“While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them.” – Luke 24:15
March invites all of us into the fullness of the Lenten journey with Jesus. As I reflect on Lent this year, I am reminded how the Holy Spirit moves us from “Small Talk” to “God Talk”. In Minnesota, we are great at Small Talk. We learn the language of the Northland. We say things like, “Oh, for fun” and “Oh, for cute”. Even on the hardest days we say, “It could be worse”. We use phrases like “Dontcha know” and “You betcha” and if we really get excited a “Uff-da” might slip out. More often than not if we are shy about expressing an opinion we will say, “Hmm … Interesting”. I suppose there are many other little conversational segues and idiosyncrasies in the Northland.
Sometimes it’s a little harder to find our natural faith language. “Hey, what’s God up to in your life?” or “Where have you experienced the presence of God lately?” or “God’s really been working on my heart in this way”. We might find it even harder to speak out loud where we’ve felt God’s absence or where we’ve really struggled. Yet, when we are open to it “Small Talk” transforms into “God Talk” quite fluidly. If we leave the door to faith conversations open you never know who will share a witness or a struggle.
Some of the best sermons I’ve heard were not from the pulpit! I say this knowing full well, “I am the preacher!” In fact, I am sure you would agree with me on that one. However, when visiting with other people we hear what God is up to in their lives. This is one of the beautiful things in life, and I love this about being a pastor! Enjoying the conversation as we walk together.
Martin Luther lifted up the Word of God and Sacraments. The Bible and Holy Baptism and Holy Communion were treasures that he emphasized repeatedly. Surprisingly, he also, lifted up what he called, “the mutual conversation and consolation” of all the sisters and brothers in Christ. Martin Luther noticed, as I think we all do, that when we listen closely to faith stories and speak our own story there is a sacramental quality to the conversation that strengthens us all. He was also bold to notice that suffering and struggle are marks of the church. He didn’t shy away from real faith in real people.
As you walk along the Lenten road this year, “pay attention” to the stories shared. Maybe you will have an opportunity to share your own in some way. Remember, in Lent, all roads lead to Jesus. Paradoxically, we learn again that Jesus shows up on the roads we travel, and our hearts burn within us with a living faith as we recognize his presence.
During Lenten Wednesday evenings, the theme “Stories at the Crossroads: My Story, Your Story, God’s Story” will be shared. On Sundays, we will enjoy a pulpit exchange with Trinity Lutheran Church focusing on the beloved Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. Finally, it will be our honor to welcome Bishop Bill Tesch of our Northwestern Minnesota Synod as preacher on Sunday, March 29th. May we keep learning the art of moving from “Small Talk” to “God Talk”. Blessings to you as you walk the road to Holy Week and into Easter joy.
Grace and Peace,
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