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How is your Lenten journey going? I know it is the early days, but I am hoping that you are feeling blessed as you spend time each day in prayer. If you have not yet received a copy of “Prayers for a Lenten Journey” please stop by the office or call and have us mail you one.
It is no accident that the prayers for each week are connected to the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught his disciples to pray using these words and we are “bold” to pray in his name. It is also no accident that you are being asked to read the same lesson and pray the same prayer for the whole week. Repetition is good for us, each day we will find new blessings for which to give thanks or new people who are in need of our prayers. These prayers can deepen our faith and fill us with peace.
The “Taking Faith Home” bulletin insert is another great resource for us to use in our homes not just during Lent, but all year long. The conversation starters could be shared with people at work or with neighbors and friends. We all appreciate a chance to be heard and your listening to one another is a gift. I hope that some of us will take time to memorize the “Scripture verse for the Week”. Memorizing is something many of us did as children; it is good for growing minds of any age!
During Lent our prayers on Sunday morning are being framed with “prayer songs”. This time of singing and reflection unites us in our praying and gives us opportunities to add our own concerns to the community prayers. Thank you for sharing your prayer requests and for your kind thoughts and prayers on behalf of others.
Blessings on your Lenten journey—may it lead you ever closer to the heart of God,Pastor Jocelyn
Dear Trinity friends,
On Wednesday, February 22 at 7:00 pm we will host the Ash Wednesday worship and welcome our friends from Central Lutheran to worship with us. This day marks the beginning of the season of Lent, our journey with Jesus to the Cross and to the Resurrection. The three traditional disciplines of Lent are almsgiving for the poor, praying and fasting. Most of us are familiar with almsgiving and prayer, but not the practice of fasting.
Fasting in the classic sense means to give something up for a time; often we think of things we particularly like such as food or a habit that isn’t really good for us. The six weeks or forty days of Lent could give a person time to adjust to a new habit and make it part of their daily routine. Hopefully giving up something would somehow bring a person closer to God.
In the Small Catechism Martin Luther answers the question of whether fasting prepares a person to receive the sacrament worthily with these words, “Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, “given for you” and “shed for you . . . for the forgiveness of sin,” is really worthy and well prepared.”
While fasting might be good discipline, it is not required of us as we journey through Lent towards Easter. What is required is a desire to grow in faith and we can grow in faith through prayer, giving alms and spiritual disciplines such as fasting. The prophet Micah says it like this, “what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
This Lent we will have opportunities for almsgiving. In February our local benevolence is for Open Door Ministries and in March it is for the Ethiopian Chicken Hatchery. We have some extra opportunities to pray during Lent: Wednesday worship at noon here at Trinity and at 7:00 pm at Central Lutheran. Our Good Friday worship will include a time for personal prayer around the Cross. On Sunday mornings your prayer requests are always included.
Do we have any opportunities for fasting during Lent? I invite you to consider giving something up or adding something that will help you focus on God’s presence in your life. If you do plan to make a fast part of your Lenten journey, I would love to hear how it goes for you and I will include your fast in my prayers. My personal Lenten fast will be to give up playing solitaire and free cell on my computer and phone. Hopefully I will find many positive uses for that time—maybe I will even exercise more as I move closer to God. On my journey I will be thankful for your prayers, too!
Blessings on your Lenten journey—may it lead you ever closer to the heart of God,
Dear Awesome Trinity friends,
On the 7th Day of Christmas, Dave and I thank you for the Christmas cards, greetings and gifts to our family. It is a joy everyday to be partners with you in this welcoming faith community.
On the 7th day of Christmas, I also wish you a very Happy New Year! New Year’s Day can be celebrated with lots of noise and merriment but it can also be a day for quiet reflection. Our calendar is based on the ancient Roman calendar and the first month is named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces. Janus symbolizes change and transitions because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other. Many of us spend part of New Year’s Day thinking about the past year and writing resolutions for the New Year. We, like Janus, look forward and backwards.
Every Sunday morning we have an opportunity to look both into our pasts and into our futures when we gather for the time of confession and forgiveness. We take time to review our past week and ask for forgiveness for those things we have done and regret and to ask for forgiveness for those things we should have done but neglected to do. We also hear words that inspire us to look forward in hope. Our prayer each week is that with God’s blessing we can become more and more the people God creates us to be.
When we gather for worship we meet God and we meet each other. We bring our regrets and we bring our hopes. We hear words of forgiveness, we hear words of hope, and we feast together at the Table of Grace set for us by Jesus. We join our hearts in prayers that also look both ways. When we look backwards we find many reasons to be thankful and when we look forward we pray for God’s presence in all that lies ahead.
Each New Year, each new week and each new day, God invites us to live in the present time, with our pasts forgiven and blest and our futures wide open to God’s presence and purpose. In 2012, Trinity Lutheran Church is truly “Growing into God’s Future!”
New Year’s blessings of peace and hope,
All Earth is Hopeful
The words of this joyful Advent hymn were originally written in Spanish by Alberto Taulé with the title, Toda la tierra. This Advent we sing it every Sunday morning as the Advent wreath is lighted as a reminder of God’s presence in all of creation and in our lives. The lyrics of this song remind us that the world is waiting for God’s truth and justice to set all of us free.
The word all seems really important this year at Trinity as we begin work on the two platform lifts and the handicap accessible bathroom which will allow us to be a lot more inclusive in our welcome of all people. “All” and “everybody” are words that we do not use lightly. We ask ourselves who is not here? Whose voice is not being heard? How can we let those not here know that we recognize their importance in the kingdom of God? As we move into this new church year, together we embrace the changes that welcome all to this community of faith!
