Second Sunday of Easter

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Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21

Peace. I say it all the time. I write the word every day, more than once most days. The word is a blessing, a wish, a hope, a prayer. When Jesus said it to his cowering disciples, he meant it as motivation. My peace sends you. It gives you security and courage and power to make a difference in the world.

The coronavirus makes many people uneasy. If your heart is trained to think about others-as the Christian faith trains us to do-you know that some of your neighbors and friends are worried and suffering.

Peace be with you.

The first disciples heard these words from Jesus in their isolation, behind closed doors. Their leader and friend was gone, and they feared that what happened to him could soon happen to them.

Peace be with You. We will hear these words Sunday morning, behind the closed doors of our houses. Jesus spoke the words to the first disciples, and the message has been relayed to us, to calm our fears and remind us that love breaks through closed doors and puts our hearts and minds at ease.

Assisting: Andrea McDonald
Readers: Moretz family
Musicians: Bob Holmgren, Moretz family

Faith Formation and Discussions

Faith formation meetings for children of all ages will follow our worship. Parents, during the service, have your children listen for a preview of their lesson from one our teachers, Mrs. Canning, Mrs. Borkowski or Mrs. Fryhle.

Adult forums on topics of importance, and of interest to us as a group, will take place during the Sunday morning faith formation time, and at our midweek Zoom gatherings.

On Congregational Singing

“Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to him in song,” (Ps. 95:1-2).

In our temporary sojourn of Zoom worship meetings, we are still able to participate in congregational worship and singing. The singing church reflects the body of Christ knit together. Pastor Johnson will include hymn lyrics in our worship bulletins, and I encourage everyone to sing where they are when we meet via Zoom, while staying muted on the call. Although we can’t necessarily hear the whole congregation singing together, we can see our members moving their lips. It is an opportunity for us to express devotion to God as one body, one family. Our songs are directed, together, heavenward.

-Kathryn Welter, Director of Music

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Easter

“He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” -Matthew 28: 7

Matthew writes that the angel rolled away the stone from the tomb and then sat on it. From a lounging angel, exuding quiet confidence, we have a message: Go home. Jesus is there.

This year we are shut-in with our families on the church’s great day of assembly. Jesus is with each of you. Tomorrow will be unlike any other Easter morning, but all the essential elements will be there. The Easter Gospel will be heard. The message of life and love everlasting will be directed to you and to your families.

All will be well. The angels told the women that their Lord Jesus had gone ahead of them and was calling them out of their confusion and sadness into the light of his life.

***
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Peace Musicians

According to Matthew’s Gospel, the women at the tomb had an angel to talk them out of their sad search for normalcy. Tomorrow some of our Peace musicians will appear, live on Zoom or in recordings made just for us, to lift our spirits.

I really think of them as our private angels, bringing us messages of hope, and drawing our community together with music.

Tomorrow you will hear Jonathan Moretz and Bruce Goody, Andie Vogt and Preston Barbare, Leah Jonczyk and even Juliana McDonald!

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Good Friday

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Special services of the church year open up some part of our Sunday morning liturgy. Maundy Thursday focuses on communion. Good Friday is our night of prayer, at the foot of the cross.

We hear the Passion according to John, then we turn our hearts to prayer.

The shadows and darkness of Holy Week are washed in hope and joy, and infused with God’s love. As we walk through them together we are reminded that there is no darkness, in time or eternity, that is dead and lifeless. God’s light and life breathe through everything that is, seen and unseen. Even when we cannot see our way out of some trouble, we remain hopeful children of God. The kingdom of God, our native land, is a kingdom of light.

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Holy Week

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How priceless is your love, O God! All people take refuge under the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

As we walk together out of Lent into the concentrated and spiritually intense days of Holy Week, keep faith in your heart. Walk with Jesus.

These are days to lean on our faith. Read a line a scripture, whisper a prayer or recite the Our Father.

This could be a profound season of spiritual growth for all of us.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday 7:30 pm

We will gather on Zoom for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. 7:30 pm both evenings. I will send a Zoom invitation with a link the afternoon of the service.

Readers and Musicians for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Bob Holmgren’s trumpet music on Palm Sunday brought us home to Peace. Leah and Abigail Jonczyk will play for us on Maundy Thursday. If you would like to play or sing on Zoom during Holy Week, send an email to me, text or call.

peacelc@aol.com

978-460-1118

If you would like to read or help with the service on Thursday or Friday, from your home, let me know.

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Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday

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Palm Sunday

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches form the trees and spread them on the road. Matthew 21:8

This year we cannot gather in the fellowship hall, and we cannot process into sanctuary, singing “All glory laud and honor”, holding palm branches.

