From Pastor William D. Leitch…What is the season of Lent? First, it is the forty days before the resurrection of Christ. There are 46 days from Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday, but we do not count Sundays. Why? Because we observe the resurrection of Christ every Sunday. We are a resurrection people. So subtract the six Sundays in Lent and you have forty days.
What is the significance of 40? The number 40 has many Biblical references:
- Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God (Exodus 24:18)
- Elijah spent 40 days and nights walking to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8)
- God sent 40 days and nights of rain in the great flood of Noah (Genesis 7:4)
- The Hebrew people wandered 40 years in the desert while traveling to the Promised Land (Numbers 14:33)
- Jonah’s prophecy of judgment gave 40 days to the city of Nineveh in which to repent or be destroyed (Jonah 3:4)
- Jesus retreated into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days and was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-2, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-2). He overcame all three of Satan’s temptations by citing scripture to the devil, at which point the devil left him, angels ministered to Jesus, and He began His ministry. Jesus further said that His disciples should fast “when the bridegroom shall be taken from them” (Matthew 9:15), a reference to His Passion. Our Gospel text on the first Sunday in Lent is always Jesus’ temptation in the desert.
We observe three traditions during Lent. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbors).
As Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof would say, “Tradition.” And it is a very precious tradition that we observe together as the Body of Christ. It is intentional. It is instructional. And it is a discipline that gives us focus and directs us back to a relationship with God. It gives us pause to examine ourselves and to give ourselves back to God. It is our way of intentionally looking for indicators that might be turning us from God and to renew life practices that will reorient us to Christ as the center of our lives.
I pray that we all fellowship together and worship together every Wednesday night as a discipline that will build and strengthen us as the Body of Christ.
Ash Wednesday Services…On Wednesday, March 1, we will have an Ash Wednesday Worship Service at noon at Living Lord and at Emmanuel. We will then come together for a Potluck Dinner at 6:00 pm and Joint TALC Ash Wednesday Worship Service at 7:00 pm at St. Paul. The youth will have a practice at 5:30 pm. Please see the sign-up sheet in the main hallway so St. Paul can plan for how many people will be attending. Please bring a covered dish to share at the Potluck Dinner; ham, beverages and paper products will be provided.
Mid-week Soup Supper and Lenten Worship Services…Beginning Wednesday, March 8, through Wednesday, April 5, Living Lord will host the mid-week Lenten services in a series called “At the Crossroads”. Many of those involved in the story of the Passion of Christ came to a crossroads and had to decide which way to go. Some chose well, some did not, and the stories of each of these experiences at various crossroads help us to know what to do and what not to do when we encounter similar crossroads in our own lives. In the end, each service in the series reveals in some way how Christ and his cross lead us to decide the path of God’s will for us. We will begin each Wednesday with a Soup Supper at 6:00 pm followed by Holden Evening Prayer at 7:00 pm.
All three churches are having a Reformation 500 Bookstore…The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation is fast approaching! Do you want to learn more about Martin Luther, his writings, and their impact on Christianity? Do you want to reflect on the ongoing impact of the Reformation today? Stop by our Reformation 500 Bookstore to shop for engaging books on the Reformation for readers of all ages and interests! Save up to 50% plus receive free shipping on all Bookstore titles. Stop by the Reformation 500 table in your church on Sunday, March 5, through Sunday, March 12, to order fascinating books on the Reformation for you and your family. Our Bookstore is sponsored by Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the ELCA. The books will include bestselling biographies like Luther the Reformer as well as an atlas of the European Reformations, a graphic novel for young readers, and primary sources from The Annotated Luther series.
Direct Thrivent Choice Dollars by March 31…Eligible Thrivent Financial members who have available Choice Dollars have until March 31, 2017, to direct them. Don’t miss this opportunity to recommend that Thrivent Financial provide outreach funding to Living Lord Lutheran Church. Go to Thrivent.com/ thriventchoice to learn more. Or call 800-847-4836 and say “Thrivent Choice” after the prompt.
Camp Frederick Dinner Dance Fundraiser…Camp Frederick will hold a Dinner Dance Fundraiser on Saturday, April, 1, beginning at 6:00 pm at Zion Lutheran Church, 3300 Canfield Road, Youngstown, OH 44511. The Roaring Twenties Dinner Dance will be an evening of food, dancing, auctions, and fun! Funds raised will go to support the sending of kids to Camp. The Dinner Dance will start at 6:00 pm with hors d’oeuvres and time to peruse the silent auction and basket raffle items. Dinner will begin at 7:00 pm followed by the silent auction winners, raffle, and dancing. There are many different ways to support Camp Frederick through the Dinner Dance. You can attend the dance, be a sponsor, or donate items for the auctions. We are also going to have a “wine pull”. Donations of bottles of wine may be dropped off anytime at Camp Frederick or given to a board member. Please consider helping with the ministry of Camp Frederick by participating in one of the ways listed above. For more information, call 330-227-3633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in attending the Dinner Dance, tickets are $35.00; please see Pastor Bill to purchase your tickets.
From Pastor Ann Marie Winters… “Uniting Matters of Flesh and Matters of Spirit”
Lent is a time for special repentance. Let us dwell on the words of Craig Nessan (Give us this Day) describing how Jesus feeds us, body and spirit:
“By means of bread, Jesus united matters of flesh and matters of spirit. Jesus fed both hungry multitudes and the hunger of the heart. Jesus demonstrated both the dawning of the kingdom as he sat at the table with sinners, and instituted the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins. For Jesus, there was no division between body and spirit. What Jesus has brought together, however, we have rent asunder. How do we reunite body and spirit as we come together to eat bread in Jesus’ name?”
We have the opportunities for confession and forgiveness at our Sunday worship, and there we can share in the uniting power of the Holy Communion. On Wednesdays, we also have special mid-week Lenten services in a series called “At the Crossroads”, held at Living Lord Lutheran Church (see details below under Ash Wednesday Services). These are instances where we can share a supper meal with Lutheran brothers and sisters, building bonds of community, then strengthening the unity of the Body of Christ through our shared worship – Holden Evening Prayer. I am confident that you will be fed and forgiven during these Lenten worship times.
May God bless your Lent,
Pastor Ann Marie Winters