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136 posts categorized "Lent Series"

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.

Lenten Devotions: "The Beginning of Life"

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.

DietrichApril 10, 2014

"When morning sun brings the dawn,
Love light my way
Lead me on as world turns 'round
and night enfolds the day
Through spinning seasons, reeling change,
Lord light my way
Each one in rhythm with the song of life you did create
Surprised us with grace
Beside us you stay
Recognized us for who we are and whose we are by name."
 
— Lyrics from "Lord Light My Way," by Peter Mayer and Patricia O'Reilly

Sixty-nine years ago yesterday, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was led from his cell at a prison camp in Flossenburg, Germany. As he was led away to be hanged, it is recorded that he said, "This is the end—for me, the beginning—of life."

It is hard from where we sit today, almost 70 years later, to imagine the horror and darkness of that time. In many ways, it is quite similar to the horror and darkness the earliest disciples of Jesus experienced at the hands of the Romans. Throughout history, these dark periods have been encountered again and again by followers of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.

St. Paul wrote, "For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8).

I think of the way that evening prayer begins. A cantor carrying a candle enters the darkened sanctuary. These words are sung: "Jesus Christ is the Light of the World."

The response, "The Light no darkness can overcome," is from memory—it's too dark to read the hymnbook or the printed page of the bulletin. The cantor makes his or her way down the center aisle.

"Stay with us for it is evening."

"And the day is almost over."

As the cantor approaches the front of the sanctuary, one more prayer is prayed.

"Let your light scatter the darkness."

"And illumine the church"

The candle is placed in the candle holder, and then the cantor sings what is called the "Lucinarium," which means light! "Joyous Light of Glory."

Some of you probably can remember when electricity came to the community in which you and your family were living. It was remarkable. I've been places in the world where electricity, and consequently electrical lights, have only recently come, and it is, as you know and might suspect, quite the game changer.

Moving from darkness to light is a remarkable journey.

Peter sings, "Love light my way, Lead me on as world turns 'round, and night enfolds the day."

Blessings to you this day, may Love and Light lead your way today!

P.S. Dear readers, some folks have asked about a gluten-free communion bread recipe. My suggestion, and practice, has been to substitute gluten-free flour in the recipe, and add a little bit (like a 1/4 teaspoon) of xanthan gum to the mix. The bread turns out quite lovely.

P.P.S.  Here's the Irish Soda Bread Recipe.

Photo: Memorial plaque Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Johannes Grützke at St. Matthew's Church Matthäikirchplatz Berlin-Tiergarten. (Wikimedia Commons)

Lenten Devotions: "Where Are You?"

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.

'45th parallel' photo (c) 2007, Julia Manzerova - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

April 9, 2014

"Tried to run fast enough
Tried to fly high enough
Thought that I could dive deep enough
To lose your hold on me

The end of the road the bottom of the glass
The grip of fear that holds you fast
Lost in the valley no song to sing
When you're brushed by an angel's wings

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

Halfway between the equator and the North Pole. I just love that sign because it reminds me, and hopefully you, that we always have choices. Sometimes, I think we can feel like there aren't many options or choices for us. But, when you stop and think about it, there is a whole world just right outside your door.

Peter sings about trying to run away from God. He's not the first one to try that act. Adam and Eve also wanted to hide from God. I'm sure you've seen other people trying to hide from God, as well. But, this amazing God we have is everywhere, so where can one go?

The answer is nowhere! And the good news is that God is "now here!" God is here in the very basic stuff of our lives. So, rejoice in the one peace that binds our hearts and souls together in unity.

Lenten Devotions: Baking Communion Bread

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.

Communion_bread
Communion bread, baked by Pastor Ron, at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. (Courtesy of Pastor Ron Glusenkamp)

April 8, 2014

"Pass it on
Break the bread,
Lift the cup
Pass it on
The broken will be lifted up
 
Every gift grand and lowly
Every purpose great and small
At this feast they are made holy
By your name you have been called
By your name you have been called."
 
