Service: Stuff the Bus!

Schools could be opening soon, and families served by the Kyrene Family Resource Center will need schools supplies as well as food. The list includes backpacks, paper, binders, crayons, glue sticks and more. Can you help?
Non-perishable food and personal hygiene items also are urgently needed right now. The center anticipates needing to provide food to families through the summer. A list of needed items can be found here.
If you can help, please drop off your donations at the Fellowship Hall from 2 to 6 pm on Mondays. On Tuesdays the items will be delivered to the center.
Any questions, please contact Peggy and Larry Hanson,  lhanson2@msn.com.

Saturday June 6: Help Spruce Up Our Campus!

Last Sunday a group of dads and youth cleaned up the patio at church where we have formed so many happy memories.
During a recent wellness outreach call, a council member talked with a church member who expressed concern about the unkempt look of our patio. Forced to suspend in-person meetings and worship due to the pandemic, the church council decided to suspend landscaping services. In the weeks since, nature had begun to reclaim the patio and parking lot.
So, the group responded to the call and went to work on fallen leaves, wilted plants and overgrown branches. Volunteers included Denzil Klein, Randy Wright, Ron, Blake and Danny Tuszynski, Brian Cantoni, Craig Peck, and the Paradise boys (Taite and Jax). The team worked hard, beautifying our gem of a campus.
You can help too! Our member landscaping team is gathering at 7 a.m. tomorrow to continue the work.
Please bring your trimmers, gloves, rakes, brooms, and other tools to help spruce up Esperanza while getting some exercise and fellowship. Wear sunscreen and a hat. For the health and safety of all, we will maintain social distancing and wear masks when in close proximity to each other. Refreshments will be served.
If you can’t participate at 7am, feel free to stop by anytime and enjoy a walk around the beautified campus. It is very peaceful and will give you a burst of energy – we promise!

Caught in the Whirlwind, We Pray

A young friend of mine posted this on Facebook: “What is our nation coming to that a Black man is killed this way by police?”

I understand her indignation; our country is supposed to be different. But, with a moment’s more thought she would have realized that America has been in this painful place all along. From its founding, our country has combined high aspirations for human equality with ongoing gross inequality—some overt, some covert.

Perhaps we are reaping the whirlwind that rises from the seeds of turmoil we have planted: racial inequality, income inequality, hyper-individualism rather than caring for each other, glorification of physical power and violence rather than the quiet strength of integrity and wisdom.

Bible-readers know that sin will persist until Jesus returns to establish God’s kingdom in its fullness. We do not believe that God promises to protect us from all the consequences of our sins. We do believe and we teach that God will resurrect us, even from the death we bring on ourselves.

Sin will persist, but that does not excuse our persisting in sin. We who pray “Your will be done on earth as in heaven” must not neglect to do our best to live and act in alignment with God’s will. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ’You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:36-39) We abide by those commandments when we model ourselves on a Savior who gave his life for the sake of all, including those who did not love him back.

So here I am, just one person, grounded in my home because of COVID-19, asking God to show me what I should be doing. And into my mind comes an account from Mark’s gospel (Mark 9:14-29). A father has brought his son to Jesus for healing, but Jesus is away, and so it is up to the disciples to attempt to heal him. The son is plagued by a demon, his father says, that mutes his speech and convulses his body, endangering his life. Jesus arrives on the scene and finds the disciples at a loss. They are failing and frustrated.

Mark continues: “When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked Jesus privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’”

Ah … prayer. I can pray. You can pray. In the face of an overwhelming morass of guilt and pain, in the midst of social division and upheaval, in the face of the intractable, we can pray. And not just to make ourselves feel better, but because, as this gospel account shows, God uses prayer to make things happen. We may not see the way forward, but God does.

Tell God what’s on your heart, tell God what you want. Cry out to God out of your anger (if you’re angry), helplessness (if you feel helpless), frustration (if you’re frustrated), or fear (if you’re afraid). God’s compassion is infinite, and he will hear you and care about you, even amidst the world’s massive needs. But also leave time to be quiet and listen. God may well have something to say to you. God may show you a step you can take, a way you can be part of the work of healing our broken nation.

Sitting at home alone? You can pray. We can pray. Stuck in the house with your family? You can pray together. Getting together with fellow Esperanzans or other Christian friends for a driveway dinner, you can pray together out loud. Let the neighbors hear!

And listen, too. God may have guidance for you: an action to take, a way you can be a force for justice and one who spreads love.

Remember, Esperanza Lutheran Church, our name is Hope!

Praying for you for health of body and strength of faith,

Pastor Carol

 

Saturday, June 6: A Day of Prayer and Meditation

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”   

Ida B. Wells

 

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others have deeply affected people throughout our country and around the world. Demonstrations have rocked our cities, and many are shining a light on social injustice.

