Faith Weekly: God and money

Must be stewardship season, the church’s annual fund drive, because this Sunday’s Gospel reading seems to be about money. But is it?

Jesus seems to tell us to pay our taxes and be good citizens. He points to the emperor’s head on a coin and says: “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

He suggests there is a distinction and in doing so creates the tension in which we live our lives: dealing with the world as we know it in our context and culture, and responding to God’s love and the vision of the kingdom that is coming.

It’s not a tension that’s easily – or ever – resolved. It’s seldom simple.

Sunday’s first reading tells the story of God using the Persian emperor Cyrus, historically an enemy and a threat to Israel, to free the people of Israel from their oppressors, the Babylonians. In other words, early scripture suggests God uses the powers of this world to accomplish things – even people and powers we wouldn’t typically think of as being aligned with God.

Martin Luther’s “two kingdoms” thinking suggested a distinction between a heavenly kingdom and a worldly kingdom in which God operates through civil leaders and structures.

That’s a lot to think about from a couple of short passages of scripture, but here’s one more thing to consider: money is the currency of the world, used to measure wealth and to pay taxes and other debts. Does God have a currency? What is it?

God’s peace,
Pastor Mark Rollenhagen

Celebrating 90 years of mission

IMG_291796918677423You’ll want to get to church early this Sunday as our 90th anniversary celebration begins with pre-service music at 10 a.m.

Worship begins at our usual time of 10:30 a.m., with the Rev. Abraham D. Allende, bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America , preaching and presiding.

The celebration continues after worship with a luncheon beginning about noon.

Parking is limited at Faith, so if you can please park across the street in the upper lot of Harding Middle School, off Hilliard, to leave the parking lot and nearby street parking available for those less mobile.

 

Pet memorial service is Saturday

burning-candles-in-churchKnow someone who is grieving the loss of a pet?

Faith’s annual pet memorial service acknowledges the loss people feel when pets die and offers an opportunity to give thanks to God for the love and companionship between people and their pets.  This year’s service begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday in the sanctuary, followed by refreshments and sharing of memories in the chapel.  If you have photos you would like to share in a slide show, e-mail them to me at pastor@faithlakewood.org.

No pets at this reflective service, but they’re welcome at 2 p.m. the next day (Sunday) at Faith’s monthly PAWS (Pets Are Welcome Service).

- Pastor Mark Rollenhagen

Faith Weekly: walking on water

300px-Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_GalileeEver have a scary experience on the water?

I grew up around water in Michigan and learned to swim well at an early age. But two scary lake moments stand out.

Once, my brothers and I jumped off a pier in Lake Michigan. I was stunned – terrified, really — by how the cold water took my breath away and seized my arms and legs, making it impossible to begin swimming right away.

In the second instance, I was sailing a small boat on Higgins Lake when a violent thunderstorm rolled in quickly, making the boat impossible to handle. Again, I feared that I would at the least lose the boat and maybe more.

Those experiences came to mind in this week’s Gospel reading about Peter’s fear on the water and his cry of “Lord, save me!” Remember, Peter was a fisherman, well-acquainted with life on the water.

What or who quells your fears? In who or what do you trust when fear rolls in?

– Pastor Mark Rollenhagen

Vacation Bible School: July 14-18

zacchaeusMeet Zacchaeus, Jonah, Noah and a few other folks at Vacation Bible School July 14-18.

This year’s VBS, from 9:30 a.m. til noon, features stories, music, crafts, games, and, of course, snacks for kids 4 to 11.  The theme is “Peaceful Kingdom” and it is a collaborative effort of Calvary United Methodist, Faith Lutheran, and Grace Presbyterian Churches and will be held at Faith at the corner of Hilliard Road and Woodward Avenue.

Parents can register their children through any of the churches by using this registration form.

 

Faith Weekly: The Trinity is like …

Bad analogiesThis Sunday (June 15) we focus on the Holy Trinity.  It’s a difficult concept to grasp and perhaps impossible to hold intellectually.  And yet it is at the core of the Christian faith: the three-in-one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This little piece of satire pokes fun at our struggle to comprehend and explain the Holy Trinity.  Enjoy it and take a few minutes to read the second reading and the Gospel for Sunday.  They’ll sound familiar: the first includes the words with which we usually begin our worship; the second includes another phrase that I have the joy of reciting each time I baptize someone and that we sometimes use as we begin confession.

This week we ponder, struggle and marvel at the mystery of God and what we mean when we talk about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

God’s peace,

Pastor Mark Rollenhagen

Summer reading

Interested in a good read that encourageBreath Spaces reflection on connections between life and scripture?  Consider Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, a memoir by Heidi Neumark, an ELCA pastor in New York.

Join a summer conversation about Breathing Space either through Faith’s monthly women’s book group or a larger conversation that will unfold with two gatherings over a meal this summer.

Contact Pastor Rollenhagen for more information.

 

It’s cool for cats, too

trevorWhile most of the pets at Faith’s pet-friendly worship service are dogs, a few brave cats turn out, too.  All pets (and people) are welcome at the service at 2 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month, including this Sunday (May 4).

Stop in for familiar hymns, scripture, prayer and blessings for pets and their people.

 

Experience “The Three Days”

IMG_20140416_173849_718

The Triduum — the Three Days that lead to Easter morning — opens with worship at 7:30 p.m. on Maundy Thursday.

We gather around a table in the chapel and remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ commandment to love one another before stripping the altar in the sanctuary in preparation for Good Friday.

That worshp service continues at 7:30 p.m. on Good Friday as we reflect on seven words from the cross and extinguish candles until we leave in darkness.  (No communion on Friday.)

On Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m., the Three Days conclude  with the altar surrounded in spring flowers in celebration of the risen Christ.

 

Be like Jack: Drop in on Sunday

 

Jack at PAWS - cropped

Jack and Kathy, the person Jack brought with him to church.

Be like Jack Benco and come by our monthly pet-friendly service this Sunday (April 6) at 2 p.m. You don’t have to be a dog or a cat — or even have a dog or a cat — to enjoy this worship opportunity, which includes Holy Communion, scripture and familiar hymns..

This Sunday we’ll particularly remember Max, our Music Director Kent Cicerchi’s longtime friend and companion who passed away a few weeks ago.  You don’t have to be a regular to show up Sunday as we give thanks for Max and all pets who bless our lives.

Please enter through the Hilliard Road door near the driveway.