—Lyrics from "Pass It On," by Peter Mayer and Patricia O'Reilly

There is something wonderful about making communion bread. It doesn't take very long to do, and the results are just fantastic. I've put together a video on how I make communion bread according to the Luther Seminary recipe. It's pretty simple. I know for certain that each time you do it, you'll find that it's easier and also more fun.

Why do I think this is important? Well, I believe it is important to use bread as often as one can for communion. At our congregation we don't always use bread, but when we do, people seem to notice. I will also say that not everyone likes real bread at communion. I'm not certain of the reasons for that, but my hunch is that it's too "earthy."

In other words, I think for some people it's simply not spiritual enough. Now, I don't necessarily agree with that viewpoint, but I've been doing this long enough to realize that, ultimately, the "delivery system" — chalice or individual cups, wafers or bread — doesn't matter. What matters are, as Martin Luther said, the words "given and shed for you."

That's what Peter is singing about:

"Break the bread,
Lift the cup
Pass it on
The broken will be lifted up."

It's all about being in communion.

Lenten Devotions: The Trust of Trees

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.

'tree on the rocks' photo (c) 2007, Ralf Kayser - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

April 7, 2014
 
"Only You can stand beside me through all my thoughts and deeds
You raised the might Redwood from the seed
Only You formed the mountains that stretch to the sky
Cover them with moonlight tonight
I know it in my heart to be true
The answer to me is only You."

—Lyrics from "Only You," by Peter Mayer and Jim Mayer

Every once in a while you see a tree growing out of the rocks. It's amazing that anything can survive in such a seemingly harsh climate and terrain. Yet, a tree grows among all the sand, rocks, and beautiful formations. I don't know how the tree got to be where it is. Maybe a bird was carrying a seed and dropped it in a particular spot. Or perhaps the wind blew a seed to that location. Obviously the location and situation were just right for something to take root and grow. It boggles the mind.

People are a lot like plants. Sometimes people grow and flourish in the most difficult situations. Other times, even though the soil, drainage, lighting, and nutritional input is exactly what the horticulturalist ordered, nothing (or more appropriately, no one) seems to blossom and grow.

The tendrils of the roots seek out water and receive nourishment. I'm thinking about young people whose witness brings their parents to church. I'm giving thanks for grandparents, aunts and uncles, and neighbors who give a ride to friends so they can come to church. I rejoice in people who are "connectors" so that Living Water flows to those who are thirsty for something real to drink.

Today's First lesson from Isaiah offers an invitation:

"Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!    
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1).

"I know it in my heart to be true
The answer to me is only You." "Only You," by Peter Mayer and Jim Mayer

So, one of the things to reflect on this Lent is "where are you planted?"

And the following passage from Jeremiah seems to suggest that where one is "planted" is somewhat conditional on where, or what, or in whom one places trust.

I'm trusting that you are growing in your trust of God.

"Thus says the LORD:
      Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
      and make mere flesh their strength,
      whose hearts turn away from the LORD.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
      and shall not see when relief comes.
      They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
      in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed are those who trust in the LORD,
      whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
      sending out its roots by the stream.
      It shall not fear when heat comes,
      and its leaves shall stay green;
      in the year of drought it is not anxious,
      and it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17).

Shall we gather at the river?

Lenten Devotions: Chicken Noodle Soup

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.

'Chicken Noodle Soup' photo (c) 2013, Cajsa Lilliehook - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

April 5, 2014

"Every gift grand and lowly
Every purpose great and small
At this feast they are made holy
By your name you have been called
By your name you have been called"
 
—Lyrics from "Pass It On," by Peter Mayer

"I'll tell you one thing, Franny. One thing I know. And don't get upset. It isn't anything bad. But if it's the religious life you want, you ought to know right now that you're missing out on every single...religious action that's going on around this house. You don't even have sense enough to drink when somebody brings you a cup of consecrated chicken soup--which is the only kind of chicken soup Bessie ever brings to anybody around this madhouse."
—From "Franny and Zoey," by J.D. Salinger
 
I like Salinger's point that often the "holy" is right there in front of us. In this particular case, it happens to be the "consecrated chicken soup." The soup that was made for our soup luncheon on Wednesday struck me as being "consecrated." It was made with love. It wasn't "store-bought," it made at home by a busy person who took time to share her gifts with others. The physical ingredients made it tasty, but it was all the more delicious because I know it was made with care.
 
