Lent & Easter at First Lutheran Church

We hope you’ll join us for our services and meals this Lent!

Palm Sunday Potluck – April 2 at 12:00 p.m.

Maundy Thursday Worship – April 6 at *7:00 p.m.

Good Friday Worship – April 7 at *12:00 p.m.

Good Friday Family Service – April 7 at 5:00 p.m.

Good Friday Tenebrae Service – April 7 at 7:00 p.m.

Easter Vigil Worship – April 8 at *6:30 p.m.

Easter Sunday Breakfast – April 9 at 8:30-11:30

Easter Sunday Worship – April 9 at 7:45 a.m., *8:45 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. 

*These services will be live streamed here.

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Lenten Devotional – March 31, 2023

Friday, March 31, 2023
Scripture: Matthew 12: 1-14
By Michaela Eskew
“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12: 8

While the Hebrew Bible is very clear in its laws how to follow the Sabbath correctly, Jesus messes all of that up. Jesus comes in and lets his disciples pluck wheat on the sabbath – the very act of harvesting that the Sabbath rule says is punishable by death. Jesus also heals on the Sabbath. Then, when Jesus is accused of working on the Sabbath and breaking the commandment, he gives great reasons for breaking the law. He explains how the Sabbath is broken weekly by the priests that work in the temple on the Sabbath and questions just how many people would break the Sabbath if it meant helping themselves or someone else that was in trouble.

With Jesus’ new interpretation of the Sabbath, many Christians are left wondering if the Sabbath is still important. Clearly there are exceptions that can be made now for what can be done on the Sabbath. Notice, however what Jesus makes an exception for: bodily health. Jesus allows his disciples to feed themselves when they are hungry, even though it meant pulling that food straight from the fields. Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand because he was a man in need. Neither of these actions are for selfish motives. Neither the disciples, nor the man with the shriveled hand were seeking to gain more power or privilege through their work. They were also not trying to disrespect God by showing that they could supply for themselves. If anything, both the injured man and disciples were showing their great need for God. The injured man went right up to God, Jesus, and asked for a miracle. And the disciples did just as the Israelites were told to do during the Sabbath year, gather their meals from the untended fields as their ancestors did.

Can you find a time in your week that follows these new Sabbath guidelines? A time that supports your bodily needs? A time that shows God, you need them?

Prayer: Lord of the Sabbath, remind us what the Sabbath’s intention is. May the sabbath not be a burden to add to our tasks for the day, but rather let us remember it as a gift. Amen.

Lenten Devotional – March 30, 2023

Scripture: Leviticus 25:1-7
By Michaela Eskew
“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord.’” Leviticus 25: 2

God was so serious about sabbath that he even made it a law that the land would get a year off from being planted and harvested. This, of course, meant that every year farmers would have an entire year off too. They were not allowed to pick or harvest anything. People were only allowed to gather food off the ground or from untended vines as their ancestors had once gathered from the wilderness. This seems particularly strict, but any good farmer knows that land needs time to rest if it is to continue to keep growing good food. Soil, just like us, cannot continue to give and give and give without also receiving. Soil needs to be left alone so that it can regain its nutrients from the earth.

God knew this about the earth long before us because God made the earth and all that is in it. God built rest into our world; it is us that try to go against that plan. God teaches us through plots of land that we need rest in our lives. And we don’t just need rest, we also need to remember to rely on God. During the Sabbath year in Israel, the people needed to trust that God’s abounding creation would give them enough food to last them a whole year. That is a lot of trust to put into God, but it’s a big reason that we have Sabbath. Sabbath is a reminder of who made us and who truly sustains us. In Sabbath we are not just supposed to rest, we are supposed to worship God. We are supposed to give praise to the God who watches over us as we sleep and feeds us when we rest.

What does rest look like to you? Does it include receiving back some of the nutrients that you have given all week? Does it include worship?

Prayer: Lord, you are our sustainer and redeemer. Restore in us the nutrients we need to get through this day and this week, physically but also spiritually. Amen.

