Tag: COVID-19

Lenten Reflection-Ash Wednesday

Lenten Reflection-Ash Wednesday

Luke 9:51-62

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

In early 2002 I had the opportunity to serve in a nursing home as a student chaplain. After the Ash Wednesday service, I was tasked to go from room to room to give the imposition of the ashes to people who couldn’t make it to the service. The people in the rooms were in various states of consciousness. I dipped my finger in the ashes and placed it on their forehead as I said, “Remember You are Dust and to Dust You Shall Return.” That phrase had special meaning that year since most of the people were close to death.

That phrase seems to have meaning again in 2021. Between Ash Wednesday 2020 and today, we have seen death everywhere. We are closing in on nearly 500,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus and 2 million worldwide. Police brutality reared its ugly head again as we saw the names of so many African American men and women: Breonna Taylor, Armad Aubrey, Elijah McClain, George Floyd and probably others that have slipped into the background. Remember your are dust, indeed.

The text from Luke seems like an odd text for Ash Wednesday. But if you really think about it, well, it kind of makes sense. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem which is a nice way of saying he is on his way to his impending death. As he makes his way, a number of people come to him saying they want to follow him. I don’t doubt that they really want to follow him. But each of them has an excuse and if we are being honest, they made sense. The first guy wanted to follow him, but Jesus reminded him the road would not be easy. The second one wanted to bury his father and the next one wanted to say goodbye to friends. Each time Jesus took them to task. They wanted to follow Jesus, but they had other things to do. Like a lot of folk, they thought they had time. But Jesus’ response is saying that the time to follow Jesus is NOW. Jesus knew death was near, the three wannabe disciples were not aware of what might happen down the road.

We want to think we have all the time in the world to follow Jesus, but if last year has taught us anything is that tomorrow is not promised. If we are going to follow Jesus we have to be willing to follow him now. Life is too short.

In a culture where we don’t want to deal with the reality of death, Ash Wednesday and the last year tell us that we don’t have time to waste.

The gospel group The Winans had a hit in the 80s called “Tomorrow.” The very end of the song tells us “don’t let this moment slip away,” because, “Your tomorrow could very well begin today.” So, let’s not wait to follow Jesus. Tomorrow is sooner than we think.

*Cross-Posted at the website for First Christian Church St. Paul.

Worship From Home: February 7, 2021

Worship From Home: February 7, 2021

Welcome to the weekly worship service of First Christian Church of St. Paul a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Join us each Sunday for worship at 10:00 AM. www.fccsaintpaul.org.

First Christian Church of St. Paul is a small, open and affirming, and multicultural church located near St. Paul, MN in Mahtomedi. We are a local expression of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

We hear a lot about freedom in our culture. The freedom of speech, the freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to choose. But what does that mean if we are Christians? What does freedom look like in the body of Christ? Pastor Rob will be looking at this question today from 1 Corinthians chapter 8 and we hear music from the late Zimbabwean composer Dr. Patrick Matsikenyiri.

I hope these worship services are of help to you on your spiritual journey. I hope that they remind you that even as we are apart we are part of a wider part of humanity. Please consider sharing the video and audio with a friend or relative that needs to hear the good news of the gospel.

Below is the video and sermon podcast for this week’s service.   

God be with you in the week ahead.  

Dennis Sanders, Pastor

The February 7, 2021 Service

The January 31 Sermon Podcast

Worship From Home: January 31, 2021

Worship From Home: January 31, 2021

Welcome to the weekly worship service of First Christian Church of St. Paul a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  Join us each Sunday for worship at 10:00 AM. www.fccsaintpaul.org.

This Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Epiphany): Do we believe in God?  Really, do we believe that God is real, that God makes a difference in the world, in our lives?  In Mark 1 we encounter Jesus preaching in a local synagogue and casting out demons to the surprise of the crowd.  They saw God acting in a way they never had before.  What does that mean for us today? What does a living God mean for us now and what can it mean in our world today? Join us as we learn together.

