This Sunday is Palm Sunday, which begins the events of holy week. Our reading for Sunday is passion account in Luke, chapters Luke 22 – 23. This is the ultimate expression of God’s Love for us. Through it we are reconciled, redeemed and reminded who we can be.
There are daily reports out of Ukraine. As the Russian troops depart from areas around Kyiv, citizens are saying the troops were “shooting everyone they saw”. Prime Minister Zelenskyy called out “murderers, looters and butchers”. President Biden called for a war-crimes trial of Putin after mass graves were found. Pope Francis had this to say:
“This week again missiles and bombs have fallen on civilians, the elderly, children, and pregnant mothers. I went to see the wounded children who are here in Rome. One was missing an arm; one had a head injury … innocent children . . . I think of the millions of Ukrainian refugees who must flee leaving everything behind, and I feel a great pain for those who do not even have the possibility to escape. So many grandparents, sick and poor people separated from their own families, so many children and fragile people are left to die under the bombs without being able to receive help and find safety even in the air raid shelters.”
Holy Week reminds us of two things as we look with sorrow on the devastation left behind in Ukraine and the gun violence in Sacramento which left six people dead and twelve wounded.
First, there are those in our world who care little for the lives of the innocent. Mass graves and indiscriminate killings have been a part of our world for eons. People with power over others often express it as violence and inhumanity.
Even as Jesus suffers on the cross, he is mocked saying “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”
Those who mocked Jesus were inadvertently expressing the second deeper truth. There are people willing to save others rather than themselves. We see Ukrainian men and women, even foreigners entering the fight to save the innocent. We see police willing to endanger themselves as they pursue killers.
In going to the cross Jesus revealed:
We are reconciled to God. We see on the cross that Jesus will be abandon us. Just as he did not abandon the cross. The altars established in the Old Testament were places where people had met God. Jesus meets us even in the darkest of hours.
We are redeemed. While he was on the cross, Jesus said to the thief next to him: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
There is a chance for all of us, no matter what we bring with us from our past to change and receive a new lease on life and care for the innocent of the world. Would not it be amazing if the Russian people were to change the direction of their government and pull back from their invasion. Sadly, history offers little hope that countries lead by despots change course. Still Jesus offers you and I the chance to change and always move forward and care for the innocent.
We are reminded. Jesus’ ministry started with the announcement that “the kingdom of God has come near”. Every step of the way he underlined this truth and at his death the curtain of temple was torn in two. A symbol that he brought the Kingdom of God near.
Last week and next, we will be collecting funds for lilies, Easter musicians, and for Lutheran World Relief. I mentioned that Connie and I would love to double what was given. To date with the Wednesday offering nearly $1,500 has been donated with our matching will make that nearly $3,000 going to LWR for Ukrainian refugees. I wrote last week about all the good work they are doing, including handing out our quilts.
You are an amazing congregation. Doing so much to remind others that God’s presence is near, even in times of shadows.
PRAYER Jesus, as you entered Jerusalem, the crowds greeted you with Hosanas. Unlike so many others you were not enamored with the praise. You brought the Kingdom of God near to the shadow places of the world and you journeyed to the cross. Bless our efforts to bring your reconciling, redeeming, light into the world. Amen.
Grace and Peace, Pastor John
Final Souper Study this Wednesday April 6 5:00-6:30 p.m. What is your place in the world? How can the Church and the Holy Spirit help? 1 Corinthians 12.
Quilting – Thanks for your support! Eleanor was able to purchase a new sewing machine. Pat Motschall is donating another one. Eleanor was able to purchase some other items for the sewing room as well. Connie Bunge cut out a lot of squares for quilts. But if you’d like to aid in the effort, please talk to Eleanor @ 951-623-3496. LWR is sending some of the ones we made to Poland for Ukrainian refugees.
YOUTH Confirmation Class continues this week. There are lessons to take home if you miss a week. Children’s Church is on hold for now. We do not have any small children currently. However, if you interested in assisting Robyn Blue with future needs give her or the church office a call. If small children do attend, there are prepared lessons.
WELCA – Ten women attended our last meeting, including three from St. Alban’s. Next gathering will be May 7.
Help Wanted We do have a volunteer for Wednesdays to assist in the office, Nelson Hall. If you would like to help on Tuesdays, let Pastor know. He will be in the office Wednesday and Friday next week, Holy Week. Normally Tuesdays and Wednesdays moving forward.
Pantry – May 14 and 28. If you know of someone in need of food who cannot make it on these dates, please give Carol a call.
MEMBER UPDATES AND PRAYERS
- Kim Guevara is back in Canada visiting her mother, Caroline Beaudry who is still in the hospital. There are several issues to be resolved.
- Bob Jensen is having an AFib ablation procedure April 5.
- Burrrel Wooding is suffering from loss of kidney function.
Continued Prayers for:
- Geri Witwer who is still retaining water and still having trouble breathing.
- Heather, our preschool director, is having some health issues which care has been postponed.
- Bill Martin awaiting help for his knees and walking. Bill and Judy Martin’s daughter, Laura, continues her chemo treatments by pill till June and is back working parttime.
- Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack and Rebecca, daughter of Michael and Ann Shea.
- erwin for strength and Lynda for healing.
PRAYER & CELEBRATION CALLS Connie Bunge has been making calls to our members and friends. She will be calling to get prayer concerns, updates on health and other issues and celebrations in your life. We will set up a new email for this purpose as well.
SUNDAY WORSHIP @ 10 am. live stream and recording available on our website. Refreshments after services now.
- April 10 – Palm Sunday – Jacque has palms to share for decorations – thanks. We will meet outside to start the service.
- April 15 – @ 7 p Good Friday, we will recall Jesus Seven Last Words.
- April 17 – Easter – Bring flowers for our cross that day – cake to follow.
We are accepting contributions for lilies and the musician’s fund and LWR. Note your dedication on the sheets in the pews. They will be matched for a gift to Lutheran World Relief for Ukrainian refugees.
You can put your offering in the stand at the entrance to the sanctuary.
- April 24 – Easter Season begins for 50 days. Special refreshments are planned.