from the pastor's desk


"Lent Embraced?"

       The word comes from the Old English lengten, meaning “spring” as in “the lengthening of the daylight.”

      At the beginning of March we are beginning to notice more daylight in this northern climate. More light provides more help to see what is going on. That is part of what the Church wants to accomplish this time of year in the Church Season of Lent. The Cross of Jesus remains accented with a purple drape in the worship space at Our Saviors, so we see it, so we notice it more. Last month (and in my Ash Wednesday Worship message) I suggested that this year Lent could help us see how God is already equipping us to grow. If “Lent” is “spring” then the image accents the message: spring means “new growth,” “re-growth,” leading to Easter and the Resurrection of “New Life.”

      The growth I suggest we emphasize is both personal and communal. God supplies both. Each of us is encouraged throughout Lent every year into a pilgrimage of personal penitence, a journey through a deeper understanding of why we need the cross. We need to be forgiven. We each need the power of grace Jesus brings to us through the cross;  as Martin Luther reminds us in the Small Catechism, “this is most certainly true.”  But this year I want to be sure you hear the call to growth as a community. As a congregation, we are being called to respond to the need for Jesus, the need for the basic message of the Gospel (“The time is now! The Kingdom of God is happening! Repent and believe it!” Mark 1:15) to be broadcast in real ways to real people in real time.

      In Sunday Worship in March we will continue to follow Jesus’ journey to the cross as the Gospel of John describes it. God reveals in the stories we will hear how and why Jesus empowers sacrificial and powerful service.

      In Wednesday Worship, the Lenten series “Sacramental Prayers: Exploring How The Sacraments and Our Prayer Lives Intersect” will continue to encourage our experiences of God’s grace in Baptism and Holy Communion. When we pray and when God’s grace is celebrated, God is fueling our growth. These Holy Experiences are intended to do more than make us feel good. They are meant to keep the community of faith growing in new and creative ways, pushing us beyond the ordinary, enticing us deeper into the relationships in which we were designed to flourish. The Sacraments and Prayer are gifts from God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that grow relationship with God and each other deep into the good rich soil of forgiveness.

      This call upon the community of Our Savior’s will call for changes in our shared ministry. Growth is a process, a journey. Unhealthy patterns will need to be recognized, re-evaluated, re-directed. Opportunities will need to be identified and embraced. The messages of the Gospel and the work of the congregation will need to be seen as a unified whole. The focus of our worship will once again need to be vibrantly connected to the action of our congregation; growth of relationships rooted in forgiveness needs to be the path we embrace together.

If that is our journey, I will be on it with you.

Pastor Chris