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Lent 2019
Living in the Shadows

Lenten Sermon Series: Living in the Shadows

Living in the Shadows

SUNDAYS, 8:15, 9:30, 11 AM
 

The season of Lent offers us the invitation to go deep in faith and to confront the shadow side of our faith. We’ll take up several of the shadows this season, trying to understand what they can teach us about ourselves and our God.

LENT 2019


MARCH 10: (FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT) Living in the Shadows: “The Shadow of Emptiness” | PDF

“He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.” (Luke 4:2b)

This Sunday, we contemplate the Shadow of Emptiness. Facing our fear of empty pockets, empty bellies, empty schedules, perhaps even empty faith, and our propensity for filling up with food that does not satisfy and activity that distracts us, we clear a space to imagine the gift that emptiness might bring. Join us Sunday as we these face this shadow together, in the hope that by so doing, we might grow deeper in faith and closer to God.


MARCH 17 Living in the Shadows: “The Shadow of Fear” | PDF  

“He said to them, Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’” (Mark 4:40)

This Sunday, we face the shadow of fear. Though our personal fears are as unique as the stories and experiences that have shaped us, all of us struggle to follow the command repeated hundreds of times in scripture...“Do not be afraid.” Fear is a natural human response to the uncertainties of life. The invitation and challenge of faith is not to avoid our fears or steer clear of storms, but to anticipate the transformation that waits on the other side and remember the one who journeys with us even, especially, when we are afraid.


MARCH 24 Living in the Shadows: “The Shadow of Doubt” | PDF  

“He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, 'Is the Lord among us or not?’” (Exodus 17:7)

This Sunday, we take up the shadow of doubt. All of us experience moments, or whole seasons of life, when uncertainty of some kind overtakes us. We find it difficult to trust others or to embrace the promises of God. Like our faith ancestors, we spend some time in the wilderness asking difficult questions. Is the Lord among us…or not? These wilderness intervals can be difficult to endure, but they might also offer us a powerful gift. In the shadow of doubt, we can see ourselves more clearly, embrace our humanity, and discover the deeper promise of grace. 


MARCH 31 Living in the Shadows: “The Shadow of Weariness” | PDF  

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) 

This Sunday, we encounter the familiar shadow of weariness. Even as our faith calls us to rest in God’s grace, every other part of our lives demands busyness, increases stress, encourages overcommitment, rewards restlessness, and leaves us feeling weary in body, mind, and spirit. How can we hear the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavily burden,” as an invitation to us? How can we let go of our burdens and welcome the gift of rest? Join a community of fellow strugglers this Sunday at Second!


APRIL 7 Living in the Shadows: “Guilt” | PDF 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”  (Psalm 51:10)

This Sunday’s shadow is guilt. The truth is that most of us have a complicated relationship with this deep-rooted emotion. While feelings of guilt can lead to reconciliation, repentance, and positive change, most of us tend to get stuck in the debilitating stage. And the Christian community’s emphasis on guilt can sometimes overshadow the deeper gift of God’s grace. If you’ve been carrying regrets for too long, need to hear the refreshing promise of grace, or want to move beyond the shadow of guilt into the light of forgiveness, join us this Sunday at Second!


APRIL 14 Living in the Shadows: “The Cross” | PDF 

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves  and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) 


How to use playlist below: In the top left corner of the video, you can toggle between sermons. They are listed in chronological order.  


Living in the Shadows
Letter from Chris

Living in the Shadows

Dear Friends,
 

By the time you receive this publication, the church will be entering the liturgical season of Lent. Each year, Christians all over the world observe this six-week (forty days not including Sundays) period of reflection, discipline, and preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent at Second begins on March 6 with a solemn Ash Wednesday worship service and culminates with joyful worship services on Easter Sunday, April 21. The communal worship of God is central to everything we do at Second, so it is fitting that this holy season be framed by meaningful services of worship. On Sunday mornings throughout Lent, we are contemplating some of the shadows of our faith and our lives, asking ourselves what it means to be Living in the Shadows. Our hope is that in facing these shadows together we might grow deeper in faith and trust in God. I hope that you will make plans to be in worship in the coming weeks!

