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.

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.

-Vicar Sharai

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, programs@genevalutheran.org

-Pastor Trudy

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.

-Vicar Sharai 

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.

-Vicar Sharai

August 11, 2022
The Vicar Squad is our name for the intern committee— a group of GLC’ers who are entrusted with the work of being an official channel for feedback for our interns, meeting monthly for check-ins and debriefs.  They fill out paperwork at 6 months and final paperwork.  Many of them also end up being references for our interns when they begin interviewing for calls.  The Mom Squad has an informal role to make our vicars who don’t have family near by feel at home.  Baked goods and hospitality are their strength.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty for the rest of the congregation to do…YOUR feedback and support, questions about the process and about our vicars help them to learn more about this holy work!  

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 28, 2022
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned over the last 8 years of going on trips: 
1. We are not going to ‘help’ people less fortunate than ourselves- we are coming alongside fellow humans who have experienced some different and some similar things.  Everyone has gifts and a desire to share them.
2.  We learn that we actually could use some help, too, and find it in our group and with our mission partners, living into the Biblical mandate to ‘bear one another’s burdens.’
3.  The world is a big, diverse place.  Coming out of our comfort zone can reveal some of our assumptions and misconceptions.
4.  You are always giving testimony to Christ’s love.  Being with a group 24/7 makes even the smallest interactions matter.

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 14, 2022
This really has to do with our definitions of love and compassion. The kind of love Jesus talks about is not about a feeling, like on any of the reality shows about ‘finding love’. Loving someone means telling them the truth; for them to love us, they may tell us something hard to receive. Being told the truth in love is different than someone hurting you because of their agenda and desires. Compassion is about seeing and learning the needs of another. Is this hard to navigate? Yes!  And it has been misunderstood and misappropriated in many ways. Faith in Jesus and following Him requires practice, growth, and building these muscles of faith. This will sometimes mean being wrapped up in a warm embrace and sometimes being convicted of falling out of ‘plumb’. It is just one more death and resurrection that brings us to new life and a new way of living in Christ.

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 30, 2022
Lutherans have a long tradition of having volunteers serve in worship—especially reading and serving communion.  It is a way to show something that is really important in our understanding of God working not just through pastors, but through people.  People who serve in this way find that it makes their worship even more meaningful.  For us at Geneva Lutheran, it is just another way to live out a generous life in Christ.  Contact Pastor Trudy if you have questions about serving or sign up on the sign up genius!
 

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.