Tag Archives: Lent

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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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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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Projects. . .

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

My parents, especially my Dad, loves gardening. When I was 9 years old my family moved to a home with a big backyard in Colorado Springs, CO. The first project that my family and I did together at our new house that year was to completely remodel and reorganize the backyard into a serious flower and vegetable garden. We built huge raised bed gardens, pulled out overgrown shrubs, planted trees, hauled rocks and pavers, and put in new grass. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. Every year since then my Dad plants flowers and vegetables in ever square inch of the garden.

This past weekend, my family and I put together some raised bed gardens at our house. It has been something we’ve looked forward to for many years. Previously, we’ve always lived in an apartment where couldn’t have a garden. It was so much fun to put everything together. I hope Nozomi and Ronin had as much fun gardening as I did when I was a kid.  During our project, we were constantly thinking about what we should do to have the healthiest and most productive plants. Which materials should we use? Where should we put the raised beds in order to get the most life-giving sunshine? Which soil ingredients do we need to use to have the most nutritious soil? How is gardening in Northern Minnesota different than Colorado? Lots to think about and lots to do, as well as lots of happy memories and eager expectation about future harvests.

Throughout the project, as a pastor, I realized I am constantly asking these same types of questions about church. Like my garden, I want Our Savior’s to be as healthy and productive as possible. Like a garden, the question is how best to engage with resources we have. I know the church’s best resource is the people. The best resource is you. You are uniquely talented and skilled, and your talents and participation are greatly needed and always greatly appreciated.

One of the most important and impactful things you can do to nurture the congregation into continued health and productivity is to talk about the fulfilling and meaningful ministries that take place here with your friends, family, and neighbors. Then to invite them to come and see for themselves the magnificent things God is doing here.  To help you gain confidence and comfortability in speaking about what God is doing, here are some sentence prompts which I encourage you to complete. Also, I would love to hear about what you write and how other people have responded to you.

When I talk to other people about Our Saviors, I say ___________________________

One thing that is different now than when I was a kid is ________________________

I hope the church will start _______________________________________________

I’m Lutheran because

___________________________________________________

My favorite part of Sunday worship is ______________________________________

I go to church on a week day to ___________________________________________

As always, it is a joy, honor and privilege to worship with you and to serve as your pastor.

I am always available to you and open to hear your questions, comments and suggestions.

Faithfully yours~  Pastor Erik

 

 

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Reflections of Lent on the Sense of “Hearing”

Pastor Erik’s Lent Reflection 2018

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.  (1 John 1:1)

            Just a few weeks ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Christmas is always a special time of year not just because of all the fun activities, but because we learn and remember that Jesus Christ arrived to us as a person- as human flesh. Jesus is both -100% God and 100% human being.  During Jesus’ earthly ministry there were many people who encountered him physically. The saw him, heard him, touched him and were touched by him. Today, we can also encounter Jesus physically. For example, many of you have already felt and smelled the oily ash that was drawn on your forehead in the shape of the cross on Ash Wednesday. In a few weeks we will smell the wonderful Easter lilies, we will taste the Seder meal, and we will feel the weight of the cross as we place it on our backs and carry it during Holy Week.

This year, during Lent, I want to encourage you to think more deeply about how you encounter Jesus in a physical way.  I am writing a Biblical reflection each week that focuses on the 5 senses. This week focuses on the sense of “hearing.”

John 5:25-29

‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

John 10:4

When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Romans 10:14, 17

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

Genesis 1

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

There is authority in Jesus’ voice- authority to lead, authority to create, and authority to judge. John 5 shows us that his judgment either results in life or condemnation. But how can his voice be heard even by dead people? The details are a mystery, but what we do know is that the Word of God constantly and consistently accomplishes what it says. The Word of God spoke and the earth was created and light began to shine. The Word of God calls out to Lazarus in his tomb even though he has been dead for four days. (John 11:43). When Jesus talks about judgment in John, he places more emphasis on life than on condemnation. His ministry is centered around calling and inviting people toward life, safety and community, and people respond to the Word of God just as sheep respond to the call of a trustworthy and familiar shepherd (10:4).

