Category Archives: The Church Year

The Circle of Life

Calendar Wheel2As I shared in my newsletter this month, the end of the period of the counting of the Omer is upon us and so Shavuot is soon.  It is kind of hard to believe that it is already May, but this month concludes the Easter season and the period of the Omer on May 19 with Shavuot and May 20 with Pentecost Sunday.

It is hard to underestimate the importance of this day as God brought to fulfillment everything He had promised in the Law and the Prophets.  The once-for-all sacrifice had been made, and on May 10, we mark the Ascension, as Messiah Y’shua went to the Father to advocate for us.  His disciples had been told to wait in the city until “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) as they waited “for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4).  That promise is at hand, as they gathered for the feast of Shavuot, and the celebration of God’s giving of Torah to Moses.  That celebration turned into the pouring out of power onto those who received the promise that God had made, salvation through the suffering Son of God!

God’s Spirit is poured out on us in our baptism, and we are empowered now to go and tell.  How then do we participate in this Great Commission to go and make disciples?  Simply by telling!  Those who receive, much like the Ethiopian Eunuch, will be baptized and taught all that our Lord has commanded us to teach.  We may not do the baptizing, or the teaching.  Someone else in the Church may do that, and we may never know.  But we do know whether or not we have told.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to tell, and the Holy Spirit fills those who will receive the promise.  So don’t be discouraged if you don’t know, but be encouraged that the Spirit has filled you with the power to tell.

Some in our ministry have spent the month of April telling in Israel.  That’s exciting and I can’t wait to have them come home from their journey, and to hear how God worked through them.  But those of us left here have been busy too.  Perhaps we don’t all take the opportunity to go to Israel, but God brings to us those whom he wants to hear.  And the teaching goes on.  The cycle of the Church year is wonderful to teach, and on the last day of May marks the near beginning of the story again.  The Visitation marks Mary’s trip to her cousin Elizabeth, and sometimes lost in the pageantry of the Passion and Easter season is the Annunciation, when (this year on Palm Sunday) we marked Gabriel’s visit to Mary when the story began again!  Tell the story, over and over again . . . that’s the circle of life!

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For everything under heaven…

IMG_1952November brings an end to the celebrations of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.  While the whole year was a build-up to this years’ Reformation Day celebrations, I don’t think 501 years is anything to sneeze at!  But we do all like round numbers, don’t we?

I do love the cycles and seasons of the church year.  Risking being repetitive, back in September I mentioned the Pete Seeger song “Turn, Turn! Turn!” based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  Of course, this song was made most popular by the folk-rock group The Byrds, who had a #1 single of this song in 1965(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZEYW2ROKK8). Whenever I read Ecclesiastes, I find it difficult not to start singing this song in my head as I read.  This month I was preaching at Trinity Lutheran Church in Northfield, MN, where they had a wonderful banner in their narthex.  It was four panels illustrating the Church Year with the quote from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything under heaven, there is a time and a season.”  Of course, in my head I started hearing that distinctive 12-string Rickenbacker that Jim McGuinn played.  I don’t know if that is good or bad, but music has a way of penetrating so deeply into the human memory.  This month also brings to an end the current cycle of the Church Year.  November 26 is “The Last Sunday of the Church Year.”   Then the paraments change from green to blue, and Advent is begun.  Music being what it is, I always look forward to hearing all those wonderful Advent hymns of the season.

I think it is interesting that Thanksgiving Day, at least here in the U.S., falls on the fourth Thursday of November.  I’m sure this had nothing to do with the seasons of the Church Year, but what a wonderful opportunity to gather on Thanksgiving Day and give thanks…including thanks for the Church Year.  The last Sundays of the Church Year focus on Christ’s return, and what that means for believers and unbelievers alike.  That focus is good, and leads us into the season of anticipation of Christ’s first coming in the wonderful ways that cycles and circles go.  For everything under heaven, including those who do not yet know Jesus, there is still time to tell!  Give thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

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