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April 2012—In this Issue:
Of Three Plus One
As you read this article Christians around the world will be moving into Holy Week and Easter. At Lutheran Church of Honolulu, we celebrate these days with reverence, dignity, and a deep sense of the presence of God. While many churches no longer observe many of the ancient traditions, this congregation continues to find spiritual food in the symbols and practices of the early church interpreted in fresh and inviting ways.
Our journey to Easter begins with Palm/Passion Sunday. Recounting Jesus triumphal entry in Jerusalem, we gather with palm branches in the courtyard to hear the processional Gospel and process with palms around the church building. As we walk, Jesus’ story is given life and movement—ancient memories are tied to modern practice and life. Having circled the church building, we move from sunlight and singing, into the interior of the church where the Gospel lesson for the day is the Passion of Christ. The joy of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem gives way to the frightful story of Christ’s crucifixion. The palms we joyously waved in procession will later be burned for the ashes of Ash Wednesday.
Liturgical time moves quickly as we journey into the “Three Days” beginning with Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” means “command,” and on this day, we remember that Jesus gave his disciples a “new commandment:” that they love one another. The symbols for this ancient day are a pitcher and towel; for Jesus knelt and washed the feet of the disciples before breaking bread and drinking wine with them. Even as death looms before him, Jesus gives of himself once more. As the body of Christ, we are called into service for one another and to the world. The feet of twelve members of the congregation are washed as a sign of the centrality of service in faith. The new commandment is for us. At the end of the service, the ministers prepare the sanctuary for the next part of the journey. As the congregation shares a Psalm, every vessel, parament, candle, adornment, and scripture are removed from the altar area. Where once there was plenty, now there is emptiness ready to receive the crucified Christ. The first of the Three Days ends in silence, but we do not leave alone.
We gather again on Good Friday, a strange appellation, given it recounts the day of suffering and death of Jesus. Liturgically, Good Friday is a continuation of Maundy Thursday. The silence of Thursday’s departure carries into the beginning of the Good Friday Service. On this night, we hear the Passion of Christ according to John sung by three cantors playing the principle parts of Judas, Jesus, Pilate, and a narrator. The cross is carried in procession and placed against the altar. Worshippers are invited to carry lighted candles and place them at the foot of the cross, taking time to pray and reflect on Christ’s passion and willing death. For many Lutherans this practice may seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable; but this a time to embrace discomfort and place oneself at the mercy of God in prayer. Having heard the story, we prepare for the final of the Three Days.
Easter Vigil is an ancient service rooted in the earliest practices of the Christian Church. The service usually begins after sunset when the first new fire is lit in the courtyard. The large Paschal candle that resides near the Baptismal font is brought forth and lit anew. This service is, perhaps, the most sacred of our practices at LCH. We process together into the church led by the Paschal candle—the light of Christ. Over the course of seven readings we hear again all that God has done for us from creation, to flood, to Daniel and the fiery furnace. After the readings, as the choir and congregation sing, the ministers prepare for the great moment when darkness and gloom are thrown off and Easter joy is proclaimed with trumpet and alleluia. With death and darkness overthrown, Christ’s resurrection becomes our moment of joy. Easter Vigil is the most traditional time for baptisms, and hopefully we will welcome new children into Christ’s family that night. The evening ends in joyful song and the laughter of Christ’s gift of grace.
But not all is over! On Easter morning we pull out all the stops to celebrate all that God has done for us in Jesus. Kathy Crosier gives voice to our jubilation with incredible musical offerings from the organ, and the choir sings God’s praises as they raise the roof. The visual and aromatic feast of Easter lilies reminds us we have new life in Christ. The ministers literally “dress up” for Easter. White and gold paraments adorn the altar—white for purity and gold for the richness of God’s love. The Paschal candle, first kindled at the Easter Vigil, is lit each Sunday of Easter, and on special days like baptisms, and funerals. Its steady flame reminds us of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and its location near the Baptismal font, is a reminder of God’s gift of the Spirit in baptism.
So why do we continue to observe these ancient traditions when so many “modern” churches have given them up? In the “Three Days Plus One” we hear the salvation history of God played out in word, prayer, music, symbol, practice, and silence. While these worship experiences cannot carry the full meaning and purpose of God’s work in Christ, they do carry us into the faithful ministry to which we have been called. We need to see, hear, and experience the story about Jesus again and again. For Jesus’ story has become, in so many ways, the story of the people he left behind, empowered, and sent out into the world. Jesus’ story is you.
Council met Tuesday, March 20. Here are some of the highlights of the meeting:
Food for Thought will meet next on Saturday, April 14, at 6:30 PM at the home of Irmgard Hörmann, for potluck supper and discussion.
All are welcome. For information, please contract Kathryn Klingebiel through the Church Office (941-2566).
