Textiles for His Grace

In the Gospel of Matthew, the 21st chapter recounts Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday-“Jesus Triumphant Entry”.

It sounds like it was a pretty amazing party. A parade of waving palm branches, shouts of admiration for the Son of David, His Jewish brothers and sisters acknowledging Him jubilantly as their prophesied Savior-a joyous celebration indeed.

Matthew 21: 6-11 NLT

The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.[c]

Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,

“Praise God[d] for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!”[e]

10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Other translations read “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”. “Hosanna” was a Hebrew expression meaning “Save” that became a exclamation of praise-how lovely!

textile-548716_640

I can’t help but put myself there among the shouting crowd. What resonates with me most is verse 8, “Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him…”. In the midst of a mess of people, a public parade no less, people in the crowd felt compelled to spread their garments on the dirty road. Thus, making a textile trail for the King and His colt to enter Jerusalem upon.

As we move into Holy Week may we consider ways that we too might lay down our garments for Christ-ways in which we can humbly serve as the foundation upon which His Grace moves within the world. Let us not forget that in spite of all things, He laid down his life for ours.

May this Holy Week be full of reflection and blessings!

~Mindy Lynn Hilo and her family have been members at Easter for ten years. She is a conformation mentor and a regular contributor to Easter Prays. Mindy enjoys working as a dental hygienist but finds that her true passion lies in writing. Her book Embracing Charlie was honored with a Finalist Title in the Christian Inspirational Category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards. You may follow Mindy on her personal blog at www.embracingcharlie.com.

Advertisements

A Blast from the Past

This devotion was prepared by Vision Board member Keri Olson.

I just watched the 40th Anniversary of Saturday Night Live.  It was a blast from my past and made me smile from ear to ear.  But it also made me realize that all those performers of my youth were getting really old. And if they were getting old then by default I must be too.

Make no mistake, I am clear on my age.  But for the most part I see my family, friends and acquaintances often enough that general aging is incremental. When you go back to the beginning and then jump forward 40 years, it’s a little shocking. A bit like running into friends and their children at the mall when you haven’t seen the kids for years; it’s as though they instantly went from toddlers to teens.

Experiencing the SNL oldsters (Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murry, Jane Curtain, etc) from their youthful comic genius to now seasoned dramatic veterans gave me an entertaining yet powerful view of our mortality.

I distinctly remember the first time I was truly aware that I would not live forever.  Shortly after our son Cameron was born, I had an epiphany. I realized that if something happened to me, if I died, it would matter.  Really matter.  In a joyous time those were heavy thoughts so I put them aside and went on living without fear of dying, because to live in fear would have denied how wonderful this new life and motherhood was.  And yet here I am again, from a completely different impetus, recognizing my mortality.

The timing of the anniversary show couldn’t have been better.  Coming just before the start of Lent it pushed me to thinking about the fullness of life; it has a beginning, middle and an end.  Years ago my thoughts on what to do with my life were framed by big ideas, plans and goals.  I still have a few of those, but my focus on how I want to live the rest of the “middle” of my life has softened.  I’m going to make a real effort to be more intentional in all I do, to be really present and in tune to other’s needs and less on my own.  That will take some doing.

On Ash Wednesday we were reminded through scripture “Remember, man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”  It refers to our making and our finality, leaving the middle to us.  And I guess until we are finally dust we are in the middle, challenged to live without fear of dying, knowing that Christ did the heavy lifting for us.

Great and gracious God, thank you for using all the tools available to you, to get to us, even SNL.  You are truly everywhere and in everything.  Guide us in the middle of our lives to seek you in all things. Amen

God’s Steadfast Love Never Changes

Today’s post is written by Lisa Nofzinger, a newer member of Easter Lutheran: 

 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
       for his steadfast love endures forever.  –Psalm 136:1

In the past 4 years my life has changed considerably.  I left a full-time job in Michigan to join family members in Minnesota.  It took me three years to find a full-time job here.  I worked temporary and seasonal jobs, and lived with my parents for two years.  Also, I lost a cat to kidney disease and adopted another one.  I learned how to live through Minnesota winters and who Ole and Lena are.

