 20, 2022
Last spring someone reached out to ask about being confirmed as an adult. We planned something that would work for them and put it out to the congregation. We ended up having four people with very different experiences coming together to cover everything we cover in our confirmation program. We have had deep, thoughtful conversations around how we interpret Scripture, using the tools of our faith, ELCA basics, a trip to a funeral home and even puppets and chimes! It is different from weekly Bible study or Stuff You Missed in Sunday School because it is a commitment, not drop in; it follows the historical pattern of confirmation programs through the Bible and Small Catechism, and our own GLC pattern with chimes and puppets. It is a great way to grow in faith! Let me know if you’d like to help get another group going! – Pastor Trudy
October 13, 2022
You may have noticed the statement that anyone can attend the annual meeting but you must be a member to vote. You can attend GLC forever and never become a member. That is your personal choice…You can go to Bible study and with serving groups…you can bake for funeral luncheons and go on mission trips. You can do anything at GLC…except serve as a council member or vote in the meeting. This is because we are also incorporated as a non-profit, which requires officers and processes for membership and expectations of members. Bottom line, our mission is bigger than membership…there are very faithful people who have never become members and others who joined, but for all kinds of reasons may be less ‘active.’ If being a member is meaningful to you, if you’d like to serve one day in leadership, watch for the next set of classes! We focus on our core values and building relationships. -Pastor Trudy
October 6, 2022
The 10 Commandments seem easy to follow at first glance; one of them is even a command to take a day off. But when I really examine my life, I’m sure I break those commandments all the time! There are so many things that can become idols in our lives! Intentionally taking time to rest can be really hard. I don’t think it’s possible to follow all the commandments perfectly. I also think that we should keep trying to follow them because of the ways they help us to build good relationships with God and with each other. And when we fail, God’s Grace will be sufficient for us.
September 29, 2022
Here’s the good news— we have coffee, a coffee maker, carafes, cream, sweetener, cups with lids and stirrers. What’s missing? Someone to make the coffee near the end of the first service, set up the pouring station in the narthex, smile and serve people between services and clean up around 10:30 am. This is a ministry of the people for the people…Julie will make sure you have everything you need to succeed! Let her know which Sunday you’d like to serve, email@example.com
September 22, 2022
I remember my first Bible study as an adult. I was in my early 30’s and it was with neighborhood women from different traditions. We were asked to identify our ‘crisis of faith’. My reality is that I went away from church for a while and then I went back. Was that a crisis? Over the years I’ve met many people that have agonized and struggled with God, been struck aside the head with big, life-changing insights and rock bottom moments. Turns out they are the ones that write most of the books. But others have a quiet, deep, prayer-filled faith. Some of us learn differently, grow differently, and yes, experience God differently. The best thing to do is pause and sit with your hands open and ask God if there is something you need to see or hear. Then start watching and listening. -Pastor Trudy
September 15, 2022
Often when we read scripture, especially from the Old Testament, God just tells people stuff. Like in Genesis 6:13, “And God said to Noah…” and in Genesis 12:1 “Now the Lord said to Abram…” But what does that look like? Did Abram hear a booming voice from the sky? Sometimes God appears to people in dreams, in 1 Kings 3:5-15 God has a conversation with Solomon in a dream. It seems like hearing God would be so much easier if God would just send an angel like he did for Mary and Joseph. But I also think, if a heavenly being really did appear before me in blinding light, I might pass out! I might be so overwhelmed by the messenger that I miss the message. I think part of the beauty of how God speaks to us is that He knows how to speak so that we can hear Him.
The challenge for us is to be listening when God speaks. When I felt my call to ministry, it looked like six months of praying the same prayer, “God what is your plan for me?” and having the same word pop into my head each night, “Preach.” Listening might look like reading a few verses of scripture, or simply choosing to appreciate God’s presence within me today. Whichever way we hear God, we can figure out if what we feel or hear is from God by checking it against scripture, against what has been accepted by the whole church throughout history, or by talking and praying about it with a spiritual leader we trust.
