God reveals the Holy Name to Moses so that the people know who God is and God’s power to save
Getting The Whole Story-
It is my annual exhortation. I say it every year and have said it every year for thirty-five years. So, if you don’t mind, humor me as I say it again. If we come to church on Palm/Passion Sunday and return on Easter Sunday, skipping the services of the Triduum (the three days) on Thursday and Friday, then we have an incomplete gospel and a partial story. We bask in the sunshine of a Sunday parade and we celebrate in the sunrise of an empty tomb. Yet, we will miss the darkness that intervenes and the truth of how we got from one place to the other. The journey is critical to the destination.
With that said (and I feel better for having said it, so thank you), let me invite you to make attendance at our Holy Week services a priority. Each service is designed to lead us to the next (beginning Thursday night, for example, there will be no benediction or dismissal until Easter Sunday – the service will not end; it will merely be recessed until the next day when we will pick it back up). Each service builds on the one before. To miss one is to miss something critical and important to the outcome.
Our services are:
Palm/Passion Sunday, April 13 – worship at 8:25 (Sanctuary), 9:45 (Sanctuary and 1st on Chatham), 11:05 (Sanctuary) and 11:11 (Celebration). This service will include the story of the triumphal entry, the children’s palm processional, a reading of Matthew’s account of the Passion woven together with Passion hymns, a meditation, and prayers.
Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), April 17 – worship at 7:00 p.m. During this service, we will remember the institution of the Lord’s Supper and share in the meal. At the end of the service, we will strip the Sanctuary of all decoration until Easter Sunday.
Good Friday, April 18 – worship at 7:00 p.m. Our Chancel Choir, accompanied by orchestra, will present their annual cantata, “In My Place.” The service will include Tenebrae (or Darkness).
Easter Sunday Sunrise, 6:30 a.m. in the Templeton Courtyard. The resurrection will be welcomed and proclaimed. The service will be followed by an Easter breakfast in the Fellowship Hall.
Easter Sunday Worship – all five worshipping communities will gather at their regular times and in their regular places to celebrate the good news of Easter and Christ’s resurrection.
I look forward to seeing you next week at each service as together we get the whole story.
Grace and peace.
A Change Of Direction-
When I began college, I was fairly certain that I was going to be an attorney, maybe dabble in politics. Accordingly, I declared a major of Political Science and was off and running. Or so I thought.
Then, an attorney I respected (yes that’s what I said) suggested that an English major was not a bad preparation for law school. He suggested that an English major would offer me the critical analysis and writing skills needed. So, I added English and had a double major of PoliSci/English. Things were moving along. Or so I thought.
At the time, I was working for an attorney (whom I also respected but was not the aforementioned attorney) and was beginning to become a bit disenchanted with what I was asked to do. It began to appear to me that most of what the practice of law entailed was research. I started rethinking my career choice. The life of an English professor in a college, spending my days teaching the mysteries of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” to impressionable young adults began to look appealing. So, I dropped the Political Science and became just an English major (as if one could be “just” an English major). A new direction but one I could live with, and away I went. Or so I thought.
After a while, though, it became clear to me that the gentle nudge I had been feeling toward ordained ministry was becoming a shove in the back. I’ll save all of the details of that for another time and only say, for now, that there was another change of direction and I added a Religion and Philosophy major to English for a double major.
Four changes of major in my first two years of college (there was a fifth change but, again, that’s another story). Life was redirected at every turn; direction was changed at every turn. What I see in retrospect and the advantage of 35 years is the movement of providence, the call of God, the promptings of the Spirit.
This Sunday, we’ll look at change of direction as a response to God’s call. There is no evidence, for example, that Abram was unhappy with his life. God called him to change direction anyway (Genesis 12:1-4). There is no indication that Nicodemus is seeking anything more than a conversation with Jesus. Jesus invites him to be “born new” anyway (John 3:1-17). Perhaps it’s when we’re most comfortable that God calls for us into a new direction.
On this second Sunday in Lent, as we celebrate the new direction brought to us by nine new families uniting with FUMCC, we will consider the question “Where Are You Headed?” I hope that in the many paths you take one of your directions will be to head over to Academy Street and join us Sunday for the conversation.
Grace and peace.
Who Are You Today?–
Mary-Ellen has a cousin who spent a number of years as a substitute teacher after retiring from the Air Force. In that experience, Thomas discovered that every day he had to be someone “different.” An elementary school teacher one day, a high school physics teacher the next, a middle school social studies teacher the next. Being a substitute teacher required him to change roles and to have different skill sets. He wrote a book about the experience and entitled it “Who Are You Today? A Survival Handbook for Substitute Teachers.”
There may be a sense in which that is an experience with which we all can identify (pun intended). One moment we are a parent, the next an employee or boss, the next a customer, the next a spouse. Roles change quickly and agility is required to shift gears. “Who am I?” may not be an uncommon question in our experience.
Beneath that question, however, there needs to be a fundamental core answer that does not change. For life to be healthy – emotionally and spiritually – we must know at some deep level who we are, what we believe, how we can identify ourselves. Otherwise, we become chameleons, changing from moment to moment, never at peace and never certain of who we are. If we don’t know who we are, there is no solid ground on which to stand when life challenges us and tempts us to be someone different.
This Sunday on the First Sunday in Lent, we will begin a new sermon series that invites us to follow Jesus where he is headed (rather than striking out on our own). Our first reflection will center around two passages of scripture that have to do with identity ( Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7 and Matthew 3:13-4:11 ). In one, not knowing who one is as a child of God leads to giving into temptation and disaster. In the other, it is precisely in knowing who one is that temptation is withstood and from which ministry and mission are born.
I hope to see whichever “you” shows Sunday. Maybe together we can find that following Jesus helps us to find ourselves in God.
Grace and peace.