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What are you giving up for Lent?

Today marks the beginning of Lent, with the imposition of ashes…

In the traditions of years past it has been an option for people to give up something for Lent near and dear to them. For instance, one year I gave up coffee for Lent, while we were worshiping at a church that was also a coffee shop. I love coffee, so it was a sacrifice for me. I grew closer to God and on Easter morning that cup of coffee tasted oh so good!

But Lent is not about giving up. It is about growing closer to God. It is about understanding what Jesus went through for you!

One of the things I have done in the past and am doing again this year is taking something on. I am doing an additional spiritual discipline for Lent to help me know who I am in Christ.  This year as I did last year I am doing a picture a day for the season of Lent. Last evening I created the matrix for this and if you would like to join me, here is a link to the blog post I did for the challenge. The hashtag for this challenge is #stjls40days.

And remember whether you give something up or take something on, it is about growing closer to Jesus and learning who you are in Him!

Saints and Sinners Simultaneously

On November 3, we celebrate All Saints’ Sunday. In many Christian congregations, we give particular attention to those friends and members who have died since last year. For us that is two people: Donna Ferron, who died last December 2, and Richard Micoliczyk, who died August 22. May God be with their friends and families, and comfort them in their grief.

Another practice around All Saints’ Sunday is a reminder that in baptism, we are all made saints. So, God’s saints are the believers of every time and every place. Being a saint does not mean that we are perfect or better than others or always improving. One insight of Martin Luther was that we are saints and sinners simultaneously. That is, as created human beings, we are fallible even as we are claimed by God’s love and saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

St. Paul noted this phenomenon while contrasting his intentions with his behavior in the letter to the Romans, chapter 7, saying,…For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Paul goes on to wonder should he – and we – therefore give up, stuck in sin? No, he declares. Jesus delivers us. we gather every week to give thanks and praise to the God who is with us, for us, and delivers us, day in, day out.

Join us this Sunday. Come as you are. Leave changed by Jesus.

Reformation Sunday Coming Up

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This coming Sunday, we celebrate Reformation Sunday, known as the birthday of the Protestant church. Like many faithful Christians, Martin Luther did not want to start a separate denomination. He wanted Christians everywhere to focus on Jesus and his love. That was one of Luther’s insights: that so often, on purpose or by accident, the very things and practices we design to help draw us close to God have the opposite effect. They tend instead to block our access to the very Lord we want to worship and praise. Sad, but true.
Therefore, said Luther, at its best, the church is always re-forming. Furthermore, Jesus Christ intends that the entire life of the believer be one of repentance, turning and returning to the Lord, in order to live.
Some of the hallmarks of Lutheran Christians are:
-Justification by grace through faith: it is God’s gift that we receive life, and life eternal.
-The priesthood of all believers: the work of God’s followers everywhere in this world is holy.
-We are simultaneously saints and sinners.
-The Two Hands of God: God acts in two major ways: 1. In this world through natural and devised rules to establish and effect order and justice, and 2. In houses of worship through Christ Jesus to effect faith and salvation.

Join us Sunday’s at 9:00 am. Come as you are. Leave changed by Jesus.