Youth Fundraiser

Fundraising has become a bit more challenging with all of the “stay at home” orders, which ultimately led to the cancellation of our Annual Spring BBQ and Raffle. So we’ve decided to be a bit creative and still hold the BBQ, but to distribute it as a drive through. I pray that you might be willing to support our youth and their efforts to attend the National Youth Gathering next summer.

To order you dinner, either use the QR Code above, or click the link below.

Easter Sunday

It was an Easter to remember!

From the Gospel of St. Matthew:

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Matthew 28:1-11

90+ cars gathered for worship

Good News has come to us. Good News that cannot be contained and needs to be shared. Yet how do you share it, when we’ve all be asked to stay home? Well, here at First Lutheran we got creative. Rather than gathering in our own pews, or staying home on and enjoying the comfort of our own couches, we gathered for a parking lot worship service.

Pastor Doug DeVos

Together, three congregations, First Lutheran, First Christian, and Faith United Methodist shared the Good News of our Salvation that Christ is Alive! Pastor Doug DeVos (First Christian) preached about the great “ta da” moment as Jesus appeared before Mary and the disciples. In that moment fear was shattered and hope was born. In the midst of the uncertainties of our world today, that same “ta da” moment is able to shatter our own fears and bring us everlasting Joy.

Pastor C.J. Bailey

Filled with joy, we gathered around the Table of Communion with blessings shared by Pastor Marilyn Coney (Faith United Methodist) and Pastor Bailey (First Lutheran). Individuals either brought their own elements or received a presealed communion cup, which included a wafer and grape juice.

The highlight of the day . . . horns honking. As we greeted each other, as we shared the peace, and as we extended many thanks, horns would honk. We may have been separated by windows, government mandates, and arrived from various congregations, but in our worship together we were gathered as one people, a people of God, celebrating the hope that only Christ can bring! While the horns honked here in our own parking lot, somewhere out in the distance, several blocks away, was one horn that would always join in. It was a great reminder that the Good News of the Resurrection is far reaching and continues to be shared today.

Pastors Bailey, Coney, and DeVos sharing the closing blessing.

Good Friday

One of my favorite portions of the Good Friday service come as the service is coming to a close. These words are entitled “The Solemn Reproaches” and have been a part of the liturgical service for centuries. Pray them with me as you envision Jesus hanging on the tree. Feel the anguish. Remember the love. Give thanks for the blessings of forgiveness as Jesus has died for you and me!

O my people, O my church, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you?  Answer me.
I led you out of slavery into freedom, and delivered you through the waters of rebirth, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you? Answer me.
Forty years I led you through the desert, feeding you with manna on the way; I saved you from the time of trial and gave you my body, the bread of heaven, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you?  Answer me.
I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud and fire, but you led me to the judgment hall of Pilate; I guided you by the light of the Holy Spirit, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you?  Answer me.
I planted you as my fairest vineyard, but you brought forth bitter fruit; I made you branches of the vine and never left your side, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you? Answer me.
I poured out saving water from the rock, but you gave me vinegar to drink; I poured out my life and gave you the new covenant in my blood, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you?  Answer me.
I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns;  I gave you the kingdom and crowned you with eternal life, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you?  Answer me.
I struck down your enemies, but you struck my head with a reed; I gave you my peace, but you draw the sword in my name, and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you?  Answer me.
I opened the waters to lead you to the promised land, but you opened my side with a spear; I washed your feet as a sign of my love, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you?  Answer me.
I lifted you up to the heights, but you lifted me high on a cross;  I raised you from death and prepared for you the tree of life, but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you? Answer me.
I grafted you into my people Israel, but you made them scapegoats for your own guilt, and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

O my people, O my church, what more could I have done for you?  Answer me.
I came to you in the least of your brothers and sisters, but I was hungry and you gave me no food, thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me, and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Maundy Thursday

Exodus 12:1-14
John 13:1-17

Tonight is all about creating new traditions.  New Traditions for the Israelites as they prepare for the Exodus. New Traditions for the disciples as they gather in the upper room on the night Jesus was betrayed. New Traditions for all of us as we continue to adopt/adjust to life with Covid-19.

