Friday, September 30, 2016

Things Are Getting Ugly...and it's YOUR job to BE LOVE

Things Are Getting Ugly… and it’s YOUR job to BE LOVE

This year’s Presidential Election process has become perhaps one of the most ugly in recent history.  We have a nation divided between 3 camps…those who love our Democratic candidate and hate the Republican candidate, those who love the Republican candidate and hate the Democratic candidate, and those who can’t stomach voting for either one… and there is a large contingent of voters in each camp. 

This election cycle has brought out very passionate and polarizing rhetoric, and emotions the depths of which are hard to recall in the other Presidential Election years.   And while that could otherwise be a good thing, the vitriol, hatred, falsehoods, lies and venom spewing in this election year have turned this process into a virtual circus.  I’ve seen Facebook comments that civilized people should never utter… because of their political views… and these have been directed at people who otherwise would call each other friends.   I have read stories of whole families being torn apart because of the sides being chosen in this fiasco of politics.

I am concerned for the sanity of our nation as we march toward Nov. 8. 
No matter where YOU fall in your political beliefs, it is IMPERATIVE that you act as Christ would have you do…. Because that is what separates you, a child of God, from the World that Evil seeks to rule.   Yes, vote your conscience and let your vote speak your mind.   But you do NOT have the right to tear other people down for what they choose to do with their vote.  You are CALLED to speak out against hurtful words, and violence that some people seem poised to mete out because of a difference in opinion.  You are called to BE LOVE.

While the outcome matters, in truth, the “system” will right itself in time.  What you do and say to others between now and Nov 8, and in the days and weeks following, will have more direct impact on your family, friends and neighbors than your vote on Nov 8. 

Were you kind?  Were you respectful of the views of others?  Did you show love to your neighbor even though he was going to vote for the other candidate?  Did you speak up to try to calm the situation when others take the hate too far.  Let’s show the world that in the face of turmoil and dissent, we still love each other.  That will make us the greatest nation in the world…where the rights that so many have fought and died to preserve can be exhibited in peace… the right to freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to worship as we please.  It is a great pride of American democracy that we can peaceably change government leaders every four years without massive public unrest.  Let’s keep it up.  BE LOVE          

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A letter to Tim Tebow on his recent trade to the Jets

Dear Tim,

Well, you’ve been traded to the Jets.  Welcome to New Jersey.   You’re in a mission mine field (gold or bombs? It’s hard to tell.)
Yeah, let’s get a few things straight. 

You see, both the Giants and the Jets belong to New Jersey, regardless of where their franchises register the moo-lah.   They both practice and play in NJ…so even though they call themselves NY teams, they’re ours.  New Jerseyans know the difference… and that’s where suburbia lives.  (And you’ll have to understand that you’ll never win over the southern half of the state, they’re mostly Eagles fans.)
Speaking of suburbia….did you know that the suburban and metro NY/NJ area is probably one of the biggest mission fields in America?  Yeah, you see we’re so caught up in trying to keep up with what we’ve got that the devil has been having an easy time of it.  Being a Christian isn’t always easy here…we’re a melting pot of faiths, cultures, politics, social and economic classes, races… you name it… you can find it here. 

On the flip side…on the whole, I think we’re a pretty tolerant region considering our diversity.  But that tends to lend itself to a laissez-faire attitude of “hey, you do your thing and I’ll do mine” making evangelism a tough sell in this area.  The “Tebow-ing” thing will generate an equal amount of mockery and supporters.

And it’s not just the fans.  Ask Mark Messier or Mike Richter of the Rangers, or Phil Simms or Eli Manning.  Ask Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada or Alex Rodriguez.  Ask Mark Sanchez.  The media is looking to crucify you….when they’re not tearing apart your football skills they’ll mock you for your faith, your personal life or worse, they’ll label you irrelevant.  They’ll take you to task like no other media market in the country.  Like a dog with a bone, they’re not going to let you get away easy.

Unless you’ve got the stuff to weather us. 

Because you’re not irrelevant… you are a child of God, just like the rest of us.  

And your faith has lit a light that shines on God in the one place a majority of Americans, and New Jerseyans and New Yorkers, will find themselves each Sunday… in the church of the sports arena (or watching it on TV).

There’s a song by Ol’ Blue Eyes (if you don’t know who that is, you’d better look it up before you move here) that goes “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”  If you think Denver was tough, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Grab your big boy football pads…the hits are going to be hard.

