A Word from Pastor John
Entering Lent in Our Right Minds
Michael Gerson, author and journalist, gave a sermon at the National Cathedral which opened candidly with his struggles with depression. Up front, he admitted that he was scheduled to preach earlier, but depression put him in the hospital.
There are many quotable parts of the sermon. Here are some of the best parts.
"Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God can say certain things."
"In our right minds - as our most sane and solid selves - we know that the appearance of a universe ruled by cruel chaos is a lie and that the cold void is actually a sheltering sky."
"In our right minds, we know that life is not a farce but a pilgrimage - or maybe a farce and a pilgrimage, depending on the day."
"In our right minds, we know that hope can grow within us - like a seed, like a child."
"In our right minds, we know that transcendence sparks and crackles around us..."
"Many, understandably, pray for a strength they do not possess. But God's promise is somewhat different: That even when strength fails, there is perseverance. And even when perseverance fails, there is hope. And even when hope fails, there is love. And love never fails."
As we enter the Lenten season, we're called to repent, a change of heart and mind. It is a time when God calls us to right mindedness, to pilgrimage, and to him. Some find this journey a gloomy time of the year. I hope not for you because the point of it all is our destination, our gaze and our direction-Jesus. Because of our sin, strength will fail, perseverance will fail, and hope will flounder. Yet, what remains is God who loved us in Jesus.
Paraphrasing Gerson. At the end of all our striving and longing we find, not a force, but a face. God became flesh and shed his blood on the cross.
Ponder this anew and join us as we read and preach through Job this Lenten season.
Spring time! A time of rejuvenation, a time when earth seems to refresh itself by the flowers and planets seemingly coming alive again after the deadness and dreariness of the winter. The birds are singing their jubilant songs of gladness to welcome life coming back to the greening of vegetation and the blossoms and flowers bursting forth with color and fragrances. It is a time of preparation for us during this season that we also call Lent.
Lent is a forty day period set aside for a time of reflection and renewal. A time to prepare ourselves, to try again to spend more time alone with our Heavenly Father, GOD; Jesus who sacrificed Himself; the comforter, Holy Spirit. The bridegroom, Jesus, calls to His bride, us the believers, to "rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove (Holy Spirit) is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with tender grapes give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one and come away." Song of Songs 1:10-13 The LORD wants to have an intimate relationship with us that can only be had by our spending time alone with Him, listening to what He has to say to us. HE has a plan for us. (Jeremiah 29:29)
Lenten season is a time of renewal for us: repenting of thoughts against someone: anger, fear, not spending time with the LORD to name a few. (Renewal: implies a restoration, a freshness: a literal change in our thoughts) After repentance, The LORD doesn't want us "to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of GOD." Romans 12:2 He wants us to be led by the Holy Spirit, to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit: joy, love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. (Galatians 5:22) We are to GOD the fragrance of Christ among those around us, believers and nonbelievers. (II Corinthians 2:15) The following verses will help prepare you for this Lent season and prayer time:
Thank you LORD
that when I confess my sins, You are faithful and just to forgive me my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. In the name of Jesus. I John 1:9
Thank you LORD
that after repentance (contrite heart) You will create in me a clean heart, and will renew a right spirit in me. May my meditation be sweet to You. In the name of Jesus. Psalm 51:10
Thank you LORD
that Your mercy is so great toward me who fear(reverence) You. Blessed is the LORD who forgives all my iniquities. As far as the west is from the east You have removed my transgressions no longer remembering them. In the name of Jesus. Psalm 103:11-12,3
Thank you LORD
that I can sing of Your wondrous works, letting my heart rejoice when I seek Your Face. I will give thanks to You, my LORD and will call upon Your Name. I will make known Your deeds among the people. In the name of Jesus. Psalm 105:1-5
Thank you LORD
that those who wait on You shall renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. They shall stand on Your promise to always be with them, for You have said, I am Your God" Isaiah 40:31, 41:10
Thank you LORD
, blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, and in Your favor our horn (strength) is exalted. Psalm 89:15-17
The Book of Job:
Blessed Be the Name of the Lord!
