Message from Pastor Click on picture below.
Wow. What a week. Driving in to the church parking lot is eerie when you read the sign: "Lenten Services suspended until further notice." Like the Catholic Diocese, we hope to be open soon and yet sooner than their announced date of "Easter"/April 12.
For now the egg hunt for Calvary kids and friends on April 11 is "on." Easter breakfast and Divine Services are "on" as well. But we will see. Our response as the Board of Elders has been out of great respect for the authorities who are asking us not to convene/get together in numbers larger than 10 for the time being.
We view our actions as love for the elderly population, not least of all our beloved fellow redeemed here at Calvary, some of whom fit into the category of "well aged"/matured/older than 65. :-)
😊 We are so immensely blessed to be able to stay in touch with you all as this unfolds, and to send you sermons, studies, and Internet links to great devotions. I will close with one link to our partners at Lutheran Hour Ministries in St. Louis, Missouri:
www.lhm.org - look around this Web site and enjoy a lot of great content for FREE and streaming anytime you'd like.
Joy, peace, and abundant life in Christ our Savior. (AND, if you need something, CALL US!!!)
"Welcome once again to worship at Calvary. Sometimes I wait until Thursday the week of to write this article, and this week I'm glad I did. Lots of news has been coming out, even in the last 12 hours, about the COVID-19 ("novel coronavirus") pandemic that has now entered our area. We are listening to the authorities and our SELC District officials closely and they have recommended a number of precautions for this weekend's services.
Many of these are about "social distancing" and your participation will help stop the spread of a new and potentially fatal disease.
1. If you begin coughing or feeling sick at today's service, please go home. Even the "garden-variety" flu is bad enough to keep away from others, especially our elderly members.
2. The Sharing of the Peace will be verbal only, please. Greet your neighbors with the peace of the Lord, but without physical contact.
3. Communion will be available in the individual cups only.
4. The Host/bread will be delivered in the hands only.
5. The Pastor will not shake hands at the conclusion of the service, but greet everyone verbally as they greet him.
No, we don't trust in human wisdom or understanding above the Lord. But we do take precautions when necessary. It all reminds me of Florence Nightingale, the nurse who began modern sterilization techniques back in the 19th century. For a few months, she studied right here in
Cleveland with the Deaconess Nursing School at which Yanti will soon be a student (God willing!). It has always been "trust God and wash your hands." It is still "trust God and wash your hands." One old pastor who addressed a student group at Seminary used to tell us, "Be brave and bold with great humility." And a time of pandemic is such a time--to be smart but also bold and brave to help those who need it the most.
The Lord will shepherd us as He always has. Joy in Him,
Today's New Order of Service
Welcome again to worship at Calvary. For all of the Sunday services in Lent, we will use this order of service, an order that was assembled from various ethnic church books back in 1941. In those days, just as the war was beginning, the Lutherans in America were mostly all united, in something called The Synodical Conference. They wrote a hymnal most people know as "the red hymnal" and
called it The Lutheran Hymnal.
I bring this up because, although the service uses lots of "thees and thys" and calls the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost, it hearkens back to a time of unity and hope amid great struggle. The people of our land banded together to fight tyranny and eugenics (ethnic cleansing) and socialism the world over. Now THIS is something that worshipers at both of our services can get into!
It is sad, indeed, that those days of American Lutheran unity are gone. But this, too, is a part of our current struggle, and we should take inspiration from the faithful brethren who went bravely "into that great night," the bloodiest century known to man, the 20th century. We are in a fight for orthodoxy, for absolute truth, and for the reliability of God's Word. God and His Word have not been found wanting; it is our generation that creeps away from it, not seeming to care. But in these songs and especially the Offertory ("Create in me a clean heart, O God...") we sing prayers of renewal and unity and hope. Once again: amid great struggle.
The church back in 1941 could have said, "But there's too much to do to get ready for fighting Hitler." Or, "But I can't think about religion at a time like this." But that is the point: Christ is delivered in this service, and Christ is our Victor on every plain, every mountain, every sea, and every patch of sky. He calls all men to repentance and all nations to nonviolent solutions to conflicts. Good nations stop tyranny, but then pray for peace.
