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136 posts categorized "Lent Series"

Lenten Devotions: "Islands"

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.

'Atoll Island' photo (c) 2008, Christina Spicuzza - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

March 31, 2014

"So they gathered up the driftwood made it watertight
And drifted rudderless to the horizon
I'm confused and I'm scared he said
and we got no land in sight
But I've got you dear to keep my eyes on...
 
We're on our way to the last island
Don't look back don't think twice
Oh we're on our way to the last island
Something to call our own won't that be nice
 
I'm on my way to the last island
Gonna find my piece of paradise
Oh I'm on my way to the last island
Something to call my own
won't that be nice."

"The Last Island," by Peter Mayer and Roger Guth

Today is the day the church celebrates the life of priest and poet John Donne. Perhaps his most popular words are about the inter-connectedness of all people: his best-known phrase, "No man is an island," gives testimony to the fact that we are all related to one another.

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee." John Donne wrote in "Meditation XVII."

I think Peter's song "The Last Island" is not something that is prescriptive—in other words, something that we should attempt to follow or emulate. Rather, it is "descriptive" of the desire to have one's own island, "a piece of paradise."

So, today we have the opportunity to contrast community versus isolation. I am most grateful for organizations that foster community as opposed to the tide of "having my way."

Blessings to you today as you celebrate being connected and related to one another.

Lenten Devotions: "Mud In Your Eye"

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.

Xrayvision600

Fourth Sunday in Lent
Laetare Sunday
March 30, 2014

"Dirty Hands, Dirty Feet
I'm over my head it's made a mess of me
But it keeps a coming back to the
Holy road means crashing you and me
You've gotta walk through
the muddy water to come clean."

Lyrics from "Dirty Hands, Dirty Feet," by Peter Mayer

"As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see" (John 9:1-7).

So, let's get this straight— in order for Jesus to heal the blind man, he mixes up a salve of saliva and holy ground to make mud and then spreads it on his eyes. The blind man is then instructed to "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." The blind man (or more appropriately, the "former blind man") came back "able to see."

I tried to check out the origination of the phrase, "Here's mud in your eye." But, most of the websites had all sorts of extraneous derivations of the phrase. However, I can't help but think that it has something to do with this incident in the Gospel of John. Jesus, like the Prophet Elisha, does something that would initially seem to compound the problem as opposed to alleviate it. I also wonder why Jesus didn't just say, "SEE!" and the blind man would miraculously have vision. What did it mean for Jesus to "get his hands dirty?"

What did it mean for the man to have a "muddy compress" applied to his non-seeing eyes?

The crazy advertisement at the top of the page used to appear in all the comic books that I would devour as a young boy. I think I probably spent more time fantasizing about having x-ray vision than I did about any of the characters in the comic books. Just imagine how it would be to have the ability to see through walls and other barriers.

Now that I have grown up (somewhat), I have met blind people who are able to "see" a great deal. Their awareness is heightened, and their senses often seem to function at levels which far exceed my capabilities. Conversely, there are other people who have 20/20 eyesight, and yet their "vision" is somewhat impaired.

During the season of Lent, it is part of our journey to catch glimpses of how God sees us: namely, as daughters and sons for whom God sent Jesus to live, die on a cross, and rise from the dead. That particular insight is life-changing.

 Today is also known as Laetare Sunday. It is a Holy "spring break" in the middle of Lent. Laetare comes from the Latin translation of Isaiah 66:10, "Laetare Jerusalem," or, "O, be Joyful, Jerusalem."

Be joyful!

"You've gotta walk through the muddy water to come clean"

Lenten Devotions: "Waterfall"

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 fountain 1March 28, 2013

“Waterfall drink your fill
Washing over you it spills
Night and day it’s runnin’ wild
We’re born to be a river child

Tossed about like a toy
From the badlands to good soil
We could’ve never bargained for
This mighty ride of Joy

This is Love that’s been spilled
This is grace that is willed
Every empty heart be filled
Waterfall, waterfall.”

—Lyrics from "Waterfall," by Peter Mayer, Brendan Mayer, and Adam Guth

It’s all about baptism.

