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MARCH 2020 NEWSLETTER

LENTEN MISSION PROJECT: MILITARY BIBLE STICKS

During Lent we put a special emphasis on getting ourselves into God’s Word. It’s something we’d like to see other people do, too. And so this year we will be asking for donations to sponsor Military Bible Sticks, which are essentially an MP3 player the size of an oversized thumb drive. They are very portable and can be used by our troops in the field, where they don’t have the luxury of taking along a big, thick Bible. Each of the Bible Sticks cost $25, and we are encouraging as many members as possible to buy a stick (or two) during the Lenten season.

After Easter we will add up whatever money has been received for this purpose and send it off to Faith Comes by Hearing, which is the organization that distributes these Bible Sticks. Therefore, if you would like to contribute to this project, please do so no later than Easter Sunday, April 12.

LENT: A TIME OF PREPARATION AND RENEWAL

What is the biggest holiday in the Christian calendar? Easter, the day Christ rose from the dead and completed his victory over death, hell, and Satan. Of course, if Christ has not been born (as we celebrate on Christmas), he couldn’t have risen from the dead. And if he hadn’t died (as we remember on Good Friday), he couldn’t have risen from the dead shortly thereafter. So we do commemorate all these important events in our Lord’s life. But if Christ did not rise from the dead, it would have been pointless for him to become true man and to die. Indeed, our faith would be in vain, as the apostle tells us.

Easter is such an important holiday that we spend a great deal of time preparing for it. In the early church, new members were baptized and communed on Easter. They spent extra time preparing for it during the days before Easter. This got formalized into a period of forty days, which we know as Lent. Soon people thought that this wasn’t just a good idea for new Christians, but something everybody could benefit from. So the season of Lent became a time for Christians to renew their faith by paying special attention to the words of Christ and to the events in his holy life, suffering, and death.

Lent is not one long Good Friday extended over forty days. While the death of Christ is something that we can never forget—whether we are in Lent or not—the season is a time of the joy that flows from repentance and faith. In turn, this repentance and faith comes from a deeper knowledge of Christ and all that he has done for us, a most delightful thing to consider. For most of the season, violet is the color of the day—a somewhat somber color, to be sure, but also one befitting a king, especially the King of kings. Only in the last two weeks (Passiontide) does the focus turn to Christ’s suffering and death. To underscore this, we will have violet banners on the side of the balcony for most of Lent, which will be replaced by black ones during Passiontide.

Because Lent is a time of spiritual renewal, many Christians keep certain practices: reading a Lenten devotion every day; attending midweek services; giving something up for Lent; and fasting (eating only one substantial meal and two smaller meals, more like a large snack). These are fine customs, and you should consider doing some or many of them. However, as Christians we have the freedom to determine what would be most advantageous to us for our spiritual growth. The important thing is that this becomes a time to grow more deeply in God’s Word and to know Jesus Christ better as your Savior.

LENTEN SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES

The more we focus on Christ, the more our lives are changed. That is why Lent is a time of growth: it allows us extra opportunities to listen to God’s Word and to make sure that Christ is the focus of our study of God’s Word.

Here is what you will need to know about Lenten worship and other activities between now and Easter (April 12):

  • All worship services will be held upstairs in the main sanctuary.
  • The Wednesday Bible class will be replaced by Lenten midweek worship services. It will resume after Easter, on April 15.
  • Ash Wednesday is February 26. There will be a service at 7 p.m. The service will include the imposition of ashes and Holy Communion.
  • Lenten midweek services will be held on the five following Wednesdays (March 4, 11, 18, 25; and April 1), all at 7 p.m. Each service will last approximately forty-five minutes.
  • A light supper will be available beginning at 6 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. for Ash Wednesday and the five midweek Lenten services that follow. There will be no supper preceding the Holy Week services.
  • The theme for all the midweek Lenten services this year will be “The Tools of the Christian Life.” It is based on the idea that Lent was originally a time for intense study of the Christian faith—or a re-study of it. The specific themes for each week will be as follows:
  1. March 4: “The Mirror of God’s Law”
  2. March 11: “The Beacon of Faith”
  3. March 18: “The Pillar of Prayer”
  4. March 25: “The Bulwark of Baptism”
  5. April 1: “The Salve of Absolution”
  6. April 9 (Holy Thursday): “The Nourishment of the Lord’s Supper
  • Holy Week services (Go ahead and mark your calendar!) will be at 7 p.m. on Holy Thursday (April 9), Good Friday (April 10), and the Vigil of Easter (April 11).
  • A Lenten devotional booklet is available in the narthex.
  • To help those who lead or assist with the worship, we will devote some time after church on three successive Sundays in March to learn or relearn some key aspects of their duties: lectors on March 1; altar guild members on March 8; and ushers on March 15.

GENERATIONS ON A DIFFERENT DAY

Pastor Kellerman generally organizes Generations each month, but he will have to be at a meeting on the second Saturday of March. Therefore, the event has been postponed one week to March 21.

THEOLOGY TODAY DISCUSSION GROUP

Today (February 23) we are discussing the third chapter (pages 87-125) of Robert Kolb’s Nicholas von Amsdorf: Champion of Martin Luther’s Reformation. On March 29 we will look at the fourth chapter and conclusion (pages 127-173).