Pastor Rike’s Message – May 2019
May 11, 2019
Believe it or not, it is still Easter! This joyous season is not limited to just one day or even to one week; it extends 50 days – sometimes understood as a week of weeks (i.e. 7 days in a week multiplied by 7 weeks, plus one more day = 50). In church services during the first part of this season, we have heard accounts of the risen Christ Jesus appearing among his disciples. According to the book of Acts (1:3) those appearances happened over the course of 40 days. The appearances came to an end on the fortieth day with the Ascension of Jesus, when he was hidden from the sight of his disciples. After the Ascension, the disciples and Mary, the mother of Jesus, prayed for the gift of the Holy Spirit – the gift Jesus had promised to them. On Pentecost, that promise was granted. Pentecost is the fiftieth day after the Resurrection and the conclusion of the Easter season.
As we continue to observe the liturgical season of Easter during this month, it seems appropriate also to reflect on what the liturgy is. Christian liturgy is the pattern of words and actions that form both our Sunday service and the rhythm of seasons throughout the church year. But, the word “liturgy” has also sometimes been translated as “the work of the people.” A better translation might be the reasonable, public service expected of a person. Attending Sunday worship is the minimum service to be expected of a Christian. As the word “public” suggests, there is a communal nature to liturgy. Each of us may have our own ways of honoring God in private but, the words and actions pertaining to Christ Jesus in the church service are our way of publicly honoring God. Each of us has a role in doing the public, communal pattern of words and actions we call liturgy. According to St. Paul (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2, 14), pastors are stewards of the mysteries – the ones entrusted with managing or curating this pattern of words and actions. In the grace of God, everyone in the church has been equipped by the Holy Spirit with some gift that contributes to this reasonable, public service: some serve as ushers, or acolytes, Communion servers, Lectors, Altar Guild, or singers. And yet others contribute in ways not as visible but no less valuable; as St. Paul wrote:
“…the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, … God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member…”1 Corinthians 12:22-24
Attending the church service makes a public witness to our neighbors and the world about what is important. Each and every week we receive the risen Christ in the Body and Blood he has given for us in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. Similarly, we hear the words from the Bible proclaimed so that the Holy Spirit may create and sustain the faith that unites us to Christ Jesus. These are the central things that give guidance and stability to our lives. But, beyond these, we will also witness to what is important in a couple of other ways during the month of May.
On May 12 the children from our congregation will sing in the late worship service. Martin Luther indicated that the only reason we sing at all in the church service is so that the Word of God may be on our lips. By their singing, the children will witness to what is most important among us.
Confirmation will take place on May 19. Confirmation is not at all a graduation. Instead, on May 19 several young people will affirm the promises their parents made when the parents brought those children to be baptized. The young people will publicly affirm that what God did in Holy Baptism was good and right. Further, those young people will promise “to live among God’s faithful people; to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper; to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed; to serve all people, following the example of Jesus; and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” With these promises, the young people will witness to what is most important to them and among us.
May the Lord gladden our hearts with the peace and joy of the risen Christ throughout this season and always.