A beautiful red cardinal landed under a nearby shrub as I was hustling the kids out the door to school one morning this winter. It only registered with me a few hours later that I‘d seen this wonderful bird, red coat stark against the white snow and brown branches, a sign of life and spring around the corner. 

That I noticed and remembered this special moment at all may be proof that God works miracles! After all, it can be so easy to go on autopilot and travel through life distracted and without noticing the blessings of the present moment.

And the present moment is full of potential gifts. 

The season of Lent marks the time in the Church year intended to help us especially focus on renewal and restoration, spiritual growth and deepening of faith. During this season we are invited to turn away from things that distance us from God, and allow God to open our eyes and hearts and lives to see God’s gracious love in Christ poured out in forgiveness - for us. Lent is a present-tense opportunity to ponder and pray on how the resurrection of our Savior Jesus gives us new life and new birth and new eyes and ears to see the world around us.

As we move through this season of Advent, this season of preparation for the Festival arrival of our Savior the Christ child, we Prepare to welcome Joy incarnate.

But what does this Preparation look like, and what does this Joy mean?

I imagine that many of us have heard and are familiar with the words from Isaiah, associated with John the Baptist: “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Yet We may be less familiar with another portion of this same passage, in which the prophet Isaiah says that this preparation is so that “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Good Morning! Today is the first of a series of Stewardship Temple Talks. These stories will be from and about us, we who worship here at Redeemer Lutheran. We all have a story to tell of how we / I have been touched by God through Redeemer Lutheran. And as we enter this period of prayerful reflection in contemplation of completing and turning in our our pledge cards, it is meaningful to ponder what it means to have our church and all the richness it has to offer. The benefit of having Redeemer is not just for those of us who participate in worship and other activities, but also what it means for individuals who have not yet found Redeemer Lutheran of New Paltz. These individuals may have never known God, their faith in God may need strengthening, or, like me, they have been away from church and God and are experiencing a certain hunger that is not satisfied by food, money, power, or other assets.

“Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).

In the presence of the human suffering, anxiety and tragedy in the AIDS crisis, we commit ourselves anew to the ministry of caring. The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recognizes with gratitude the service of those who care for people with AIDS and their loved ones. It urges church members to support this ministry and to serve those who are suffering with respect and compassion. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), often with an intensity greater than many diseases, calls us to remember our common humanity. The suffering of persons with AIDS demonstrates anew that life for all is vulnerable, limited, and broken, yet also graced with courage, hope and reconciliation. As a disease that affects women, men and children around the world, it shows how closely we are bound together in relationships of mutual trust, need and responsibility.

What do Pentecost and Marching in the Hudson Valley Pride Parade have in common? Certainly both were joyful. Certainly both were colorful. Certainly both were a chance for folks to get involved. But most of all, both of these recent celebrations represent the work of the Holy Spirit through Redeemer active for the world.