A while ago, I visited Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library—a museum dedicated to ancient manuscripts—a museum dedicated to ancient manuscripts. This place was built to house texts long before the word “text” became a verb. It is really a temple for the written word. The benefactor collected sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I spent quite a bit of time just wandering around and looking at these magnificent books, scrolls, and drawings.

Just as I was leaving the building, my eye was drawn to the lovely display of water picture above.

I thought to myself, Wow, if I was in charge of church architecture, I’d want every worship space to have significant sacred space dedicated to a water feature.

For me, it’s all about baptism. It tells us who we are and whose we are. Peter calls us “river children,” for it is “love that’s been spilled, this is grace that is willed, every empty heart be filled.”

Photo: The pond in the atrium of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. (Courtesy of Ron Glusenkamp)

Lenten Devotions: "Joy Cubed"

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.

March 27, 2014

Psalm_book"These days of winter have come to bury you
No sign of spring and no promise to carry you
No flowers blooming in your window sill
And the beat of your heart is too still...
And the beat of your heart is too still... Oh sing

Joy, joy,joy in the morning
Joy, joy in the afternoon
Joy, joy,joy for the child is born
This night the promise is given to you."

—Lyrics from "Sing Joy," by Peter Mater

My friend Irene's funeral was yesterday. About 18 of us gathered around her three adult children to celebrate her life. Irene was born in Bavaria, and was 5 years old when Hitler came to power. Her childhood was much different than those of most people I know. She liked to recite her Confirmation passage for me "auf Deutsch."

"Befiehl dem HERRN deine Wege und hoffe auf ihn; er wird's wohl machen."

"Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act."

(Psalm 37:5)

Her life wasn't an easy life, but she had deep joy in her soul and heart. Whenever I would visit her, we would talk about art, music, theology, and wood carvings. One of Bethany's Caring Visitors, Helen, calculated that she had visited Irene approximately 90 times. Caring Visitors at our church bring the sacrament to members who are homebound. Helen brought Irene joy, and I know Irene brought joy to Helen, as well.

The Psalm book at the top of the page is one that I purchased one day when Peter Mayer and I were browsing around guitar shops, bookstores, and coffee shops.

The book is open to Psalm 33, which I like to think of as some of the inspiration for Peter's song "Sing Joy."

"Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous.
Praise befits the upright. Praise the LORD with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings. Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD. By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth."

Lenten Devotions: "I Know It In My Heart
"

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.

William_Blake_Lent_Lenten_Devotions
"Elohim Creating Adam," William Blake, 1792. (Wikimedia Commons)

March 26, 2014

“Only You can break down the walls that hide me away
Only You can turn the night into day
Only You can stop the darkness from over taking me
Created the land the sky and sea
I know it in my heart to be true
The answer to me is only You.”

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

I’ve often thought that this song could be re-mastered into a big hit on the country charts. It just has a narrative feel to it that I think country-and-western fans would appreciate.

However, when I make comments like that to my dear friend Peter Mayer, he smiles sweetly, looks at me with his sparkling eyes, and doesn’t say a word. But he sends a message that goes something like this: “Ron, keep your day job!”

I was recently at the Tate Britain during the month of February. My wife, Sue Ann, and I were in London to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my 50th birthday. I was able to reconnect with colleagues and friends at St. Martin-in-the Fields. We were able to go to plays, worship services, and museums.

I had it on my “list” to spend some real quality time at the Tate Britain. I met a friend there for lunch. We had a grand conversation. Upstairs in one of the galleries, I saw the painting at the top of the page. Good old William Blake. He was able to see things in such a cosmic way, which, in turn, he was able to communicate through his art.

I don’t have the ability to adequately describe how this painting touched my soul.

All I know is when I hear Peter sing “I know it in my heart to be true
, the answer to me is only You,” that I feel right and good.

Lenten Devotions: "Only 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.