Your proving ground has been set before you… I wonder what plans God has in store for you here.
Good luck.

Join us for worship anytime:
Sundays 8:30 and 10:45 am
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave., Parsippany, NJ  07054
(973) 887-6713

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fat Tuesday is Over But the Fun is Just Beginning

Fat Tuesday is over, but the party is just beginning for 8 Youth and their Chaperones.

If you joined us for our Mardi Gras party, you know what a great time we had.

If you missed it, you missed a REALLY terrific party.  Really...

91 people joined us at St. Andrew on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012 to help raise funds to send 8 of our “Youts” and their 2 chaperones (Pastor Fred and the Youth Advisor) to the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans this summer.  The kids raised a total of $3555 with your support.  THANK YOU!

Those 91 people (plus there were many who made donations but did not attend) enjoyed an evening of terrific New Orleans-style food (jambalaya, red beans & rice, gumbo, and of course, King Cake).  We had karaoke with some very good voices (and some not so good but good-spirited), masquerade mask crafting, Guitar Hero and Dance-Dance Revolution games, and a very fun Crazy Hat contest.

But the big fundraiser of the evening was the Silent Auction.  56 items were up for bid, and there was indeed some very competitive bidding going on for a few of the items.   Thank you to some of our local businesses for their support and the items donated for this event:  (So please patronize their business and say “thanks” for supporting St. Andrew’s Youth Group).

Look out New Orleans!…. 36,000 Lutheran Youth are coming to your town in July and things will never be the same… for them … or for you!

Come and see what all the excitement is about:
Worship: Sundays at 8:30 and 10:45 am
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave., Parsippany, NJ  07054
(973) 887-6713

Friday, February 10, 2012

We're Having a Party!

We’re having a party!

Of course we are… we’re St.  Andrew.

Join us tomorrow, Sat. , Feb. 11 at 6 pm (the snow is supposed to be long over by then) for a Mardi Gras FUNdraising party to support the Senior High Youth Group.  Your admission ticket (a heart-felt donation of your choice) will help send 8 youth and 2 chaperones to New Orleans this summer for the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering. Tickets are available at the door.

There will be delicious New Orleans style foods and King Cake for dessert.  There will be karaoke and dancing, a Mardi Gras craft and trivia contest, a crazy hat contest …


A FANTASTIC Silent Auction with almost 50 items available for your bidding pleasure.  Your ticket number is your bidding number.

Why trudge out on a cold February evening? 

First … you need to get out… we are not bears and we don’t hibernate… we are social beings and we always have fun together at St. Andrew.

Second … this is a great way to treat your Valentine to an evening out and help out the Youth at the same time.

Third… you don’t get King Cake every day.

Fourth… your winning bid on that oh-so-special-item would make a great and unique Valentine’s gift, while support the Youth at the same time.

Are you sensing a trend here?

FUN and FUNdraising in dreary February….

It’s time to get out of the house.

Join us for Mardi Gras!

Tomorrow, Sat., Feb. 11 from 6-10 pm

St.  Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave., Parsippany, NJ  07054
(973) 887-6713

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Football and Faith

Okay, so today is a football playoffs Sunday... not quite the Super Bowl but still high up on the chart of “where are all the people this Sunday morning?”

Some people have argued that sports have become the religion of America and sporting venues the new cathedrals of our generation.  Perhaps in some way that is true.  Considering all the Tebowmania this year, I’ve been wondering about it.

I’m happy to note that St. Andrew was fairly full this morning.  If the Giants were playing the 3 o’clock game, might there might have been a few less?  Hmmmmm.

To our credit, we seem to be able to pull a fair number of attendees for our annual congregational meeting which always seems to fall on Super Bowl Sunday, even though we have a fair number of football fans on the Church Council.  Maybe it’s because we entice them in with lunch, and then the specter of the ULTIMATE football game keeps the meeting short.  A 6:30 pm kickoff time doesn’t hurt either.  I’ve always been somewhat proud of us that we put the business of the church as a top priority and recognize that we can do both… have an early afternoon congregational meeting and still leave time for football.  If the Super Bowl was being held in Giants Stadium (ooops, sorry Jet fans, MetLife Stadium…or better yet, let’s just call it the Meadowlands and leave the corporate sponsors out of it), then perhaps there might be some squawking about the changing the meeting date.

