June 2019
From the Pastor

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As we enter the month of June, we will experience three shifts in the church year.  On the first Sunday in June, we will experience the last Sunday in the Easter season,  Then on June 9, the second Sunday, is the Day of Pentecost. (By the way, remember to wear red.)  The following Sunday, we start what is commonly referred to as “Ordinary Time” or Sundays after Pentecost.  Over the Easter season, I came across two stories about faith in the former Soviet Union (Russia) that I would like to share with you. 

The first is the story of the Marxist movement in Russia in 1918. At that time people were fanning out across the country to preach the Gospel of Marx. A group of 7,000 peasants were assembled in a large hall in Moscow. They were brought to hear a speech on Religion as the opiate of the people. The commissar delivered the speech with passion and zeal, with Lenin-like charisma. He explained how communism would replace the Christian religion. He closed with reference to a childish, na´ve, ridiculous fable called the resurrection of Jesus. People listened attentively. When he was done, he was pleased with himself. In confidence he asked if there were any who wanted to ask a question or make a comment to come up. The hall was quiet. Silence. Then a 26-year-old priest fresh from Seminary came forward. The Commissar looked at him with contempt and scorn. “You have two minutes, not a second more”, the commissar said. “I only need few seconds”, answered the priest. The priest went to the platform, looked out over the vast crowd; and in a loud and defiant voice said: “He is Risen!” and 7,000 people, with one voice, roared back “He is risen indeed!” 

This past Tuesday in my devotions, I received this story, and I shared it at our council meeting. This was story told by George H.W. Bush. He was Vice president and was sent to attend the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev. The funeral was as precise and stoic as the communist regime. No tears were seen; no emotion displayed. With one exception, Mr. Bush told how Brezhnev’s widow was the last person to witness the body before the coffin was closed. For several seconds she stood at his side and then reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. 

In the hour of her husband’s death, she didn’t turn to Karl Marx, nor to Lenin; not to Kruschev nor the communist party. In the face of death, she turned to a Nazarene Carpenter named Jesus - and to the sign of his cross.  The ending place of all human possibility as it awaits God’s possibility. She turned to the cross which is the sign of the beginning of God’s possibility for us in Jesus.

That story really says it all. Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is who we are. As people of faith we have a message to share and we can’t help but to share it.  Jesus is risen! In face of the endless, powerful, death dealing tales of this world; Amidst the empty tombs you hoped would give you life; Amidst all the problems of our personal lives; Amidst the pain of grief and the sufferings of a world that seems to be killing itself (and us); amidst our hunger for a life that matters in the face of death; Jesus is risen! He invades this world and this life with all its doubts and sorrows, its anxieties and fears, its sin and guilt, its grave mounds and tombstones. God assaults the powers of sin and evil and death to deliver you from their bondage. We who have been grasped by the promise now have a grand, wonderful, life-giving message for the world. Christ is risen! He lives! And in him, so do you.

As you enter into “ordinary time” – don’t let go of the Easter promise.  Carry the message with you and share it – Jesus is Risen!  Alleluia!  If you will carry that in all that you do, it will be far from “ordinary” it will be EXTRODINARY.

Servants together,

Paul <><

p.s. June 9  is Pentecost.  Don’t forget to wear red and let’s live into the work of the Holy Spirit!

p.s.s. - Did you know that Luther said. . . . ??? “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”