In addition to the centrality of worship, the season of Lent also calls us to deepen our commitment to God through prayer, study, and mission. This edition of the Spire and our Lenten devotionals contain information about opportunities to serve God with heart, mind, and soul. This Lent, perhaps you will consider finding a new way to get involved in the life of your congregation. If you are able to do nothing else, I hope you will carve out a few moments each day for prayer, the primary practice of Christian faith and the most important discipline of the Lenten season. Even amidst the busiest of schedules, we can all take time for prayer and reflection.

The power of this communal journey toward Holy Week and the cross is its ability to transform and reorient our perspective. The scriptures of our faith tradition give us new eyes with which to see the world. The season of Lent can have that same effect on us, if we choose to embrace its call to reverence, dedication, and reflection. We might find ourselves refreshed and renewed by practices of worship, mission, study, and prayer. We might learn something new about ourselves, our neighbors, and our God. Most importantly, we will be prepared to hear and receive the good news on Easter morning, and to share that news with a world in deep need of truth, grace, and joy.

See you in church,

Christopher A. Henry

 
 

 

 


The Shadow of Guilt
Week Six Devotion (April 11-17)

The Shadow of the Cross

Week Six (April 11-17)

Mark 11:1-11

By: John R. Franke, DPhil, Theologian in Residence

The Lenten season is experienced in the shadow of the cross as it extends backward in the Gospel narratives and the liturgical calendar, drawing Jesus and the church toward its grim conclusion in Jerusalem on Good Friday. The execution of Jesus by Roman crucifixion is the ultimate manifestation of divine love for the world. Of course, we know that this is not the end of the story as we anxiously await the celebration of promised resurrection on Easter Sunday.

In the midst of our joy (Christ is risen!), we can be tempted to think that the story has ended. However, the shadow of the cross does not disappear on Easter. Instead, it is cast over all of human history ever since that first Good Friday. The cross is not the end, but the beginning. In the words of theologian N. T. Wright, Good Friday is the day the revolution began. The church is sent into the world by the crucified and resurrected Jesus to live in the shadow of the cross by continuing his mission of proclaiming and establishing the Kingdom of God through cruciform lives of love, humility, forgiveness, and service for the sake of others.

In this way the church participates in the continuing story of Jesus and the cross as a community that lives God’s love, bearing witness to the power of the gospel to transform individuals and societies for the common good. In the words of Reformed missiologist Lesslie Newbigin: “How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer… is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it.”


The Shadow of Guilt
Week Five Devotion (April 4-10)

The Shadow of Guilt

Week Five (April 4 - 10)

Psalm 103

By: Rev. Meagan Findeiss

Guilt takes on different shapes and sizes. The guilt of not following through with what it was you told someone you would do, the guilt of not caring more, doing more, or the guilt of doing something that you know you shouldn’t have. In thinking about guilt, shame follows closely. Hiding yourself from the reality of what it was you have done. Keeping that thing hidden from the public eye.

There is a statue at the entrance of the Tuilleries Garden in Paris, France sculpted by the artist Henri Vidal. It is a depiction of a man with his face in his hands. You can feel the guilt that embodies him. The raw emotion that centers around the question, “What have I done?” The title of the statue is “Cain venant de tuer son frere Abel” which translates in English to “Cain coming from having killed his brother Abel.”

The Psalm text today meets us in our pit. It walks up to us as we hang our head in our hands asking ourselves “why?” and pulls our hands aside. The scripture looks us in the eye and reminds us that “as far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us.” God’s love for us frees us from our guilt, and echoes over and over again that we are God’s beloved children. Nothing can take that away from us. In this Lenten season, my hope is that you might reveal to God what it is that might be bringing forth feelings of guilt. Allow yourself to share with God why, and open yourself up to the movement of the Spirit. Raise your head with confidence and rest assured that nothing can separate you from God’s steadfast love.


