Pastor Len Hoffmann
How good and how pleasant it is to live together in unity. (Psalm 133:1)
I was blessed to have grown up in an extended family. My great-grandparents owned a four family flat, as they were called in St. Louis. My Great-grandparents lived on the upstairs. My Mom, Dad and I lived on the upstairs on the other side. My Grandparents lived on the downstairs next to my Great-Aunt and Uncle, my Grandmothers sister and brother-in-law.
We lived together as many households are rediscovering today. Although, I must admit we did not always live in unity. As you probably know it is difficult for families to always live in unity.
However, when we do live in unity it is good and pleasant. Disunity brings difficult challenges, hurt feelings, and emotional upheaval. Unity brings harmony, cooperation and a sense of joy. When we are in unity with each other we have the opportunity to accomplish great things all pulling in the same direction.
The seven Sundays of Easter (a week of weeks) demonstrates how the risen Christ brings the disciples together once again in unity (after they all scattered) and prepares them to work together to care for each other, and share this good news of the resurrected Jesus with the world.
It was good (like in creation) and pleasant (like the oil or the dew flowing in abundance) for them to go forth together in unity. We too go forth anticipating the calling of a new pastoral leader, and worship leader and organist; and we do so seeking unity together.
Posted on April 08, 2015 6:30 AM
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24)
We now know which teams are in the Final Four. We have seen the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. We will see it again on Monday night when one team will be crowned NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball National Champion and one team will go home in disappointment.
This, too, is the theme of Holy Week. We witness the agony and defeat of Jesus as he journey’s to the upper room, Gethsemane, through the trial, to Golgatha to death on the cross, and burial in the tomb. We see the fleeing of the disciples and hear the words “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.”
Yet the ending is the thrill of victory. We go from darkness to light. We go through the waters of Baptism to new life. We join Jesus in his victory over death and the grave. This truly is the day that the LORD has made and we are to rejoice and be glad in it.
This is not the last year of the Final Four, since plans are underway for next year’s Final Four, but Jesus has won the final victory over sin and death. Death no longer has a sting and sorrow ultimately is replaced by rejoicing.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! We give praise and thanks to God who gives us this victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Blessed Easter! Jesus has busted all the brackets and won for us the victory.
Posted on April 01, 2015 6:30 AM
Into your hands, O LORD, I commend my spirit. (Psalm 31:5)
These familiar words are the one’s quoted by Jesus at the conclusion of Luke’s passion narrative. This is Jesus’ words of final surrender to the will of God and words that conclude his mission to the cross. These are the words that demonstrate Jesus’ ultimate obedience to love God with heart, soul strength and mind, and a giving his life in love for all humanity.
This most holy week we travel from death to life. We sing our Hosanna’s as we enter worship on Passion Sunday/Palm Sunday and then our mood turns to hear the Passion Gospel.
On Thursday we enter the Three Holy Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Vigil of Easter. This is one continuous worship spread over three days.
On Maundy Thursday we confess our sins and receive individual absolution. We ritualize Jesus servanthood by washing our hands. Foot washing is sometimes done, but we replace this symbol with the symbol that reflects our culture – our focus on hand washing. Foot washing was an appropriate act of service in Jesus time because the feet would be unclean as they walked the dirt and gravel pathways. The washing of our hands symbolizes our 21st century focus on hygiene, but also underscores our emphasis of God’s Work. Our Hands. Our worship celebrates the new covenant of Jesus body and blood given and shed for us and worship concludes with the stripping of the altar and reminds us of the fleeing disciples and prepares us for the continuation of worship on Good Friday.
On Good Friday we enter in silence to contemplate the sacred mysteries of Christ crucified. We hear the Passion Narrative from John’s gospel; we pray for all peoples including those who do not yet believe in God; we process with the cross and celebrate Christ’s victory over death through his dying. We give the cross adoration and we leave in silence as we move from death to life, darkness to light at the Vigil of Easter.
At the Vigil of Easter we light a new fire and process into the darkened sanctuary. We hear the texts of God’s creation and the ancient texts of God’s deliverance. We celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism and Affirmation of Baptism as we welcome new members into our community o faith. We sing the first Alleluias of Easter and hear the story of Christ’s resurrection. We celebrate the first communion of Easter and prepare for the Easter Celebration. We celebrate with our new brothers and sisters in Christ as we end our Lenten fast in Luther Hall.
Please join us for this journey through this most Holy Week. Your faith will be strengthened as you walk with Jesus and as we pray with Jesus “Into your hands, O LORD, I commend my spirit.”
Posted on March 25, 2015 6:30 AM
Pastor Len Hoffmann
I treasure your promise in my heart.
Dionne Warwick made the song by Naked Eyes a popular hit tune. One of the lines reads:
You made me promises, promises
You knew you’d never keep
Why do I believe?
We all have experienced broken promises. Some have been small and some very large and heartbreaking. Broken promises cause us not to believe and not to trust. Some can be reconciled; others cannot.
The Psalmist reminds us that God puts God’s promises in our hearts, and reminds us that we treasure God’s promises because they are true and because they are trustworthy.
In this Lenten season we are reminded of how trustworthy God’s promises are and we repent of our in ability to be trustworthy. God’s promises are sure – our promises to God not so much.
As we move toward Holy Week we will focus on the renewed promises that God makes to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus makes a new covenant with us sealed in his life and death; a renewed promise that is made to us in Baptism. A promise that is true and trustworthy.
We treasure this promise of God’s commitment to us in our hearts. A treasure that surpasses all our understanding and stands above all else we treasure and we believe.
Posted on March 18, 2015 6:30 AM
Pastor Len Hoffmann
"You deliver your people from their distress."
Most of us are familiar with major distress. We have heard of ships at sea in distress or air planes in distress. We know there are many nations in distress. These types of distresses all make the headlines and at times are covered as they have happened in the 24 hour news cycle.
We, too, experience distress in our lives. It may be a saddened accident, or it could be a chronic illness. We might be experiencing distress over our work situation or over relationships that are causing us difficulties.
As we continue to journey through this Lenten season, we witness how Jesus encounters various situations of distress. People make demands on him. His disciples have a different agenda than the one he has laid out before them. He anticipates the distress of betrayal, crucifixion and death.
Yet, through all of this distress Jesus relies on the grace of his Father to deliver him. In each and every encounter, Jesus puts his trust in the faithfulness of God and with every confidence moves forward in mission.
God stands ready to deliver us in the midst of our distress. Jesus walks with us having experienced God’s deliverance. In turn having been delivered from our distress we are empowered to walk with others in their distress pointing them to God’s love, care and deliverance for their lives.
Posted on March 11, 2015 6:30 AM