September 8, 2022
Great question! We use a lectionary, an assigned group of readings with a variety of purposes. There is a new ‘woman’s lectionary’ that focuses on women in Scripture. The most common lectionary is the Revised Common Lectionary which gives four readings each week, sometimes they connect to each other and sometimes they speak to the season. We followed this lectionary last year, choosing two of the readings each week. This week we are starting the Narrative Lectionary, readings that are intended to give us a deeper grounding in the flow of scripture. We begin in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament, the Bible Jesus read), where we will see, even from the very beginning, the form of Jesus and move toward His birth and life’s ministry and then beyond into the early church after Easter. Starting at the beginning is a great place for any of us to commit anew to our faith.
September 1, 2022
1. Accept where you are and don’t let shame or self-talk keep your from starting. 2. Your journey is your own—comparing to someone else’s journey is not usually helpful (see #1). 3. Start with one thing. You would never run a marathon without training…take one step. Keep it simple, a couple of minutes sitting quietly, an email devotional to read each day, talk about the sermon from Sunday or a hymn you love at the dinner table. 4. You are never alone. A coffee with PT or Vicar, joining a Bible study or looking ahead to the next session of Adult confirmation, or letting us help you build a small group for where you are right now. 5. When you fall out of the habit, don’t let shame or self talk keep you from starting again. God always provides the pathway to grow in our relationship with Him and each other..
August 25, 2022 This question was asked of our middle school parents. They want a place that is safe, judgement free, experiential, grounded in faith and a larger purpose…and a few other things. I give those things a name— Jesus. When we read the Bible, we find Jesus creating safe places for people that don’t fit in in other places, calling us to see each other differently and grounding us in a love that comforts AND challenges. Above all, when we make mistakes, Jesus doesn’t shun us or say that is the end of the road for us…He guides us on the sometimes difficult path of repentance, redemption and resurrection. We will find new life and a deeper love. That’s what we try to get a glimpse of every week when we gather.
August 18, 2020
This question makes me think of the Pastor of a church I went to growing up; he actually said in a sermon, “This church is like a rowboat. If you’re just sitting there, you’d better pick up an oar and get rowing!” He was an interesting character, but I did do a lot of volunteer work at that church! To my surprise, there were other perks to being a volunteer:
I got to see who made church happen and how they did it.
I had the chance to give my input while people planned worship and other events.
I made deep connections with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, we shared our lives with one another and grew in faith together as we learned to serve each other and our church family.
I didn’t volunteer because of that sermon; I did it because it helped me to feel truly a part of that church, that community. I suppose if churches really are like rowboats, I’m rowing for myself as well as for everyone else in the boat. And, I’d like to think that Christ is rowing along with us.
August 4, 2022
Pastors in our tradition are prepared on two parallel tracks. There are education requirements that happen at a seminary or divinity school and there are candidacy requirements (paperwork that is completed by a sponsoring congregation, a geographical synod, and seminary) that encourages reflection and practical experiences. Internship brings both tracks together by attaching practical, parish experience to seminary learning. At GLC, interns do what Pastor Trudy does for the first month or so, then work on setting goals for learning that involve preaching, teaching and leadership while also doing a project that they lead from beginning to end. That means we are learning, too, as each intern brings unique gifts and wisdom to their internship year.
July 21, 2022
The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke…in two different contexts. Matthew has it tucked in the passage about practicing your piety before others. Read the text of that passage here. Did you notice that we forgive debt and debtors and are saved from the time of trial? Now look at the Luke version here. This is the passage for the weekend. Jesus is praying and teaches the disciples to pray, but then goes much farther, telling a parable about a persistent friend and an encouragement to pray in all things. All this is to say that I think Jesus taught the prayer in different contexts, using different words, knowing that a prayer formula should live and grow and speak to us in different moments in contexts. So…when you hear that ‘other’ version of the Lord’s Prayer (whichever one that is to you), remember that all versions are interpretations meant to speak to us in different contexts, too. What gets your attention when you are surprised by unfamiliar words?!
July 7, 2022
The Bible doesn’t address some issues we have specifically because they weren’t part of their culture or hadn’t been invented yet. But biblical writers didn’t necessarily deal with very specific issues of their time, either. They only write about ONE issue— how God keeps inviting people into relationship and all the ways the people are distracted by other things (that certainly were important to them at the time). Are we able to see the things that distract us from our relationship with God? They may be hard for us to see because they seem really important in the context we find ourselves. Read the stories of Jesus with this in mind and you’ll find something very different than a position paper, you’ll find a call to follow Him to love people that are hard to love and take to task those you love.
