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Keep Awake

Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial;

the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14:38 [NRSV]

I love a good morning commute. With the entire day ahead of me I drink my iced coffee while listening to our local NPR station 91.5 KJZZ Phoenix to catch up on the local and worldly news. This has always been a holy time for me, but sometimes life can get in the way. Sometimes I find myself in the office while driving to the office. I am thinking about all that has to get done that day, from worship planning to writing a newsletter article about keeping awake! I drink my coffee without enjoyment, miss all the latest news, and get stuck in my own head.*

*While safely driving to work with full attention on the road… 

I was reminded this past Tuesday why this is such a holy time for me as I kept awake, alert, and enthusiastic listening to KJZZ host Kathy Ritchie share a story about a local organization serving our neighbors. Perhaps you heard this story too? The story was titled “This Tempe nonprofit gives away feminine hygiene products to those in need”.

In the story, Kathy interviewed community members, government officials, and Women 4 Women president and co-founder Kay Wright, (pictured). Kay shared that in May “Women 4 Women gave away 4,300 bags, ‘which is 37,000 pads and over 19,000 tampons’” through “35 different partner agencies around the Valley.” 

By this point I had reached my destination, but I was captivated.

The Holy Spirit was moving, and I was awake with my eyes, my heart, and my mind open to what was being offered: what if we became the next partner for Women 4 Women Tempe? There were so many reasons why this wouldn’t work, such as the distance between Glendale and Tempe, the vast need across the valley for feminine hygiene products, and the rising cost of period products due to the dreaded “pink tax”. But each of these reasons is also an opportunity to serve our neighbor in a way that makes a big difference. So, in my car I sent an email to Kay who responded within an hour, “Thank you, and I think we can make a partnership happen!” Beginning this week our Welcome and Outreach Committee will be filling the gaps to get 90 bags of products to hand out through our shower ministry, heat respite, and food pantry all thanks to Women4Women Tempe, KJZZ, and the fact that I was awake! 

Pastor Peter is on sabbatical all summer, and alongside his journey we are going on a journey as a congregation. This is a time to refresh our ministry, to refocus our mission to celebrate, proclaim, and serve, and to recast our vision to make disciples. God is calling St. John’s Lutheran Church to this time and this place. It is our work to keep awake with our hearts open to this call and our ears open to hear the Holy Spirit moving! This can be in worship, in bible study, in our 9:30am Sunday Adult Forum, in conversations with other members, or even on your morning commute. Jesus knows that even while the Spirit is moving we can be the weak spot, not through intentional sin but through the simple act of being exhausted. Keeping awake doesn’t mean doing everything yourself and making disciples can be as simple as taking the time to invite a partner into the ministry where you know God is at work in you. 

Keep up the good work and stay awake, church. And remember, even if we all fall asleep sometimes, Jesus loves you and so do I. 

Pastor Dan Potaznick

Associate Pastor for Outreach


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