April 2021
From the Pastor

 

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

About 6 weeks ago, I was at the bed side of a Jewish woman who was in her dying days.  I had been providing her pastoral care for about 5 years.  Wait?  What?  Pastoral care for a Jewish woman?  Well – Yes!  She is a woman who about 4.5 years earlier had given her life to Christ.  She was baptized and struggled with her faith in a beautiful way for the remainder of her days.

Early on in our faith relationship, I tried to explain the cross and the death of Jesus to someone who had been suffering many years herself.  "That sounds awful, she said!   Someone had to die. How cruel!  Why did he have to die?  Couldn't he do that without suffering?"  She struggled with how a loving God should do only loving things and that people basically have love in their hearts.  I get it.  A cruel and gruesome death on a cross doesn't fit the picture of a loving God.

Pause now for a moment.  How have people reacted to you when you tried to explain Jesus' death?  How did you react the first time someone explained the cross to you?   I do understand her reaction.  It does seem cruel.  It was.  But I also understand that God does not operate the way we do.  God does not think as we do; and God does take sin seriously.

That word sin also creates hard conversations, doesn't it?  It suggests a right and a wrong --- something we find hard to navigate in our culture.  The concept of sin takes aim at a "doing-it-my-way" sort of living.  It calls out that wandering sheep in all of us who does not like to respond to guidance and boundaries.

Understanding the cross and the sin that put Jesus there in our place requires eyes of faith.  We can't think our way into embracing it.  The Apostle Paul said it this way:

 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, 

but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Corinthians 1:17)

 

When you receive this letter, we will be entering into the story of Jesus as he enters Jerusalem and as we live into His Passion taking him to the cross – more important still, is His resurrection.  Perhaps, instead of living into the foolishness of the cross, just we should simply thank God for the gift of faith that enables us to accept the life-changing gift of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Before we arrive at the shadow of the cross on Good Friday, take a moment to reflect on these three words: cross, sin, and faith.  What has your journey been with these words?  Can you embrace them fully this Lenten season?  If not, talk to God about what stands in the way.

 

Meet you at the cross,

 

+ Pr. Paul +

 

p.s. – Did you know??  Our confirmation youth will be an important part of Holy Week.  Part of their leadership will be to wash the feet of those who attend the Maundy Thursday service on April 1st – no foolin'.  In addition, Good Friday will be a Tenebrae service – a very powerful service that will have tremendous impact as your Lenten journey comes to a close.  Last -- on Saturday, April 3rd, we will join St. Luke's Episcopal church, in an Ecumenical Easter Vigil Service.  Please look closely at the calendar for all of the Holy Week worship opportunities.

p.s.s. – Did you know that Luther said. . . . ???  "Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf in springtime."