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123 posts categorized "Lent Series"

Lenten Devotions: Go, Tell, and See

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devosAudio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

'Easter Cross ~ Alleluia ~ 'Praise the Lord'' photo (c) 2013, Sharon - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
Easter Sunday 
April 20, 2014
 
The following is Pastor Ron Glusenkamp's Easter Sunday sermon, given April 20, 2014 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. 

"After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you."
So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me" (Matthew 28).

Grace and peace to you from our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 
Welcome and thank you for gathering together to celebrate Easter here at Bethany Lutheran Church. It is a holy day, and that's why we say, Christ is risen! "He is Risen, Indeed, Alleluia." Christ's victory over sin, death, and the grave calls for a response. So, in honor of that, and also because this message is too big for one preacher to carry by himself, every time I say, "This is the day that the LORD has made," I'd like for you to respond by saying, "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
We do rejoice and are glad in it. That's why we have such lovely music filling the sanctuary today. That's why the chancel area is dressed up in its Easter garments. That's why you and I have come here to participate in what is REAL! Namely, that Jesus is alive!
 
"This is the day that the LORD has made."
    [People] "Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
 
Two weeks ago, the Bethany Foundation gave away $5,000 as seed money, so that we might grow it and bring it back next week. It's a powerful--if not risky, crazy--reminder that God gives us blessings, and we are called to invest ourselves in those blessings in order that we might share them with others. For when you think about it, we have"an avalanche" of grace, hope, and love.
 

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Lenten Devotions: Hot Cross Buns

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

IMG_0516

April 19, 2014

"Welcome child into our family
Washed in water, reborn and free
A sign on your forehead and your heart
The cross that never will depart
Allelujah Allelujah
Allelujah come and sing

Stirrin’ up the water
Stirrin’ up my soul
A Light comes to the darkness
Come and make me whole
Oh Stir it up, stir it up, Oh Lord
The call goes out to near and distant lands
Come all you children into my hands
Grow like branches on the living tree
Washed in water, reborn and free
Allelujah Allelujah Allelujah now we sing

Comfort and joy the spirit brings
In darkest trials, drink from the spring
Hear the promise that no time could ever hold
It’s forever, for young and old
Allelujah Allelujah Allelujah Lord we sing."

Lyrics from "Stirrin’ Up the Water," by Peter Mayer

IMG_0517I’m making hot cross buns today. It’s a custom a started long ago with our daughter Hannah Grace. We’re not together this year, but I’m thinking about her as I “stir up” and stir in all the ingredients. The spices are what get me the most. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and all spice. I think of the women gathering all the spices to “embalm” the body (for there is a balm in Gilead). Their sad, sad souls and hearts were broken.

I beat the eggs and remember one person saying, “You can’t make an omelet unless you break a few eggs.” What needs to be “cracked open” in our lives? What needs to be blended together? Right now, the dough is “resting” and rising. Shrouded in old tea towels that have been in my wife’s and my family for ages. In our busy 24/7 world, when do we Sabbath? God made us to be 24/6 and here we are running around like chickens. Yes, those little chicks that Jesus says he wishes he was like a mother hen for us to gather us under the shadow of God’s wings.

I shared the following quote from Miriam Weinstein the other evening as we “welcomed our 53 first communion participants” to the table.  In a soccer/baseball/hockey/ballet/music lesson driven culture, where is the table?

If this generation forgets what gathering around the table means and can mean, will the table/altar up front look like a big desk? And with portable tablets and phones, what is a desk even all about?

But, even though I ask these questions, I believe. I believe in the power of eating and drinking together. I believe in gathering around each other in a circle. I know the transformational power of spices. I trust that the little bite of bread and sip of wine that we hand out is truly given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.

Families who eat supper together…position their kids to do better in school.

Families who eat supper together…pass on their ethnic, familial, and religious heritage.

Families who eat supper together…help prevent eating disorders and obesity.

Families who eat supper together…build their kids’ literacy, vocabulary and conversational skills.

Families who eat supper together…teach their kids manners.

Families who eat supper together…promote a sense of resilience that will last a lifetime.

Families who eat supper together…enjoy each other more as a family.

