Synod Assembly 2009

The Southeastern MN Synod of the ELCA will be meeting in assembly on Friday and Saturday, May 1 & 2.  If you are interested in a preview of the resolutions that will be considered, click here:  http://www.semnsynod.org/assembly/2009/resolutions.html

Please pray for your voting members, pastors, special visitors, and all who gather as part of the body of Christ to do the work of the church that will be before us.  A time of report on the Synod Assembly will be scheduled in May, most likely during the Adult Forum hour.

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If you would like to read the ELCA documents about Human Sexuality, there are two.  The first is the proposed Social Statement, entitled, “Human Sexuality:  Gift and Trust.”  The second is the proposed ministry recommendations for policy and procedure.  That document is titled, “Report and Recommendations on Ministry Policies.”  You may find them by clicking on the blogroll link at left that is titled, “ELCA Sexuality Study.”

“That’s Pretty Intimate”

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God;

and that is what we are.” 

– 1 John 3:1

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What associations do you make when you hear the word “children?”  What attributes come to mind? 

When I asked that question in Bible Study on Wednesday morning, I heard the following:  “Dependent.”  “Living in the present moment.”  “Trusting.”  “Accepting.”  “Respectful.”  “Unaware.”  “Doesn’t have all the answers.”  And finally, “We’ve all been there.”

The Old Testament relationship between God and humanity has a predominant metaphor–that of covenant.  A promise between two parties, each with certain expectations to live up to.  The New Testament also has a predominant metaphor for relationship between God and humanity:  that of adoption, kinship, filial love.  As one Bible Study participant remarked this morning, “That’s pretty intimate.”

So it is.

God, our identity as your children is both a comfort and a challenge.  Help us to navigate our way through the mysteries of your love.  Amen.

Visible Wounds

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26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 

The Gospel of John, chapter 20, is always assigned reading for the first Sunday after Easter (or the Second Sunday in Easter, whichever you prefer to call it).  There are many, many marvels in this small story (John 20:19-31) that one could spend all of Eastertide just on these verses!  Personally, I’ve been wondering this week why it is that Jesus has visible wounds when he appears in the house to the disciples.  Is it only as a mark of identification, to prove that this resurrection was no hoax?  Or is there a deeper meaning?

Either way, I think it is important to note that resurrection does not mean reversal or instant restoration to a particular time in the past…no matter how much we may yearn for that.  Rather, resurrection, it seems, includes the past scars of life.  The jagged brokenness does not go away, yet it is transformed.  This is God’s powerful promise…for our wounds, too.

God of resurrection, make us whole in our broken places.  Not perfect.  Not unblemished.  But whole.  Amen.

Check Back Later

I will be posting something for Easter Sunday, but not until after the worship services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are complete.  In the meantime, I urge you to experience first-hand this story of deep love…here or elsewhere.  The worship schedule for First Lutheran can be found by scrolling down the page.

Holy Week Schedule 2009

Palm Sunday, April 5

8:15 am       Traditional Worship/HC

10:30 am     Contemporary Worship

 

Wednesday, April 8

NO 9th grade Confirmation class

NO Soup Supper, NO Worship

 

Maundy Thursday, April 9

7:00 pm       Maundy (Commandment) Thursday Worship/Footwashing

                   First Communion for 5th graders

 

Good Friday, April 10

12 noon       Ecumenical Worship

7:00 pm       Evening Worship

 

Holy Saturday, April 11

Sanctuary will be open for personal prayer

 

Easter Sunday, April 12

6:30 am       Sunrise Worship (Trad./HC)

8:15 am       Traditional Worship/HC

*10:00 am*   Contemporary Worship/HC

*1/2 hour earlier than usual*

 

Easter Breakfast 7:00 am – 10:00 am

 

Easter Monday, April 13

Office Closed

Embodiment

passion_scourge2Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver?  (Isaiah 50:2b)

In this passage, a series of questions confronts the listener.  God is asking questions.  And through the metaphor of a suffering servant, God is taking on human traits.  In Isaiah chapter 50, God has a physical presence–a body–which is punished and abused.

One June, when my first son was just a baby, I heard the tornado siren go off at dusk on a Sunday evening.  Strangely, a friend was driving through our town just at the same moment, returning from a visit to relatives.  She had her child, also a baby.  Through the wonder of cellphones, we were able to connect quickly.  She sped over to our driveway in the hail and wind, carrying her child up our steps. The power was out, and we hurried, wet and scared ,with sleepy-eyed nine month olds, into the basement crawlspace under the stairs.

We had blankets, a flashlight, the crank-radio.  We sat in the darkness and waited.  I wondered what I would do if our house were damaged…but immediately the answer came.  She and I would shield our children with our bodies if necessary, taking the brunt of any debris into ourselves. 

Would it have worked?  At that moment, I didn’t even care.  The fierce determination of love will do anything and everything, including bodily harm, to protect, to save.

This Sunday we move quickly from triumphant Hosannas to the siren call of betrayal.  But watching from the crawlspaces of our sanctuaries, we will see the fierce determination of love, and how it will be embodied, in this holiest of weeks. 

Jesus, the embodiment of love and bringer of salvation: shield us, your children.  Amen.