From Interim Pastor Larry Klinker

We have two expandable and contractible seasons (Epiphany and Pentecost season) in the church liturgical year based upon when Easter Sunday falls, being the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox.  If Easter is later, then, like this year, our Epiphany season is longer.  We have intentionally made the worship space plainer by removing the candelabras and making the space fit a more ordinary or plain environment.  The color is green.

Someone asked me on a Sunday, “What does Epiphany mean?”  So, I figured if one person didn’t know, then there would be many others who wouldn’t know either.  The word Epiphany comes down to two basic understandings of manifest and reveal.  The emphasis is on how God’s glory is manifested or revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.  The great Epiphany story from Matthew is how the birth of Jesus is manifested to the world by the star which attracted the Wise men from the east (January 6).  This fulfills the vision from Isaiah 60 of the wealth of the world to the king of David’s line.

We have already celebrated both the Baptism of Jesus where Jesus receives the Spirit who will inspire and lead his ministry, and Jesus is announced from the cloud that He is God’s Son with whom God is pleased, the beloved of God.  Secondly, God’s glory has been revealed at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee when Jesus enacts his first sign by turning water into wine.

The major theme of the entire Epiphany season is the glory of God manifested through Jesus.   The glory of God is now becoming visible, tangible, walking, feeling, and touching people.  The glory of God being manifested, the calling of the disciples, their training, the exhibiting of Jesus’ powers, rejection by his people, and the transfiguration of Jesus on the final Sunday.

Jesus in the Epiphany season is calling us to become the disciples of Jesus, to follow him and to manifest his glory through our lives.  Becoming a disciple of Jesus is not becoming a member of your local church, while it may help develop and support your disciplines.  Discipleship requires an immediate and abrupt change of life and loyalties.  Jesus led his first disciples through a radical reorientation of their lives, including their occupations and their allegiances.  What does it mean for you and me to be trained to follow Jesus and be trained to manifest his glory to the world?  What practices and disciplines will we need to support our inner journey to becoming more connected to the inner glory of God being manifested in us?  Finally, what concrete actions manifested in the outer world as justice and righteousness will we live out as the disciples of Jesus through and in the name of Living Lord in the Howland and Warren area?

 

The Story of the Week…One of the things that we, as Christians, who are people of the Book (Bible) really could use is a disciplined way for us to learn the many core Bible stories from the Scriptures.  The book “Bible Stories for the Church Year” by Kristen Johnson Ingram does just that by tying Bible stories to the Sunday lectionary we use every week as part of worship.  We will continue to offer a Bible story each week that is read as part of our liturgy to be learned called The Story of the Week.  At some point, with more children present, we can even use these stories as the basis of children’s sermons and a Sunday School program.  We plan to put out about ten copies each week and as the demand grows, we will make more copies available.

The Story of the Week for February:

February 6:  Fifth Sunday after Epiphany:  The call of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-13)

February 13:  Sixth Sunday after Epiphany:  Jesus Talks about Blessings (Luke 6:16, 20-26)

February 20:  Seventh Sunday after Epiphany:  Joseph Forgives his Brothers (Genesis 41:41-46:7)

February 27:  Transfiguration Sunday:  The Face of Moses Shines (Exodus 34:1-2, 28-35)

March 6:  First Sunday in Lent:  Temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-13)

 

Bring Back Your Palms…How many of us have our palms from last Palm/Passion Sunday?  Well, it’s time for you to strip them from your home and return them to Pr. Larry so they can be cut up and burned to help make ashes for Ash Wednesday.  This is an ancient practice of creating the ashes we need from the palms we received that have been decorating our homes since last year.  Then you will receive fresh palms on Palm/Passion Sunday.

 

Mid-Week Bible Study…We continue our reading together the Gospel of Luke on Wednesday mornings at 11:00 am in the Fellowship Hall.  If you are interested, just bring a version of the Bible you are comfortable working with.  We are around the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Luke, so you haven’t missed much if you still would like to join us.

 

Thrivent Members…If you are a Thrivent member and would be interested in using your Thrivent Choice Dollars to support the ministries of Living Lord Lutheran Church, please call Pr. Klinker at 330-550-0077 or the church office.  If you would be interested in using Thrivent Action Grants to help support the ministries of Living Lord, please also call Pr. Klinker or the church office.  Pastor will meet with you to discuss how to go about setting up these support systems.

 

Pastor Larry’s Bible Blog…Pastor Larry offers you an opportunity to read your way thru Scriptures with him each day at his Bible Blog.  The readings alternate between readings from an Older Testament book and then a Newer Testament book.  We continue to read in February the Older Testament book of Ezekiel.  When we finish with Ezekiel, we will begin to read the Newer Testament book of Revelation.  Join us reading our way through the Bible on Pastor Larry’s Bible blog online at:  http://klinkerld-pastorlarrysbible.blogspot.com/.

 

Interim Pastor Larry Klinker’s Office Hours…Pastor Larry will be in the office on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to noon.  You may reach him at 330-550-0077 or email him at klinkerld@att.net.

From the President, Nancy Walters

Installation of Council…All Council Members will be installed on Sunday, February 6, at the 9:30 am worship service.