That particular soup experience inspired me to make some chicken noodle soup on Thursday. I trust, as Peter sings, that, "Every gift grand and lowly, Every purpose great and small, At this feast they are made holy, By your name you have been called."
 
Share the joy of this mighty love: celebrate SOUP!

Lenten Devotions: "We Are Changed"

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.

'[ V ] Diego Velazquez - Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus' photo (c) 2011, Playing Futures:  Applied Nomadology - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

April 2, 2014

“We are joy, we are broken pieces
Upon a spinning, changing world we are borne
But for the love that will not release us
Our Rock of ages and our carry home
And we’ll sing it to the hills and the valleys
From every land ‘cross every sea
We will sing it when our hearts are breaking

And rejoice in the song of victory.”

Lyrics from "We Are Changed," by Peter Mayer

We have a saying at church: “deaths come in threes.” Perhaps you have expressed those sentiments or experienced that reality as well. Recently, our congregation has gone through a time where we have felt that reality to be more than doubled, and almost tripled, in recent weeks. In other words, we have been working with individuals and families who have had a loved one die. The words we proclaimed on Ash Wednesday, just four weeks ago,  are ringing in our ears: “you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Just yesterday, I stood with a dear family in the ICU, and we commended their loved one to God. I read the words of Simeon who sang, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2).

I shared that with them on my way into the hospital I sat for a moment and looked up at the mountains. That view led me to read for them these words of Psalm 121:

"I lift up my eyes to the hills —
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore."

I spoke directly to their loved one in the bed, not sure if she could hear me or understand me or not (but I always assume they can), and said, “this is a time of going out and coming in--there is a very fine line here, but you are surrounded by a circle of love.” We prayed the Lord’s Prayer and then each person--a husband, two daughters,  and a sister plus myself--all said something that we loved or admired about the person.

She died less than four hours later.

Peter sings, “We will sing it when our hearts are breaking
/And rejoice in the song of victory.”

I find myself in that space today. My heart is broken, but I am also confident and certain of the final victory.

The painting at the top of the page is in the National Gallery in Dublin. It was painted by Diego Velazquez. It is simply titled, “The Maid at the Supper at Emmaus.”

There is something going on with her. She is being changed. Through a tiny window one sees Jesus and a guest at dinner.

I like it. We don’t always get to see the whole picture but we receive hints, reminders, and glimpses along the way.

“We are joy, we are broken pieces
Upon a spinning, changing world we are borne
But for the love that will not release us
Our Rock of ages and our carry home."

 

Lenten Devotions: "Foolishness"

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.

'Jester- Joker Card' photo (c) 2012, GoShows - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/April 1, 2014

"For the day will come
when you leave this dusty town
And your cross will take its place
by your father's in the ground

Love is not just a fable
that Hollywood bought and sold
Oh let me tell you now love is the only road"

Lyrics from "Blue River," by Peter Mayer and Vince Varvel

I have always thought and felt that these lyrics of Peter's reflect a deep, conscious spirituality. They are mindful of our mortality. They also reflect and point to something greater and much larger than ourselves, namely love.

Today is a day for foolishness. Psalm 14:1 reminds us, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." So, I'm not advocating that type of foolishness, but rather the folly that St. Paul wrote about to the Corinthians. Check out this message from 1 Cor 1:

"For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.'

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength."

 Jesus' words often sound like foolishness, don't they?

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy."

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my accountRejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Try these on for size today. I bet you find they fit. No foolin'.

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