We are all learning how to live life differently.  We are all learning how to worship “apart . . . yet together.”  I can tell you it is strange leading worship in the absence of a congregation. We are all learning how to fill our time as we are confined to a stay at home order. 

As we are all learning how to live, have you ever though that some of the things we have started doing may very well be new “traditions” that we are creating as we are all spending a bit more time a home. 

New Traditions . . . What do they look like? Well for the Israelites . . . they look like a meal. 

  • Lamb roasted (not boiled)
  • Bread baked (without leaven)
  • Eaten hurriedly.  With rob on and staff in hand.
  • And blood marking the door post so that the angel of Death might simply “pass over”

For God was about to do a new and miraculous thing. God was going to save the people! Too long they had lived in bondage, too long they had been kept from worshiping God, too long they had been oppressed. This was God’s final answer to the continued request that Moses had made . . . “Pharaoh . . . Let my people go”

New traditions were at hand . . . salvation was near.

The same can be said as Jesus gathered with his disciples on the night in which he was betrayed. In the midst of sharing a meal, a bowl was taken out, Jesus undressed and sat on the floor, and he began to wash the feet of his disciples. Then later he took a loaf of bread, he took a cup, he blessed them saying take and eat.

As Jesus took on the role of the servant washing the disciples’ feet, and later as Jesus redefined the Passover meal, he redefines the story of God’s saving act.  For salvation was soon at hand even as the cross grows every closer.

Today, even for us, as the world is being redefined by how we live, work, and interact with one another, New Traditions are being created. But how will those new traditions reflect our life of faith? How will we live out the story of our salvation and reflect the grace, love, and peace that is gifted to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ?

I pray that it is through actions of compassion as we seek to love and care for one another!

Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-11

“Why can’t we just celebrate Palm Sunday?” That’s a great question to ask as many congregations gather to celebrate “Passion Sunday”, where the text for the day cram all of Holy Week into one day. We’ve got all week to celebrate the Passion, so for today, should Jesus be allowed one day where all the world can praise him.  I believe so, and that being the case, this is it!

As he comes down from Bethphage, as the disciples are sent ahead to bring the donkey and its colt, as Jesus rides through the city gate into Jerusalem, everyone praises him!

Hosanna to the King of kings!
Hosanna to the Lord of lords!
Hosanna         Hosanna         Hosanna in the highest!

This is a day of thanksgiving, this is a day of praise, this is a day worthy of proclaiming.  For as Jesus enters Jerusalem, for once he is recognized for who he is. 

King of kings
Lord of Lords
Son of God.

For that all the people should praise him. For that his name needs to be recognized. For that his name needs to be heard. For that his messages needs to be seen by all the world.

For this is the time when we need to let all the world know that Christ has come . . .

That Christ has come to us, in a time of uncertainties

  • To bring healing to a world plagued by virus and disease
  • To bring hope to a world that seems hopeless, isolated, and alone
  • To bring to life the promise that better things are coming, New restored, resurrection life stands in our future.

Christ has come . . .

  • To show us how to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  • To show us how to forgive as we have been forgiven.
  • To model how we care for one another even as the Samaritan, the outcast, offered care to a stranger in need. 

Indeed, Christ has come. As he rides on in majesty, we realize that this day . . . in fact every day . . . is his day. 

And so with all the crowds gathered along the city street, with the rocks and stones that could not keep silent, with all the earth, with all of the heavenly host we praise his name saying:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna         Hosanna         Hosanna in the highest!

The Spear

John 19:28 – 42

Six hours after being lifted high on the Cross, Jesus speaks, “It is finished!” Then he bows his head and breaths his last. While we are witnesses to these things, something else is taking place behind the scenes at the same time.  For the Sabbath was approaching, and this was not just any Sabbath, this was the Sabbath tied in conjunction with the Passover. These were high . . . high holy days for the people of Israel.

