Easter – April 12

Dear Beloved Community of Hope and New Life!

The high point of the year is here for all Christians! Please join in an uplifting, hope-filled and celebratory Easter Sunday worship by clicking above to view the video.

Although this is one Easter we will never forget for the circumstances that keep us from gathering in person for the first time ever, I believe that this recorded service will also be especially inspiring for you and your family.

Remember to gather your bulletin and Celebrate insert, as well as some bread and wine/grape juice for Holy Communion. Remember that Lutheran worship is highly participatory. That doesn’t have to change all that much as you still have a big role to play by reading and singing along with me when it comes to your part. Remember that our worship is a Great Drama and your participation and you play a key role in bringing our praise to God on this most holy day.

Thank you to those of you who purchased Easter Lilies to adorn the sanctuary for worship. Please remember to send your $15 for them. You can call the church office M-TH 8:30 – 2:30 and arrange with Leslie to come pick it up for your home.

The scripture readings for Easter Sunday are:

Acts 10:34-43 – Listen to Peter’s message of the radical and total inclusivity of God’s love for humanity. While we get so easily caught up in separating each other according to all kinds of categories (class, ethnicity, skin color, age, sexuality, gender etc..),  Jesus showed us God’s way of “no partiality”. This was a very different approach to faith that is still very difficult for human beings to grasp. However, when we finally are able to, at times, we come to understand things like grace and forgiveness in profound ways that create a new way of seeing life that cannot be competed with. The risen Christ is the embodiment of all that God wants and hopes for us now while we have breath, and eternally. How are you able to attempt to live out showing “no partiality”? How is it hard for you to do that? How can see your relationships through Peter’s hope?

Psalm 118 – Verse 24 is my mother’s all-time favorite Bible passage! She has written it by hand on each one of her 12 grandchildren’s birthday cards, and continues to do so. Why does it mean so much to her? I think it is her way of showing how much it means to her to pass on the blessing of faith to her family. It is her central purpose in life and brings her the greatest joy. How are we able to pass on the blessings of faith to our family and loved ones? How do we do that even when we know it may not be received in the same way that we try to offer it? Remember the ways in which God has been good in your life and you could not help but rejoice. How can we see each day, even in the “pandemic times” as the one that God has made for good, and find some way to be glad in it?

Colossians 3: 1-4 – Written to a new church, this letter is trying to encourage people in the new way of Jesus, which was very hard given the many practical. “on-the-ground” challenges that the early Christians faced. Their culture was far removed from this new way of love and no partiality. As they lived out their day to day lives so much was in opposition to this new way. The way to stay focused was to “seek the things that are above”. I think that this means that we have to do our best to not get bogged down by the practical things that we must engage in, but to keep the things that we here when we gather for worship for example – the principles and higher ideals – at the forefront of our motivation for our daily tasks. By doing so we can reveal Christ to the world and bring others into the same kind of approach to the life we share. How can you bring the Christ that is within you out into the open? How can you help yourself stay focused mostly on the “things that are above”?

Matthew 28:1-10 – We only read this gospel account of Jesus’ resurrection once every 3 years. Usually it is John 20:1-18 where Mary thinks Jesus is the gardener. So it is good to see how this story gives us another angle on what it has to say to us.  Once again, it is the women, as in John, that are the first to experience the resurrection, and they faithfully follow what the angel asks them to do in sharing the good news. Think about the how the women in your life have been the ones to share the good news of God’s love and grace with you. The words “Do not be afraid” appear twice in this gospel. Why is that such an important message from angels and Jesus in the Bible? How does fear disable our faith and love? Where can we acknowledge that fear may have inhibited us from sharing the good news about what we believe life is all about? How can we go into our world and share a great joy?

May God’s Easter Joy be with you!
Pastor Jim   325-9095

Good Friday – April 10

For Good Friday, if you are so inclined, you can arrange for a place to kneel in front of a cross that you may have in your home. At the end of the service, after the cross is veiled and adored, you will see me kneel and pray and touch the cross in reverence. This can be a very meaningful practice for this service as it becomes a way for us to physically acknowledge the powerful symbol of what the cross truly means: God’s love and hope for the world even in the midst of suffering.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jim

Maundy Thursday – April 9

Dear Beloved Community,

Maundy Thursday begins the Three Days (Latin: Triduum) worship service, which signifies the end of the 40 days of Lent.

I believe that participating in these Holy Week services is a very real and timely resource for each of us in these troubled times. I hope you will be able to set aside some holy and sacred time for them. The links for the bulletin and Celebrate for Maundy Thursday are to the right.

For Maundy Thursday, please gather some bread and wine/grape juice so that you can receive Holy Communion, which is another meaningful spiritual resource we can draw from as we are brought together in the Spirit by receiving this sacrament from each other, or by ourselves.

God’s Spirit moves in ways we cannot fully understand around the meaning of this meal that Jesus left us to remember him by. I hope that you are drawing closer to God and each other by taking part in Holy Communion in this way, given our present circumstances.

Thank you to all of you who have sent messages of gratitude and encouragement for the recorded services. It means a lot to hear from you. And, as always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can provide any pastoral support to you and your family in these trying times.  831-325-9095

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Jim