The Lord rejoices to hear His children sing. To see them receive the Body and Blood of His Son for communion with Him and with one another. You know something? In heaven it will always be a new service. It will always be "today's new service"--new and fresh and eternal. In view of heaven's joys,
A Modern Classic
I am bursting at the seams to tell you, fellow believers, about a book that everyone is invited to read this Lent. It is a modern classic: The Spirituality of the Cross by retired English professor Gene Edward Veith (pronounced "veeth").
I have pre-ordered the books, they are in the office, and yours for a suggested offering of $10. My friends, they are worth every penny. The real attraction and benefits of reading this book are found in these quotations:
1. “You don't need to die before you know where you stand with God.” The beauty of Lutheran theology is the biblical teaching that you can know, right now, where you stand with God.
2. We will talk about a “Calling into a kingdom that does not pass away.”
3. You will draw strength and inspiration for your faith expressly for “the messy realities of marriage, parenthood, the workplace, and society.”
4. Finally, after reading this book, the reader will “understand their citizenship in two kingdoms” in a deeper way that is applicable to daily life.
It is written by a layman, for the laity. The author experimented with Pentecostalism, Reformed theology, and others before landing on/with the Lutherans. He provides numerous stories and examples of what he means.
Finally, on this Valentine’s weekend I think it’s good to point out that he speaks of an “order of common love” among all Christians. This is not about Lutherans being better than other Christians. This is about what distinctives in the Lutheran teaching make it easier to be Christian, remain faithful, and receive a great amount of strength for the road ahead. You know, “love and stuff.” ☺
He leaves it to the reader to decide if Lutheran teaching is biblical and good. Or not. I feel assured the Spirit will speak to you through this second expanded edition of a modern classic.
We’ll begin on Ash Wednesday, when the books will be made available to all who attend worship that evening. If not, you can grab yours the First Sunday/weekend in Lent, February 29th or March 1st.
What Are You Celebrating Today?
Welcome to worship on this Superbowl Groundhog weekend! I know I am mixing secular holidays there, but to make a fun point I hope. An old-English saying goes:
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Come, winter, have another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go winter, come not again!
February 2nd, being 40 days after Christmas and the day for presenting Jewish boys in the temple (and it was no different for Jesus), was traditionally "Candlemas." Christians would light candles and sing songs and celebrate Christ as the light of the world. What an excellent tradition!
How the Germans would later associate this with hedgehogs or groundhogs, and the small mammal who predicts the length of winter, no one is sure, but it shows that people love traditions. What traditions do you have at your house?
What are you celebrating today? This weekend we mark several fun, worldly holidays but most importantly we celebrate the work of Christ in our lives. Here's to anything you do at home and church that celebrates his deep love for us and amazing grace... "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly," St. Paul reminds us, and let it give you the hope it transmits so faithfully and so amazingly. In Him,
Seven Mission Priorities
Synod" means "walking together"
In its national Convention last year, our church body, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (usually just "LCMS"), named seven mission priorities. This Sunday we welcome new members and these are foremost on my mind as we prepare to receive them. What is our mission? How can we pull together to support not only Calvary but also our District and the Synod? Why is that important?
For the last 20 years especially it's been the trendy thing to say, "I am spiritual, but I don't support organized religion." One wonders if the same people who say that also go to hospitals. Because hospitals take organization. And without a board running what needs to be run; without oversight and accountability, a hospital would not even exist. And so the governing board benefits the hospital as an organization by enabling it to actually provide health care. Likewise, all of our congregations need mission support and the training of workers in order to continue.
I'll let you read the priorities yourself and let you evaluate if they are important or not. Our District will meet in Convention this April. I'm in need of volunteers to be "Lay delegates." One primary and one standby delegate. Will you answer the call?
1. Plant, sustain, and revitalize Lutheran churches
2. Support and expand theological education
3. Perform human care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries
4. Collaborate with the Synod's partners for greater effectiveness
5. Promote and nurture the well being of all church workers
6. Enhance education and youth ministry
7. Strengthen and support the Lutheran family in living out God's design.
The Synod is more than a repository for health coverage or legal aid. "Synod" literally means "walking together." For the sake of God's mission to the world in his Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus,