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September 5, 2018, 1:06 PM

About Clergy and Caffeine

When a new ministry generates conversation, the Holy Spirit may be actively at work!  Praise God!  There have been lots of question about "Clergy and Caffeine," and almost all of those questions center around people wanting to participate!  We can celebrate the curiosity!

Clergy and Caffeine is a small baby step in attempting to understand church as an event rather than a place.  The church takes place when people gather around the Word incarnated by the presence of Christ's body.  When we move around various coffee shops in our community, we make a witness to many different people that Messiah Lutheran is alive, active, and present.  We also support our local economy and bring some joy to others!  Our attitudes determine the joy we bring during the gathering, right?  We can be joyful!  And, we want to be respectful to local managements in not ‘ taking over’ one place every week.  We only ask that those attending make some type of purchase—even something very small.  If that is an issue, see me.  I will purchase something for you!

Clergy and Caffeine is a ministry that is intentionally informal (which is why we only meet in places where one can comfortably "pull up a chair and join in!")  Weekly attendance is not required, and you can stay for 10 minutes or an hour.  We limit the time to 60 minutes to be respectful of time. So, expect a traveling, informal ministry and allows one to come as they are, and plug in and out. Here is the new Wednesday schedule  (yes, Wednesday!) for the next coming weeks, meeting from 1pm-2pm.  


September 5:   Starbucks Coffee Company, 
                         2390 Surfside Blvd.  #101

September 12:  Daddy Dee's Ice Cream Parlor
                          13161 N. Cleveland Ave. #1
                          North Fort Myers

September 19:   Panera Bread
                          1830 NE Pine Island Road

September 26:   Tropical Smoothie Cafe
                          1751 NE Pine Island Road #160

Think of this pastor's office Hours-- outside the office.  I will be somewhere publically, and I invite you to be somewhere with me! Ultimately, wherever we are, we are ‘in Christ”.  Together, we will fellowship and tour our community in Christian love and witness.

Join me as you are able!

Pastor Rich

June 14, 2018, 1:17 PM


Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan finds the young lawyer asking Jesus the previous question, i.e. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Drawing on his rabbinic training Jesus asks the lawyer, “What does scripture say?” – the question is answered with a question.

The lawyer responds with his religious training, that one is to LOVE God with all one’s heart and soul and mind and strength, and to LOVE one’s neighbor as oneself. Jesus affirms the lawyer’s answer, which then raises the question, “Well, WHO is my neighbor?”

Jesus responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. You’re familiar with the expected answers of the Priest and the Levite, but both “pass on by” – which creates consternation among the listeners for these “religious types” are expected to be faith/role models.

Then the Samaritan appears! To Jesus’ listeners this is the least expected person to be heard of as faith/role models. “Samaritans” were their enemies. But this UN-expected person becomes the answer of “Who” one’s neighbor can “BE”!

LIFE – Lee Interfaith for Empowerment justice ministry – asks that same question, “WHO is my neighbor?” each year in terms of where our collective energy is to be focused as we answer Micah’s invitation to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” with our God.

This year’s focus was the Ask of the Lee County Commission to place on the November ballot our request for the creation of a Children’s Service Council. Plain and simple. Do we the Lee County citizens want to help the youngest among us in having access to health services, early childhood education, and all that prepares them to be productive responsible citizens making the greatest use of their God-given gifts?

Commissioner Frank Mann’s motion to place the question on the November ballot died for the lack of a second. 130 LIFE members were present at the County Commission meeting, giving a “face” to our concern for our “neighbor”. Unfortunately, none of the other 4 Commissioners saw fit to allow us to have our say.

To this seeming defeat, a “bright spot”! Chelsea Baker, our LIFE Lead Organizer reports that we received word “that the county was proposing a $1.7 million increase to services for children including early education and dental care.” She went on to say, “This is a far way to go from developing a council to strategically delve into and fund programs to address systemic problems – but it is an encouraging step forward.”

As I’ve noted numerous times previously, Messiah Lutheran IS an integral part of LIFE addressing God’s LOVE for us and our neighbor. Pr. Rich Leseganich is planning to attend the DART Training Session July 17-21 so that he can continue to advance Messiah’s commitment to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly” with our God.

What can we as MLC’s “Disciples Engaged in Mission” do to advance this ministry begun by Pr. Rusty and MLC’s initial LIFE members? Pray for this ministry! Pray for Pr. Rich as your newly Called Pastor/Shepherd! Prayerfully consider becoming a LIFE justice ministry member! – What does that involve? Ask me! I’ll gladly share what that means, for while Christine and I will soon be departing, we’ll remain LIFE justice ministry members with Messiah.


The Rev. Gary LaCroix, Interim Pastor

May 23, 2018, 12:48 PM



            “At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, ‘Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me?  Seven?’

