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He is Lord of All. . .

Acts 10:34-43

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Have a Blessed Holy Week! And – Happy Easter!

This reading from Acts is our New Testament reading for Easter. Easter is my favorite day of the year. Easter typically occurs when winter has finally released its firm grip, and there are signs of Spring throughout the neighborhood. On Easter, my daughter always wears her lovely Easter dress and my son will wear a suit and there will be family pictures taken that will treasured for years and decades to come. On Easter, we also sing my favorite hymns and the church is filled with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. On Easter, there I also get to enjoy lots of chocolate and other tasty treats. As great as all these things are, I am keenly aware that they are not the reason we celebrate Easter. It is of the upmost importance for everyone to understand the actual meaning of Easter, and Peter’s declaration from Acts does a wonderful job of teachings us. Peter preaches the complete Gospel by telling us that Jesus of Nazareth was anointed and chosen by God. He received the Holy Spirit and with its power he goes around doing good and healing those who were oppressed. He was put to death, dying on a tree. God raised him on the third day and he appeared to a chosen few. Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.

I also want to point out that a key aspect of Peter’s sermon is that this Gospel is for everyone. Peter declares that God shows no partiality and consistently uses the vocabulary words, “all,” and “everyone.” Professor Kaalund reminds us. “as we celebrate the most holy of our religious observances, the Resurrection of our Lord, let us be reminded that his salvific act was for everyone. Let us remember that the path that Jesus created for us brings us to the presence of a loving God who accepts us all. Let us join with the prophets and testify about the one and emulate his life by living a life where we can be described by others as going about doing good and healing those around us because God is with us. He is not only our Lord; he is the Lord of all.” [1]

[1] [1]https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=4027

 

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Holy Week Services and Events

OMG LENTEN AND HOLY WEEK SERVICES & EVENTS

OMG is a trio of ELCA churches in the Virginia and Mt. Iron area that have come together to offer the following services and events during Lent and Easter.  Come join us!

 

Holy Week Services& Events
April 17 *Confirmation Students & Families Seder Meal, 6:30pm Messiah Lutheran Church
April 18 Maundy Thursday Foot Washing & *Seder Meal, 6:30pm Messiah Lutheran Church
April 19 Good Friday Services, 12:00pm & 6:30 pm Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
*Seder Meals will be RSVP events.

There will also be an Easter Egg Hunt at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Sunday morning at 8:30am. If we are blessed to have nice weather, we will meet outside in the back of the church, if not, we will meet in the west wing of the building. This event is open to everyone, so join us if you can! *All candy items will be nut-free to avoid allergy issues.

Easter Services:

9:30am –  Our Savior’s Lutheran Church

10:00am  Messiah Lutheran Church

9:00am & 10:45am –  Gethsemane Lutheran Church

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Join us for an Easter Egg Hunt!

We are planning an Easter Egg Hunt this Sunday at 8:30am, and you are invited! Bring a basket for all who will participate, and fill them with toys & candy. We hope it will be nice this weekend, and we can meet outdoors in our backyard area, but if not, we will meet in the west wing of our church building. Hope to see you there! *All candy will be nut-free to avoid food allergy issues.

 

clothing sale

Our Savior’s Clothing Sale!

Next week, Friday, April 26th and Saturday, April 27th will be our $0.25 Clothing Sale.

Friday hours will be 8:30am – 4pm

Saturday hours will be 8:30am – 12pm

Tell your neighbors & friends!

*If you desire to help set up, join us Thursday during the day in our Fellowship Hall – thank you! Proceeds from this sale go directly to community ministry projects. 

 

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Palm Sunday

Luke 19:28-40    Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’

 

This week is Palm Sunday! Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a colt. This Biblical scene is rich in meaning. First, it is the fulfillment of an prophecy from Zechariah 9.

9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Building upon this fulfillment, Jesus’ entry, accompanied by multitudes of people shouting and praising shows Jesus’ kingship. Having a parade/ triumphal entry into a city was a big deal in ancient days. For many, it is the highest praise that can be bestowed upon a citizen. Typically, it is reserved for victorious military generals or other people who have done a great deed for the empire. These parades were initiated by the government, so when Jesus’ entered Jerusalem in this style, with the praises of royalty, it really made the officials upset. No wonder the pharisees told Jesus to have the disciples stop. They were very worried about the scene and expected retaliation from the state about this insubordination. Fittingly, this reading is how we begin our Holy Week experience every year. Beginning with joy and cheers (with anxiety)- moving towards betrayal and trial- culmination in crucifixion and death-but ultimately experiencing the full glory and mystery of Easter.

Thank you so much for being part of our Lenten journey together. This story, this week is what defines our faith.

Blessings~ Pr. Erik.

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What’s it Worth?

John 12:1-8

1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

 

What an amazing text for Sunday. Jesus is being anointed for burial in this passage. Whenever this reading comes up in the lectionary- you know Holy Week is approaching.

This reading is located in the 12th chapter. Contextually, there is plotting of Jesus’ death going on amongst his adversaries. Jesus has spoken about his death and resurrection, and people are plotting. It is not a secret and anybody paying attention to what is going on is aware “something is going to happen soon.” Mary is aware. She is preparing his body for burial. Her action is selfless and caring. I think Judas is aware also. He currently has a financially good thing going. He is in charge of the communal purse and he helps himself to whatever he wants. This arrangement is about to be over. He is concerned about padding the purse as much as possible in these last few days in order to skim as much as possible. His action is selfish and dishonest.

