Thursday, April 30, 2009

May newsletter

Most of the world thinks that Easter is over. The last remains of Easter candy and toys and decorations have been sold (at seventy-five percent off) and now stores are marketing Mother’s Day, or graduation, or Memorial Day. But we know better! Easter Day is not the end of something—it’s the beginning of a whole season, which far surpasses even the forty days of Lent, since Easter is fifty days in length.

The good news about Jesus’ resurrection is too good for just one Sunday! It’s worth telling again, and again, and again. And so our Easter celebrations continue, not just for one day, but for fifty days—not just for one Sunday, but seven Sundays, leading up to the Day of Pentecost. And yes, I do intend to say “Happy Easter” until that time! (Not a surprise to anyone who is following along on the blog.)

Throughout the Easter season, then, we celebrate the presence of our risen Lord Jesus Christ. The focus and direction will be a little different each week, but always the good news will be the same: Alleluia! Christ is risen!

We started the season with our Easter Day gospel from Mark, which ended before Jesus had even made a personal appearance! Yet we still heard the good news: “He has been raised”. We continue by hearing about Jesus’ appearances to his disciples—including my favorite story about Thomas, who ends up believing after all. We hear how Jesus is present in meals shared with his followers, and we experience his presence ourselves as we share Holy Communion. We even hear about his mysterious ascension into heaven, because of which we know that he can be with us always. And finally, the season ends with the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, affirming God’s presence with us, particularly in the community he gathers.

So, in this Easter season, may God’s love and peace continue to be with you, as we continue to proclaim:
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This would be day 18

Of Easter, that is. No, I have not forgotten, although I have been remiss in the blogging department.

On Monday and Tuesday, I was at a meeting in the cities. Some of the other pastors who were there were from northwestern Minnesota or eastern North Dakota, where the flooding, it turns out, is not even remotely over. It was a vivid reminder for me that our prayers and support are still very much needed. At this point, what is needed the most, I think, are prayers for strength and endurance--our brothers and sisters have been dealing with this flooding for a really long time and they are more than ready for it to be over. The Northwestern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota Synods have resources and information on their respective websites.

P.S. If I am not blogging, the quickest way to get me back is to start leaving comments. It makes me feel guilty and then I post again. No, really.
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maybe we should just call him "Fred"?

The assigned gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Easter is always John 20:19-31, the story of the poor fellow we always call "Doubting Thomas", even though he spends as many verses believing as he does doubting (no, really, count them).

I have always liked this story, maybe because it is often thought that Thomas might have been a twin--and if he really was a twin, then he would probably prefer "Doubting Thomas" to "Thomas the Twin", which would be annoying even if it weren't redundant. (Being called "the twin" or "the twins" gets old. Trust me on this.) Did Thomas look just like one of the other disciples (or even Jesus), and so they jokingly called him "the Twin"? Or was he a twin? If so, did he leave his brother or sister at home, or if he had a twin sister, could she have been one of the women who traveled with Jesus? I could imagine how that could lead to some humorous exchanges.

But the real reason I like this story is because Thomas--solid, sensible Thomas, who really gets far too much blame--doesn't get in trouble for doubting. In fact, Jesus meets him right there, doubts and all. This is a good reminder for the second week of Easter: yes, the Easter message is for real people, doubts and all. And Jesus comes to us in our doubts. In fact, doubts often mean that we are getting to know him better! They're how we grow in faith, strangely enough.

Actually, this Sunday is Holy Humor Sunday, so I don't know if I'll be able to work any of this into my sermon. But I'll be thinking about it, quite certainly.
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random photo time!

I added a little photo slideshow to the sidebar on the right. It includes various shots of the various congregations in CrossWind Parish, all of which are quite lovely. Brownie points to anyone who can identify them all.

I wanted to have a picture over there in the sidebar, but I couldn't think of a really good way to pick which one to choose, so I went with a rotation. However, it's a bit gadget-heavy for my tastes, so please let me know if it gives you any trouble or makes the page difficult to load.

Yes, I realize that these things are now quite common, and most people use them without any worry at all--but I am a bit old school with regards to the internet, and so I believe that it is more important to be accessible than to impress everybody with my supposed technological savvy. However, I am a bit out of practice, so if it doesn't work, I really want to know.

Oh, and Happy Easter! (No, I haven't forgotten. This is day 4, by the way.)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More interesting things about Easter

I found a fun article on the Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About Easter. Actually, I more or less knew about all but two of them (bet you can't guess which two!), but I suppose that sort of goes with the territory.

By the way, so far as I can tell, egg rolling involves propelling an egg along the ground with a spoon. I suppose it must be some sort of race. Am I the only one who thinks this sounds funny?
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter, day 2

I thought about posting nothing but "Happy Easter" for the next 50 days, but I decided against it. It might start to get tedious by about day 27 or so. (Easter, of course, could never be boring, but one of the advantages of having such a long Easter season is that we celebrate it in lots of different ways, not just one way lots of times. That said, I still haven't been able to figure out what an egg roll is, or what it actually has to do with Easter.)

