Daily Reflection for April 18

Today’s Readings
Psalm 16
Song of Solomon 8:6–7
John 20:11–20

Pastor Anne’s Reflection
Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
I have set the Lord always before me;
because God is at my right hand,
I shall not be shaken.
My heart, therefore, is glad,and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
– Psalm 16:1, 8-9

You know how a child runs to their parent when they get hurt? You know how an infant sleeps peacefully on their parent’s chest with complete and total trust? Babies rest fully, because they don’t know anything about pandemics or economic turmoil. They aren’t worried about illness or death or sin. They are able to let down their guard and really, really rest. It’s the trusting relationship that allows such peace.
I think that’s the invitation God gives us, too. When we are hurt or afraid, when we are weary and exhausted, when we are anxious, Jesus invites us to lay our burdens on him. So many things are out of our control these days, but we know that our worry or anger or hard work can’t fix any of it. The good news is that God’s love for us has never been dependent on our state of mind or how productive we are. God’s love is unconditional and ever-available to us.
So while it might feel counter-intuitive, we can rest. We can place our lives in God’s hands, curl up close to God’s heart, and rest. Ultimately, we will be held in love no matter how the earth shakes around us. I invite you today to breathe deeply and let go of that need to control or over-function or worry. Physically release the tension in your shoulders, your fists, your face. Breathe in God’s love; breathe out worry. Trust that God has all of this in God’s hands, and let your body rest in hope. Rest.

Daily Reflection for April 17

Today’s Readings
Psalm 16
Song of Solomon 5:9—6:3
1 Corinthians 15:1–11

Nicole’s Reflection
Happy Easter! Today is still Easter and tomorrow is too, and the next week and the next, which is convenient since it’s become increasingly challenging to keep track of what day it is. Easter is not just one Sunday, but an entire season that stretches until Pentecost. During this post resurrection time, Jesus appears and disappears on repeat. I like the way Paul describes it in his letter to the Corinthians:

…and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:4-8)

Easter requires knowing Jesus in new ways. That feels so real this year when we can’t find Christ by going to church, worshiping together, and gathering with our PRLC family. How do we do Christian life together while apart? Where are you finding God that you didn’t before? How are you knowing Jesus in a new way?

Here’s one way that I’m inviting you to remember that Christ is risen and is with us wherever we are. Create your own appearing and disappearing Jesus by following this link. Print off the image and add color and cut him out if you like or create your own image of Jesus. Hide Jesus in your home. When someone finds him they shout, “Jesus is risen!” and get to hide him again. Repeat!

Daily Reflection for April 16

Today’s Readings
Psalm 16
Song of Solomon 2:8–15
Colossians 4:2–5

Where has your beloved gone,
O fairest among women?
Which way has your beloved turned,
that we may seek him with you?

My beloved has gone down to his garden,
to the beds of spices…
– Song of Solomon 6:1–2

Jeff’s Reflection
The English hymnwriter Isaac Watts produced what we might call expansive paraphrases, not only of the psalms, but also of other biblical poetry. Today and tomorrow, we have readings from the Song of Solomon. Watts’ paraphrase puts a wonderful spin on the beginning of chapter six:

When strangers stand and hear me tell
What beauties in my Savior dwell,
Where he is gone they fain would know,
That they may seek and love him too.

My best Beloved keeps his throne
On hills of light, in worlds unknown;
But he descends and shows his face
In the young gardens of his grace.

Here it is sung to a tune written for our daughter’s baptism:

Jeanette

In the light of this most unusual Easter season, may we all find new ways of tending to the young gardens of grace—and of finding Christ there.

Daily Reflection for April 15

Today’s Readings
Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24
Joshua 3:1–7
Matthew 28:1–10

Pastor Anne’s Reflection
So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.– Matthew 28:8

Today’s lectionary reading returns us to the Gospel lesson from Easter Sunday. Matthew’s version of the resurrection focuses on the women who went to mourn Jesus at the tomb. When an angel announces the resurrection to them and tells them to go tell the disciples that Jesus is risen, it says that they run away “with fear and great joy.”
Fear and great joy. Is that how you feel? It resonates with me, for sure. As I connect with people through video chats and phone calls and emails, I’ve been asking people about the joys that have come during this time. For me, the first few weeks were mostly filled with fear and worry and grief. But as we’ve spent more and more time at home, I’ve found myself feeling grateful for the unexpected blessings that come with this stay-at-home order. To be honest, my family’s life was clipping along at a nearly unsustainable pace before this virus struck. Our life was filled with good things, but man, was it full! We were overly busy and over-scheduled, maybe approach-ing burnout. So I’m grateful for the time I’ve been able to reconnect with my husband and children. Sharing three meals together every day is something we haven’t done, ever. I’ve heard others say that they’re grateful for time to work on long-hoped-for house projects and dig in neglected gardens. Some have tapped into their creative energy or found joy in connecting with more friends over the phone. 

