I discovered later, and I am still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.
This past Sunday I preached about the Christian discipline of celebration. To some this may seem to be an unlikely discipline. Aren't we supposed to live lives of moderation and austerity? Well, not always. The story of the Prodigal Son sheds some light on this. The father responds to his prodigal's final act of obedience with his own act of obedience - a grand party. He celebrates! And, it seems, he was ready to do so. There was a fatted calf waiting for just such a purpose. I wonder if this stated preparation was the sign of a discipline of celebration. We feast when we encounter God's work in one another, God's liberating love in action.
The father embodies one aspect of what Bonhoeffer proclaims in the quotation above. The father did not distance himself. He did not moderate his response to his son's return. He had a grand party with dancing and feasting. He witnessed God at work in the world and he embraced it. His son's sin was in the world. So too was his salvation. The celebration in response could be no less so.
This kind of worldliness that Bonhoeffer understands and that the father embodies is what it looks like to be in the world but not of it. Our "worldliness" does not evaporate. We are still present within it. We cannot escape it. In fact, we are called to be God's presence within it. We are not called to turn our back upon it, to forget about it, to turn a blind eye to it. Not at all. We are to proclaim God's presence within it. We are to stand and call for the fatted calf when we see God at work.
This is the Paschal Feast, Easter, that is just around the corner.
Peace and all Good Things to you,
Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler
Congratulations to the Swansons!
We welcome Luella Ferrantelli Swanson into the world. She showed up with a full head of hair and the requisite beatific smile. Her parents are getting along fine. Don't forget. Some of us signed up to help provide food to the Swanson family. Contact Will to make arrangements. If you have not signed up but would like to pitch in, there is a sign-up sheet at the back table of the chapel.
Lenten Supper, Bonhoeffer film, and Discussion
Come to the Community Church of Wilmette -- Tripp's other church -- at 6:30 Wednesday March 28th, to see an excellent film on Bonhoeffer, and discuss how Christian discipleship leads to social justice. (This one's for you, Jeremy.) RSVP to Tripp. Supper will be provided.
Palm Sunday -- Art Opening & Reception
On Palm Sunday, April 1, from 3:00 - 5:00 there will be an art opening and reception at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Artist and Lutheran pastor Linda Hemke will offer a guided tour of her "Passion Pilgrimage," 18 colorful textile panels based on the stations of the cross. The whole world is welcome. This is striking and thoughtful artwork -- don't miss it. The exhibit will be on display April 1 - 8 at Immanuel.
Holy Week and Easter
We are having joint worship services Holy Week and Easter Day with the Immanuel and St Elias Lutheran congregations. On Easter Sunday, we will not have our regular evening service at 6:00 p.m., but will have a joint service with Immanuel at 10:30 a.m.
For Holy week, there will be a Maundy Thursday service at 7:30 p.m., a Good Friday service at 7:30 p.m., and an Easter Vigil service on Holy Saturday at 7:30 p.m. There will also be a festive reception following the Vigil. These are gorgeous services, each with their own unique character and flavor. We hope you will join us for as many of them as you can.
If you are interested in taking part in leadership roles in any of the above services please talk with Laura, Larry or Tripp. Monte Johnson is asking for volunteers from all three congregations to read Scripture, help with artistic displays in the sanctuary and Founder's Hall and help set up Founder's Hall for the Vigil and Easter Sunday breakfast. If you're interested in singing in the Immanuel Choir -- and are willing to attend at least two rehearsals, Wednesdays at 7:30 at Immanuel -- let one of the pastors know. Thanks.
We'll begin a new Bible Study April 18. This will be a four-week series focusing on the travel diaries of Egeria, a third-century Spanish nun. Through Egeria's diaries we have compelling information about how early Christians worshipped. Come and see how early Christian worship relates to what we do on Sundays at Reconciler, and bring your questions and thoughts about worship.
Would like to invite all interested Reconcilers to come to a worship committee meeting -- likely at Kaffein in Evanston on a Wednesday night -- to discuss such hot-button liturgical items as:
Which version of the Lord's prayer we want to use? What kind of processional cross do we want to purchase? And....what about inclusive language?
Suggested dates are Wednesday evening, May 16 or 23. Stay tuned and let us know which date would work better for you.
Tripp has been unsuccessful in reaching the Guestmaster at the Benedictine monastery in Bridgeport. We may have some other options in place for those who might be interested. More information is forthcoming.
Nicholas Senn/Community Outreach
Monte asks that we consider attending a special community-based long-range planning meeting for Nicholas Senn High School on March 26th. According to the press release:
"A Senn Strategic Plan Committee intends for Senn High School to become a first-class competitive high school, a #1 choice for parents and students.
To achieve this goal, a school and community based committee, drawn together under the leadership of the Senn Local School Council, is developing a five-year strategic plan to be implemented this September. 'The Senn community has begun an important planning process which will help the school become one of the finest high schools in Chicago, and the school of choice for area students,' State Rep. Harry Osterman said. 'We appeal to parents, students, teachers, neighbors, and community groups to work with us to develop Senn's vision for the future.'
A key component of this planning process is community input. A community meeting to Voice your Vision for Senn’s Future will be held in the school gymnasium on Monday, March 26th, 2007, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The meeting is open to everyone.
Senn High School is an integral part of the Edgewater community. Every resident and neighbor shares a vested interest in its success. Senn has many strengths. Senn’s successful mediation and peer jury program has become a model for schools throughout the Chicago Public Schools system and the country. Senn’s Service Learning program has received national awards, and serves as a model for many schools. Senn’s International Baccalaureate program is one of the best in the city. Walking through Senn’s hallways is like a trip to the United Nations with over 54 different languages spoken."
So consider coming out as a member of the community and voice your vision for Senn.
Summer Community Outreach
We'd like to have a booth and be a presence at the neighborhood festivals this summer. It's not too soon to start thinking about it.