Please take a look at the attached picture, taken last night in North Wales after the pre-recording of our Good Friday music for the service tomorrow night (7:00 p.m.) Gretchen F. captured God’s finger in the form of a beautiful rainbow over our church, a sign of hope and everlasting beauty. Could there be a more beautiful symbol of hope? – Last night, our Jewish friends began the observation of Passover, which is the backdrop to everything that happens in Holy Week. If we came to church today, on Maundy Thursday, we would hear the story of the Passover from Exodus and the story of the Last Supper (aka Passover meal) from the gospels and the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples from the gospel of John. I really love that Holy Week and Easter usually fall in line with the Jewish Passover Feast, a reminder that we have so much in common, including a character who spoke fluently Hebrew (Aramaic). But there is more.
As we go through our own Passover as a society, experiencing a loss of control even as we try to get this pandemic “under control,” we may be closer to Jesus than we ever have been during Holy Week. Of course, we all hope and pray that this mad spread of the disease may abate soon, we pray that we can go and visit our families again, that we can worship again, receive the sacrament, see each other… It is not meant to be – yet – and it is not in our control. During Holy Week Jesus taught us that it’s best not to resist things you can’t possibly control. Allow God to be with you in that moment, even if it is a moment of confinement, loss or sadness. In the end, it will enrich you and prepare you to experience joy again. Today, I am also reminded of another servant of God. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer died 75 years ago today. Well, he was executed. By the brown shirts, (Nazis) in the very last days of the war. It was just after Easter that year. Bonhoeffer was a brilliant mind and he was able to write many letters from prison that have become fertile soil for discussion, reflection, and growth in the church. If you ever have a chance to read his letters from prison you will find a calm man who is amazingly at peace with himself, liberated even. Another example of a person who knew that he was not in control, but knew at the same time that God IS in control, no matter what would happen to him. It’s heavy stuff, I admit, but once you feel the “lightness of being” that results from letting go, you know that the cross and the Passover and all the heavy religious artillery is worth our utmost attention. It’s ultimately liberating!
Today, we will have our noon Bible Study via Zoom. Our topic for the upcoming weeks is Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul is a model for how to communicate long-distance because that’s what he did all the time. This letter to the church on Philippi, for instance, was written from prison. He knew a thing or two about social distancing. The material for the study was attached to yesterday’s email. Here is the invitation link for the Bible Study via Zoom, today at noon:h
I would also like to remind you to send us pictures with Easter and spring images for our picture show at the beginning of the Easter virtual service on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Please send your pics to Brian B. No later than tonight! Thank you!
Tomorrow we will offer a Good Friday Service via Facebook Live at 7:00 p.m. As part of this service you will enjoy wonderful music recorded in our own Sanctuary, including a rendition of “Saw ye my Savior” with Liz A. on the organ, Kirsten O. playing flute and Gretchen F. singing. Come join us!
Tomorrow we will also give you another opportunity to donate non-perishable food items to Manna on Main Street. Just like last week, simply put them on Lisa’s pick-up truck in the Parking Lot. They will be quarantined at Manna for two weeks and then be given to people who are struggling, and I imagine that’s an increasing number of people, due to unemployment, etc. You may bring your food bags between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Yesterday, I received this very nice message from Kathy Anglim, one of our newest members:
“Thank you Pastor Andreas for your daily messages of Hope. They always lift my spirit and nourish my soul every time I read them. We all need to be reminded that God is with us and He is just a prayer away. The communication line is better than any cellphone service I know of. This is the most unusual Holy Week. Last year when Pastor Ed died so suddenly, I thought Holy Week would never be the same. It was one of those times when you remember where you were when you got the news. He was an amazing man. Now this year the Coronavirus has caught our attention and that of the whole world. For me, it had been a time of looking beyond today and focusing on forever. A time walk alongside Jesus on Via Della Rosa. A time to read God‘s Word and meditate on his journey to the Cross where He suffered and died for all of us. Yes, God does have the world’s attention. Thank you, Pastor and I look forward to more messages of hope, concern for others and God‘s Amazing Grace.”
Love and blessings,
From our friend Christine Eberle, a Christian writer and presenter, is this link to a chat she had with Lynn Rosen of the Open Book Bookstore in Elkins Park. The topic was: “Observing Easter 2020 from Home.” Here is a link to the 11-minute chat.
For today I would like to ask you to pray for Stephanie D.’s brother Michael L. She jokes that she married Tom for his nice, short name. Her older brother Michael is hospitalized. He has been dealing with pancreatic and liver cancer and has been through a whole ordeal of surgeries, kidney dialysis, etc., just a very, very tough journey, you can imagine. He is married but has no children. Please say extra prayers for him today!
Birthday congratulations today go to…
Linda B., Stuart M., and Joyce C. Happy birthday to you all!
Be blessed and be safe, Pastor Andreas Wagner