The Shadow of Weariness
Week Four Devotion (March 27 - April 3)

The Shadow of Weariness

Week Four (March 27 - April 3)

(Matthew 11:28-30)

By Rev. Owen Gray

In both Greek and Hebrew, the biblical word “weary” has an agricultural flavor to it. “Worn out” or “tired” doesn’t quite encompass the definition: it is the type of tired we would experience after a full day of working the land. In scorching heat, without the benefit of advanced tools or machines, sowing and reaping a harvest was (and in most ways still is) a back-breaking, exhausting way of life.

If physical exhaustion seeps into our muscles and our bones, weariness seeps into our spirit. Like working long days in a field, it uniquely impacts the way we experience the world. Not all at once, mind you. Day by day, month by month, labor and circumstances can lead us into darker places than we anticipated. Dysfunction within a marriage, tension between siblings, the death or illness of a dear friend, stress at work or lack of work altogether, financial strains, loneliness, and spiritual famine: It is enough to exhaust anyone. It is more than enough to make us weary.

In this season of Lent, take comfort knowing that Jesus has a word to say to those who are weary. Faith itself can begin to mend wounds that cannot be healed otherwise. A community of faith, at its best, serves as a place of rest and restoration for weary spirits. In our weariness, may we trust that we are known by our Creator, and that God’s love never lets us go. As Lenten shadows descend, hope will be the final word.


The Shadow of Doubt
Week Three Devotion (March 20-26)

The Shadow of Doubt

Week Three (March 20-26)

Matthew 21:18-21

By: Nancy Frick, MDiv, Commissioned Ruling Elder

The depiction of doubt and faith as directionally opposite is what leads people of faith to feel guilty about their questions and wonderings.  As humans and as Christians we join a long line of biblical doubters, from the psalmists to the apostles when we ask questions like: “Where are you in this terrible situation, God?”  “How could you let this happen to me?”

I believe the arrows above should instead point in the same direction. Asking questions of God is what people of faith do. “Why do you hide your face from me?” demands Psalm 88.  “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” the disciples plead in Mark 4.

And then there’s Thomas, perhaps the most famous doubter of all. He asked Jesus a lot of bold questions and has taken a bad rap since. Perhaps Thomas just voiced what the other disciples were thinking. Asking questions was after all an honored way of learning in Thomas’ time. Posing questions and doubts about our faith to God should not be confused with unbelief.  It is our belief in fact that compels us to ask them. Theologian Paul Tillich said “Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.”

To doubt is to question, and to question is to learn. Asking questions is one of the best ways I’ve grown in my own faith.  Questions drive us to dig deeper into Scripture, to talk with pastors and Christian friends, to join Bible studies, and to pray. Through them we open our hearts and minds to see more clearly how God has worked and still works in the world today.

Doubt and faith do not point in opposite directions. They work together, moving us to greater understanding and love of the One who does not condemn us for our questions/doubts, but rather delights in them as milestones of relationship.


The Shadow of Fear
Week Two Devotion (March 13-19)

The Shadow of Fear

Week Two (March 13-19)

Mark 4:35-41

By: Dr. David Chaddock

Have you ever lived through a destabilizing storm? The gale winds blow, the driving rain seems to almost fall sideways, and the skies are dark and foreboding. Strong storms awaken both fear and reverence.

Whether you have lived through a literal squall that devastated your home or the figurative storms of relationship tsunamis, the pounding waves of financial hardship, or the flood of emotions that comes from a life-altering illness or the passing of a loved one, the storms of life can challenge our faith and fill us with fear.

Psychologists claim, that along with happiness, anger, and sadness, fear is one of our core emotions. Fear and anxiety are primitive survival responses to whenever we feel our body and soul are in real or perceived danger.

In our scripture lesson for this week, we read how the sea-worthy fisherman/disciples were fearful due to the magnitude of the storm and the waves that threatened to overwhelm their boat. Having heard from Jesus only hours before about the trustworthy nature of God, their fearful, biologic responses caused them to awaken Jesus in desperation.