566px-Carlo_Crivelli_Annunciation_with_St_Emidius_1486_London
"The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius," Carlo Crivelli, 1486. (Wikimedia Commons)
 
March 24, 2014
 
"Only You can stand beside me through all my thoughts and deeds
You raised the mighty 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
 
An angel and a saint walk down the street—I know, I know it sounds like the beginning of a joke. But, this is no joke, it's an amazing painting in the National Gallery in London. "The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius,"painted by Carlo Crivelli in the 15th century, is a very intense, elegant portrayal of the heavenly birth announcement that came to Mary.
 
My friend, the Reverend Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury and author of The Art of Worship-Paintings, Prayers, and Reading for Meditation, describes the scene: "The people go about their business amidst the beautiful architecture of the town as the golden beam of the Spirit of God alights on Mary through a providentially placed hole in the wall of her grand house. The peacock symbolizes immortality because its flesh was thought not to decay, and the 'eyes' on its tail represent an 'all-seeing church.'"
 
Check it out on the National Gallery's website. It happens to be one of my favorite paintings of all time. Just in case you haven't done the math, there are only nine months until Christmas!
This past year, on the days after Christmas, my wife and I, along with our adult kids, went snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. As sugarplums danced in my head (along with Christmas carols), the words of Peter's song came to mind:
 
"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."
 
Both Peter's song and the painting by Crivelli are creedal statements. They express what the artist believes about God, about the world, and about themselves.
 
I encourage you to spend a little time today reflecting on what you believe.
 
I'm going to join in the chorus with Peter:
 
"I know it in my heart to be true
The answer to me is only You."

Lenten Devotions: "Follow Me"

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.

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King_romero_bMarch 24, 2013

“Follow me to the place where dreams come true
Follow me and we can see this through

Follow me until the end
 on this you can depend

Follow me and I will follow you.”

—Lyrics from "Follow Me," by Roger Guth, Peter Mayer, and Jim Mayer

On this day in 1980 Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated.

I’ve posted a picture from Westminster Abbey of some modern martyrs: Martin Luther King, Jr., Romero, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. These three followed Jesus with such intensity and passion that it cost them their lives. They were and are witnesses to the transforming love of God.

About 20 years ago, I was serving as an associate pastor in Wichita, Kansas. I was able to learn about Bread for the World from some wonderful Methodist and Mennonite clergy and lay people. I had a pretty good understanding of Methodism, but I didn’t know too much about the Mennonites. I quickly learned that Lutherans had not always been very kind to their Anabaptist brothers and sisters. I purchased a book, A Third Way, by Paul M. Lederach. One day when I was reading it, these words from Menno Simons caught my eye and my heart:

“Just as natural bread has to be kneaded of many kernels of grain broken in the mill, together with water and then baked by the heat of the fire, in the same way the church of Christ is made up of many believers, broken in their hearts by the mill of God’s word, baptized with water by the Holy Spirit, and brought together in one body by pure and unadulterated love at the Lord’s table.”

As Wesley once wrote, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.” 

Yesterday afternoon, we had an event at church where the young families could bake pretzels with me. Prior to making and baking the pretzels we gathered together in a big circle and shared in the Lord’s Supper. It was just as Menno Simons wrote: “[B]rought together in one body by pure and unadulterated love at the Lord’s table.”

Pretzels are a symbol of the Trinity. They are fun to bake. Great to eat. And even more wonderful to share with family, friends, neighbors and even strangers.

I’m humbled and honored this day to be surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.

Lenten Devotions: "Living H20"

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.

'Water Flow 1' photo (c) 2009, Luke Addison - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
March 23, 2014

"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"
 
Lyrics from "Stirrin' Up The Water,"  by Peter Mayer
 
John 4:5-42 is the Gospel lesson for the day.
 
I believe that these words (all 772 of them) provide a refreshing oasis in the Bible. (The Gettysburg Address only had 272 words). Here we have Jesus talking with this Samaritan woman, who, by all standards, is an outcast. She has been married not once, not twice, but five times. She is currently cohabitating with a man who is not her husband.
 
We heard on Ash Wednesday that "you are dust and to dust you shall return." Now today, this unnamed, finite, fractured being is being told by the Son of God that there is something infinite and whole that can change her life. And that message of life and salvation is for us as well.
 
