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.


Faith Weekly: Eyes opened

This week’s Gospel reading is fascinating.  Two disciples are walking along the road talking about the terrible events of recent days — their hopes dashed by the arrest and death of Jesus, the one they had pegged as their savior from all that was wrong in the world.eye

As they walk, Jesus sidles up but they don’t recognize who he is.  In fact, he doesn’t seem to have a clue as the events that have transpired.  Yet, the seemingly clueless stranger lays out all they need to know, putting Jesus in the context of their history and faith.  Yet, all of the theological discourse doesn’t open their eyes to recognizing Jesus for who he is.

It’s only in the breaking of the bread, that they come to see.  It is only in the breaking of the bread that they truly encounter Jesus.

Let that thought roll around as we approach Sunday, with three opportunities to encounter Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion and three opportunities to see things in a new way.

                                                                                                   — Pastor Mark Rollenhagen

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”


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.


Wow! What a weekend!!

What a cool weekend that was as we gathered (March 14-16) with our brothers and sisters in Christ in our neighborhood — the folks from Calvary United Methodist and Grace Presbyterian Churches!

My favorite images: the complete circle of people formed along the outside edges of Calvary’s sanctuary Friday evening, candles in hand, joined together in prayers; the buzz and excited conversations (and laughter and joy) in the groups at Faith on Saturday as we considered our future together in Christ; that full, joint choir packing the chancel at Grace on Sunday morning, a nearly even mix of voices from all three congregations.

Good things are sure to unfold as the new southwest Lakewood ecumenical steering group (with three representatives from each congregation) begins meeting shortly after Easter.  Stayed tuned.

Neighborhood ministry retreat

This weekend (March 14-16) we gather for worship, study and reflection with neighbors, Calvary United Methodist and Grace Presbyterian churches.ELCA Logo

The weekend retreat opens at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Calvary with dinner, a talk with the Rev. Faith Fowler, pastor of Cass United Methodist Church and executive director of Cass Community Social Services in Detroit, and evening prayer.

On Saturday, we gather at Faith from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to consider basic needs and issues in southwest Lakewood, Methodist Logohearing first from a panel of Lakewood civic leaders and then breaking into groups to consider how the three congregations might collaborate in responding to the identified needs.

On Sunday, at 10:45 a.m. we worship together at Grace, with Pastor Fowler preaching, and we conclude with a celebratory dinner.

PCUSA LogoRegistration was requested for most portions of the weekend, but all are welcome to worship — and if you’re interested in others portions, stop on by.  A brochure about the retreat can be found here.

God’s peace,

Pastor Mark Rollenhagen


Faith Weekly: Mountaintops

There’s a stretch of I-77 in Virginia that winds through the mountains and offers a spectacular view of the land stretched out below.  Unless the mountaintop is shrouded in a mountain-fog-lthick, cloud-like fog.  Then, traffic slows to a white-knuckle crawl as drivers carefully watch for S-curves and semi-trucks ahead.

Images of clouds and mountain tops come to mind easily in reading this Sunday’s scripture passages.  Moses enters the cloud in the Exodus story, and in the Matthew reading the voice of God emanates from a cloud over the mountaintop where Jesus has climbed with Peter, James and John.

Majestic, mysterious, awesome – and potentially disorienting — things happen on those mountaintops.  And yet they are not the climax or the end of these stories of encounters with God.

The Moses story marks the beginning of a new chapter in God’s relationship with his people.  The same is true as Jesus heads down the mountain to begin his journey to Jerusalem and to the cross.  A journey we all begin anew next week with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

–          Pastor Mark Rollenhagen


Faith Weekly: Lower the bar?

This coming Sunday’s scripture readings set some high standards.

First, there’s the checklist from Leviticus: No stealing, swindling or lying.  OK.  Leave food for the poor and the foreigner.  Hmm.  Care for the deaf and the blind.  No partiality in dealing with the rich or the poor.  Hmmm.  No bad mouthing people, no profiting at the expense of others.  No hating, no vengeance.  Hmmmm.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Always?

Jesus echoes these standards in the reading from Matthewlowerthebar and concludes: “Be perfect.”

We might react to this scripture in a few ways:

– Be crushed in recognizing that we will never live up to all of those standards, all of the time.

– Lower the bar, hope to hit the 80 or 90 percent range, maybe a high “B” on our final report card, and rely on God’s mercy when the honor roll comes out.

– Write them off as ancient standards that, like many of the practices and rules found in Leviticus, don’t apply to the real world we live in today.

How do you react?  What do you draw from these standards?  How do you reconcile the world we live in with the world as God would have it?

– Pastor Mark Rollenhagen

Faith Weekly: The right choice

Life is full of decisions to make — some of them small and relatively inconsequential, like what to have for lunch.  Others loom large.  Where to go to college, what to study?  Stick with a job or move on?  Choose a course of treatment for an illnThis Way That Way Which way to turness.  Is an opportunity opening up or a path to trouble?  The fear of making the wrong decision can freeze us, immobilize us, prevent us from living into the future with confidence and joy.

The first scripture reading for this Sunday (February 16) suggests there’s one fundamental choice to make: “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him.”

What does it mean to choose life?  How do we hold fast to God?  What’s promise made in this scripture passage and how might that help us deal with tough choices?

Let’s talk about it on Sunday morning — 8:30 or 10:30.

– Pastor Mark Rollenhagen