I grew up in the Roman Catholic church and every year during the season of Lent, conversation would swirl about what we were giving up. A lot of people gave up food items – chocolate, meat, soda. Adults might have given up things like alcohol or swearing.
As I grew in my faith education, I learned about giving up things that would help me make roomfor Christ in my life. I could give up an hour of television to study scripture or a book on a Christian topic. I could give up complaining and be a more positive person to be a better example of Christian love. These are still great ideas!
Now that I’ve been a church “professional” for several years, I’ve learned some history about our calendar and how the traditions of seasons like Lent and Advent came to be. Both Lent and Advent were seasons of fastingbefore major holidays. Lent is the 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter, and Advent is the 40 days before - you guessed it - Epiphany. If someone reminds me in December, I’ll write another whole post about why it isn’t Christmas. Historically speaking, these 40 day fasts were meant to temper our “worldly desires.”
But we treat the seasons of Advent and Lent very differently. During Advent, we mark off our calendars; in some traditions we go as far as opening little doors to reveal daily treats. What a contrast to the idea of fasting we think of for Lent. We spend the season of Advent anticipating the joy of Christmas. The tradition of fasting, while it gives us opportunities to open ourselves to Christ, can sometimes have the unintended consequence of drawing our focus to our own suffering.
So what if we thought of Lent more like Advent? The eager anticipation. The joy of preparing ourselves, not for new birth, but new life in the resurrection. As we watch the flowers coming back to life, we can be grateful that Christ’s resurrection means we can stand before God, free of our sin. Yes, we can still make room for God in our lives, and we can do it out of the joy gratitude that we have already been saved through Grace, not by our own deeds and suffering.
Singing, praying, learning, fellowship, and service – these are all things that bring us together each week within our community at Lord of Life. There shouldn’t be any surprise that the same things could bring together people from other communities, too. Our first REFORM event with Roman Catholics and Lutherans from West Chester and Mason exceeded our expectations of how powerful the experience would be.
We began with a worship moment led by musicians from St. Max, Christ the King, and Lord of Life (the next event will include leadership from St. John’s as well). Through common words and common songs, we infused the evening with a joyful prayer that continued into our conversations. We heard from Lutheran and Catholic clergy from St. Susannah Catholic (Mason), Prince of Peace Lutheran (Loveland), and Zion Lutheran (Middletown) who presented different views, but we heard even more common views. We listened to a biblical message that defined us all as part of the same vine. The same body. One faith, one hope, and one baptism.
I found myself at a table made up of Catholics from various parishes. We asked questions and discussed among ourselves how we each came to the body of Christ and what that means to us. About half the table had been born into the Catholic church. But one young woman shared how she found the church through an ecumenical sports team. An older gentleman started going to Methodist Sunday school after his mother died when he was nine, and then converted to Catholicism after years of seeing the positive impact the church had on his wife. We all had stories about how we saw people’s faith overflow in their actions.
The thread that kept weaving its way to the top was: “We need to do more of this.” We need to find ways to maintain the natural bond we have through Christ and the Spirit. We need to worship together and talk together and serve together. Our connection to each other is too powerful to let ourselves be kept apart.
As the clock forced the evening to a close, we put notes on a door describing how we wanted to move forward in our relationships. More combined worship. More dialogues. More learning. More outreach opportunities together. Singing, praying, learning, fellowship, and service.
Even though the next two REFORM events are self-contained – they are three separate events rather than one continued event, I suspect we’ll see some of the same faces coming again and again because we are so inspired to move forward as one body. Come be a part of the conversation on October 19 at 7 pm at Christ the King or October 21 at 10 am at St. Max.
Looking for a mid-week boost? Then, Chew On This! Join us on Wednesday for a meal and some conversation. Love to cook? Volunteer to host a meal.
|6 - 6:30 pm||Meal for All|
|6:30 - 9 pm||Stephen Ministry Training|
The 2017-2018 Ministry Magazine is available in print at Lord of Life or by downloading the file below!
October 31, 2017, marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his Ninety-Five Theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany – an act that sparked the Lutheran Reformation. For many years, Roman Catholics and Lutherans have been striving to find common ground and heal divisions in the Church.
Last October 31, for the first time, Pope Francis, Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, and other Roman Catholic and Lutheran leaders led the Joint Ecumenical Commemoration in Lund, Sweden. This historic event was a visible sign of unity, as Lutherans and Catholics from around the globe joined together for worship.
This Fall, we continue to commemorate this anniversary, locally, in a variety of ways, including these exciting events that bring together various voices for worship and learning. These events will focus on three themes: Rediscover Common Ground, Renew Relationships, and Respond to Local Needs. Centering ourselves in Ephesians 3:16-21, “Now to God, who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,” we’ll explore the many ways that the Holy Spirit continues to work in our lives, congregations, and communities.
Our time together will include a prayer service for unity, panel presentation, small group discussions, and reflections on how we can continue to love and serve the people of God as we respond to local need. The following dynamic voices will invite us into engaging God’s promises and one another as we look to the future.
Thursday, October 19, 7 – 9 pm, Christ the King Lutheran Church, West Chester
Worship leaders for the evening include Father Norm Langenbrunner and Pastor Lowell Michelson
Saturday, October 21 from 10 am to noon, St. Maximillian Kolbe Church, Liberty Twp.
Worship leaders for the evening include Father Geoff Drew and Pastor Matt Byrd
We are offering the same program in various locations in the hope that more people can participate.
A freewill offering will be taken for Matthew 25: Ministries for Hurricane Relief.
