Thursday, February 27, 2014


File:Alexandr Ivanov 015.jpg
Transfiguration by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1824

Each year, just before we begin the season of Lent, the church encounters the story of the Transfiguration of our Lord as recorded in one of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (This year we hear Matthew's version, Matthew 17:1-9.)

While each of these accounts have unique features and particular emphases, they all share a common function of reminding us of Jesus’ identity just before the decent into the journey that leads to the cross on another hill outside Jerusalem. 

I suspect that it is when we are anticipating challenge, suffering, anguish, and anxiety of any sort, that we are most in need of being reminded not only of Jesus’ identity, but also of our own. When we consider our identity in the midst of difficulty and adversity, we do well to lift up our hearts and set our gaze upon the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. 

It is a true tragedy that we are most often merely content with the definition of our lives (and our life together) as written by the fears and appetites of the world. That is, in seeking first not the Kingdom of God, but rather the security and comfort of this world, we miss out big time! In fact, we may often set off on an entirely fruitless itinerary rife with a multitude of shoots and ladders that leaves us off where we started, disoriented and afraid.

It doesn't have to be that way anymore. The lost can be found. Ours is a calling to a better way, into a fuller truth, that leads to a lasting life. The Body of Christ that is transfigured includes you and me. We are not simply spectators of God’s work. Because of our identity as Children of God, as brothers and sisters of one another in Christ, we get to be participants and co-workers in the kingdom God, here and now.

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Faith Formation Forum
A five-week series of classes exploring five faith practices 
that are grounded in our Baptismal Covenant

Begins this Sunday, March 2 at 8:45 AM

St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church
2695 Luther Drive
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everyday Enemies

Sometimes I wish it were easier to capture what Jesus was trying to communicate. Then again, maybe I am just complicating that which is simple and clear. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus serves up this gem:
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, . . ." (Matthew 5:43-44) 
Really? How's that working for us?

Maybe in the private piety of personal prayer we can pull this off, but how about in the public practice of our faith in community. We pray for the sick, the mourning, the homeless, the hungry, etc. We've come to expect that. When is the last time we prayed for the villain du jour? I don't remember many benevolent prayers being offered up for Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

Never-mind such extreme examples. How about everyday enemies? What does your grudge list look like? Who are those individuals in your life who push your buttons and activate deep-dwelling resentments? Be honest. We all have such a list. Some lists are long, others concise, yet they all contain names of people we would rather not run into on the sidewalk or at the grocery store.

It could be, however, that some of our everyday enemies are people we encounter everyday. How unfortunate and painful. That's no way to live. Maybe we wish they would go away forever either voluntarily or via targeted dispatch, dead or alive.

Whoever these everyday enemies are for you and me, our Lord Jesus says to us, "Love them, pray for them." This is not a suggestion or a recommendation.  It is no piece of advice or just simple wise counsel. Sounds like Jesus really means business.

So, what to do?

I have a hunch that probably most, if not all, of our everyday enemies are people we know personally. And we know them personally, more than likely, because we have had or do have some sort of relationship with them. By definition, then, it is a two-way street. Right? Let's be honest. I'm certainly not trying to suggest that we asked for it or are intentionally creating the conditions in which enemies are cultivated. Yet, to some extent or the other, we probably are culpable.

Take some time in the day or so ahead to read the passage from Matthew's gospel that we will explore together on Sunday morning. (Matthew 5:38-48)  It is a continuation of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount.

And, do me a favor, if you have a spare moment, e-mail me your thoughts on this. Maybe I'll reflect some of them in the sermon this week. It will be a better experience for all of us if we cooperate!  You can email directly at:

Meanwhile, thanks for taking the time to read and reflect. Share this post with others . . . maybe with some of your everyday enemies. Looking forward to seeing you soon!

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Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
February 23, 2014

Prayer of the Day
Holy God of compassion, 
you invite us into your way of forgiveness and peace.
Lead us to love our enemies, 
and transform our words and deeds 
to be like his through whom we pray, 
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen 

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
Psalm 119:33-40
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
Matthew 5:38-48

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Yes, Yes" or "No, No"

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . . but since we are in the midst of the season after Epiphany, this snow seems to be overstaying its welcome. So, it's a good day to stay home. At least that's what I've convinced myself, since the alternative is not wise.

So, since we are all pretty much in the same boat (or should I say sleigh?) may I suggest that you take a few minutes and ponder the contents of this week's post below?

This coming Sunday's gospel reading continues with a portion of the sermon on the mount of Jesus in Matthew's fifth chapter. It feels like Jesus is raising expectations just out of our reach. In fact, if you take this teaching to heart, it's hard not to be overwhelmed and perhaps discouraged.

Not many of us (and I hope none of us!) are likely to murder someone in cold blood, but Jesus suggests that even being angry with one another makes us liable to judgement.  Other topics included in this passage include insult, offering, reconciliation, accusing, sin, dismemberment, adultery, swearing, etc.  Sounds like the topics of so much of our so-called entertainment these days at the box office!

See for yourself. Take some time to read, study, ponder, and reflect on Matthew 5:21-37. What do you notice in this passage about God? How might you be convicted or comforted by what Jesus says?

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Sundays at 8:45 AM
March 2, 9, 16, 23,  & 30

The Faith Formation Forum on Sunday mornings at 8:45 during Lent will explore the five faith practices that grow out of our baptism. The liturgy for the Affirmation of Baptism describes the faith practices in the following way:
We are to "Live among God's faithful people; hear the word of God and share in the Lord's Supper; proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed; serve all people following the example of Jesus; and strive for justice and peace in all the earth.  
We will also identify the connections between these faith practices and what it means to be Ambassadors for Christ. Here is an outline of the topics included in this series of classes that will be led by Pastor Frye.

March 2
LIVE:  What does it mean to live?

March 9
HEAR & SHARE:  How do we hear and share Jesus?

March 16
PROCLAIM:  What are we saying? What’s the message?

March 23
SERVE:  What have you done for me lately?

March 30
STRIVE:  Great expectations in the face of resistance . . .


A Reminder:

There will be an informational session immediately following worship this Sunday for the purpose of group discernment and visioning for our future journey together as God's people in this community. A review of the topics covered at the Leadership Retreat will be included along with opportunity to share where you have seen God's work being done recently. What is God calling us to be about in the years ahead?