I am always amazed at how quickly time passes. We have started Lent and In April comes Holy Week and Easter. I wanted to offer some insight into Holy Week. Holy Week is a celebration and remembrance of Jesus’ Journey toward the Cross.
Holy week begins on April 14th this year. Palm Sunday. We read a processional Gospel of Jesus entering into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. While Jesus had been to Jerusalem many times in his life. This time it was different for Jesus. His Arrival this time was meant to fulfill scripture and brought attention to his teachings in a new way. Much like candidates throwing their hat in the ring for a political race. Jesus triumphant arrival makes a statement. While our church just reads Jesus arrival in Jerusalem. Many Churches have the practice of reading the whole Passion of Christ on the Sunday before Easter.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday don’t have any particular significance in the church but some churches read various passages related to Jesus foreshadowing the events of Good Friday. Community will have a time of open prayer on Wednesday from Noon to 5 with some readings and guided reflections at the beginning of the hour.
Maundy Thursday we celebrate the lasting gathering of Jesus with his disciples. We wash our feet as a sign of humility and imitation of Christ. After the Eucharist the washing of feet is one of the oldest rituals we have as Christians.
We celebrate the Eucharist or Communion as Jesus tells us to remember him.The events of the Last Supper are recorded as happening around the time of the passover meal. We must note that the modern Jewish Seder began after Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70AD. The passover meal Jesus and his disciples celebrated may have been similar to the modern seder but as Christians we have a tradition the Eucharist. While informative to our own faith, the Seder is strictly a Jewish tradition.
The Maundy Thursday Service often concludes with a stripping of the Altar to remember the burial of Jesus.
People often wonder why we call the day we remember Jesus’ death on the Cross “Good” Friday. It is because we have hope in the Resurrection. Of course to have resurrection, death needs to happen first.
Our Tradition at Community has been to read the Passion Narrative. On Sundays we often only read snippets of the Gospel. Good Friday is one of the few times we read through a large portion of the Gospels and get to fully hear the story of Jesus. Jesus journey to the cross is long and arduous. I urge to you listen carefully to what happens to Jesus. We often are quick to go from the Cross to Easter Sunday but Good Friday intentional makes us journey with Jesus toward the cross and makes us listen and know Jesus’ death intimately. That Jesus suffered and died for our sin. Because of this, The hope of Resurrection is all the more joyous and hopeful when we experience it on Easter Sunday.
May your Holy Week be truly Holy and Transformative.
March this year is the start of the Lenten Season. Lent is a time for self-reflection and examining not only our lives but the life of Jesus on his journey toward the cross of Good Friday with the Hope of the Resurrection on Easter.
This year we will be exploring what it means to encounter the Gospels with our senses — touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell. Our senses are how we make sense of the world around us. We often read the stories of Jesus and we have lots of ideas about what Jesus means to us in our head. However, Jesus is the incarnate word, the word made flesh. He embodies the hope and love of God. How do you experience Jesus in your daily life? Every Wednesday this Lent we will explore the gospels through our senses. By touch through the anointing of oils and prayer. By Sight as we study the rich images of the Gospel through Icons and Art. By Sound as we confess our sins aloud and hear the words “You are Forgiven.”
By taste as we partake in the Bread and Wine of communion and By Smell as we pray together using diffused essentials oils similar to the burning of incense.
We worship a living God. Through these simple acts of worship, we experience God as present with us, not just in thought but through all our senses. Worship becomes embodied as we sense the world around us. My prayer this Lent is that you experience God. That your senses of Touch, Sight, Sound, Taste, and Smell expand how God is present in your life every day.
Here are the Gospel Stories will we look at:
Jesus raises the widow’s son – Touch – Luke 7:11-17
Jesus heals the blind man at Bethsaida – Sight – Mark 8:22-25
Jesus changes water into wine – Taste – John 2:1-10
Jesus says the dead will hear – Hearing - John 5:25-29
Jesus anointed with perfume – Smell - John 12:1-3
Take some time to examine what Jesus is doing and saying in these passages. How do our senses fit into the story?
What does it mean to Worship together? We gather as a community every Sunday in the hope that will we encounter God.
As Lutherans, we are steeped in the historic Liturgy (the order of worship). Liturgy means the works of the people. When people read the lessons, the prayers, when we sing together, we respond or pray in unison. All these things contribute to the Liturgy. As Pastor, I contribute only a small portion of what makes worship.
At our Annual Meeting, there was a motion to look at our worship schedule. To particularly consider if having just one service is a possibility. Historically churches who choose to reduce worship service times tend to lose overall attendance.
We have set-up a task to review and prioritize the many aspects of what such a change to our worship life might entail, which would include changes with Sunday School and the Choir. One of the concerns raised is the lack of volunteers for needed roles within worship such as altar guild set-up, assisting ministers, and ushers. We have many folks who are scheduled quite often and encouraging more participation is a must for us to continue our current worship schedule. The Task Forces first concern is looking at how we can increase volunteerism by making our worship experience more accessible while remaining true to our Lutheran Worship heritage.
