Happy New Year! As we enter 2015, here are a few things to look forward to at Faith:
Faith Study Group: The Advent study group that met in homes wanted to continue in the new year, meeting every other month for study, discussion and fellowship. In February, we’ll meet on Thursday evenings, taking a fresh look at Luther’s Small Catechism. In April, we’ll look at the book of Revelation. If you’re interested in participating, let me know.
Mission Trip: We’ll soon be making plans to participate in a mission trip to First English Lutheran Church in Columbus this spring. We’ll join in the with the group from Grand Rapids, Mich., which helped out Faith two years ago. The trip is April 4-11, and people are welcome to come down for the week or just a day or two to help out with building projects and community service. You can learn more about First English at the beginning of this ELCA video.
LOMO Camp: It’s official. Faith will host a week-long, Christian day camp for neighborhood kids in grades K-6, beginning July 19. Watch for news on how you can help. We will definitely be looking for people who can host a college-age LOMO counselor or two or three for the week.
Merry Christmas! We gather this evening (dec. 24) and tomorrow morning to celebrate the birth of our saviour, Jesus Christ our Lord! Here are the Christmas worship opportunities at Faith:
– Christmas Eve at 4 p.m. — An ecumenical, neighborhood service featuring carols and candlelight, offered by Calvary, Faith and Grace at Faith. A full schedule of Christmas Eve services among the three congregations can be found here.
– Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. — Candlelight and communion at Faith.
– Christmas Day at 10 a.m. — Come as you are for a simple service of Scripture, prayer and carols at Faith.
Faith’s annual ‘Longest Night’ service begins at 5 p.m. this Sunday (Dec. 21).
The worship service recognizes that the seasons of Advent and Christmas can be difficult. Many people feel alone after the death of a loved one, a divorce, the inability to have a child, or the loss of a job or their health or another major change in their lives. The outward happiness of the season makes it all the more difficult for those who are struggling.
At the winter solstice – the longest night of the year – we gather reverently and hopefully before God to share the Word that shines light into the darkness of despair, grief, and loneliness. Psalms and prayers for peace, solace and hope are raised, a healing rite is offered, and candles are lit near the baptismal font..
Please let others know about this service. And come on by — for yourself or to support others.
Cookies and refreshments will be offered in the chapel after the service.
Thanks to all who contributed winter coats and other clothing to Faith’s Kids’ Clothing Closet. We’re well stocked — and it’s a good thing. Families in need continue to turn to us for help.
This Sunday (Dec. 7) we will collect non-perishable foods to help stock Grace Presbyterian Church’s emergency food pantry. Think tuna fish, peanut butter and so forth — things with a long shelf-life. Please consider picking up a few things while shopping this week and bring them to church on Sunday or any time. On Sunday, we will bless them before sending them over to Grace.
Next Sunday (Dec. 14) we will collect personal care items and paper products to stock Calvary United Methodist Church’s Dry Goods Pantry.
Meeting basic needs is part of the ongoing ecumenical ministry of the West End Christian Association (WECA) — Calvary, Faith and Grace.
Like the evenings of late autumn, our scripture readings grow darker by the week.
We hear this from Zephaniah: “That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness ….”
And we get that unsettling walk-off in the reading from Matthew: “As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Thankfully, we also hear from the Apostle Paul. Writing to the church in Thessalonica, he says: “But you, beloved, are not in darkness … for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the nightor of darkness.”
If you’ve ever been in a cave or deep down in mine or maybe deep in the woods in northern Michigan or Canada (that’s what comes to mind for me), you know that darkness can be thick, almost tactile. It can feel oppressive as though it’s closing in.
If we fear the darkness and the uncertainty it holds, we can rely on remembering what we’re made of — and who made us – and that the light that is coming always penetrates and disperses the darkness.
Have a new pet in the house? Would you like a blessing for an old friend?
Come on by Faith’s monthly pet-friendly service this Sunday (Nov. 2) at 2 p.m. in the pet-friendly chapel in Fellowship Hall for easy-to-sing hymns, scripture, prayer and Holy Communion — and blessings for pets and their people.
Keep your eye on the ball. Anyone ever tell you that?
I heard it over and over again as a kid, and I can’t count the number of times I said it as youth baseball and softball coach. Keeping your eye on the ball is essential to connecting with it.
I think of that phrase when I think about the Reformation, which unfolded nearly 500 years ago in Europe and which Lutherans observe every Oct. 31 (or the Sunday before!) because that’s when Martin Luther nailed his objections to church practices to a chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.
Lutherans make a big deal out of Reformation Sunday. Red is the color of the day, celebrating the movement of the Holy Spirit in refocusing the church on the Gospel.
Like a young hitter in baseball or softball, it’s easy to get distracted from the Gospel, from proclaiming God’s love for all people. There are a lot of other things going on around us and sometimes we just get so wrapped up in being a church or running a church, with all of its human frailties, that we lose sight of why the church exists.
Reformation is more than a Lutheran love fest. It’s an annual reminder to keep our eye on the Gospel.
— Pastor Mark Rollenhagen
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?
Pastor Mark Rollenhagen
You’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.
Know 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 firstname.lastname@example.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