Council Retreat…The Council Retreat will be held on Saturday, February 12, beginning at 9:00 am in Fellowship Hall.

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

From the In-Reach Committee Chairperson, Lorraine Bell

Please notify Lorraine Bell or the church office of any members who are hospitalized, ill, etc., so a card can be sent from the church.

Prayer Chain…Our prayer chain consists of seven members:  Camille Allen, Karen Bandy, Pam Boothe, Karin McKinney, Jacquie Thomas, Rose Zavatsky, and Lorraine Bell.  Please call one of the women with the name needing prayer and any concerns you feel are relevant.  Be sure to have the permission of that person.  That person will pass it on to the next one and it will go on to the next person, etc., so that we are all praying.

From the Stewardship Committee Chairperson, Robert McKinney

2022 Stewardship Program – Where Your Heart Is – Cheerful Givers.  “Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7.

Shorty is a steady, no-frills kind of guy.  He’d worked the same job for most of his life.  Slowly, over the years, he had built up a comfortable financial cushion on which to retire.  Not a lot of extras, but enough.  Those who knew him well knew he was a kind person.  Some of the little kids were scared of him.  He didn’t smile much, but you could count on him.  Steady.  Some might say faithful.  Shorty was practical, too.  He could fix almost anything.  It was his diligence that kept the boiler in the church basement limping along two years longer than it ever should have lasted.  When the boiler finally gave up its last rumble, Shorty knew enough to throw in the towel.  The call went out.  Donations were needed for the new furnace.  It was a small congregation.  Some joked about breaking up the furniture for kindling.  The check arrived in the mail in an unmarked envelope.  It was a generous gift.  Enough for an entire furnace.  There were conditions.  No one was to know.  No plaque or announcement.  Just the hum of heat warming those who came to worship.  Shorty’s gift to his church came from the heart.  Not many of us could make the kind of financial gift Shorty made, but if we keep our eyes and ears and heart open, opportunities to give and to serve will be numerous.

From the Worship Committee Chairperson, Karin McKinney

January is a slower month for our church activities.  Our attendance has dropped some due to the new variant of COVID and other reasons.  Rob McKinney continues to live-stream our services and put items of interest on our Facebook page.  If anyone has any suggestions, let Rob or me know.  He is learning as he goes along and will be working on our web site soon.  Our church members and others have made favorable comments on his endeavors.  We continue to sanitize and fog the church to help keep us safe.  We are hoping this helps the congregation feel better about coming to church.  The “Unhanging of the Greens” was held on January 8.  All was done in a timely manner.

 

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Rollie and Nancy Walters provided coffee and donuts.  Thanks to all our helpers.  Our Annual Congregation Meeting is scheduled for January 30, 2022, at 10:30 am after our regular service.

 

From Interim Pastor Larry Klinker

Because of when the January Newsletter will be published, I wanted to focus on the celebration of the birth of Christ and then the Epiphany of our Lord.  The celebration of the twelve days of the Christmas season starts on Christmas Eve.  Sorry American consumer culture which started on or before Halloween!  The Christmas season focuses on the birth of the Christ.  First, historically when Jesus is born in Bethlehem.  This would move us fully into the fulfillment part of the Season of Light that Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany is.  All our hopes were fulfilled when the Christ was born because God was revealed to us in this Jesus.

But the birth of the Christ needs to be more than a historically celebrated event.  The birth of the Christ needs to be even more than the reason for the season.  As Meister Eckhart, the mystic, points out, we need more than the remembered historical birth of the Christ.  What we truly need is the birth of the Christ in each one of our hearts down in our souls.  Each one of us needs to become a manger for the Christ child to be born into.  We need to personalize the birth of the Christ as my own experience.  God needs to be born inside each and every one of us.  The birth of the Christ is meant to be a deeply personal experience and not the reason we buy things.  The true fulfillment of the birth of the Christ comes when Christ is born in each one of our hearts and we become living Christs for our neighbor.

When this birth in our hearts is fulfilled, then we are ready to reveal the presence of this Christ to the world which is the theme of the Epiphany season which we will start on Sunday, January 2, in our worship.  We have moved the celebration of Epiphany which is assigned to January 6 to the second Sunday in Christmas.  We want to take advantage of this liturgical option from our Worship Book so we can, as a congregation and worshippers, begin to shine forth and proclaim the message of the coming of God to us in Jesus who has been born both in Bethlehem, in our hearts, and in our faith community.  We experience the presence of this Christ through word and the meal at the altar and then share it with the world.

Our communities of Howland, Warren, Champion, Cortland, and Niles, whether they realize it or not are desperate to hear and receive the birth of the Christ in their lives.  The purpose of our assembly as Living Lord Lutheran Church is to bring the birth of the Christ out into the world around us.  The Epiphany season is about calling, equipping, and the sending out of the disciples of Jesus to reveal to the world the presence of this Christ in the world around us.  A Christ who needs to be born in each and every one of our hearts through how we live justly and righteously and proclaim the gospel through sharing our personal faith stories when the Holy Spirit gives us opportunity.  But more about that in the February Newsletter.

