Holy Week Schedule

Palm Sunday 4/9 Worship 11am

Maundy Thursday 4/13 5:30pm

Good Friday 4/14 5:30pm????????

Easter Vigil 4/15 5:30pm

Easter Sunday Breakfast 4/16 9am

Festival of the Resurrection Easter Sunday Worship 4/16

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Loving Prayer – God in the World

 

Our focus in this class is to talk about ways we can live in a world that hurts, is not often kind, and be a representative of our vision of a loving God. The way we are approaching this topic is through study and conversation about the history and practices of the Spiritual Disciplines. Before going on to study the early church mothers and fathers, it became clear that our group wanted to spend more time on prayer first.

Our conversation for this week is about the power of love in our intentional prayers. Each week we start our conversation with a prayer chosen from the church’s history, the LBW, or the Psalms that address our particular topic of the day. The topic in prayer this week is love. How do we choose to love our enemy and do good to those that hate us when it’s hard sometimes to love and do good to those that annoy us?

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As we think about our world today, everything seems overwhelming. Martin Luther said that the busier he was, the more he prayed. In our busy lives, our prayer time is often the first to suffer. Yet, when we take time to pray we are given more than time because our understanding of our own needs as well as the needs of others becomes clearer. Often we can also begin to better discern the things/events which we need to let go of and allow God to be the one in control.

For this week, our prayer exercise will be to use the worksheet  The Power of Intention in our Prayers to pray about love. How is it that we recognize the love of God, the love of others, and the love of self in the coming week? Write your answers down in the columns. Which column has fewer entries? What does it mean to recognize the love around you?

If you cannot join our wonderful group on Sundays, we would be blessed to hear from you. You can comment below or send your information to our church. Please pray for us. We are praying for you.

prayer beads

 

 

Losing

Please join us for Ash Wednesday Worship with Holy Communion and the Imposition of Ashes at 6:30pm. Come early for soup supper at 5:30.

Here we begin our Lenten journey, the 40 days of preparation for Easter. It is the beginning of our journey to the cross. Seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the coming of the wise men to see the new born king. Lent comes early this year and we are barely beyond the start of the new calendar before it is upon us.

ash

Ash Wednesday

Lent really is an odd season. I’ve heard some people compare it to off season training for an athletic sport. Like baseball players who go away to spring training to work on the fundamentals of the game, we take time during our Lenten spring training to work on the fundamentals of our faith; the skills of what it means to be a Christian. Many take Lent to be a somber, serious time intended for self-reflection, repentance and returning to God humbly to ask for forgiveness. Some fast during Lent and some add a practice like additional daily prayer or bible study. Some might perceive Lent as that time when we determine which addictions we may still have some sort of control over. And some Christian denominations find it too problematic and skip Lent altogether, opting to begin the celebration of the resurrection as early as possible, well before Easter Sunday actually arrives.

A friend of mine seriously questions the practice of giving up something for Lent and said, “I don’t get what fasting is going to do for you. God gave us good things! God does not want us to suffer and we can’t earn God’s love by doing anything like that, so what’s the point? Makes no sense to me!” Well, he has a point. No amount of sacrifice could ever earn us God’s love that is already freely given to us. So, what IS the point of Lent?

In many ways, Lent is about losing. I know that is not a popular idea; losing. We avoid it desperately. But Lent won’t let us forget it. The big symbol of the beginning of Lent is a cross made of ashes, an unmistakable image of loss. But it isn’t that we are supposed to make a sacrifice or perform an act to appease God during Lent. We cannot out-sacrifice God. Lent teaches us that regardless of what we lose, give up, or give away, God has given us all that we need. No matter how much of a loser we are, in God all our needs are fulfilled.

It seems like we panic when we think we can’t have something. It can sometimes even make us think that God wants to punish us when something is taken away. Our culture is very good at teaching us how to win, acquire, obtain, maintain, and horde, but not so good at teaching us how to lose graciously, how to give up, release, surrender, or grieve.

