Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for June 4, 2023
The Unity of the Trinity
During the Reformation Movement in the 16th Century, the Evangelical leaders wanted to underscore their deep convictions that their efforts were not to break away from the Church but to uphold and recover the universal teaching of the Christian faith. Therefore, they included the ancient ecumenical creeds in their worship liturgies and doctrinal statements.
The earliest known Christian confession of faith was the “Old Roman Creed,” used as early as the Second Century. That creed evolved to become what we now call the “Apostles’ Creed.” Other similar confessions existed, but eventually, the Apostles’ Creed became the official statement of faith of the Roman Catholic Church when Innocent III was pope (1198–1216). The Roman Catholic and Protestant churches continue to use this creed for the sacrament of baptism. This confession is also part of ordinary worship liturgies.
The early churches had disunity in their theological views and understanding. Finally, in 325, Emporer Constantine called together disputing bishops at Nicea to formulate a unified response to the faith position. Influenced by Augustine’s trinitarian theology, the gathered bishops crafted a confessional statement emphasizing the equality of the three persons of the Trinity. As a result, the Council of Constantinople approved what we today call the “Nicene Creed.” This confession is generally used in liturgies during festive seasons of the Church, such as Christmas and Easter.
The least familiar of the three authoritative confessions of faith is the Athanasian Creed. Athanasius, a Christian theologian from Alexandria, Egypt, was a great defender of the Trinitarian view of God and an ardent opponent of the Arian heresies that Jesus Christ was not equal to God the Father. Bishop Athanasius participated in the Council of Constantinople, which resulted in the Nicene Creed. Though most believe Athanasius did not author the Athanasian Creed, it was named in his honor. This statement of faith originated sometime in the 5th Century in France and emphasized the Triune God. Today, it is seldom used in public worship, mainly due to its extensive length of 40 verses.
The Church celebrates Trinity Sunday this week on Sunday, June 4. We will roll out the Athanasian Creed for this commemoration as we confess our faith in the Triune God. We will also hear the command and promise made to the disciples by Jesus.
The command: “GO therefore 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 that I have commanded you.”
And the Promise: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We are commanded to go out into the world where the Triune God is already at work, where we participate in the holy dance of God’s mission, and where we will find our identities as Christians and find out what God is doing in the world and our lives.   
Join us at Hope for worship on Sunday at 10:30 AM or via Facebook at HopeClinton as we celebrate the Triune God in our midst.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for May 21, 2023
Ministry of Presence
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I want to share a meaningful way to minister to or care for someone anxious, depressed, or struggling with a challenging life situation or decision. We all can care for someone in a profound way, and it doesn’t take any special skills.
In my pastoral care career, I quickly learned the impact and the importance of the ministry of presence. Ministry of presence is to be the vehicle of God’s love when you enter the room of a dying patient, a prisoner’s cell, an employee’s cubicle, or sitting with a friend who is having difficulties in life. No matter where people are encountered, to be present with someone is to meet them where they are, physically or spiritually, and offer support. The best support is to listen without giving advice or trying to solve their problems.
Often, we are tempted to solve their issue, but we need to resist jumping in with advice. Your objective presence is best by listening and validating their feelings. It’s as simple as saying, “I hear the pain in your voice” or “You sound frustrated and hurt.” Nothing else needs to be said. The person will hear you reflect back on what they are feeling and will help them process their feelings. Most importantly, they will feel supported and not told how they should feel or what to do.
When we try to console someone who is struggling, our intentions are often well-meaning but ultimately useless. Suggestions like, “Just be happy!” or “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine!” may seem innocent enough, but to someone who feels like they are barely keeping their head above water, these seemingly “harmless” statements can often make them feel even more isolated, helpless, and alone.
So, for anyone in a position to offer support, there are some helpful phrases you can use. Remember, it’s not about fixing everything for the person you care about, but listening to them and reminding them they are not fighting this alone.
  1. “I’m listening.”
  2. “You can always talk to me.”
  3. “I’m here.”
  4. “You’re not alone.”
  5. “Your feelings are valid.”
  6. “You’re allowed to feel anxious, even if you don’t know why.”
  7. “I might not understand what you’re going through, but I’m always here for you to talk to me if you need to.”
  8. “You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone, including me.”
  9. “I’ll stay with you as long as you need me.”
  10. “It’s OK that you feel this way.”
  11. “You’re loved.”
–  by Kim Quindlen, a Thought Catalog contributor.
No matter what you are going through, know that God is always walking alongside you to comfort you during difficult times. You are not alone.
We are Hope Lutheran Church and will always be there for you. We welcome you to worship with us on Sunday, May 21, at 10:30 AM or via Facebook at HopeClinton. Come feel the comfort and love of our “mothering” God, who is always by our side during good and challenging times. God loves you and values you for who you are!
Be kind to yourself ?
Love yourself ?
You matter ?
Take care of yourself ?
Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for May 7, 2023
Hello friends,
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For the next few weeks, my weekly musings will be about mental health and the crisis our nation is facing. The crisis isn’t just affecting adults; it’s devastating young people and people from every background. Mental health is essential to our overall health and well-being.