Lenten Devotional – March 29, 2023

Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Scripture: Exodus 31: 12-17
By Michaela Eskew

“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.” Exodus 31: 16

Sabbath is likely one of the hardest commandments to keep in the modern world. It is also one of the most complex commandments that we have. It is not as simple as don’t lie or don’t murder. It is also not as understandable as no other gods before me or not to take the Lord’s name in vain. But it is listed there with all the other important rules and it comes up often in the many longer lists of rules we have in the Bible. So, why would rest be so important to God and to God’s people?

First, God set an example when he created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day. We often say that God created the world in seven days, but God only worked for six. To God, that day of rest is to be included in the hard work, a symbol of the important work of rest.

Second, God is giving these commandments to a people that were just slaves in Egypt. They never had a day off; they were constantly forced to work long days at hard work. This is a great gift that God is giving them. But God knew this rule would be hard so he put the harshest punishment possible to those who broke it: death. Obviously, no one today is killed for working or traveling too far on a Sunday, but when did we lose the importance of this commandment? When did we start ranking which commandments were better for us?
Rest is important for the work we do throughout the week. Without proper rest, we lose focus and attention, we stop learning things and we stop growing. God wants what is best for us and that includes a day of rest.
Do you feel “too busy”? Do you have moments of rest in your week? Is God challenging you to spend more time on rest, maybe even an entire 24 hours?

Prayer: Lord, help us to prioritize this commandment. Help us to find the time in our week to take a breath, take a moment, take a sabbath. Amen. 

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
 “Hosanna to the Son of David!
  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
 Hosanna in the highest heaven!” – Matthew 21:9

Hosanna is a crying out, “Save us, help us now!” I see some irony in this scripture because in a week’s time the crowd will not be crying out “Hosanna” but will be shouting “Crucify him!”

This crowd is so excited for Jesus, preparing the way with cloaks and palms. It makes me wonder how we want Jesus to work on our terms. We cry hosanna with urgency when we are going through hard times and need saving from God. Then we have times in our life where we have everything we ever wanted, we don’t “need” God and church isn’t convenient for us. This is when we turn our cries into “crucify” as we neglect our spiritual need of Jesus. No matter our cry, Jesus still returns for us just like he rose for our salvation on the third day.

-Macy Kennedy

Looking for last weeks worship? You can find it here!

Lenten Devotional – March 28, 2023

Tuesday, March 28, 2023
How are you doing?
Devotion by Cheryl Mahon

Pastor Travis and I touch base once each week. We reflect and debrief on past church activities, plan upcoming activities and dream about future activities. After the first couple weeks of our Lenten journey, he asked me how my sabbath time was going. At the beginning of this Lenten season, I chose to hold my sabbath practices starting on Friday evenings through Saturday evenings since I currently work on Sundays.
I’ll start by telling you that when I make an effort to get household and work duties done so that I can devote time to rest in God’s presence and enjoy the company of family and friends for a full 24-hour period, it truly does rejuvenate me! It also brings an element of anticipation that makes me smile. Have I done it every week thus far? No. Of course not.
We are in the middle of remodeling our master bathroom. This means that sometimes, I’ve had to do household tasks on Saturday. Sometimes I have to work with contractors in the morning and work in the evening or on Saturday. I know that I will have commitments outside of my family here and there on future Saturdays during the year. I’m not always going to be able to set aside a full 24-hour period of rest.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the Lenten devotions written by various members of our FLC community thus far. I’m sure there are more great insights to come! There is obviously much reading material on practicing the Sabbath. Devotion writers have given great suggestions on how to set aside time for sabbath practice. The one thing that I now know for sure is that all humans struggle to make this happen. I like how one author explained that we need to practice sabbath just like learning any skill. I do plan to continue practicing sabbath!

Prayer: God you have commanded us to honor the Sabbath because you want us to know freedom. Guide us in our worship that we might leave behind anything that prevents us from living into full and unencumbered worship of you. In Jesus’ name.  