My advisor from seminary recently wrote in a blog, “Being roused from sleep is almost always a startling experience. A familiar sound — a regular alarm chime, the bark of the dog, a family member gently speaking your name — makes the experience easier on the body. By contrast, shattered glass or a scream in the night starts the adrenaline flowing. Discipleship involves learning to find familiarity in God’s words, so we respond rightly. Such familiarity creates a kind of harmonious resonance, the result of growing into greater intimacy with God. It does not mean a dismissive attitude toward the divine voice as something tame and predictable.”[1] For me, I find comfort in being able to recall from memory lines from my favorite hymns and personally meaningful Bible verses. When I am feeling overwhelmed, scared, nervous etc. I can rely on these familiar words from God to give me peace, perspective and help me through any obstacle. You can rely on the same God’s Word too.

When Paul draws a connection between hearing and believing, he teaches the congregation in Rome something very important about the Christian faith. He teaches them that it involves relationship and interaction with others. It is not about isolation. Faith means something other than following theological doctrines. Faith comes from listening to another’s report. Faith comes from listening to the Word of God being spoken by someone else and entering your ears and being heard. Faith comes when people hear God addressing them. Faith implies a communion shared with a communicative, expressive God. Christ still speaks today, through the scripture readings, sermons, hymns, and prayers. Guided by the Holy Spirit, these words and messages come from the mouths of all his followers, even you personally.

[1] http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=4251

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New Directory!

NEW CHURCH DIRECTORY

 We are excited to announce that we are updating our Church Directory. Lifetouch will provide the services to put together this important community resource. Our link to sign up for a session is https://booknow-lifetouch.appointment-plus.com/ycyx5sbc/ They offer photo packages if you would like to purchase pictures for your family. The dates for our photograph sessions are May 15th-19th. Tuesday – Friday  the sessions will be held from 2pm —9pm.  Saturday,  May 19th, the sessions will be between the hours of 10am-5pm.

We invite everyone in our church to participate, even if you are not planning to purchase a photo package, so all may be included in the directory.

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UPCOMING: Lent and Easter Information

OMG is the trio of three ELCA Churches in the Virginia & Mt. Iron area that are sharing services and events ~                                                    Our Savior’s Lutheran, Messiah Lutheran, and Gethsemane Lutheran churches have teamed up to provide the following services for you to attend during Lent. We hope you find it convenient to come worship with us!

OMG Lenten and Holy Week Services & Events

OMG Fat Tuesday Pancake Dinner @ Gethsemane Lutheran:              Address: Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 901 4th St S, Virginia, MN. Time: 5-7pm                                                                                                                     This Dinner is Open to everyone! A freewill offering will be taken to benefit Quad Cities Food Shelf – funds collected are matched by Minnesota Food Share!

Ash Wednesday Services –With Holy Communion & Ashes:
March 6th:  12:00pm, and  6pm Soup Dinner,  followed by                        6:45pm Worship.  At Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Virginia.

Wednesday Lent Soup Dinner  &  Worship with Communion
Each week will host a 6:oopm Meal & 6:45 Worship                               
March 13  – Gethsemane Lutheran (address above)
March  20 – Our Savior’s Lutheran, 1111 8th St. South, Virginia
March 27 – Our Savior’s Lutheran
April 3 – Messiah, 8590 Enterprise Drive, Mountain Iron
April 10  – Messiah Lutheran

Holy Week Services& Events 

April 18th Maundy Thursday:  There will be 2 Seder Meals at Messiah Lutheran- Confirmation students on April 17th, and an RSVP event Apr. 18th, with a Foot Washing service. Call the church for details or to reserve a seat for the Seder Meal.
April 19   Good Friday Services: 12:00pm & 6:30 pm  Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Virginia.

Easter Services:  9:00 & 10:45am  Gethsemane Lutheran                  9:30 Our Savior’s Lutheran  and     10:00 Messiah Lutheran

 

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Lenten & Easter Worship Schedule

We hope you’ll join us for Soup Suppers and Lenten Worships!

  • Wednesday, February 10 – Ash Wednesday Service 6:15pm
  • Wednesday, February 17-Wednesday, March 16 – Soup Supper 5:45pm, Worship 6:15pm

Holy Week

  • Sunday, March 20 – Palm Sunday Worship 9:30am, followed by a Fruit and Muffin Buffet (proceeds benefit Youth and Family Ministry)
  • Thursday, March 24 – Maundy Thursday Worship 6:15pm
  • Friday – March 25 – Good Friday Service 11am
  • Sunday, March 27 – Easter Morning Worship 8 & 10am (Join us for a pancake breakfast between services from 9-10am. Proceeds benefit Youth and Family Ministry.)