What is the difference between mental illness and mental health? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mental illness is “conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior.” These can include but aren’t limited to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.
Mental health reflects “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” Affecting “how we think, feel, and act,” mental health strongly impacts how we interact with others, handle problems, and make decisions (https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/mental-health-mental-illness).
Some key facts according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
  • 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness each year.
  • 1% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2020 (17 million individuals).
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • Lifetime prevalence of any Anxiety Disorder: 31.6%
  • Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in America.
  • Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses.
  • Percent of U.S. Adults with Major Depression: 8.4%
  • Percent of Youth (aged 12-17) with Major Depression: 15.1%
  • Percent of Youth with Severe Depression: 10.6%
This year, Mental Health Awareness Month will amplify the message “More Than Enough.” According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, this campaign is a message of hope and inclusion. “All people, no matter where they are on their mental health journey, deserve support, resources, fulfillment, and a community that cares.”
Stigma often exists because of negative stereotypes or myths. For example, some people might believe that treatment does not help. However, mental health conditions such as anxiety are very treatable, but only 36% of people go to get help. Others believe that anxiety happens or that it is very uncommon. This, again, is untrue. Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S.; several factors, such as brain activity, genetics, and life events, cause it. https://www.dhd10.org/mental-health-awareness-month-may-2023/#:~:text=This%20year%2C%20Mental%20Health%20Awareness,%2C%20%E2%80%9CMore%20Than%20Enough.%E2%80%9D
We are worthy and lovable people created in the image of God, even though, at times, we may not think it. We all struggle with mental illness at some point, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Let’s encourage one another to treat our broken bodies with the love and respect we deserve.
“The entire world is so intense right now! It may be difficult to get out of bed some days to find a purpose, a light in the darkness, and hope in crazy times… what a challenge we have here! But if we stop and breathe, appreciate the good things (even small ones), and continue to reach out to one another, then I feel like we can do this! Hang in there, beautiful soul. I care about your well-being, and I know that many, many people in this world care deeply about the wellness of others…including you.” – a blog post from Mighty.com
Can you do me a favor? Please email me at pastoreric@hopeclinton.com and tell me three things that help improve your mood. Then, I will share your responses with the community to help each other live a healthier and more fulfilling life! All answers will be anonymous.
Our mental health is essential; speaking out and getting help is strong and not considered weak. Resources are available to help.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 1-800-273-8255
Veterans Crisis Line – Call 1-800-273-8255, press 1
National Alliance on Mental Illness Help Line – Call 1-800-950-6264 or Text 62640
Mental Health America – Call or Text 988 or Chat 988lifeline.org (available 24/7). You can also reach Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741.
For Spanish speakers, call 1-888-628-9454
For Deaf or hard of hearing, dial 771, then 1-800-273-8255
We are Hope Lutheran Church, and we welcome you to worship with us on Sunday, May 7, at 10:30 AM or via Facebook at HopeClinton. We love you and value you for who you are!
Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for April 23, 2023
Road trips. We all love them, don’t we? Artists write and record songs about the road, writers write poems about the road, and Hollywood makes movies about hitting the road. Hitting the road can be fun, exciting, and for some, a lifelong ambition to travel cross-country via Route 66.
Willie Nelson wrote the Grammy award-winning song “On The Road Again,” and it also earned an Academy Award nomination and a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame. “On the Road Again” became Nelson’s 9th Country & Western No. 1 hit overall (6th as a solo recording act) in November 1980 and became one of Nelson’s most recognizable tunes (Wiki).
On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to Get on the road again – 
written by Willie Nelson
Some road trips can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. In his poem The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost famously describes the challenges we face in our life journeys when presented with tough decisions. We know he took the road less traveled, and it made all the difference.
Born and raised on Long Island, NY, I’ve experienced physical and emotional trauma while commuting for years on the Long Island Expressway, aka the Long Island distress way, and the Cross-Bronx Expressway. Of course, we don’t describe a drive in New York based on the number of miles, but how many minutes or even hours! Road trips, we love them, and we hate them.
In Sunday’s Gospel reading, the two disciples are leaving Jerusalem on the road back home, probably pondering all they had witnessed in those last days, culminating in their confused astonishment at what the women had shared about their experience at the tomb early that morning. In their exhaustion, grief, and confusion, their vision was clouded, and they could not recognize the joy and wonder walking alongside them: this embodied promise confirmed what the women had seen earlier that day.
On the road to Emmaus, the risen Christ revealed himself to the disciples in scripture and the breaking of bread. The disciples realized their “hearts were burning within them as Jesus spoke to them and opened the scriptures to them – The Word – with Jesus’ life, suffering and death, and resurrection as the key to correctly understanding it. And Jesus made himself known to them in the breaking of bread. The disciple’s sorrow and confusion turned to joy as they were sent back onto the road to Jerusalem to tell the eleven disciples about their encounter with Jesus.
Come on the road to Hope Lutheran Church on Sunday at 10:30 AM or on Facebook live and experience the joy in the life-changing word of God and the breaking of bread at the communion table.

