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Normal Easter is just a memory this year. There is still grieving going on about Easter as it could have been; Easter as is should be. Now, we’re trying to figure out what the new normal is going to be. Before COVID (B.C.), for me, Holy Week would include a Wednesday night confirmation class road trip to the Seward UMC for their annual Living Last Supper presentation. I’ve hardly missed a year since we were pastors there (1997-2002). Jesus and the boys placed you dramatically in the room where it happened. Normally, before COVID, Thursday evening of Holy Week was Maundy Thursday worship with communion. Friday evening was a Good Friday Tennabrae service of light and darkness. In GI, both of those services were shared with First Faith UMC rotating back and forth between their place and our place. Before COVID, in Ainsworth, Seward, Beatrice, and Doniphan, Holy Saturday meant a community wide Easter Egg Hunt. Before COVID, Easter Sunday began with Sunrise worship. Then regular Easter worship was packed with whole families filling the pews. Family after family had promised Grandma, they’d be there all dressed, pressed, and polished at her church for Easter worship. Of course, Grandma had blackmailed her family into coming to church or there would be no Easter dinner! It was a Christian salmon returning to their home stream kind of thing.
Before COVID, there was something different about preaching to a packed house on Easter. My heart would try to jump out of my chest I’d get so excited! Normally, at Trinity, the annual Easter singing of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” with the full chancel choir behind you with extra brass instruments and the organ cranked up to full capacity was a soul filling experience. It made water escape from my eyes uncontrollably. Before COVID, I liked to have the kids race around the sanctuary during children’s time. I’d make them raise their hands and promise not to hit their heads on the corners of the pews, and I’d talk about the foot race between Peter and John on that first Easter morning. It was a worship celebration like no other.
Before COVID, in my family, the Karges preachers (four of us right now), would crash for a glorious Easter Sunday afternoon nap. Then we’d gather at Mom’s place in Lincoln for our own family Easter feast and Easter egg hunt for the little ones after supper. Before COVID, Mom would make deviled eggs, her fruit pizza, Grandma’s pineapple casserole, green bean casserole, and ham in some form. Sister-in-law Dianne would make her crescent rolls and bring her Dad’s homemade orange marmalade.
Last year, the new normal of Easter was live-streamed worship videoed in an empty sanctuary. The scripture and the message are the normal ones. But last year, Easter was a blizzard, and everyone stayed home and watched from their living rooms. Last year, Seward UMC streamed an old video of the Living Last Supper. Maundy Thursday worship was live-streamed from our Bishop Rueben Saenz in Topeka. Good Friday was live-streamed from First Faith UMC’s webpage. Last year, we had a drive-by family Easter Event where we handed Easter packets to folks through their car windows. We also handed out palm leaves after church on Palm Sunday in a drive-by car parade. Last year, on Easter afternoon, we did a Zoom call with my family that included Karges grandkids in Nebraska, North Carolina, and California.
This year, we’re crossing our fingers and having in-person Easter worship at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. with masks and social distancing. Christina, our Family Ministries Director, has provided us with Sunday School videos and a Family Easter kit to do at home. The New Normal is teaching us words like Hybrid Worship and Hybrid meetings. The New Normal is having just as many folks watching on line on Saturday night and Sunday morning worship as we have present in-person. Some of our on-line guests are from all over the world.
In the end, normal is more about the past than the present; more about our comfort level—our desire to not be afraid of an unknown future. The good thing is that God is not, and has never been, normal. And next year at Easter, we’ll be talking about the difference between life before COVID (B.C.) and life after COVID (A.C.).
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
It has to happen sometime. We can’t just keep going and going. At some point, the ongoing movement of time has to stop, tuck, and pass away before looking to the future. In modern times, we call this break in the time-space continuum the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Modern media gives us “the best of 2020”in as many forms as possible before we launch into 2021. This year, the break is accentuated by a record-breaking snowstorm on Tuesday, December 29.
The danger of stopping in the dead of winter (of course) is that it’s hard to get going again. You’re tired from scooping snow. The college football bowl games aren’t done yet. So it’s hard to squint toward the horizon of the New Year and think about the future.
What is there to look forward to in this New Year? What do you expect to do in 2021? Of all your dreams, which ones will come true this year?
In this yearly transition time we call January, I invite you to try out an old religious concept called “Discernment.” Discernment is simply making an extra effort to listen. Listen for God’s direction for you in this New Year. Take extra time to listen in prayer or through the reading of a different psalm every day or a chapter of a gospel. I encourage you to do this right after you wake up, or right before you go to bed each day. Deliberately put chunks of silence before and after the scriptures. Use all your senses to absorb from God how your gifts can be used to do what God wants in 2021.
What is it that you will be glad to leave behind in 2020? What does God want you to do/be for your family this year? Whom does God want you to serve? What hidden gift does God want you go pull out and use this year? What ancient sore in your soul does God want to help heal this year?
January is the time to ask these questions. We’ll spend the rest of the year listening for the answers.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
I thought I’d share a favorite Advent Journeys article from the past.
Some of you know that our son, Zack, was born on Christmas Eve (30 years ago). In 1990, getting ready for Christmas had a double meaning in the Karges’ house. Not only did we celebrate the anticipation of the Christ Child, we were also anxiously awaiting the birth of our second child.
Though the due date was December 31st, Cindy had “this feeling” that the baby might come early. So, getting Christmas shopping done early was added to her already exuberant pre-birthing nesting instincts.
For the first time in my life, Christmas gifts were bought and wrapped and ready to go in November. And even though it just didn’t feel right to have more than two trees to choose from, our tree was bought before the month of December. Why? Because it was on Cindy’s list! And you can’t fight the list of a pregnant woman. Just try and stay off of it.
That year, we were more prepared for Christmas than we had ever been in the past. We had to be read, . . . just in case, which if you think about it, is what Advent is all about.
These four Sundays before Christmas are the time to remember Christ’s first coming, and, to get ready just in case He’s about to come back and finish what he started.
If you had to make a list of things to do before God came into your life in a new way, what would you put on that list?
Grace & Peace,
This is an odd year to give thanks. Usually, I give thanks for the things I know and appreciate. This year, nothing is the same. This year, all those old usual things I’d give thanks for have been ground up and boiled down to some very basics.
I’m thankful I’ve survived this pandemic (so far). I’m thankful no one in my immediate family has tested positive (so far). It seems like every day I learn of a new church member, friend, or family member who have tested positive. We do have a Karges contest going for who’s been tested the most; daughter Katie and husband Eric are in first with five negative tests, daughter Emily is next with three negative tests. Our son Zack and his fiancé Mandy, and I have one negative test each (so far). I’m thankful everyone in my family still has jobs (mostly). Some have been cut back to less-than-full time a bit.
I’m thankful for the foresight of our Trinity Trustees who purchased new lighting and cameras for the sanctuary a couple years ago. Then they upgraded our 30-year-old soundboard in the balcony to a new digital one along with new computers in the tech booth. I’m thankful we’d already been live-streaming our Sunday morning worship for about a year before COVID hit, so we’d already worked out a lot of the bugs around miking the organ, piano, electric piano, and singers up front. I’m thankful for Tim Victor and Josh Bergmeier who are always looking for ways to improve our technology capabilities for worship in the sanctuary (especially my “Kelly-prompter”). I’m thankful for our music staff (Dane, Carolyn, Brenda, & Kim) and volunteers who have faithfully kept offering their gifts and talents to make our live-streaming on Facebook worship as much like “normal” as possible.
I’m thankful for our Trinity Staff who just keep rolling with the punches and finding creative ways to keep being the church amidst this pandemic. Right now, four out of our eight staff have tested positive for COVID and are at different stages of recovery; Allie, Susan, Jason, and Geoffrey. I’m thankful for our Trinity leadership who’s had to make hard decisions about masks and social distancing and in-person worship (or not).
Even though it’s just me and Cindy on Thanksgiving Day this year, we’re still having cut-down portions of turkey, green bean casserole, dressing, mashed potatoes, and Grandma Karges’ pineapple casserole. It just seems like the right thing to do. Each food item has historical significance. We’ll be zooming with our kids and with my Mom and my side of the family.
I invite you to do your boiled down Thanksgiving list this year too. I think it helps as we wade through this difficult time together.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
It is such a joy to connect with you again after a long time. I am very happy to let you know that I was successfully able to complete my first year of seminary. This spring semester was not what I expected, but I thank God that I was able to finish it in one piece.
When the pandemic hit, we moved to remote learning. Because of this change, the school gave us an option to choose “pass” or “no record” instead of a letter grade. This decision was meant to help students not to worry about failing while adjusting to the new system. We were also given an option to request a letter grade if needed. So, I decided to ask for a letter grade for all my classes. The reason I requested for a letter grade was to help me be motivated about learning and doing my work. I did not want to just pass my classes, but I wanted to do my best. Thank God, I managed to get good grades in all my classes.
I was planning to do my field education during this summer. Due to the pandemic, that did not happen. All the placement sites I applied to cancelled their summer programs. So I just stayed here in Evanston. I stayed in the dorms on campus. Even though everything shut down, I was able to participate and make a video for the children’s chapel at First UMC Evanston. I also was part of some book discussions. The books discussed were Just Mercy and White Fragility. I have also spent time watching the news, movies, and documentaries.
I am excited to start the fall semester in September. I am grateful that I will be able to stay here and learn online. As you might know, international students were shaken in early July when ICE declared that we were not allowed to stay in the US if our schools were going to operate remotely. I am very grateful that this changed, and I can peacefully stay here and learn online. I will be taking four classes this fall and will be an intern at First UMC Evanston, working with children and youth. I am looking forward to that.
I am very grateful for all your help, support, and encouragement. I am looking forward to the time that I will be among you again!
When I saw the request for Journeys articles, I really did not think I had anything to share. Then on August 23, I read an Upper Room devotion written by Emiriana Maleka-Bana of Indonesia titled “Invitation to Witness.” She talked about reading Saat Teduh, which is the Indonesian Upper Room. She saw an invitation for readers to write their own reflections and her thoughts turned to thanksgiving, because God had answered her prayer of a way, which she could share her faith.
When I started doing the UMW Prayer Chain, my plan was to clean up the list and pass it on. I discovered I really enjoyed sharing these prayers with the Church. During the pandemic, I decided maybe we needed reminders, as I do, to pray every day.
On a nearly daily basis, I have listed prayers. Sometimes you have gotten spiritual tidbits from others, and some days you have gotten things that are heavy on or speaking to my heart.
Prayer is so important. Through COVID-19 and my personal distancing, I’ve spent more time reading the Bible and devotional material, and I feel I’ve really grown in my understanding and inner peace. Our Tuesday Mathetes Bible Study, the daily checking in of this group, and Thursday’s Lectio Divina have helped, too. Getting out of myself by reaching out to others during this time of isolation has enhanced my growth.
Every day when I send the prayers to those of you on the list, my thoughts turn to thanksgiving, because God has given me a way to share some of the creativeness I thought I had lost.
If you are not on the Prayer Chain, but would like to receive it, contact the church at 308.382.1952.
My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer a week after I turned 17. Fifteen weeks later, she was gone. She died on a Tuesday, her funeral was on a Friday, and my twin sister and I started our senior year in high school the following Monday. The day I finished High School was the day I moved out of my family home, with very few personal belongings. I rented a room in the home of a family I worked for and had been grown increasingly close to. Within three months of that, my father sold the family house, and had an auction and sold everything in it. When I first moved in with the family that eventually became my “adoptive” family, I only planned to spend the summer with them before starting college in the fall. Plans changed and I ended up staying with them for a little over a year before proceeding to college. While living with this family, I became one of them and learned a completely new way of life. This family helped me in many, many ways; emotionally, spiritually, socially, and financially. They never asked for anything in return. I often told them that I would never be able to pay them back for all that they did for me. Their response was that the best way to pay them back would be to help others in time of need if/when I was ever in the position to do so.
Fast forward to the present: To this day, I do not feel that I can adequately do enough for others to even begin to repay my “adoptive” family for all that they have done for me. Nevertheless, I am still trying.
