This Sunday is the last Sunday of Epiphany, called Transfiguration Sunday.
Mark recounts Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain. Jesus’ clothes become a radiant white. Moses and Elijah join him.
This is a wondrous moment for all three of these faithful men of God:
For Moses, this is an opportunity to enter the promised land. He had led the Hebrews out of slavery through the desert to the very door of the promised land but never entered it until now.
For Elijah, this is an opportunity to return to Israel after being taken to heaven in a fiery chariot.
For Jesus, it is a time to soak in the love of God as the clouds break forth with the declaration: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” In all the Gospel of Mark, this is THE pinnacle moment for Jesus. Mark will not include any resurrection accounts of Jesus, only the empty tomb.
As Jesus descends the mountain, he urges the disciples to say nothing of this event until “the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” Jesus was not content with just this wondrous moment; he wanted the whole picture of life to be revealed. Mark especially wants to focus not just on the miraculous resurrection, but the deep love of God revealed on the cross.
Back at Wartburg College, I majored in psychology, but also had in mind that Seminary could be in my future. I took classes on the Bible, Greek, and Theology. Upon graduating, I decided on the pastoral path. I continued my studies at Wartburg Seminary. I loved the study of scripture and theology. I also appreciated being with people for both the trials and the joys of life.
Psychologists are called upon to try and put pieces back together. I wanted to be to celebrate the coming together of people. Funerals and illness AND Confirmations, Weddings, and Baptisms also. The whole tapestry of life.
During the Lenten and Easter seasons, we will journey with Jesus through wonders and sorrows, the crosses, and the empty tomb.
Sometimes wonders and sorrows come together. I have visited the sick and dying who have seen heaven open to them: they may be young people dying of cancer, or older members nearing death’s door. For them like for Jesus the heavens open and relatives, friends, warm, and light appear. These “doors” to heaven do not open on command. They come at their own timing.
Peter wanted to build three booths on the mountaintop to have a door to heaven. We will study the life of Peter on Wednesday nights. For him, there were many trials and doors. Jesus appears to him at Jesus’ own choosing. In the last chapter of John’s Gospel, he even comes while Peter is fishing.
We cannot build a chapel with a door to heaven in it. They tried. Mount Tabor has three chapels built there. But we are not sure what mountain Mark refers to. Jesus rejected the idea in any case. He will come at moments of his own choosing. In Revelation, he is pictured knocking at our door. He wants to deliver the gift of knowing that just as he is called the Beloved Son of God, we are God’s Beloved as well.
We have been studying and experiencing Meditation on Wednesdays at 1 pm. Meditation does not necessarily open a door to heaven. Jesus makes the schedule and chooses the means. We are just opening ourselves to the sound of Jesus knocking. We can be knocked around in this life, but by Grace – Brother Jesus is knocking at our door, inviting us to see the door of eternity. The one he opened to Peter, James, and John – Moses and Elijah – you and I.
Open our hearts to your transforming presence in our world and in our lives, Brother Jesus. You gave us the power to call ourselves children of God. You open the gates of heaven to us. May we hear you knocking at our door.
Grace and Peace, Pastor John
Thanks for your continued support of our ministry here at Faith. This year as we celebrate Faith’s 75th year, we want to lift up the ministries among us. This week we encourage you to “vote” for your favorite Super Bowl team by contributing to their container this Sunday. Not a football or a Taylor Swift fan. You can give in any case. We do thank those involved in the pantry ministry. Through their efforts, we feed more than 5,000 every year.
During Lent, we hope to reach beyond ourselves and support the ELCA Hunger Appeal now in its 50th year. There is no better way to see your dollars get to those in need worldwide than through this ministry.
LAUREN SCHAFER our Office Assistant’s hours are: 12:30-3:00 M – Th. The pastor will be in the office Tuesdays and Wednesdays through March.
Lent starts NEXT WEEK – Ash Wednesday, February 14 at 7 pm We will begin our study of the life of Peter. We will enjoy Souper Studies of the Life of Peter in the Fireside Room in subsequent weeks, beginning at 5 pm. Sign up to host a Soup.
Confirmation Classes have resumed, and it is good to have everyone back together last week.
Next Pantry – February 10 and 24. Thanks for your response with grocery bags.
Pick up – The pantry could really use a pickup to pick up food from Feeding America on Thursday mornings at 6 am.
Choir – We practice at 9:00 am before services.
Adult Class – Nelson Hall is leading the last class on Meditation and Prayer on this Wednesdays @ 1 pm. Feb. 7 is the last class.
WELCA – The Next Women’s Bible Study will be Saturday, March 2 at 9:30 a.m. in the Fireside Room.
QUILTING – Emily Smith’s Group (909.255.2452) has completed 15 for Central City Lutheran Mission and 3 for Lutheran World Relief. They do have some lap quilts still for sale.
Kim Guevarra’s brother Jim was able to move forward with stem cell therapy and is doing well thus far. Kim is back from Canada. Her mother is awaiting one more procedure.
- Eloise was hospitalized over Christmas but is home recovering.
- The Koenig Family – Joe picked up the Feeding America delivery and was back in church. Jeanne’s stint is draining the accumulating spinal fluid which is affecting her eyesight, speech, and motor skills, but needs our continued prayers. We are also praying for daughter, Jessica, as her leukemia leaves her tired. Lucas is in our prayers.
- Erwin appreciates our continued prayer for Lynda.
- Kyle and Dana would appreciate prayers for their son, Kevin’s, Mother-in-Law, Lisa, suffering from cancer.
- Cesar and Kim would also appreciate prayers for their sons, Tim, and Kyle.
- The Sheas would appreciate prayers for Rebecca and Chris Herandez in need of housing for themselves and the twins.
- Continued Godly journey for Brendan Simms, son of Bonnie Strack.
BULLETIN BOARD FOR FIRESIDE ROOM
We will be expanding the bulletin board in the Fireside Room so we can display lots of pictures of Faith in action. If you have any that you have taken, please forward via email to Debi Hitter, email@example.com. She will print them for the bulletin board and pass them on to Lauren for the website.
FEBRUARY FELLOWSHIP PLANS for 2024
FEBRUARY 11 HAPPY VALENTINES’ CELEBRATION
with Jennifer & Richard making waffles
complete with sausages/fruit/waffle bar
FEBRUARY 18 to be determined.
FEBRUARY 25 11:00 – light lunch
11:20- 12:00 – GAME TIME – BINGO!!!!!!
Many have asked for it and said it was fun – so here it is
PRIZES – If you have any items– male, female, younger teens, kids — that could be used for prizes, please mark Bingo and leave them on the pew in the office.
We will be playing several times in the year, so please help us with small – medium prizes. –before you give away items, please consider us your Good Will Mission – We have a place to store them. Thanks!