Lent

  • Little is known about the Prophet Joel, who probably wrote these words that we heard in our first lesson tonight around 586BC. Yet with bold - even challenging - language for our modern ears to hear, Joel calls the people of Judah and Jerusalem to repent and return to the Lord during a time of national disaster (from the Introduction to the Book of Joel, ESV).

    Mmmm...a time of national disaster...we don’t know anything about that, do we?

  • A beautiful red cardinal landed under a nearby shrub as I was hustling the kids out the door to school one morning this winter. It only registered with me a few hours later that I‘d seen this wonderful bird, red coat stark against the white snow and brown branches, a sign of life and spring around the corner. 

    That I noticed and remembered this special moment at all may be proof that God works miracles! After all, it can be so easy to go on autopilot and travel through life distracted and without noticing the blessings of the present moment.

    And the present moment is full of potential gifts. 

    The season of Lent marks the time in the Church year intended to help us especially focus on renewal and restoration, spiritual growth and deepening of faith. During this season we are invited to turn away from things that distance us from God, and allow God to open our eyes and hearts and lives to see God’s gracious love in Christ poured out in forgiveness - for us. Lent is a present-tense opportunity to ponder and pray on how the resurrection of our Savior Jesus gives us new life and new birth and new eyes and ears to see the world around us.

  • "All go to one place; all are from dust, and all turn to dust again." -- Ecclesiastes 3:20

    Ash Wednesday is more than simply having an ashen cross placed upon your forehead. It's a time of renewal, it marks the beginning of Lent, the time where Christians around the world publicly enter into a time of repentance and contemplation, and marks the beginning of our pilgrimage toward Easter. 

    As with last year, this year continues to bring us face to face with things we will miss and opportunities to build new traditions. Though we will miss being in person for our Ash Wednesday services and midweek Lenten study and worship. Yet in the midst of the grief and challenges of this pandemic, God’s grace with its persistent nature of blessings, is doing new things.

    We hope that you are able to gather with us for our Ash Wednesday and Lenten opportunities.

    • 5:00pm Ashes to Go (2/17) - An opportunity to receive ashes in person at Redeemer at 5pm. For those who wish to receive ashes, please drive into the back of the church parking lot, with masks on and ready to roll down your windows.  Pastor Tobias will be there with his mask on, and will offer ashes and a blessing for each person in the car. You may then pull forward and take a moment to ponder Christ's infinite grace and desire for forgiveness.
    • 6:00pm Ash Wednesday Service (2/17) - We gather together virtually in fellowship and in worship of God for our Ash Wednesday evening service.  We hope you'll join us.
    • 6-7pm, Wednesday Evenings (2/24 - 3/31) - "Messy Spirituality": Lenten Study and Worship.  Each Wednesday evening during Lent, we will meet via Zoom to deepen our faith and wrestle with the question of what it means to pursue messy spirituality. If you can, please purchase a copy of "Messy Spirituality" by Michael Yanonelli. Each session will conclude with a brief vesper worship including scripture, prayer, and song.
  • One of my fellow pastors here in the Hudson Conference of the Metropolitan New York Synod, Pastor Paul Britton, recently told us a story about a young boy receiving Holy Communion for the first time. As this boy received God’s gift of grace in the body and blood of Jesus, he beamed with joy and then turned and skipped exuberantly back to his seat. Pastor Paul wondered aloud, after telling this story, if, as Christians desiring to be reverent with the precious and holy gift of Holy Communion, we sometimes become overly earnest and serious and forget to let God help us experience the light-hearted joy of knowing that we have been fed and freed by the living Christ.

  • Christ’s welcoming home love – what a gift we have been given!

    What do we do as individuals and communities, as we become aware of Christ’s welcoming-home-love? What do we do as we come to see again that Christ has freely purchased our lives with a ransom from the cross that makes of us a new creation? What do we do now that we know that no matter what ever might be lost from us, or however lost we might become, God will never stop trying to bring us home?

  • The wilderness can take many shapes. Maybe it’s the challenges of home, family and work. Or perhaps it’s illness, be it physical or mental, our own or those we love.

    Or perhaps it’s the wilderness that arrived for people in Alabama, with the loss of home and life from recent storms that like so many others, have been made more extreme by climate change.

    Or there’s the wilderness being faced by the people of Western Congo as they fight not only the Ebola outbreak that began in August, but the violence that has interrupted the work of healthcare folks who have otherwise successfully beaten back previous Ebola outbreaks.

    The wilderness, in these and so many other forms, can bow our shoulders and foil, get in the way of our efforts to practice joy in life.