One of the Bible's greatest wisdom books is the book of Job. This Lent we will explore this magnificent composition that is numbered among the greatest literature of all time. Nine sermons will help us dig deeply into Job's central message and supporting truths, while six adult Bible classes will further address the book's major topics and themes.
We all suffer-personally and privately. We also suffer in more public ways. A husband loses a job. A child gets divorced. A parent dies. And now, thanks to the media, we are able to see and experience more and more of the world's catastrophes and suffering. We need the book of Job, now, more than ever.
Martin Luther asserted that "Job is magnificent and sublime as no book of Scripture." Others have called Job "the Shakespeare of the Bible." The early Christian scholar Jerome perhaps put it best when he called the book of Job an "eel," since the more one tries to contain it, the slipperier it becomes! The purpose of our Lenten emphasis is to learn how to apply Job to our lives so that the book becomes less like an eel and more like a loving companion through life's dark valleys. Preaching plans are as follows:
Flying Blind (Job 1:1-12)
First Sunday in Lent-
Sweet Surrender (Job 1:13-21)
Second Sunday in Lent-
Learning to Lament (Job 3:1-26)
hird Sunday in Lent-
It Is Enough (Job 14:1-14)
Fourth Sunday in Lent-
Understanding How It All Works Together (Job 23:1-17)
Fifth Sunday in Lent-
God Speaks in the Storm (Job 38:1-11)
On Earth Is Not His Equal! (Job 41:20-34)
Tearing Down the Spite House (Job 42:7-9)
The Resurrection of Our Lord-
I Know That My Redeemer Lives! (Job 19:23-26)
Job's most famous statement appears in 19:25, "I know that my Redeemer lives." Christ is alive. He has conquered death and the grave. His word is sufficient. His grace is enough. His love brings comfort and healing. And this Lent these gifts come to us through the book of Job.
During Lent, we will be doing a sermon series on the book of Job. There is so much more to the book than the sermon series can cover. For those of you who wish to go deeper, you have the option of reading the texts that we will preach on each Sunday. Then, answer the questions. Please dialog with other members.
Job is a challenging book to readers, ancient and modern. There is much repetition and plenty of hard passages. It wrestles with the question as to whether people serve God because of rewards, or out of loving gratitude. In other words, the question is not, "Why do the righteous suffer?" The question is, "Why are the righteous pious?"
Come to church every week for growth and guidance. God the Holy Spirit bless your reading of Job.
For Ash Wednesday and First Sunday in Lent
Read Job 1 and answer these questions:
1) Can you relate with Job's catastrophes? How so?
2) What is the first thing Job did when he learned about his tragedies?
3) Why did Job bless God's name? What name of God gives you courage and strength in your trials?
Will you bless that name?
For Second Sunday in Lent
Read Job 3:1-26 and answer these questions:
1. Five times in chapter three Job cries out "Why?" How can you relate?
2. Say what you will about this chapter, but at least Job let's God know his feelings. How is this an important
step towards healing?
3. Job laments, "What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me" (Job 3:25). What was
Job's greatest fear? What is your greatest fear? How will God help you if your fears, like Job's, become facts?
For Third Sunday in Lent
Read Job 14:1-14 and answer these questions:
1. It is part of our sinful nature to look for hope in all the wrong places. How do you self-medicate when you are hurting?
2. Why does Job say that there is hope for a tree?
3. If there is hope for a tree, then there is hope for me! What does this look like in your life?
For Fourth Sunday in Lent
Read Job 23:1-17 and answer these questions:
1. Job 23:10 states, "When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold." Why does God test his people?
What is your current test?