Since the Broncos and Tim Tebow are now officially out of contention for the Super Bowl, it is interesting to reflect on the hype that surrounded that team’s quarterback.  Was God granting success to the Broncos because of the faith of Tim Tebow?  Doubtful.  I don’t think God plays favorites in the football arena.  Plus, there are plenty of other faithful athletes, but none so recently under the national media microscope.

But I do think God was/is there.

If the people will not go to the Church, then perhaps God has come to the people in the place they deem worthy to worship?  If we remove God from schools, government, work places, public places and our everyday lives, then perhaps He has chosen sports as the place to walk among us?

God will not be silenced.

He equips the called and gives them voice.  Through the acts of a faithful football quarterback, the eyes of a nation have been focused on the heart of an athlete… an athlete equipped with the quirky athleticism that makes secular football professionals wonder if something divine isn’t happening, and makes a nation remember that the God of all creation will find a way to walk among us and grab our attention… even when our worship has been misdirected.

(Psssst..... Go Giants!

Come and worship with us on Sundays: 8:30 & 10:45 am
Christian Education: 9:45 am
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave.
Parsippany, NJ  07054

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day

Today is January 11, 2012 and a day set aside by the U.S. Congress to pay attention to the horror of human trafficking.  I received an e-mail today through our web site from She Is Safe.  (  They have produced a very nice video to introduce people to the problem.  It is nicely and tastefully done.  Check it out here:     I don't know much about this organization so proceed with care if you decide to donate to them, but the video is a great opportunity to begin the discussion of what we can do to help stop the practice of human trafficking.

The ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) web site also provides information about how the church can respond to this crime against humanity and offers links to several web sites where additional information can be gathered or where you can donate to help support the efforts of these organizations.  For more information go to:

The Polaris Project

Cherish Our Children

The U.S. State Department

It is so incredibly heart-breaking to think that this crime is growing and is found nearly everywhere, even here in the United States.  The State Department web site notes that UNICEF claims that nearly 2 million children worldwide are subject to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.  2 MILLION!  And that is only the children...

What can you do?  Learn about the problem.  Talk about the problem.  Seek to support those organizations making a difference.  Pray.

Have you ever encountered a person who was subject to human trafficking?  How did you react?  What did you do?  What should the Church do?  And what should our local churches do?

Would you want to be involved in a study of the subject?  Leave a comment below.

Join us for worship: 8:30 & 10:45 am
Christian Education: 9:45 am
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave., Parsippany, NJ  07054
(973) 887-6713

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Epiphany - Light Comes to a Weary World

The craziness and excesses of the holiday are over.  Winter is settling in and we seem to want nothing more than to stay home and curl up in bed or by the fire.  You know the snow is coming soon.  The days are short and the nights are soooo long.  We wake up in darkness and come home from our daily travels in darkness.  Sometimes we are cooped up in a cubicle with no window, to top it all off.  “Blah,” we say, “What good comes of January?”

It is during the winter, when the snow covers the ground, that roots and seeds that were tucked into the frozen/thawing/frozen ground are insulated and watered by the snow pack and begin to do their molecular thing.   Energy is drawn up from roots.  Flower and leaf buds get their cells together in preparation for the wonder of spring. 

Nature is busy on a molecular level…. And so are we.

God’s work.  Our Hands.

Our hearts and minds have been fed with a heavenly gift, the birth of a Savior.  The seeds of love have been sown.  The stirrings of hearts reaching out to others in a burst of December altruism have put roots into our souls, yearning that it might always feel this way.

January is a recovery time, a planning time, a nurturing time.  Our January calendar is relatively simple… the cleaning up of holiday decorations, the continuation of our regular worship and education programs, and the preparations and planning for a new season… Lent and then Easter.  Already February is full of fun and spiritual events.

So while Epiphany might seem dark, light dawns in our hearts and minds as the seeds of what has been planted in us begin to germinate.

What will become of the seeds planted in you this year?  Will you nurture them with worship and community in Christ?  Will you feed them with Word and Sacrament?  Or will you curl up and leave them dormant within you, just waiting to burst forth with the joy of a God who loves you so much that He would send His Only Son to live within you?

Make your New Year’s Resolution to be a plan to GROW your spirit and plant your roots firmly in a relationship with God and your fellow believers at St. Andrew. 