There is so much to discuss and learn from these verses, but in a big picture sort of way it points to how “we,” as followers of Jesus can/should respond to future challenges. Even when life is difficult and painful, do we respond selflessly or selfishly. Essentially, everything that happens to us in life, the good and bad, can be approached as an opportunity to care for others.

Blessings to you as we continue our Lenten reflections~ Pastor Erik

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She gave out of all she had. . .

Mark 12:38-44

38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” 41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

                Jesus’ words have constantly and consistently been a problem and an inconvenience to the elite/wealthy members of society ever since he spoke them. The Gospels are filled with stories showing Jesus comforting the conflicted and conflicting the comfortable. Jesus brilliantly sees through and beyond the surface and recognizes the actual intentions and character of rich and poor alike. Do we follow Jesus example? Do we hold people accountable to their actions that denigrate and oppress the voiceless? Do we hold ourselves accountable for participating in systems of greed and oppression?

For the past several weeks I’ve found myself thinking back to a day in early October when I was in Honduras. We were in the 15-passenger van travelling to El Buen Pastor Lutheran (Good Shepherd Lutheran) for worship on a Sunday morning. During the drive I notice several huge factories on the outskirts of town. Each factory contained 10,000 workers devoted to making name brand shoes and clothes. The workers earn 8 dollars per full day of work. Next to the factories were several 2 to 3 million dollar homes with big fences and heavily armed security guards patrolling the properties. It is not secret to anyone that the people who own those homes are connected with gangs, narco-trafficking, and/or corrupted government. Seeing such stark examples of elite/poor, greedy/humble, oppressor/oppressed I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ words. I do feel some comfort knowing that some day Jesus will right all these wrongs and bring into the fullness of Kingdom, but I am also impatient and upset that people are suffering now. But I am also encouraged that Jesus invites me and you into God’s powerful mission of sharing God’s love and peace with all. My wise Grandmother used to tell me that if I don’t like something instead of whining and complaining I should do something constructive to help change it.

Blessings~ Pr. Erik

Advent Candles in the snow with evergreen branches red berries and a snowy forest in the background. Christmas Eve all five candles lighted.  The Prophecy, love,   rose or joy,  peace, and central white "purity"   candles are lit.

Youth Announcements – Winter is upon us!

Happy Holidays!


I am incredibly excited to start the season of advent with you all! The month of November was busy for our youth, and December is going to be even more eventful! Again, our Sunday school will be putting on the Christmas program on December 9th! It will be wonderful telling of Jesus’ birth—performed by all members of our program with some songs mixed in! Our children have been working diligently over the past few weeks, and are excited to show our Congregation! After our program we will spend the last few Sundays of the Advent season going over details in the Christmas story, as well as creating all sorts of crafts!

Confirmation students are in for a change with the season as well! Starting on December 5th Our Savior’s will be hosting Confirmation classes! We have had a wonderful time at Messiah, but I’m excited to bring the joy of our fellowship to our building! We had 13 youth attend the Middle School Youth Gathering at Cragun’s a few weeks ago! We had a blessed time worshipping with youth across our synod, and had a blast with all the fun activities the LYO board had planned for us! On December 12th we will have our Christmas and caroling event, which will include all of our Confirmation students going to Assisted Living Facilities to spread the Christmas cheer that is starting to build up in our hearts! Drivers are still needed for this event to help transport students to each place! Once we have sung our last carol we will come back to Our Savior’s to celebrate in fellowship with Hot Cocoa and snacks!

Our Confirmation program also hosts a meal on Wednesdays before class in which all are welcome to attend, this also means we need volunteers to help with these meals! If you have any interest please reach out to me.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

Ben

Confirmation classes will start meeting at OSLC in December on Wednesdays at 6:30pm as usual!

 

 

christmas and thanksgiving

Giving Thanks. . .

 

2 Corinthians 9:11

11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Psalm 107:8-9

8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Happy Thanksgiving! This week I especially pray for you and all people to experience on overflow of generosity- both generosity from and generosity toward.  I pray for you to have a generous portion of kindness, compassion, quality time, rest and relaxation, love, peace, and good food. Our national day of Thanksgiving is centered on giving thanks to God for all the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Just as God has acted generously towards each of us in our lives and faith, let us reflect God’s generous character to our families and neighbors.

God Bless you~ Pr. Erik

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All people. . .

Mark 9:38-40

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.  40 Whoever is not against us is for us.

 There are an estimated 40,000 different Christian denominations in the world. That is a lot! The majority of the 40,000 are small splinter groups from mainline denominations or they are unaffiliated stand-alone congregations. For me, it is interesting to think about how one Bible is the authority of so many different groups. Different groups mean different theological interpretations, different points of emphasis, and different ways of worship. A look at the nightly news and basic study of history shows that people often look towards other denominations with suspicion and even aggression. World history headlines from the past two thousand years show that these differences have directly led to, or at least played a role in major wars resulting in countless tragedies. This reading from Mark 9 firmly directs us to reexamine how we interact with and treat people from other Christian traditions. Simply stated, Jesus tells us that different is ok. The name of Jesus is what truly matters, and the name of Jesus is what transcends cultural, linguistic, and ethnic differences in order to bring all people together.

This week, I invite everyone to have a conversation with someone from a different Christian tradition to share something about church or worship style and to also learn something new about another group.

A few years ago I heard an excellent sermon which used the phrase, “remember, different people are not a failed attempt at being you. All people are unique expressions of being children of God.”

With grace~ Pastor Erik