            “Jesus replied, ‘Seven!  Hardly.  Try seventy times seven.’”  Matthew 18.21-22

Eugene H. Peterson. “The Message:  The Bible in Contemporary Language”

            What has happened – or not happened – for which one needs to be forgiven?  And I list “not happened” because there are sIns of ‘commission’, i.e. “that which I/we have done” and

‘omission’, i.e. “what I/we have failed to do”, both of which necessitate forgive-ness.

            I share the following which was posted on this past Saturday19 May:

            “Houston police chief Art Acevedo said on Friday night that it’s time to ask God for forgiveness for not acting to prevent school shootings after a shooter in a nearby Santa Fe, Texas, high school left 10 dead.

            “‘This isn’t a time for prayers, and study and inaction, it’s a time for prayers, action, and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing),’ Acevedo said in a Facebook post.

            “The police chief asked people not to post about how ‘guns aren’t the problem and there’s little we can do.’

            “He noted that he will continue to speak out and wrote that he doesn’t believe God bestowed gun rights.

            “‘The hatred being spewed in our country and the new norms we, so-called people of faith are accepting, is as much to blame for so much of the violence in our once pragmatic

Nation,’ Acevedo said.”

            I lift this up again for our reflection and prayer.  This past weekend, as I do each time we gather for worship, I noted the focus for our prayer, including the Santa Fe, TX families and others caught-up in the high school shooting.

            I’ll say this:  I don’t have “the answer”.  Nor am I opposed to the Second Amendment when it’s interpreted in a manner that limits gun rights to persons who are responsible (and yes, “responsible” can be debated, and that means prohibiting persons with mental health issues; and I’ve had my say re. the necessity of “assault rifles”).

Because there’s been so much “talk”, often times “talk-ing” without LISTEN-ing to one another on this topic, I decided to pick up on Police Chief Acevedo’s words on forgive-ness

From my favorite author, the Presbyterian minister, Frederich Buechner:


            “To forgive somebody is to say one way or another, ‘You have done something unspeakable, and by all rights I should call it quits between us.  Both my pride and my principles (q.v.) demand no less.  However, although I make no guarantees that I will be able to forget what you’ve done, and though we may both carry the scars for life, I refuse to let it stand between us.  I still want you for my friend.’

            “To accept forgiveness means to admit that you’ve done something unspeakable that needs to be forgiven, and thus both parties must swallow the same thing:  their pride.

            “This seems to explain what Jesus means when he says to God, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’  Jesus is not saying that God’s forgiveness is conditional upon our forgiving others.  In the first place, forgiveness that’s conditional isn’t really forgiveness at all, just Fair Warning; and in the second place, our unforgivingness is among those things about us which we need to have God forgive us most.  What Jesus apparently is saying is that the pride which keeps us from forgiving is the same pride which keeps us from accepting forgiveness, and will God please help us do something about it.

            “When somebody you’ve wronged forgives you, you’re spared the dull and self-diminishing throb of a guilty conscience.

            “When you forgive somebody who has wronged you, you’re spared the dismal corrosion of bitterness and wounded pride.

            “For both parties, forgiveness means the freedom again to be at peace inside their own

skins and to be glad in each other’s presence.”

            Something for our reflection and prayer, especially as this coming weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, when we remember and give-thanks for those who died in service of our country

in times of war, with many of our former enemies now countries whom we count as our friends.


The Rev. Gary LaCroix, Interim Pastor

April 13, 2018, 10:03 AM



            The Easter Gospels, understandably, focus on the crucified – “dead” – Jesus having come-back to life!  God has overcome the powers of sIn and DEATH by raising Jesus to new LIFE!

            Each of the Gospel accounts finds women coming to the tomb!  Women, who had no standing, literally, are the ones who discover the “empty tomb”!  The supposedly brave disciples, men, are presented as hiding in “fear”.  “Fear” is, in fact, the predominate response to the resurrection.

            Yet it is to the “fear”-filled disciples to whom Jesus appears!  And to the disciples Jesus greets them with the Hebrew greeting of “Shalom!” – Peace!  “Peace be with you!”

            “Fear” is a common human emotion.  Whether it’s the fear of bringing-home a report card “with commentary”, the loss of one’s job or home, the loss of one’s spouse, or the ultimate fear of death, we all know fear in one way or another.

            As John’s account of Easter evening recorded Jesus’ greeting of “Shalom!”, it was followed by Jesus “breathing” on the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The gift of new LIFE!  “To BE” a people sent in-mission!  Reconciling the people of creation with God the Creator!

            Before thinking, reflecting-on “new LIFE”, some words of Frederick Buechner on LIFE

from “Wishful Thinking:  A Seeker’s ABC”

                        “After lecturing learnedly on miracles, a great theologian was asked to give a

specific example of one.  ‘There is only one miracle,’ he answered.  ‘It is life.’

            “Have you wept at anything during the past year?

            “Has your heart beat faster at the sight of young beauty?

