Second Sunday in Lent

Announcements

It’s not too late to join our Wednesday Lenten Bible Study. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Click here for the current Family Faith Journey virtual lesson.

  • First Reading — Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
  • Psalm 22:23-31
  • Second Reading — Romans 4:13-25
  • Gospel — Mark 8:31-38

As we continue virtual worship to keep everyone safe our mission still continues. Click here to learn more about our continuing ministries and how you can provide support during the pandemic.16-23

Portions from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. By permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #23415. 

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-732189.

MAINTAINING THE MASTERPIECE

By Pastor Wes Poole

Ephesians 2:10

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. – NRSV 

We often refer to the season of Lent, rightly so, as a journey. Indeed, we commonly lift up the reality that in any given matter, it is generally the journey, not the “destination” itself, that provides us with the most powerful of life’s lessons. I find this particularly valuable during Lent. As this season is one where we make extra effort to ask ourselves the hard questions like, “What is lacking in myself that I can try to make better?” or “How may I make myself a more pleasing offering to God?” or “How can live into Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor?” These are all great questions, and appropriate to any time of year, but they are key to observing a faithful Lent. Another important point that I think must be made here is that our individual journeys are all different and cannot be applied across the board to everyone. To wit, I went looking for what other folks had to say about their respective journeys. In my search, I came across an account of a woman who had become a Christian later in her adult life. Like many, she was experiencing a troubling void in her life and found comfort and purpose in the life and teachings of Jesus. It wasn’t, however, the end of her story or any sort of “magic bullet”. Here is what she had to say:

“When I became a Christian, I thought all my problems would go away, and God would take care of everything with a snap of His fingers. The truth is, my life fell apart within weeks of being baptized. Suffice it to say, accepting Jesus and asking Him to be Lord of my life didn’t obliterate the garbage I’d pressed down in the compactor of my heart.”

It’s a tough lesson to learn, but nonetheless quite true. There is never one, solitary event or epiphany or moment of clarity that “fixes” us. The peaks and valleys of life are always there. What first struck me about her story was the scripture she was using to help her tell it. She used the above verse from Ephesians, but from the New Living Translation. The NLT renders the verse thusly, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” [emphasis added]

God’s masterpiece…what a lovely translation and sentiment! Lent can indeed be a dark time for us. Regardless of its value, it’s hard to acknowledge our imperfections. It’s hard to admit to our failings. What our sister’s story above reminds us is that God first looked on us, and the rest of His Creation, and proclaimed it all “good”! Not perfect. Not without room for improvement, but still good! That is truly Good News and something we must try to remember during Lent. Are we sinful and imperfect beings? Yea, verily! But we are far from irredeemable! Indeed, Christ redeemed us on the cross and changed the very nature of the human experience. That, by definition, gives value to our journey. We are no longer hopeless sinners, despairing of ever being worthy of a perfect God. We are beloved Children of God, redeemed by Jesus himself! The significance of the journey is analogous to the curator of art, working tirelessly to restore or maintain a great painting or sculpture…God’s masterpiece! Likewise, we require maintenance. God values us more than we can actually grasp. The great Spring Cleaning that is Lent provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge God’s handiwork; to maintain the masterpiece. May we use the time wisely, and emerge on the Easter side of the journey renewed and refreshed for the year ahead.

Let us pray…

God of all goodness and beauty, help us to remember as we work to make ourselves a more pleasing offering to you, that you love us through our sin and failings. You provide us with opportunities to better ourselves and to be better ministers in your kingdom. During this season of Lent, we ask for a fresh outpouring of your Spirit and a renewed zeal to help one another through the journey. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Be well, be kind, and be safe. I hope to see you soon!

Blessings always,

Pastor Wes Poole †

Family Faith Journey: God’s Promise

Good Shepherd’s Faith Formation Team has prepared a Lenten series to help families learn about their faith in their homes during Lent. The series includes lesson plans for family discussion, presentation videos of Bible stories, and projects based on science and crafts.

