Pastor Rike’s Message – March 2019

Lent begins on March 6 with Ash Wednesday. The service that day will be at 7:30 p.m. and, it will be very similar to what has been done the past couple of years.

As part of the Sunday morning worship services during Lent you may notice a couple of things:

  • Something called the “Penitential Rite” (penitential has to do with being sorry for sins) takes the place of the usual Confession and Forgiveness at the beginning of the service.
  • The Ten Commandments are said as part of that Penitential Rite.
  • The “Glory to God in the highest” (Hymn of Praise) is not used; the Kyrie is used but, it is spoken as part of the Penitential Rite.
  • There is no Alleluia; there are different words and music sung before the reading of the Gospel.
  • The longer Creed (the Nicene Creed) is used instead of the shorter one (Apostles’ Creed).

Some of the items listed above have been familiar in Lent – they convey the sense that Lent is a time to remember the death of Jesus on the cross and feel sorry for our sins. As a result, using the Kyrie (“Lord, have mercy”) instead of the more festive “Glory to God in the highest…” makes sense; as does not using the Alleluia until Easter. Likewise, the Nicene Creed has often been used for festivals and during season of preparation for those festivals; the Apostles’ Creed has generally been used when the color for day is green.

Other items may seem new or different, such as reciting the Ten Commandments. These things relate to an even older emphasis of Lent. The season of Lent actually began as a time when people prepared to be baptized (as adults) or to be renewed in that gift of Holy Baptism. In the Lutheran Church, when children are brought to be baptized the parents are asked to:

“…bring [these children] to the word of God and holy supper, teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, place in their hands the holy scriptures, and nurture them in faith and prayer, so that [these children] may learn to trust God…”

That list of things parents are asked to do is meant to set the child on the path of discipleship so s/he can grow into the full stature intended in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:13). Some of the items in that list are regularly included as part of worship services throughout the year. We regularly recite the Creeds and the Lord’s Prayer.

However, the Ten Commandments have not appeared as frequently in worship services. The reason for using the Ten Commandments during this Lenten season is to emphasize the idea of being renewed in the gift of Holy Baptism and to fulfill the promises made on behalf of our children.

God’s gift to us in Holy Baptism sets us on the path of discipleship. The 7:30 p.m. worship services during Lent will also reflect this idea of growing as baptized disciples of Jesus. To help focus this emphasis those mid-week services will use the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134). These Psalms were prayed by the ancient Israelites as they made annual pilgrimage journeys up Mount Zion to worship in the Jerusalem Temple. The themes expressed in those psalms can guide us in our journey of discipleship – helping us grow in God’s grace.

Each Wednesday three of the Psalms of Ascent will be spoken responsively and, a sermon based on those psalms will follow.

Eugene Peterson’s book based on these psalms – A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society ¬– will help draw out the themes in the Psalms of Ascent. It could be helpful to read Peterson’s book in preparation for those services or as a substitute if you cannot attend the services. As in previous years there will be a sign-up sheet in the narthex for those willing to provide soup at the 6:30p.m. Wednesday evening meal.

For busy families that may not be able to attend the services or read the book, I am hoping to prepare an eBlast to be sent out each Wednesday. It will include either one of the Psalms used that week or a portion of the psalm with a prompt for family conversation and reflection. I pray that God grant each of us a holy Lent, bringing us to a joyful Easter.

In Christ, Pastor Rike

Learn more about Pastor Rike.