But you can hold a branch from a tree in your yard, or hold a plant from your living room, and let God’s blessing come on it, and thereby on your house, and on your family, and let that familiar branch or plant accompany you into holy week.

Marking Palm Sunday with a native branch is better than our normal practice of waving an imported palm branch anyway.

(Our friends who join us from Florida might wave palm branches. Palm trees grow there!)
Jesus comes into your life, into your home, to bless your living room and your yard. He brings back life. Let your trees and plants take part in the liturgy this year. Maybe we’ll make this a permanent change. Making Palm Sunday a local celebration would be a liturgical, theological and spiritual improvement.

Assisting Minister: Kim Ho
Readers: Dave and Carrie Melvin, Jack and Haley
Musician: Bob Holmgren, trumpet

We gather just before 9:30 am. Parents, have your children ready. The service will begin with a Palm Sunday story read by Kim Ho.

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Taizé and Evening Prayer

Taizé

The Taizé monastic community in France was founded during World War II as a center of ecumenical Christian community, prayer and worship. A distinctive style of liturgical music from Taizé is now known and treasured across the spectrum of Christian communities. At Peace we use Taizé songs during Holy Week. This evening I will play two of them during our evening prayer service.

I invite you to sit together as a community of faith-in the virtual meeting-listen quietly in a spirit of prayer, or sing softly.

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5th Sunday in Lent

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Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

The Gospel reading for Sunday tells of Lazarus. It’s an emotional story of grief and loss, and a story of hope that transports us through dark days.

It is important for us to hear together the biblical promises of re-creation and redemption, and of the gifts of grace that are our inheritance as the children of God.

The scriptures that we used to hear as if they didn’t matter, because our lives were smooth, and we had everything we needed, suddenly sound more relevant to our inner lives.

Zoom worship at 9:30 am.

Check-in and announcements following the service.

Faith formation follows the visiting time. Parents, have your children ready for a 10-15 minute faith formation lesson.

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Psalm 91

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Psalm 91

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.’ For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his inions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling-place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

***
Zoom Wednesday, March 25 at 7:30 pm

I will send out a Zoom invitation tomorrow, in the hope that many of you will join. The format of our prayers will be a different than last week’s evening prayer. We will hear a scripture passage appointed for the day, and follow the order of Responsive Prayer from our book of worship: the creed, the Lord’s Prayer, prayer of the day, silent prayer, blessing.

As we keep periods of silence together, in our Zoom meetings, we support one another and give spiritual value to the isolation forced on us by the virus. And we ask God to bless our social distancing and be present to us in it. The Spirit moves deeply in us when our minds are turns to God’s word, and our bodies and voices are quiet.

Before the Zoom gathering, you might arrange a sacred place in your home, with a Bible, a candle, a bowl of water, an icon, a flower, a picture of a loved one, or something else that focuses your mind on prayer and meditation.

The call will include time to check-in with one another.

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Fourth Sunday in Lent

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Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; 3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

This is the Psalm appointed for Sunday. As we read it and meditate on it over the next days, open your hearts in thanks for the caregivers in the world, and for the caregivers in your life. Many of you are caregivers, keeping watch over your family, employees, neighbors and others. God bless your attention and your concern for those who need you.

Sunday, March 22 we assemble as a community of faith at 9:30 am on Zoom!
Click the link below to join other members and friends of Peace online.

Children’s message Kim Canning
Reader Lucas Pralle
Assistant Martin Pralle

Confirmation Class Sunday at 4:00 pm
A Zoom link will be sent to you Sunday afternoon. Sermon response forms will be sent in a separate email.

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Return to Faith

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Last night a few Peace members joined a Zoom meeting for a brief service of evening prayer. It was good to see your faces on the screen, and to hear your voices. It was good to recite the prayers and familiar liturgical responses with you, and to hear the appointed Bible readings.

Today we are still at home in America, but it feels like we are in a foreign land. Much of what we considered normal life and activity has vanished. We are in exile in our own homes, separated from our regular routines.

As we pass through the weeks and months of uncertainty together, I hope that you will return to the testimonies of your faith. You might rediscover, and be surprised, at how experiences of living in exile, in prison, or of being lost, appear throughout the Bible. It would not be an overstatement to say that these human conditions are the main themes of scripture.

When people are worried, and some are suffering, Christ is with them. There is not a more Lutheran faith statement than that.
The peace of Christ be with each of you.

Worship this Sunday 3/21

I like the Zoom experience for the reasons mentioned above. So my plan at the moment is to send another Zoom link for Sunday worship. In addition to Zoom you will be able to call the conference call number to hear the words of the service.

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