Palm Sunday Sermon – Pr. Loren

lentMark 15:1-47

Passion of our Lord B

March 29, 2015

                                                                                    Holy Week begins as our worship began today: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” But it ends with the cross and the women, looking on from a distance. This is not what the disciples expected when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sunday. They somehow expected to see their friend, Jesus, call upon God to make everything right; they expected that somehow he would turn their world around and ascend a royal and divine throne—and that it would all happen very soon. But they did not understand—they did not understand the kind of kingdom Jesus had been talking about. And as the women look out at the terrible scene on the hill called Golgatha, they do not know what to think. This was not what they thought would happen to Jesus.

And it is not the picture of Jesus that we like to imagine either. But look—look at this Jesus—look at this carpenter from Nazareth. Look at him. Look at his crown—a wreath of thorns—see where the thorns pierce through his flesh. See where the drops of blood run down his face. Look at his throne—a cross on which his body hangs—see where the splintered wood gouges his flesh. See how the nails impale his hands and his feet to the executioner’s crossbeams. And look at this body—see how it hangs there helpless. See how his body writhes in agony. Look at his face. See how it turns pale in the face of death. See how he gasps in pain to take another breath of air. And hear the haunting cry he makes from the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The disciples have all deserted him – only the women remain, and they watch from a distance.

On that Friday, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and the other Mary, and all the rest who had followed Jesus from Galilee went away confused and numb. Was Jesus not the one they thought he was? Could he not have come down from the cross? And why did he stay there and die? The names they had thought belonged to him—Son of God, Messiah, Christ, Savior, Lord—were none of them true? Was he just a man—a prophet, a teacher—another hero who got himself killed for speaking the truth the way he saw it?

Perhaps today we are sometimes as confused about this as the women were on that Friday. Sometimes for us, it doesn’t make sense either. Sometimes Easter just doesn’t seem to happen—at least for us. We are too familiar with death, and what we need is resurrection. Sometimes the whole thing is just plain too unbelievable. We want a God who has power and glory and gets things done. But what we get, is a God who becomes a human being and dies. And finally, if we want to understand this God at all, we have to understand why the cross is so important – why Jesus had to die.

The answer, I believe, lies in the contrast between the glory we might expect Jesus to command and the stark barrenness of the cross. Jesus chooses for himself the path of weakness, humility, and vulnerability, rather then power, honor and glory. By dying, and not saving himself, Jesus demonstrates that power and glory, whether divine or human, are not things to be grasped, but they are things for us to let go of. Jesus was in the form of God, but he did not count his equality with God a thing to be grasped. Instead, he emptied himself. He became human and became obediently human, even to the point of dying. And he did all of this trusting himself wholly and completely to God. That finally is the meaning of the cross—and Jesus becomes the Christ, our Lord and King through his death of the cross—in trusting God all the way to death. Jesus leads us on our way —he leads us into life; but the life he gives comes only through death. So often we want Easter without Good Friday—we want the resurrection without the crucifixion —we want life without death. But it cannot be, because finally the only way to true life is through the gates of death.

On Sunday, the women went to the place where Jesus had been buried—to the place of death. He was not there. He had gone before them, first into death, but then into life. And we have their witness, and faith gives us the power to follow where Jesus leads. And that turns us away from the glory and riches of our world—from all the glitter that attracts us—it turns us from these so that we can follow Jesus as his disciples— living as he calls us to live, and trusting that on the way, such living fills us with life that is abundant—now and forever. AMEN.

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Holy Week Worship Schedule

Holy Week

Palm Sunday Worship Sunday March 29 9:30 am

  • Special music from a joint OSLC and Holy Spirit choir, followed by a muffin and fruit buffet during fellowship

Maundy Thursday Worship, April 2 at 6:15 pm

  • Communion
  • Choir

Good Friday Service, April 3 at noon

  • Special music

Easter Morning Worship, Sunday April 5 at 9:30 am

  • 8-11:30 am Pancake Breakfast sponsored by Youth and Family Ministry