Pastor’s Blog

Valley of Dry Bones – March 30th, 2020

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Pray without ceasing – March 28th, 2020

The book I mentioned is call A Biblical Feast by Kitty Morse. There are a couple of editions of it out there – originally published in the late 1990s, it’s been reprinted at least a couple of times since then. Morse grew up Anglican in a middle eastern country. She tells the story of how, while reading the Bible, she noticed that the foods described in the biblical times were very much like the traditional foods she grew up eating at home. She decided to piece together this cookbook both to introduce us to traditional middle eastern cuisine as well as to introduce us to food as it is discussed throughout the Bible. It is a cool resource to have – especially as we gear up to celebrate Holy Week.

A Biblical Feast is available to buy online through Amazon.ca

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Meditatio – March 27th, 2020

Psalm 1 reads “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields it fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (verses 1-3).

Good words for us to take to heart and ponder as we walk these last few days of our Lenten journey – especially now that God has given us this magnificent gift of time.

Here, the psalmist invites us to dig back into the Scriptures as a way to re-anchor ourselves in the Holy Spirit’s life-giving gift through which He both calls us back to our Saviour in faith as well as labours to help us in our Lenten journey of repentance – return – and renewal.

Notice how the psalmist doesn’t speak first to our minds – at least, not in the way in which we tend to think of our faith as primarily a reasoned knowledge-based kind of thing. Instead, he calls upon us to consider our lives – how we walk – as well as our attitudes. Do we tend to be scoffers when it comes to listening to our Heavenly Father’s call to return to Him through Jesus His Son?

We want to be those trees, planted by the living waters that both nourish us and give us growth. Far too often, however, we allow the distractions of the world as well as the attitudes of our hearts to get in the way. Let us use this time to set all these things aside and learn to (re)listen to our Loving Saviour’s invitation to ‘get real’ – both in the way in which we come to terms with the way in which our lives are all knotted up with our own priorities so that we fail to truly listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us in His Word – but also, in the way in which He calls us to connect to Jesus our Saviour who died to silence our sins and then raise us up ‘in Him’ (Paul’s baptismal talk) to that never-ending Life that comes only from God as our source.

Over the next week, I will be offering ideas and suggestions on how we can immerse ourselves in that Word – that sacred history of our redemption – as we walk our way through Holy Week. Our Liturgies do it every week – but this year, we will be able to do it in a new and fresh kind of way as we spend some time every day with Jesus – to meditate on His precious gift of Life.

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Home Altar Stuff

So, what does one do with a Home Altar? Good Question. At church, our altars are usually the direction we face when offering our prayers. They also serve as the table from which the Lord’s Supper is celebrated. While Scripture places the celebration of the Lord’s Supper into the hands of the clergy, we all are called upon to pray. In fact, Luther, when writing a preface to a collection of his works being published in Wittenberg (1539) pointed out that the best way to learn theology is through reading Scripture, praying (oratio), meditation (meditatio), and struggles or trials (tentatio).

He wasn’t trying to be morbid or anything like that. Rather, he was trying to bring the best of the prayer traditions of the early church into the lives of the everyday man and woman and child. Just think about it. How do we learn best? It’s through practice and failure. The frustration of making mistakes and becoming aware of our ingrained habits that mess up our ability to grow has as much to do with our development as our figuring out ‘how to get it right’. That’s the whole point about trials or struggles that Luther was talking about.

True, biblically, we are reminded that we are all born broken and bent out of shape due to sin. It’s not just a moral brokenness, but reaches into the very depths of our being so that we can’t really see it clearly. Only God can do that – and this is why we need to constantly return to the Scriptures in order to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us and show us these things. But the Scriptures also point us to Christ who came to take onto Himself our brokenness and the penalty for our sin, all to give us life – His Life in exchange.

That’s the big picture within which we have been placed on the day we were baptized. That’s the big picture that we are called upon to bring to mind daily (making the sign of the cross) so that through prayer and meditation, Our Lord Himself comes to do His work of breaking down our ingrained habits of sin and brokenness, all to reshape and reframe our lives through His Word and the Sacraments.

So, what do we do at our Home Altar? We pray. Use Luther’s morning and evening prayers – individually or as a family – to reset your day in the context of prayer. If you have a Hymnal at home, use the short orders for Daily Prayer to do the same. Sing a hymn. Confess your brokenness. Read Scripture, meditate on a section of the Catechism. All good things to do. And as a way to help set up your altar space, hang a cross (or make one from broken branches). Put up a picture of Jesus. Even include a small candle to light during times of prayer so that you can watch the flame and smoke point us upwards to heaven. And let that all be reminder that Jesus has already carried our sins, our worries, our sicknesses, and everything that is part of our broken world to the cross and He receives our prayers with joy – promising to be with us as our strength for each day.

In the photo above, I’ve included some useful books to draw on as a part of your home devotions. There’s always more – of course – that could be suggested; but these are good starting places. Most, if not all, should be available through Amazon for quick delivery. Take a look. I’ll suggest more as time goes on. Spend time reading them, reflecting on the Scriptures, and learning to let go of your struggles all to rest in the blessing of Christ our Lord.

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It always happens in the middle of Lent

Yes, that’s Errol giving out a quick ‘bark’ at the beginning of the video. He was exiled to my office and wasn’t quite sure he liked being separated from me!

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Setting up your Family Altar

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Words from Luther

I spent some time reading through a tract which Luther wrote in 1527 when the bubonic plague reached the city of Wittenberg. Luther offered some sound biblical advise in order to anchor people’s lives squarely in the hope of the resurrection, while at the same time, encouraging people to be responsible citizens towards their neighbours. Some of you may have already seen this quote which has been circulating on Facebook, but it is worth repeating here. In summarizing his instructions, Luther writes:

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Weekly Children’s Pages – 4th Sunday In Lent

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Moving on…

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CPH Luther’s Small Catechism

Good afternoon everyone! As we head into this time of physical isolation, I will be sharing a few resources with you to help structure your days in prayer. These will be especially important for families with kids at home – to help keep their eyes focused on Jesus too. One easy resource worth having for everyone with a cellphone is a copy of Luther’s Small Catechism. It’s a free download worth having with you wherever you go. I’ve included the links below and will provide some talks about how to use it.

For Android and other computers: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details…

For Apple products: https://apps.apple.com/…/luthers-small-catechism/id733691341

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