THE GRAVITY OF GRATITUDE

By Pastor Wes Poole

Psalm 100:4-5

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good;    his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. – NRSV

A 12 year old boy named David was born without an immune system. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in order to correct the deficiency. Up to that point he had spent his entire life in a plastic bubble in order to prevent exposure to common germs, bacteria, and viruses that could kill him. He lived without ever knowing human contact. When asked what he’d like to do if and when released from his protective bubble, he replied, “I want to walk barefoot on grass, and touch my mother’s hand.”

G.K. Chesterton once penned, “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” As I sit here tapping away on a Tuesday in Holy Week, my head and my heart are fixed on gratitude. We have just returned to in-person worship on this past Palm Sunday. We will gather together on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday for the first time in 2 years, and for the very first time as pastor and congregation! Despite the dark road we must still walk with Jesus before we can celebrate the Empty Tomb, I just can’t muster the usual somber, Holy Week headspace. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that we should never take anything for granted. From hugs to handshakes to regular communion, we have had a yearlong lesson in just how many things can be taken from us in a relative instant. I pray that we can all find that spirit of gratitude and put it to work in the coming months as the world continues to open back up.

Of course, during this truly holy week, when we acknowledge once again what Christ’s sacrifice means to us, and how painful the road was that he took for our benefit, we embrace another sort of gratitude; that of a people who have been given so much by the God who cherishes them. Sure, we already know how the story “ends”…life and hope and resurrection joy, but experiencing Our Lord’s sacrifice with him makes the reality of the gift just that much sweeter. In Jesus Christ, God has claimed us once and for all. As we recall during this holy time the dark and difficult path Jesus walked for us, may we cultivate an even greater spirit of thankfulness and indeed awe at just how much Our God loves us in Jesus Christ. In the end, we are always an Easter People. Friday may look dark…but Sunday’s always coming! Thanks be to God!

Let us pray…

God of all Hope and Goodness, we pause during this Holy Week to ponder upon and give thanks for what you have done for us in Jesus Christ. As we take those steps with Jesus once again, through passion and pain to the foot of the cross and the wonder of an empty tomb, make us always ever more thankful to you, and appreciative of your lavish generosity. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Be well, be kind, and be safe. See you in church!!!!

Blessings always,

Pastor Wes Poole †

Holy Week/Easter Worship

Holy Week worship will be live in person at Good Shepherd. Services will be recorded and posted online as soon as possible after the end of each service for those who cannot attend.

Holy Week/Easter Worship Schedule

  • Mandy Thursday — 7:30pm
  • Good Friday — 7:30pm
  • Easter Sunday — 8:30 and 11:00am

Masks are required and social distancing will be observed. Capacity will be limited to allow for social distancing.

Live Worship Returns

Live worship will return Palm Sunday, March 28th. Masks and social distancing will be required at all services. Services will be recorded and made available online as soon as possible following each service . We ask that you do not attend if you are not feeling well, have a fever, or have been exposed to someone who has Covid-19.

Holy Week/Easter Worship Schedule

  • Palm Sunday — 8:30 and 11:00am
  • Mandy Thursday — 7:30pm
  • Good Friday — 7:30pm
  • Easter Sunday — 8:30 and 11:00am

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.)

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 †

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.