Fear AND great joy, both, together. 

The women knew Jesus was alive, but they hadn’t been able to touch him yet. That feels like the place we’re in now. I look forward to tasting and seeing again. I look forward to being physically reunited with the risen Body of Christ that is our church community. But even when we can’t see Jesus, he is still risen, indeed! Death is defeated and new life abounds. 

Where are you finding unexpected joy these days?

Daily Reflection for April 14

Today’s Readings
Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24
Exodus 15:1–18
Colossians 3:12–17

Patrick’s Reflection
The Lord is my strength and my might  and has become my salvation;– Exodus 15:2

Today’s reading from Exodus occurs right after the momentous deliverance of God’s people through the parted red sea and into a new life. With their first breath of freedom, the Israelites burst into song with praise and thanksgiving to God. This song is the first of many moments in scripture when the people recall the great deliverance out of Egypt, and from that shared history draw strength to face whatever current challenge is at hand.
As the weeks drag on, the lack of a communal worship experience takes its toll on me. Can you relate? I miss your faces around the communion rail and catching up about our lives between services. And your singing! Oh how I miss your singing. As someone who doesn’t sing well, I rely on your beautiful voices to lift mine beyond my earthly constraints. Did you know you consistently cover for me in this way? Together, we make something beautiful, and remember the love of God that strengthens us for the week ahead.

During this disconnected time, are there songs you’re listening to that bring encouragement and strength? I’d love to hear them. Can you share a link to a song in the comments below? Mine is Colors by Black Pumas, a beautiful celebration of a diverse community.

Daily Reflection for April 13

Today’s Readings
Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24
Exodus 14:10–31; 15:20–21
Colossians 3:5–11

Pastor Bryon’s Reflection
Many Christians observe today, Easter Monday, as “Laughing Day.” The tradition, especially among the Eastern Orthodox, is to fill the day by telling jokes. The practice honors the joke God played on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. It is as if God had not only the last word but the last laugh.
I love jokes but can never remember them. So, please, feel free to post one on the page where you find this daily reflection in the PRLC Facebook page. You might post, instead, a funny meme or video. (Cat videos are favorites in our home).

Let this levity be our prayer today. Alleluia! Christ is risen! 

Peace,
Pastor Hansen

Lenten Reflection for April 8

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 50:4–9a
Psalm 70
Hebrews 12:1–3
John 13:21–32

Nicole’s Reflection
Shame. It’s the word glaring at me from three out of the four lectionary texts for today, and then in the Gospel, Jesus reveals that Judas will betray him. Shame researcher, Brené Brown, says, “The thing to understand about shame is, it’s not guilt. Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is, ‘I am bad. Guilt is ‘I did something bad’.

Oh how shame is speaking to me loudly these days. It says, “You’re weak and greedy. You’re not producing enough. You’re not working hard enough. Your parenting isn’t good enough. You’re not compassionate enough. You are not enough.”

Do you feel shame? Brené believes we all do. She says, “Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. Here’s your choice: Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you’re a sociopath.”

We all feel shame and we all are fallen; just like Judas. We’re betrayers too. We do evil. We make mistakes. Brené declares empathy the antidote to shame.

Judas was certainly guilty of betraying Jesus, but he was loved and forgiven regardless, just like you and just like me. Peter receives absolution and the other disciples see the risen Christ. They get to experience grace at Easter. Judas didn’t hear the good news before he took his own life.

It’s in community that we experience grace and love, two essentials we cannot produce for ourselves. We must show acts of love and speak words of grace to one another, revealing God’s truth that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. YOU ARE MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH. AND YOU ARE SO LOVED And so are the betrayers. Especially the betrayers. May empathy be our antidote.

In the fullness of our humanity, heal us, gracious Savior.