( From The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier, 
by Miriam Weinstein

Allelujah now we SING!

(Photos courtesy of Pastor Ron Glusenkamp)

Lenten Devotions: "Cross Fit"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Mountain_in_guatemala
(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

 
April 18, 2014
Good Friday

"But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he's just a fool,
And he never gives an answer,
But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning around."
 
Lyrics from "Fool On the Hill," by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
 
 
Whenever he sings this song, or "All You Need is Love" (neither one of which is in most
Denominational hymnbooks, although if I had a vote they would be included), I think of Good Friday. For today is about the foolishness of the cross and, of course, the foolishness of love, and thank God for that!
 
Today's devo contains a couple of helpful resources for you. First of all, take a trip to the National Gallery in London, and see a lovely altarpiece on which you can meditate.
  
Next, there is a great app from the Church of England that can help you download Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer services which have all sorts of lovely lessons and prayers each day. Check out today's prayer.
 
Blessed are you, Lord God of our salvation, to you be glory and praise for ever. As we behold your Son, enthroned on the cross, stir up in us the fire of your love, that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and walk with you in newness of life singing the praise of him who died for us and our salvation. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Blessed be God for ever. 
 
A few weeks ago as part of our First Communion seminar for 3rd graders and their parents, I asked the participants to write down a sin on a sticky note. In the event that parents needed more paper, I offered them extra sticky notes. If the children could not spell their sin, I told them to draw it. Then I collected the sins (without looking at them). I put them on a big stake (nail) which we then took into the courtyard and hammered into a large cross. The stack of sins was then lit on fire. As the fire moved through the sins, the paper "morphed" into the shape of a rose, and then it simply disintegrated. You could have heard a pin drop.
  
Now, in some quarters of the faithful, this activity has become passé. However, I think it provides a graphic example of how God's sin took on to himself what was ours. Through the pain and fire of death on the cross God reduces all the times we've missed the mark and forgives us.
  
I pray for you today. May you feel forgiven and free.
  
One more Beatles song: God wants "to hold your hand."

Lenten Devotions: "Table Talk"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Communion
Communion is received in rural Xonca, Guatemala.(Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

April 17, 2014
Maundy Thursday

"And you're Still in One Peace
Still in One Peace
We are blessed we are broken
Given one more chance to be
Found in you we are
In One Peace."
Lyrics from "Still in One Peace," by Peter Mayer

I love these next three days. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil constitute one service over three nights. It's as if each service ends with the "cliffhanger message," "to be continued..."

Today is Maundy Thursday. Its name comes from the Latin word for commandment, mandatum. On this day Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13).

I'm not so sure this is a "new" commandment. However, I am not really in a position to argue with Jesus on this day. But, love and loving one another as we have been loved, are core principles of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Karen Armstrong, in her book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life,  also makes the case that love is central to the teachings of all major religions. So, what exactly is Jesus saying to us with this new commandment?

Maybe it comes down to the fact that loving another, or one another, is new each and every time we do it. And as we gather around the table, whether that be at home or in a restaurant or at church, we hear the words, "Do this in remembrance of me."

Peter is so good at describing our saint/sinner dialectic by singing, "We are blessed, we are broken." Within the same line, he says it all. There are parts of me (and I'm sure of you) that are just wonderful and caring, full of love and kindness. And there are also parts of me (and I'm sure of you) that are not wonderful, and are apathetic, spiteful, and mean. We are not one or the other, but as Luther (and now Peter) so eloquently remind us, we are both!

Maybe, then, this new commandment is also like that in that it is an old permission — it's like that airline slogan, "You are now free to roam the country." God has been granting us this freedom to love for as long as Homo sapiens have been taking their breaths on the face of this earth.

We come to the table to eat and drink in remembrance. We come to "taste and see" that the Lord is good. We come just as we are without one plea — and that is enough.

Bon appetit!