The first lesson in the series is based on the promises God made to Noah and Abraham. Families can use the parts of each lesson however it works best for their family.

Click below to download the lesson plan.

The following videos accompany the lesson plan.

Noah’s Ark Story
Rainbow Science Project

Share your experiences in the comments section below. You can include links to pictures and videos of your family learning. You can also send pictures to mannyanddom@goodshepherdwb.org.

(All comments are reviewed before they can be viewed to protect against inappropriate malicious comments. Please allow up to 24 hours for your comment To appear.)

First Sunday in Lent

Announcements

It’s not too late to join our Wednesday Lenten Bible Study. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Virtual Family Faith Journey Lessons will begin this week. Lessons will be lectionary based with Bible stories and projects for families to do at home. Watch for the first lesson coming soon.

  • First Reading — Genesis 9:8-17
  • Psalm 25:1-10
  • Second Reading — 1 Peter 3:18-22
  • Gospel — Mark 1:9-15

As we continue virtual worship to keep everyone safe our mission still continues. Click here to learn more about our continuing ministries and how you can provide support during the pandemic.

Portions from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. By permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #23415. 

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-732189.

LENT…THIS YEAR?? REALLY?!?

By Pastor Wes Poole

Genesis 3:19b

“[Remember] you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – NRSV

Gloomy or depressing words? Perhaps. Yet those are among the first words we usually hear as the season of Lent begins. Most years, when we gather together for the Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of our humanity and mortality; of our human frailties and capacity for sin. The need for safety precludes that this year, but the message contained in those ashes, and what follows in the ensuing weeks has not changed at all. It is during these weeks before Easter that we, as Christians, are brought face to face with our God in a way that is not always comfortable. Lent is the appointed time for us to behold the suffering of God.  Accordingly, we are encouraged to share in it with personal discipline and sacrifice. As the love of God is seen most clearly on the cross at Golgotha, the crosses we each bear bring us ever closer to the one who gave his very life that we might have new life.

The mood of Lent is certainly different from that of Christmas or Epiphany. The images of a suffering Jesus and our own Lenten disciplines can seem dismal at first. The title of this devotion is a joke, obviously, but a powerful argument could be made that maybe we shouldn’t even observe Lent this year. Haven’t we seen enough suffering since this time last year? If you feel that way, I could hardly blame you. I am comfortable assuming that all of us have seen our share of suffering and sacrifice, thank you very much! Do we really need to force more of it to please God?? Well no, God doesn’t need us force anything to maintain our relationship with him. Still, Lent and its sterner tone has a lot to say to us during a time of difficulty. First and foremost, Lent shows us again that ours is a God who is Himself no stranger to suffering. Jesus proved that in his life and ministry, even to the point of being sacrificed on a cross so that our relationship with God could never be broken again.

Of course we already know that the story doesn’t end with a man on a cross but with an empty tomb and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his sacrifice, we too are born into the new life Jesus has provided for us. In baptism, we become part of Jesus’ sacrifice and the inheritors of his resurrection. Dust we may be, and to dust we may return, but eternal life in Jesus Christ is the certain hope of all believers and the real end of the story! Jesus’ sacrifice has rendered our human imperfection ultimately powerless. Let us take the time during the season of Lent to ponder the mystery of this God who has done that which by human standards would be complete folly. God has shown power in powerlessness and turned death into life; reason enough to press on with a faithful Lent. I pray that your Lenten experience will provide you with new insight into this wonderful gift that God has given us through Jesus Christ. Remember, the darkness of Lent will always give way to the brilliance of an Easter light!

May the blessings of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit strengthen your hearts and minds for the journey of Lent.

Let us pray…

God of salvation, you have showed us that you know our suffering and indeed share it with us. During this season of Lent, help us to ponder more closely the lengths to which you were willing to go to bring us into a relationship with you. Help us focus our hearts and minds on the sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus, and to act accordingly. For it is in His name that we pray. Amen.

