University Lutheran ChurchLutheran Campus Ministry

at Arizona State University - 340 E. 15th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281-6612 (480) 967-3543 (map)
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Pastor Gary McCluskey
Pastor Gary N. McCluskey

Pastor's Notes
Gary N. McCluskey, Pastor

So I am sitting here in my office staring at a pile of papers on the floor. There they lay, 8 1/2 X 11 white sheets of paper, most sheets typed full with words....lots of words.. They are like ghosts of Christmas past, sermons once preached  here and never heard again. They had their time and their time was short-lived. 

In boxes of church files and old-fashioned steel filing cabinets are old newsletters. They too seem to serve as sentinels guarding what once was. In each of them is a note I authored thinking of members, students, parents, alumni, friends and colleagues as I wrote them.  

I am sorting through all these because at a recent speaking engagement on Martin Luther and doubt at the ASU Latter Day Saints Institute on campus I mentioned in passing a sermon I had preached here some years ago. It dealt with "Doubting Thomas". After speaking a reception was held and a student wanted a copy of the sermon I mentioned. "Uh oh!" I don't keep them all and I certainly have no filing system for them....just a couple drawers into which I shove some wondering as I do why I even keep any. 

Sermons to me are for the moment. They are not literature to be remembered and quoted; they are less to be read and more to be heard. They are in keeping with Luther's description of the church as a "Mund Haus", or "Mouth House". They are to bring good news NOW into our lives, they are to bring release and freedom for serving in our present. And those little ditties I scribble in the monthly newsletter are for that month and that present for which they are written.

It is humbling to stare at his pile of paper. Is this all I have to show for 37.5 years in ministry? Where is the lasting value? Where might be the impact? Oh, you self-obsessed pastor! These were written neither about you or for you! Nor were they written for time immemorial. They were written and spoken for moments, not life-times. 

Advent is upon us. We await one who comes. Advent, though future oriented in its waiting, is about waiting for one who will come for our present; for our moments. Faith is not simply something for looking forward, faith is for looking around and looking around now for the one who comes, the one who is near us, the one who is with us, and surrounding us. The Jesus who shall come in our very common human flesh is one who comes not simply to point with future directions, but to be present in our current moments. This is one who can come through the use of sheets of white paper with misspelled words and incorrect grammar. This is one who comes in hospital rooms, worship, fears, family gatherings, sporting events, hopes, joys, and all that comprises our present moments. This one comes so God will be near and we can be touched in any of our moments. Veni Jesu! Come, Jesus!!  Be among us!

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