The season of Lent begins this month. It’s a journey of forty days (excepting Sundays) that climaxes at the cross of Jesus. Lent climaxes at the cross, but how did it come to that? Jesus marched willingly to the cross, but he certainly didn’t hang himself. He was "delivered into the hands of sinful men, and was crucified." Who were these men, and why would they do such a thing?
Peter the apostle preached a sermon to a crowd of Jews saying, “Jesus Christ, whom YOU have crucified.” The strange thing is, he was preaching to people who did not literally arrest Jesus and nail him to the cross. There were likely only a handful of Jews on the scene at the time. Maybe some were in Peter's audience too, who knows? But in accusing the crowd, Peter implicates not just the Jews, but all of mankind in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He convicts you and me of crucifying Jesus, just as if we had pounded the nails ourselves. And he's right, because our sin crucified Jesus.
It’s like this: Christianity is about being saved, but there’s a problem. Being saved means being close to God; yet our situation is such that we are not worthy to stand in His presence. It’s not that God thinks He’s too good for us, (even though He is). He’s not proud or arrogant or snobbish. It’s that we are sinners; and for a sinner to be close to God is, literally, hell. There is a logic working behind the scenes of the bible...a sort of unstated assumption. It's that it is painful for what is evil to be in the presence of goodness--that the righteousness of God is naturally offensive to sinners.
I think this explains how the Jews could be so irrational on the day Jesus was crucified. When Jesus was arrested and brought before Pontius Pilate…Pilate offered to release one prisoner. He offered as options Jesus--a man who never sinned, and Barabbas--a murderer. How strange it is, that the Jews chose to release the murderer and retain Jesus, chanting with hypnotic resolve, “Crucify him.”
Or maybe it’s not all that strange. The Bible says Jesus was handed over because of envy--sin's natural reaction to righteousness. When the Jews see Barabbas, he makes them feel good about themselves…not because they admire him, but because they are righteous by comparison. But Jesus, on the other hand, gives them nothing but feelings of inadequacy that lead to envy. It's because he is perfect, and if you are in his presence your flaws stick out like a purple patch on khakis.
God wants to be with us, but He kept His distance to keep us safe, lest upon His arrival our sin would consume us. If He comes close, either we suffer and die or He does. But His love couldn’t stand to keep us at arm’s length forever. So when the time was right He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary and was made man…and guess what happened. Rather than coming in glory and killing us with his holiness, he humbled himself, took the form of a servant and was himself killed by our sin. He suffered by being in our presence and He let us crucify him because, when it comes to a holy God and sinful men, the logic stands that neither can live while the other survives.
In worship not long ago, we sang a famous hymn called “Beautiful Saviour.” It reminds me of that old fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” which teaches the very biblical truth that a thing must be loved before it is lovable. So too Jesus, by dying for us on the cross, actually made us worth dying for. We love because He first loved us. The world hated God and yet, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.
God wanted so deeply to bring us close to Himself, that He died trying...and He died succeeding. That’s the gospel. And so you can see that underneath all of the fasting, mourning, and ashes--the season of Lent is truly the season of love, because it culminates in the highest act of love…the cross. True love. Selfless love. Sacrificial love. “For greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Wishing you a Blessed Lententide,
WEEKLY BIBLE COTTAGE STUDIES
Weekly Bible Cottage Studies - Beginning the week of February 11, 2013 and ending sometime the week of March 18, 2013 a six week cottage Bible study called “The Truth Project” from Focus on the Family is scheduled. Leaders and hosts are needed to facilitate these cottage studies. Please consider hosting, leading or participating in a study group. You and I are engaged in a cosmic battle—a battle that is raging for the hearts and minds of people the world over, pitting the truth claims of God against the lies of the world, the flesh and the devil. It is a battle over what you truly believe. The Truth Project is an In-Depth Christian World view Experience. This project is designed to build a systematic and comprehensive biblical framework by studying God’s blueprint for all life. But even more so, we pray that it will be an encounter with God as we endeavor to gaze upon His face and seek to know Him more deeply. Because it is there, and only there, that we find true transformation---a metamorphosis that will renew your mind and heart and equip you to resist conforming to the world. (Roman 12:2) Please considering Hosting, leading, or participating .Signup sheets are on the bulletin board. Need more information or have questions please speak to Katherine Canfield 403-756-2149. A leaders/host meeting will be held on Tuesday Feb. 5, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the church.
