“Lent to Easter Lillies”
As I write this April article the days are getting longer. Last week marked the Vernal Equinox and signaled, by both the increasing light and the warming temperatures, the creation is awakening from its winter slumber. Among the signs of spring are the shoots emerging from flowering bulbs.
The lily, the traditional flower for Easter, is captured in the stained glass art of Christ Lutheran. That last window on the Baptismal Font side of the church is powerful in its proclamation. Its white recalls the angelic brilliance of the resurrection, shining with the wonder of Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the grave. The trumpeting flower symbolizes the message of the Gospel of Christ crucified and Christ risen. In our Easter worship tradition at Christ Lutheran, the Gospel for the Sunrise Service is the account of our Lord’s personal appearance to Mary Magdalene and His sending of her with the news of His resurrection to the disciples. Mary bore the first personal word of the resurrection from our Lord to the world. At Easter, the news of life restored through Jesus is trumpeted to us and through us. For me, our Easter Lily window is a reminder of that joyful and hopeful proclamation.
In these days of Lent to Easter, we have a special opportunity to share the message and hope of the risen Savior with our community. On April 13 we will again host our Easter Eggstravaganza here at Christ Lutheran at 10: 30 a.m. What is the Easter Eggstravaganza? In short, it is the Easter Story, creatively told and sung, and 8,000 eggs! It is a time to trumpet the joy of life in the risen Savior to community and church. I hope that you will join us this year. Contact the church office to help, or come and bring a neighboring young family with you.
Yes, sign up now to donate a lily or other spring flower for the chancel on Easter, but most of all let’s join together as Easter Lilies: washed white in grace through the crucified and risen Lord and proclaiming the new life Jesus seeks to give to us and to all people.
“Shrove Sunday… Ash Wednesday… Easter!”
So we are at the entrance to Lent with Ash Wednesday on March 6 this year. For Lent we line up with the lunar calendar following our ancient faith-lead of Passover and marking time with the risen Savior in the celebration of Easter. So usually Easter is the Sunday after the Saturday of Passover and takes place on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. Excluding the Sundays, Ash Wednesday falls 40 days before Easter. There will NOT be a test on this! As a result, Ash Wednesday is therefore a little late this year. But here it comes. And this year our Youth will help us start off on the right foot with a Shrove Sunday breakfast on March 3. Usually held on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, a shrove meal is to be an introduction to the days of “shriving” ahead. Old words often connect us with good old ways. Shriving is the old word for confession and absolution, for repentance that turns away from sins and to God’s mercy. In Lent it is connected with turning from fleshly indulgence and toward the things of God. The idea is to enjoy a little but to put your rich food away after you receive the Ashes on Ash Wednesday. This kind of fasting is not a Christian requirement but can be in the words of Luther “fine outward training.” I find that withholding something in Lent reminds me of repentance.
But there is a second part to this Lenten practice: turning to God in faith and in the good work of giving to others in need. Because God gives us grace and mercy as we turn to him, we also give to others. Whatever we have saved by withholding in our lives, we give. On March 3 we will give graciously in advance to the need of the 19, yes 19!, youth who are in need of support for their National Gathering trip. Or maybe you will recall the sermon from February 24 and leave 20% for those good restaurant servers during Lent-including Sundays! And Holy Week, a special offering to the Treasure Chest Oncology kids (talk to Todd and Cindy Miller) would be good and pleasing to the Lord. Not just giving up, but giving is the way of the people of God. We follow in Lent the living God who so loved the world that He gave His only Son.
Shriving with you,
“Going Forward with God”
Year of Our Lord 2019. Or is it just 2019?
As we enter the New Year, we are encouraged in faith to go with the hope and strength that comes with God’s presence.
One of my favorite devotional writers over these now many years has been Rev. Herman Gockel. In a devotion entitled “Our God Is at Both Ends,” he tells the following story:
“The story is told of a farmer boy who was hauling his first load of hay to town. Perched high on the mound of hay above the wagon, the hay bulging on both sides, he guided the horses along a country road until he came to a covered bridge. The bridge was long and, as he looked, it appeared funnel-like with a small patch of light at the end.”
You guessed it. He turned around, assuming he would never make it through.
That boy was a victim of an optical illusion. Life is full of illusions. It may be that as you consider the challenges of the year ahead, that health condition, work issue, or family struggle seems to close in on you. We all have something this side of heaven, don’t we?
How often in the middle of the night when our weak faith is faltering have we lost sleep to worry only to find the truth of the Psalmist’s words: “When I awake, I am still with Thee,” Psalm 139:18.
Our God is Emmanuel through Jesus Christ, God’s Son and our Savior. Jesus promises, “Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” Matthew 28: 20. This promise is sure through the redemptive love revealed in Christ crucified and Christ risen!
Gockel concludes the devotion: “No matter which end of the bridge we are standing on, we can be sure: our God is at both ends! On whatever end of the bridge we may be standing at this moment, let us put our hand in His-and go courageously forward.”
The Year of Our Lord 2019!