            “Have you thought seriously about the fact that someday you are doing to die?

            “More often than not, do you really listen when people are speaking to you

instead of just waiting for your turn to speak?

            “Is there anybody you know in whose place, if one of you had to suffer great pain,

you would volunteer yourself?

            “If your answer to all or most of these questions is No, the chances are that you’re


            MLC is LIFE-lived for others!  It is a faith-community of Disciples Engaged in Mission!  Join your baptized “sisters-and-brothers” this weekend in proclaiming the “Good News”!  Christ

IS Risen!  Christ is Risen, indeed!  Alleluia!


The Rev. Gary LaCroix, Interim Pastor


And an INVITATION!  To the next MLC bi-monthly first-Sunday fellowship meal! 

The first-year of koinonia – fellowship – will be marked by a Sunday Brunch!  Sunday, May 6th, 11:00 am in the Family Center!  We begin the Summer Schedule of Saturday 5:00 pm (no change) and Sunday 9:30 am (the change) that weekend.

What is your gift to share for our Brunch?  Set-up and Clean-up?  Home-baked coffeecake and/or coffee bread?  Baked oatmeal?  Egg Casserole?  Check-out your Cookbook recipes for Brunch-related food items! 

Sign-up begins this weekend in the Fellowship Hall

March 28, 2018, 2:12 PM



            … Latin for “The Three Days” – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Saturday/The Resurrection of Our Lord, the Vigil of Easter – the completion of our 40-Day Lenten Journey to Jerusalem.

            We’ve celebrated the Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem, coming from the east, the Mount of Olives, where tradition said that that is the place from which the promised Messiah of Peace would come.  (Note: “Peace” – not the hoped-for and expected Warrior King in the image of King David.)

            Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday, the “Day of the Commandment”, again from the Latin, “mandatum” – “command”, that of Jesus to “Love one another!”  Jesus demonstrated what LOVE “looks-like” when he got down on his knees, assumed the role of the lowliest servant, and washed his disciples’ feet.  (Refer to the Gospel for the Day, John 13.1-17, 31b-35.)  Worship is at 11:00 am and 6:30 pm when the service concludes with the Stripping of the Altar, symbolic of Jesus’ sacrifice, and the responsive reading of Psalm 22.

            Good Friday (once known as God’s Friday) worship includes the Passion History according to St. John, 18.1-19.42, the Bidding Prayer and Reverencing of the Cross.  Worship is at 12:00 noon and 6:30 pm.

            The Vigil of Easter 8:00 pm is the most original of Christian worship liturgy.  It consists of 4 Services:  Light, for we begin outside with the Blessing of the New Fire and 2018 Paschal Candle, then entering the darkened nave with our lit candles and responsive chants.  The Service of Readings, of God’s Salvation History, follows.  The Service of Holy Baptism is when the entire family, parents and children were received into the faith-community.  We’ll again light our candles and remember our Baptismal promises.  And the Service of Holy Communion concludes with the sanctuary lights turned-on, the organ plays, John’s Easter Gospel, 20.1-18, is read and we meet our Risen Lord in the bread and wine of the Eucharist!  Fellowship follows.

            Worship for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday ends in silence.  There is no Benediction/Blessing.  The Vigil has the Benediction/Blessing restored, signifying the continuity of the Tridiuum’s worship services.

            Sunday morning the MLC faith-community gathers at 7:00, 9:00 and 11:00 am to celebrate God’s overcoming the powers of sIn and death by the Resurrection of Our Lord, Easter Day!  Full liturgy returns with Brass, Choral and Organ accompanying “This is the Feast” at 9:00 and 11:00. 

Mark’s Easter Gospel, 16.1-8, has the 3 women returning to the tomb, finding the stone rolled back and confronted by “a young man, dressed in a white robe” who announces “He (Jesus) has been raised.  He is not here.”  The women’s response?  “Terror and amazement (had) seized them.”  And while Mark tells us that “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid,” we’ll proclaim, “Christ is Risen!”

Sidebar:  You have shared that the “Giving Calendar for Lent 2018” has prompted meaningful reflection and prayer on the blessings with which God has blessed you.  That was the primary intent.  The suggestions of “2, 3, 10, 15, 20 or 50 cents,” a nickel, dime, or quarter were secondary to being reminded of ALL that God has-done/is-doing for you and me – for US!

How will the Lenten offerings be used?  Messiah’s Council has decided that the Lenten Offering will be “seed money” for a Senior Ministry to-be-developed!  What that ministry will “look-like” will be determined in partnership with Messiah’s future Pastor and Council.  Senior respite ministry?  Senior daycare?  With discernment and prayer, the direction God has planned for MLC will be accomplished!  (Your offering can be returned at any of the services.)

Join the “Three Days” of God’s incredible love as we proclaim – Christ is Risen!


The Rev. Gary LaCroix, Interim Pastor

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