But what if faith had won the day? What if they truly believed the boat wouldn’t sink and that the storms of life will pass! Fear in life is an instinctive response that sometimes grows into a state-of-mind that steals away our very life and soul.  Our faith in God is what helps us to manage our storms of life and the cold winds of fear that too often rock the boat.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please quiet the wind and subdue the waves that threaten our stormy lives. Holy Spirit, make us bold to pray for the stillness to listen for the healing words of the Gospel. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 


The Shadow of Emptiness
Week One Devotion (March 6-12)

The Shadow of Emptiness

Week One (March 6-12)

Luke 4:1-13

By: Rev. Caroline Dennis

Jesus: Full of the Holy Spirit,  returned from the Jordan  and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,  where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing at all during those days,  and when they were over, he was famished. Luke 4:1-2

“I am so distant from the hope of myself,” writes poet Mary Oliver in her poem When I am Among the Trees. Like the poet, we confess that our shadow sides cling closely to us, growing so large sometimes they overwhelm us.

In Lent, through prayer, fasting and service, we seek to empty ourselves. We empty ourselves to make a space so that God might come in. So that God might bring us back to be the people God created us to be.

This is hard. Because emptiness and hunger frighten us, we seek to fill our days with activity, our bellies with food, our houses with stuff, our resumes with achievements until we have found that there is little room for God, and we are far from the hope God has for us.

Just before Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days, he stood in the middle of the Jordan River, wet from head to toe, the voice of God ringing in his ears, “You are my Son, the beloved, in you I am well pleased.”

Because our shadow sides cling so close to us, it is hard for us to allow our hearts to be filled by God’s Spirit and our ears to believe the words God speaks to us, “you are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.”

In these 40 days, can we allow ourselves, like Jesus, to be led by the Holy Spirit, into the wilderness? To empty ourselves, our calendars, our stomachs, our cluttered lives, so that the light of God can fill us, and we might believe the truth of God’s words, “you are my child, my beloved. I will feed you, I will protect you, I will be enough for you.” 


Wednesday Night Kids Club
March 13 - April 10, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday Night Kids Club

Children Learn the Practice of Christian Hospitality

WEDNESDAYS, MARCH 13 - APRIL 10, 6:30 - 8 PM, ROOM 304
 
In Lent, we make space in our lives for God. We pause for practices of prayer, repentance and service. As Christians, when we make time and space for one another, we make space for God. When Christian hospitality is practiced, both host and guest are blessed! Story, games, crafts and hands-on mission “bring the lesson home” at Wednesday Night Kids Club.

Maundy Thursday
Tenebrae Communion Service
April 18

Maundy Thursday

Tenebrae Communion Service

THURSDAY, APRIL 18, 8 PM

At this service of shadows, we share the Last Supper and hear the story of the last hours of the life of Jesus. The service ends in darkness.

Maundy Thursday begins the Three Days (or Triduum), remembering the new commandment that Christ gave us in word and deed as he taught us how to love one another, washing our feet as a servant. We also celebrate the Lord’s Supper, remembering the meal Christ shared with his disciples before his death.

Historically, this was the traditional day in which those who had undergone a period of public penance under church discipline would be restored to full communion.


Good Friday
Seven Last Words of Christ
April 19

Good Friday

Seven Last Words of Christ

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 12-3 PM

Meditations are held in the chapel on the Seven Last Words of Christ. Please feel free to come and go as you are able. This service features hymns, vocal and instrumental music interpreting each word.

Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. The hours of noon to 3 p.m. are particularly significant as these commemorate the time Jesus hung on the cross. It is an especially important time to pray for the church and the world for whom Christ gave his life.


Easter Sunday
The Festival of the Resurrection of the Lord
April 21

Easter Sunday

SUNDAY, APRIL 21

The festival of the Resurrection of the Lord (or Easter Sunday) is the center of the Christian year. On this occasion the church joyfully proclaims the good news that is at the very heart of the gospel: that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

Morning worship services: 8, 9:30 and 11:15 a.m.

Sanctuary Music at these services features special music with Sanctuary Choir, Festival Brass, organ and percussion. Prelude begins 20 minutes prior to each service.

Evening worship service: 5 p.m.

Together@5, McFarland Hall