In doing so, I constantly keep the message from Matthew 6:1-4 in the back of my mind:
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly, I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
I hear the messages that always reinforce the concept of loving, accepting, and helping others in need from Pastors Kelly, Kalaba, and Geoffrey in their weekly sermons. TUMC does many good things in our community, and often it becomes newsworthy. However, I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you who does things for others that does not make the news. I would like to believe that my church family helps others in more ways that go unrecognized than in the ways that make the news. I also believe that when someone receives help and mentions that they would like to “repay” it in some form, telling them that the best way they can “repay” it is to help others in need if/when they have the opportunity to do so becomes one of the most effective forms of ministry that exists. The benefits of this type of ministry are unmeasurable in earthly terms. We will never know how many people are impacted. We do not need to know. God knows.
Grace and Peace,
10 This is why we work and try so hard. It’s because we have put our hope in the Living God. He is the Savior of all people. Most of all, He is the Savior of those who believe.
1 Timothy 4:10
According to today’s headlines, more children are being infected and hospitalized with Covid-19. All over the country, parents are faced with difficult decisions.
In our own congregation, we recently lost a precious new life – Noah Dean Smith, the son of Jeremy and Jennifer, and brother of Jaden, Jaycee, Jaxon and Jordan.
Both of these situations have inspired me to prayer and reflection. As the Director of Family Ministry, how can I foster spiritual growth in our children when we aren’t meeting in person?
Let me share with you a powerful truth that I learned at my first-ever ministry training: Nothing that the church does to influence children and youth towards faith in Christ is as powerful and effective as what their parents do. Nothing I do – not programs, or sermons, or education, or materials, or mission trips or activities – can compete with the words and actions of parents.
Before the pandemic, I was focused on buying the right curriculum, finding volunteers, planning a youth mission trip and the other day-to-day activities of working in ministry. Even though I know that faithful parents are the best route to faithful children, I let other things take up my time. Now, I am searching the internet for ways to equip and encourage parents, swapping ideas with other Christian educators, and connecting with families that I hadn’t met in my first year here. The new normal has given me the time and inspiration to get parents invested in their kids’ faith journey.
Many parents believe that being “good people” and knowing who Jesus is will be enough. But, being aware of Jesus and being a good person do not have the same impact as being in relationship with God. A child who experiences God’s love, knows Jesus’ forgiveness, and trusts the Holy Spirit has a great advantage in life, and less fear of death. That’s the gift of faith.
I have been with parents in the emergency room, watched them receive the news of their child’s passing, and heard their testimony: “We are so fortunate that our child knew Jesus, that she relied on Him in life, and that she is now with Him in death.” These parents do not regret choosing worship over other activities, spending time reading the Bible and praying, or taking opportunities to point out others’ faith in action.
May we, The Church, lift up all parents in prayer, and equip and encourage those around us during this difficult time and always. Amen.
P.S. – Check out “Give You Faith” by Laura Story for some musical inspiration about passing on the faith.
You would think that being stuck at home with no place to go would find you plenty of opportunities to rest while putting that Netflix subscription to good use. The first months of quarantine, however, proved to be some of the most challenging and stressful days of my young life. While attempting to work full-time from home helping teachers transform our educational system, I was also trying to ‘manage’ a baby, a toddler, and a kindergarten needing his daily dose of school. Every day was chaotic and centered on me balancing 10 things at once. The uncertainties of our current situation combined with my extroverted personality and this professional-personal life mish-mash had me spiraling quickly down a negative, anxiety filled hole. I found myself angry, quick to lose patience, and depressed about the situation we all were forced to confront. By the first week of April, I decided to take control of what was in my control, and took a good, hard look in the mirror. What do I need to do to take care of myself so that I can better take care of others?
Answer: I needed time to myself.
As selfish as it may seem on the surface, I desperately needed quiet, daily, uninterrupted time to myself. With the help of my husband and resetting that alarm (I know right, who sets an alarm in quarantine??), I made myself schedule time to be alone – to pray, read, reflect, and take care of myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I began a daily devotional building into a continuous 365-day devotional journal. I spent time each morning writing and praying before heading out on an early morning run. During my runs I could talk to God without interruption, get lost in the Christian music I had blaring through my headphones, or just enjoy the beauty that comes with early spring mornings.
The peace that came from my new routine cannot be described in words.
I simply was happier, more patient, and less stressed. I now crave this time daily, and when I don’t get it, I can tell in my interactions immediately. Even now, the kids are in bed, and I’m sitting outside with a glass of wine by the fire – enjoying my quiet moments with God.
You see, Covid-19 has taught me a thing or two about what I need to feel rested and stay healthy. I know now that in the midst of this crazy, chaotic life, I need to schedule time daily to just be with myself and God. I am a better mother, colleague, and wife when I do.
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Trinity UMC has a new addition to our many outreach ministries, which is a little red box that could make a big difference in someone’s life. If you have not been by the church lately, take time to drive by the west side of the building, pull into the circle drive by the office door, and you will spot the little red box.
The little red box is a portable food pantry. Ben Kelley has graciously bestowed it upon Trinity. Ben chose this as his Eagle Scout project, and we thought it was very appropriate to place it close to another Eagle Scout project from many years ago—the benches under the tree. The premise of this project is quite simple: if you need some food, help yourself! If you have a bit of extra food, leave some for another person! Ben even stocked it to start with.
Now, Trinity, it is up to us to keep it stocked! Of course, donated goods cannot be anything fresh or frozen. Therefore, you might be asking what would be appropriate to place inside the red food box. Here are some ideas: canned fruits and vegetables, boxes of crackers or cereal, peanut butter, pasta and sauce, a can of tuna or snack items. Anything nonperishable is appropriate. The pantry is water proof and easy to open.
During this uneasy time in our world, Trinity is working to help feed those in need in our community. Trinity, along with others, hosts the Loaves and Fishes food distribution on the second Saturday of every month. Trinity also allows individuals to use our building to help assemble 173 backpacks each week. Every week, schoolchildren receive one of these backpacks across the city. By keeping nonperishable food items stocked in this portable food pantry, we have another way of providing food to those within our community. I recently learned that 40% of people who could use help with food now have never asked for food before. This easy access pantry will make it simple to get some help.
A dedication of this gift from Ben Kelley is July 19. Our little red box will not be feeding the 5000 that Jesus fed, but it will help to feed one or two people, or even a family. It will make a difference in someone’s life.
Feel free to use it. Please take some food if you need help, or leave some food if you have extra. Thank you, Ben! Thank you, Trinity, for supporting this mission of providing food.
To read more about the free food box, click here to read about it on the GI Independent.
Happy Father’s Day 2020
This is Rev. Kelly Karges, Senior Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Island, Nebraska and I wanted to share a collection of some of my favorite Father’s Day – Journeys articles from the back of the bulletin from years past. I hope you’ll enjoy them;
Today is Father’s Day. It is my first Father’s Day spent without my Dad. For years on Father’s Day we Karges sons would migrate home for a meal (usually dinner out at Misty’s in Lincoln). We’d give him the golf club or golf accessary we’d gone together to buy and he and Mom would wallow in the joy of having as many kids and grandkids around as possible.
This year, we’re all getting used to the new normal of not having Dad around anymore. As with all families after a loss, this first year of firsts without them is hard. So I find myself out of sorts this Father’s Day. I miss him. And Father’s Day has dredged up all these questions that I never got to ask him, like: “What was it about all those Norman Vincent Peale “Power of Positive Thinking” books that he had in his bathroom library that took him from the dairy to seminary?” or, “Why did he wait ‘til his Dad died before he did anything about his call to the ministry?”
This year, Father’s Day is processing me way to much to put much more reflection down on paper, so I leave you with bits and pieces of James Emery White’s list of what a good father is.
“…a good father is…
…one who knows that children have only one love language – time;…one who daughters want to marry, and sons want to emulate;…one you know will protect you and defend you;…one who provides everything you need (but not necessarily everything you want);…one who is brave when you are scared;…one who teaches you how to treat a woman, and what you should expect from a man;…one who cherished your mother;…one who is stronger, and taller, than you (at least, at first);…one who taught you how to swim, how to ride a bike, how to throw a ball, how to open a door for a woman, how to…you get it;…one who taught you how to drive;…one who set curfews;…one who didn’t make a big deal of the things you thought he would, but did of the things that you know, now, mattered;…one who took you out “trick or treating”;…one who drove you to your first day at school, your first day at college, and your first day at…;…one who paid the ticket;…one who introduced you to God;…one who, most of all, loved you so much he would have laid down his life for yours in a heartbeat. And still would. Happy Father’s Day. From all of us Dads. You’ll never know how much we love you. Or maybe, now, you will.”
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
My Dad passed away four years ago. On this Father’s Day I wanted to share this piece I wrote a while back. This is in memory and honor of my Dad, Rev. Gil Karges.
“The Dreaded Oil Test”
When we Karges children go home, no matter how grown up and adult we may think we are, Dad reminds us who’s in charge by asking if he can check our oil. ‘Cause you see, even though Dad is no longer on the farm, he still changes his own oil on his cars. And if you’re a man you’ll learn to take car of the oil on your own car too.
Sometimes I have been able to slip away. Other times he has forgotten. But one time a few years ago, Cindy and I were loading up the car for a trip to South Carolina and Dad came out and asked, “How do you get this foreign hood open.” He went right for the dip stick. And I flunked the oil test big time. Dad, even with his new bifocals, could not get a reading on the oil stick of my 1985 Volkswagen Diesel Turbo-charged Jetta. He tried it over and over.
As far as he could see, my car had no oil. And the funny thing was, I had paid someone to make sure I passed the dreaded oil test this time. I’d had my car jiffy-lubed the day before. The pros had let me down. But Dad was happy.
You should have seen him smile as he walked over to get his 10-W40 from the case he kept in the garage. He whipped out his special funnel and said, “You’d better put some oil in this car son if you want to get to South Carolina and back.”
Even though I am a father of three, I’m still getting used to it. I am still learning the thrill and agony of what it means to be Dad.
This Father’s Day I thank God for my Dad who loves me enough to check my oil. And Dad, I hope your oil is up too.
Grace & Peace,
Today we thank God for fathers. This Father’s Day my kids are 30, 28 and 23 years old. I can still remember waiting for that first one to be born and having serious reservations about whether I was ready to be a father. After I witnessed our daughter Katie’s birth, my reticence over my readiness for fatherhood became irrelevant. When the nurses cleaned her up, put her in my arms and her little eyes met mine that was it. I was Dad. That fatherhood connection, that new relationship happened with Zack and Emily too.
This Father’s Day I find myself reflecting on what I love about being a Dad.
I love hearing my kids laugh. I loved rocking them to sleep with their baby heads resting on my shoulder. I still love watching them sleep. I love seeing them take a risk and be successful. I love to see their thirst for a challenge. I love to see them mature and grow up before my very eyes. I love those moments when they actually want to be around me. Becoming friends as adults is an amazing thing. Pretty regularly, in between their text messaging and instant messaging with multiple friends around the country we get to chat on the phone or FaceTime.
I hate to see them disappointed. I hate to witness their pain. I hate when their happiness is out of my control. I hate that they have grown up and left the nest (even though I know it’s my job to get them out of the nest).
I know from my own experience that I will always be their Dad no matter how many connector flights it takes to get to them. I also know that my fathering skills have not always been up to par. I just hope that they were able to soak in the good stuff and let go of the bad so that when the time comes they’ll not be afraid to be a Dad or Mom themselves.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
Rosedale & Doniphan Cemetaries Memorial Day Ceremony 2014
This is Rev. Kelly Karges, Senior Pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, Grand Island, NE. And this is my video Journeys article. I pulled out the Memorial Day speech I was asked to give at the Rosedale and Doniphan Cemeteries in 2014:
“Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp.
They dug up the bodies and worked for two weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom.
They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.
It’s hard to imagine the huge risk those newly released slaves took – to do this thing. I lived in Charleston for five years and there are some who still call it the war of Northern aggression.