How are Christians called to respond in crisis?

Tomorrow, from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., we will hold a vigil in the sanctuary for study, prayer and meditation. Printed materials including scripture readings and essays about social justice will be available for your use if you wish.

Individuals or family groups may sign up to enter the sanctuary in 30 minute intervals. For safety during this pandemic, only two individuals or small groups may be in the church at the same time. To sign up for a time, please click here.

Resources:

The Case for Reparations

Anti-racism resources

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O’Neil Filloon sent the following note to the parents of confirmation and youth group kids as he finished his time at Esperanza. A big thank-you to O’Neil for his loving, engaging, supportive, and fun presence with the kids this past year. And best of luck with med school!
Hello Esperanza families and friends!
With the conclusion of the youth group calendar year and final Zoom session, I wanted to take the chance to say thank you for welcoming me into the Esperanza community this past year and treating me like someone who had been around for years. This year was so fun working with the kids, the front office staff, and jamming with the band for service.
Unfortunately, after discussing with Pastor Carol how my availability has changed, I won’t be able to be a part of this moving forward. I had hoped to be part of this community for two years, but the pandemic has pushed the medical school cycle behind two to three months, and I won’t be able to commute to and from Phoenix and Tucson while keeping my job in the ER full time and continuing to apply/test/interview with schools for the next seven to eight months as I had been doing this past year. These past several months have been challenging for all of us uniquely, and sadly my path has been redirected.
I thoroughly enjoyed all the time we spent this year together, and although this year was different with the change in leadership and the pandemic changing course, I hope I was able to bring some joy and lessons to your kids. They are so tight-knit, and they have such bright futures! I hope they stay this close together, and that the church continues to be a backbone for them.
Esperanza has been such a great learning experience for me, and I pray for the best for you all and this community!
Thanks again, stay safe and happy!
O’Neil

Trusting God to Care for Us

Businesses are reopening with new safety measures in place, so the question naturally arises: When will we go back to in-person worship at Esperanza?

The simple answer is that we could begin gathering in small groups for outdoor worship services, keeping our distance from one another and avoiding singing. But at this time of year we would have to meet between midnight and 7 a.m. to avoid losing worshipers to heat stroke! And even then, the most vulnerable people in our congregation would, very appropriately, stay away. That’s the very best we could do face-to-face: a very limited worship service at an awkward time of day, with only a subset of the congregation able to consider participating. For now, I think it is better to put our efforts into gathering online (see below for information on finding online worship and Zoom communion and coffee hour) and staying in touch by online chat or phone.

What about those fellowship occasions outside of Sunday morning that have so enriched our lives? Our Inviting & Welcoming and Fellowship Teams are cooking up some plans for fresh new fellowship opportunities when we can get together physically again. Right now, however, you might consider a baby step toward that longed-for normalcy. Some of us are meeting for dinner with one other Esperanza family, dining in the driveway at a good distance from one another. If you think this is safe for you, please consider it. If you need contact information for an Esperanza friend, please call Joni at the office or email her.

Here’s something that’s always possible: Praising God through our acts of love and service—for one another and for our neighbors in need. Feeding ministries, collecting supplies for the Navajo Nation, donating food and other needed items for local neighbors: all this gives glory to God just as surely as we give glory to God when we sing a hymn together on Sunday.

We trust God to care for us. We know that the ravages of this virus are not God’s will for any of us. But God sends help for us in everyday ways, far more often than the miraculous, right? God uses the Centers for Disease Control, the state and county health departments and your primary care physician to care for us. We are wise, I think, to heed what they say.

For anyone who is interested, you can read the thoughts of our Grand Canyon Synod Bishop, Hutterer, in a recent letter here.

Grace, peace, and health to you all, in Jesus’ name.

Pastor Carol

Transitions Within Transitions

It’s with regret that I write to let everyone at Esperanza know that I will be leaving you earlier than anticipated, most likely in mid-July. But it’s with relief that I tell you that the synod staff (specifically, Bishop Deborah Hutterer and Pastor Mark Holman) have identified good options for pastoral leadership for Esperanza between my departure and the arrival of your next regularly called pastor.

All will be well at Esperanza, but I do regret that you have to go through yet another transition.

Bishop Hutterer has asked me to take a longer-term interim assignment with a congregation in Tucson. As many of you know, Tucson is my home, so a chance to serve in my own city is optimal. I begin at the new church on August 1, sharing a full-time position with my husband, Fred–him one-quarter-time and me three-quarter time.

I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy my time at Esperanza, even this time when I can’t physically be there. It’s been encouraging to see how smoothly you-all went through the first steps of the call process and good to know that the call committee is ready to begin its work. I look forward to the rest of my time with you and hope to make the most of it!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Carol

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