I happened to be listening to A Prairie Home Companion on March 9, when Garrison Keillor was telling the story about Delores, the waitress at the Chatterbox Café. She had unloaded a bunch of coffee beans, I think 600 pounds of them, and she laid down in the back to take a little nap. The priest came in after an Ash Wednesday service looking for something to eat. He found Delores in the back room asleep, so he took out his ashes and made the sign of the cross on the waitress as she slept. She awoke not too long after that and after some time realized that she had the mark of the cross on her forehead. She thought about it and realized that commercials don't tell you and politicians don't tell you that "you are dust and to dust you shall return." It is only the church that dares tell the truth -- that we are all made of the same stuff and to that same stuff we shall return. Garrison Keillor went on to say that it is when we think about what a mess we've made of things, that we realize all those sins we think other people have, we realize we are capable of committing them as well.
 
The Samaritan woman was a marked woman. Most likely she was at the well at the hottest time of the day so she wouldn't have to endure the gossip or stares of the townspeople. Jesus happens by one dusty, dry day and engages her in conversation. As you heard and read, she is rather spunky. She basically tells Jesus that he doesn't even have a bucket, which is like being up a creek without a canoe or even a paddle.
 
But, Jesus cuts through all the stuff -- the brokenness, the gender issues, the racism -- and connects with her deep in her soul. He sees her as she is, just as she is, a daughter of God.
And she sees, maybe for the first time in a long time, that her life can be more than what it appears to be.
 
Father Richard Rohr writes in Falling Upward, A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,
"Jesus did not teach that one size fits all, but instead that his God adjusts to the vagaries and failures of the moment. This ability to adjust human disorder and failure is named God's providence or compassion. Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us. Just the Biblical notion of absolute forgiveness, once experienced, should be enough to make us trust and seek and love God."
 
The words of Isaiah 25 come to mind:
 
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the LORD for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
 
Yesterday was World Water Day. (Check out www.water.org) for more information.
 
When you have a vision of how Living Water changes one's life, there can be a flood of love, hope, grace, and action.
 
"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"
 
Amen

Lenten Devotions: "Encouragement"

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.

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EncouragementMarch 22, 2014

"Sing a song of love made new 
Born on this Christmas day 
Heaven and earth rejoice in the view 
When love is born anew 
Love is born anew
 
Flow river flow through highlands and     drylands
Raise blossoms where nothing could bloom
Come living waters and lift up your children
And nothing can come between us and you."
 
—Lyrics from "Love Is Born Anew," by Peter Mayer
 
One of my favorite angels made by Bethany member and metal artist Delia Stewart is called "Encouragement." This angel reminds me of Peter's great words about "highlands and drylands."
 
Lent is a time to walk and talk about one's spiritual landscape. How wonderful and hopeful it is that "love is born anew."
 
Each and every day no matter where we are or how we are feeling, "love is born anew."
 
I'm grateful for the opportunity to share these encouraging words with you. It is my hope and prayer that if you need a little encouragement, you'll take these words to heart. They are real. They are authentic. They are certain.
 
Photo of "Encouragement" sculpture courtesy of Ron Glusenkamp and Delia Stewart.

Lenten Devotions: "Break the 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.

Lent sign 1

March 21, 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

I was visiting friends recently, when I noticed the beautiful needlepoint pictured above hanging on one of their walls.

"A crust that's shared is finer food than banquet served in solitude."

I immediately asked if I could take a picture of it because it just seemed to say something so authentic. Of course, it rings true with what we say and feel about the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, and Eucharist: "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34).

Last Sunday, during our First Communion training experience, I mentioned that I love the idea of inviting people to "taste," which is one sense, in order that they might "see," which is another sense.

Coming together to "break bread" makes a feast of the water, flour, salt, and yeast. Yesterday was baking day at the Glusenkamp house. I baked a recipe I have been tinkering with for more than 30 years. It comes from a Mennonite cookbook, and features four flours: whole wheat, white, rye, and soy (I also threw in some barely flour just for fun).

I'm not sure I totally understand the significance of the following sign, which I saw at Plum Village near Bordeaux, France. But, I am captivated by what it might mean for us if we took it to heart.

Lent sign 2

Blessings to you today as you "break bread."

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