2. What qualities does gold have that God wants for you?
3. How does God redeem suffering and pain in your life?
For Fifth Sunday in Lent
Read Job 38:1-11 and answer these questions:
1. Why do you think God waited so long to answer Job?
2. Job and his friends were curved in on themselves. How do these verses broaden their horizon?
How do they give you perspective?
3. How has God spoken to you in your storms?
For Maundy Thursday
Read Job 41:20-34 and answer these questions:
1. Who is Leviathan?
2. Who has authority and power over this huge monster?
3. How does this victory over evil relate to the Lord's Supper?
For Good Friday
Read Job 42:7-9 and answer these questions:
1. Both Job (while still sitting in the ash heap) and Jesus (while being spiked to a cross) prayed for their enemies.
Who are the enemies you need to pray for?
2. Why is Job's restoration linked to his forgiveness of others? How is your restoration connected to your
forgiveness toward people who have hurt you?
Read Job 19:23-26 and answer these questions:
1. Why is this the most important section in the book of Job?
2. What will Job's Redeemer do for him? For you?
Copies of the Job Lenten Reading List are available in the Narthex.
MIRIAM CIRCLE will meet in the church library at 10:00a on Tuesday, March 12th. Our study will be from the Spring Lutheran Woman's Quarterly, which hasn't arrived in time to print the subject of it here. It should arrive before our meeting, though, and will be passed out to everyone there. Just bring your Bible. We will be finished by noon. We hope to see you there!
Do you want answers to some of life's questions? The Tract Rack in the Fellowship Hall has some topics that may be of interest.
The rack will be in the Fellowship Hall from March 3 to March 17. Some examples include:
* Living Above Your Circumstances
* Creation and Evolution
* Coping With Cancer
* The New Millennium
* More Than a Dynasty
Short Term Money
Do you open a money market savings account or take out a bank CD for short-term savings?
Or would you consider helping support our church mission through the Lutheran Church Extension Fund?
Here are two options. Both have a $500 minimum and funds can be added at any time.
* "Connect Plus" is for NEW LCEF investors earning a fixed rate of 3% on the first $5,000. There is a floating rate on higher balances and the term is two years.
* "Partner Plus" is for current LCEF investors who want to invest for two years (2%) or four years (2.5%). A balance over $25,000 earns a fixed rate of 1%.
Compare your bank's rates! Go to "
" or call 800-843-5233 for details about the above two offerings.
This month Open Arms will be studying about Pond life, reptiles, Dinosaurs, Springs, Insects, The Lord's prayer, The lost sheep, The short man, and the Ten plagues. We will also practice after chapel over the next couple of weeks for our Lent program which is on Wednesday March 13th@ 6p.m. We also will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day by wearing green and have parties full of green snacks. We want to thank everyone for all the wonderful donations. My staff really appreciates it.
Our next get together is March 12th at 12noon.
Our theme this month is St. Patricks Day so wear your green! Corn beef and cabbage is on the menu, add your dessert or salad if able.
Our project for March is snacks for the Lake Forest Elementary students during testing week. The following items can be donated.
- kid granola bars
- Quaker chocolate chip bars
- Welch's fruit gummies
- goldfish crackers
Please make sure all snacks are individually wrapped. Thank You!
A Friendly Study of the World's Religious Traditions
You've got your Muslim neighbor, your Hindu coworker, your agnostic niece, and your "spiritual-but-not-religious" running buddy.
What do you make of all this religious diversity? Where can you start to learn in a compassionate, but critical, way that helps you understand more about religious traditions other than your own?
Look no further than "A Sacred Duty: A Friendly Study of the World's Religious Traditions" starting Tuesday March 12, 2019 at 7pm at First Lutheran Church with special guest:
(Associate Director, University of North Florida Interfaith Center)
The remainder of the series will be led by Rev. Ken Chitwood, Ph.D. candidate with the University of Florida's Department of Religion and Center for Global Islamic Studies and invited guests.