For now, have a Blessed Christmas and become joyous disciples of Jesus Christ who reveals the birth of the Christ to the world.

 

The Story of the Week…One of the things that we, as Christians, who are people of the Book (Bible) really could use is a disciplined way for us to learn the many core Bible stories from the Scriptures.  The book “Bible Stories for the Church Year” by Kristen Johnson Ingram does just that by tying Bible stories to the Sunday lectionary we use every week as part of worship.  We will continue to offer a Bible story each week that is read as part of our liturgy to be learned called The Story of the Week.  At some point, with more children present, we can even use these stories as the basis of children’s sermons and a Sunday School program.  We plan to put out about ten copies each week and as the demand grows, we will make more copies available.

 

The Story of the Week for January:

January 2:  Epiphany Sunday:  The coming of the Wise men (Matthew 2:1-12)

January 9:  Baptism of Jesus:  The Baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)

January 16:  Second Sunday after Epiphany:  The wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)

January 23:  Third Sunday after Epiphany:  Jesus teaches in the Synagogue (Luke 4:14-30)

January 30 – Fourth Sunday after Epiphany:  Naam the leper (2 Kings 5:1-15)

February 6:  Fifth Sunday after Epiphany:  The call of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-13)

 

Mid-Week Bible Study…We continue our reading together the Gospel of Luke on Wednesday mornings at 11:00 am in the Fellowship Hall.  If you are interested, just bring a version of the Bible you are comfortable working with.  We are still in early chapters of the Gospel of Luke, so you haven’t missed much if you still would like to join us.

 

Thrivent Members…If you are a Thrivent member and would be interested in using your Thrivent Choice Dollars to support the ministries of Living Lord Lutheran Church, please call Pr. Klinker at 330-550-0077 or the church office.  If you would be interested in using Thrivent Action Grants to help support the ministries of Living Lord, please also call Pr. Klinker or the church office.  Pastor will meet with you to discuss how to go about setting up these support systems.

 

Pastor Larry’s Bible Blog…Pastor Larry offers you an opportunity to read your way thru Scriptures with him each day at his Bible Blog.  The readings alternate between readings from an Older Testament book and then a Newer Testament book.  We will be reading in January the Older Testament book of Ezekiel.  When we finish with Ezekiel, we will begin to read the Newer Testament book of Revelation.  Join us reading our way through the Bible on Pastor Larry’s Bible blog online at:  http://klinkerld-pastorlarrysbible.blogspot.com/.

 

Interim Pastor Larry Klinker’s Office Hours…Pastor Larry will be in the office on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to noon.  You may reach him at 330-550-0077 or email him at klinkerld@att.net.

From the President, Nancy Walters

Mark your calendars for Sunday, January 30, 2022, for the Annual Meeting of the Congregation.  It will be held following the 9:30 am worship service.  We are planning a fundraising event for February.  We will hold a potluck dinner and an auction following the dinner (date to be determined).  This event was very successful in the past and has raised quite a bit of money.  The auction is for white elephant items (no Bob, there will not be elephants in Fellowship Hall), baked items, homemade items (like scarves, cards, and crafts), or whatever you would like to donate.  Bring your wrapped items with you to the dinner, along with your checkbook/cash.  There will also be a 50/50 raffle at that time.  Be sure to check for updates in the bulletin or the Lamplighter Newsletter as to the date and time.  The last two years have presented some challenges to our congregation.  COVID-19 was one of the biggest ones.  We have held in-person services, virtual services, and a combination of both.  We have worn masks and made wearing masks optional.  Thankfully we have had no serious illnesses in the congregation that we are aware of.  The church is disinfected twice a week for the safety of all.  Please stay safe and healthy this winter.  This is my last article as your Council President.  It has been an honor to serve with the Council.  Thank you for the privilege.

 

Warren Area Congregational Summit…Bishop Barbins and her staff will be holding a Warren Area Congregational Summit at Living Lord Lutheran Church on Saturday, January 29, 2022, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.  From Bishop Barbins:  “Many of you have reached out to our offices for help thinking through what might be in the future for your congregations.  As “synod” we are called to walk with one another in the proclamation of the Gospel and in mission with the Kingdom of God.  We would like to be your conversation partner and resource as your seek God’s hopes and dreams for your congregations.  At this Summit, we will engage in conversation, share strategies, and leave room for the Holy Spirit.  So that we have room at the table for all who arrive, please RSVP by January 14, 2022, to 330-929-9022 or office@neos-elca.org.

 

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

From the Fellowship Committee Chairperson, Donna Wright

I do hope everyone here at Living Lord Lutheran Church has a blessed Christmas with family and friends and everything else that make the Christmas season so special.  Fellowship Coffee continues each Sunday and refreshments on the third Sunday.  We continue to need Coffee Angels each Sunday so please sign up for any given Sunday.  December 19 was extra special as I just celebrated another birthday.  Yay!  The Christmas Eve service will be followed by an array of mouth-watering desserts and hot coffee to warm your hearts.  Happy New Year to each and every one of you here at Living Lord Lutheran Church.

 

Fellowship Sunday…We will have Fellowship after the 9:30 am service on the third Sunday of each month (January 16).