Thursday, April 30, 2015

Minding and Abiding

Sometimes a change in perspective is necessary.  Often, though, it can be make us feel disoriented or at least a bit uncomfortable. Our experience has taught us that we eventually adjust and adapt. For example, the view of the baptismal font is different, yet it is still the baptismal font. The only thing that has changed is the perspective from which we are viewing the familiar font.

This Sunday we will consider the way that we are connected to Jesus. The Sacrament of Holy Baptism remains the central initiation into the Body of Christ. In baptism we are joined to Christ's death and resurrection -- we are given a new life, the only life that matters.

The way we view baptism sometimes becomes so familiar that we don't see the connections that have been made. A change in our perspective is often very helpful is rediscovering things we have forgotten or never noticed before.

Take some time between now and Sunday to discover more about your baptism.  Have you been baptized?  If so, when and where were you baptized? How were you baptized? Did you have sponsors or Godparents? Do you have any pictures?

On Holy Trinity Sunday, May 31, we will be receiving new members into the congregation. While we do so, everyone will be invited to participate in Affirmation of Baptism. Perhaps we can see things from a new perspective and be reminded of the connections not only between ourselves and Christ, but among one another.
In baptism our gracious heavenly Father frees us from sin and death by joining us to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are born children of a fallen humanity; by water and the Holy Spirit we are reborn children of God and made members of the church, the body of Christ. Living with Christ and in the communion of saints, we grow in faith, love, and obedience to the will of God.  (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Order of Baptism)

Mosaic of Jesus the Vine. San Clemente Church, Rome. 1100 a.d.

I realize that I used a version of the above illustration for the mid-week Lenten devotions. However, I found a better picture of this mosaic to share with you.  It may be difficult to discern in this image, but the central figure of Christ on the cross is surrounded by a series of branches that is to be an image of the church. Jesus is the True Vine and we are the branches. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.

The Gospel reading this Sunday is from St. John: 15: 1-8.  Take a few minutes to read it, then sit back and listen to this meditative work by contemporary Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt. It's one of my favorites. (You can skip over the add after a few seconds.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015


I called in my affliction, and the LORD heard me and saved me from all my troubles.  (Psalm 34:6)
The daily devotional guide that I use contained some select verses of Psalm 34 today. Always curious about context, I read all of Psalm 34 in the translation from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship. This sixth verse of the psalm stood out as I read it. I noticed it, I suppose, because it resonates with my own experience. Generally speaking, I suspect that many of our best-loved scripture passages are best-loved because they speak to us in ways that are either profound or prophetic.

When I have called out to God for strength, hope, and healing, I have experienced God's presence and known saving release. Yet there are times when I have been unable to call out, or simply have not called out maybe because I never saw a need, did not believe it would make a difference, or was incapable of opening my mouth. What then?  Does God just stand back and watch us writhe in our own quick sand?

I am reminded that God is a relentless lover. Again and again God takes the initiative to seek and save. So when we are unable to call out from our affliction, or when we don't even know how to recognize that we are afflicted, God is mindful of what we need.  Our troubles and afflictions don't necessarily disappear or even dissipate. Yet we know that God, in Christ, is present and endures with us. God's decision to love creation is an unmerited gift of grace open to all people.

What do you think?
When have you called out?
Did the LORD hear you?
Is being saved from trouble the same as being moved out of trouble?
I called in my affliction, and the LORD heard me and saved me from all my troubles.  (Psalm 34:6)
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Fourth Wednesdays

Because the Lenten "Soup & Scripture" evenings were such a success, it has been suggested that it should be continued in some similar but limited fashion.  How about "Potluck & Scripture" on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 6:00 PM?  We'll give it a try on Wednesday, April 22nd. A Sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin Board. Bring your favorite dish and enjoy an evening of sharing God's word!  Following the meal and study, there will be Evening Prayer (Vespers) at 7:30. 

Third Wednesdays

As a follow up to the recent Lenten Retreat presented by Sisters Joanne and Thelma that was so moving and thought provoking, some members of our congregation have proposed a "Study Group" to examine the writings of Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, whose emphasis on contemplative prayer is so appealing to Christians of all faiths.  Fr. Richard's book, "Falling Upward" would be a good place to start.  Anyone interested in this initiative is encouraged to join the study group by using the sign up sheet posted on the door to Pastor Frye's study. This group will gather on the 3rd Monday of each month, from 10:00 AM to Noon, and begin on May 18th.  For more information, call the church office or Mary Ellen Fairbairn at 352-9403.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet, Ford Madox Brown, 1855

This evening at 7:00 the Maundy Thursday Liturgy will be held in the nave. Everyone is welcome. But first, we need to de-code this first sentence. There is much insider language being used here to describe one of the central worship activities of Christian communities of faith.

The word Maundy originates from the Middle English maunde, from Old French mandé, from Latin mandatum  It refers to a command, order; from the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper, a new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another (John 13:34).

The Thursday of Holy Week, the first day of the Paschal Triduum (the Great Three Days) is Maundy Thursday. On this day we commemorate the institution of the Lord's Supper, the rite of footwashing, and the betrayal of Jesus. At the conclusion of the liturgy this evening, the altar is stripped in preparation for Good Friday.

In the midst of all this activity, we also have an opportunity to hear clear proclamation of the forgiveness of sins. Corporately we will engage in an examination of conscience and confession of sin. Then everyone is welcome to come forward and receive individual absolution.

Tonight's worship is a time of activity, sensing, seeing, tasting, hearing, and doing. This is not a show or a spectacle. It is a liturgy, literally, a work of the people.

Don't take my word for it, come and see for yourself. All are welcome! Participants are necessary.

Maundy Thursday
April 2, 2015

Prayer of the Day
Eternal God, in the sharing of a meal your Son established a new covenant for all people, and in the washing of feet he showed us the dignity of service. Grant that by the power if your Holy Spirit these signs of our life in faith may speak again to our hearts, feed our spirits, and refresh our bodies, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Exodos 12:1-14 [5-10] 11-14
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35