He is risen!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Welcome to the season of Easter. For the next 7 Sundays we will be basking in the glow of the resurrection of Jesus as we await his Ascension 1 and the arrival of the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire on Pentecost. When I was a church boy our Pastor did the same trick every Easter Sunday for the children’s sermon. He’d have us look all over the sanctuary for this dot-matrix print of the word
“Alleluia,” until we found it in the baptismal font. He did this for five years in a row. It got to a point where most of us kids knew exactly where to look for the “Alleluia” even before the children’s sermon time started.
And so one year, a few of those kids (perhaps some adults too) conspired to move the “Alleluia” somewhere else instead.
It this impetus for the new which is going to help theme our celebrations this Easter season. Our focus for this season will be about moving from the known to the unknown with hope. And hope is a tricky thing. You can’t just tell someone to be hopeful anymore than you can just tell someone to be happy. But when we together remember our shared history, and note how God has been faithful, this should give us the hope we need to embrace the unknown – because no matter how different it might be, we know God is going there with us.
I don’t know if Pastor knew, all those years ago, someone changed his plans, but that Sunday he looked just as confused and surprised as everyone else when the “Alleluia” appeared under the brass communion trays instead of in the font. The world changes, but God is still faithful.
Thanks be to God.
He is risen!
Pop quiz…when is Easter this year?
Answer: the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, of course!!
March 27th for all of you google cheaters… :)
The 40-some days preceding Easter are known as Lent, a season of the church that has been traditionally marked by an attention to repentance, self-renewal, and preparation for the joyous Easter feast. Churches throughout our Lutheran denomination will gather during the week for simple meals of soup and salad followed by worship and prayer. It is a lovely tradition, and one that ushers in and respects the sacredness of the season.
This year at Prince of Peace, we are going to put a little twist on the typical Lenten format and try out a format of worship modeled after Lydia’s Table in NYC. (stlydias.org). This model, based on the ancient church’s “love meal” gatherings, will incorporate meal prep, eating, and worship all in one setting. The worship is a holy and unique time, bringing ordinary actions (like setting the table and sitting together) into a special and sacred light. Participation is easy and fun, with opportunities to converse and meditate together. If it sound strange or different…it may be! But I am certain that it will be a holy time together. Keep an ear and eye open for meal start times and sign-ups for food.
Our theme for Lent this year is “Back to Basics.” As such, our conversations during dinner worship will be around the basic human needs of water, food, shelter, and warmth. Our Lenten offerings will be directed at the ELCA’s 2016 funding focus which is hunger. (For more information on this campaign and the successful end of the Malaria Campaign, which raised 15 million to help eradicate Malaria, check out elca.org)
In addition, following the meal in the fellowship hall, you are all invited into one of two book discussions for the season. Pastor Nate will be teaching a bible study on the gospel of Mark (with accompanying study guide from the Book of Faith Series) in the conference room. And Pastor Sara will be leading a discussion on sections of the book by Brian Mclaren, Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices. Both books will be available for purchase for a suggested offering of $11-14. (The McLaren book is also available in eformat if you would prefer.) The books will be on display beginning Sunday the 7th for you to choose which path you will trod throughout Lent. The bible study will be a cerebral, eye opening time. The study with Pastor Sara will focus on the spiritual practices of our faith (some new to us, others tried and true). Choose a book that will either push you into new realms of faith or that might heighten your already impressive knowledge. :) Either way, it is sure to be a wonderful Lenten season! By the way, Lent begins February 10th with Ash Wednesday worship at either 11:00am or 7:00pm I invite and encourage you to ponder your Lenten disciplines for this season…including weekly attendance at Lydia’s Table.
Peace be the Journey,
As I write to you it is another gorgeous morning in Saratoga and the church grounds are abuzz with meetings and the activity of young children.
This day is like many I have experienced so far at Prince of Peace; joyous, fun, bright, & meaningful. And in the midst of this activity I cannot help but wonder, “How can we adapt the worship so that our experiences of Scripture have this kind of vitality?”
When we gather together on Sunday mornings for worship we do so in a fairly organized way. Individual pieces may change regularly, but the larger pattern remains the same. This pattern is called the liturgy; from a Greek term meaning, “the people’s work.” The liturgy gives a good order to follow so that we experience more of the breadth of God’s action in the world.
Members of PoP have been joining me (and more often than not teaching me) in trying to put the kind of energy and thought into our liturgy that we have in our music; this is a strong tradition at Prince of Peace, but there is one piece of the liturgy that has not changed in some time (with exceptions for special occasions): the lectionary - the series of readings we hear on Sunday. We currently, like most liturgical churches since 1994, use the Revised Common Lectionary.
I believe now is a good time to broaden this work by testing out the Narrative Lectionary this fall.
Here’s what makes the Narrative Lectionary different from the Revised Common Lectionary.
We begin September 13th. In the meantime, please check out the Narrative Lectionary page at: http://www.workingpreacher.org/?lectionary=nl for more details.
Reverend Nathan Winterhof and Reverend Sara Pearson have been Co-Pastors at Prince of Peace Saratoga since April 2015. In addition to shepherding the congregation, they have two children and a dog to keep them on their toes and provide sermon material.