Join us this Lent as Pastor Ted delves into the importance and meaning behind "What Lent Means to Us?"
A Walk a Day Keeps the Ambulance Away
A Walk-a-Day Keeps the Ambulance Away
Pastor Ted’s Timely Take:
A Walk-a-Day Keeps the Ambulance Away
There is nothing better for your body or your spirit than a vigorous walk in the morning. When sheltering in place every day to defend yourself against Covid 19, it may feel like your body’s decomposing like a compost pile. It may feel that your spirit’s turning from light gray to dark gray and then something even darker.
So, what’s the cure? A robust walk! After only five steps, your blood begins to circulate at a higher rate of speed. The speed of your heart increases; and this gives you an energetic feeling. The blood in your brain races through your cerebrum, oxygenating your synapses so that you think much more clearly. When you think clearly, you feel spiritually fit. You even cheer up.
Shortly after I arrived at Faith Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon, to serve my year’s internship as a pastor, an elderly man showed up at my office. He introduced himself as George Bracher. He asked me for names and addresses of shut-ins. He planned to visit them and cheer them up. 
We chatted. He told me that at the age of 65 he had suffered a heart attack. His cardiologist told him that if he wanted to live long he would have to keep his heart strong. Walking could do that. So, Mr. Bracher resolved to walk three to five miles per day. “Just about every day since, I’ve walked those miles,” he told me. “So, I visit people all over northeast Portland so I have some place to walk to.”
“You’ve done this every day since you were 65?” I asked to get clarity. 
“Yes, indeed,” he said triumphantly.
I then asked the obvious, question, “How old are you, Mr. Bracher?”
His answer: “96.”
Case closed!
Pastor Ted

Posted By: 3/1/2021 11:52:13 AM

From Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust
Pastor Ted’s Timely Take:
From Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust
“Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This is what the pastor says to you when inscribing an ashen cross on your forehead each Ash Wednesday. This reflects Genesis 3:19; and up until recently it was said in Latin, “"Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris."
In Genesis 2:7 God creates the first human being by taking dust from the earth and breathing into it. “The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” God shapes the dust into human form just like a potter molds clay.  God is the potter, and you and I are the clay. God breathes into the clay figure the breath of life. And we become a living being.
This means you and I are a combination of soil and spirit, dust and breath, earth and heaven, The word for ‘spirit’ and the words, ‘air’ and ‘breath’, are all the same: ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek. The first sign that we are dead is that we no longer breathe. When the breath—that is, when God’s spirit—departs, we die. We become only soil, only dust, only clay.        
If we get buried, we literally return to the soil. If we get cremated, we then turn into ashes. When we are dead, no breath is in us. No life.
On Ash Wednesday and through the 40 days of Lent, we think about our birth and death, our origin and destiny. We match our own life with the life of Jesus. Jesus, like us, was born with the breath of God and then lost it in death. Yet, on the first Easter Sunday, God re-breathed into the dead Jesus the breath of eternal life. Jesus rose never again to die. Hallelujah!
Christians East and West for centuries have marched through Lent at a deliberate pace, pausing daily to recall: “Jesus suffered and died; and so will I.”
To remind us of this inescapable fact, we change a habit or two. We practice abstinence—that is, we deny ourselves something we cherish so that we maintain an awareness of our vulnerability. Jesus was vulnerable to persecution, suffering, and even death. When we maintain this awareness of vulnerability, we can identify with Jesus.
If you want to diet, give up chocolate for Lent. Health enthusiasts recommend intermittent fasting: stop eating anything for 16 or 24 hours twice per week. However, the purpose of Lenten fasting is not to lose weight. Rather, fasting or any other kind of voluntary abstinence provides us with a daily reminder: “Jesus suffered and died; and so will I.”
Some years ago I spent Holy Week with a congregation of Rumanian Orthodox. Rumanian Orthodox churches belong to the Byzantine or Eastern tradition. We at Cross and Crown belong to the West, to the Latin tradition. The Eastern tradition developed many customs that differ from what we find familiar.
I experience how they treated Holy Week and Easter. From Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday I fasted. I ate no meat. I ate nothing all day until supper. I became a vegetarian for one week. Then, on Easter Sunday we celebrated with a hearty lamb feast.
At midnight on Holy Saturday leading to Easter Sunday, the Rumanian Christians shot off fire works and sang loudly out in the snow. They broke their fast and greeted Easter with great joy.
The joy of Easter contrasted sharply with abstinence and fasting. In fact, the little bit of self-denial made Easter all the more exciting for me. Easter announces that even though you and I face death and the loss of breath, God promises us a new breath and a new life. An eternal life.
Pastor Ted
Posted By: 2/15/2021 10:25:08 PM

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