This Memorial weekend has become about proving that we haven’t forgotten. We need to do what we can to prove to those that served in our military that we have not forgotten their sacrifice. Not forgetting is how we honor them.
In our lifetimes there were 405,399 U.S. military deaths in World War II.
38,516 in the Korean War.
58,209 in the Vietnam War.
6,717 in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so far.
We have a friend from our Beatrice church who went into the military late. We was a successful teacher and coach. Now he’s a paratrooper, serving his second tour in Afghanistan.
Jered Salazar is my friend on Facebook and he’s recently posted that he’d like us to not forget his friend Corporal Burnside – who was killed by an IED.
There are still US Military being killed in service to our country as we speak.
This weekend is also about remembering our loved ones who’ve passed away.
So, we buy grave markers made of stone and steel for our loved ones to prove the permanence of our memories of who they were and what they meant to us.
My Dad’s grave marker is on a wall at the columbarium at Christ UMC in Lincoln. Our son Luke’s grave marker is at Rose Hill Cemetery just south of Albion Nebraska.
This weekend we need to visit and tend to the last places we saw the remains of our loved ones who’ve passed away to prove we haven’t forgotten them.
We take care of that little outdoor space as a continuation of what we did for them while they were alive.
We continue our caring for them even though they are no longer able to reciprocate.
Even though it is one-sided, the relationship goes on. We’re doing our part. It helps somehow.
We do battle with wire hangers and sculpt flower foam and pick out just the right flowers, (plastic and otherwise), as a gift to the memories of our loved ones who no longer walk this earth.
Memory is a strange thing.
Especially when its attached to grief.
Cause our emotions play such a big part in our ability to remember.
And when we lose a loved one, we get scared and we want to hold on to everything we can. But it’s hard. Our emotions get in the way.
Cause how to you hold on to a laugh?
How do you not loose that look they had in their eye when they teased you?
How do you keep what it felt like to have one you love smile like they did when they were really happy?
Sometimes, the harder you try and clutch it, the faster it goes away.
You want to maintain what they meant to you. So you keep things.
My Dad died a year ago in January. And I’ve got some of his bibles that he used when he was pastor here.
I sit in his office and preach in the churches that were built while he was here. Sometimes it helps to have something to hold on to.
I always tell folks that if their loved one didn’t mean anything to them, they would not cry.
Our grief, our pain, is tied to how much our loved one meant to us.
Our grief keeps their meaning fresh in our hearts – even if that means we have to suffer to get there.
In our sadness, its easy to panic when we can’t pull up a memory.
We start to worry that that memory is lost forever. It’s not. Its just that we have to come up with a new way to pull that memory up.
Grief and memory, memory and honor.
Not forgetting, maintaining a memory – can be a way to honor one we’ve known and loved.
When those who have served their country in the military die while serving, it becomes important for the community to remember them . To remember together. It honors their service to their country – their community; their giving themselves to protect their loved ones.
Cause see, they do not fight for themselves only. They fight for each other, and they fight to protect those that they love. So honoring them is a community thing and a personal thing at the same time.
Cause I don’t think anyone enters the Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy or Coast Guard thinking they are going to die.
But they enter knowing that death is a possibility. It’s like 2 % of their thinking. The other 98% is with something else. But that 2% is a giving over – a gift to us.
I don’t know about you, but my earliest memories of Memorial Day are of loading up the car with hand held grass trimmers, a watering can, flowers, hangers, wire cutters and pots.
My brother Casey, Mom, Grandma Karges and me would head up the hill to the Albion Cemetery.
My little brother and I would go play in the great dirt pile by the shed at the back. Mom and Grandma would go to work. Then we’d pile back into the station wagon and drive to St. Edward, pick up my Grandma Clark and head up the hill to their cemetery and repeat the whole process again.
In later years, the Memorial Weekend cemetery tour would include Scotia, and Greeley, where my Grandma’s Karges’s relatives were buried. It became an annual pilgrimage.
As Pastor at graveside internment services, I like to talk about how the grave is just a place. A place for us. It’s the last place we saw the remains of our loved one. We know that their spirit, their essence is with God.
But this place is for us, to take care of, to come and talk to them, to talk to God.
It allows us to keep a thread of the relationship we’d had with them alive, by taking care of their place of rest.
It’s really just a small piece of grass, a little cement foundation, a rock with a name and date. But its our grass, our rock, and keeping the weeds from creeping around the foundation is what I can do right now to express my continued love and caring.
It keeps the memory alive. The grief that’s always a part of that memory seems to ebb and flow in it’s intensity. But making sure that space is cared for does something for me. It helps with that. I’m not sure how.
The older I get, the harder it is to remember. It seems like there is only so much room in my brain, and it randomly dumps excess images and feelings to make room for today’s entries.
May God bless our grave tendings this weekend.
May they help us hook and hold our precious memories of those we can no longer hug and hold and love like we used to.
Grace & Peace,
Prayer: The Antidote to Fear and Anxiety
Dear Friends, I know there are debates right now around whether to fully or partially open the economy across the nation. We have those who are very cautious and those who feel like it is time to go back to our routines. One of the point people are stressing out in these debates is fear and anxiety. I was thinking of sharing with you what apostle Paul says about fear and anxiety:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)
“We are at war, at war against a sly and invisible enemy: the Coronavirus or COVID-19” These are words from French president, Emmanuel Macron. “The fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 is our big war… We have to win this war” said president Donald Trump. “We must act as any wartime,” Said the British prime minister, Boris Johnson…The common denominator from these three political leaders is that they all recognize that we are at war…
Scientists are busy in laboratories around the world trying to come up with the solution to this war. They are working day and night to find the antidote to the predicament that the world is facing right now. They are working to find the drugs to treat effectively COVID-19 but also to find the vaccine.
While we are anxiously waiting for the vaccine and the treatments to be found, I believe we need a vaccine to deal with our anxiety and fear. I do not want to minimize the fear and anxiety going on right now around the world. My intention by writing this reflection is not to say those who have faith should not fear or be anxious. No, I do not understand faith that way and I do not see fear or anxiety as lack of faith but they (fear and anxiety) are natural feelings.
However, God has always invited us to go beyond what is natural. God has always invited us not to worry as the Scripture says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, let God know about your anxiety and fear through prayer and petition…” Even in times of global pandemic, God asks us to trust in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Of course, trusting in God does not mean being irresponsible, it does not mean breaking the measures taken by government and health practitioners. It simply means God loves us and wants the best for us and for people around us.
Do not be afraid or fear not is repeatedly in the Bible not to insinuate lack of trust in God but it is an assurance that God is always with us. It is a reminder that God is God and we are not God and that we can easily have our moments of fear and anxiety. Even in such moments God is there to reassure us that all is well.
The topic that dominates theological reflections during this pandemic is “things will never be the same…” This could reflect how anxious we are for the future. This could demonstrate the fear of the uncertainty.
The following is the interpretation of the antidote to fear and anxiety presented to us by apostle Paul:
1. Make your needs known to God. Pour out your soul before God. It is in prayer and intimacy with our Lord that everything happens! Prayer helps us not only to gain something but also prayer helps us lose whatever has been weighing on our mind (depression, insecurity, anxiety and fear…).
2. Be grateful… full of gratitude for all that God has already done for you and your loved ones also be full of gratitude because God loves you. Remembering God good deeds in our lives and that God loves us is an excellent remedy against anxiety. When you read about the story of the Hebrew people’s long walk to the promised land, you will realize that the most important thing that had kept their faith in God was their ability to remember the great things God had done for their ancestors. So, remembering God’s faithfulness can help us navigate through this storm.
3. Receive the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. May that peace continues to guard our hearts and minds away from any insanity. May it (peace of God) helps us understand what it takes to stay safe and compassionate in this challenging time. May the Lord’s peace keep our hearts and thoughts fixed on Jesus.
The apostle Paul while going through his moments of anxiety and fear, he only had one antidote, prayer. And so my prayer is that our hearts are not going to be the storage of fear and anxiety but in everything we are going to share our fear and anxiety with our Lord through prayer.
Associate Pastor, Trinity UMC GI
Mother’s Day – old Journeys from the back of the bulletin – circa 2003:
OK, OK, so I was spoiled. Growing up, both my grandmothers made sure we three Karges boys knew that our mom was, “Too good to us.” They wanted us to appreciate what we had. But sometimes it’s only when you look back that you realize your blessings.
Now that I have my own children I appreciate my Mom more than the two Grandmas could have ever conceived. Mom has always been there for us. Our clothes were just always there in the drawer ready to go. Those football pants and baseball jerseys were overnight, magically cleaned of all traces of grass stains and mud. Three hot meals a day were at the table when we finally dragged ourselves up the stairs from the basement after the fifth or sixth call to come and eat. Mom was there to haul three boys to three different schools and three different team practices and games. Mom helped with homework and typed and edited every paper I ever wrote up through that first year in college. Mom was the one who was intricately involved with all of our lives as advocate and advisor.
Mom was the one who talked this scared skinny sixth grader into running the mile for the first time. Mom was there to help haul the drum set to and from school. Mom still comes and helps get the house ready for company. I’ve never seen under the refrigerator or behind the stove, ‘cause when she comes to help, I know she’s been there, done that. I can’t thank God enough for my Mom. Now Mom is grandma to my kids. And I overheard her the other day telling them that they don’t appreciate their mother enough. I smell a conspiracy.
Here’s the prayer for Mother’s Day from our United Methodist Book of Worship:
For our mothers, who have given us life and love, that we may show them reverence and love, we pray to the lord . . . For mothers who have lost a child through death, may their faith give them hope, and their family and friends support and console them, we pray to the Lord . . . For women, though without children of their own, who like mothers have nurtured and cared for us, we pray to the Lord . . . For mothers, who have been unable to be a source of strength who have not responded to their children and have not sustained their families, we pray to the Lord. Loving God, as a mothers give life and nourishment to her children, so you watch over your church. Bless these women, that they may be strengthened as Christian mothers. Let the example of their faith and love shine forth. Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Here’s another Journeys article from the back of the bulletin, Mother’s Day 2004.
Cindy has been gone for 12 days representing Nebraska and serving her church at the General Conference meeting in Pittsburgh. Her absence has given our family a unique opportunity to really know what she means to us on this Mother’s Day. So I thought I’d ask my kids what they missed about their Mama.
My succinct seventh grade son Zack said, “I miss seeing her face.” Being the more practical one, he also said he missed her, “Cleaning up and driving us places.” Our baby, eight year old Emily said she missed watching TV and getting in the hot-tub with her Mama. Emily is also the only child who’s got our cell phone numbers memorized and she called her Mama in Pittsburgh on a daily basis to tell her in her best whiney voice that, “I really miss you Mama!”
Katie, our 15 year old said she missed talking with her Mama as they watch Letterman and Leno together in our bed while I’m in my late night reading chair in the living room. The teenagers also agreed that they missed how she laughs when she’s nervous and cries at anything on T.V.
This is the longest Cindy and I have ever been apart from each other. Cell phone relationships are better than nothing, but that’s about it. I miss her being there, just being herself. I’ve missed having someone to listen to. I’ve missed having someone to talk to. I’ve missed having someone to tease and play with. I’ve joked before that our decision making pattern has always been that I’m the risk taker and she’s the perfect-or. I have no problem making a decision, then she tells me whether I’m right or not. I kinda’ hate having to say this out loud, but I’ve missed having a second opinion on things. In the church we use each other as sounding boards for the fifty million little decisions we make each week.
I know that being missed means a lot to Cindy. Her Dad died when she was three. Her whole life, the only way she’s had to express her love for him has been to miss him. Our Mother’s Day gift to you this year Cindy, is that we missed you – a lot!
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
The question that many of us are struggling with right now is: for how long this confinement, this social distancing will last? For how long are we going to live in fear? When are we going to have access to our church building? We are dealing with the question of time whether it be Kairos (opportune moment) or Chronos (chronological). Almost, everything in life is timed, and time is one way, we, humankind, try to make sense on the events enfolding in our lives.