Urgently Needed Some Nurturing Grandparent Type Volunteers - I am told Immanuel has many grandmotherly/grandfatherly types of people “who would not mind” holding, supervising and maybe even playing with children 0-5 years of age? We Need You! You need not be a grandparent to volunteer, just someone who enjoys spending a little time with children. We really need about 3 to 4 volunteers for approximately 2 hours once per week to help us out with supervising children for our Moms & Tots group. We currently have about five moms and ten children who would be participating and our main hang up to get this off the ground is childcare care. If you could help us out even if it’s only once or twice a month, please sign up on the sheet by the fellowship hall or speak to Katherine Canfield. The more the better! Thank you.
Praying Mothers Group - A small group of women are meeting Tuesday afternoon usually from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. You are welcome to join us. If this time is not convenient for you but you would like to participate in this type of group please speak to Katherine Canfield 403-756-2149/403-327-4336. Prayer provides comfort and security, and also fulfills the mission the Lord has for us to pray for each other and bear one another’s burdens. I cannot think of any better way to truly love your children/grandchildren, families & friends than by lifting them up in prayer on a consistent basis.
Inter-Lutheran Fellowship Curling—Thanks you to everyone who has participated. Hope you had fun! IDEAS NEEDED---The Inter-Lutheran Fellowship committee is looking for more ideas to entertain for fun activities to do together with other local Lutheran churches. Some ideas bounced around included ideas such as chartering a bus for a dinner theater event at Rosebud or something like the Canadian Badlands Passion Play in Drumheller etc. these may be grand ideas or not, simpler idea are needed and welcomed also. We need to know what you would be interested in participating in. Please jot down your ideas and give them to Katherine Canfield so she can forward them to the committee.
Do you have a gift for the culinary arts? Enjoy cooking & meal preparation? Share your gift/talent with your congregation! Please consider being open to receiving a phone call and assisting on a as needed basis to prepare the occasional meal for those in our church family who may be recovering from surgery, hospitalization, death in the family, a family crisis or adapting to the birth of a new baby, etc. This is a wonderful way to help service our church family. A signup is on the bulletin board by the fellowship hall please add your name & phone number to the Food Train to receive a phone call to assist with the preparation of the occasional meal.
Mark 1: 1-3 As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.’”
There will be a Sunday School staff meeting immediately following the 11 a.m. church service on Sunday, February 3rd. We will be brainstorming ideas for a special Spring project. We will plan a special activity for February. We will also have a discussion about the Lent and Easter curriculum.
For your information, our Sunday School enrolment policy states that if your child turns 3 years old they are able to begin attending Sunday School. So, even if your child has recently had her/his third birthday, your child is welcome to begin attending Sunday School, if you feel that they are ready to do so. Please talk to Kathy Withage; the Sunday School Coordinator, or to a Pre-School teacher about registering your child in Sunday School.
The church provides offering envelopes for all Sunday School children. We believe that this will promote good stewardship habits among our children—habits which hopefully will be with them for their lifetime. The envelopes are numbered and individual offerings are recorded and added to their parent’s financial contribution statement. The Sunday School offerings go into the church’s general budget. The exception to this may be to collect special offerings for missions. Information about a special offering will be communicated to parents prior to a special offering being taken.
If you would like to know more about Sunday School, have questions about what is happening in the Sunday School, or would like to help with Sunday School please talk to the Sunday School Coordinator, Kathy Withage.