Come join Pastor Jeff and the rest of the AIDS walk team as they participate in the 2012 AIDS walk to benefit the Life Foundation. The walk will be held Sunday, April 15, 9:00 am at Kapi‘olani Park. There are two ways to get involved. First, join the LCH Team and walk with us on April 15. Registration is free at <www.honoluluaidswalk.com>. Click on “Walker Registration” and then “join a team” under our team name “Lutheran Church of Honolulu.” After you sign up, collect pledges from friends and neighbors, or by Facebook, Twitter, or email. Our team goal is $2,500! You can also support our team effort by donating either in person—just talk to team Leader Pastor Jeff or team member Sophie C.—or online at <www.honoluluaidswalk.com>. Just click on “Sponsor a walker” and type in Jeff Lilley or Sophie Cheng in the fields at the bottom of the page to make a secure donation. Click on our team page to sponsor other walkers as they join our team. Mahalo!
Friday, April 20 • Camp Mokule‘ia, North Shore
The camp starts Friday, 7:00 pm (at the camp), and ends at 10:00 am Saturday. Breakfast and snacks included.
What To Bring: sleeping bag, tent, clothes, flashlight, medical release form (from your own church), and friends!
Cost is $10.00. Please RSVP by April 1 to <email@example.com> or 623-9229. Only the first 20 people can attend, so RSVP early!
The Dao of Fungi
n April, our Process Thought Forum will consider an article about fungi and mushrooms and theology! Why not? The session is drawn from an article and video called “The Dao of Fungi: A Process Theology of Mycology.” During this month when we celebrate Earth Day, read and watch on your own the amazing and wondrous world of fungi and their potential role in “saving the earth” as the speaker contends. Better yet, join us at one of our discussion times listed here. It is guaranteed that you will be utterly amazed and your appreciation of nature will be enhanced.
These thoughts come from an article by Jay McDaniel on the website “Jesus, Jazz, and Buddhism” that was inspired by a TED Talk on fungi by Paul Stamets. The article and video of the TED Talk are both available at <www.jesusjazzbuddhism.org>, and if technology cooperates, we will watch the video during our sessions Saturday morning, April 14, at 9:30 AM and Sunday, April 15, at noon. See Fritz Fritschel for more information.
Please join Pastor Jeff and Fred Benco for a new member inquiry class beginning April 29 during the Sunday School hour. The class is an opportunity for those desiring to become members of Lutheran Church of Honolulu to learn more about the Lutheran faith and practice and about the history of this congregation. For our text we will read Dan Erlander’s Baptized We Live, which is a marvelous resource to “unpack” some of the more complex aspects of faith. But the real core of the class is our conversations with one another about our lives, passions, and hopes as God’s people.
Who should attend this class? The class is open to everyone! While we hope to reach those interested in deepening their relationship with the LCH ‘ohana, anyone who would like to deepen their understanding of faith, learn more about the Lutheran faith, or share time with newer members of the community is welcome to attend. The four class sessions will be held April 29 and May 6, 13, and 20 at 9:20 am in the Boardroom. New members will be received on Pentecost Sunday, May 27. For more information, contact Pastor Jeff at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
In preparation for this year’s Earth Day, we will be planting the new parking lot landscaping on Saturday, April 21, at 9:00 am. Come out and join in the fun of planting new trees, shrubs, and ground cover. We will be planting native Hawaiian species and some popular ornamentals. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, but share a passion for beautifying the environment and a love of plants, come out and join in!
There will be a special dedication on Earth Day Sunday, April 22; for this is a true celebration of what God has blessed us with and a manifestation of who we are at LCH.
The LCH Parking Lot Landscape Advisory Committee has chosen the four trees for our new parking lot!
If anyone would like to purchase a tree and plaque for $300 and dedicate it to a loved one at the planting on April 22 (Earth Sunday), please email the church office <email@example.com> to reserve a tree.
Our Youth need your help to “Fill the Ark” for Heifer International! Earlier this year our young people put on a wonderful concert to kick off their annual effort to raise $5,000 for Heifer International. As of March 20, they have raised $3,817 toward their goal. If you have not had a chance to contribute, please do so by placing your donation in the offering plate marked “Heifer.”
Heifer International purchases pairs of animals and livestock for poverty stricken peoples around the world. But more than animals, Heifer provides training, support and infrastructure that helps people lift themselves out of poverty by starting “micro-farms” and by passing the offspring of animal pairs to others in the village.
How many animals will a $5,000 ark buy? $5,000 will buy 2 cows, 2 sheep, 5 flocks of geese, 10 goats, 4 pigs, 4 water buffalo, 18 rabbits, and 4 llamas. Imagine each of these animals reproducing again and again over the course of their lifetime and you get a sense of how significant this gift is. Please help if you can.
P.S. Over the past seven years (not counting this year) our youth have raised enough money to purchase 14 cows, 14 sheep, 35 flocks of geese, 70 goats, 28 pigs, 28 water buffalo, 133 rabbits, and 28 llamas. How cool is that!