June 23, 2022
Camp allows us to unplug and immerse ourselves in a world with different sounds and smells and experiences but most of all for a different pace. I told our students that there are two things that are really important to me for them to know—that they are loved by God and when they make mistakes (not if) God will always provide a way to grow closer to Him through them. Jesus tells and shows us many examples of what this looks like—through healing and feeding, but most of all in the cross. Even death isn’t the final word—why would we let our sins and mistakes have it?
June 16, 2022
The Holy Spirit seems to strengthen people’s abilities— the apostles all begin to speak other languages. When the Spirit rested on Simeon, he was led to go to the Temple at the very moment Jesus’ parents brought him there to dedicate him to the Lord and he spoke a prophetic message over him. The Spirit also moved over the creation in the beginning and breathed life into being and in Paul’s letters the Spirit gives the community gifts that build up the body of Christ. That doesn’t answer the question very well, does it? Or maybe it does. The Spirit is all about building a community, specifically for us a community around the message of Jesus’ love.
June 9, 2022
As early church mothers and fathers explored Scripture, they found a depth and breadth to God that was hard to express. So they created a doctrine to simplify what they found. Like many things intended to simplify, the mission was not accomplished. People continued to try to explain the doctrine of Trinity using more words and object lessons, deemed by other church folks to be heresy! Bottom line, God is relationship; dynamic, moving, creative— and we are invited to join. If you want a humorous look at some common misunderstandings watch this video.
June 2, 2022
If you’re paying close attention to our reading this week, you’ll notice that the disciples are gathered for a festival called Pentecost. Since the Holy Spirit that we celebrate on Pentecost hadn’t come yet, what were they actually celebrating? Seven weeks and one day after the Passover (50 days), Jewish people celebrated Shauvot—a harvest festival. It expanded to become a celebration of the covenant God made with Noah and the creation. We can think of it as a time of renewal for us as well, when God makes a new covenant with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. How will you live into this promise?May 31, 2022
May 26, 2022
Membership in a congregation means different things to different people, so everyone goes at their own pace when deciding how to participate in the life of a congregation. You can worship, attend small groups and Bible studies, go on mission trips, bring funeral luncheon items without being a member…you get the idea. You can pretty much do everything. So why become a member? To me becoming a member is a visible and tangible way to say you are on board with the mission of GLC to live a generous life in Christ…that this is a place you want to continue to grow in your faith and be supported and support others in following Jesus. But, whether you are a member or not, I am grateful for all the ways you make GLC such a special place. Thank you!
May 19, 2022
This question from one of our adult confirmation students is probably one that a lot of us share. It’s interesting to me especially because it was prompted by a sermon that someone named ‘controversial’ and another named ‘comforting’ and both meant their comment in a positive way. That means bold is in the eye of the beholder, but my guess is if YOU are asking this question, you probably are being called to stretch in some way. Pay close attention and pray to see the opportunities God will invite you to explore your faith!
May 12, 2022
I’ll be honest, the idea of God as a ‘puppetmaster’, controlling every movement, has never been a helpful image for me. I think instead of accompaniment—God’s presence with us. It is hard for us to imagine being able to know and care about every human being on earth. In fact, I can only understand it with my own human brain, but I know that I carry my children with me wherever I go. I am aware of things happening in their lives. Sometimes one of them needs more attention but I like to think they all know they could call anytime and I would help in whatever way I could. I think about God like this, exponentially.
May 5, 2022
They are different! They were written for different reasons and to communities dealing with different challenges. When I read Scripture, I use a number of different ‘lenses’. For instance, using the historical/critical method allows me to ponder the original context of the writers. Who were the key players in the world at that time? What do we know about daily life? Another lens is my ‘faith’ lens. What do the stories say about God that is true in every context? Where does it push me to accept the fullness of the power of what Jesus did? Then I can pull threads forward into our lives…and almost always both Old and New Testament offer encouragement about who God is, why Jesus is so important and what tangible things I can do today.
April 26, 2022
This question was asked by one of the students confirmed last fall and I’ve been thinking about it ever since! And also paying attention to what Jesus does. Jesus teaches, but doesn’t shout at people until they agree with Him. He counsels His apostles to turn the other cheek, to shake the dust off of their feet, and to keep moving forward. Our culture values winning and persuading, but it seems Jesus has another approach. When we find ourselves in a disagreement about what Jesus says, maybe it is enough to say, ‘I don’t read it that way.’ And then keep going forward to share Jesus’ message of love and hope.