(come back tomorrow to read some New Year’s Resolutions)

We are called to let our light shine!  Hide it under a bushel?  NO!

How do you plan to let your "God light" shine this year?

Join us for worship on Sundays @ 8:30 and 10:45 am.
Christian Education at 9:45 am
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave., Parsippany, NJ  07054

Friday, December 9, 2011

22nd Annual Live Nativity

Join us tomorrow and Sunday, Dec . 10 & 11 for our annual Live Nativity, 4:30 - 8:00 pm
Admission is FREE!  Refreshments are served.  We are handicap accessible.

Every 15 minutes or so, a continuous reading of the Nativity story is revealed beneath a deep starry night sky over a stable in Bethlehem.  Angels will announce the birth of the Savior.  Shepherds and kings will travel to Bethlehem to find the new infant king.  What will you find there?

It’s easy to feel lost at this time of year.  Aside from being overwhelmed by all the secularism that drowns out the whole reason we celebrate Christmas at all, recent years have battered our sense of direction, leaving us wondering if we are on the right path, feeling lost.

But… Because we are children of God, we have been given the greatest gift of all time - the gift of Jesus, God’s Son, our Savior.  Because of this gift, we have hope.  And that hope shines like a Star over a stable in Bethlehem.

In the stable, you will find what your heart seeks.  In an infant king, God’s Son born in a stable, we meet the Good Shepherd who guides our ways and shows us the path to a relationship with God that is full of peace and joy and love.  In this stable we find that we are not lost, but found, loved and cherished…because we, too, are children of God, the sheep of His fold.

The wise men appeared to King Herod and asked, “Where is He who has been born King? For we saw His star and have come to worship Him.”   Even the wise men were searching for something…someone…that would answer their prayers and guide their paths.  They found Him in the stable.

At Easter, we look within the empty tomb, feeling lost, knowing that our Lord has died.  But the angels ask, “Whom do you seek?  He is not here, He is risen!”  In the Easter Resurrection our feeling of being lost is replaced with the joy of being found, claimed by God and deemed worthy of His love.

Be like sheep, follow the sound of your Shepherd’s voice and wander into the stable.  Grasp the gift within… the love of God incarnate in His Son, Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.  Our God is a God of abundance, and there is love and hope enough for all the lost and all the found.  

See you in the stable.   Baaaa-baaaa-baaa.

St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave.
Parsippany, NJ  07054
(973) 887-6713

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting what we deserve is a matter of perspective

A lot of how we feel about life, our relationships, and what is “fair” has more to do with one word than most people give credit.  Perspective.

Today, in worship, we heard the story of the generous vineyard owner who paid all his workers the same day’s salary whether they were hired at the start of the day or at five o’clock.  (Matthew 20:1-16)

Whoa, this is an emotionally charged story for me!  It really messes with my sense of what is just or fair.

Yet what is just and fair is really a matter of perspective. 

Whose perspective is truly more just and fair?  Mine, based on the equity of work performed vs. pay?  Or God’s, based on the solution of daily bread for all?  

In this story, the vineyard owner calls to task all who question his generosity to do what he wants with what is his.  Did we not agree, at the start of the day, to the wages we were paid?  So what have we to complain about that the Lord saw to it that no one was left without the means to feed his family at the end of the day, regardless of the amount of work they did?  In the Lord’s perspective, everyone worked and everyone will be paid.  No one deserves more or less than another.

As Pastor Fred reminded us this morning, when we pray for God to “give us today our daily bread,” we are not asking for daily bread for 5 days, but for today.  If we trust in God to provide for our needs, we do not need to fear what is just payment… we all will have what we need.

The justice in this story, seen from the perspective of the owner of the vineyard, is a hard pill to swallow.

And yet, it is just this kind of story which can help us to see how abundant God’s love is.

For we will all find ourselves in the position of the five o’clock worker at some point in our lives…hoping for work and wages to make ends meet (or asking forgiveness, or some other venue in which we have been less than successful) and being given the riches of God’s Grace, completely and unabashedly undeserved, yet freely given to us. 

Human beings too easily fall prey to sin and selfishness.  We are incapable of creating a society where we can accept the perspective of the generous vineyard owner as a way of doing business. 