Matthew 28: 18-20 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
LITTLE LAMBS CHRISTIAN PRESCHOOL
Little Lambs Christian Preschool is having a great year. All classes are full or nearly full, and the children have been learning and having lots of fun! In January, the classes went on a field trip to the Crossings Branch Library.
Registration for the fall of 2013-2014 is now open for returning families of Little Lambs, as well as to members of the Immanuel Lutheran Church congregation. Registration forms can be picked up from the church office, or printed from our website, www.littlelambspreschool.ca. There will be an OPEN HOUSE on Tuesday February 26th, from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., at which time registration will open to the public. If you have any questions about Little Lambs Christian Preschool, please call Tanya at 403-892-6627
PASTORAL CARE VISITOR TRAINING
Do you enjoy exploring with others what their faith means to them? Do you like listening to their “stories,” the journey of their lives? Can you walk with them as they figure out their spiritual place within the universe and within who they are? Would you like to become more aware of what you can do, what “tools” you can use? You may want to just visit with others within your congregation and/or to also touch the people in a care residence. The Good Samaritan Society is offering training in the how-to’s of visiting, as well as dealing with more specialized circumstances, such as grief and loss, dying, and visiting with older people.
The next training is on Friday, March 1, 6-9 PM, and Saturday, March 2, 8 AM to 4 PM at Immanuel Lutheran Church (20 Rocky Mountain Blvd W, Lethbridge). Cost is $70 which includes workshop materials, lunch on Saturday, and membership in the Alberta Pastoral Care Association. See church office for registration information.
THE IMMANUEL “BOOK NOOK”
You may have noticed that there are some Lutheran books available for purchase in our church library. The reason is if you’re a Lutheran, studying God and Christianity from books written by non-Lutheran authors is a little like going to the Chevy dealership for Ford parts. You might find working parts, but they weren’t specifically designed for your car. Custom parts are always more dependable. It’s the same with study materials.
The Bible is the Bible, but different traditions approach it differently. It’s essential then to know which tradition your materials are coming from. However, there is very limited availability of Lutheran books and study materials in our local Christian bookstore. Books such as the Lutheran Study Bible, the Lutheran Confessions, Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanations can only be purchased online or by phone from Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis Missouri, and that can be a hindrance to some. Therefore, I’ve decided to make these materials more readily available for purchase from within our church. They were purchased at a sale price, and are sold the same, with tax and shipping costs already figured in. Anyone may go into the library and follow the instructions for purchase. I plan to add a wider selection as time goes on. - Pastor Nathan
MIDWEEK LENTEN WORSHIP
We will be having regular Midweek Lenten services on Wednesdays, beginning with an Ash Wednesday worship service with the Rite for the Imposition of Ashes on February 13. We invite you to join us for a simple meal of soup and buns at 5:45 p.m. followed by a Worship Service at 6:30 p.m. The Lenten supper and worship service will continue the same time every Wednesday until Holy Week. There will be a sign up sheet on the bulletin board if you are able to take a turn and make soup.
PASTOR NATHAN TO APPEAR ON THE MIRACLE CHANNEL
Pastor Nathan will be interviewed on the Miracle Channel for the program called “Insight” on February 8. The segment is called, “Hearing From God: Knowing His Voice.” The segment will be aired live at 11am, and rebroadcast at 11pm. Immanuel Lutheran Church
December 31, 2012
A-BC District Mission Donations for Month..……….....$270.00
A-BC District Mission Donations to Date…….............$3128.00
CLWR Mission Donations for Month…….…………...$1250.00
CLWR Mission Donations to Date……….……...……$4336.00
Servus Credit Union Cheq. Acc.t Balance……….…$23473.40
Dedicated Accounts Balance……………..………….$18936.38
YEAR TO DATE
Actual Income ………………………………………..$372722.73
20 Rocky Mountain Blvd West Lethbridge AB T1K 8E1 (403) 327-4336 firstname.lastname@example.org
Office hours and worship schedule
Office hours: 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM, Monday - Friday
Sunday Worship (summer schedule starts June 16): 10:00 AM - Combined Service - Holy Communion on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month