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
I can’t wait to get on the road again
  written by Willie Nelson

Your journey on the road ends at Hope Lutheran Church, where you will be greeted with open arms. All are welcome!

Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for March 16, 2023                 

Resurrection Stories is a Life-changing Event
The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In Sunday’s Gospel, his disciples still hide in the Upper Room a week after Jesus’ resurrection. If the resurrection is life-changing, why are they still stuck in the same place? What difference did the empty tomb make in their lives? How did it change the way they looked at the world?
We can ask ourselves the same question. What did the resurrection change for us? Do we see and engage the world in new ways? Are we better able to view the world with Jesus-colored glasses seeing the world and each other with compassion? What difference has the empty tomb made in our lives over the last week? My life looks the same, except I’m not as tired. But my life looks the same as the weeks before Easter. For some of you, your lives may differ due to a health issue, losing a loved one, or another circumstance, but I suspect for many of us, life is the same. We are stuck.
Christ’s resurrection is a life-changing event that makes a difference in our lives but takes time. Resurrection takes time. It is not a one-time event but a process we grow into. Resurrection is a way of living with each other, and God’s grace makes us evolve into resurrected people through our relationships and circumstances. We awoke on Easter Monday to the same life and world we had on Good Friday. It’s not because the resurrection failed; it takes time. Resurrection is like a movie that unfolds over time, slowly bringing events and people into our lives that can transform our lives.
This past week, I had the privilege to attend a dedication where I heard resurrection stories. The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled honored the memory of Erica Vaughns, a member of Hope’s church family, who died in February. The NLS renamed its internship program, which Erica founded and directed, as The Erica C. Vaughns Aspiring Leaders Internship Program. Many of her colleagues told stories of how Erica inspired them in their work and career and was relentless and dedicated to supporting them. Erica had compassion and was always nurturing people to be better. As a result, her relationships with others were blessed. Yet, the stories we heard about Erica were resurrection stories. Her nurturing and caring transformed lives. While some of her colleagues might not have noticed, Erica was living a resurrection life by bringing the love of God, the light of Christ, to all, she met. As a result, her relationships with others were bathed in the light of Christ.
Our resurrection stories have different starting points based on our circumstances in life. Resurrection begins wherever Jesus enters your life. Even if we feel stuck, locked behind the doors of our homes, Jesus steps in through the locked doors and breathes peace and life into us. Jesus may enter your life through another person or a difficult circumstance but know Jesus breathes peace, hope, courage, and strength into us, a breath that unlocks the door.
Come hear the rest of the story Sunday, April 16, 2023, at 10:30 AM at Hope Lutheran Church, in Clinton MD. Or watch on Facebook live on the Hope Clinton page.
All are welcome!

Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for March 12, 2023

Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month is an annual worldwide celebration held in March. The observation highlights the contributions and achievements of women throughout history and in contemporary society. It started as Women’s Day, which was celebrated on Feb. 28, 1909, by a group of Manhattan socialists and suffragists in honor of the one-year anniversary of the garment strike led by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.
The idea for Women’s History Month originated in the United States, where it was first observed as a week-long celebration in March of 1980 and later expanded into a month-long event in 1987. In recent years, the celebration has gained prominence. It is now recognized in many other countries as well, often with a focus on highlighting the remarkable achievements of women who have broken barriers and made significant contributions to their fields.
We can include female biblical characters too. The genealogy of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, includes several women, including Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (referred to as Uriah’s wife), and Mary. These women had imperfect pasts and played important roles in the family history of Jesus. Some scholars suggest that including women in the genealogy may have been a deliberate attempt to challenge the patriarchal cultural norms and values that traditionally marginalized women.
Tamar was the daughter-in-law of Judah, one of Jacob’s sons. After her husband died, she disguised herself as a prostitute to trick Judah into fulfilling his obligation to give her a son.
Rahab was a prostitute from Jericho who helped the Israelites conquer the city. She later became part of the line of David and, ultimately, Jesus.
Ruth was a Moabite woman who married an Israelite named Boaz. She is known for her loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi and her faithfulness to God.
Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah, a soldier in King David’s army. David committed adultery with her and then had her husband killed.
Mary was the unmarried virgin mother of Jesus. She played a crucial role in the history of salvation by giving birth to the Savior of the world.
This Sunday, we meet another important woman in the life of Jesus. The woman is unnamed, but we call her the Samaritan woman at the well. The gospel message invites us to listen to how Jesus transforms her with living water and inspires her to spread the good news. 
Join us for worship on Sunday, March 12, at 10:30 AM or via live stream on our Facebook page HopeClinton or our website Hopeclinton.org.
All are welcome!
Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for March 5, 2023
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! On March 2, 1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel, the children’s author, and cartoonist better known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, entered the world. To honor his birthday, a reading celebration, “Read Across America,” will occur nationwide in thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers. My favorite Dr. Seuss book was “Green Eggs and Ham.” I loved how the dialogue rhymed, and it was a bit silly! But it made me want to read.
Geisel was a master at inspiring children with dialogue as a literary technique. Dialogue, a conversation between two or more people in a narrative work, helps advance the plot, reveal a character’s thoughts or feelings, and show how the characters react in a moment. Dr. Seuss’ simple words and rhythmic patterns easily captivate young minds and bring them into the character discussions.
The genius use of this device to draw readers to the chit-chat between characters demonstrates the importance of conversation. An open one-on-one casual conversation between two characters creates space for thinking, empathy, and for the critical communication tools we need to live a successful life. Moreover, dialogue can genuinely change the world. Take, for example, “Horton Hears a Who!” In that book, the main character, an elephant named Horton, hears a tiny voice coming from a spec of dust, which he discovers is a small planet called Whoville. After dialoguing with the mayor of Whoville, Horton concludes, “a person’s a person no matter how small,” and Horton goes on with the adventures of trying to save Whoville from being incinerated.
In my favorite Seuss book, the dialogue occurs between a character named Sam I Am and another unnamed man who relentlessly tries to persuade him to change his mind. Finally, the ongoing conversation concludes with the success of opening one’s mind: “I do so like green eggs and ham!”
The backstory of “Green Eggs and Ham” also includes an example of the success of dialogue. The author’s publisher challenged Seuss to write a book that contained fewer words than his previous best seller, “Cat in the Hat,” which included 236 words. Seuss won the bet by writing this new masterpiece with only 50 words, and only one of the words has more than one syllable: anywhere. That dialogue resulted in his new book selling more than eight million copies worldwide.
As schools celebrate Dr. Seuss this month, remember the importance of dialogue. This Sunday’s Gospel message invites us to listen in on one of the essential dialogues recorded in Scripture, a conversation between Jesus and the pharisee Nicodemus. We will hear the discussion as we gather for worship on Sunday, March 5, at 10:30 AM or via; live stream on our Facebook page HopeClinton or our website Hopeclinton.org.
Will you join us? Would you? Could you? I promise I won’t ask you to eat green eggs and ham!