Last year when I was introduced to the game of football by Rev. Kelly, the first thing I learned about football was time and space. I learned that the game of football is played in 60 minutes divided into four quarters. When we look at life, it might also be like a game of football. Life can be divided in different quarters from childhood to adulthood and I do not know in which quarter you find yourself.
However, I would like to offer to you what the Bible says about time. I invite you to turn to the book of Psalms, where you will find that even the Great Moses had struggled with the notion of time. Please, read Psalm 90 (the only Psalm attributed to Moses in the Bible) then you can continue reading what follows.
The commentary that I am going to share with you is from Prof. Clinton McCann Jr. Who was my professor of Old Testament and Interpretation of the Bible. This is what he says in his book Theological Introduction to the Book of Psalms:
Psalm 90 is about God’s time and space. It helps us deepen our understanding of how to discern God’s time and space and how God’s time and space affect our faith…
Prof. Clinton McCann says: It looks like Moses’ career was centered on the problem of space, namely, getting Israel out of one place to another place. However, Moses’ problem was not space but time, namely, he ran out of time (he never entered the promised land). Moses becomes the paradigm for Israel’s existence and for human existence since we always run out of time. Never we will fully accomplish what we would like to accomplish nor be what we would like to be. This should not be a depressing message, however, is actually an encouraging one. If great Moses came up short, then perhaps it is not such a disaster that we shall too.
He (Clinton McCann) says: Moses’ death was a reminder that it was God, not Moses, who would lead the people into the promised land. Our time, therefore, is not all there is to measure. God’s time is primary, and as Psalm 90 suggests, our time must be measured finally in terms of God’s time.
You will recall that my messages since we started this journey in a deep and dark valley has been about prayer. Prayer that comes with statement of faith and Psalm 90 just starts with a statement of faith. It says, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.”
According to Prof McCann this statement of faith is a pertinent and powerful. God is really the only place that counts. The land is not indispensable, the church building is not indispensable, because God is our dwelling place. God is the only necessity for the life of God’s people. Such as always been the case in all generations. The word generations obviously implies the passage of time, but so do the two verbs in verse 2 (born and brought forth), both of which are used elsewhere in relation to childbirth:
Before the mountains were born, or you had brought forth in labor the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
But I would like to point out that the use of “you” in Hebrew is often for emphasis.
The divine “You” is all-encompassing of time (generations) and space (earth and the world). Human life and the life of the world find their origin and destiny in God. And so Psalm 90 highlights the movement from God’s time to human time as it says well that for God a thousand years are like few hours! This implies that God can redeem time.
God’s redeems time means the future belongs first to God. It is God’s work that humanity needs to perceive and upon which humanity depends. To be sure, humans have work to do, but “the work of our hands” is the object of God’s activity. The priority of God’s activity and the priority of God’s time reshape human activity and human time.
Thus, Psalm 90 is an act of faith. And it is also an act of hope. Without having to see it happen, the psalmist trusts that God can and will satisfy and make glad and make manifest God’s work and establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90 is also an act of love. The psalmist’s trust puts him/her in communion with past generations who found a dwelling place in God and with future generations, the children, to whom the work of God will be manifest.
Psalm 90 finally, is a profession of faith that invites us and instructs us to live the only way it makes any sense whatsoever to live – in faith and in hope and in love.
I hope the reading of Psalm 90 can help us navigate all questions we have about time.
–Pastor Kalaba Kapundu
My name is Geoffrey Murithi Iringo. I grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kenya in a beautiful country called Kenya. I was brought up on a small farm where we grew crops and kept animals. As Christians, my family introduced me to the faith, and I started going to church as a small boy. Church has always been a part of my life. I come from a family of three brothers and two sisters.
I was called into ministry over 22 years ago but kept resisting the call until about seven years ago. I followed God’s direction and joined Asbury Theological Seminary. I am graduating from Asbury Theological Seminary later this year. I am also a trained Rehab counselor and am currently doing coursework for a Ph.D. in Counselor education and supervision.
I currently serve at Roxbury, which is my first appointment. I have served this church since July 2018, where I started as a DA and was licensed as a local pastor. Roxbury is relatively a small church with an average attendance of 30 people per Sunday. I have gotten the priceless experience of service from them. I will always treasure my time with them, because they taught me great lessons about ministry.
I am married to Rev. Susan Murithi and we have two beautiful daughters. Faith Murithi, who will be 15 in June and is in ninth grade; and Neema (Nem) Murithi, who is 10 years old and is in fifth grade. Faith and Nem are our priceless gifts from God. They both love serving God by participating in different worship activities like scripture reading and Sunday school lessons.
In this new appointment, I look forward to working with you as we honor God by serving our neighbors and the world at large.
I, therefore, look forward to moving to Nebraska, so that I can meet and get to know each one of you this coming July. For now, my prayer is that God will keep all of us safe until that time. I also pray that this pandemic will be eliminated soon, so we can return to work and fellowship.
I am so glad to be part of this great community of Trinity UMC and am excited to see what God has in store for all of us as we join hands to serve Him.
You may contact me at my conference email email@example.com
I don’t know about you. But for the most part I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. For a lot of my time on this earth, bad stuff happened to other people; people out there; people somewhere else. And even though that illusion from the back of my mind has been shattered several times now; a cousin killed in a car crash when I was in high school; losing my grandparents one by one; the death of a child; my Dad dying. As a pastor I’ve had several parishioners attempt or succeed at suicide, and I’ve lost count of the members and friends of all ages who’ve died with cancer. Right now, I average performing over 40 funerals a year.
But then my mind will go back to old patterns and cubby hole the bad stuff and put it beyond the reach of me and my home town. So up until now pandemics happened in other countries, other places like New York City, New Orleans and Detroit. Not here. So this past week when Grand Island became the number one city in Nebraska for the CORONA virus, my mind had a hard time catching up to the fear and panic my heart and soul were generating. No, that can’t be right. Not here.
But this deadly virus is here. Right now. And whether I get it comes down to how long the virus has been on the hard surface I touch. Or how far apart I am when someone at the grocery store who has it and doesn’t know it coughs, or breaths.
Suddenly, the angst over having to learn how to do Zoom, or how to upload a video on Facebook seems minor. Suddenly the basics move to the forefront really fast. And saying thank you has become basic to the life of my soul.
So I’m thankful me and my family members still have jobs. I’m thankful for those that stock the shelves at our grocery stores; those who truck our food in; those who stand at drive through windows interacting with the public every day; those who deliver packages from all over the world to my doorstep. I’m extremely grateful for doctors and nurses, police and fire fighters who risk exposure to the virus every day to be there for those who need them most. I’m thankful for scientists working night and day to try and find a vaccine.
I’m thankful for the Trinity volunteers who risk exposure to hand out free food from the Heartland Foodbank as a part of our Loaves and Fishes ministry. I’m thankful for 16 or so women from my Tuesday afternoon Mathetes Bible Study who do a group text every morning and then pray together by text every afternoon at 1 p.m. I’m thankful for our church staff and leadership getting creative in how to stay in touch and reach out when face to face is no longer an option. I’m thankful for those in Trinity’s Caring ministry who are checking up on our elderly and home bound. I’m thankful for our UMW circles keeping track of each other by phone. I’m thankful for our tech team, Josh and Tim, and Allie, our publishing coordinator who roll with the constant changes needed to live stream our Sunday worship. I’m thankful for our musicians who come out to bring Sunday morning worship alive for us on line. I’m thankful for Susan who comes into the office to receive the mail and work on our books and communication. I’m thankful for all of you who have continued your regular giving to Trinity & those who have given above and beyond in this time of crisis. I’m thankful for Bruce, our Finance chair who fit our Trinity CARES SBA application into his busy tax preparation season so Trinity received assistance with our Payroll Protection Plan. I’m thankful for Jason who’s deep cleaning chair pads and wiping down walls while our building is not used right now. I’m thankful for Pastor Kalaba still teaching and preaching and Lectio Divina-ing and sharing his spiritual journeys. I’m thankful for Christina our Family/Children’s Ministry coordinator who’s put together video of our kids sharing what they miss about church and delivered home Sunday School kits to 14 or so families who requested them. I’m thankful for Kim, our parish nurse, who’s calling and checking up on Trinity folks she knows need extra attention right now. I’m thankful for Betty, our prayer chain person, who’s keeping us up with prayer requests by email and sending cards to folks she knows are in need. I’m thankful for each of you who check up with friends, family and neighbors as we isolate together. I’m thankful for Deb, who coordinated the writing and distributing of thank you notes written to front-line workers all over Grand Island.
Right now, its looking like this may not be over for a while. It’s looking like we will be talking about life before and life after the pandemic. We are in the middle of a world-wide defining moment. My hope is that as Christians, we are living with the assurance that God is with us no matter what. And as followers of Jesus Christ, we will extend God’s love and spend our lives being there for each other.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
Normal Easter is just a memory this year. So there is grieving going on about Easter as it could have been; Easter as is should be. Normally, for me Holy Week would include a Wednesday night confirmation class road trip to the Seward UMC for their annual Living Last Supper presentation. I’ve hardly missed a year since we were pastors there, (1997-2002). Jesus and the boys placed you dramatically in the room where it happened. Normally, Thursday evening was Maundy Thursday worship with communion. Friday evening was a Good Friday Tennabrae service of light and darkness. In GI, both of those services were shared with First Faith UMC rotating back and forth between their place and our place. In Ainsworth, Seward, Beatrice and Doniphan Holy Saturday meant a community wide Easter Egg Hunt. Normally, Easter Sunday began with Sunrise worship. Then regular Easter worship would be packed with whole families filling the pews. Family after family had promised Grandma they’d be there all dressed, pressed and polished at her church for Easter worship. Of course Grandma had blackmailed her family into coming to church or there would be no Easter dinner! It is a christian salmon returning to their home stream kind of thing.
Normally, there was something different about preaching to a packed house on Easter. My heart would try to jump out of my chest I’d get so excited! Normally, at Trinity, the annual Easter singing of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” with the full chancel choir behind you with extra brass instruments and the organ cranked up to full capacity was a soul filling experience. It made water escape from my eyes uncontrollably. Normally, I liked to have the kids race around the sanctuary during children’s time. I’d make them raise their hands and promise not to hit their heads on the corners of the pews, and I’d talk about the foot race between Peter and John on that first Easter morning. It was a worship celebration like no other.
Normally, in my family, the Karges preachers (four of us right now) would crash for a glorious Easter Sunday afternoon nap. Then we’d gather at Mom’s place in Lincoln for our own family Easter feast and Easter egg hunt for the little ones after supper. Normally, Mom would make deviled eggs, her fruit pizza, Grandma’s pineapple casserole, green bean casserole and ham in some form. Sister-in-law Dianne would make her crescent rolls and bring her Dad’s homemade orange marmalade.
The new normal of Easter is live-streamed worship videoed in an empty sanctuary. The scripture and the message are the normal ones. But now, everyone stays home and watches from their living rooms. This year, Seward UMC streams last year’s video of the Living Last Supper. Maundy Thursday worship is live-streamed from our Bishop Rueben Saenz in Topeka. Good Friday is live-streamed from First Faith UMC’s webpage. Last week, we had a drive-by family Easter Event where we handed Easter packets to folks through their car windows. We also handed out palm leaves after church on Palm Sunday in a drive-by car parade. The Saturday before Easter Trinity will distribute 750 boxes of food from Heartland food bank at Fonner Park. This year, we’re talking about doing a Zoom call with my family including Karges grandkids in Nebraska, North Carolina and California.
In the end, normal is more about the past than the present; more about our comfort level, our desire to not be afraid of an unknown future. The good thing is that God is, and has never been, normal. And next year at Easter, we’ll be talking about the new virtual/electronic normal that connects us in ways we’d never dreamed of to folks all around the world.