The number "50" is pretty significant. For one thing, it's longer than Lent (even if you count the Sundays), so 40 days in the wilderness are neatly surpassed by 50 days celebrating the risen Lord. In fact, it's the longest festival season of the church year, and with good reason. (The so-called "season after Pentecost" does not count, as it technically isn't a season so much as a lack of a season.) In popular understanding Lent tends to be associated by Jesus' death (although it actually involves much more than that), so the length of the Easter season is just one more indication that in Christ, life triumphs over death.

There are other, more complicated reasons for the number of days to be 50, of course. It goes back to the significance of the umber seven, the number of days it took for God to create the earth and all its creatures (and then have a day of rest)--so seven is the number of completion and perfection. 49 days, or 7x7, a week of weeks, is completion multiplied by completion, perfection multiplied by perfection. And then, when you've come up wnith the most perfect number add one. It's fully, totally complete...and you add one more. That's Easter. That's the resurrection. It's the +1 that really hints at what God is about in this season (and in all seasons). So it is fitting and appropriate that we would take that many days to celebrate the resurrection--no less would do!

By sheer coincidence (no, really, it is the sort of thing I would do, but I didn't, this time), this is also my 50th published post on this blog. Sometimes these things happen.
~Pastor Sarah

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Easter, it turns out, lasts for 50 days.

And yes, I intend to say "Happy Easter" on all of them.
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

I love this line, which is one of the traditional responses to the eucharistic prayer. If you are looking for a concise, easy-to-remember proclamation of the gospel, you can't really improve on, "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again." That's pretty much the whole gospel story right there, waiting to be unpacked. Which is more or less what Maundy Thursday is getting at, when you get right down to it. (If you're not sure what I mean, I will be happy to explain, but I had better not do it right now, or I won't make it to the Maundy Thursday service at 7 o'clock.)

In completely unrelated news, I recently happened to stumble across a blog for Gettysburg Seminary, which doesn't have very many posts, but they have excellent taste in blogger templates, don't you think?
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Resources for Holy Week

In case I get too busy over the next few days (it could happen), here are some resources for prayer and devotions (and study) for the remainder of Holy Week:
  • Readings and prayers for the Three Days (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Vigil of Easter). If you are unable to make it to work and/or are looking for something more substantial for personal devotions during these days, reading through all or some of the vigil readings would make an excellent study. The readings are designed to evoke the full sweep of salvation history.

  • An article on Maundy Thursday that gives some background on the name (but is otherwise somewhat incomplete).

  • And one on Good Friday, which is somewhat better.

  • Lent/Holy Week/Easter resources compiled on an ELCIC site.

  • Lent resources from Anglicans Online.
~Pastor Sarah

Friday, April 3, 2009

April newsletter

Is it just me, or does Lent always seem to drag on for more than just the prescribed forty days? Maybe it’s just the weather. After weeks of snow-covered ground and sub-zero temperatures, I know I ought to appreciate that at least it isn’t so terribly cold, that we are able to travel more safely, and that we are not at high risk for flooding. But still, it’s hard to get enthusiastic about gray skies, dreary forecasts, and snow that is no longer enough to make the yard look pretty again.

I don’t think it’s entirely an accident that we always hit this time of year during Lent. This is the season when, more than any other time of year, we look to the cross. Understandably, reflection on Jesus’ death and what it means for us can get a little gloomy. But without Jesus’ death, we wouldn’t have Jesus’ resurrection—so we spend a little time in the shadow of the cross, year after year, just when the skies are the grayest and the weather least encouraging.

If that were all that Lent was about, it would be unbearable, crazy, pointless. The cross, out of context, would be too terrible for prolonged contemplation. But even as we hear again the story of Jesus’ suffering and death, we never quite forget that Easter is just around the corner! We know that this death, this cross, leads not just to the tomb but to the empty tomb, not just to the grave but to glorious new life, for Jesus and for all of us, the people he came to save.

Every year, then, the whole of creation echoes that great story—descending to the grave in winter, and rising again to new life each spring. Death, first—and then, always, resurrection. Those of us who are privileged to live with regular seasons get to see this acted out each year, as winter inevitably gives way to spring—not as soon as we would like it, sometimes, but always, in the end, it comes.

So, yes, it’s a little gloomy for the moment. But it won’t always be. This, too, will end. Easter is coming!
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy April!

There will be no fish on this blog, although apparently there were some at the Lenten supper at Fron last night. (I was there just long enough to obtain one.) Otherwise, there was not a whole lot of April Fool's joking, possibly because it's the week before Holy Week, and we have other things on our minds. The kids at our after-school program were in rare form, however.

Palm Sunday is fast approaching, with Easter fast on its heels. Since I know more folks will be in town for Holy Week and Easter, here's the schedule:
Maundy Thursday:
6:00 seder/worship at Fron
7:00 worship at the nursing home (Immanuel/Indherred), and at St. Johns
Good Friday:
7:00 CrossWind choir Cantata at Fron
6:30 Sunrise service at Fron
7:30 Easter breakfast at Fron
8:45 Easter services at Immanuel, Indherred
10:45 Easter services at Fron, St. Johns
~Pastor Sarah