Be well, be kind, and be safe. I pray we can see each other soon!

Blessings always,

Pastor Wes †

Transfiguration of Our Lord

Virtual worship for February 14, 2021
  • First Reading — 2 Kings 2:1-12
  • Psalm 50:1-6
  • Second Reading — 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
  • Gospel — Mark 9:2-9

As we continue virtual worship to keep everyone safe our mission still continues. Click here to learn more about our continuing ministries and how you can provide support during the pandemic.16-23

Portions from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. By permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #23415. 

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained from One License with license #A-732189.

LOOKING TOWARDS LENT

By Pastor Wes Poole

Hebrews 12:11  

Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it – NRSV

Discipline! Now there is a word with the power to strike fear in the heart of the most devoted Christian!  Discipline conjures up notions of childhood punishments, visits to the principal’s office, or even the rigors of military training. Of course, these days we’ve had to learn to deal with the disciplines of mask wearing and hand washing. We do not always equate discipline with our faith because of the negative baggage attached to the word.  It is human nature not to like being told what to do! Yet during Lent, it is discipline which should be occupying our thoughts and prayers as we ponder the nature of our individual faith and devotional life.  Indeed, the terms disciple and discipline are inextricably connected to the other. If we look past all of the unpleasant or irritating aspects of the word, we realize that to exercise discipline is to conform ourselves to something far greater…namely the Word and Will of God. When we are able to do this, we become better people, both as modern day disciples of God and more devoted ministers to our communities and sisters and brothers. During this season of Lent, when we prepare ourselves for the joy of the Resurrection, many of us try to employ some new practice in our lives to help us to focus on the ministry and sacrifice of Jesus. These are known as, of course, Lenten disciplines. Some people give up something that they enjoy. Some people try to add something to their daily routines that helps to fix their hearts and minds on Jesus. Some make a renewed financial commitment to their home church or another worthy ministry. 

This year, with the restrictions of COVID still in place, we are offering a different opportunity for growth, a new Lenten discipline if you will. Please join us in a virtual Bible study to be offered each Wednesday evening during Lent. We’ll begin next week, on Ash Wednesday, and as we aren’t meeting in person for the Imposition of Ashes, our first study will be on the significance of ashes in the entire witness of scripture. The study will last about an hour, and will begin at 6PM. Feel free to join and participate, or just listen. I look forward to seeing you!

Whatever Lenten discipline you may choose, remember that the point is not to punish yourself, but to grow into a better disciple; a better follower of the one who sacrificed everything for our salvation.  Despite the hardships of sacrifice, despite the discomfort of having to give an honest appraisal of ourselves and the ways in which sin continues to chip away at our humanity, Lent is still a time, ultimately, of great hope. In baptism, we have been reborn as new people; people who live now in the joy that we will surely know the “life of the world to come”. That is our baptismal birthright. May the honesty of Lent keep our eyes trained upon this great gift…eternal life in Jesus Christ!  

May the power of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit strengthen our resolve and bring to our hearts the coming joy of the Empty Tomb!

Let us pray…

Prepare our hearts, Dear Lord, for the Lenten time of introspection; the opportunity to examine our lives and how we live them in you. Inform all of our decisions, personal disciplines, and interactions with others, by the example of Jesus Christ, for it is in his Name and for his sake that we pray. Amen.

Be well, be kind, and be safe.

Blessings,

Pastor Wes †

Bible Study for Lent

Pastor Wes will lead us in Bible studies that will be held Wednesday evenings during Lent. The first Bible study will be Ash Wednesday, February 17 at 6:00pm.  The subject for Ash Wednesday will be The Meaning of Ashes. We cannot meet in worship to receive ashes safely with social distancing so we will meet on Zoom to learn and discuss the meaning of ashes.

Join us on with a cup of coffee, tea, glass of wine. You can even enjoy your favorite desert as we grow in faith together. Fill in your information below and we will send you the link and instructions to log in to Zoom.