Advent Festival 2010

A great big thank-you to Beth and the Confirmation volunteers for making the Advent Festival on November 28th such a huge success.  We had many smiles and lots of family memories created. 

Here’s a picture of a satisfied four-year old participant with one of his Christmas decorations.

Isaiah is Calling

This Advent, we will be reading selected passages from the prophet Isaiah.  For the first Sunday in Advent, November 28th, we hear this call.  Instead of a call to arms, it is a call to peace.  Instead of a call to scatter far and away, it is a call to go up, together, to the mountain of the Lord.  Instead of a call to walk our own “truths,” it is a call to walk in God’s ways. 

We are coming off of a weekend when Black Friday and lavish Thanksgiving tables dominates the news; yet in our country there is record unemployment (still), rumors of war between the Koreas, and so much more.  15% of American families are now considered “food insecure”–meaning they do not have the resources to eat 3 square meals a day for an entire month on their own, but will need to seek assistance (or go without) at some point in those 30 days.

In a culture that sees this time before Christmas as a countdown to presents, can we hear Isaiah’s call to peace, to togetherness, to plows and pruning hooks, to God’s ways?  Can we walk in the light of the Lord?

God of holy mountains, give us your light, that we may walk in your path.  Amen.

King of Kings

Christ the King Sunday is the most recent addition to our liturgical calendar.  The story chosen for this year’s “celebration” of Christ as King is an ironic one:  the crucifixion story.

The irony was not lost on those present at Golgatha, for they wove for him a crown of thorns.  Underneath Jesus’ cross was written the words, “This is the King of the Jews.”  The theives beside him used their dying breath to debate his reign.  This King promises eternal life to one of them, even as he allows himself to be put to death with them.

The title was King. And yet the face was one of pure suffering, in the throes of a murderous torture.  It was all one, big, ironic scandal.

Christ the King, you reign over your people with powerful humility.  In your mercy, reign over us forever.  Amen.

Hair

“But not a hair of your head will perish.”  Luke 21:18 [entire passage for Nov 14, 2010 here]

Why would Jesus make such a foolish claim?  Obviously some were going to die for the Christian cause (and still do).  In fact, all of the hairs on all of our heads will perish, someday.  They fall out because of old age, chemotherapy, hormone changes…or eventually, in death.  The disciples knew the real truth then, and we know it now.  Hair does perish. 

So what is Jesus really trying to say?

This, I believe, is a statement not to be taken at face value, but as a metaphor of preservation, a sign of comfort amidst the real fears of the age.  God cares about you, and preserves your life, right down to the tiniest follicle.  Death (or threats of any kind) have nothing on this radical promise.  Nothing.  New life is announced to every part of your being.

God of justice, keep speaking your radical promises, so I can cling to the depth of your power. Amen.

Pack the Pews Video Link

What a great turnout for our first-ever attempt to Pack the Pews, Sunday, November 7, 2010.  Approximately 430 of us gathered for a meaningful worship service with the Remembrance of Saints, Holy Communion, special music from our Senior Choir, and a video presentation.  What a vibrant and supportive congregation of believers, engaged in the mission of Jesus Christ.

If you missed worship, we invite you to view the video presentation by clicking the link below. 

For privacy reasons, this is NOT a public YouTube video.  You will need the URL to find it.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTV3kFMdZDI

If you have done what you can and still have trouble viewing the video, don’t despair!  Talk to me and I can hopefully arrange another option.

For all that you do, and all that you are, thanks be to God.

Pack The Pews November 7th

This Sunday our congregation is doing something we’ve never tried before!  A special celebration day for all, with a time to give thanks to God for all of those who are committed to God’s mission at First Lutheran church.

Here is the schedule for

Sunday, November 7th, 2010 All Saints-All Thanks Sunday

9:00 Coffee & Fellowship

9:30 Sunday School

10:00 Worship with Remembrance of the Saints, Holy Communion, and special music from two choirs. Let’s see how many will be able to join us!  Let’s pack the pews and some chairs, too.  Invite your friends and neighbors, especially those who may feel far from their church home.  Visitors expected!

11:15 Potluck Lunch for All  Bring a dish to pass.  Last names A-H bring a main dish, J-Z bring a salad or dessert.

Psst…it’s also daylight savings time this weekend.  Set your clocks back and get an extra hour of rest before worship on Sunday morning.

For All The Saints

Dear Friends,

Let’s take a break from prewritten devotions this week and instead, spend some time interacting.  This Sunday is All Saints Sunday, a time to celebrate those in our lives who have shined the light of Christ.  Who will you be remembering on November 7th, and why?  Share a brief note in the comment, please.

Prayer for All Saints Sunday

Almighty God, you have knit your people together in one communion, in the mystical body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Grant us grace to follow your blessed saints in lives of faith and commitment, and to know the inexpressible joys you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

To delve further into personal devotion, the Gospel Reading for November 7th, 2010 can be found here.