Grace & Peace,
Dear Brothers and Sisters, as we are observing the social distancing/physical distancing my prayer is that we get closer and closer to God. I allow me to bring to you this short reflection, as a journey piece:
As a child, we grew up making our own toys and the only time we were expecting toys as gift was on Saint Nicholas day (6th of December). However, those gifts did not last to the next December 6th . Sometimes, we played with them just for few days and they were broken and thrown away. I remember one day a childhood friend of mine asking why Saint Nicholas has to come only once a year with gifts, does he not know that the toys we receive do not last longer?, he asked.
Years later, I met that childhood friend and we started talking about our childhood memories and then there was a sudden silence for few seconds. He then said, “You remember I did complain fifteen or sixteen years back about Saint Nicholas bringing gifts to us only once a year?” Yes, I remember that conversation, I replied. He continued, “We were looking for gifts that come and go while we had gifts that were renewed every morning by a faithful Saint Nicholas…” I was a bit lost and asking him to explain more on what he meant by gifts that were renewed every morning. My friend noted, “God has given us the gift of creativity to make our own toys, and we had the power to transform useless materials into useful toys…”
Dear brothers and sisters, God has blessed us all with gifts but sometimes we envy the gifts we do not have while forgetting the gifts we already have. We feel like our gifts are not as important as the gifts other people have. Remember, all gifts are equally important, and it is God who gives us not for selfish ambitions but so that the name of God can be glorified through our work.
When I am weak and my soul is weary, in those seasons of my life I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” These words inspire me, and I hope they inspire you as well during this season of human vulnerability. Remember in our weaknesses in face of the pandemic, Covid-19, God’s strength is made perfect. God’s strength is made perfect for us to look beyond past our own needs to think of those in our community, especially the most vulnerable ones. Friends, God creates us for a purpose and God gives us gifts and enough resources to carry God’s mission on earth. I am inviting us in this challenging time to remember that we are created for a purpose, God has called us for this moment to be the church that transcends the four walls of our building and carry the gospel of life, peace, and caring even through the mystery of technological advancements. Covid-19 has no power to contain the move of the spirit to reach out to people in new and creative ways.
The question for us is, are we willing to allow God to use our gifts to uplift someone? Are we willing to let God use our resources to save someone’s life? Friends, are we open to trying a new thing in order to point other to the source of life, who is God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy spirit? Remember, there are no big and small gifts, more and less important gifts, all gifts are important and unique, and it is God who graciously gives all gifts for the sake of accomplishing the mission here on earth. To some is given the gift of wisdom, to others the gift of knowledge, and still to others the gift of healing, organization, or just to put a smile on someone who is having a tough day or the gift of caring for those who are isolated, those who experience loneliness.
We are going through a challenging time where we need God and we need one another. No one is stronger enough to go through this challenging time by himself or herself. Let us use our gifts to help people around us as we go through this darkest valley. This is an invitation for to be good neighbors, humble and faithful servants with the gifts God has entrusted us with. Good and faithful servants are not those who do miraculous things but those who put their gifts to their accomplishment of a few things so that the name of God can be glorified as Matthew 25:21 reminds, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things…”
My prayer is that when my journey on earth is done, the Lord will welcome me as a good and faithful servant. I believe that is what you want to hear from the Lord too when your journey on earth is done, “Well done good and faithful servant!”
So dear good and faithful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is a call to compassion through the various gifts given to us by the source of life, God. Let us not stay indoors to contemplate walls and sleep but as we stay indoors, let us use the tools we have to care for our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable members of our communities. It is time to use Facebook to encourage someone rather than disparaging others. It is time to tweet about others the way we wish them to tweet about us. Now more than ever before, social media can be used as tool to bring the love of God to people around us. And as the end of the week approaches, let us look around us and ask ourselves what have we done this week to keep ourselves safe and keep people around us safe? What can we do better to ensure that we are safe, and our neighbors are safe?
Remember, dear good and faithful servants of God, it is not about how big one’s impact can be, rather it is about being faithful with the small things and gestures that we do to lighten the life of others during this time that matters the most.
Well done, good and faithful servant for the work you are doing in keeping yourself and people around you safe.
My Dad entered St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City when I was 12 years old. Up until then, home was our two story farm house on the hill just above the Albion Country Club. Home included the Karges and Sons Dairy Farm that I roamed from sun-up to sun-down as soon as I was big enough for Mom to let me pack a jar of water in my back-pack and head for the dam at the edge of our property. There were loads of great frogs hiding in the cow hoove prints in the mud around that pond. Since then, for me, there has been no permanent place to go home to.
If you’re like me, you’ve got several homes. And home becomes more about the people you’re with than the place where you put your head down to sleep. I’ve joked that our two Husker season football tickets that we’ve had since 1993 are home for me. Those two 18 inch seats in section 19 at Memorial Stadium are a part of what defines me.
Then there’s Disneyworld. Folks know that our Karges family is crazy about Disney world. But most don’t know how that all started. When our kids were little, we’d driven down to Disneyworld from Charleston, SC a couple times. Then my Duke Divinity School roomate Dale and his wife Kelly had a tornado destroy Kelly’s church on Palm Sunday in Alabama. Their daughter Hannah was one of several who were killed in that church that day. Two weeks before then, we’d lost our baby Luke as he was being born when we were pastors in Ainsworth, NE. Later that year, our two families met at Disneyworld and let a couple Mylar balloons go during the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom in memory of Hannah and Luke. And Disney became another home for us; home to our grief; a place where we could let go and be a little happy watching our other kids have fun at a time when we didn’t know if we’d ever smile again.
Then there’s church. I call the Albion United Methodist Church my home church. Mom and Dad sang in the choir. Us Karges boys sat with Grandma Karges in her pew as her friends passed us three boys gum and mints and paper and pencils to keep us occupied. I also call the Doniphan and Rosedale UMCs my home churches. It’s where Dad was pastor while I was in high school. Mom and Dad did the Doniphan UMYF group. Actually, every church I’ve ever been a part of has felt a little bit like home. It really is true. Home is where your heart is.
So is Trinity church one of your home places? Before all this pandemic stuff, did Saturday night or Sunday morning include that little twinge of excitement as you got ready to head up to the church and see your friends that sit near you in your pew? Did you anticipate your soul being touched by the music, the sermon, the prayer time, or coffee and cookies afterward in the gathering place? Did just being there, seeing the marvelous stain glass windows make you feel at home; settle the dust of your soul from a hectic week of life?
These days, we are not able to gather in our home church place like usual for worship and learning and community. I don’t know about you, but I’m missing that church home feeling. These days, eight or nine of us gather at the front of the Trinity sanctuary on Sundays at 10 a.m. to lead the live-streamed worship so that you at home can see and hear some semblance of your worship home church. It’s not the same. I’ve already mentioned how weird it is to preach to an empty sanctuary, knowing that behind those cameras, you’re there watching and listening.
This Sunday, we will be doing virtual communion. Asking you at home to gather some juice and some kind of bread and we’ll participate in this ancient Christian family meal together, virtually. It is a way that God’s heart touches our hearts. This pandemic will not last forever. We will be able to come back to this home church place again sometime soon. Until then, know that God’s heart is there where your heart is, no matter where we are, as we worship together. I’ll see you on Sunday.
*Picture was drawn by Tim Kapundu
Tim drew a teacher, Jackson, Dan, Tim, mom, Ian, Grandpa, Jace, dad, and Penny.
I love the bell music! It makes me think of God.
Hello my friends.
As we all navigate this “new normal” there are adjustments to the ways we stay connected with each other. Here are two possible ways.
First know that doing for others is the best antidote to depression. Let’s reach out to those in our community who are keeping things running in a simple way. You could write a thank you note. Write about how their presence at work makes a difference in our community. Yesterday I thanked Walmart employees for working so I could buy groceries. It was obvious that they did not hear this much. Sign it with your first name and perhaps Trinity United Methodist Church as well. Place your note in an envelope with “Thank You” on the outside. Then put it in the plastic bin that is outside door number 1 (the office door) at church. Be sure to put the lid back on tightly so the notes don’t get wet. Do this as often as you like, I will keep collecting them and delivering them. However, if you have a specific place to thank, write the business a note and mail it. We trust they will post it for their employees to read. This could include daycares, the police, the firemen, the hospital, nursing homes or financial institutions and drive throughs for food as well as grocery and pharmacies.
The second possibility is to reach out to others from Trinity. Send emails, texts, or phone people just to say Hi. Start with those you have contact information on (like I am doing with this). And when you think of someone you don’t have that information on, you can leave a message at church and ask Susan to get that to you. Be patient, she will get back to you. Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would rather reach out that way. Feel free to forward this message on to anyone in your contact list. And of course, we know the power of prayer so keep storming heaven with prayers for overcoming this virus!
Thank you for your caring,
Picture drawn by Alanna Warner
The bell tower music is beautiful. It makes me think about God.
Being a PK (Pastor’s kid). I need to be at church all the time for Loaves and Fishes, and all three services and much more. So I have gotten used to it. It became fun like Loaves and Fishes. It is so fun to help people and much more stuff I like about it. But my all time favorite is kids zone. It is funny and it is great. It teaches me about God and Jesus. I love much more than that but I am running out of space. But I love church. And I will always be a Christian.
The cross tells us Jesus is alive.
You are probably wondering what this is… it is acolyting. It is so much fun—it is where two people hold a candle lighters or I just call them a candle stick and you walk down a hall at church and you put the candle lighter on the candle then after church you acolyte again—it is so much fun!
You are probably wondering what this is… it is a sign of a cross—a cross is where Jesus dies on the cross.
I like to help at the food bank. Crosspoint makes good music.
It is fun to light the candles. Jesus is the light of the world.
I love surprises at Easter. Jesus comes back alive! Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. My teacher, Mrs. Hanson, is kind like Jesus.
Believe what they say, three kids are a lot of work. Most of my day feels like organized chaos: baths, feedings, middle of the night soothing, transportation, more middle of the night soothing, laundry, packing bags, emptying bags, etc. Did I mention laundry? Add to this a full-time job where my #1 role is to address the needs of others, and most days I can barely keep my head above water. I’m tired. I lose my patience. I scatter my attention in 20 different directions.
Amidst the supersonic pace of life, it’s easy to let the chaos get the best of me. I am so busy trying to do this thing called ‘life,’ I forget to actually live it. And unless God is on my ‘to-do’ list, I find myself letting Him get overshadowed by the daily demands of being a working mom.
In an effort to calm the storm, the four Buhrman boys and I make it a priority to eat supper as a family every night. For twenty minutes, we attempt to block out the rest of the world to focus our attention on God and each other. We begin by holding each other’s hands and praying, concluded by an enthusiastic “AMEN” by Nolan. Then everyone goes around the table and shares their joy for the day. In fact, you cannot be excused from the table unless you have shared your joy. It’s my favorite family tradition. It reminds me that no matter how tired I am, no matter how many directions I feel pulled, I am centered by my faith and my family. I can ALWAYS pick out something in my day that brought me a smile, that I’m thankful for, or was a reminder of the many blessings God has given me. I leave the dinner table emotionally, physically, and spiritually renewed.
What centers you through the chaos? What do you do to bring yourself emotional and spiritual renewal daily? I pray that in this furious storm of life, you find moments of joy and calm—bringing you closer to God and the people who matter most to you.
The date was January 15, 2020. The place was Miller Hall. The time was 6 p.m. The reason for the people to gather was to fellowship over pizza and then to have a time of prayer. The long-range planning committee of Trinity has a goal of bringing people of different worship services together and making us one congregation rather than three. What better way to fellowship is there than to come together over food?
Somehow food relaxes people and relaxed people like to talk and share. Our first 3Ps—Pizza, People, Prayer—saw people from under age 2 to over 80 coming together. Much laughter was heard. Children’s excitement was abundant as they played together. Conversation flowed easily. We saw faces we recognized and introduced ourselves to faces we didn’t know. We were simply people of God, people of Trinity, together.
