It is Holy Week, the week from Palm Sunday to Easter. It is the most important week of the year for Christians. We follow the events of the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the events that are the most significant for our faith – Jesus’ arrest, trial, suffering, death and resurrection. The week is meant to be a time of focusing and renewing in faith.
I need to say that this is the strangest Holy Week I have ever experienced. I’m used to lots of worship services this week; I’m used to egg hunts and all sorts of arrangements being made for Easter Sunday. It is usually a busy and wonderful time for the church. That is not happening this year. Instead we stay home, connect as best we can, and wonder what the next days will bring.
I do believe that the message of Holy Week is vital for this year; in fact it is this Holy Week message that we most need to hear in the confusions and threats of our day. Holy Week tells us of the God who knows of the craziness and pains and threats of this world. This God sends His Son into the midst of that. Jesus bears our sins and needs to a cross and suffers our death. But He rises with newness and life and hope. My goodness, this year we need that message of newness and life and hope!
We are going to lift up and proclaim this Holy Week message. Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, we had our regular sermon time on Facebook and the church website. We will post special messages and sermons on Facebook and the church website for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday also. Please be looking for them. And we have some special plans for our Easter celebration. We are adding some things to our Sunday morning posting for Easter in the hopes of more worship and joy. Be sure to look at what we are doing and share it with your friends.
Some additional thoughts. One of the sad realities of this crisis is that we aren’t able to worship together. I wish that were not the case. I dearly miss worship. But for now community worship and communion just aren’t possible. But they are coming back. They will be back, and as soon as we are able we are going to have some great and joyful worship celebrations at the church. One of the ideas we are exploring is sometime this spring or summer, when we can worship again, to schedule our own Holy Week and share together in all of these special services. I’ve never had Easter in June, but maybe this year.
And there are resources for our faith that we can and must make use of in this time. It is true that we can’t worship together as we like. But we can read the Bible and pray and help people. Those are all ways of renewing and sharing in the faith. Please be in prayer. Most of us have extra time now, use some of that time to pray. Pray for our community, our nation, our world. Pray for all who suffer and for those who are leading the fight. Pray!
And read the Bible. Let me give you all a homework assignment. This week, read Luke’s account of that first Easter. I’m going to be preaching from Luke on Easter Sunday, please read the story ahead of time. Luke’s Easter story is found in Luke 22. Sometime this week please read it. And you can go even further. If you would, read the whole Passion story in Luke, the whole account of Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection. It is found in Luke 22-24. Try reading the whole thing. A great way to mark Holy Week this year is by getting into the Word of God.
It is a strange time. But our Lord is One who meets us in the midst of strange times, and who gives new life in strange times. Let’s keep looking to Him!
Yours in Christ,
We will be posting on-line sermons on Thursday, Friday, and next Sunday as we focus on Holy Week. Next Sunday’s posting will be an expanded service to celebrate Easter. Please find and follow these on our congregation’s website or Facebook page.
The Bishop of our NALC, Dan Selbo, is posting sermons for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter on the NALC website. Please do take a look at these. The NALC website is http://www.thenalc.org
To all our wonderful congregation members: Our Saviour’s is financially stable during these chaotic times. We are blessed to have enough money to pay our bills and to help those members in our church who have needed help. What a sweet gift that is.
The question has been asked: How can I help? Financially, the answer is easy. If you can, send your tithes and offerings to the church at 4900 Kinsey Drive, Tyler, Texas 75703. Or if you would like to set up an automated draw against either your bank account or your credit card, give Carol Lattier a call (903-714-9928). She can easily help you with that. For those of you who have already set up automated giving, we thank you. Your continued giving will help us continue to pay our bills and continue to help where help is needed.
We also have a third option. You can give electronically through our website. We have added a new Giving page to our website. It is now easier than ever to give to OSLC. You have two ways of using this:
Online: There is a window on the Giving page that uses our electronic payment processing vendor’s application, GivePlus. Individuals can use the guest feature which allows for a one-time payment. Alternatively, individuals can create an account. Account holders can choose to create a one-time payment, or recurring payments, as well as, view payment history. You have an option of paying with a credit card or your bank account. The application is a safe and secure payment method.
Mobile Devices: GivePlus Mobile is the name of the app that our members can install on their cell phones. It has the same safety and functionality as the online application and the payment methods are the same. Our website has the links to download either the Android or Apple cell-phone app.
Finally, and very important, if you have a need (financial or personal), please call the church (903-561-1865) and ask Debbie to have Pastor Mark give you a call. Be sure and leave your number so that we can get back in-touch with you. For those times when no one is at the church, leave your name and number on the answering machine. We will return your call. Between now and the time we will be able to meet again, know that you are loved. Stay safe.
I have a great quote from Martin Luther. Luther lived through a crisis with the plague. Here is some of what he is what he wrote:
"I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me, and I have done what he has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God."
- In a pamphlet called “Whether One May Flee From A Deadly Plague” by Martin Luther in 1527
I’m afraid that pandemics have been a fact of history for far too many centuries. May God give us faith and good sense as we navigate the challenges of our day!