I hope these worship services are of help to you on your spiritual journey. I hope that they remind you that even as we are apart we are part of a wider part of humanity. Please consider sharing the video and audio with a friend or relative that needs to hear the good news of the gospel.

Below is the video for this week’s service.  It will be available for viewing starting at 10:00 AM.  

God be with you in the week ahead.  

Dennis Sanders, Pastor

The January 31, 2021 Service

The January 31 Sermon Podcast

Evening Prayer-January 13, 2021

Evening Prayer-January 13, 2021

Since people don’t seem to read blogs anymore I have no idea if anyone is reading this particular blog. I wanted to start posting some of the daily prayer videos I’ve been doing from my church. If you are looking for something to help you with prayer, check out the Midweek Vespers. In these crazy days, we need some time to pray to God because we need it. We really need it.

Damage Report!

Like a lot of congregations, First Christian has been worshipping apart since March. It’s been going okay, though I’m glad I had some skills in video editing before this all hit. I wanted to share with you a sample from last week’s service. The first is a video from the sermon by my friend Rob. The second is yours truly giving the prayer. If you want to see the full video, go over to the church website. I hope it’s good news to your soul.

Who Was That Masked Stranger?

Who Was That Masked Stranger?

Like a lot of people around the world, I’ve been wearing a mask for a few months.  I used to always wonder why people from Asian nations wore masks and now I know.  Most people are wearing them to protect other people from catching the coronavirus.  The masks most of us wear aren’t going to protect us from the virus, but it can prevent the other person from you if you happen to have the virus and since you can be asymptomatic, it makes sense to wear a mask in public places.  It’s weird for all of us to have to wear these masks covering our mouths, but if it can slow the spread of the virus it kind of makes sense.

Well, it makes sense to most people. Some like this gentleman in Florida, seem to think putting on a mask is some kind of conspiracy.

There is a movement taking place where wearing a mask is not something you do out of safety, but out of weakness. R.R. Reno, the editor of First Things magazine caused a stir in May as he shared his thoughts on the issue.  In one of his widely shared tweets he said the following:

Just to reinforce. Talked to my son in Seattle. The mask culture if fear driven. Masks+cowardice. It’s a regime dominate by fear of infection and fear of causing of infection. Both are species of cowardice.

Just to make sure people got the point he added the following tweet:

By the way, the WWII vets did not wear masks. They’re men, not cowards. Masks=enforced cowardice.

To say that all of this caused a stir is an understatement. Many, many people responded to the series of tweets with a lot of righteous anger. That response must have rattled Reno because he not only deleted the tweets, he deleted his entire Twitter account. So much for being manly.

Wearing of masks is not unheard of in America. During the 1918 Flu Pandemic, there were people who wore masks and those that didn’t. Cities such as San Francisco and Seattle had ordinances requiring people to wear masks. Just as there were recommendations and laws were in place back then, there were people that opposed such a requirement. San Francisco had something called an Anti-Mask League.

Reno is a Christian, and he is presenting a view about what our faith says about wearing masks.  In his view, Christianity is supposed to be strong and not weak.  It isn’t cowardly and fearful, but it should be daring and bold.

But is that a Christian view? In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul lifts up Christ as an example of what it means to be a Christian.  Paul says:

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

 

To live as a follower of Jesus, means being willing to be humble and to live for other people.  We aren’t wearing masks because we are scared, we wear them to protect others.  Since someone can be asymptomatic, wearing a mask stops the virus from spreading to others. If we are follower of Jesus, we aren’t being cowards, but caring for the other.  Wearing a mask protects my 86 year-old mother from getting the virus.  Wearing a mask protects the person at the check out at the grocery store.  Being a Christian is as much about living the faith than it is talking about faith.

One day, we won’t have to wear these masks and I will be happy.  But for now, I’m going to wear the mask because when we wonder if Jesus would wear a mask, all I need to do is look to Philippians to know the answer.