Lenten Reflection for April 7

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.– John 12:24–26

The 20th-century theologian and hymnwriter Martin Franzmann is widely known for “Thy Strong Word did Cleave the Darkness.” But perhaps his best is the Passion hymn “Weary of All Trumpeting.” It was originally written to a tune by Hugo Distler, but instead we used one of the 16th-century Passion chorales with a Bach harmonization.

Weary of all Trumpeting

Weary of all trumpeting,
weary of all killing,
weary of all songs that sing
promise, not fulfilling,
we would raise, O Christ, one song:
we would join in singing
that great music pure and strong,
wherewith heav’n is ringing.

Captain Christ, O lowly Lord,
Servant King, your dying
bade us sheathe the foolish sword,
bade us cease denying.
Trumpet with your Spirit’s breath
through each height and hollow;
into your self-giving death,call us all to follow.

To the triumph of your cross
summon all the living;
summon us to live by loss,
gaining all by giving.
Suffering all, that all may see
triumph in surrender;
leaving all, that we may be
partners in your splendor.

Text: Martin Franzmann, 1907-1976 © 1972 Chantry Music Press, admin. Augsburg Fortress. Reprinted by permission under Onelicense #A-706856. All rights reserved.Duplication in any form prohibited without permission or valid license from copyright administrator.

Lenten Reflection for April 6

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 42:1–9
Psalm 36:5–11
Hebrews 9:11–15
John 12:1–11

Pastor Bryon’s Reflection
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.–John 12:3
The Gospel appointed for this Monday in Holy Week takes place after Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. In gratitude, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair. The house is filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
This lavish act of praise reminds me of the anointing done at the Easter Vigil, first for those who emerge from the baptismal waters and then, later in the liturgy, for those who want to be reminded of their baptisms.
I will miss this anointing just as I will miss all the rituals of Holy Week. With you, I grieve the loss of the great Three Days this year. Maybe this time of quarantine will give us all a new appreciation for the signs and symbols of worship, ways God uses to touch us.  
I’ve included here some words I wrote back in 2018 for the “Journey to Baptismal Living” group to which your WAY leadership belongs.  
You may want to take some time to remember your favorite moments from the Easter Vigil or Good Friday or Maundy Thursday. Though we cannot meet in person around this time around, the home liturgies that you’ll receive in the mail provide moments for setting a table and foot washing on Thursday, placing a cross in the midst of your prayers on Friday, and telling stories and lighting candles for Easter.
God’s Peace to you in these holy days!
Pastor Bryon

Lenten Reflection for April 4

Today’s Readings
Psalm 31:9–16
Lamentations 3:55–66
Mark 10:32–34

I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit … (Lamentations 3:55)

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress … (Psalm 31:1)

Today’s readings include prayers of lament. Quite simply, a lament is a complaint and scripture is filled with prayers that complain to God. When I was a child and was taught the various ways to pray, lament was not included as one of the modes of prayer. Even though lament runs deep I the Judeo-Christian tradition, we modern folks have been loath to incorporate it into our faith practices. It doesn’t fit very neatly into our polite demeanor before God.

It is time to recover this particular language of prayer and vigorously embrace it. When our current worship book (Evangelical Lutheran Worship) came out some years back, it was good to see that all the psalms were included (in previous resources some of the strongly expressive lament psalms were omitted) and that there is now a section of lament hymns.

I bet you feel like lamenting in these days of the global pandemic. You cannot go to school or play baseball or participate in spring graduation. You cannot join your siblings in Christ at church or go your favorite places to hang out or visit your friends in their homes.  Being locked down feels like being locked up. On top of all of this, neighbors around the globe are suffering from the coronavirus.

It is a good to complain about these things and to bring such complaint to God in prayer. Unprocessed grief or grief that isn’t expressed often gets channeled into an anger toward ourselves or others that is hurtful.  The promise of lament is that expressions of grief are expressions of hope.

Jesus uttered a psalm of lament on the cross.  It was an honest cry to God in a place of desolation.  Jesus really died and really felt forsaken.  There was no silver lining on that Friday, but three days later came Easter. Resurrection. The hope of the Gospel is that the God who dwells with us in times like these is also at work transforming us and bringing life out of death.

For faith practices you may want to pray a psalm of lament, sing a hymn of lament, or express these feelings through writing in a journal or painting a picture or through some other work of art, and remember that nothing separates us from the love of God in Christ our Lord.

Peace,
Pastor Hansen