Pastor's Ponderings

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Pastor's Ponderings August 29, 2016

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August 25 represented the 100th anniversary of the signing of the legislation that created the formation of the National Park Service. We who live in this part of the country have many opportunities to visit National Park sites, both in the nation’s capital and the surrounding area. The fundamental purpose of the National Park Service as stated in the act “is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations”.
My older brother worked for the NPS for most of his career, serving as historical interpreter at various sites in the capital region and teaching NPS employees around the country how to engage the pubic in scenic and historic resources that have been set aside. He and I would often say that we had similar jobs, passing on meaning to the public. The main difference between us was that my sacred text was the Bible and his was the natural and cultural places and objects that we have in the National Park Service.
I love to visit the parks. The bug got started with a trip my family made out west to visit Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon parks. Since then I have visited many more. We learn something vital about what it means to be an American citizen as we consider the sacrifices made at Gettysburg, the sunrise at Acadia, or take in the waterfall and massive granite walls of Yosemite. In this political campaign season, where there is so much disorienting discord and accusation, it is important to be reminded of the deeper things that make us who we are as a nation.
If you can’t get to see such places, make sure to visit these sites online at and other website. You can find wonderful pictures and descriptions that remind you of the struggles, the accomplishments, and the work that still lies ahead for us as a nation striving to be “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

See you in church,
Pastor Steve

Things to pray for this week:
• Ask God that you may be particularly sensitive the needs of one person today with whom you can share God’s love in word or deed.
• New followers of Christ

Here's What I've Been Reading

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Here’s what I’ve been reading

The Road to Character, David Brooks.  (Random House, 2015)

For years I have appreciated the comments of David Brooks, New York Times columnist and contributor to NPR.  Although I do not always agree with him, he writes with clarity and thoughtfulness that I find engaging. In The Road to Character, a New York Times Bestseller, Brooks writes in this book about character as the moral identity that shapes who we are and how we interact with other people. Drawing upon a school of education that was once commonplace, Brooks examines the lives of several exemplary public figures in order to discover qualities worth putting into practice in one’s own personal life.

What are the values that inform and guide us through life? Rather than focus on personal achievement (fame, wealth, status) he calls us to focus on those qualities that are more likely to be remembered and valued by others. What would we hope someone might say about us when we are gone? That we had a lot of money, or influence or notoriety? Or that we were kind, brave, honest, loyal or loving?

Brooks looks at various figures to show how through internal struggle and effort they built a strong character worth celebrating and imitating by other.  Along the way, I learned new things about some figures I already knew and added several new heroes to add to my own personal list.  Here are some of those he discusses: Dwight Eisenhower, Frances Perkins, A. Philip Randolph, Dorothy Day and Samuel Jackson.

See you in church,

Pastor Steve

Things to pray for this week:

  • For teachers, students and staff preparing to start a new school year.
  • Ask God to help one person whom you find it hard to like. Ask God to give that person insights into his or her personal problems and ask for the power to let God’s love flow through you to him or her.
Posted by Rev. Dr. Steve Larsen with