In an effort to make sure everyone is informed and involved, we will have as many opportunities to offer instruction and discussion on the essentials of worship. Please keep an eye out for these opportunities. These will include discussions after worship services, Articles in the grapevine, a survey. Please feel free to talk to me directly if you have a concern.
In all our discussion about worship, we must keep our focused our mission here at CLC. “To Know Christ and Make Christ Known.” Keep this focus in your prayers as we discern and work together.
Epiphany begins with the story of the 3 Magi or Gentile Priests who through divine knowledge and Reading the stars learned that the Savior Jesus is born in Bethlehem. These three priests were most likely Zoroastrian which is one of the oldest religions in the world.
Epiphany celebrates not only that Jesus is the savior of the Jewish people but also the whole world. Christ’s light and love are for everyone. However, what exactly do Christ’s light and love look like? One of the great writings about love in the Christian Tradition comes to us from 1 Corinthians chapter 13. In this short chapter, we find a succinct illustration of what God’s love looks like. As we go through the various Lectionary texts this season, I urge you to look at the parallel themes that 1 Corinthians 13 brings out. My prayer is that it enlightens and draws you closer to what it means to find the love of God in Christ Jesus. That God might give you, your very own Epiphany.
The themes are as follows:
Jan 6 Love never ends
Jan 13th When the complete comes, the partial will come to an end
Jan 20th It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
Jan 27th Now I know only in part; then I will know fully; even as I have been fully known
Feb 3rd The greatest of these is love.
Feb 10th And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Feb 17th If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing
Feb 24th When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
March 3rd For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face.
PS. I also wanted to take a moment to offer and word of thanks for your support and prayers while I was away for Advent and Christmas. It was a gift to be able to bond with Norah and for Caitlin and me to learn how to care for her together.
I look forward to the remainder of the year and what lies ahead.
A few quick notes:
Please continue to pray of Dick Kauffman. He has some heart issues that are being addressed.
Also, we are resetting the Weekly Prayer list in the bulletin. Please take some time to review the list. Contact the church office if there is a specific person whom you would like to remain on the list. We want to start fresh as the list has gotten rather lengthy.
Advent is coming, its marks the beginning of our church year. This Advent is particularly unique and eventful as I await the birth of my own child.
The Birth of a child is a special thing. I am reflecting on how much love and attention our baby has already received and they aren’t even born yet. We are so thankful for all the gifts and well wishes. It certainly makes me think the Jesus came to us as a child for a reason. For Christians the birth of Jesus is not an afterthought. The birth of Christ is the beginning of the Good News that “God is with us”. John 1:14 tells us “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” The announcement and birth of Child has a unique and special way of creating and nurturing community. Just look at all the people who gathered around Jesus when he was born. Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, Animals, and Kings. The focus of each one shifted to adoring and loving this child. Their needs seems to be put on hold and a generous spirit of caring to flowed forth toward this Mother and Child.
We have a lot of hurt and division happening in the world, and yet we celebrate grace and truth that comes in the Christ Child. Through this child we are called together. When we focus on loving Jesus we quickly understand that through Jesus we are loved by God and we are called to a greater purpose by God’s light in the world. This love is meant to be shared with the world and bring redemption. Advent is the season we celebrate and prepare for the Good News found in Jesus.
We celebrate advent using several colors. In some traditions the color of Advent is blue as a symbol of hope and Jesus’ royalty. In other traditions purple and rose symbolize the coming Kingdom and the need for repentance as we hear from John the Baptist and Jesus: “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand.” Both are true. Jesus brings hope, but he also reminds us that God comes to shake things up in our lives.
We celebrate Advent not just to remember the hope of God’s people waiting for Jesus long ago, but also as God’s people who wait for Jesus to come again now. We are still waiting!
Caitlin and I preparing for our own child with lots of fear and excitement. We know that you share in the experience as well. What will baby look like? Will it be a boy or a girl?
I invite you to reflect upon a waiting, or any other period of waiting in your life. What was it like to anticipate change? How might that be similar to us as we wait for Jesus? While we wait for Jesus, know the Holy Spirit is with us and beside us, guiding and preparing all of us.
This year we will have our Soup and Service on Wednesday’s during Advent. The theme we are looking at Saints sharing the spirit of Advent: St Nicolas, St. Lucy and Kathrina Von Bora (Katie Luther) Let’s find out together.
In January Cathy Kunst, Phyllis Dobson and Kathy Waluk will serve again as our executive team in 2019. I look forward to what we will accomplish this coming year. Please pray for wisdom, guidance and focus for our leadership. God is calling us to new adventures and down a few paths untrodden and unknown. We are reminded that Jesus Christ comes to us as Emmanuel “God with Us.” Let us rest in this promise.
I hope that this Advent and Christmas, Christ makes himself known to you in a meaningful way. Caitlin and I look forward introducing baby and sharing stories and photos. Have a happy and blessed celebration here in our community and with your family.
Posts from various People reflecting on How Christ intersects with daily Life.