03/31/19 I enjoy the early spring weather, the feels-so-warm though only in the 40’s or low 50’s.  Walks outdoors replace the sweatified, balcony strolls – just 12 laps equal a mile, this way on odd days, the other on even – at the “Y”, each circuit cluttered with the screaming joy of the little ones at play in the gyms below.  I do miss the people chats as my moments generally join with other seniors shaking away aging aches and therapy-ing the many maladies of the autumn of life.  Much of that focuses on health and gripes, the this and thats annoying the thinks in a world seemingly headed for crazy.  Sort of the nature of a place providing a safe environment, classes, and rehab opportunities for the arthritis generation inappropriately labelled “baby boomers” because booming we ain’t!  Outside brings more, well, more spiritual communication for me.  I seek the first tree buds, watch squirrels daringly dart, see me, hesitate, and “oh, what the heck – he’s harmless” bolt onward across my path.  Robins, early finches wanting color change, sparrows, crows, martins, swallows, swifts – hawks and maybe, just maybe a great horned.  Melodies galore could be cacophonous, but generate a white noise, step-along-with-me brain grained fascination with all the bumbles, humbles, and dribbles around my path. 

Good thoughts, good memories.

I chatted with a church member during the week about attending, the holding to faith in a society that seems intent on bending away from Christ.  Comments included:

“I wasn’t raised in the church – my husband was.  We’d been married 10 years and I was pregnant, a risky 35-year-old time to be with child.  I wanted to be part of the church and thankfully found focus in the Lutheran faith.  I was baptized as an adult during the pregnancy by Pastor Paul Wegner.  Jonathon was born and baptized by him as well – he later become active in the church youth programs and was confirmed.”

As we talked on, I heard much about connections, their importance, their positive impact. I realized we joined our church about the same time, though I had nowhere near the immediate melding with the congregation.  Additional thoughts shared brought to light the great value of Karen Halt’s artwork that captured the “church without walls” significance.

“I felt I needed to be baptized, needed to be part of the church.  I missed that in my life. At that time, the mentor program led me to Cathy Bartell, also pregnant with her son Cliff.  We had a point of connection – I knew the Sockriders, yet another connection.  I joined Bible Study and took part in the Altar Guild with Anna Johnson.  Connection came right away – I have been involved ever since. 

Rethinking the conversation on my sunshine saturated stroll helped me to see once again the byways God offers if we but only take a step onto them.  In taking Christ’s hand to answer a “need”, a Christian home was found, a home that offered many hands, much sharing, encouragement – – connection with “folks” with “real faith” willing to walk along. 

All congregations have the background squabbles and rhubarbs of issues often made bigger than they need to be.  Some are just plain big and get away into the parking lot, the table for 7 restaurant bickers, and the pew politics positioning.  But that’s broken glass, shards that strew a journey and deny progress with cuts and rasps of what was and stall the connections with what can and will be – with prayer and faith.  Church, the wall-less promise of God’s love through Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, first and foremost must offer a faith connection built on a solid foundation of “God is love, in Christ we are saved.”  What a great step-along-with-me, brain grained fascination this creates when that offering is the first thing seen by parishioners.  It puts spring in our steps and songbirds in our day – a faith not bound by Sunday walls and an hour for God – rather a living, breathing daily life of God is good, all the time.  submitted by Dave Smith