Pastor’s letter for March

Hi:

Just wanted to share with the blogging world the letter I put in our March newsletter. Hope it is of some meaning to this world, too.

Psalm 22: 1 “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” The beginning of this Psalm doesn’t sound so good, and thankfully by the time we read further, we realize the tone of the writer changes to thankfulness for all that God has done. In actuality this Psalm is pointing to the Christ who is coming to save the world as this very opening verse is the one that Jesus recites as he hangs on the cross. We may believe he is asking why God has abandoned him, yet he is likely also remembering the entire Psalm that ends with a note about how we in future generations will be learning of all he (Jesus) has done to deliver us from evil. The month of March is smack in the middle of the Lenten Season this year. As a teacher, I know how this becomes one of the longest months of the year. It may also feel that way for anyone who has personal or family health concerns or is busy with calving or preparing equipment for the next year of farming. After a long cold winter, March can feel like spring will never get here. We may have not had a record amount of snow this year, as other parts of our country have had, but the cold seems to want to seep into our very bones. Gazing out from the Second Sunday in Lent, I am not sure that Easter is something we can find. It feels like Lent is a road full of twists and turns and Easter is someplace in a hidden valley or through a tunnel we can’t seem to find. Fortunately for us, we have the scriptures to reassure us that there is a light at the end of that tunnel, and God is sure to be with us to help us find the way. In Christ’s Love: Pastor LuCinda

 

Temptations in the Wilderness

Now that Lent has started, we have services on Wednesdays. It is usually a soup and bread supper followed by a brief service. I need to remember the key word is brief. I have been trying to cut some of the liturgy of Sunday mornings, but we still seem to go fairly long. This past week, we didn’t get to the soup until 6:30 as it was having a time getting warm enough in the big roaster. I was glad it worked out that way as we were running a bit late. James had an IEP after school, and Ana and I just didn’t get the bulletin and message done the way we should have. Anyway when I accidently skipped a song and a reading, I couldn’t get any complainers. I think they were all ready to head home and rest for the night. Especially those who had to get up and go to work the next day.

We looked at the time Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. If you want to check out the scripture yourself, go to Matthew and Luke chapter 4 in both cases and start with verse 1. You will know when it is over as you read. Ironically, I studied this most when taking an English class in a public school. It was an advanced class on the British poet/theologian John Milton. His Paradise Regained is a smaller epic poem than Paradise Lost, but still worth reading studying.

Temptations in the Wilderness

Tonight we are looking at the temptations of Christ. I suppose we could glance over them and talk about current, human temptations, and maybe that is what we should do, but where do we begin/where do I begin choosing which temptations we need to hear about? What gives me the right to say this temptation or that temptation or sin is greater or more important and something we should stay away from? The fact is that all temptations and all sins, even the thoughts of sins, are enough to keep us from the love of God. The issue is that whatever we harbor as something bad for us, no matter what it looks like to someone else, if it prevents us from worshiping God, or spending time in prayer or taking time to reach out to another, it is the very thing that we should resist. So instead of talking about any of the here and now sort of things we might face, I will talk about what the scriptures say Jesus faced. And I will let you decide for yourself what it is that you face and let you decide if it is important enough to resist it and turn back to God.

Our gospel lessons tonight are about the time Jesus spent in the Wilderness fasting and preparing for his ministry and ultimate death on the cross. The time is listed as 40 days. We know that 40 is a significant number. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Elijah traveled for 40 days and even Moses fasted for 40 days, so the length of time we use for a focus in Lent is not a random of modern number. It is a part of Christian history.

The first temptation by Satan is the temptation of food. It is much like the temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden. The temptation was of basic needs, something the people of Jesus day and economic status understood well. Jesus had been fasting according to the text for 40 days. To us this seems an impossibility to go for 40 days without food, but the bottom line is that no matter the time-span, it was long and would have made him vulnerable. Temptations often hit us when we are most vulnerable. Perhaps this is no coincidence. This is part of the plan that Satan uses. Hit people when they are at their lowest point, and hopefully… well you get it.

In our current society we see the fasting, or the giving up of favorite foods, or the no meat on Friday’s as a symbol of that fasting that Jesus endured. Satan begins with this form of temptation, and both of the gospels that tell this story put the “turn stones to food” temptation first; Satan begins here probably because he is trying what he considers the easiest temptation first. It certainly worked with the first humans, why not try it now. But Satan is fooling himself. Satan is delusional at best it he thinks that Jesus will be as easy a target as Adam and Eve were. For this first Temptation Jesus said, Deut 8:3b. “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

So in this way, Jesus refuted Satan. He also let Satan know that he would not be about the ministry of giving away food just to gain popularity in the way that the Roman soldiers were known to do in those days. It was a common practice of theirs as a way of getting the people to go along with what they wanted.

