Dear Brothers and Sisters in
Wow! Would you have believed someone six
months ago if they claimed we would be shut-down like this? Holy Week with Palm
Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter sure aren’t going to be the same
this year. I was working on the bulletins for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday
today and trying to imagine how we reproduce the emotions that arise in these
services over the internet. Maundy Thursday without communion? Good Friday
without extinguishing the lights? Be sure to watch for our emails with the audio
files or go to Youtube.com and search for GraceLCHayward for the video version
to see how this turns out.
Last week I changed the sign at St.
Peter’s to “Be still, and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10 It was interesting to have a
discussion with a regular neighborhood visitor who said the message “was, was,
was, disturbing.” I told him that some people see it that way while others see
it as comforting. “It’s not too comforting yet” was his response. I had the
opportunity to tell him that we can also see it as God saying, “Calm down; be
still; I’ve got this.” He wasn’t ready for that. Are you? With all that God is
accomplishing through this situation we can be more confident than ever we see
Him at work.
I was reading through Luke recently and
hit “The Kingdom of God is near you.” Luke 10:9 God and His Kingdom have
arrived! You are a part of that Kingdom and we all have the joy to share God’s
love. Sometimes, like this current pandemic, things don’t look so good. It
didn’t look good when God sent His Children into Babylon either. But God was at
work to draw His people back. Sometimes it takes drastic action to accomplish
His will. I find it particularly interesting that this is coming to a climax
during Lent. Let’s do some self examination, repentance, and turn our hearts and
lives fully to the work of the Lord and watch as He accomplishes miracles beyond
what we have ever seen.
You heard me on Sunday repeat an example
from the story of “The Little Engine that could.” You remember, “I think I can.
I think I can…” Pastor Lange added a great touch for me. “God isn’t looking for
little engines who say ‘I think I can’ He’s looking for little engines who
say…’I can’t.’ Are we ready to repent and turn to God for His forgiveness? Do we
need to be in control?
May God bless us as we look to Him this
As we begin the Season of Lent I can’t think of a single
word that is more profound for us than humble. I also can’t think of one that is
harder for us to accomplish.
From a dictionary: Humble
1. Not proud; modest. 2. Low in position or condition; not important or grand.
3. To make humble; make lower in position, condition, or pride. ‘Humble in
defeat. Humbled by defeat.’
Of course our example is Jesus. “You made Him a little lower than the
heavenly beings.” Psalm 8:5 Jesus also washed His disciples’ feet. Jesus
went to the cross for our sins before we were ever born. Jesus tells us to ‘turn the other cheek’ when people hate
us. Some have misunderstood Jesus and what it means to be
Jesus remained humble as He overturned the tables in the
Temple. Jesus remained humble when He answered the high priest questioning if He
was “the Christ, the Son of God.” and
He said, “Yes, it is as you say. But I
say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the
right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of Heaven.” Matthew
Sometimes humble is very submissive, as when Jesus chose
to allow the soldiers to beat Him. Other times humble is confessing our
submission to God no matter the consequences in this
The primary times for us to be humble are first before
God confessing all of our sins and resting in His mercy for forgiveness and
second when we are serving others. Both should flow from the same joy of being a
Child of God.
There is an old tale that Benjamin Franklin carried a
list of ten things with him every day. They were the things he wanted to work on
in order to improve himself. The story says he had the word humble on the list,
and after working on it for a long time he confidently removed it one day. On
reflection, he decided to put it back on the list and never took it off again
figuring that he could never claim to be truly humble.
As with our forefather, we too should be works in
progress. We should continue to work and to serve all the while attempting to be
honest with ourselves, listening to those around us, and seeking to be a better
model of humility for all. If Ben was right, we will always have the opportunity
to improve and the joy of knowing that we are forgiven by the only one who
actually achieved being truly humble, our Lord and Savior,
I don’t know if you feel like you have “permission to function as God’s church in your community” or not. I certainly hope you do! That is one of the most important goals we have as a pastor.
You are a Child of God. As you recall from Confirmation, you will recall Martin Luther talking about each of us and our vocation as a Christian in the world. We are first and foremost a Child of God. We are also ambassadors to the whole world. God has blessed us to share His Word and love not only by what we say, but more importantly by what we do.
As we go about our regular work, even in retirement, we are Children of God all day long. We have been blessed to have the Holy Spirit plant God’s Word in our hearts and to help us to believe that Word. Because of that we call Jesus our Savior.
Jesus is also our Lord. He is the creator of all things. As we heard last Sunday (Colossians 1) “All things were created by Him and for Him.” That gives Him the authority to set expectations for those under His reign. We are forever thankful to Him for His endless love and look forward to seeing Him face to face.
We are entering a new season for the Church. Advent is a time when we reflect on our Lord and Savior coming both as a small child, like us, and as our King in all His glory. We will be doing that in a different way this year using what I call “The Stories of the Bible” lectionary. A lectionary is a set of Bible Readings that we use through the year. If you look in your hymnal or in the pew hymnal you will find what we use most years. From page xiv to xix you will find Series A, B and C. (Which we just completed)
For this year I have chosen Bible passages and a series of events that are often not covered by the other lectionaries. Please bring your home Bible with you to church! There is so much we can learn as we see the Word of God come alive in a different way.
May our Lord and Savior bless us this Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas Seasons as we strive to glorify Him wherever we are found.