Living and growing: Chosen

Can we define life as simply a series of good choices? Does life boil down to taking personal responsibility for our lives? Frequently these well intentioned, but often hurtful phrases and half-truths become excuses. They enable us to “write off” people we feel have not lived up to their potential. We find ourselves using judgmental thinking to “otherize,” categorize and label people. Doing so allows us to dismiss them as undesirable.

Many people also consider their faith something they have chosen. But John 15:16 reminds us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you!” Faith rests on the choices of God, rather than our own efforts. We love because God first loved us.

We are not self-made. We are indebted to others for most everything important to us. Our lives, looks and values are shaped by those who came before us, as well as those who influence our daily lives. We are children of faith. Someone lived the faith before us, be they parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or grandparents with a hundred greats.

Many stories in the Bible about our ancestors of the faith can be embarrassing. People like Sampson, David or Sarah had problems that were honestly recorded in the Bible. In fact they did not always make good choices or take personal responsibility for their lives.

The Bible speaks openly about the problems our grandparents in faith experienced. Our families today are no different. We often speak of family, parents and children sentimentally and unrealistically, but we are not one big happy family. Families face unforeseen realities that test and change relationships. Such realities include: stages in life, employment, life experiences, societal influences, addictions, brain disorders and serious illnesses; all of which can change who we are in a relationship.

We don’t choose our relatives. They are a given. Even as parents we never quite get the children we thought we adopted or gave birth to. We can plan all we want, but who plans or chooses a child with a disability, a rebellious child, a child who has a rock band in the garage or a child who falls into substance abuse. They can be annoying or disappointing or even end up looking or acting just like us! Family relationships are a journey we can’t control or fully understand. We move forward into the future because of our commitment, not knowing what we are getting into. We don’t choose a child, we receive a child. The Bible says a child is a gift.

Faith provides us with a way to live together in relationships. We didn’t choose Sampson or Sarah to be our grandparents in the faith, nor did we choose the people we call family. Family relations can resemble society and become a conglomeration of friendly strangers.

Jesus said to his disciples, “You did not choose me. I chose you so that you might bear fruit.” Life is not simply about our choices and our decisions. The Bible says that God saves us, not by our own effort, but by God’s grace and love. Even when family disappoints and fails us, we have a God who is determined to love us as we are. Thus we are freed to love one another even when good choices are not made and people fail to take personal responsibility.

Because God has chosen us, we can risk being faithful even to those whom we didn’t choose. Today we celebrate God choosing us!

• Pastor Larry Rorem is a retired Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor living in Juneau.

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:39

Communications scholarship open

Alaska Professional Communicators are offering two $1,000 scholarships for students planning a career in communications and majoring in any phase of public communications, including public relations, advertising, radio-television, video and print.

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:39

Thank you from Big Brothers Big Sisters

Thanks to the City and Borough of Juneau tax revenue and the CBJ Activities Grant, five big and little matches in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program enjoyed an afternoon of free skating at the Treadwell Ice Arena!

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:38

Thank you from the American Red Cross of Alaska

On Feb. 17, 2017 we celebrated our 100-year anniversary as the American Red Cross of Alaska. It was very important to us to kick-off the year in Juneau as the original Red Cross of Alaska Charter was in Juneau. We are so happy we did! We have so many people to thank for making the evening not only fun, but heart-warming as well. We first have to thank the volunteers that worked so hard. Thank you to Buddy Custard, board member extraordinaire, for all of your guidance, humor, and hard work. Thank you Teresa Maria Abella for asking Senator Egan to be our Honorary Chair, for plastering the town with posters, for your fundraising efforts, your excitement, your photography, and just in general for being such a blessing to the Red Cross team. Senator Egan and Jesse Keihl, what can we say? You were amazing and helpful and patient. I will miss our meetings and the laughter that always ensued. We would be very remiss if we did not thank Governor Walker for giving us your time and for sharing your Red Cross story. Your commitment and support are deeply appreciated and we were touched beyond measure by your decision to attend and speak at our celebration. Lt. Governor Mallott and Mrs. Mallott, thank you for attending and supporting our mission. You bring such a sense of calm and grace wherever you go, we are humbled that you shared that with us. Last, but most definitely not least, we must thank all of our volunteers. The American Red Cross is a volunteer-run organization with only 14 staff for the entire state of Alaska. We could not help the hundreds of Alaskans that we do without volunteers. Our volunteers are the ones that get up at 2 a.m. when we receive a call about a house fire. They leave their homes and families to help others if there is a large disaster either in Alaska or in some other part of the country. I have said it many times, and will continue to say it: Red Cross volunteers are the best in the world. They are selfless, kind, generous people who only want to help. For this celebration there are a few in particular we need to thank: Karen Petersen, Peter Chaille, June Johnson, Joyce Levine, Michelle Brown, Carolyn and Dan Garcia, Chip Wagoner, Rebecca Trude, Rick Janelle, Patricia and Kyle Lamson, Bob Bassett, and T Iputi! Thank you Juneau and Southeast Alaska for supporting the American Red Cross of Alaska’s first 100 years; we look forward to the next 100!

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 08:38

Planetarium presents ‘Aurora’

The Marie Drake Planetarium will present “Aurora” at 6:30 p.m. Monday, followed by “The Sky Tonight” on the Spitz projector. The event is free and for all ages.

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