The second-Luke/ third Matthew temptation is the temptation of ambition. Satan promises to give Jesus control of the whole world. Matthew says Satan took Jesus to a high mountain, according to Luke Satan just takes Jesus high into the air so they can see the world. Whichever the method, I have always found this to be really ridiculous. How could Satan give Jesus what God created? If Jesus is the first born Son, he would get a double share of the inheritance, but wait, Jesus is the only begotten Son so he gets it all. How can Satan begin to use that as a promise or a temptation? Of course this again is show of how delusional Satan is. He really believes that he is the ruler of the world. Satan seems to believe this is his creation and his dominion.

Again, this just shows us how desperate Satan, the powers of evil can get. If temptations are presented to Christ in such a almost weak and grasping and lame manner, how much more often are they presented to us in ways that are really lame?

Matthew lists the second temptation as Satan taking Jesus to the top of the temple in Jerusalem and telling him to jump and let the angels come and rescue him. Luke puts this as the third temptation. And for tonight’s points, I have saved it for last mostly because the great writer and theologian, John Milton, in his smaller epic poem, Paradise Regained, put this temptation third following Luke’s version. This temptation was supposed to be a way to get God to act to save Jesus. It was about a spectacular display of power. It was about having the angels come to save Jesus, showing the world who he was without having to go through the humiliation of the cross. It was a way to “die” to the human form without all the pain and hardship that he had to endure. Jesus’ reply comes from Deut. 6: 13, which basically says we are to worship God and only God.

Of course this temptation also failed, but I want to share the explanation that Milton gives for its failure because it seems to bring out an important note. We know the end of this temptation as Jesus responding by telling the devil that it is written, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” which comes from Deuteronomy 6:16.  Milton, though, points out one thing that is not always so obvious. In this temptation, Satan asked Jesus to jump, fall if you will off the pinnacle of the temple. The key here is fall. He wanted Jesus to fall from the Grace of God. Satan wanted to be equal with Jesus. He always wanted to be equal to Jesus and when he couldn’t climb to that level, the next plan was to bring Jesus down. Jesus didn’t “fall” (pun/pun) for the plan. The version in Luke shows us that Jesus stood firm and Satan fell, and Luke doesn’t mention Satan again until he enters Judas. Jesus stood. Jesus stood his own ground and resisted the temptation, all the temptations of Satan. And because of that we have the chance to become part of the kingdom.

Though it is usually only with these verses, the days of Jesus in the wilderness, that we study and talk about him being tempted by Satan, this certainly isn’t the end of Satan’s struggle to gain control of Jesus. In the Matthew version of this story, Jesus ends their time together by saying “Away with you.” And Satan leaves for the time being. Matthew notes that the angels come and serve Jesus when the temptations have ended, but we know that Satan doesn’t give up. Satan just regroups. As long as earth exists, Satan will be around trying to grab anyone and everyone. Jesus was a target, but Jesus was not a victory for Satan. Jesus’ love for us is too strong to allow Satan to have the victory.

And because of the victory of Jesus over Satan, we too can resist the temptations we face and the powers of evil that try to overcome us. This Lenten Season as we are going through our wilderness journey, we need to remember the words that Jesus used against all temptations.

Jesus said we do not live by bread (and soup) alone, but by everything that comes out of the mouth of the Lord. Not only do we need food for the body, but food for the soul and that is why we continue to come and be part of worship. In the second and third temptation we learn that God is not to be tempted and that God is the only one we are to worship. We know this, and we know this well when we are here with our fellow believers. We just need to remember it in the times when we are out in the world. When we remember this at that time, we not only are doing right for ourselves, but we become an example for others, and that is what God needs from us at this time. Let us join together in our prayer.

More Ana days

Today is Friday, and I stayed home from school and my long-term substitute job to be with Ana. We could have taken her to Doris, yesterday Adie stayed home and she was with her and Steve. I hope it was a fun day for them. She wasn’t an easy child that is for sure. Adie said she tipped the cereal and wouldn’t nap. I could tell she was worn out because she went right to sleep after supper and a bath. And, no Ana’s mother, she did not have to endure a bath every night. This was her first one since coming, and I think she really needed to have it as she was starting to smell like a diaper rather than a baby. Anyway, I don’t want to be all boring with writing, I would rather share some pictures. I have more, but I will have to wait for Paulina to come home. I took them with my new phone and I have no clue how to set up the email place so that I can get them to the computer and post them. Proof again that technology is only as good as the person who can run it.

