Follow by Email

AH......Easter

It was a beautiful Easter morning and a very exciting time at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church.  The altar looked so nice all dressed in white with fresh flowers and Easter lilies.  There is an energy to Easter.  Everything seems new.  Everyone dressed up and the best part of the service was the baptisms.  I kept the sermon a little short but I hope I expressed in it what needed to be said.

Here it is:


Easter Sunday

Hallelujah, Christ is Risen! 

This is a big day. A day of celebration. Christ is risen. We have traveled through the somber time of lent. We have visited the painful last few days of his passion and death on a cross. And now we hear the stone is rolled back. The tomb is empty and Christ has defeated death. There is joy and awe among his followers.

Every year during holy week I feel like I have been emotionally wrung out. I feel like I am there watching this incredible drama unfold and I am exhausted. Then, finally I hear the good news. The news that he is risen. The joy of Jesus victory over death. 

This story never gets old for me. It is told in different ways by the different books of the New Testament but that is OK. It is still the same message. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross. He rose from the dead and now he invites us into his kingdom. 

Are we changed by this news. I think we are. At least for me, I need to hear this story. I need to be reminded. I need the message of love, sacrifice, and promise.

Spring is a time of newness. At our home the hyacinths and Japanese iris are in bloom. The red bud trees are budding out and are so close to flowering. The lawn has changed from a brown to a bright green. My neighbor has already mowed his yard. My neighbor is wondering when I will mow my yard. It is a wonderful time.

The long winter is over and you can tell it in the faces of the people. It seems to me the only way you could make this a better Easter, a better spring, would be to have a baptism. Better yet, five baptisms and a reaffirmation of baptism.

We rejoice in the risen Christ. We rejoice in the freshness of spring and we celebrate the baptisms and reaffirmation of members of our church family.

Praise be to God.

Amen

Good Friday and More

The Episcopalians and Lutherans got together again for the Good Friday Service at First Lutheran.  It is always a pleasure when the two Churches can be one church at least for a night.  I have a hope that the day is not far off when we can all celebrate our shared faith together.

I am reading a book from an author I read long ago.  The book is, The Life You've always wanted:  Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg.  Catchy title isn't it.  The first book of his I read was:  If You Want To Walk On Water, You Have To Get Out Of The Boat.  Another catchy title.  He is easy to read and as I am reading I keep saying to myself, "That is such a good idea, I'll have to remember that."  Of course I don't remember any of it but its nice to be inspired.

Tomorrow is the big day.  Easter is wonderful time for the church.  The somber time of Lent is over and we can breath the fresh air of spring.  It is time to celebrate the risen Christ.  What a wonderful time have five baptisms and a re-affirmation.  I know Frank has worked very hard at getting the documents together including the order of service.  Sherry has dedicated herself to baking, getting presents and dressing up the hall for the celebration afterward.  It will be wonderful!

Please come.  Services are at 9:15.

Peace,
Deacon Fred

Maundy Thursday Sermon

Tonight at 7 P.M. First Lutheran Church in Chariton joins us for services At St. Andrew's.  I am really looking forward to it.  The church will be full which is great.  We have the foot washing to commemorate the time when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.  At the end of the service we will strip the alter and place shrouds over the cross.  It can be a very moving experience.  All are welcome to attend.

I am including a draft of tonight's sermon.

When pastor Rich and I were discussing the combined service for today, I asked him how many people we could expect from First Lutheran. He said probably about forty. Then I asked how many of them would participate in the foot washing and he said almost all of them. I immediately thought.. that's forty feet to wash! Then my mathematical side kicked in and I thought... each one of those people have two feet. That's eighty feet! We'll be here till midnight just washing feet! He then assured me that we would have several basins and it would not take that long.

I don't want to discourage any of you. In fact, I hope you all participate in this ritual which has always been important. Several months ago as a part of the ordination process I took something called the General Ordination Exam or G.O.E. In the world of the Episcopal Clergy it is referred to as the dreaded G.O.E.'s. It is a very long written exam. By the time I was finished I had written about 12,000 words. Shortly after I had submitted my response to the exam I was given an oral exam in which I had to defend what I had written.

At this oral exam I was asked what the purpose was of the foot washing during Maundy Thursday. After I told them to get clean feet they told me to dig deeper. My real response was that it was an act of humility and that in humbling myself it exhibited my love for the people whose feet I was washing. It really is about showing humility and love which brings us to what Maundy Thursday is all about.

What does Maundy Thursday mean? The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum which translates to the more common English word mandate or commandment. Jesus gave us a new commandment on that night two thousand years ago. He said “that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” There is so much power in those few words.

Jesus showed us how much he loved us by allowing himself to be sacrificed on the cross. We must never forget his love or his sacrifice.

Every Wednesday we do the stations of the cross at St. Andrew's. We take turns reading the individual stations. A few weeks ago one of our parishioners was leading at the sixth station and she became emotionally overwhelmed by the power of what she was reading. She stopped for a time to compose herself. We waited. Then she finished the reading.

She later apologized to us for what had happened. I told her I am affected that way too but that I can usually make it to the eleventh station before I start tearing up.

Several weeks ago I was taking an online video course on church liturgy. At one point in the class we started discussing the stations of the cross. One of the students in the class said she didn't like doing the stations because it made her sad. My response to her was, “Isn't that the point?” We are entering the sad times of Holy Week. We are here to remember. To feel sad, and to never forget the sacrifice that Jesus made for you and for me.


Amen
 
Peace,
Deacon Fred