And then we had a time to think about prayer in our lives. We were able to write prayer requests and place them in the Trinity prayer box knowing the requests would be honored by a group to pray over them. Newspapers of old used to report on social and family gatherings in the community and they often ended with “a good time was had by all.” I think we could conclude the same, “a good time was had by all” and now perhaps we can expect more good times in the future; the 3rd Wednesday of the month—prior to youth gatherings, prior to choir practice, and prior to bell choir practice—a time for all people to come together as one to eat pizza and pray.
We hope you will join us on Wednesday, February 19 for the next Pizza, People, and Prayer event. Oh, and by the way, another way long range planning is bringing people of Trinity together is implementing combined worship on the 5th Sunday, known as TRINITY UNITED, but we will save that for another time.
Everyone is invited on Wednesday, February 19 for Pizza, People, Prayer!
I love to candle light. I love Jesus cause He loves me and He is our helper. I love church. I love Bible study. I love Bible study, because I love to learn.
I really love how I can get a chance every Wednesday to learn about God. It gives young kids like us a chance to learn about God and different stories of the Bible!
Another adventure I love about Trinity is that every year they do a Vacation Bible School. It is a different theme every year. For example, they did a Space theme and they had a robot named RT-D2. The previous year, they did a River Rampage theme.
Pastor Kelly recently did a sermon series on Anne Lamott’s book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. I read her book a few years ago and decided to reread (more like skim over it and read my notes) after the sermon series. I have sticky notes pasted throughout the book and my own scribbles, circles, and thoughts written throughout the margins. After reading her book in 2016, I reevaluated what it means to pray.
I am not an elaborate prayer, which is why her book resonated with me. When I pray to God, it is short and simple, and usually in my mind. Something like, “God, thank you for getting to me work safely” or “God, please comfort my friend” or even “God, did you hear that? Of course you did.” Prayer to me is an intimate time with God. I can be myself, and don’t have to worry about impressing Him with big words or fancy thoughts. I figure—God knows my heart and my intentions, so no need to sugar coat it.
As I’ve grown closer to God, I have become so accustomed to Him being with me all the time that I almost have a conversation with Him 24/7. Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it? But I know He sees and hears everything that I do, so I don’t have to explain anything. He just knows. How do you pray? Are you an elaborate prayer or more of a simple prayer type of person?
The take away? Don’t worry about impressing God or coming up with a ten minute prayer—just talk with Him. If you see a friend or family member struggling, pray to God. Keep it simple and sweet. Something like “I love this person and they need help. Please God, give them peace.”
As the Methodist church moves forward, it is good to remember to pray for one another. Pray for patience. Pray for peace. Pray for your leadership. And just remember, your prayers don’t have to be extravagant. God knows.
Recently I began teaching the 5th and 6th grade Sunday School class. Our first lesson together was about the women who followed Jesus. After reading the few verses that mention women followers by name, our conversation veered away from the lesson plan and we talked about how Jesus spent time with people that society considered unimportant, unworthy or even hated. I asked the students, “What groups of people do you think Jesus would spend time with today, people that we may think were a waste of time or a bad choice?” Here’s what made the list:
From there, we went on to discuss a few other topics, until it was time to leave and I was left wondering if anyone knew the story of Mary and Martha that was supposed to be today’s lesson. But later in the day, I reflected on the sincerity and accuracy of the students’ statements. It brought to mind what happened after Jesus was in the Temple, turning over the money lenders’ tables and healing the blind and disabled. Children watched and began shouting “Hosanna!” The priests and legal experts confronted Jesus:
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus. “Haven’t you ever read about it in Scripture? It says, “‘Lord, you have made sure that children and infants praise you.’” Matthew 21:16
Do you hear what these children are saying? Jesus loves gang members, LGBTQ people, and everyone in the Middle East. Kids have a way of responding to the most difficult and complicated problems with a clarity that adults have lost. Hosanna!
It is the first Sunday of the new year. 2019 is done. 2020 is all before us.
My Zen Buddhist friends remind us that “the past is perfect.” So even though memories and regrets of this past year are fresh in our minds, there is nothing we can do now to change any of that. 2020 is a clean slate in front of us. It is time to move on.
True, there are still some people that we could say, “I’m sorry,” to from 2019. There are still some, “Thank you’s,” “You mean so much to me’s,” and “I love you’s,” left unsaid from last year. There are tons of things we may wish we could do over. But fretting over all that doesn’t change anything.
What can happen in this new year is that maybe, if we’re lucky, we can make one significant change from our 2019 behavior. Rev. Fred Wideman, pastor Coach and friend of mine from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, challenged his congregation to choose one thing that they’d be willing to get up early or stay up late to accomplish this new year. One thing we’d be willing to go that extra mile to do.
Try that. Ask God to help you do it. Then if we’re lucky, when we cross over into 2021 one year from now, the past will truly be perfect and you will have one less regret.
Grace & Peace,
—Rev. Kelly Karges
Trinity has so many amazing ministries. And it follows that Trinity has many amazing people. We could be a Hallmark commercial – “when you care enough——.” I marvel daily at all the ways our church is in mission to our community. One area that particularly touches my heart is — drum roll here — and no surprise to those who know me, Loaves and Fishes. Last weekend you read some year-end numbers. Amazing, 19,199 people had more food this past year, because of all those who help. Let’s look at a few more numbers, that’s 4788 families served in 2019. And that translates into 7992 children who had more food in 2019, plus 9762 ages 19-64, and 1445 seniors over 65. More importantly, let’s talk stories for a moment. There are people in their 80’s who are raising great grandchildren and are extremely grateful for the food help. There is a physically challenged lady who comes each month. Our group calls a cab to pick her up. In December, she baked cookies and brought them for the volunteers! We give out blankets, hats, socks, gloves, and scarves during the cold months. In December, a man got two hats and hugging them close to his heart, he said he had two kids and asked for two blankets for their Christmas gifts. Children who receive a blanket and are warmer while waiting with their parents have huge smiles.
A lady brings Bibles to give away most months. A man from Hastings brings grocery carts every month. A group brought books in December. And in addition to those from our church, some of the consumers volunteer plus the hard-working ROTC from Senior High, people from First Presbyterian, some scout troops have helped as do people from Principal Finance and others who have heard of the distribution. We are also very grateful that the city of Grand Island allows us to use the utilities garage. It takes over 110 people each month to man Loaves and Fishes and that translates into about 480-man hours per month or about 5760-man hours in 2019. Also, in 2019, we began taking prayer requests. We get anywhere from 35 to 98 requests a month. The care, the smiles, the pats on the back, the prayers we give are every bit as important as the food we distribute. So, here’s that word again, AMAZING. Yes, Trinity, you are an amazing and loving church and today I salute you as we celebrate our first TRINITY UNITED!
Are we there yet?
We have journeyed for 4 weeks during this advent period. We have had time to reflect on the coming of our Savior and we have had time to prepare for his coming. We have called family and friends to make plans for this coming holyday. We have done some shopping, wrapped gifts, we have decorated our houses, we have made plan for what we are going to eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
As a child, I remember Christmas was the period I could get toys and we could eat delicious food and wear new clothes and shoes. Christmas used to be a time where our dreams and hope could come true. It was a time where we go to church to sing Christmas songs, watch the movie about the birth of Jesus, it was a time to move around in the neighborhood showing of new clothes and new toys.
I never had time to reflect on what was going through Joseph’s mind when he first heard that his fiancée was pregnant. All that was important was to receive a new toy, new clothes and shoes, and eat delicious meal. As a grownup man I have started asking myself what was Joseph’s first reaction to Mary’s new about her pregnancy. Have you ever reflect on what was going through Joseph’s mind when Mary announced that she was pregnant? I do appreciate Rev. Dr. Joe Pennel reflection on what makes a real Christmas. He says, “What makes a real Christmas must be found in human history. This is what Joseph did. And in a very real sense, it was the theology of Joseph which made possible the first Christmas. If Joseph had not cooperated with God’s plan in human history, the birth of Jesus would have been quite different.”
God’s plan for redemption does include humanity and Joseph had played his part and it is up to us to play our part in the divine redemptive plan.
After today we’ve got two days until Christmas. With school out on Friday, a lot of families with kids hit the road the minute those school doors opened to release the masses. Things will begin shutting down Tuesday night. Christmas Eve day will have selected stores and businesses open, some only half-day. Christmas Day only the economically challenged will be open. Nobody wants to work on Christmas Day. But, no matter what the day, the cows still have to be milked and fed. Hospitals still have to function. Law enforcement will still be out there along with firemen/women and emergency response teams and staff at the wide variety of humans and animal care facilities.
The gifts as the bottom of the list should be crossed off this week. Wrapping paper and ribbon are important. We’re way past the mailing time for Christmas presents. You can still send that yearly family Christmas letter to 50 to 100 of your closest friends that you communicate with once a year, but they won’t get there ‘til after “the day.”
Now, we’re basically down to the gifts and the food. And we’re praying for good weather. Now, it’s about getting everybody together at the same time and place, to give each other something, to watch the kids enjoy Christmas, to record the moment with pictures and video. It’s a day to say thanks, and to be filled up with food, family, stuff and love. Christmas is a reason to care about each other, and to show it in as many ways as possible.
In my family, it is important that no one is left out. Gifts are as equal as possible. Love is fair. Caring is universal. The same is true of the church family. God’s blanket love gift to the world pours over onto us and we throw that blanket over everyone within our reach and call it Christmas.
Grace & Peace,
There are only 10 shopping days until Christmas! All the stores are out of that one and only things your child (or grandchild) wants for Christmas. Have you mailed your Christmas cards yet?
Have these words been uttered or screamed in your house?
“Where did all that wrapping paper go from last year?”
“Has anyone seen the tape?”
“What did we do with the scissors?”
Uncle John moved again. Do we have his new address?”
All the neighbors have their lights up. When are we going to put up ours?”
“Do we have any replacement bulbs for these green strings of lights?”
“I think we blew a fuse.”
Advent is the season of anticipation, expectation . . .and panic. There is so much to be done on top of the regular stuff. And the days still have just 24 hours in them. Our nostalgia tells us to do all those things that made us feel good in the past. Our sweet tooth tells us to eat all those goodies that will make us feel good now. Our sense of responsibility tells us that family, friends, co-workers, the mail man, the newspaper delivery person, all our children’s teachers and Sunday School teachers need some sort of gift to be wrapped and delivered sometime before December 25th.
Our faith tells us that Christmas comes down to one thing: God loves us so much that God comes to be one of us. God’s love overflows into the gift of a baby that would grow up to save us from ourselves. And because God gives, we give too. So, before you get totally overwhelmed by the season, take a moment to stop the madness. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and receive the gift of peace from God. Take God’s love and it will overflow into the patience and endurance you will need to make it through Christmas day and beyond.
Grace & Peace,
Growing up in Valentine, my siblings and I were taught the value of hard work, honesty, and Christian values. My road to the Methodist Church was through my ex-husband. We had not been steady church goers in our first few years of marriage, but after the kids came along, I knew I wanted them to be raised in the church. So, instead of going back to the Episcopal Church, we started attending the Methodist Church in Aurora, NE. After the divorce, I transferred membership to Trinity. I have served on the Admin Council and SPRC.
Music has always been a big part of my life. I attended college in Kearney as a Music major/ Theatre minor. I sang in a few bands, including The Southside Blues Band. We played at a number of Blues Festivals and area establishments, weddings, birthday parties, Christmas parties, etc. After the band broke up, I needed an outlet for the creative side, and Crosspoint has served that purpose. I love singing with this wonderfully talented group of fellow Christians!
The best part of my life now is my kids and grandkids! John and his wife Gina have two boys, ages 3 & 5 in Lincoln. Billie Jo and her husband Alex have four kids. Three daughters, ages 9, 10, & 11 and a 12-year-old son. It is so fun spending time with them and spoiling them rotten!
I find myself on the road a lot between Valentine, Kansas, and Lincoln. I am the Nebraska Regional Coordinator for IMPS (minpinrescue.org) and am a huge advocate for animal rights. I’m pretty adamant about human rights, especially those rights of women that we fought so hard to get! In my spare time, I like to spend time with friends or family. I’ve been an insurance agent for Shelter Insurance Companies for over 20 years and take pride in trying every single day to provide the best care for my clients as possible. A great team of folks help me achieve that goal!