Lenten Devotions: "Happy"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

 

'new harmony indiana' photo (c) 2006, christina rutz - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

"We got our maps our clues, police and policy
Still we cannot trace the spirit's nest
We hunt for miles and all the while it paints the scenery
Scatters and whirls an arabesque
 
Chorus
Hey-ey Hey-ey this mercy moves
God is loose hey-ey God is loose in the world
Hey ey hey ey the universe is singing
Loose hey hey God is loose in the world
We better lock him up the crazy man
He's causing trouble, brewing storms
Traded fashion for compassion
The revolution fought with kindness not a sword"
 
—Lyrics from "Loose in the World," by Peter Mayer

Dr. Walter Brueggemann, in his book "Spirituality of the Psalms," writes about psalms that are of "orientation, dis-orientation and new orientation." Psalm 8 is a psalm of orientation. It's a creation hymn. Psalm 22 (which Jesus quotes on the cross) is a psalm of dis-orientation: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" And Psalm 23 and Psalm 46 are of a new orientation.

I'd like to humbly submit another song of new orientation, and that would be "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. This is a wonderful psalm which moves one out of sadness and pain into joy and comfort. You cannot listen to this without tapping your toes and getting your mojo moving.

I especially like the line,"Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof/Because I'm happy."

In New Harmony, Indiana, there is a chapel without a roof (pictured above).  What this reminds me of is Peter's line, "God is loose in the world." As N.F.S Grundtvig reminds us in "Built on a Rock":

"Surely, in temples made with hands
God the Most High is not dwelling-
high in the heav'ns his temple stands,
all earthly temples excelling.
Yet he who dwells in heav'n above
deigns to abide with us in love,
making our bodies his temple."

Text: Nicolai F. S. Grundtvig, 1783-1872; tr. Carl Doving, 1867-1937, adapt.
Text © 1958 Service Book and Hymnal, admin. Augsburg Fortress.

So today, listen to this wonderful psalm and be happy!

"It might seem crazy what I'm about to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care baby by the way 

[Chorus:]
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do."

Lenten Devotions: "Eden

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions.

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Baptismal_font"Ride the crazy wheel of the 21st century
Well, a million miles have come and gone
And there's nothing left to bleed
Bear the cross of freedom
It burns me like a brand
That's the price of miracles
The price of human demand
And the things I love they seem to allude me now
My time is raindrops falling on a rusty plow."
 
—Lyrics from "Last Train To Eden," by Peter Mayer, Roger Guth, Jim Mayer

This week, we find ourselves East of Eden. Due to our own choices and brokenness, we find ourselves outside of Paradise. The cheering that took place on Sunday is quickly turning to worry and fear.

The baptismal font pictured is from St. James Church, Piccadilly in London. It's the font where William Blake was baptized. I like it because you can see Adam and Eve next to the tree.

We are making our journey to another tree—the cross. Much has been written about how this "tree" is present or absent in many theologies, and even church buildings, today. Jesus knew loneliness. He knew abandonment. He felt betrayal, shame, and pain. This wondrous love we celebrate came at a cost.

Today, I'm meditating on the cost of discipleship. I'm grateful for what Jesus did for the world.

Photo: Baptismal font at St. James Church, Piccadilly, in London. (Courtesy of Pastor Ron Glusenkamp)

Lenten Devotions: "Longer Than Shadows"

 This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Palm shadows
(Brenda Greenwald)

April 14, 2014

Holy Monday

"Longer than shadows
Closer than emptiness
Oh.... Mighty this love
Oh.... Mighty this love
It led me to peace at the river
It woke me in the rage of the wind
Called me up to the mountain
back through the valley again."

"Mighty This Love," by Peter Mayer

On Sunday we had a donkey, a rapper, and lots of Hosannas at church. Our donkey was named Tinkerbell. 

Donkey palms

The rapper was Agape.

Agape and kids

Our "hosannas" came from our hearts, our souls, and our minds.

The picture at the top of the page captures the shadows. We walk this walk in the valley of the shadow of death. We have shadows from our pasts that compel us to worry and fret. Like Peter, we hide in the shadows of the present, so as not to be identified as a follower of Jesus. We will gather beneath the shadow of Jesus' cross.

Peter sings, "Longer than shadows"-- He's referring, of course, to this mighty love that takes us on this roller coaster of a ride this week. Up and down, around and around, screaming, hanging on for dear life, turning our bodies and stomachs upside down!