Ana talking to Grandpa after her bath.

Ana talking to Grandpa after her bath.

Ana in the bath about to say, "Get me OUT!!" Not even the rubber duck made her want to stay.

Ana in the bath about to say, “Get me OUT!!” Not even the rubber duck made her want to stay.

Here are a few more random shots of how the days have been looking outside. It is freezing cold again today, but they are promising a warm up to 27 degrees F by tomorrow. Yipee almost to the freezing mark, from the bottom up.

The shop today in the sunshine.

The shop today in the sunshine.

The shop on Wednesday when we had a light dusting of snow.

The shop on Wednesday when we had a light dusting of snow.

Here are Sophia and Roger trying to get in on the action. They don’t really like not being the center of attention, but haven’t really been too outspoken about it.

Hey, let me in, it is cold out here.

Hey, let me in, it is cold out here.

Hi, what are you doing on that computer?

Hi, what are you doing on that computer?

Wednesday with Ana

Because it is late, and I really need to get some sleep. I will keep this post to a story in pictures. We did have a really good time today, and I still managed to get the bulletin and the message finished in time to shower, change and get on the road just in time to make church to do the pre-supper prayer. I was making copies of the bulletin as the rest were eating and cutting out hearts while the copy machine was working. Yikes. I also found out that one less page of message will be more than fine with the group gathered. Really now if you start the car to come to church you might as well stay a while. OK, I get it. Anyway here is how Ana and I spent the day.

Here was how she looked when food was not ready immediately. See what happens when a nursing mother leaves the area.

Here was how she looked when food was not ready immediately. See what happens when a nursing mother leaves the area.

She finally realized an empty bowl is something to chew on.

She finally realized an empty bowl is something to chew on.

Feeding herself.

Feeding herself.

Getting ready for the nebulizer

Getting ready for the nebulizer

Sucking her thumb on grandma's lap watching soaps.

Sucking her thumb on grandma’s lap watching soaps.

Playing in the computer room as Grandma does her church work. Thanks Paulina for the use of the big giraffe.

Playing in the computer room as Grandma does her church work. Thanks Paulina for the use of the big giraffe.

All dressed up after church. The fur boots were a real hit. They all wanted to hold me and I was on my best behavior. From the way she acted, I am guessing she will be a politician like her Godmother.

All dressed up after church. The fur boots were a real hit. They all wanted to hold me and I was on my best behavior. From the way she acted, I am guessing she will be a politician like her Godmother.

Ana has arrived!

I would share a picture, but I don’t wish to disturb her. Ana is sleeping in Paulina’s room, which was once her mother’s room. Her mother, papa, and Jaxon are playing video games or something at a resort in Disney Land in CA. They left around 6am with a short stop in Denver made it to Disney before 11. Jaxon caught on as soon as they walked into the airport. On the way in the car he kept asking why Ana stayed behind. 

It felt good to get home. The trip to Bismarck was taxing because we got me a new phone. It is the first time I have upgraded phones for about six years. I now have broken into the iPhone circle. I got an older model, but spent too much on the case and screen. I guess. The young man who waited on us was good, and really wants to be a teacher. I wish him well. He was a pretty good sales person. Not much else to report. I think it is time for rest. Ana fell asleep and we need to turn in while she sleeps. Take care for now!

Maroon beanie

I just finished the maroon beanie. It is going to school with me to see if anyone wants it tomorrow. This one was a cast on 84. I worked the first 2 inches in a 2 rib. That means knit two, purl two. After the first two inches it is stocking net, which is knit a row and purl a row. After five inches I started to decrease at every 12th stitch. It was easy, and fits quite differently that those made with only a 70 cast on. Hope you like it.



Getting ready for Ana

Tonight when James and I got home from school, we went straight to work. We cleaned the house upstairs and down. We finally stopped for supper then finished around eight. I even washed the rugs and James mopped the entry steps. The cats kept going in and out because of the commotion. On Sophia’s last trip she brought us a large mouse. All of this work was about preparing for little Ana. We will be picking her up from Bismarck tomorrow after school. She is with her family and Jessica and Paulina for the night. In the morning the family leaves on vacation, Jess goes to work and Paulina and Ana wait for us to show up. Can’t wait to pick up Ana Bona.

IMG_1228
Bed for Ana in Paulina’s room.

IMG_1229
Door to Paulina’s room.
The giraffe on the door was made for Paulina by my long term sub when she was born. I wish that I had the pattern. I may have to put some paper up to it and trace it. If I do, I will let you know.

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