Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Because Easter Day is early this year Lent begins already on February 14th. As always we begin the Lenten Season with Divine Service and Imposition of Ashes. A simple soup supper precedes worship.
My dictionary tells me that the word Lent is rooted in an old English word “lencten” which means spring. The word no doubt suggests the lengthening days which come in the springtime. But I want to suggest that it is very useful indeed to think of the holy season of Lent as a spiritual springtime, a time of new life and light. You may remember that in the ancient church the forty days of Lent were the time when the adult candidates for Holy Baptism received their final preparation for the reception of that Sacrament which took place at the Great Vigil which took place on Easter Eve. Since you and I have already been born again of water and the Holy Spirit, we – obviously! – cannot prepare to be baptized. Yet Lent is most certainly a time for returning to our Baptism, for again contemplating and rejoicing in the blessings of Baptism and through daily repentance and faith living as those who have been baptized into the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. We remember the words of Saint Paul: “We are buried therefore with Him by baptism into death so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Few things are more foolish than supposing that God somehow needs our observance of Lent: God does not need Lent but you and I do! It is that season of the year which calls us to renewed faithfulness as those who through Baptism have been made one with the Savior in His atoning death and life-giving resurrection. It is a time for saying no to everything in our lives which contradicts Christ and His love. We need to hear God’s Word calling us to repentance, we need to hear God’s Word showing us the Lord Jesus in whose death our sins are dead and who calls us to follow Him in faith and hope and love.
If you have been negligent in hearing the Word of God and receiving the Holy Sacrament, Lent is the time to repent of that negligence and make a new beginning. Unless hindered by illness or by the need to care for someone who needs our care or – as sadly happens nowadays – our employer requires us to work on Sunday morning, no Christian should be absent from the Divine Service on the Lord’s Day which even in Lent is the weekly celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The Divine Service is not so much an obligation as it is a joyful privilege! During Lent we also have the Wednesday evening Lenten Vespers at which we again ponder our Lord’s saving passion and sing the beloved Lenten hymns.
Judy Volkman reminds us that soup suppers will be held during Lent at 6:30 P.M. each Wednesday before Vespers. The following people have volunteered their culinary skills: 2/14 – Judy or Bernie Knox, 2/21 – Julia Watson, 2/28 – the Ushers, 3/7 – Quilla Downs, 3/14 – Mary Techau, 3/21 – Gabe Purviance. There will be a free-will offering at each of these suppers. In the past this has helped fund the Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. And here I must thank the ushers for their faithful service each Sunday and their willingness to help in so many ways. I must say that they are an example to us all!
Frank Ford recently reminded me that there was a time when the members of Our Saviour prayed each day at noon. We need to do that again – to pray for one another, for those in special need, and for this deeply troubled world. I think that Lent is a good time to begin to do this again. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy prayer at all, and when we pray privately we should with simplicity and “with all boldness and confidence ask [God] as dear children ask their dear Father” as Dr. Luther instructs us in the Catechism. The prayers prayed in Church, however, are not private but are prayers which Christians have in some cases prayed for more than a thousand years. They are hallowed by centuries of use and truly are a great treasure!
Remember in your prayers Christine and Lisa Watson who mourn the death of their father, Ulysses Bush. Remember Charles Dowdy was was hospitalized but is now at home again. Remember Terry Wiseman who was recently hospitalized and also Marian Purviance who is at home. Remember all those whose names appear each week in the bulletin.
Three fine young men are being prepared for confirmation: Dominick and Elijah Carmichael-Myrie and Ted Jones. I look forward to their day of confirmation which will take place in the late spring. Pray for them as they complete their confirmation instructions.
At the Voters Meeting on January 21st it was unanimously decided to acquire our Synod’s new service book and hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book, published in 2007. After months of reflection and discussion we have come to this decision as recommended by the Church Council. As I have mentioned before, the Lutheran Service Book preserves the best of The Lutheran Hymnal (the “red” book) published in 1941 and of Lutheran Worship (the “blue” hymnal) published in 1982. It includes both the forms of the Divine Service with which we are familiar. There are new hymns and hymns which may be older but are new to us. So how will we pay for these new books? Martini Church has sent us a very generous gift of one thousand dollars for this purpose: we thank Pastor Robertson and his people. Members may give one or more books as memorials. The cost is $30.00 each. We have decided to buy 130 books together with the books needed by the organist and the pastor. The Council and Voters have decided that any short-fall will be met through the use of some monies from the generous bequest David West left to our church in his will. Due and timely notice will be given as to the date when this new book will be used – probably quite late in the spring. I must also thank Julia Silver for providing a good lunch for those who attended the Voters Meeting. It was much enjoyed! And we all are in a much better mood when we’re not hungry!
On Sundays in February and March we will be using the “blue book,” Lutheran Worship. On Wednesday evening we will use the familiar Order of Vespers from The Lutheran Hymnal.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that the stone sign in front of the Church has now been repaired and again is lighted after dark. I should also note the two fine lamps on either side of the main door of the Church: these too have been repaired and are again lighted after dark. I should thank Paul Techau who did so much work on this together with Joe Silver and William Hawkins.
Let me also note that for reasons of security the door near the parking lot to the east of the Church is now locked on Sundays at 11 o’clock. If you arrive after 11 you may enter the main entrance of the Church on The Alameda or the entrance through the beautiful porch on 33rd Street.
I hope that each and every member of our congregation will welcome the coming of Lent as an invitation to renewed faithfulness not only in attending worship but also in renewed faithfulness in living the Christian life. Although we daily sin much, our heavenly Father for the sake of His beloved Son daily showers us with His mercy and many blessings. Are you, am I grateful? That question must be answered not only with our lips but in our lives.
WORKS OF MERCY
On December 21, we delivered turkeys and food items to 9 families in our church community. Thanks to Thrivent, and our church family, we had ample food for the designated families with non-perishables left over. We will deliver the remaining food to GEDCO’S Food Pantry. Thanks to Mr. Hawkins, for his help with packaging and delivery, also thanks to all who consistently remember the poor with gifts of food.
On December 21, we made a delivery to Helping Up Mission. This delivery was the most generous thus far. The proceeds from the Poor Boxes was harvested to purchase needed items. In addition, members continue to drop off items in the box next to the food donation box. The box is now empty, and so we start over. As you can see, small amounts of change can go far when consistently given. Please continue to remember those less fortunate than yourselves. The need is ongoing, washcloths, tooth paste, shaving cream, lotion socks, etc. Menswear need not be new; clean, gently used items are acceptable. Our next delivery is planned for March 2018. Many thanks to all.
A Message From “CARES”
In 2017, CARES responded to over 5,000 requests for assistance, and your support was very much needed and appreciated. Donations from the community help CARES keep opening its doors to those in need. In addition to emergency groceries, CARES offers financial assistance to prevent utility turn-offs and evictions, and helps clients pay for prescriptions. CARES Career Connection works with job seekers to find employment.