With that the Chief Priest appealed to Pilate, and he then gave the order to have the legs of those being crucified crushed with the same hammer that had driven in their spikes and nails. Now the end is near! With broken legs, the weight of the crucified body would crush their lungs, causing quick death for those on the tree.

Yet , as the guards approached Jesus, they found that he was already dead.  A prophecy was fulfilled:

He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken. 
Psalm 34

To be certain that Jesus was dead, the Centurion approaches, spear in hand, and with one quick thrust forces it up through his side. 

The end . . . it has already come and gone.  Or has it?

As the spear is withdrawn, now standing by the side of its guard, blood and water begin to flow from Jesus side.  These are signs of Life . . . even in the midst of death. 

As blood and water flow, we find two symbolic reminders of life that abounds in Christ. Life that is freely given to us.

Let’s remember, that blood and water are the very essence of life.  You and I cannot live without them.  God, through Christ’s death and pierced side, pours them out upon us, and upon all the world to receive this life sustaining gift.

Let us also remember what else they represent. 

  • The Water’s of Baptism, where we first encounter God’s grace poured out upon us. This water washes us clean from our sin and the eternal punishment that should have been ours.
  • The Blood that is Shed, as Jesus invites us to gather around the table to break bread and lift a cup, here we celebrate a covenant of hope and forgiveness through the cup that we share.

Yes indeed the end is near, but as the spear pierces Jesus side . . . as blood and water flow . . . we are reminded that new life, a transfigured life that is soon to be found.  See death is not the end. Thanks be to God, through the death and resurrection of Christ, we are the ones who are transfigured.  We are the ones who receive new life.  For the water, flowing from Jesus side, through the font of baptism, has claimed us as Children of God. And the Blood, flowing from Jesus side, through the cup that is shared, welcomes us to the eternal banquet that has no ending.  Indeed . . . these are blessed things!

These are blessed things that remind us that the end is just the beginning of a great big beautiful tomorrow!

The Hammer & Nails

Matthew 27: 27-54

On this fourth Sunday in Lent, I would like you to ponder a quick question . . . how many nails played a part of the Crucifixion? Think about that just for a moment. 

Most of us are going to say 3 . . . and three might be correct. It is the traditional image of Jesus, arms outstretched with one nail in each hand, feet crossed with one nail driven through each foot. That would make a total of three.

However, some of us might say 4 . . . and most scholars believe that might be a bit more historically actuate. Arms outstretched with one nail thorough each wrist. Then one nail for either foot, through the side of the heal, into the side of the cross, almost in the pose of riding a bicycle. This would have heightened the pain, as the nail went though the bone, and severed the major nerve that runs through the foot and leg.

But a few of us might even say 5 . . . and five you might think?  Yes five . . . that is probably closer to the right answer. Two in his hands. Two in his feet. One for the sign nailed above his head. That sign, often forgotten is still important.   It’s message is still crucial to the crucifixion . . .  so that nail still counts, making a total of five nails.

And those five nails . . . tell a story as well. Just as the Crown of Thorns told the story, of how Jesus’ death is connected to the Garden of Eden and the sins of all humanity.

The nails tell another story . . . They tell a story that reminds us of who Jesus is and why he came.  For what shape can you make with those five nails? Laying them out one by one? Interweaving them one over another? Maybe you’d get something like . . . a star.

33 years before Jesus was hung on the tree, there was a symbol of hope that lit up the night sky.  It beckoned the shepherds. It guided the magi. It accompanied the angels.  As that bright light shone down on all the earth hope was born.

As Jesus came into the world, he was placed into the hands of a carpenter.  Joseph . . . Jesus’ earthly father, and with that we can imaging that Jesus was a carpenter as well. Following in dad’s workshop, following in his father’s footsteps, with hammer and nails in hand, covered in sawdust.  Splinters in his fingers, and blackened fingernails nails from missing the mark. 

Jesus was a carpenter destined for the cross, which means from birth to death . . . nails were a part of his story.