How to be sure that all are included is an issue that goes beyond the walls of our church building. In these days of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Everett, as our representatives and senators meet to plan state and national budgets, we remember those who do not have enough food, healthcare, jobs, or housing. As we sing this Spanish song, we remember those most affected by our immigration laws. For some people truth and justice seem in short supply.
God’s Good News is for all, the poor, the proud, the persecuted and the privileged. Jesus has come to bring light and hope for all of us. Jesus has already come—we do not have to wait any longer in order to be working for the coming of the kingdom of heaven. The time is now for all to be welcome!
In Advent we open our eyes, we light more candles, and we look for a new vision of what God’s presence will mean for our world. God’s truth and justice sets everybody free! *
Jesus is coming! Jesus is here! Advent blessings!
*Alberto Taulé, b. 1932; tr. Madeline Forell Marshall, b. 1946. Music: Alberto Taulé. Spanish text and tune © 1993 and tr. © 1995 Centro de Pastoral Ligurgica, admin. OCP Publications> class="MsoNormal" style=""
Thanks be to God for his unending mercy and grace! In our meeting on Sunday we were informed, inspired and encouraged to take bold steps towards the repair and accessibility of our church building. The vote was nearly unanimous to move forward in obtaining funding for the inter-related projects, including the repairs of our south wall, the tear-off and replacing of our roof, the upgrading of our electrical system, and the addition of two platform lifts and a unisex accessible bathroom, which will make our facility accessible to all.
Thank you to all who came and asked questions and thoughtfully considered the proposal. Thank you to those who set up and cleaned up and to all who brought delicious food to share.
It was good to hear the latest developments from our Handicap Access Team who have been working on these issues for the last two years. The move towards accessibility for all has been a process here at Trinity for many years and we give thanks for all of the foundational work which has been done in the past bringing us to this point. Many plans have been considered and many prayers have been prayed.
With this very positive vote, we now move into the funding portion of the project. Gifts towards the project are now being received. Any gifts that are given at the beginning of the project will mean that less money will need to be borrowed and less interest paid. When you give towards the project please mark your gift for “The Building Fund”. Please watch future Tidings, our Website and the Pew News for further updates.
What the Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Ephesus applies also to us here at Trinity. “God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.” -Ephesians 2:20-22 from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
May we all be blessed as we build towards the future,
Dear Friends of Jesus,
I have always been a fan of lifelong learning! My faith today is not what it was when I was confirmed many years ago. My understanding of God’s grace at work in the world has grown and matured. When our daughter was a baby, a friend gave us a needlepoint picture of a little girl with these words, “Please be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet.” It was a good reminder for first time parents and over the years that saying continues to be true. God is not finished with any of us yet—we are still being invited to grow in grace and in faith!
In Ephesians, Saint Paul writes about the followers of Jesus growing up in this way, “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NRSV) As a faith community and as individuals we grow in love and understanding, never standing still!
Some of our growing happens through “book-learning.” The most important book we are invited to know is the Bible. As we grow in faith, we need to read and consider more than the Bible stories of our childhood. As we are being built up in love, we are invited to ask difficult questions and challenge some of our child-like views of Holy Scripture. Reading Scripture alone can be growth producing, but even better is reading and talking with other growing Christians. When we study together, we hear the questions and answers from a variety of perspectives. Our response to someone else, “I never thought of it in that way,” is a sign of mutual understanding and encouragement.
Our growth in faith also happens when we put our faith into practice. Acting on what we believe, strengthens our own faith and is a witness to others. This is true in every part of our life together as “friends of Jesus.” Whether it is giving away socks to children, making sack lunches for the Parking Lot Dinner, praying for a friend or neighbor, giving an offering, or buying a bag of food for the Food Bank; your faith grows every time you act on behalf of someone else.
There are many opportunities for both study and service here at Trinity Lutheran Church. Be ready for growth—God is not finished with you yet!
Blessings as we grow together,
Pastor Jocelyn> class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 5pt 0in; line-height: 93%;"
Today is Good Friday and Earth Day. Two days of great significance for us as followers of Jesus Christ. How do we faithfully follow on the way to the Cross without abandoning what we have learned about loving each other? In the horror of the crucifixion we must allow ourselves to know the deepest hatred of humanity in order to know God great love for us. But never do we allow ourselves to hate those whom we imagine put Jesus on the Cross, because if we are truly honest we know that it was us, and people just like us, who cried for freedom for Barabbas and death for Jesus. Good Friday is not a time for blaming others, but a time for self-reflection and most importantly a chance to let God’s love over power the Cross and all hatred.
On a Good Friday a few years ago, we heard the story, heard the clang of the nails being driven into Jesus’ hands and then heard the voice of God, “For God so loved the world…..” Amen.
Earth Day is not separate but integral with Good Friday. I celebrated by renewing my membership in Earth Ministry. Their tag line reads, “Earth Ministry leads the way in caring for the Earth from a faith perspective. Please join us and help spread the good work of religious environmental stewardship!” They are found at www.earthministry.org. They will send my newsletter via e-mail in order to save paper. It is good to know that there are many, many thoughtful people making choices everyday for the safekeeping of our planet, God’s Garden, not a gift but a trust for safekeeping.
When this Lenten blog is over, I will continue my small steps of environmental stewardship and my joy in the beauty God has given us in this garden. Amen.
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