Thanks, Trinity family for all you do for the Church! I feel so uplifted after service! It helps me get through the week!
I participated in my first ever Trunk-or-Treat this past Wednesday. Having never been to a Trunk-or-Treat before, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. So, when choosing how to decorate my trunk, I knew I wanted it to be easy, but also somehow meaningful.
The result, a simple mirror with the words, “God’s Masterpiece” surrounding it. I threw in a couple of paint trays and some brushes and Ta-da!!…I was quite proud of my cleverness and creativity. However, I was not at all prepared for the response it would receive. As each child approached my trunk, they read the words and peered into the mirror, looking for “God’s Masterpiece.” Watching the smiles that followed as they made the connection was priceless!!…Woot! Woot! They “GOT IT”!!
Then the “Awes” that came from their parents as they looked over their child’s shoulder and saw the smiling child’s reflection. I could sense in those awes that for a moment those parents flashed back to the day they were blessed, the day they first laid eyes on that child as they entered their life. They awed as they remembered and awed as they too recognized the wonderful Masterpiece God had created in their child, and perhaps maybe, even in themselves. It was quite heartwarming! Still, the younger children were the best!! They would get as close as they could to that mirror. Some would twist their bodies and turn their heads trying to get different angles and views. Some raised their eyebrows, smiling and then frowning, hoping to change the shape of their face. What caught my attention the most, was that they didn’t care who was watching. They weren’t critical of themselves and they weren’t boastful. They didn’t doubt what they saw, and they didn’t feel insecure. Not one of them wanted to look away and when I asked them if they liked what they saw, if they thought it was beautiful, every single one of them answered with a yes! Even with the intentional distortions, they truly admired the work of art that was reflecting at them. Seeing only a reflection of themselves…uniquely and perfectly made, just as God intended. They couldn’t read, but they still “GOT IT”!
How simple is that??!!…God doesn’t want us to look in the mirror and not be happy with the reflection we see. When we are critical or dissatisfied with our own reflection, we are insulting the creator, God. You are a Masterpiece after all! – HIS Masterpiece!!
So, the next time you are around a child, give them a mirror and just observe. See how they see themselves. Then, I hope the next time you look in the mirror yourself, that you look with the eyes of a child. Look in the mirror without criticism, without insecurities, and without false image. Instead, see “God’s Beautiful Masterpiece”!
The 1970s were a time of much happiness, but also turmoil.
My Mom left the Methodist denomination and became a member of a cult. My parents lived on a farm and one of their neighbors was a Jehovah’s Witness and it wasn’t long until my parents were studying with this group. My older brother, his wife, and three daughters joined the organization. My father did not join for a long time and this was very hard on him. He drove to Grand Island to talk to Kenny and I about this difficult situation. We continued to love Mom and she continued to love us.
We and our five kids lived in Grand Island and were over an hour away from our parents. When my parents left after a visit, I would find Watchtowers and Awake magazines hidden in various places around our house.
When our youngest daughter was married, Mom did not come to the wedding. She was taught by this group, ‘the devil is in the churches.’ My Dad came alone. When the ceremony concluded, our daughter handed out a rose to each Mother and Grandmother. My Dad accepted Mom’s flower and as he stood in the reception line, I saw a tear in his eye. The whole day was extremely hard on him, but we were blessed that he came.
I am so grateful that I was active in Bible studies. Kenny and I compared scripture from our Bibles to the one they used. We could see many of their errors. The major one—they did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. God is surely good. In later years, after Mom had a stroke and had been living in Columbus with my brother and family, they looked for a nursing home in that town and none was to be found. (We later found out through someone working at a nursing home in Columbus there was a room available, but God had other plans)
When my brother’s family brought her to Park Place, which is near our home, they informed the Activities Director she was to attend no birthday parties, no celebrations for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. The director told me after they left the building, “Marjorie will attend whatever she wants to attend!” She enjoyed passing out Halloween candy to costumed children, singing Christmas carols, and eating birthday cake. We were so blessed to have her in Grand Island where she reverted back to her Christian roots and enjoyed Thanksgiving and watching her grandkids do the nativity scene at our house. She could barely wait to rip the paper off her Christmas gifts as she celebrated the holidays with us once again. I am so glad we continued to love one another and not let this issue divide us permanently. It has been hard to condense this life changing event.
What do we hear when we attend Church…trust and have faith? How easily we forget. Because Penny and I failed to prepare Rummage information for the Circles in a timely manner, we weren’t getting the needed volunteers for the Rummage Sale. We understood it was our fault and not anyone else’s fault. Pastor Kalaba’s sermon, “Lost in our own Grumbling,” fit us to a tee. All we needed was to trust and have faith. Because of the response from the United Methodist Women and others in the Church, both men and women, we had the needed help. Once again, our sale was a success.
Trinity…we thank you, as do those who benefit from our mission projects: Trinity Youth, Hope Harbor, Salvation Army Men’s Shelter, Community Food Pantry, Neighbors in Need, Epworth Village, United Methodist Ministries, Mongolian Mission, Red Bird Mission, McCurdy School, and others not mentioned.
UWM ladies, we’d love to have you come to our Prairie Rivers UMW District Meeting at Trinity on Saturday, October 12. The meeting starts with registration at 8:30 a.m. and ends by mid-afternoon. Cost is $8.00, which provides lunch and can be paid to Virginia White, 23 St. James Pl, 68803. The deadline for registering for the meeting is October 6. To contact Virginia White, please call her at 308.675.1063.
Be still and know
that I am God.
Recently, I was reminded that God freely gives us the best things in life to thoroughly enjoy. The 23rd Psalm, along with many other verses, let us know that God will provide for us by nourishing us, taking care of us. I believe that one of his best provisions is found in the beauty around us –rainbows, laughter of children, silently falling snow, genuine hugs, early morning birdsong, a tasty cup of cinnamon tea with a trusted friend and exquisite BUTTERFLIES to name only a few.
If you visited the butterfly pavilion at the state fair, you may have experienced the same deep joy that I did. Oftentimes, butterflies flit around our yards and if we are lucky, we may catch a glimpse of them or even snap a photo. For me, it’s a special treat when a butterfly actually lands on me. In the butterfly pavilion, the lovely butterflies landed on my shoulder, my arm and my hand. Oh, how blessed I felt! We were given a nectar-soaked paint pad when we entered and it then become quite easy to coax one of these wonders of nature onto my pad. And… then…. I could carry it around. He stayed with me. I was taken by surprise when this became a spiritual experience for me.
As I contemplated how the butterfly stayed with me when I moved around, I was reminded that God stays with me no matter where I go or even what I do or what I feel.
God stays with me when I have a sleepless night. God stays with me when I feel hopeless. God stays with me when I feel angry. And then I also know that God stays with me when I am filled with joy, when I am filled with peace, when I am filled with love. After all, he knew me in my mother’s womb. And he knows me today and blesses me with simple pleasures like an encounter with the butterflies. Thank you, God, for all the ways you bless my life.
I want to share with you a piece I wrote a few years ago when life was much simpler and I had just taken our oldest daughter Katie on the one block walk to her first day of Kindergarten. Now, Katie is 30 and just got engaged to be married this past spring!
This is from September 1994:
“I walked my oldest child off to Kindergarten this year. Me, holding her hand with pride. She, siphoning as much security out of my palm in one block as humanly possible. It seems as if I have now eased ever so gently into the world of permanent adulthood.
You can still be a kid when you get married. You can even hold on to the illusions of kid-hood when you have a child. You can waffle back and forth with them as they grow; rediscovering the child part of you that you’d long since forgotten. But, when that child enters formal education it’s time to pass the childhood baton on to the next generation and settle into permanent, life-insurable, parenting adulthood.
The other thing that makes me proud and sad at the same time, is that she is growing up so fast. She’s not my baby girl any more. A part of me wants to hold her back until she’s maybe eight or ten before throwing her into the public realm. But the time has come for her to take the first of many steps out of the nest. And it’s my job to prepare her for the flight, then let her struggle with learning how to make her own wings work.
I wonder if this is the way God feels as God watches us take our first tentative steps into the public realm of faith? When we first share our gifts with other people who might reject what we have to offer. . . When we risk seriously praying and listening to God for the first time . . . When we do anything that says to the world that God has made a difference in our lives? Is God proud and sad to watch us grow and mature? I don’t know. But sometimes I wish that God would hold MY hand as I cross the street to greater responsibility in my faith journey.”
Grace & Peace,
Last year, I wrote these blessings for the first week of school. I thought we’d do them again this year.
“This is the week to bless our students, our teachers, school staff, parents and grandparents.
(All students please stand) God bless our students. May you soak in all that is given to you this school year and grow into your true self; the person God needs you to be.
(All teachers please stand) God bless our teachers. May the content of your teaching be boosted by the quality of your soul, your character, and the person that you present each and every day.
(All staff please stand) God bless our school staff. You have no idea how the little things of your daily contact with our students and teachers make a huge difference in their emotional well-being. Your smile, your look, your prayers, and support change lives.
(All parents & grandparents please stand) God bless our parents and grandparents. All the effort to herd those kids out of bed and off to school and back will show in the adults that they will become one day. God bless your being there for all those games and events; for making sure your children and grandchildren have what they need to be the best students they can be. God bless you for those hugs and kisses before they go out that door, and, for the courage to trust their growth to the people in the school system.
(Everyone please stand) God bless our school and our community. As we enter into another year of being there for each other, may we all—churches, school and community—do what we need to do to live into the Biblical command to live for the “good of our community” this school year.
Grace & Peace,
–Rev. Kelly Karges
My name is Christina Landenberger, but you can call me “Church Lady.” I am excited to be serving you as the new Director of Family, Youth and Children’s Ministries.
My husband, Adam and I have two adult children – Bryan and Christen. Adam is looking for a job in the information technology field. Bryan is a manager at Hy-Vee and Christen attends classes through Grand Island Senior High’s Workforce Prep Academy. We are also caring for two elderly dogs.
I have a BA in Human Relations with an emphasis on Child Development from Doane College. My prior work experience includes government and non-profit agencies. I was formerly employed at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Island.
My style of family, youth and children’s ministry is an emphasis on intergenerational ministry rather than age-segregated programming. When the church comes together, we are mighty! While I have lots of practice working with young church goers, I will need your help getting to know Trinity United Methodist Church. Please share with me the traditions you value and help me to create new experiences. Also, please forgive me more than seven times seven when I forget your name.
Parents of children and youth age 0 to 18, please COMPLETE THE ONLINE SURVEY to help me understand your hopes and expectations for Family, Youth, and Children’s Ministry. You can find it on Trinity’s Facebook page or on our website at trinityumcgi.org/kids-youth/
There is no journey without meeting new people, discovering new places, learning new cultures, appreciating new challenges, and creating new memories. From Johannesburg, South Africa to Saint Louis, Missouri, we met new people, made new friends, discovered new places, and created new memories… Here we are in Grand Island, Nebraska, even though for Tim, my last-born, he thinks we are not yet in Grand Island because we not surrounded by waters, he is still waiting to be in the Island. However, we are busy learning to figure out the geography of the city and its surrounding towns and in this process sometimes we get lost and end up looking at the map or GPS to find our way around. We have been busy meeting new people and doing our best to remember people’s names, grateful for the grace people give us when we mispronounce their names or call them by someone else’s name. We keep reminding ourselves that there are many names to learn and eventually we will get there. We have been busy unpacking boxes and trying to make a home out of our new place, we have been learning everyday about Trinity UMC.
While being busy with all the above, I have been trying to answer the following question: Where is God in all these? Is there more than just learning the geography of Grand island? Is there more than just learning names of people? Is there more than just unpacking boxes and making our new place a home? Am I rushing in my learning about what God is up in Grand Island through our church, Trinity?