127-01-014Lately I have been experiencing another change, perimenopause.  I have not had a period in 6 months, I feel like I have PMS every day, and alternate between wanting to snap at people and crying.  I have worn short sleeve shirts all winter to work.  One of my coworkers and I share a candy jar which we fill up with chocolate.  That helps some.  I am planning to see a gynecologist soon to see if I can take something to help with the change.

I find much comfort when I realize that God never changes even though the world and human beings do.  I have been attending Easter for the last year and signed up for the new member class next month.  When I come to church, read the Bible, or pray, I find a God who loves me and all people.  God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Our emotions do not offend God.  God cares and so do the people and staff at Easter.

 

Lisa Nofzinger is a resident of Eagan and does clerical work for the state of Minnesota. 

Spiritual Healing

Six months ago, sweet Nicole took her last breaths. During her 2-year struggle with brain cancer, I prayed hard. I screamed, I begged, I collapsed, I wallowed, I cried and cried and cried… For God to heal her. Never one to bargain with God, I just begged God to make Nicole a walking miracle. Heal her beautiful body, so that she could live a long full life.

One day, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. My prayer wouldn’t be answered…

Throughout the four gospels, there are many stories of Jesus healing sick, crippled, demonized, or even dead people. In most instances Jesus tells us that it is the person’s faith that has made them well, or the faith of the person who was pleading for the healing of another. While the physical healing was the outward tangible that could be seen, the more important healing was the spiritual healing that accompanied the physical.

One day, as I sat on my couch praying, losing faith that Nicole would be made well, I learned that I was wrong. In fact, Nicole was experiencing healing – spiritual healing. My begging and pleading was for the only healing I could accept in my human selfishness and experience. But indeed God’s promise is for spiritual healing. The healing of the heart and soul; the reconciliation with God. It might be a healing we can’t yet fully understand, but Nicole understands it now. And I work every day on trusting God in that.

Six months ago, as I sat by Nicole’s hospice bed telling her how much Jesus loves her, and telling her it was ok to go to Him, I knew spiritual healing was happening right then and there. The grief for those of us she has left behind is immense, even still to this day.  But Nicole is well. God made that promise, and through that promise I am spiritually healed too – a little bit more each and every day.

Music and Mantras by Pastor Sarah Clark

‘Mantra’ is a big word we’ve borrowed from the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. In these original traditions, a mantra was a word or sound that people uttered over and over in order as an aid in meditation. And, in Hinduism and Buddhism, meditation is an essential faith practice.

I am neither Buddhist or Hindu. I’m Lutheran (and I’m a pastor). Prayer, for me, works best when it’s a mantra. A prayer that repeats words, and builds its own melody and rhythym… that’s my favorite sort of prayer. That sort of prayer works its way into my heart- its easiest for my brain to grasp- and its repetition leaves a mark on my soul.

My habit of praying mantra-style is probably weird. 😉 My congregation only ever sees me praying prayers that are like a one-sided dialogue; they’re either pre-written prayers or impromptu leadership prayers in worship or at meetings. I had to learn how to pray like that and it has taken years to calm the butterflies that inevitably take off in my stomach right before I stand up to lead a prayer.

I spent four years in seminary and never had even one class session on prayer. Prayer is a mystery to me… and when I walk through the book shelves at any book store, I realize that prayer must be a mystery to most people: there are a LOT of books published about praying.

I know people who pray silently, with their hands folded. I know people who pray long prayers, out loud, in public. I know people who pray while they run. I have friends who pray when they drive. My dad prays whenever he sees an ambulance or fire truck with sirens blaring. I know families who pray at the dinner table. I know pastors who love reading and teaching about prayer. I never buy those books about prayer sitting so nicely in the book shops. And, I don’t often pray in the regular ways that people would expect a pastor to pray.

I pray through music. Music gets me praying because music is only one quick step away from being like a mantra. Nothing makes me happier than when I discover a few lyrics in a song (usually on the Current) that could be my heart’s mantra. When I pray musical mantras my thoughts fade away, my inhibitions are calmed, my word choice doesn’t matter. I can just be in a state of prayer… and the musical accompaniment lifts my soul.

If you’d like to try it out, here are some musical-mantra-type-prayers I’ve found and loved: “ordinary love” (by u2), “and grace will lead me home” (from amazing grace), “the sounds of silence” (by paul simon), “shine, unsingable name, over everything” (by mike doughty), “God is around you and all that’s about you shines with the light” (by mason Jennings).