Pastor's Periodic Pondering  
by Pastor Josh Nelson


These are sure unsettled times.  That is underscored to me as I find myself frequently drawn into conversations with all kinds of people concerning current events from politics to entertainment, from work place challenges to sexual misconduct.  As I write this, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor have both lost their jobs over issues of sexual impropriety.  By the time you read this, there could be more names brought forward from the halls of congress to the studios in Hollywood.  And we all know that there are many more people who are affected by these concerns who might not be famous, but who've been badly hurt, or who may have done the hurting.  Yes, these are sure unsettled times. 
Another timely topic that many are talking about this week is the concern over how our nation continues to struggle to show respect and kindness to Muslim people. We want our own words, as well as the words of our civic and religious leaders, to reflect the highest of standards. We don't want the speech and conduct of our leaders to ever divide people, or denigrate them, as that can invite such broad mistreatment, racism, or bigotry.  We expect our leaders to speak well of others, and protectively watch over those who are disparaged for their religion, or put down for their race, or taken advantage of for their gender.
In fact, in these unsettled times, there are many life-lessons to discuss with fellow adults, but also with our children.  When values that we hold dear are not being held high, then we can and should point that out.  When values such as love, justice, respect, and honesty are not being displayed, we can and should speak up, and cry out for better behaviors.  And I'm of course talking about both of the big hot button issues in our day of sexual misconduct and the treatment of Muslims, but also about the other issues of how we, as a nation, speak about enemies, or allies.  How we think about taxes, and their effects upon the poor as well as the rich.  How we embrace greed over fairness, or how we divide people up into 'us' verses 'them' categories which always leads to alienating those who are "not like us."  
Whew, I may have waded into some choppy water with this week's pondering.  But all of these things have been on my mind, and I bet they've been on yours too.  I mostly wanted to say, these sure are unsettled times.  If you are also feeling very unsettled, know that you're in good company and we are the perfect candidates for Advent's messages to the Christian Church. It's a great time for us to hear the prophets again calling us to 'make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'  Or to hear from John the Baptist to 'prepare the way of the Lord.'  Let's hear from Mary who sings 'the high and mighty are going to be brought low, while the lowly will be lifted up.'  Or to hear again that that amazing scripture passage from Galatians, 'when the time was fulfilled, God sent forth a Savior that we might receive adoption as beloved children of God.'
Let's all keep speaking to each other, and speaking well of each other.  Let's model the Christian Church values that are so importatnt to us; valuing men and women, boys and girls as precious gifts of God, worthy of being treated with respect and dignity.  Let's be the people of God who speak well of our Muslim neighbors, and Jewish, Hindu, Mormon, Atheist, Gay, Transgender - helping to protect their rights, being fair and kind and welcoming to that neighbor who may be a little different from us.  This is an important way to celebrate Advent this year: knowing that God comes to us in unsettled times to bring us good news of great joy - that love has come, and a savior is born among us.
Waiting, Longing and Hoping with you; I'll see you in church!

- Pastor Josh

A Couple More Things:
25th Anniversary to the Cookie Walk!  

Join us on Saturday, Dec. 9th from 9-11am for our annual Cookie Walk! Come fill a container to the brim for only $10. NEW this year - Elsa and Anna (from Frozen fame) will be here with songs and crafts to entertain the kids!  We will also have FoC honey available and some fun Haitian crafts for sale (these items will also be available for purchase between worship services on Dec. 10 and directly benefit Haitian artisans and their families).    It's a great addition to your holiday traditions!  Come early for the best selection.

BAKERS: Please have your cookies to  the church by 4pm on Friday, Dec. 8th. Email Kim with questions or to sign up.    

ELCA Good Gifts Program
Need a feel-good gift idea for that person who has everything?  This year's Christmas Tree in the narthex is supporting the ELCA Good Gifts Program.  An animal can make a world of difference for a family in need. Animals provide food to eat, fertilizer to grow crops and offspring to sell at the market. For as little as $10, you can help a family escape the cycle of hunger and poverty for good. Feel free to take a coin bank (Pig or Barn) to fill and an Advent calendar. Take an ornament off the tree to make a donation. Bring cash or check (envelopes near the tree) back to FoC (make checks out to FoC so it goes on your giving statement) by Dec. 17. This is a great way for FoC to come together and make a huge difference in the world church! Thank you for your generosity!  Questions to Andie Rudberg.

Read the latest issue of Family News for more announcements.