Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Gospel of Mark ends abruptly. The women came to the tomb to care for the body of their friend and Lord. They expected death. Seeing the stone rolled away, they entered the tomb; they entered into death. They didn’t find Jesus. Instead, they saw a young man, who told them not to be amazed, that Jesus had risen. This same stranger told them to tell the disciples and then head to Galilee. Is it any wonder that terror and amazement seized them?
We are on the other side of the first Easter. We have grown used to the story of the resurrection. The good news brings hope and comfort. It brings freedom and joy. But I don’t think it causes terror and amazement. Maybe we are missing something. The Greek word for amazement, “ekstasis”, means “change of place.” And that is what has happened to us and all of creation because of the resurrection. Before Easter, we stood in a place of sin and death. After Easter, we stand in a place of forgiveness and life. Everything has changed. We are not the same. The world is not the same. The deadly, but familiar, way of the world can no longer be counted on. This new reality of forgiveness, life and salvation is and should be unsettling. Terror and amazement indeed!
The world is turned upside down. It might look the same, but we are standing in a different place. Christ is risen. We are risen. Alleluia!
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The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
You may remember that, during Advent, we sang the same gathering hymn every Sunday: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” It was our theme for the season and the traditional prayer of the church in that time of expectant hope. This Lent, as we are praying together, looking forward to resurrection in our own lives, and embarking on a more focused journey of discipleship, our sending hymn is the same every week. This gives us the opportunity to live into the words more deeply as we sing them Sunday after Sunday for five Sundays, each week holding a slightly different context for the hymn text. The ELW Hymnal Companion writes that the English translation, from the French adaptation in the Canadian “L’Arche” community, comes from 1970: “It takes into account the whole creation, servanthood, salvation, worship at the table, fear, and courage.” The opening line is: “Lord Jesus, you shall be my song as I journey,” and in Lent especially we work to be more aware of the ways Jesus journeys with us through every dark and difficult time until we are re-made in joy at the Easter dawn. No matter the divisions between us, our uniting theme is the love of Jesus for us and for all. This is the message which sends us out into the world at the end of our worship time together on Sunday mornings.
Alois Geiszler, 101, of Valatie died peacefully on Monday, January 5, 2015 at Barnwell Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Valatie. Born on October 31, 1913 in Brooklyn, NY, he was the son of Alois Geiszler and Marie (Becker) Geiszler.
Mr. Geiszler was a graduate of Dewitt Clinton High School in NYC. After graduating, he and his family relocated to Hillsdale, Michigan and then to Ghent, where he met and subsequently married Agnes E. Moore in 1937, to whom he was married for 56 years, until her death in 1994. He and his wife were members of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ghent for many years where Mr. Geiszler was the oldest surviving member. There, he was Superintendent of Sunday School and served on the church council, also being very active in the Chatham Grange. Mr. Geiszler was a service manager in the automobile industry for many years prior to his retirement. Mr. Geiszler loved tending to his vegetable garden each year and was an avid stamp and coin collector. After retirement, he and his wife spent many winters in Florida, always returning to the Chatham area.
He is survived by three children; daughters Ann Williams and husband Kerry of Ellington, Connecticut, Nancy Keller and husband Henry of Chatham, and son Alois Geiszler III and wife Barbara of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He is also survived by four grand children; Susan (Matthew) Wallace of Chatham, Steven (Vicky) Geiszler of Crofton, MD, Michelle (Jeffery) Wagner of Clayton, NC and Patricia (Nicholas) Susch of Painted Post, NY and ten great-grandchildren. In addition to his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Leanore Gail.
Funeral services will be at a later date at the convenience of the family. Condolences may be conveyed at frenchblasl.com.
One Church, part of one church.
As many of y’all know, I lived in Massachusetts for a year and a half before I moved here for this, my first, call. While I lived with my best friend, worked at Target, and did some supply preaching, I was also able to worship at two parishes, named “Christ Lutheran” and “Immanuel Lutheran.” The New England Synod was very good to me, and we stay in touch even while I’m serving here in the Upstate New York Synod. Come to think of it, I still get birthday cards from my home parish back in Ohio! We are so very connected, this church. Individual Churches work together to serve the greater community, and they come together in Synods for the service of their particular wider geographic population, and on top of that, each Synod is part of the national church… and that’s just in our denomination! The church of Jesus, the people of God, reaches far and wide, including and spilling out beyond every denomination, or ‘flavor’ of Christianity we can yet name. All of Western Christendom, gathering together in prayer this Advent season as we prepare for the Lord and seek Jesus in our world even while Jesus shows up and surprises us right where we are!
Why do I bring this up, you might ask? Well, that’s a lot of power, to have all of those prayers joined in holy longing. That’s a lot of people serving and singing and sharing around the Table not only on Sunday but every day of the week. We have in our worship space a fresh reminder of the interconnectedness of the church – the bowl in our baptismal font. Baptism is a great sign and witness to God’s activity in claiming us and loving us even when we’ve got no idea what’s going on. It is a promise of salvation given by our faithful God. Our font has a long history, too, and while the base has been with us for a long time, the bowl, until now, was simply a glass dish from the kitchen.
Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Holden, Massachusetts, recently commissioned a new baptismal font, which meant they needed a new home for the beautiful blue handmade clay bowl which they had been using. Being part of a larger church, they heard about us and offered to us their font bowl, which was brought into the space this past week. We’ll dedicate it at worship this Sunday during the offering, remembering the ways God blesses us in the relationships and connections God forms in and through our communities of faith.
Blessings on your Advent journey this year. It is a journey we travel together with Jesus, and with one another, across the miles.
Do you remember who first brought you to worship. Who carried you to the font, told you your first Bible stories, taught you your favorite hymns? God knows who they are and loves them still, even if they no longer walk among us.
This Sunday, in celebration of All Saints, we have added more votive candles to the space for remembering those dear to us who have died, and we will name them in our time together, accompanied with the ringing of the church bell. There will be some time for us to share our favorite hymns and memories of those dear saints within the worship service, too.
So come, gather again around the Word and the Meal and remember, even as God re-members us (puts us back together). Worship beings at 10am our time (after daylight savings takes effect) but the ritual stretches so far across time and space that God gathers us all around Word and Table no matter how our lives have been measured by time. It’s one of those glorious mysteries, when we pray the prayers around the Table, tell the Story that has been passed on through centuries, and no matter what numbers we see on a Sunday morning, the great cloud of witnesses walks with us, sings with us, celebrates with us. See you Sunday!
In the peace of the living Christ,
This Sunday, like the fourth Sunday of every month during the school year, was Family Sunday. The kids learned last week in Sunday school about prayer, so this week they led our prayer in worship, along with a few other leadership roles. We’ve got a great bunch of children and families here growing in faith together. Fantastic, then, that the week’s quote from our national church’s document on worship calls us to celebrate our ministries of education and worship: “Proclamation of the Word includes the public reading of Scripture, preaching, teaching, the celebration of the sacraments, confession and absolution, music, arts, prayers, Christian witness, and service. the congregation’s entire educational ministry participates in the proclamation of the Word.”
Kids are great at real honest “God-talk,” otherwise called “theology.” You’re never too old, too young, or too ‘adult’ to ask questions – or to be part of telling the stories of our faith!