There are moments in a person's life when we become aware of how God is actively working and moving. At Mt. Calvary we have come to call these "God Moments" and have encouraged people to share them in worship. Other people may not be as comfortable in sharing them in worship but are willing to write briefly about how God the Holy Spirit is working in their lives. Below are some of the God moments that have been shared with us.
Sharon Rybacki -"Pastor Rich has been talking about exploring our gifts/our talents for use as God's servants. And so I began to think about that exploration. Each of us is here today with something no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with the same type of education and thousands of people doing similar jobs for a living; and ever-so-many parents. But I am the only person alive who has sole custody of my life - my particular life. My entire life. Not just my life at work or my life in a car or struggling with the computer. Not just the life of my mind but the life of my heart. Not just my bank account, but my soul.
People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier for me to craft a resume listing my talents than it is to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've gotten back the test results and they're not so good.
Here is my resume: I am the mom of three adult children and the grandma of three teenagers. This has resulted in realizing that I can't consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I try to listen. I try to laugh. I believe that I am an increasingly a better friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.
I am a registered nurse and disability advocate, mentoring, helping and defending children and adults with all kinds of disabilities in their quest to achieve their particular goals in life, to experience a measure of happiness and content. But I'm also active in the community and in life in general. I show up when I'm supposed to (usually), I try to listen. I try to laugh. I would be rotten, or at best mediocre at my work or as a parent or wife if these other things were not true. You can't be really first rate at your work or parenting, if your work or parenting is all you are.
So here's what I want to tell you today: Each of us needs to get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck if you are still working, or to be on the list of the most popular person in your school or community where you live. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon and found yourself paralyzed or found you had cancer? Get a life in which you notice the smell of fresh rain on a sidewalk, a life in which you stop and watch the innocence of young children before they grow too wise, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger. Get a life where you travel slow enough to notice the street person on the corner, in the cold without a coat.
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email, write a letter. Become active in your church. Help where help is needed. Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever and that we have no business taking it for granted. We should care so deeply about the goodness of life that we want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beers and give it those who need it. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. Teach a child about God. Visit someone who is lonely.
All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough. It is so easy to waste our lives - our days, hours, minutes. It is so easy to take for granted even the color of our kids' eyes. It is so easy to exist instead of to live. I began to learn about living many years ago ... when our son was born with life- long severe disabilities. This was something that changed my life in ways, that had I been given a choice, would never have been changed at all. But God hung in there with me and He began to use me in some new ways that had never even been a part of my old imagination.
And what I learned from that is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all. I'm learning to love the journey, not the destination. I'm learning that life is not a dress rehearsal and that today is the only guarantee I get. I continue to learn to look at all the good in my world and to try to give some of it back. And one way I try sometimes to do that is by telling others what I've learned and continue to learn.
By telling them this: You are here for a reason and God loves you and needs you, just as He loves and needs me. Renew old ways that you have loved and find new ways to share the love God put into you, sharing the gifts God has given. And to think of life as a terminal illness because if we do, we will live each day we have left with the joy and passion as it ought to be lived. Well, we can learn all those things - out there, if we get a real life, a full life, yes - but another life too. A life of love and laughs and a connection to other human beings and God. We must just keep eyes and ears and hearts open - here in our church, in this congregation, in our neighborhood and in the community at large. Eyes that do not see others around us, others in need of our help, are eyes that have NOT be moved by the message of Jesus. Hands that remain immobile, that do not move to do deeds of love are hands that have NOT been moved by Jesus. Feet that do not carry us to those in trouble and to those who are weak in faith are feet that have not been moved by God. The message of Christ has only reached us when it causes us to reach out beyond ourselves. The classroom for this learning is everywhere. The exam comes at the very end."
Jeanette Brandt - “During Pastor Rich’s sermon, he asked the congregation two questions. The first question was “Who has influenced you to live your life according to God’s word,” and the second question was “Do you make a conscious choice to do God’s work through stewardship and giving.” Before I joined Mt. Calvary, I would have said that my (and Bob’s) family has that influence. Now, I must give that credit where credit it’s due. Pastor Rich Block, Lori Lynn Luedtke, Diane Buchkoski, Karlene McEwen, Darrell & Sue Stetzer (and others) deserve that praise. I have learned that being present in a church pew once a week is not enough. It wasn’t about saying I am a Christian; it was about living like a Christian. I was always afraid to admit how much I really didn’t know about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. God has given me an open door and a clean slate to start over.
The second question was about stewardship and giving. I have been through some tough times as I am sure you all know. Financially and emotionally this has been a challenging two years. There have been times where I couldn’t afford to give an offering, but I know that just giving of my time and service isn’t enough. I have made a conscious effort to make sure that every envelope in my box finds its way to Mt. Calvary, no matter the size of the contribution. My world would have crumbled if it weren’t for this “little church on a hill”.
God Bless Pastor Rich and my friends at Mt. Calvary, you are truly my inspiration.”
Bill Kent - Bill’s brother died when he was 42 years old. For the funeral Bill’s mother wanted the hymn “Here I Am Lord” to be sung. It was her favorite hymn and it was sung at her funeral and at Bill’s father’s funeral. Any time Bill tried to sing the hymn he always cried. Today it was the first hymn we sang in worship and Bill was the song leader. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to sing it without choking up but then he felt his mother and God with him and a calmness came over him. He was able to sing the hymn without crying.
Brian Miller - Brian explained to those who didn’t know that his son Stewart has been incarcerated for about 6 months. Stewart realizes that he has made mistakes and is working to correct them. Stewart is spending most of his time reading the Bible. When Brian goes to visit, Stewart will recite Bible verses he has memorized and he has asked Brian to memorize some of them. Brian feels blessed by all the prayers. He can see that the prayers are helping his son change his life. Stewart is blessed and will do great things.
Carol Pollard - First Carol thanked everyone for all the cancer prayers. She is doing well. However, Carol had a scare last week. She was having chest pains and went to the hospital. She was at St. Clare’s and Pastor Rich came to the hospital and sat with her. Carol was relieved when the doctors said she did not have a heart attack. Carol and Pastor Rich immediately prayed and thanked God for the awesome results. Carol reiterated her thankfulness for all the prayers for her.
Deb Narloch - Deb’s son and his family moved to Duluth 5 months ago. This weekend was the first time since then that Deb has had an opportunity to spend the weekend with her granddaughter Addison. She also had an opportunity to visit with Hunter before he went deer hunting. Deb feels very blessed to have this time to spend with her grandchildren.
Will Ostrem - Will explained that he is not one to send cards to people so he was surprised when his son Aiden asked for a favor. Aiden said he had colored a card and wrote a note in it and he wanted Will to deliver it to church to be sent to a Veteran. Will was very impressed that Aiden had listened to what was asked of him at church and acted on his own to make the card.