Musings from the Pastor’s Desk for February 26, 2023

Counting the Days in Lent
On Wednesday, the Western church celebrated Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40-day Lenten journey to Easter. That means today, Friday, we have 43 days before we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord on Easter morning.
How can that be? If there are 40 days in Lent and Wednesday began the countdown, we have 38 days to go, right? Wrong. Easter arrives 43 days from today. You may think this is new math, but it isn’t. I’ll explain.
The earliest Christian followers were faithful Jews who honored the Sabbath as the Day of the Lord. Based on the creation story in Genesis, the seventh day was celebrated as a day God rested. Therefore, it was considered a blessed and hallowed day. However, the early church leaders viewed the death and resurrection of Christ as a new creation and consequently transferred the Sabbath to Sunday, the first day of the week. As a result, the Lord’s resurrection is celebrated not just on Easter Sunday but every Sunday.
The Lenten fasting season of forty days is to reflect upon the forty days Jesus fasted in the wilderness before he began his earthly ministry. However, since the Christians declared Sunday a day of celebration of the Lord, they would not permit fasting or penitential acts on that day. Therefore, fasting could only be allowed six days a week before Easter. That provision added six Sundays in Lenten Season, pushing back the start of the forty-day countdown to what we now observe as Ash Wednesday. That’s why we have 45 days remaining in our 40-day Lenten journey!
Some people may look at this as the opportunity to break their fast every Sunday. So, if you want, chose to eat that piece of chocolate or have a piece of cake every Sunday before Easter you won’t break your fast! Of course, you will be breaking the spirit of what the fast means. “Darn Pastor, why did you have to say that?”
Join us for the First Sunday in Lent, the first time we pause the Lenten fast and penitential observances, this Sunday, February 26, as we celebrate the resurrection and affirm our baptism. Join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 AM or via; live stream or on Facebook or our website Hopeclinton.org.
Musings from the Pastor‘s Desk for January 29, 2023
Delivering the Good News!

Wednesday, the church commemorated the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, a day we celebrate Saul’s sudden, dramatic change from the evil persecutor of the church to Paul, history’s greatest evangelist of Christ. In case you missed it, no worries. You can read all about it.
Among Paul’s many gifts, he was a master of follow-up. If you didn’t understand his message or weren’t there at the time, you would likely receive a note afterward. As proof, take a look at the Bible: the New Testament contains letters he wrote to the early churches he founded. Today, the day after we recognized his conversion, the church celebrates Timothy, Titus, and Silas, companions of Paul’s and presumably letter carriers. Among their duties, they were messengers.
Timothy accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey as his young apprentice learned to spread the Good News throughout the Mediterranean. He was Paul’s “frontman,” traveling ahead of him to prepare for his arrival. Timothy also circled back to places following Paul’s departure to verify the ministry’s mission. In doing so, he occasionally carried Paul’s letters, notably the First Letter to the Corinthians. In case you missed it, it talks about “love is patient, love is kind,” and a noisy gong and clanging cymbal. Titus, who seems to be Paul’s next deputy, was the bearer of Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. That diddy of Paul tells the good people of Corinth, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Besides their duties as letter carriers, Timothy and Titus were apparently writers in their own right, having their names accredited to other letters in the New Testament canon.
Silas, the third Paul companion honored Wednesday, didn’t make it in the Bible as a bearer of his own book. Maybe that’s because we were never clear on his actual name. In the Acts of the Apostles, we know him as Silas, but in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, he is called Silvanus. So perhaps Paul was a more formal guy, referring to his pal by his Latin and Hellenistic name. Although it is unclear whether Silas/Silvanus served as Paul’s courier, Silvanus is credited with delivering Saint Peter’s first letter.
Today we celebrate these three couriers: Timothy, Titus, and Silas. Come to worship, Sunday at 10:30 AM to hear Jesus deliver the good news from the Sermon on the Mount.
Worship with us in person or on Facebook live. View the recorded worship anytime on our Facebook page HopeClinton or on our website www.hopeclinton.org
 Peace and blessings!