april 7 2021

Reflection April 7, 2021


Easter is over, isn’t it? In the grocery stores the Easter candy has been moved to another
location and has been significantly marked down. Easter Sunday 2021 is history.
However, the church has just begun the celebration of the Easter Season, or at least we
are supposed to be.
Easter for the Christian is THE DAY that makes everything different. For us, if Easter is
just one day that interrupts the routine, is just one day for rejoicing that doesn’t carry over
into our EVERDAY, then we have missed out on the significance of Easter. Luke tells us
that after the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus, the disciples didn’t just go back to
life as normal. “They returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the
temple blessing God.” (Luke 24:53)
Unless I am mistaken, Easter is a revelation and a beginning, full of joy and hope that is
transforming, renewing and life-giving. Easter does not simply interrupt our lives for a
morning, or a day. Easter and what it means, if we embrace the wonder of Easter in our
hearts, can bring us a new way to look at life, our world, one another and ourselves.
Many people have longed for this Easter. Easter was a day of joy and celebration this
year that came at a time when many are beginning to feel more comfortable venturing out
into the world again. At least a little. At least to church for Easter. So this Easter was
more blessed because it was a day to gather with family and friends in ways we have not
done in over a year. At church this last Sunday there was something that has been
missing for over a year - the joyful noise of a crowd of people talking after the worship
service. Most people stayed for over 30 minutes just talking to people they hadn’t seen in
a long while. Easter was very timely, bringing a fresh breath of hope, of the promise of
new life and the wonder of the grace and love of God.
If Easter is not something to interrupt the despair and the uncertainty of these times, and
give new meaning to life, then what it? What does Easter mean to you? I am grateful
that Easter is so much more than a day. I am looking forward to celebrating the Easter
SEASON!

Blessings,

Pastor Rick

March 31, 2021

March 31, 2021


No doubt many of you have some sort of Easter plans already. Perhaps dinner with family. Perhaps dinner with more extended family, which is more likely than it was at this time last year. Maybe you will gather with some family members on a zoom call. Perhaps you are cooking and have planned out what you need to get from the grocery store or have delivered to you. Perhaps you are making plans to create Easter eggs.

However, I will remind you that we have not arrived yet at Easter. You might respond, “We already know the end of the story. Jesus rises from the tomb!”

In our church year, it is easier to be at church on Christmas Eve or Easter. Those are joyful, feel-good days for our faith. The days of Holy Week, especially Maundy Good Friday, are days of turmoil and suffering. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are neither joyful nor feel-good days. But without the events of those days, our joyful days of Christmas and Easter don’t mean anything. The joy of our faith exists because of the events that transpired in the life of Jesus as he completed the mission and ministry of his earthly life. Without the cross on Good Friday, there is no resurrection on Easter. Without the cross, we are not raised to new life.

How will you remember the events of Holy Week? Will you remember the cross on Good Friday? Will that day slip your mind in the midst of everyday life and the anticipation of Easter? Maundy Thursday and the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday and the cross, are what give meaning and hope to everyday life and make Easter a day of joy. What Christ experienced and what Christ suffered, he did for us so that we might know the joy of resurrection faith in our everyday life.

Next Sunday is Easter. Next Sunday we will shout, “Alleluia, He is risen!.” But we can leap for joy only after we have truly been to the cross and been to the tomb. When we do that, we can be ready to celebrate what Easter is all about.

Pastor Rick

Sr. Interim Pastor


 

march 24, 2021


For the Reflection this week I am lifting up two ideas for Holy Week.  One involves prayer and the other involves celebrating together.  Both are ways to observe this most important week for Christians in a special way.

24 Hours of Prayer

This year Coolwater is having a 24 Hour Prayer Vigil in a little different fashion.  The time frame begins on Maundy Thursday, April1, at 8:00 and ends on Good Friday, April 2, at 8:00.  This 24 hour period will be divided up into 3 hour blocks of time. Multiple people may sign up for a block of time.  When you sign up for a block, you are asked to pray for 20 – 30 minutes sometime during that period of time.  For example, if you signed up for Thursday, April 1 from 8:00 – 11:00 you would be asked to pray any time during that 3 hour period.  There are 8 time blocks with each block being 3 hours long.  Sign up information for these blocks of time will be coming soon! 

Easter Picnic

Are you ready to get out a little more?  Are you pondering coming to Coolwater for Easter Sunday?  After the Service you are invited to stay for an Easter picnic.  It has been so long since many of us have been together in person.  This Easter provides a tremendous opportunity for us to get together SAFELY after worship.

People will be able to gather and spread out in many different locations.  You may go to the patio, the breezeway, the parking lot, out in front of our building or inside.  See? Lots of room to safely distance and be together!  

Of course, this picnic is BYOE – “Bring Your Own Everything.”  (Food, drinks, plates, utensils)  Coolwater will provide tables and chairs.  Depending on where you want to sit, you may want to bring your own outdoor chairs.

On this Sunday when we celebrate new life in Christ, let’s celebrate sharing new life in Christ together as a church family.


Blessings,

Pastor Rick

 

march 17, 2021

For the last year, most of us have had our lives disrupted and altered by the coronavirus.  The coronavirus has disrupted most so many aspects of our lives.  We long for some sense of normalness in our lives at long last.   There is hope dangling out in front of us. 

 

At this point in the timeline of the “church year” we are in the season of Lent, the season of Lent that we as Christians follow Jesus as he heads to Jerusalem.  We know the fate that awaits him.  The Gospels make it clear that Jesus did also.  The 40 days of Lent lead us on a path with Jesus through pain and suffering.  He is the Lamb of the World, according to John, who bears our pain and suffering…even now.  