This mighty love is also "closer than emptiness." This love fills whatever we are looking for--more so than food, sex, alcohol, possessions, religion and status.

We will have ultimate "peace at the river," but until then we will experience:

"It woke me in the rage of the wind
 Called me up to the mountain
 back through the valley again."

(Photos of Bethany Lutheran Church service courtesy of Pastor Ron Glusenkamp.)

Lenten Devotions: "Hosanna"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

'Palm blades against California sky' photo (c) 2013, Gerry Brush - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

April 13, 2014

"In the Word, the walls will crumble down
And all are welcome to enter in
In the blood of Christ the great sacrifice
The withered branches bloom again
The withered branches bloom again."
 
Lyrics from "Pass It On," by Peter Mayer

Today, our congregation is going to read through the Passion narrative from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 26:14-27:66. We will have a parade with palms. We've also rented a donkey to come inside with us (not sure if the facilities team or the altar guild is going to dig that.) At 9 a.m., our guest musician for family worship is AGAPE!  

We will say and sing the word "Hosanna" numerous times. Literally, it means, "Save us now!" I can't think of a more appropriate and timely prayer request than this.

Peter's words proclaim what is happening: "In the Word, the walls will crumble down."

Those eight words take us from the conquest of the city of Jericho right up to today. The walls that separate us are coming down. It is as St. Paul wrote in his text message to the Ephesians (2:14): "For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us."

This holiest of all weeks is a time to be in the demolition business, of taking down those stones, bricks, and barriers that we have created out of our wounds, our aggressiveness, our frustration, and pains.

Peter reminds us that God is doing a new thing. Even "withered branches will bloom again."

Thank God for that!

Lenten Devotions: "Buttons"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

ButtonsApril 12, 2014

"We tangle in why dress up in because
When below and above heaven's beside us
There for you night and day
Longing to be more then behave
Believe believe be Light be Love."
 
Lyrics from "Be Etc," by Peter Mayer

All the containers of buttons caught my eye when I visited Liberty London. Whenever I see cool things that like, I wish I could sew. Because if I could, I would sew the coolest buttons onto my coats and jackets. I'd spell out words and make very happening designs.

While I've never been perceived to be a "fashionista," I do appreciate nice-looking clothes and clothes that fit well. However, being 6' 5, along with the effects of gravity and my love of carbohydrates, is starting to work against me. I'm glad that I'm in a profession where I get to wear a big, white robe on Sundays.

 I really like what Peter is saying: "We tangle in why dress up in because/When below and above heaven's beside us."

So, heaven is beside us. And this coming week, which starts tomorrow on Palm Sunday, is a week in which all of our emotions, thoughts, and prayers get so intense as we make our way from the parade, to the upper room, to the garden, to the cross, to the empty tomb, and to the walk to Emmaus.    

It's at times like this that I know we all have our "to do" lists, but I'm hoping and praying that you and I can just "be" in the moment.

Photo: The display of buttons at Liberty London. (Courtesy of Pastor Ron Glusenkamp)

Lenten Devotions: "Long Arms"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

Photo staircase"Patient in winter's sting
Restless as coming spring
Oh.... Mighty this love
Oh.... Mighty this love
This love is ....
Strong enough to be weak
Brave enough to speak
These arms are longer than we can believe
Kind enough to lift you off your knees
Oh.... Mighty this love
Oh.... Mighty this love"

—Lyrics from "Mighty This Love," by Peter Mayer

I took the picture of the spiral staircase one evening while my wife, Sue Ann, and I were shopping at Fortnum & Mason in London. It is a very elegant store that has been in business since 1707.

I was standing at the top of the staircase and was just taken by the lovely scene. Way at the bottom of the steps, there is a table with all sorts of goodies on it.  I wanted to reach down and pick them up. Of course, that wasn't possible.

However, Peter's lyrics came to mind: "These arms are longer than we can believe/Kind enough to lift you off your knees."

That's what "mighty love" is all about. Long arms reaching out and drawing us into the circle of love and grace. I'm grateful for all the examples of "long arms" that have hung onto me throughout my 60 years. I'm thinking that today would be a good day to "reach out" and let them know how much they are loved. I encourage you to do the same.

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