It is only in God’s house, where that perspective can reign and prosper.  In that, this story gives us a glimpse of the glory of what God’s heaven is like, and what we have been promised for our eternal life with God. 

It calls us up short for all the times we think we know what is right and wrong, and points out a different perspective of what is justice for all.

It’s all a matter of perspective.  Mine might prosper me now, but God’s will prosper all for eternity.

What do you think of this story?  Have you witnessed God's Grace in ways that initially seemed unfair to you?  Leave a comment and tell us your story of seeing God's abundance and generosity in action.

It’s probably a good thing God doesn’t give us what we deserve.  Amen.

Join us for worship on Sundays at 8:30 & 10:45 am.
Christian Education at 9:45 am
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave., Parsippany, NJ  07054

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On 9-11 God will not be silenced

Today is September 11, 2011.  The 10th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on America.

It also happens to be Holy Cross Sunday in the Lutheran Church.

I have been listening to various radio shows, television broadcasts, and reading various news productions and blogs in recent weeks, with an ear for where God is being fit into this anniversary remembrance.   It seems many people in the news production arena have forgotten to where many people, including the news media, turned for comfort, inner calm, and hope in the days following the attacks.

What did you hear on 9/11/01?  Please pray for…. God bless America… Our thoughts and prayers go out to… Thank God for first responders….  Pray for the safety of….

To whom were people being asked to pray?  Who was being asked to bless our nation?  God.

God.  The one God who is the Father of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

And yet, this anniversary celebration was to be put together with a secular bent?  Mayor Bloomberg has deemed no prayers will be offered at the 9-11 Memorial in NYC.

Shame on those who would claim God has no place in remembrance… our sorrows, our hopes, our forgiveness, our anger, our prayers. 

We could call on him then… but not now?

Good sense prevailed in some places.   President Obama read from Psalms.  Other mentions of prayer and God and faith are spilling into the news feeds I am finding for today.   God will not be silenced.    

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem in the week before His crucifixion, the crowd of people shouted:  (Luke 19:38-40)

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” But Jesus answered,

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

God will not be silenced.  The actions of the faithful speak louder than the rhetoric of politicians.

St. Andrew is participating in the Parsippany Library 9/11Tribute Exhibit.  We picked up our twin towers plywood cutout and decorated it with crosses, Jewish stars, and a crescent moon and star.  It is mostly filled with crosses.  The only statistics I could find regarding the breakdown of the faiths of those who perished on 9/11/01 indicated that although no religious denomination records have been kept (I find this incredulous), it appears that about 500 were Jewish and about 2 dozen were Muslim.  I’m guessing the rest were Christians (and/or atheists). 

So on this Holy Cross Sunday, when Lutherans celebrate the faith, hope and love of Jesus, may we all remember and honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001. 

And, may we be not afraid to speak of that faith, hope and love… for God will not be silenced.  

Not by terrorists, …

and not by a media machine or government leadership more concerned with being politically correct than morally straight.

Come join us for worship.
Sundays @ 8:30 and 10:45 am.
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
335 Reynolds Ave.
Parsippany, NJ  07054
(973) 887-6713

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What will tomorrow bring?

Today is September 10, 2011.

Tomorrow is 9/11/11.  Ten years after the terrorist attacks on America.

What will tomorrow bring?

It’s tempting to dwell on the emotions, loss and grief associated with our remembrance of 9/11/01.  It’s also tempting to get caught up in the fear of ‘credible threats’ that our security forces have said warrant our extra vigilance.

In the big picture, September 11 is just another day in our lives.  In the microcosm of our lives, it is a day we will never forget, and shouldn’t forget.  Our lives were forever changed on that day.  

Jesus has some significant words for us on the subject of worrying…Matthew 6:25-34

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As I write this there is a chipmunk sitting outside my window on my picnic table bench, munching on a nut. He knows nothing about what tomorrow means to Americans.  He only knows that this is the season of harvest… yippee, the acorns are beginning to fall!  God provides for His creation.

Some things will forever remind us of the events of 9/11/01.  For me, every time I see a sunny, bright blue sky (Crayola Sky Blue) with large white clouds and feel the cool September air against my skin, I am reminded of that day, forever seared into my memory with the scars of smoke plumes drifting across that same blue sky, and with the loss and grief of so many people. 

We are changed forever, but yet we are still the same children of God.  It is because God never stops loving His children, we can go forward into each new day without worry and fear.  We are called to live with hope and love.

