LENT AND HOLY WEEK
We are enjoying our Lenten Journey this year during another pulpit exchange in the midweek services with sister congregations, Our Savior Lutheran in Burlington and Faith Lutheran in Sturtevant. Meals served before each service exemplified the serving hands and attitudes of Hope’s members. Pastors Rob Bolling, Jeff Mortenson, and I are rotating around preaching from texts suggested by the theme of “Sounds of the Passion.” It has been both a joy and reflectively moving. I really look forward to next year!
Our Lenten Journey transitions on Palm Sunday, March 25th as we remember Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and begin the holiest week of the year. On the 29th, our Maundy Thursday Service will be at 7:00 pm. On the 30th, Good Friday Service will also be at 7:00 pm. Easter Sunday begins triumphantly with the sunrise service at 7:00 am followed by Easter Breakfast and Easter Celebration Service at 9:30 am. On the next Sunday after Easter, the Alleluia Brass from St. Peter, Arlington Heights, IL, will be here to help us continue our celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
Please enjoy these worship opportunities. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ become the pattern for how our own lives follow in His track. We will each face our own deaths one day with these experiences having “strapped us firmly into our seats.” I attended a funeral recently in which the word “funeral” was carefully avoided in favor of the vogue “celebration of life.” The idea of celebrating a life appeals powerfully to many people over the connotations of sadness, grief, loss, and pain attendant with the concept of funeral. What a shame it has gone this way! Not that all cultural ideas of funerals are necessarily correct either, but now to make matters worse, our society has substituted the celebration of someone’s few decades upon this passing globe in space as the exchange for a celebration of resurrection and life eternal in the presence of the glory of the One Who sits upon the throne and of the Lamb! What an awful deal.
Our culture fears death, avoids it, trivializes it with media, slumps into self-denial about it, and when finally having to face it, crumbles in helplessness. For the Christian however, to the degree that their hearts and minds are saturated with the sacrifice of Christ, His death, and His resurrection, the experience is different. What is the great darkness and unknown for others, for the Christian is following in the steps of the One Who went to prepare the place for us. Oh, to be sure, we see now as in a glass dimly; but the day will come when we will undergo it for ourselves, being led by His Spirit, and I am quite sure we will say to ourselves in ecstatic wonder, “Ahh, so this is what it is like to follow Jesus into glory.”
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION AT HOPE
CHILDREN’S SUNDAY SCHOOL-
Our Children’s Sunday School meets after church from about 10:30-11:20 in the downstairs Sunday School room. Hope is a small church and Sunday School in small churches is normally a weak point. After all, there are just not enough students to have separate classes for all ages, nor budget to have the fancy music leads, curriculums, giveaways, and special events that large churches can conduct: But it is not a weak point at Hope! Using the old model of the “one room school house,” all ages are combined into one, safe, classroom where each child receives plenty of individual attention. Our teacher, Jan Krueger, and her assistant teacher, Andrea Pferdmenges, are fantastic! What would you want most for your children in Sunday School? Isn’t it that you want them to learn the Bible stories and to feel loved? That’s exactly what they receive. Jan and Andrea put creative energy into fresh lessons each week that help the children stay engaged and acquire those stories - and all that without a canned curriculum. We are blessed to have them. Please look for opportunities to invite unchurched relatives, neighbors and friends to try out our Sunday School. If they come, make a point of introducing them to Jan or Andrea and walking them to the Sunday School room. If they seem nervous about it, invite them to remain in the classroom and observe. We have a great blessing here and should not take it for granted.
I had a lot more fun than even I expected to in leading the Hope Bible Excursion last year. Many thanks go to Cheryl Grey, who videoed the lessons, enhanced them with notes, and made them available on the Hope website. If you missed any of the sessions, you can review them now and accumulate the broad swath of biblical history and doctrinal basics in just a few hours. God may also bring someone to your mind who would benefit from these and you could forward the links or the web page to help spread the Word which discloses our God, Who He is and what He has done!
Sunday mornings, adult Sunday School meets from 10:30 to 11:15 and reviews the scriptures texts used in the worship service that day. We will continue that through Easter. I’ve been eager to teach my course on the Book of Judges and I think after Easter, the Sunday morning class will take it on. Our study of Judges will take us to the end of August. I love this book and if you attend the class, by the end, you will too!
Wednesday evenings, we enjoyed study of the Book of Ruth before Lent. After Easter, we plan to conduct Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU). On Stewardship Sunday, several people expressed interest in additional study of biblical perspective on financial matters. Although I have not done it before personally, I had heard many positive things about FPU. It uses biblical principles for the personal management of money. It has been attributed with helping 1000’s of people become debt-free and reverse their financial fortunes. The LCMS offers a supplement to the course which corrects some doctrinal items that are off-center. Plan to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. We will begin April 4, each Wed at 6:30pm, with the nine-week course concluding at the end of May.
Pastor Tim Oswald