There are times in our journey of faith when we have to learn to be more patient, to seek help when we cannot figure things out. Just as there are times when we have to accept our vulnerability and learn from people around us. Then, there times where we need to learn how to just be at Jesus’ feet…Our Christian journey requires from us patience, seeking help when needed, listening deeply not rushing ourselves or rushing God on doing what we want but to take one step at the time.
We would like to thank the church for the warmth welcome, the SPRC for the welcome party and for helping us with orientations. As we have embarked on our journey with you all… We say in Swahili “Katika kutenda mema musishoke… (please, do not get tired in being generous…)”
—Pastor Kalaba Kapundu
My name is Kalaba Kapundu and I am Zambian by nationality, but I have lived in different African Countries: D.R. Congo and Zambia in my formative years, Zimbabwe for my high education, South Africa country of my first career, country where I became husband and father for the first time. I come from a family of eleven children, seven girls and four boys and I am the 8thchild of the family. My Dad, the late Pierre Kalaba N’Kangalesa Kapundu, was the Lay Leader of the Zambia-South Congo Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church. I hold a bachelor’s degree of Science in Economics from Africa University, postgraduate degree in Economics from the University of South Africa, and master’s degree in Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary. I have been fortunate to work with people of different backgrounds and origins and as a result I can speak few African languages, French, and English … I am married to Anny Kalinowski Kapundu who comes from a family of five children, three girls and two boys. She is a daughter of a United Methodist pastor. She holds bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Religious Studies, master’s degree in Social Development and master’s degree in Theological Studies. We have three boys, Ian Kalaba Kapundu, Dan Kongolo Kapundu, and Tim N’Kangalesa Kapundu.
I grew up in a Christian home where the foundation of our faith is the love of God and the love of our neighbors. And that has influenced my understanding of who God is. My understanding of God is more related to the “Ubuntu (connectedness that exists or should exist between people) theology.” This is because my journey of faith is meaningless without people around me, my faith in God comes from my interconnectedness with people of different backgrounds, it comes from the respect I have for those who do not think, speak, look like me, it comes from my carrying of both strangers and friends. As far as I am concerned, Ubuntu is not just an ideology or philosophy, but it is the foundation of my spiritual life. I do not see myself relating to God if I cannot connect with those created to the image of God. Thus, as a Christian and a pastor, I work to connect with “others” through their day to day life experiences. It is in that same way that I do not see the church as an institution which is based on material and rules/ principles but the church to me is something organic, it is something flexible and can adjust to new life experiences. The Church which is the body of Christ is more spiritual than material. I believe that human experience is tied to both the new and old covenants through the Holy Spirit and not through material, and it is the Holy Spirit that inspires us to love the same way God loves us. And as John Wesley, I will say my heart is enlarged towards all humankind, to those I know and those I do not know… We say blood is thicker than water but for me the Spirit is thicker than blood.
We are blessed to be part of the Trinity family and thank you all for your warmth welcome.
—Rev. Kalaba Kapundu
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that the Administrative Team of Trinity has chosen to close Noah’s Ark Daycare & Pre-School as of September 1, 2019. This decision was not an easy one to make. The Administrative Team, Finance Team, Noah’s Ark Board and Director have been working tirelessly to try and bring Noah’s Ark into the black for a while now. It just got to a point where the church could no longer afford to supplement the ministry of Noah’s Ark in the way we have in the past.
We celebrate 18 years of ministry to the children and young families of our community. I believe Noah’s Ark staff and families have had a great impact on the lives of so many young ones by showing them extra attention, love and care. And this will have a positive ripple effect in our community for generations to come
From 2012 to now, the church has supplemented Noah’s Ark to the tune of $221,000 dollars. In 2018, we helped Noah’s Ark out with $60,000. In 2019 we have infused Noah’s Ark $10,000 a month for six months so far just to make payroll. And all indications are that this will continue. Each month we would exhaust our checking account before dipping in to endowments. So other funds have suffered. For example, we have not been able to help folks out with rent/utilities assistance with the Helping Hands Funds since early spring.
Our hope is that a closing date of September 1, 2019 gives the staff and families of Noah’s Ark some time to make other arrangements. I am thankful for the solid leadership of our church’s Administrative Team, Finance Team and Noah’s Ark Board. These are hard decisions. But I believe this is the right decision for our congregation as we move into the future. Our Ad. Team meeting on Monday night and Tuesday night’s meeting with Noah’s Ark Parents and staff were some of the saddest I’ve ever been a part of. Please keep our Noah’s Ark staff and parents in your prayers during this time of transition.
Grace & Peace,
–Rev. Kelly Karges
Today is Confirmation Sunday at Trinity. This year Nine seventh graders and their mentors devoted 13 weeks of Wednesday nights to learning about what it means to become a full member of the church. Each time we would begin with 15 minutes of instruction by me with the whole group. Then the confirmands and their mentors would scatter to the corners of the church to discuss the questions in their workbooks and to read a couple chapters of the Gospel of Luke together. They also worked on their memorization of the 23rd Psalm, the Apostles Creed and the books of the Bible. Then we’d all reconvene after 40 minutes or so for final questions with me and discussion of the topic of the week. Our topics included things like: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Worship, the Ministry of the Church, Prayer, Service, Death . . . etc.
We took road trips to Seward for the Living Last Supper, and, All Faiths mortuary here in town. They also each wrote the article on the back of the bulletin about where they had seen God, or their favorite things about the church. The confirmands also did service projects and talked about what gifts they have to offer both through in the church and in their daily lives.
Today these seventh graders are publicly proclaiming to the world that they are ready to confirm the decisions made for them by their parents when they were baptized. They are telling us that they are ready to make up their own minds about this faith thing. And we, the church, are telling them that they are now adults, (and full members), in the eyes of the church. I will stress to them that this is not a graduation, it is an initiation in full membership in the church.
This year’s confirmands at Trinity are: Grace Hill, Jaylen Hansen, Trey Engberg, Conner George, Madilynn John, Alec Sundberg, Makenna Garrels, Kyla Sybrandts, and Madyson Schley. Their mentors who went through the whole process with them are: Sebrina Bergmeier, Jeanne Graves, Vicki McDermott, Ron George, Danny John, and Jeremy Sundberg. Please take the opportunity today to congratulate them on this important step in their faith journeys.
Grace & Peace,
—Rev. Kelly Karges
My name is Madyson (Mady) Schley. I go to Westridge Middle School and I am in choir, volleyball, and track. I also play softball outside of school. My mentor is Sebrina. She is a good mentor, because she helps me understand my learning about God. We have two other girls in our class named Kyla Sybrandts and Grace Hill. I like having more than just me in our group, because then we can get a deeper understanding of God.
If we have questions, we always ask and sometimes we have the same questions so we can connect more. One way I communicate with God is by praying. Whenever I am having a bad day, I pray and hope that things will get better. And with God there, I know that they always will. I think the best thing about church is on Wednesdays. I like getting to see all of my friends.
Hi! My name is Kyla Sybrandts and I am 13 years old and in the seventh grade at Westridge Middle School. My family includes my mom, dad, and three younger sisters: Kamry, Keely, and Katelyn. I am involved in volleyball, basketball, track, and show choir. I also enjoy playing golf and softball in the summer.
One thing that I have learned in Confirmation that has helped me to know God better, is learning that God can be anywhere and can be anything. I used to think that God was only a person, but after reading Luke I understood that God can be a flash of lightning or a gush of wind. One thing I hope to accomplish during my Confirmation journey is memorizing the books of the Bible. My mentor is Sebrina Bergemier and I have really enjoyed having her mentor me along my journey of getting confirmed. I feel safe when learning about God with Sebrina and my group, and that I can be open about what I am thinking.
My name is Alec Sundberg. I like sports and I play football and basketball. I am in 7th grade at Westridge Middle School. I am 12 years old. I am in orchestra at school. I play the string bass.
In confirmation, I have learned that God is not just a man. In my reading of Luke, I have learned that Jesus was tempted in ways that were bad. He was tempted with things like if you are God’s son then you can throw yourself off the roof and you will not die. My mentor is my dad, Jeremy Sundberg. He is a good mentor, because he makes me think hard about the answers to find a deep and meaningful answer.
My name is Madilynn John. I have four brothers and four sisters. I am 13 years old and am in 7th grade at Westridge Middle School. My favorite sports are volleyball, softball, basketball, track, and I am going to begin hunting. Other things I like to do are reading, painting, and math. I am in my school’s choir and orchestra along with playing sports.
My favorite lesson we have done so far was probably the lesson on God. I feel that when we did this lesson, I took more consideration to how my thoughts of God have changed over the years. I always had thought of God as an old guy with a beard, but when I walked out of class that day my perspective changed a bit. I realized that God could be anything. God could be a candle light, the wind, or any type of person. My mentor is my grandpa, Danny. I really enjoy getting to have him as my mentor, because he always has a positive attitude and is always open to learn and to help me. Having him as my mentor, I feel has really helped us learn and grow together.
My name is Grace Hill and I am a 7th grader at Walnut Middle School. I’m 12 years old and I enjoy sports and art. The sports I’m in are basketball, softball, volleyball, and track. The things in art I like are painting and drawing. The reason why I like art so much is because you can make your own story in your picture. Reading the Bible each week has helped me get to know God better. The retreat to Seward is something I’m looking forward to in my confirmation group this year.
In my Confirmation group, I have a lot of people I know and that makes it really exciting. When we do confirmation group, we play the drums. I really enjoy that because I play drums at school for band. My mentor is Sebrina Bergmeier and the thing I like about meeting with her is that I have two other girls in my group so more voices are heard. Sebrina is a good mentor, because it is easy to learn from her and she listens to you when it’s your time to speak.
My name is Jaylen Hansen. I am 13 years old and in 7th grade at Walnut Middle School. Outside of church and school, I play volleyball, basketball, and softball. I also plan to run track this Spring. Through my confirmation experience, I have been able to understand God better and what my relationship with Jesus means to me. In our classes, we have read verses from the Bible and discussed them with our mentors. One thing I hope to discover through confirmation is how the things I’m learning about God and the Bible can be applied in my own life. My mentor, Jeannie Graves, has been a great leader for me, because I can gain from her perspective on things we talk about. One thing I felt was interesting is understanding what the Holy Spirit means. One thing that I really like in confirmation is the friends that I have in class with me, and getting to talk about these things together. From confirmation, I hope that I will gain a better understanding of God and strengthen my relationship with God.
Hi, I’m Conner George. I like playing sports: basketball and football are my favorites. Two of my favorite things about our church is helping out with Loaves and Fishes and Vacation Bible School. During VBS, I enjoy helping out with the little kids in all the activities. I enjoy Loaves and Fishes, because I like meeting the people who come and helping them. If confirmation has taught me anything, it is that God is everywhere and He is always there for us.
My name is Makenna Garrels. I was born in Hastings, Nebraska and I am an only child.
I just turned 13 on January 10th and I am a 7th grader at Westridge Middle School. I am in dance, softball, and volleyball. I love to go hunting and fishing with my parents at our cabin, and I also enjoy spending time with our dog. I am going on my second year as being a volunteer at Stuhr Museum during special events, summer classes, and working in buildings. I am in choir and orchestra at school, and I am also on the dance team at school.
When we had a lesson on who God was a lot of us learned that God could be anyone or anything, but we don’t know. My mentor is my Grandpa. When we meet for classes, I feel that this is something that has brought us closer together.
Hi, my name is Trey Engberg and I’m thirteen years old. I love to play football and basketball.
In Confirmation, I have learned many things like how God is actually more of a spirit. He is just pictured in human form so that we can relate to him. Confirmation has also shown me that learning about the Holy Spirit can be fun. We always play drums at the beginning before we separate into groups with our mentors, mine being my grandma, Vicki McDermott. We also play them along with other music from the Greatest Showman.
Confirmation has also got me into reading the Bible. When we go with our mentors, sometimes we read chapters from Luke or other scriptures from the Bible. From the Bible I have learned that Jesus was tempted by the devil but still stayed loyal to God. This is what I have learned from confirmation.