There has been much made over Cam Newton this week, the Carolina Panther’s quarterback, and his behavior at an interview just following the SuperBowl. So many people judging him as a poor sport for abruptly leaving a post game interview, calling him a pouting adolescent. Others pointing out the loud conversation going on behind him, which included the boasting words of a Broncos player, mitigated his behavior. Regardless of the hows and whys, Cam Newton had lost. A really big, really public loss, perhaps the most public of losses possible these days, and did not know what to do or how to escape this loss.

He has no doubt spent his career focusing on winning. Professional athletes do not get paid to lose, they get paid to win. That is really all there is. But he and his fellow celebrity athletes are not alone. We in this constant consumption, moderation-is-for-idiots, “winning”, desperately searching for a perfect hero to worship, shame driven American culture are just like this. Even if we have a stoic and less emotional response, most of us do not know how to stand in the presence of loss and still know it is well with our souls. Even though it is.

For most of us at best, the practice of being a good loser is nostalgic, a remnant of a bygone era and while we expect our heroes to know how to lose gracefully, the truth of it is that none of us know how to do it.* We don’t know how to do it because it is a practice and when we are faced with losing, the suffocating shame of losing, we too will do nearly everything to avoid it.

We blame others. We get angry; angry with them, angry with those people who did this to us, angry with God. We resist it. We fill the holes in our soul with anything we can to staunch the emotional bleeding, usually with things that make us feel like winners anyway, illusions that make us feel like we were wronged or new ways to win at any cost.

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

………. the remainder of this sermon can be found here

OR join us for worship at 6:30pm Wednesday, February 10th.

All Saints’ Sunday

This Sunday is full of lots of interesting things at Shepherd of the Hills, so come join us!IMG_0225

+ 10 am in the Sanctuary- All Saints’ Commemoration with lighting of the candles. This will be a roughly 30 minute service of prayer, scripture, and contemplative music for those who wish to light candles for those we remember this day who have died. We celebrate their life in the perpetual light of God. These candles will remain lit for our regular 11am service.

+ 11 am- Worship with Holy Communion. With our regular Sunday service, we will celebrate All Saints’ Day and honor those saints who have helped to form our faith.

+ Congregational Meeting will be after worship in the fellowship hall. Delicious finger food will be provided by the Fellowship Committee so plan to stay for this meeting where we will discus the 2015 budget.

 Hope to see you all there!

 Also, DON’T FORGET TO SET YOUR CLOCK BACK ONE HOUR!  Daylight savings Fall Back time change.

Mary

Each year on the Sunday closest to August 15th I get to preach a sermon about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Now, that may seem just fine to some and strange to others. Most 1pieta2Lutherans have never concerned themselves very much with Mary, just like most of Protestant Christianity. I will admit that for most of my life I didn’t understand what the big deal was. She was just some woman who happened to be who God picked to give birth to his Son. Could have been anybody. After all the important part here is really Jesus.
I think Mary herself would agree. The important part IS Jesus.
I had a friend once who believed that Mary had come to her in visions. She believed, and I think she still believes, that Mary came to give her a message to give the world. That message is, ultimately, “Follow my Son.” Now, I do not know whether or not this friend of mine actually had a visit from the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t. But I am convinced that the message she believes she received is a truthful one. I believe Mary would say, “Follow my Son.”
Mary never was one to look for the spotlight, so to speak. She doesn’t make more than one speech in scripture (song, really) and her conversations are fairly minimal. She shows up here and there and if it were a movie, it wouldn’t seem that her role is of particular importance in the story because after the Christmas scenes, she doesn’t make a lot of other appearances. She says herself that she’s a mere handmaid. Very young. Probably not from a particularly well-to-do household. She even describes herself in the song she sings as lowly.
So you see, it doesn’t really matter what we say about Mary. She is small, lowly, meek and weak, mild and completely, utterly ignorable. She’s just some woman God picked. It could have been anyone. Any nobody would have been able to fulfill the job.
But it wasn’t just anybody. Most of all, it wasn’t Somebody. God chose Mary. Not a wealthy woman, not a princess or queen. Just Mary…..

 

Want to read more? Check it out here  or , even better, visit us at 11am at Shepherd of the Hills.

You can also hear us on the radio: 560AM  or WRGC at 8:30 Sunday mornings