Lenten Devotional – March 27, 2023

Monday, March 27, 2023
Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time
by Dorothy C. Bass 
Devotions by Pastor Travis Norton

In chapter five Bass continues her invitation to Sabbath including the practice of worship. She comments on how the practice of worship needs our help to free it from the rest of the week. She writes “Joyful worship that restores us to communion with the risen Christ and our fellow members of his body, the church, is an essential part of a Christian sabbath. Contemporary culture mitigates against this, however, both by insinuating that worship is not a very efficient use of time and by importing habits of clock bondage into a gathering where the clock has no place.”  

To combat “clock bondage,” Bass wonders if we should join observant Jews in ditching our watches when we worship. I wonder if we should include phones as well. What if you left your phone and your watch in your car or at home. How might that free you to enter fully into a time of worship?  

Sabbath is meant to free us from tyranny. Originally it was the tyranny of slavery in Egypt and the command to rest so that we would learn how to be free people. But today it is the tyranny of the clock, or efficient use of time, or productive time. How can we let worship set us free from modern enslavement?

Prayer: God you have commanded us to honor the Sabbath because you want us to know freedom. Guide us in our worship that we might leave behind anything that prevents us from living into full and unencumbered worship of you. In Jesus’ name.  

Lenten Devotional – March 26, 2023

Sunday, March 26, 2023
Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time
by Dorothy C. Bass 
Devotions by Pastor Travis Norton

Bass’ fourth chapter is titled “The Sabbath opens creation for its future.” She takes us back to the origins of the Sabbath and the call to spend time with God and honor the freedom God has given us.  

“By resting, God declares as fully as possible just how very good creation is. The work of creating is finished, and God has no regrets, no need to go on to design a still better world or a  creature more wonderful than man and woman. In the day of rest, the Christian theologian Karl Barth suggested, God’s love toward human beings takes form as time shared with them. Indeed, it is on this day of no work that God “Finished” the work of creating the world by wrapping the world in blessed and sacred time. “The Sabbath,” writes the theologian Jurgen Motlmann, opens creation for its true future.” 

Again, Bass recognizes that our society makes it hard to honor the Sabbath. There is more work to do than ever before and no one is really able to keep up. Sabbath is meant for our freedom from this kind of endless work. She writes, “Slaves cannot skip a day of work, but free people can. Not all free people choose to do so, however; some of us remain glued to our computers and washing machines every day of the week. To keep sabbath is to exercise one’s freedom, to declare oneself to be neither a tool to be employed—an employee-nor a beast to be burdened. To keep sabbath is also to remember one’s freedom and to recall the One from who that freedom came, the One from who it still comes.” 

Bass won’t give up on encouraging sabbath observance, but she does acknowledge the pressures against it are large and societal. So we need to rediscover sabbath together. The fix must be communal as well, even as we resist individually to show the world that there is another way to inhabit God’s time. 

Prayer: Teach me, Lord how to observe the Sabbath in the reality of my busy life. Give me creativity and wisdom to pursue the gifts you have for me in this time with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Lenten Devotional – March 25, 2023

Saturday, March 25, 2023
Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time 
by Dorothy C. Bass 
Devotions by Pastor Travis Norton

Bass reminds us that we receive each day first through our bodies. We train our babies from the beginning to sleep when others sleep and to eat when others eat. Then we live by this order to our lives. She points out that one of the first signs of distress in a person is when they stop taking care of themselves, stop eating or sleeping according to their patterns. These regular rhythms are key to noticing and receiving this day with thanksgiving. She writes, “The Christian practice of receiving the day is made for people who have and are bodies…No two bodies are just the same, so each of us must listen carefully to our own in order to discern what patterns of daily life will meet these needs.” 

Bass then moves to the practice of paying attention. “Distraction’s opposite, and its antidote, is attention. Experiencing the present purely is being emptied and hollow,” write Annie Dillard. “You catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall.” Bass encourages us to place some anchors in our day when we attend to God as a way to receive the day. “For those who learn attention in this way are able to give attention also to other people and to God. They become able to be present to those who are suffering, and they become able to pray.” 

