What a charming way to teach children and adults how and why to make the sign of the cross.
I have returned from a brief retreat at St. Augustine's House. This is the only Lutheran Monastery in North America. If you have an opportunity to stop in, you won't regret it.
Sarah Hinlicky Wilson explains how and why the Reading Luther Challenge originated. What a spectacular way to utilize social media. In the midst of all the "sharing" there really can be substance!
The High Holy Days are upon us.
First English (16495 Ireland Road, Mishawaka 46544) is hosting Maundy Thursday liturgy beginning at 7pm. We will receive absolution corporately and individually, imitate Jesus in the foot washing, and join with the Church in giving thanks to God for the meal of Holy Communion that Christ Jesus instituted on this night.
Gloria Dei is hosting the Good Friday, spoken liturgy of the Distribution of the Pre-Sanctified at noon.
First English is hosting the Good Friday 7pm liturgy of Word, reflection, and prayer.
Gloria Dei is hosting the Easter Vigil beginning at 8pm with the Great Fire in the parking lot. Paschal Candles from both congregations will be blessed and lit. Thank you to Patty Carr for hosting the Wine and Cheese party after the first Eucharist of the Resurrection.
Sunday morning: First English service is at 9am. Gloria Dei is at 10:45.
April 12, Gloria Dei returns to it’s regular time of 10:30am.
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. I continue to reflect on the meaning of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and then just a short time later he is led out of Jerusalem to be crucified. Hugh of St. Victor offer this on the Palms:
“For the palm is the sign of victory but the flourishing branches signify good works. So then we meet Christ in an act of praise with branches of palms and foliage, when we praise Him with good works and with action worthy of graces as the triumpher over death.”
“The gift that keeps on giving” is a proverbial saying that describes a gift or decision or action that has a lasting impact. One example is establishing an endowment fund. An endowment is a way in which money can be given as a gift and then the impact of the gift continues for decades to come for the intended receiver.
Our heavenly Father has blessed us with a gift that keeps on giving. The Son of God became incarnate in Jesus, son of Mary. Jesus’ life of obedience thirty years later leads him to his suffering and death on the cross. His death on the cross is so that we may have life. Three days later Jesus rises from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We have come to understand that Jesus’ death and resurrection are a gift to us. And, it is a gift that keeps on giving. On account of Christ, our heavenly Father forgives our sins, again and again and again and again. On account of Christ, our heavenly Father sends the Holy Spirit in order to bring us to faith and bring us into the life of the church. On account of Christ, we have the promise of resurrection life. In Holy Baptism we are joined with a death like his so that we may enjoy a resurrection like his.
Jesus is a gift that keeps on giving.
One of the ways in which the Church honors the gift of Christ’s resurrection is to extend the celebration of Easter over a seven-week period. This way we may continue to celebrate the gift of God for the people of God, the gift that keeps on giving!
This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, we read the Passion account from Mark 14:1-15:47. This is a lengthy narrative. We asked people to take different parts and everyone in the sanctuary had a copy of the Passion account. The congregation played the part of "the people." The congregation speaks those horrific words to Pilate about Jesus, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."
I am taken aback by such words. As I look across the congregations I serve I see good and decent and hard working people. People who gather for worship around the Word and Sacraments in a time and place where one must make a deliberate choice to be active in a congregation. These dear people shout out "crucify Him!" Are they playing a part?
The sad, sad truth is that none of us are playing a part here. We enter into the drama. We speak the story of Jesus' crucifixion because we find ourselves in the story. The truth is that we would be just like the disciples and we would despite our best intentions lose courage and faith and fall away from Jesus. We would be like Peter and in that moment when it matters, we would deny Jesus. We would be in the crowd, foolishly, blindly, shouting out at the encouragement of our fearful and misguided religious leaders to crucify Jesus. This sad, sad truth leads us into shame. This sad, sad truth leads us into the truth that Jesus dies for us as well because we are sinners and we would do no better. We need the mercy of God because we fail and lose faith.
Jesus suffers and dies for us, for me, for you.
The Passion of Christ is a statement of truth. Truth of God's profound love for us rings loud and clear. God is incarnate in Jesus. The very Son of God dies on the cross for our sakes.
The truth is that our humanity falls short. Too short. We need the mercy of God extended to us on account of Christ Jesus.