 

We know that sometimes journeys take unexpected twists and turns.  On our journeys we encounter obstacles appearing, detours, closed roads, sudden storms.  We wind through hardships, loss, confusion, disarray, and illness.  The good news is that while we walk the path of trial and suffering now,  while we engage in a journey that leads to the death on the cross, we know that this not where the story ends.  There is a divine answer of life, hope, grace, and resurrection!  

 

Even as we wander these dark days of isolation and anxiety, and as we journey with Jesus to his suffering and death, Easter has already embraced us.  Easter is not until April 4 but we know that hope deep within our souls.  That resurrection faith has sustained us during this last tumultuous year.   Remember the story…how it ends…and how it begins again for us.  The hope of some semblance of returning to a familiar life may make this Easter an even grander day for us.  In some ways we be more ready than ever for new life. After this last year, do you see the suffering of Jesus in some new way or has his suffering for you taken on some new meaning?  After this last year, what meaning does Easter have for you?  Those might be some questions to ponder as we follow Jesus to Jerusalem.


Blessings,

Pastor Rick

march 10, 2021


Just about one year ago, normal life as we knew it came to a grinding halt.  Dreaded words entered our daily conversations – coronavirus, pandemic.  An avalanche of cancelled events swept across the U.S. and the world.  Cancelled plans, trips and gatherings became commonplace as people sought to distance themselves from an invisible adversary. Grocery stores ran out of many items we never dreamed would be in short supply or unavailable.

Life changed for Coolwater as well.  Worship was cancelled on March 15, 2020.  We were determined along with so many other congregations across the world, to be a voice for hope and comfort and good news in the face of a global pandemic.  The very next Sunday, March 22, we began our online services.  We offered only online worship until early October when we opened our doors on Sunday morning once again.  Now we continue to offer online as well as in-person worship. 

Last year this tragic time of suffering, death, fear and uncertainty began during the season of Lent.  Lent is the time when the church remembers the suffering of Christ for the world.  Many Christians during Lent remember our mortality and our mortal weaknesses. Lent is a time when many Christians are keen on their need for God’s grace and love given to the world through Jesus Christ.   The Lenten journey also reminds us that in Christ we have hope. 

God has breathed life into the dust of our being and has called it good.  We are treasures in earthen vessels.  Why?  Because suffering, death, fear, and uncertainty are not the last words of Lent or the Christian faith.  Lent takes us to Easter – to new life, new hope, resurrection, and joy.  Life leaping out of death.  Hope shattering the clouds of despair and gloom.

The church shares that news every day.  Throughout this last year we have endeavored to live the good news of Christ in these uncertain times.  People of Coolwater have responded to these extraordinary circumstances.  We began to meet those unexpected circumstances with opportunities to put our mission and ministry forward.  

This year as we approach Easter there is light at the end of the tunnel for us.  With the arrival of the vaccine in great quantities now, the number of people who are now vaccinated grows tremendously each day.  For many the vaccine gives a measure of ease from the fear and tension of the last year.  In short, for many, this feels like the arrival of new life. 

Now we are in the middle of Lent with Easter less than a month away.  The church the church continues to bear a message of hope to a fractured and broken and hurting world.  Here is new life found in God’s grace and love and compassion.  Here is faith with its sleeves rolled up. People being a light in the world and the salt of the earth to the best of their abilities.  And knowing that God covers those efforts with grace and uses them for His purposes. 

I close this reflection with words from Henry Ward Beecher, a reknowned pastor in the U.S. in the 19th century.  He said, “That which is the light of the world in the church is not its largeness; not its services celebrant with pomp and circumstance; not its music; not the influences in it that touch the taste or instruct the understanding; it is the Christlikeness of its individual members.” 

 

March 3 2020

Reflection 2021-03-03


Last Sunday, February 28, I began a short series on Kingdom qualities.  This series focuses on characteristics or qualities that Jesus lifts up through his words or actions during his ministry.  These are qualities displayed by those who are truly seeking to grow closer to God.  They are qualities that it would be wise for you and me to seek in our lives as people trying to follow Christ faithfully.

“Kingdom Compassion” began the series last week with a look at the feeding of the 5000 found in Mark 6:30-44.  In this story we observe Jesus wading into the midst of the people, offering his teaching, healing, care and love.  When the day grows late, he sends the disciples out into their midst to share the food they had.  The needs of the people were met because the followers of Christ went out to address the needs.  Compassion became an action.  We can take the love and compassion of Jesus to others through our acts of love, kindness and compassion.

The next three Sunday focus on Kingdom behavior.  How do we act as people who follow Christ and are seeking grow closer to God?  We will be guided by portions from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  The Sermon on the Mount is an extensive collection of the teachings on Jesus.  You will find the Sermon on the Mount in three successive chapters in Matthew, from Matthew through Matthew 7.  A shorter version of these teachings is found in Luke 6, known as the Sermon on the Plain.  I invite you to read these chapters from Matthew and Luke. 

 In both Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6, Jesus encourages, enriches, and enlightens the listeners and the readers who are seeking to be closer to God.  Along the way Jesus sets some very high standards for us.  Don’t’ despair if you don’t measure up.  These teachings are not a checklist of qualities for us to achieve perfectly.  Be advised though, here Jesus indicates that following him will require significant effort on our part.  His teachings remind us that our behavior in large measure indicates how seriously we take our faith.  I look forward to exploring some aspects of our Kingdom behavior in March, until on March 28 we enter with Jesus into Jerusalem.


Blessings,

Pastor Rick