Pastoral Ponderings . . . 

Thanks be to God for the miracles of modern science, right?And the on-going, tedious, and exciting research that reveals them!I believe God’s grace accompanies us in this way,as we walk together through green pastures, and the valleys of death.
Being fully vaccinated brings us freedom of movement again, and I think it came just in time. In June the newest member of our family was born in South Dakota.Arlo Byron Nichols was the reason for our recent trip to the Black Hills.And since Kirstin and I are fully vaccinated, we were able to go and hold him in the NICU.  Kids under 12 don’t qualify yet, so “Funcle Soren” and “Funtie Signe” had to be content with watching him on the livestream that the NICU provides every preemie’s family and friends.We nicknamed it Arlo Cam.We even watched Arlo later in Bozeman, with our family there.He’s definitely a keeper, and getting a little bigger all the time.He’s finally up to 5 pounds. 
“Give her something to eat” says Jesus after healing the little girl.Healthy food is essential for a healthy life, isn’t it?I like to say “Food is Medicine.”My sister in law in Bozeman was a licensed hospital dietician, and I think she’d be on board with that!  But if food really is medicine that could add to Jesus’ challenge, right? Food calories sure come in all shapes and forms today and most of it, I think, is tailored to our wants, rather than our dietary needs.Humans have definitely evolved a palate that prefers sugar and salt:high energy, high calorie food that helped us run away from saber toothed tigers and the like!Seen any lions or tigers or bears at your apartment complex lately?But we sure have the sugary and salty foods in abundance!
Our kids went to the daycare and pre-school at the YWCA downtown.The Y is all about trying to develop healthy eating habits in kids.I remember them saying, “there are Sometimes foods, and Always foods.”And they’d spend the time helping kids learn the difference:“Always” foods are the growing foods; “Sometimes” foods are the treats.After Jesus left her house, I wonder if the little girl said something like“but the Always food is so boring!!!”“Not fish AGAIN!!” 
I don’t know if you’ve driven from Salt Lake City to Rapid City SD, but there’s a whole lot of Wyoming in between.And then from Rapid to Bozeman, there’s a whole lot of Montana!And the restaurant choices, the eating choices, are pretty limited, especially for our Back Seat Crew of Two.Have you ever been on a family tripwith kids who always want the sometimes food?I think every kid would be happy with sometimes food and that’s the challenge, isn’t it?  So hard.
“Give her something to eat” Jesus says to her parents.We know that health and well-being are directly related to our food choices.Will it be Sometimes food, or Always food?
We carried bear spray with us in the wilderness above Yellowstone becauseJesus said “Give the little girl something to eat” not“Give the bears something to eat!”Fortunately we returned to our vehicles with full cans of bear spray.We were sure to make lots of noise.
“Give the little girl something to eat” is my takeaway from the gospel today.And I’m sure since her parents loved her so much, I imagine it was a little Sometimes food along with a lot of Always food, don’t you?Because that’s how we live God’s love in the world.We find the difference between the Sometimes and the Always, and we try to pass on that knowledge of health and well-being.One way we’ve consistently tried to do that as a congregation has been through our non-perishable food donations to Crossroads Food Pantry.
With the pandemic, and before the vaccine, we’ve not been able to bring our food donations on Sundays when it’s convenient for us.Thanks to the faithful efforts of Pierre Pearson, we’ve still been able to do a couple food drives, even last year.But now by the grace of God and the miracle of the vaccinewe can safely and prudently be together in person again every Sunday. And guess what?We’re just in time for the annual CrossroadsGolden Celery July food donation drive!
Starting Sunday July 4 and all through the month of July, you’re invited to bring your donations to the Crossroads food barrel in the narthex.Pierre has graciously agreed to help again with the transport of our donations from Tabor to the Food Pantry and I’m sure he’d welcome any help you’d like to give him. Just let him know.
“Give her something to eat” Jesus says to the little girl’s parents.The science of nutrition tells us that healthy growing food is so essential to children’s proper development, and readiness to learn.This pandemic has been a struggle for food pantries, especially our Crossroads Pantry.Not only has demand been off the charts, but donations from local congregations have been fewer because of our Christ-like sacrifice of our in-person life together.Now with God’s grace accompanying us through modern science we can begin to really rejoin our efforts to provide healthy food for everyone who wants it.
We aren’t doing any bulk food donations of huge sacks of beans and rice.  Please don’t bring any of those to Tabor.  Those big sacks require very labor-intensive re-packaging and Crossroads asks us not to give those.  But go right ahead and make the healthy selections you already know about from being a follower of Christ!What “Always” food would we want to give our own children to eat?That’s always the best guide, as we live God’s love in the world, and hear Jesus say to us, “Give her something to eat.”                                   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -- Pr. David