Bill Potter, Webmaster
This month’s column starts with a correction—or maybe we’ll call it an update. Last month I wrote that we were preparing to add a link to every page to allow members, friends, and visitors to subscribe the electronic versions of The HeartBeat, E-News, and music updates. The preparations have taken a bit more time than planned, so the links have been delayed for a few more weeks in order for Sarah to make corrections to the current list before it gets divided up among the three lists. That way, she won’t have to correct the same email address two or three times. Please be patient for just a bit longer.
In the meantime, the website continued to document significant events during the month of March. Fill the Ark 8, our children’s annual concert to benefit Heifer International shows up in a short article on the Congregational Life page and a slideshow with photos of each of the performers and a link to Pastor Fritz’ new poem, “All Hands on Deck.” Another short article feature a photo from one of our Lenten Wednesday evenings with a link to more pictures on the LCH Facebook page.
The m1ssion campaign page has been updated to reflect additional contributions and pledges during February. You can check the page shortly after the beginning of each month to see how the campaign is doing. The page also has a link to the pledge card for the campaign if you haven’t yet made your pledge. Just follow the “Ongoing Pledges” link and download the form.
Last month the congregation took a very big step in our life of mission when we voted to issue a letter of call to Pastor A. (name withheld in all internet resources until Pastor A. accepts the call and announces call to his/her congregation) as Associate Pastor for a two-year term call. If Pastor A. accepts the call, we will embark on a very exciting journey as we expand our ministry reach and enhance our missional goals as a congregation. Our decision was not made lightly, nor was it made quickly, but it was made faithfully!
So now what? Our associate pastor candidate has up to thirty days from the time of receipt to respond to a letter of call. This is an important time of prayer, calling on the Holy Spirit, and discussing with family members about the impending call. The candidate must take into consideration the congregation they are currently serving as well as the congregation they are being called to serve; not an easy task! So for the moment, we wait; and we pray with and for our candidate for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
If the candidate does accept the call, then we will be very busy. Some of you will be called to serve on a transition team whose task it will be to assist the associate pastor and family with the logistics of moving, securing housing, arranging travel for the final move, as well as spiritual and emotional support. Others will be invited to share your expertise as well as personal and professional connections so that our missional goals of reaching out into the Waikiki and university communities can get a running start. The rest of us will use our time and gifts to continue to grow and enhance the ministries in which we are already engaged. That is a lot. So where will this end up?
When Jesus called the first disciples away from the simple life of fishing, I wonder if they would have followed him had they known he was leading them into a life of uncertainty and to a holy calling of service. Perhaps some of them might not have taken him up on the offer. But they did follow, and they found within that choice an amazing gift of grace as they wandered through the wilderness of living out this new thing called the Gospel. They did not know exactly what Jesus would require of them and it was not until rather late in the game that they understood that he was leading them to the cross. The journey brought them into company with lepers, strangers, servants, givers, takers and the downright dangerous. When they stumbled, Jesus held them up, when they got to cocky, he encouraged them to humility; when they were afraid and uncertain he reminded them, “I will be with you always.” They did not know where they might end up, but they knew they would end up with Jesus.
We can’t predict with certainty where God is leading us in this new call. But like the disciples, we know we will be led to the cross and to Jesus. If Pastor A. accepts the invitation to be our associate pastor our ministry will change, but Christ, as always, will remain our faithful companion urging ever on in ministry to “Welcome, Worship, and Serve.”
Saturday, April 14 • 5:45 PM to 9:00 PM
LIt’s time for the Spring Pledge Drive for Hawaii Public Radio, and the station has reserved Saturday night, April 14, for LCH to staff the phones and take pledges during that most-Lutheran of radio programs, “Prairie Home Companion.” There is sure to be a good audience since they are rebroadcasting the New Year’s Eve show from Honolulu.
This is also a great way to expand the name recognition of LCH to those who may not know about us. We are acknowledged throughout the night by the on-air hosts, and we issue a challenge to other listeners.
If you can help staff the phones, if you are planning to make a pledge this spring and want it to be part of the LCH challenge, or if you can provide the green jell-o and hot dish, please let the Church Office (941-2566) know. We are on duty from 5:45 PM to 9:00 PM on Saturday, April 14.
Next HeartBeat Deadline is Tuesday, April 17!
God’s kids say the funniest things
On a Mother’s Day morning, two young children told their mother to stay in bed. As she lay there looking forward to being brought breakfast in bed, the smell of bacon floated up from the kitchen. Finally, the children called her to come downstairs. She found them both sitting at the table eating bacon and eggs.
“As a surprise for Mother’s Day,” one explained, “we decided to cook our own breakfast.”
—via Rev. Karl R. Kraft
Copyright © 2012 Lutheran Church of Honolulu
1730 Punahou Street, Honolulu, HI 96822 • 808-941-2566
Comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org