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“I Want to Know What Love Is”

The band Foreigner achieved chart success with a song of that title during the 1980s…but it raises a legitimate question:  What IS love?

The month of February is often equated with Valentine’s Day, a day of love. Love is often symbolized with flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals, cards and if you are really lucky with love…jewelry. The colors of red, pink and white emblazon everything from cards to conversation hearts.

I was recently having a discussion with someone who said he could not stand this holiday. When I asked him, “why?” he answered, “should not every day be Valentine’s Day?” In other words, to speak and act in love every single day and not just to those who are closest to us, but to the stranger or to those we do not often associate with.

Love is a verb and not just some “fluffy” feeling. In fact 1 John 4 says, “God is love…Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God…Beloved, since God loved us so much, we ought to love one another…we love because he first loved us.” Loving God and loving neighbors cannot be separated.

One magnificent musical is Les Miserables. This story of love, hope, grace and redemption continually resonate with me. Jean Valjean, the main character who was once a convict, learns about grace when grace is bestowed on him. Even when he did not deserve it. He is transformed by this experience and bestows grace to the people he encounters. He learns to love when he takes in the daughter of a woman (Fantine) who dies. Towards the end of his life, Fantine comes to escort him to heaven. The following lyrics are sung by them:

Take my hand
And lead me to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God

Do we see the face of Christ in each person we meet? Do we treat that person as Christ? Is love convenient? Is it easy? Of course not. Our sinful nature will always put ourselves first, making it impossible to love God or our neighbors on our own. Even though we do not deserve it, God loves us and demonstrates that love by sending God’s only Son, Jesus, into the world. This gift of God’s love makes it entirely possible for us to love God and our neighbors. We love God and our neighbors because God loves us first.

Love…it’s more than chocolate and flowers!  How will you demonstrate love not only on February 14, but Valentine’s Day every day?

Pastor Janel

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

“And the temperature will be in the balmy mid-forties next week with plenty sunshine!” The announcer on the radio said, as I was driving home a couple of weeks ago on the icy roads in the darkness of mid-January after a long workday. It was surprising but not unusual that we would have a warm up in temperatures that would have us all longing for the signs of spring. It happens every year in January or February, we have an amazing week of weather, the ice begins to melt on the hockey ponds, and everyone gets spring fever.

It got me thinking the following week, how we monitor our temperature daily seeing the climate changes and we know that indeed spring will come. We believe it without question even though at this point in the winter with snow falling down once again, it is very hard to imagine. If we let ourselves though we might picture green grass peeking through the snow as the sunshine lingers a little longer each day, and eventually those tulips will break forth from the ground and bloom in the colors that signal the bluebird and the mallard will soon return.

How often do you take your own temperature? I know I do not unless I am sick. It is important to your health that your temperature stays within a normal range. If it does not regulate, one might have heat stroke, fever, or suffer from hypothermia. Symptoms of hypothermia include, weakness, a coolness to the surface of the skin, lack of focus or confusion, slowed heart rate, and uncontrollable shivering. This can even lead to death and these type of deaths occur every winter somewhere. Hypothermia is not something any of us want to experience, but living in the north country it is likely some of us have had moments when we have gotten a bit too cold especially when it is -20 outside. We take steps to ensure that we are warm, and do not experience the chill or put ourselves at risk for hypothermia when we head out to enjoy all that winter offers us. In the echoes of our minds, we hear our mothers, fathers, grandparents; reminding us to put on our hat and gloves, button up our coats, and even to wear warm layers underneath when it is cold. 

How often do we check the ever-changing climate of our community? Are we responsive when the temperature drops, when the snow begins to fall, when symptoms of hypothermia set in? Above all, we are called as a church community to make disciples, to love God and love our neighbors. Do people find us weak, cool upon encounter, do we appear to be confused, distracted, and are we shivering with a slower pace and heartbeat? It certainly may not be true that we are experiencing hypothermia, but if it even appears visibly that we are, we send a message to our community that is distancing, distracting everyone from what God has commissioned us to be and do as the church.

What then is the diagnostic we use to measure and keep out temperature steady, it is through our entering into discernment processes, our discussions, and returning to explore our mission, vision, and values annually and intentionally. As we embark upon a new council year, committees are re-envisioning themselves and joining to work smarter and have more hands that are able. Each of us must do our diligence here as well to perform assessment and discernment, see what is bringing life, fulfilling our mission, and empowering people to grow in faith as disciples here. All of our voices are important to this work. Our mission is to “grow in God’s word and share God’s love” I challenge you in the coming days to think of how we share God’s love in our home community of Stillwater. How do we make disciples here? How do we invite and warmly embrace our local people and community? Is our heart beating at the right speed?  May we with open hearts have the courage and wisdom to explore the options, and if needed put on our hat and mittens, so that we continue to be a steady source of warmth, light, and health in this community.

Peace, Pastor Suzy    

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February Health Minute
Heart Month

We sure know a lot of numbers by heart, like phone numbers, birthdays, and pin numbers. But do you know the most critical numbers for your heart health? That knowledge could just save your life.

Experts encourage everyone to know their personal health numbers including Blood PressureCholesterolBlood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI).

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for BOTH women and men in the United States. Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.

To reduce your chances of getting heart disease it's important to:

Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having uncontrolled diabetes raises your chances of heart disease.

  • Quit smoking.Go to www.quitplan.com for help and free patches, gum or lozenges.

  • Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglycerides with your healthcare provider.

  • Limit alcohol intake to one drink a day.

  • Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress.

    The first Sunday of every month you can get your blood pressure checked at church – before or after services. Also Parish Nurse’s church office hours are on Tuesdays – feel free to stop by or make an appointment for a blood pressure check or to discuss other issues.

     “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Prov.4:23

    Linda Peterson, Parish Nurse

     

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WHAT: “Understanding Anxiety in Older Adults”
A class to talk about anxiety disorders in older adults. Topics: symptoms, risk factors, types, treatment & management, warning signs of suicide, support resources.
WHEN: February 20, 2017 at  9:45am – 11:15am.
WHERE: Stillwater Family Means, 1875 Northwestern Ave. So., Stillwater.
WHO: For adults. Sponsored by NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness]
To register or for more info: contact Dianne at 651.439.4840 or dvierling@familymeans.org

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