Visit the facebook page: www.facebook.com/cathluth2017/
Sign up online today: http://conta.cc/2f1mu5i
Manhood and Violence
Nov 3 - 4
Join the Men of Lord of Life for an overnight retreat in Hueston Woods to experience God beside the water, surrounded by the trees, and among friends. Escape, recharge, learn, and have fun, as we explore the topic of Manhood and Violence in Scripture and our culture today. The schedule will allow plenty of time for fellowship, unwinding, and enjoying God’s great creation. $90/person covers housing and meals. Scholarships are available. Register online by Sunday, October 22.
You’ve heard the phrase before. This three-word admonition is shared as soothing balm following a tense or difficult moment, but often has the opposite effect. Rather than offering comfort, it stirs up irritation. When my car has run out of gas, when I have bounced a check, or missed an important appointment, please don’t demean me by suggesting that out of the trials of unpredictable or irresponsible living there may come a nugget of wisdom. “Live and learn” often lands on our ears as a reprimand of sorts with a silver lining.
But what if we hear it as something else? What if we embrace living and learning as a declaration of a vibrant Christian life? It isn’t an admonition, but a sustained promise of who and how we hope to be.
We live and learn when we pause to listen to the joys and sorrows of a child.
We live and learn when we look for the lonely and isolated.
We live and learn when we engage in Bible reading and study with others.
We live and learn when we meet one another in worship moments.
We live and learn when we serve our neighbors in need.
We live and learn when we wrestle with complicated issues of race and culture.
We live and learn when we respond with gratitude.
We can’t help but live and learn as people of faith. It is who we were created to be.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
From the earliest pages of Scripture, God’s people were instructed to put their faith into action, as a way of sharing God’s goodness with the world. “Listen, obey, talk, and write. At home and beyond, love God with your whole being.” Ours is not a stagnant faith, but one that is always growing as we live and learn the ways of Christ.
Lord of Life takes this command seriously by making life-long learning a priority. That’s right. Preschool kids, children, youth, teenagers, college students, newlyweds, mid-lifers, retired folks, and centenarians are all active learners at Lord of Life.
As you begin to fill your calendar with Fall activities, I encourage you to make room to continue living and learning in the faith. Consider stepping into a teaching role with Sunday School. Be a mentor with our teens. Plug into a Bible study. Pray for all in need. Commit to being generous with your finances. Step up to serving. Show up for worship. Jesus will meet you.
Living and learning in hope,
Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Lord of Life...if you haven't seen it in action, you really should try to find a way to be a part of it in the future. It is such an amazing week of singing, laughing, learning, and fun! The time, energy, and love I see the volunteers put into this week overwhelms me. Each day we take a simple message of God's love for us and help to make it really stick in the minds of our youth by singing, crafting, playing, eating, and discovering. And boy do these kiddos eat it up!
The theme for this year is Maker Fun Factory: Created by God, Built for a Purpose. It is a journey with our loving Creator who not only made us, but promises to be with us through the good and bad. Our daily themes are:
Monday - God Made You. Psalm 139
Tuesday - God Is For You. Joshua 1&2
Wednesday - God Is Always With You. Judges 6:11-7:25
Thursday - God Will Always Love You. Luke 22:66-24:12
Friday - God Made You For A Reason. 1 Samuel 25
Throughout this week, I have heard from countless parents who tell me how much their child is loving VBS. Suddenly, all the time, sweat, and love put into this week becomes so worth it. Seeing the joy in the faces of the children, hearing about their God sightings, and watching them dump their hard-earned allowance into our Clean Water collection bottles warms my heart and gives me hope for the future. We’re hoping to collect $500 by Friday for Lutheran World Relief and will ask the congregation to match our total this Sunday. God is at work here at Lord of Life this week and it's amazing to see!
We have exactly 100 registered youth this week, ranging from 3 years old to 13 years old. Some are learning about God's amazing and creative love for us for the very first time, while others are simply being reminded. We have a dozen 5th and 6th graders participating in the Leader in Training program, preparing them to be peer leaders at future youth events. We also have nearly 50 youth and adult leaders working together to make this the best week possible for the kids.
I want to thank everyone who helped make VBS possible this year. Whether you donated money or supplies, volunteered to lead a station or a crew, or simply prayed for our success this week, I thank you! Feel free to stop by on Friday to see our final celebration. If you miss it, we’ll sing some of these songs at 9:30, this Sunday.
Yours in Christ,
Lord of Life VBS Coordinator
We had a fantastic gathering on May 31 to talk about 13 Reasons Why, the popular Netflix series, and about the many issues facing teens and their families. The issues are not new. Youth want to know how to support each other and parents want to know how to talk with their kids about life, hope, and love - the very things our churches embody.
Information and educational resources about suicide are easy to find on the web. Many schools have already sent parents information and links. Here are some additional numbers that can be helpful:
- 211, or ext 741741 for the nationwide FIRST CALL FOR HELP supported by United Way.
- 1.800.273.TALK (8255) is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
- 911 emergency line may be needed when you need and immediate response for help.
- BUTLER COUNTY (OHIO) MOBILE CRISIS TEAM AND CONSULTATION
1.844.4CRISIS (1.844.427.4747) or 881.7180 24 Hour Hotline
Need someone to talk to? They can complete a risk evaluation 24 hours a day (in home, at school, or in the office during the day). Available for phone or in person consultations. All staff are licensed counselors or social workers. It's free of charge to any county resident regardless of age.
- NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health)
A website full of resources, connections, and opportunities.