God Works with Our Hands

Early in the morning, on April 7th, heavy rains created a landslide that swept many people in our local area into chaos. People lost their homes and most of their belongings in just a matter of minutes. Residents were evacuated with only the clothes on their backs—many of them still in their pajamas. The doors of Christ Greek Orthodox Church’s Olympia Hall were immediately opened, and a command center was created. Warm meals were prepared, and shelter was offered to many people who could only watch in silence as their homes were demolished and everything that they owned was encased in piles of rubble within a few short hours.

Landslide 1

Residents of apartment buildings that did not need to be demolished were permitted to, briefly, return to their homes to collect the few belongings that they could gather—but, since that time, several of the buildings have been labeled “uninhabitable” and residents of those buildings are now permanently displaced. These apartment buildings housed many people who are senior citizens and disabled, and many low-income households. Officials are estimating that repairs will take a minimum of eight months to complete.

Mission-Partnerships are very important in times like these because most of us, as individuals, don’t have the financial resources and the specific skills and talents to make long-term and lasting impact in situations like this. And that’s why we work together as the body of Christ. We join hands with each other—looking past the walls of our buildings, looking past our denominational differences, and even looking past lines we’ve drawn to identify different communities—and we do God’s work in the world.

Landslide 2

We’ve been asked to join hands with congregations, who are working as a Team, to accomplished God’s vision and mission for the Church by pulling together and by offering our support and care to people in our area who’ve lost their homes and belongings. We, at Christ’s Lutheran Church, proclaim that part of God’s vision and mission for our congregation is to “Listen and Care,” and this is a great opportunity to join hands with Christians in our community (and even around the world) to do what God’s calling us to do—both as a congregation and vital part of the Church of Jesus Christ as a whole.

Landslide 3

We are going to be collecting money that will be used to purchase gift cards that will be distributed to those whose lives have been affected by recent landslides in our local area—during the month of May.

Money that we collect during the month of May will be sent to Christ Greek Orthodox Church and it will be added to funds that have been collected by other Mission-Partners throughout our area. The funds will, then, be distributed to displaced residents in the form of gift cards that they can use to purchase items that they need from local businesses. We are partnering with other local churches and with businesses in our local area to do things that none of us could do by ourselves. That’s the power of Mission-Partnerships. When we work together in ways that aren’t limited by the walls of our buildings and the lines that we’ve drawn between communities, we can accomplish great things and fulfill God’s vision and mission for the Church together.

Landslide 4

We’re going to make it easy for you to join hands with us as we work together to help displaced residents in our local area, too.

You can simply add your contribution to this important ministry by including it in your regular offering envelope as a part of your weekly offering. All that we are asking you to do is to designate your gift on the “other” line that’s already found on your offering envelope.

You can, also, support this ministry through an electronic gift. You can visit our church’s  newly updated website and support this ministry by using the “give now” link that you’ll find at the bottom of the home page. Just remember to enter the amount that you want to contribute in the “other” fund option and let us know that you’re contributing to the “Rt 30 Landslide” fund.

You can, mail us a check that’s written to “Christ’s Lutheran Church.” Please send your check to: Christ’s Lutheran Church, 5330 Logans Ferry Road, Murrysville, PA 15668. If you send a check, please be sure to tells us that you want us to include your contribution in the “Rt 30 Landslide” fund on the memo line of your check. We will make sure that your money is sent to the proper place.

You can, also, text CLC4ALL to 77977 on your cellphone and send your support in that way.

God’s vision and mission for our world is one that calls us into action in many ways, and this chance to join hands with other Mission-Partners who are working together to support many people whose lives were disrupted by an early-morning landslide is a great chance for us to demonstrate how We Listen and Care.

Every gift makes a difference! Every dollar you contribute will be used to purchase gift cards that senior citizens, disabled residents, and low-income households can use at local businesses as they begin to re-build their lives after this devastating event. We can do more when we join hands with our Mission-Partners than we can ever hope to do by ourselves. Let’s prove it!

Planning a Vacation?


I’m getting ready to start a much-needed vacation.

The incredibly busy season of Lent has come to an end, and I’ve journeyed through Holy Week – from the Cross to the empty Tomb. I’ve taken time to respond to an ever-growing list of email messages, to write articles for the next newsletter, to update my blog, and to help our new Parish Administrator brace herself for a time when I won’t be available to answer her questions – while fielding the post-Easter barrage of telephone calls and text messages. I’ve prepared my sermon for this weekend, and I can actually see the glass on the top of my desk for the first time in months. And now, it’s time for me to shift gears a bit and to prepare to stop.

I sometimes find it hard to stop.

I’ve already planned my travel itinerary, and I’ve picked-out the book that I want to read during my vacation. I’ve selected some restaurants that I want to visit. I’m thinking about all of the activities that will fill my days away from home, so that I pack the right kind of clothes. I’m taking my bicycle. I’m bringing my Garmin Vivoactive HR, so that I can count every step I take while walking on the beach. I’m planning to rise early enough to watch the sun rise over the ocean, and I’m going to spend some time collecting sea glass. There will be lots of time for visiting with family and for playing with my little granddaughter. And, of course, I’ll take some time to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins moving forward on their quest to win the Stanley Cup. I’m planning to spend an evening talking with people who are going to move to Pittsburgh. I’ll most certainly need to carve-out special time to spend with my wife – since that’s sometimes lacking during other times of the year. And, of course, I’ll need to eat lunch at Mama Kwan’s at least once.

I sometimes find it hard to stop.

Life often forces us to run like a machine, doesn’t it? I, sometimes, joke about the fact that my most important daily goal is to end the day with fewer things on my “to do” list than I had on that list when the day began. I begin the day with my regular caffeine jolt – and I often take another “hit” in the middle of the afternoon. And once each week, God tells me that I need to stop. “Carve-out some time for refreshment and renewal,” God says. “Take some time to smell flowers – to listen to laughter – to spend time with the people that you love – to allow Me to calm you and to refocus your life.”

I sometimes find it hard to stop, but God continues to remind me that I’m not a machine. God continues to call me to stop – for my own good – and for the good of the people that I love and continue to serve. But, that’s not easy for me to do. It’s far easier for me to keep going and to continue to pack more and more activities into my days. One of the greatest challenges I’ll face this week is learning how to relax and find time for renewal, so that I don’t return home at the end of the week more exhausted than when my vacation began.

I sometimes find it hard to stop.

And this week, I’m going to be challenged again to see that God doesn’t give us “free time” so that we can simply pack it with even more endless tasks and activities. God created a Sabbath because people aren’t machines and I’m going to spend some time in the coming week thinking about that. Or is that just another task that I’m going to try to squeeze into a week when God’s calling me to step out of my normal routine and discover the fact that the world isn’t going to end if I take a much-needed break?