March 19 - Judaism
March 26 - Islam and Muslims
April 2 - Hindu Traditions
April 9 - Buddhist Traditions
April 16 - "Cults," Christian Variants, and New Religious Movements
April 23 - The "Spiritual-But-Not-Religious" and the "Nones"
Light refreshments will be served, but dinner will not be provided. This series is free and open to the public. It will also involve opportunities for experiential visits to get to know our neighbors at Gainesville's many places of worship, devotion, and ritual.
This series will also involve "field trips" for experiential learning opportunities to local synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of devotion, prayer, ritual, and worship. These events will be held on March 22, March 29, and April 13. More details will be shared during the studies on Tuesday evenings. Please contact Pastor Ken for more details or with your questions or concerns - firstname.lastname@example.org
"The friendly study of the world's
religions is a most sacred
duty." - Gandhi
Ash Wednesday, March 6:
Noon and 7pm w/ Holy Communion
Lenten Services 7pm, on Wednesdays:
March 13, 20, 27, April 3,10
Maundy Thursday, April 18th
Noon and 7pm
Easter Egg Hunt 5:30-6:30 w/ light snacks
Good Friday, April 19th
Noon and 7pm
Easter, April 21st
Festival Worship w/Holy Communion
8:30am & 11:00am
*Open Arms Lent Program will be Wednesday March 13th.
All 7th-12th Grade students are invited to attend NightLife, our weekly Youth Group. At NightLife we eat food, have fellowship, play games, and spend time in the Bible. During the season of Lent we eat a meal together, do an activity, and head over to Lenten Worship together. Our Confirmation students are welcome to join us during Lent for NightLife.
You are invited to a Bridge Building Event with Open Arms! A game night will be occurring on TONIGHT! Games will be provided to play or you can bring your favorites to share! Come enjoy this fun fellowship event for all ages! Dinner will be provided, the fun starts at 5:30 pm!
Mark your calendars for the Open Arms Lenten Program! On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 6:00 pm Open Arms students will be singing songs. Please come on out and listen to what they have to share! Following the Lenten Program you are invited to join us for a light meal, fellowship, and activities for the kids!
First Lutheran Youth and parents are invited for a day at Blue Springs! On March 16th we will be spending the day at Blue Springs. We are meeting at FLC at 9:15 am and will return at 4:00 pm. Cost is $5 to attend and lunch is included. If you are interested, please contact Stephanie Karolus. Permission forms are due by March 10th.
Please click here for the
First Lutheran Youth are headed to St. Augustine at the end of Spring Break! On April 5 and 6 we will be spending time exploring the historic city of St. Augustine and volunteering at St. Francis House. Cost will be approximately $30 - $50 and will include 4-5 St. Augustine experiences, 2 meals, and lodging. Youth will need to bring money for lunch on Saturday an any souvenirs they wish to purchase. Permission forms will be out soon and should be returned by March 20th.
National Youth Gathering Meetings
The next National Youth Gathering Meeting will be on March 24, 2019, following College Lunch. We will be doing a Bible Study, some Group Building, and talking about food at the National Youth Gathering.
Prayer Station Bible Study
Join Stephanie Karolus on Palm Sunday, April 14, during Bible Study for something a little different. We will be exploring the different parts of Holy Week through interactive prayer. All ages are invited to participate in this Bible Study.
Easter Egg Hunt
Our Annual Easter egg Hunt is changing dates! We are moving our Easter egg Hunt that is normally between our two Easter Morning Services to April 18th at 5:30pm. Children who are in 5th Grade and younger are invited to come for this fun activity before our Maundy Thursday Worship Service. Following the Easter egg Hunt, light snacks will be provided and worship will begin at 7:00pm. If you have candy or Easter themed items to donate, please drop it off at the church office with Stephanie.
Open Arms Graduation
Open Arms VPK Students will be graduating on May 31st at 10:00am and you are invited! Please come and support these amazing students who are moving on to the wonderful grade of Kindergarten!