Greetings Brothers and Sister in Christ,
Someone asked me the other day why baptismal fonts are often octagonally shaped? If you take a look at our font, the bowl in the center is round, but the large white font-stand itself has eight sides. Why is that? Well, first of all, in Hebrew and in many cultures, numbers have meaning and “spiritual” significance, if you will. In Genesis, when God created the world, God did it in six days and rested on the seventh, hallowing that day and making it all complete on this day of rest. The seventh day was to be “set apart” for Israel; the Sabbath was a holy day of rest (Deuteronomy 5:12). The Sabbath day of rest also foreshadowed the need for an eternal and lasting rest not just for Israel but for Gentiles too. And by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter morning, he inaugurated and made possible this new life for all who believe and trust in him. For Christians, Sunday, the day of resurrection, is therefore the “eighth day” and the going under and coming up in the waters of baptism is the sacrament of that new birth. God claims us and makes us his own, and marks us with the cross of Christ forever! That is why baptismal fonts often have eight sides and why the church gathers for worship on Sunday…it’s the day of resurrection! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
The balcony will remain closed for repairs. Materials have not yet arrived and we may do some additional rearranging in our storage spaces upstairs.
Bridal Room Update
There has been some discussion on updating the bridal room in the narthex. For the next few Sundays I’d like to meet with anyone in the sanctuary after church to kick the can down the street and discuss this hallowed, sacred and holy matter. Well, that might be a little strong, but you get the idea.
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” —John 20:19-23
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday (thank you Jay and choir and all who assisted with preparations for the breakfast, egg hunt and services) and are having a blessed Easter season as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the empty tomb, and the appearances of Christ to hundreds of those first followers (see 1 Corinthians 15:6). And it is into this troubled world of ours that the risen Christ comes and speaks these words, “Peace be with you.” We sorely need this. The recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka killing 253 people is terrible and a blatant disregard for life. How sad and painful the world that God created can be towards one another. Forgive us, good Lord. Even though the message of Easter is the truth that good overcomes evil…it is still very much present. The peace that Jesus gives us is a peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27) and is therefore all the more important to abide and dwell in this peace as we gather for Word and Sacrament, prayer and fellowship on the Lord’s Day with each other. Pray for our brothers and sisters persecuted throughout the world. And may His peace be yours — and through you — extend to one another. -pastor
Chorus: We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion, we’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God. Verse 4: Then let our songs abound, And every tear be dry; We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground, We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground, To fairer worlds on high, To fairer worlds on high.
—ISAAC WATTS (1674–1748)
I remember singing this hymn on one of our bus trips in the Holy Land when we went to the old city of Jerusalem. It is such a wonderful happy hymn set to an upbeat march-like melody of fellowship and joy! It’s #625 in our ELW hymnal. Anyway, there is however, a juxtaposition here…it is a happy, joyful song of death and dying! That’s odd, isn’t it? Joyful and happy marching through Emmanuel’s ground? Well, yes, because in Christ (who is “Emmanuel” God with us in the flesh) the promised Messiah has show up in Jesus and resided in the city of David and all those in Christ are passing through on our way to fairer worlds on high! In other words then, to know and trust this Jesus, is to be in his death and resurrection too! For Christians, death is not the last word! Resurrection to new and eternal life is ours as a gift from Christ. True, we all experience Good Friday in our lives, times of sadness, suffering and death. But the Good News is that there is Easter! There is an empty tomb and a resurrected Christ! Hallelujah! Therefore, we can live now, in the present, with renewed joy and purpose. We can face our struggles and even death in the news and light of the resurrection! Yes, there is a sting to death. Yes, we grieve at our losses. All that is real and I don’t diminish that. However, the mustard seed of faith that God gives us, allows us to continue to serve and witness, live, love and make plans as those who have an inheritance in the heavens (1 Peter 1:3-4). With this in view, we talked about death and dying at our mid-week Lent devotions. And here are some resources for you, dear Christian, if you choose:
Issues of Life and Death by Deac. Betsy Karkan
It’s all about death – and life! by Robert C. Blezard
Dead Right by Heidi Ernst
My Pre-Planned Funeral Celebration Form
We are coming to a close of the season of Epiphany, but that doesn’t mean we are to think that God comes to a close or an end of revealing himself to us. God comes to us in Word and Sacrament, fellowship with other Christians, and through the ministries of The Church. We “see” and experience God in these ways and are blessed to be a blessing through our service and witness in return. I spoke about Christian witness a few weeks ago and said that we ALL are in the business of passing on the faith and sharing our God-story with others. Some might say that they are embarrassed to talk about Jesus with others, or not knowledgeable enough to share their faith. Well guess what? That’s not an excuse. Anyone who claims to be a Christian, or to put it differently, has the Christian claim and mark of baptism upon them, MUST share their God-story and tell others of Jesus and his love. Jesus says in Matthew 10:27, “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” And Peter says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” So let’s all take the Epiphany challenge of sharing the Light of Christ with the people near us. In fact, instead of giving up chocolate chip-cookies and cheeseburgers for Lent, put a few sentences together in your head of what Jesus means to you and what the value of the church is, and be willing to share that with someone. If you do this, be ready, God will give you the opportunity. And more importantly, that person may need hope, encouragement and direction. And God is reaching them through you!
I want to thank Robin and her Fellowship Ministry Team for the wonderful crock-pot, pot-luck luncheon last Sunday! It was once again very delicious! How enjoyable it was to gather for worship with each other, conduct our annual meeting (look back and look ahead) and top it all off with a church family luncheon where we all enjoyed a feast and each others company! Indeed, we have been blessed! And of course in response to God’s grace and abundance in our lives, we get the chance to bless others! One of the ways we bless others is through the Ministry Teams we have at FLC. Each one is important and collectively they all give structure and fuel the work of the church. Here is a diagram I put together (using a template but filled it in the way I wanted) to show how our Ministry Teams are necessary and related and feed into each other. As someone mentioned at the annual meeting, the Ministry Teams are avenues for YOU with your interests and concerns, to make FLC what you want it to be. Indeed, the Holy Spirit gives the increase, but He needs you and me to plug in—short term or long term—with the Ministry Teams available. It is also a way that you can grow in your faith as you witness and serve our Lord through His Church!