Thursday, January 29, 2015


Last week I had a bit of surgery. I was an outpatient and in the days following have been impatient with myself and the healing process. The surgical site was on my back, way south. Sitting has been difficult. So has writing, and typing -- since these activities are best conducted while being vertical. So, this week's post is something that I just shared in the monthly newsletter as well.  I'm trying to be efficient.

It has been a rather interesting time to note the many and various ways that we, as a society, tend to dwell on the ridiculous at the expense of the sublime. From the political ramifications of the over-preparedness of northeastern state governors in the face of  an “historic blizzard” to the air pressure of footballs, we allow ourselves to gravitate toward the meaningless.

One could lament the retreat from our search for meaning and be disparaged with so many weapons of mass-distraction in our culture. Our faith calls us to not lose hope, but to seek first the Kingdom of God. Each week we rehearse and enact that posture of attentiveness to first things.  Lift up your hearts! Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!

Without this regular rehearsal and activity, our spiritual vitality wanes. So, the antidote to such 
confusion may well be first: confession. When we pray thy kingdom come, thy will be done, we get to be prepared to participate in the follow-through on the part of our heavenly Father.

In just a couple weeks, we will begin the season of Lent. Look forward to it not so much as a burden to bear, but as a gift to receive. The season calls us to enter into the wilderness of our lives and face those things that distract us from our relationship with God and our co-laborers with Christ. We can be empowered to name them and set them aside in acts of prayer and repentance. The discipline of Lent can be a liberating and life-giving practice for individuals and whole communities.  I invite us all to embrace this time together courageously and with hope. 

The first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, is February 18th.  There will be services a the church at both 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM that day.  Come and receive ashes in the shape of the cross as an outward sign of your mortality and as a tactile reminder of your baptismal identity, an identity that death cannot undo.  Following the morning service, I’ll be camping out at the Starbucks Coffee Shop at Target offering ashes to any interested inquirer.  Let your friends, family, and colleagues know that anyone is welcome. If you want to stop by for coffee and conversation, that is fine as well.  I plan to be there until about 3:00

In the meantime, take this opportunity to revisit the information in last week's post (Crucified Love) about the Lenten Retreat to be held on Saturday, March 21st.  There will also be a 2015 Lenten Brochure available at the church and online at our website (I hope) in the days ahead.  Use these as tools for inviting others to come and see.

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Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
February 1, 2015

Prayer of the Day
Compassionate God, you gather the whole universe 
into your radiant presence 
and continually reveal your Son as our Savior. 
Bring wholeness to all that is broken 
and speak truth to us in our confusion, 
that all will see and know your Son, 
Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Crucified Love

It is my high honor and distinct privilege to invite you to:

Life rooted in the 

a Lenten Retreat 

presented by 
Sister Thelma Steiger, HSF, Ph. D.
Sister Jo Ann Knight, HSF, MSN

This morning retreat will be offered from 8:30 until noon.
Please call to reserve your space: 717-261-1213
There is no charge.
A free-will offering would be appreciated.

Saturday, March 21, 2015
St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church
2695 Luther Drive
Chambersburg, PA 17202

On the cross we see the human face of God turned toward us, 
as well as the divine face of humanity hidden in suffering.

From the first moments of Incarnation to the last moments on the cross, 
God not only reveals HIMSELF, but also who WE are to become.

The message is one of compassion, inclusion, forgiveness and radical love.

The power of God's love is made visible 
in the powerlessness of Jesus on the cross.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

On Fire

There are multiple meanings of the phrase On Fire. From time to time it's common to hear it being used to describe someone's enthusiasm for a particular action, purpose, or cause. Being on fire for something beyond ourselves has to do with passion, dedication, and commitment.

What might it look like for a community of people to be on fire for God's purposes? More specifically, what would it be like for St. Luke Lutheran Church to be on fire for the mission of sharing the light of Christ?

I like the imagery of fire. Well, I'll be honest, I like real fire. I like to sit beside the fireplace in my back yard and burn things (mostly wood). Sometimes I stoke the flames to the point where they reach beyond the limits of safety. The point is, sometimes something on fire escapes our ability to exercise control. And we love to be in control. (We think we are safe that way.)

But guess what? We are not in control. God is in control. We get to cooperate and participate in God's plans and with God's will. And when we do, we too can be on fire. We can be passionate for our mission and ministry in Christ's name. From our perspective, that's risky business. and so we resort to playing it safe.

I've been reminding myself recently of the notion that converted people convert people. Being on fire is contagious. It spreads, especially when the wind of the Holy Spirit acts.

This Sunday the church remembers the Baptism of our Lord.  We hear of Jesus' identity and mission. And, we get to remember our identity and mission. We are children of God. The mission that has been entrusted to us is to share the light of Christ.

We too can be on fire.  What do you think?  Are you willing to be enkindled by the light of Christ and the Holy Spirit? What would it look like in your life and our life together? What about control and fear?

As we remember the Baptism of Our Lord, we do well to remember our own.  Where were you baptized? When were you baptized? How were you baptized? Have you been baptized? If not, would you like to be baptized? So many questions!!! Although it may be a stretch, enjoy the video:

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Baptism of Our Lord
January 11, 2015

Prayer of the Day
Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, 
your voice moves over the waters. 
Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit, 
that we may follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, 
who loves and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and forever.

Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-17
Mark 1:4-11

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year

On Friday morning, January 1, 1993, I buckled myself into my silver 1984 Volkswagen Quantum station wagon and began driving from Lebanon, Pennsylvania to Chicago. A couple of weeks earlier, my friend Charlie and I had loaded a bright yellow Hertz-Penske truck with my necessary possessions and delivered them to my new apartment in Hyde Park at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

My New Year's Day trip was solo. My car was loaded to capacity and I made the drive to Chicago with limited stops. I sipped coffee and nibbled on sunflower seeds along the way. By the time I was passing by Sandusky, Ohio, the floor of my car looked like the inside of a birdcage.

As I remember it was a cold day and I was anxious, afraid, and excited.

New beginnings are like that. Leaving behind the familiar, the comfortable, the well-known to encounter something new and unknown is daunting. Yet such an action is pregnant with possibility and potential.

As we all make this new beginning today with this new year, we have an opportunity to be intentional. The beginning of the Church year in Advent, the beginning of the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, or days like today call us to consider evaluating where we have been and where we are called to go. God would like us to discern and decide. Finally, we get to act.

I'm looking forward to this new year. I believe God is calling us into action. And we will need to be intentional, proactive, and bold.

Meanwhile, our duty and delight of worshipping God is before us. I encourage you to resolve to deepen your commitment to regular (weekly) worship, daily prayer, and Bible reading. All of us have a responsibility to one another to do our best. We are in this together. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

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Second Sunday of Christmas
January 4, 2015

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you have filled all the earth with the light of your incarnate Word. By your grace empower us to reflect your light in all that we do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Jeremiah 31:7–14
Psalm 147:12–20
Ephesians 1:3–14
John 1:[1–9] 10–18

The Epiphany of our Lord
January 6, 2015
(Epiphany Candlelight Vespers will be held at 7:00 PM)

Prayer of the Day
O God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives, and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Isaiah 60:1–6
Psalm 72:1–7, 10–14
Ephesians 3:1–12
Matthew 2:1–12