Since 1908

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Pastor's Blog

The Church that Is the Church

May 22, 2018


The Gathering Table is a Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community housed in the building of a church abandoned by most of its members in a poor neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri.  The Central States Synod of the ELCA owns the building and the Synod, partner congregations, and neighborhood agencies work together to do ministry in the neighborhood.  Youth Works runs a summer-long VBS for the neighborhood children.  Congregations and members of Gathering Table provide 60,000 meals a year to neighborhood people.  Along with members of our daughter Katie's church, I helped prepare and serve one of those meals last Saturday.  People at the Gathering Table?  Poor old people came mostly one by one, some of whom had no teeth, some of whom walked with walkers.  Some of the people came to help by cleaning the floors and tables.  A tall man, thin as a rail, unshaven, unwashed, smiled, chatting away, because there were bunches of bananas to share that day.  60 people who are part of the Gathering Table Ministry worship there with Pastor Barbara on the weekends as do two other congregations: one of Mexican refugees and one of refugees from the Congo.  Pastor Barbara breaks up the fights.  A tag line on Gathering Table Facebook: You can't change the world by going to church only by being the church.

All the people serving together in the building are the being the church.

The Gray Squirrel with the Cinnamon-Colored Tail

May 15, 2018


A few weeks ago, I saw a squirrel in our backyard with a bedraggled tail, a tail not a full and fluffy; its fur was matted and sort of wet looking.  He did not hold his tail up or flick it as squirrels do in order to communicate with each other.  His tail was dragging.  Literally.  He was thin, too, and defensive, charging and challenging anyone who came near him.  I haven’t seen him since.  I wondered if his tail had been shredded by a predator.  Or a car.  Or if he had some kind of illness. 

Whatever the case, his trauma or illness seems to have made him a bit of a wreck, both physically and socially.  Isolated.  Irritable.  A sad thing to see.

Why did the Painted Turtle cross the berm?

May 8, 2018


I’m tempted to say, “He had no idea,” but saying turtles don’t know where they’re going is always a bit cheeky, especially when they’re known to be able to swim thousands of miles across oceans from their favorite fishing areas to the tiny island beaches upon which they were born.  Without GPS.  Or maps.  With navigational acumen in their brains I’m pretty sure we really smart human beings haven’t figured out yet.

During my walk through the Navarino Wildlife Area (NWA) yesterday, I wanted to see the Wolf River.  Climbing a natural, sandy ridge artificially forested with a stand of red pines, I saw an open body of blue water off to the west.  The River! 

The Footprints in My Brain

May 1, 2018


There’s only about two trails that head west of the marked and mapped Navarino Wildlife Area.  I have been exploring the trail that heads west between the 80 Acre and the Hanson Flowages.  From this trail at least three trails turn to the south and three turn to the north.  I have tried only one of the trails that head south, the one that follows the shore of the Hanson Flowage.  Two weeks after Easter, I took one of the trails that heads north.  On that trail, I ended up on some roads that actually were on the map, roads I could tell would take me to Highway K.  I had reached the northernmost boundary of the Navarino Wildlife Area.  One of my options was to turn back; the other option was to head over to Highway K again, take Highway K south until I found one of the two trails on which I reached Highway K on my previous walks.

I thought a while about it and decided to give Highway K a shot.