April 19, 2022
What great questions from our confirmation students! They are anticipating the Gospel lessons of the next two weeks as we see Jesus appearing to His disciples to strengthen their trust and prepare them for their work in sharing the Good News. We learn that He did have nail marks in His hands…and Thomas gets to touch them! Would you touch the holes in his hands or are you okay trusting without seeing?
April 12, 2022
Our theme for Lent has been, Wake Up! When we wake up in the morning, we probably have some kind of a routine—even if it is not an official to-do list. So what happens when we wake up from all that has happened two years into the pandemic? Many people are coming back to worship and Sunday school—that is a great place to start—with a worship routine. This is a no guilt, no shame, no judgment zone. Please don’t come back with apologies, but with an open heart— ready to let God love you through the stories of Jesus. If you’ve already been doing that, be watching for chances to go a little deeper; small groups or adult confirmation or set a simple goal of greeting one person you don’t know each week. You can always reach out to me to chat over coffee or a walk by the river—we’ll see if we can figure out what God’s stirring up in you.
April 5, 2022
Palm/Passion Sunday is the day we commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We receive palm branches which symbolize victory and peace. As Jesus rides a donkey or colt the people spread things in the road as a sign of his kingship. In John’s gospel, palm branches are named, in Matthew and Mark it is cloaks and branches from plants near the road, in Luke it is only cloaks. Still, we will wave palm branches and then take them home to remind us of Jesus’ kingship and peace in our homes. Then we shift to the passion narrative from the Gospel of Luke. Communion and music will highlight a telling of the story.
Maundy Thursday— Maundy comes from the word ‘mandatum’ or mandate. The service pivots on two mandates; washing each other’s feet (serving) and Holy Communion. Washing feet is always a challenge in worship settings and our discomfort can distract from Jesus’ act in doing it. This season, we have the additional discomfort of being close to each other after two years of distancing. Therefore we will spend extended time in confession and receive individual absolution. The gift of receiving words of forgiveness spoken directly to you can be deeply meaningful, especially when followed by a celebration of the Lord’s supper. We finish the service by removing all paraments and decoration in the sanctuary and leaving in silence.
Good Friday—we enter a darkened sanctuary in silence and hear several voices reading the Passion according to John’s Gospel while candles are snuffed out one at a time. As we approach the crucifixion, the large wooden cross takes center place. We remain in darkness and leave in silence.
Easter Vigil—we gather around the new fire outside and proceed into the church where we hear stories of God’s saving love from the Old Testament. We remember our baptism and then, with organ fanfare, become the first to celebrate the good news of the resurrection.
March 29, 2022
Evening prayer is one of the prescribed times of worship Christians are invited to each day. The components are the same, but set to different tunes or spoken or chanted. Holden Evening Prayer is a setting of evening prayer written in 1985-86 by Marty Haugen when he was the musician in residence at Holden Village, a retreat center/camp in Chelan, Washington. The setting spread throughout the Lutheran universe where it was used, especially on Lenten Wednesdays. Holden Village musicians continue to generate new settings of a variety of services, as worship is part of the daily routine, but this one continues to hold a special place for us as we gather for evening worship for Lent at GLC each year. Church groups do regularly plan trips to Holden Village for time of recreation and renewal…maybe you’d like to help organize one for GLC?
March 22, 2022
How does God view animals differently from people? This question came from one of the students confirmed last fall. Animals are part of creation and God loves creation, so it is safe to say that God loves animals. We know that in creation, everything was created in balance and purposefully- so yes, even the animals and bugs we don’t appreciate have a purpose. Jesus uses animal metaphors like sheep and goats and foxes and chickens to help us understand the Kingdom He is ushering in and in my experience, animals can become for us powerful reminders of God’s love and care.
March 17, 2022
This question was from one of our students confirmed last fall and one that I think many people have. As far as I can tell, doubts are a pretty important part of us growing in our faith. Jesus shows us this by walking the disciples through their doubts over and over again and though he may seem frustrated sometimes, he never stops answering them or inviting them to follow. In a world and a time in the world when a lot seems impossible to understand, our doubts can help us ask the questions that will grow our faith. Jesus never stops answering- I pray that I can receive what he has to say.