“The Christian practice of receiving the day begins with setting aside a part of each day for attention to God. This piece of time leans deliberately into the wind, grounding us to resist the forces that hurry us onto distraction. It becomes the regular setting for seeing the whole day through the lens of grace as we remember the truths about God and ourselves that inform our resistance.” She is honest about the difficulty some have with this, but presses on regardless reminding us that “resistance is possible.” 

Prayer: God, you have given me this day. Help me to notice it, to receive it, to attend to all that it is. As I give thanks for the food that sustains me and the water that cleanses me, I turn my attention to you, the one who is present in nourishing and washing, just as you feed my soul and forgive my sins. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Lenten Devotional – March 24, 2023

Friday, March 24, 2023
Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time 
by Dorothy C. Bass 
Devotions by Pastor Travis Norton

I really appreciate Bass’ emphasis on “receiving.” She reminds us that the day begins anew when the sun goes down.  

She writes “Perceiving the day’s beginning at the darkening point teach us something important about who we are as human beings.” Eugene Peterson says, “the Hebrew evening/morning sequence conditions us to the rhythms of grace. We go to sleep, and God begins his work.” The first part of the day passes in darkness, then, but not in inactivity. God is out growing the crops even before the farmer is up and knitting together the wound before the clinic opens. when farmer and physician awake, they will join in, contributing mightily, but only because grace came first. Likewise, God has been working on and in them, body and mind, while they slept; yesterday’s bruises and slights have begun to heal. Entered this way, morning is new, worth being grateful for even before we have but our human touches on it.”  

So to receive the day is to wake up with a prayer on your lips of gratitude for all that God has done. Bass then encourages us to receive the day free from yesterday’s worries and free from tomorrow’s anxiety. There is reason why Jesus said we can’t add any time to the day by worrying. Our focus is on today, to pay attention to what God has already been doing and then to join in with all the gifts God has given us. I find that so refreshing. God is the one at work before, during and after my participation.  

Prayer: God, as I greet this new morning, I thank you for the work you have already begun. Give me eyes to see what you have started that I might jump in enthusiastically knowing that you are the beginning and the end of the work. Free me from worry and distraction and fill me with the joy of this new day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Lenten Devotional – March 23, 2023

Thursday, March 23, 2023
Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time 
by Dorothy C. Bass 
Devotions by Pastor Travis Norton

Bass begins her book by reminding us of all the “moral freight” that time carries. She acknowledges that we judge people as good or bad depending on how they use time. Do they waste our time? Are they on time? Do they spend time well? Do they keep people waiting for them? And we judge ourselves according to the ethics of time well. Did I waste the day? Did I spend the right amount of time with my family, on my tasks?  

Bass writes, “Grace can seem in short supply indeed once we begin to think that whoever “uses time well” is right with God and that whoever “wastes” time is committing sin.” Later she says, “When the time bind catches me, it seems impossible to come out ahead. I have gotten too little done, or I have done so very much that I failed to share time with people I love.” The question that hangs in the air is how do we respond to these pressures and morals around time? 

Having named the problem, Bass moves to the subject of her book. “One response to the awesome fact of our vulnerability as creatures trying to stay afloat in the rapid waters of time is to seek refuge in a God who exists beyond time.” She isn’t talking about escapism here, but looking to develop rhythms and practices that acknowledge, “Time itself is made holy by the presence of God.” God who is beyond time, entered into time and redeemed it. Time now is a gift to be received. 

Bass reminds us that “over the centuries, Christian people have inherited and invented practices that embody their community’s deepest beliefs regarding time, practices that cling to the contours of the day, the week and the year….reminding us, again and again, through words and actions, that time is a gift of God.” 

Over the next four days we will explore Bass’ book on how we can receive the gift of time through very down- to-earth practices. She promises that good patterns of living in time “are down-to-earth: festivals and naps, certain words and certain rituals, rhythms of work and rest. They are patterns that can be made a difference as we struggle with the problem of time in our lives, for our well-being and for the wellbeing of others.” 

Prayer: God beyond time, make our time holy. Guide us to good patterns of work and play and rest. Free us from all the ways our uses of time bring judgement and angst, and give us instead the gift you intend time to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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