Inclement Weather Plans for Christmas 2009

Yes, the forecasters are telling us that we are in for quite a bit of snow and sleet.  But still–it’s Christmas!

Our plans at this time (Dec 23rd) are to keep our services as scheduled.  Tonight, we gather for “Turning toward Hope,” our final midweek Advent worship at 6:30 pm.  Soup Supper begins at 5:45 pm.

Thursday, December 24th we will gather for worship at 3 pm, 5 pm and 10 pm.  The 10 pm service may turn into a simplified version if necessary, but 3 and 5 will go on as planned.  Christmas Day worship at 9 am is also scheduled and ready for you to join us!

If it seems necessary to change these intentions, the blog will be updated with the current information.  So keep checking if you are uncertain.   You may also call the answering machine at church (507.583.6621) or listen to KRFO 1390 AM Radio or watch KAAL-TV Channel 6.  Any cancellations will be made public as soon as possible; so if nothing is listed in these media as canceled/postponed, that means we’re going ahead.

And remember: the December 24th at 5 pm worship will be broadcast live on the radio, KOWZ 100.9 FM.

And finally…

Even though services are planned, it may not be prudent for some individuals to travel.  Please use your best judgement, be careful, and…we hope to see you in worship during this holy season!

Blog on Hiatus

The blog will go on hiatus for the holiday.  There will be no devotions posted from December 20, 2009 to January 4, 2010.  Your pastors wish you a very blessed Christmas and New Years.

The schedule for our worship times this season are listed in the page entitled, “Christmas Worship 2009.”  See the tab at the top of the blog & click to enter.

Relocated

The Sanctuary Between Us © Jan L. Richardson

In the story that is assigned for this final Sunday in Advent, December 20, 2009, we hear of a holy meeting between two pregnant women, Elizabeth and Mary.  The artwork above cleverly depicts their bond, which is not just familial, but emotional…and maybe we could also say spiritual.

We will explore these themes more fully on Sunday morning, but suffice it to say that the reign of God has just been relocated to the hill country of Judea.  What does it mean that God has entrusted the future of salvation to two poor country women, so vulnerable and yet so magnificent? 

God, come to us, that we might comprehend your magnificence in the midst of human vulnerability.  Amen.

He Will

The first lesson for Sunday, December 13, 2009 is from a rather obscure prophet:  Zephaniah. 

The images presented in this passage are not your typical prophetic passages of repentance.  In Zephaniah, we read things like, “he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”  Zephaniah 3:17b-18a

Most people’s religious imagination allows for the idea that one can be so moved by God’s goodness that one might sing and rejoice.  In fact, our Advent readings this year are full of human singers:  Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Simeon…

But how many people’s religious imagination allows for the idea that God can be so moved over the restoration of relationship that God sings over the people?   That God is the one with heart overflowing?

Lord of each joyful song, renew us in your love.  Amen.

ALL WEDNESDAY EVENTS CANCELLED

Due to the snowy weather, we have cancelled all activities INCLUDING WORSHIP at First Lutheran Church today: Wednesday, December 9, 2009. Please be careful as you shovel, plow, drive, and walk in this white stuff!

**First Lutheran follows the school district cancellation policy. This means: if school is cancelled or let out early, all of our educational activities are cancelled as well. If school starts with a delay, and we have a program scheduled during that time, that program is also cancelled.

Foresight

Q:  What color is the sky right before dawn? 

A:  Blue.

If you were sitting in church pew 50 years ago at this time of year, Sundays in Advent used purple paraments.  In recent decades, there has been a reorientation of Advent.  Seeing it as less of a mini-Lenten season, more as a gifted season in and of itself.  Advent has moved away from the idea of simple penitence and toward hope.  And so, parament colors were changed from purple to blue–the color of faith.  The color of the sky, right before the dawn.  (thanks to Professor David Lose at Luther Seminary for inspiring these thoughts)

Normally our practice at First Lutheran is to keep with the lectionary cycle of readings in worship.  But this Sunday we will deviate slightly.  Rather than using what is prescribed (a sequential reading of John the Baptist’s ministry in Luke 3), we are instead lifting up Zechariah’s song in Luke chapter 1 for our Gospel reading this Sunday, December 6th.  It had been assigned as the Psalm for the day.  I am giving it higher place.

NOTE:  You can read the excerpt here, but I’d encourage you to read the entire chapter, which you can find here.

Within Zechariah’s song is beautiful poetic language.  Obvious fatherly pride.  Priestly awe.  Certainly, some political commentary.  And…this amazing foresight.  He speaks of God’s salvation in the past tense (something that has been), and in the future tense (something that will be accomplished). 

What does Zechariah know about God that others didn’t?  Where do faith and foresight intersect?

Lord, give light to those who sit in darkness.  Guide our feet in the path of peace.  Amen.