I think it is an interesting thing to note that the 10th anniversary of this date falls on a Sunday.  The Church (large C) is calling for us to think on this day as an opportunity to work toward forgiveness and peace.  Imagine the world-wide possibilities if everyone attended worship tomorrow morning and heard the calling for forgiveness and peace, instead of worrying about the things that cause us fear.

Those people whom we loved and lost on 9/11/01 would certainly want us to remember and honor them, but they also would not want us to live in worry and fear.  We can honor them best by living lives free of fear. 

Jesus gives us the antidote for the affliction of worry…

Trust in God.

I hope to see you in church tomorrow.  St. Andrew worships at 8:30 and 10:45 am.  We are located at 335 Reynolds Ave. in Parsippany, NJ  07054.  (973) 887-6713.

Come and see our community tribute tower display and help us share the news that we are ALL children of God.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

11 Things I am Thankful for after Hurricane Irene

It’s been a wild year, weather-wise, in the U.S. , especially in the Northeast.  We had an unusual amount of snow and ice at the beginning of the year.  We had an unusually wet spring and summer.  The ground is saturated.  We had a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia but felt up and down the east coast.   And now, we’ve had a hurricane….correction, tropical storm.  71 mph instead of 75 mph sustained winds.  Hurricane Irene.

St. Andrew cancelled worship services to ensure everyone was safely home during what was forecasted to be the windiest and most intense period of the storm.  Now we know that, although the winds knocked down a lot of trees and power lines, it was the flooding from the incredible volume of rain that has done the most damage.  Whole communities are underwater with flood waters from swollen rivers at 4-12 feet above flood stage. 

Once again, I reflect upon all that I am thankful for and on the blessings which I have been granted.

1.      I am thankful that I was raised by parents who trusted in God to provide for our every need.  I learned at an early age, when hot dog soup was a frequent dinner while my father was out of work, that “we can’t worry about everything.  God will provide what we really need and we just have to work hard for the rest.  We just have to have faith in Him.”  This mindset has helped me not to panic about events over which I have no control.

2.       I am thankful that God has gifted people with hearts for public service.  How different our recovery from this storm, and other disasters, if not for the dedication of firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers, electric and utility company personnel, disaster relief workers, military and National Guard men and women,  food pantry workers and emergency management personnel?

3.       I am thankful that God has given us the scientists and technology to improve our weather forecasting models.  The weather tracking systems apparently accurately predicted the track and intensity of this latest storm to within 10 miles along the NJ coast, enabling people to get to safer locations.

4.       I am thankful for the safety of my family and the comforts of my home…the electricity, flush toilets and hot showers, the gas stove and hot water heater, the refrigeration, the television, the telephone and Internet communications.

5.       I am thankful for the crickets that chirp outside my windows.  I could not hear them over the roar of generators during the past few days.

6.       I am thankful for neighbors who shared their electricity and generator power with those who did not have it.

7.       I am thankful for neighbors who offer the use of their freezers (to save us money and wasted food) and Internet to those who didn’t have them. 

8.       I am thankful for people who cared enough to check in on us and offer whatever we needed.

9.       I am thankful that I listened to my gut/smarts/Holy Spirit and refused to buy a cheaper home in a flood zone.  The anxiety, devastation and repair costs would never be compensated by the difference in the home price, no matter that “it hasn’t flooded here in 15 years.”   I pray for the people who have lost so much due to the flooding and hope they are helped to find ways to put their lives back together.  (Click here to see how you can help: Lake Hiawatha/Parsippany flood relief.)

10.   I am thankful that everyone I know has weathered this storm without a loss of life or injury, and I pray for those who have lost loved ones or suffered injuries in the chaos.

11.   I am thankful  that the 10 mighty oak trees that surround my home remained rooted to the ground and denied the urge to drop any limbs on my house.  They are beautiful, tall and provide an abundance of cool shade for my home, but even they might not be able to stand up to the forces of Mother Nature when she decides it’s pruning time.

There is a multitude more things for which I am thankful and about which I feel blessed.  These are some that I have pondered today.

Join us for worship this Sunday at 9:30 am (Labor Day weekend) and say “thanks” for your own blessings. 

We resume two worship services on Sept. 11, with worship at 8:30 and 10:45 am.