Pastor Henry's Memo

March 2018

Naming Friday

Naming is an ancient human behavior.  It began in the Garden of Eden.  God created all living things and Adam named them (Genesis 2: 20).  Babies are welcomed into the world with a name or two or three.  For the Jews, the man who names a child assumes fatherly responsibility for that child.  When Julia and I were awaiting each of our children's entrance into the world, we had two sets of names ready as we did not know if we were having a girl or a boy.  One of the names was discarded, however much we fell in love with it.  This memo is not about baby names.  It's about how we identify Friday of Holy Week.  It is variously known as Black Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, and Good Friday.  In Germany the day is known as Mourning Friday or Silent Friday or High Friday.  The Norse call it Long Friday.  Many traditions, many names.  But, the same day for all.  That Friday is this week.  That Friday is when the Church details Jesus'  journey to the cross and grave.  He is the focus.  He is the object of betrayal, hate and sadness. His journey from the judgment seat of Pilate to the Place of the Skull is more than solemn.  It's layered with mortifying tragedy.  The Son of the Living God is driven to his death.  To call this day Good or Great or even Holy seems, at least, misleading.  I know full well the theological reasons for naming the day Good or Great or Holy.  To my mind, Silent or Long or Mourning or Black touches closer to the truth.  Let's not rush the week by avoiding the atrocious fate of the Savior of the World.  Yes, Easter is coming.  First, we must pass through Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then we wait for the sun to rise on that Third Day.

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Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!

This coming Sunday is the day the Church joins the crowd to proclaim Jesus to be "he who comes in the name of the LORD!"   Hosannas rise from man, woman, and child as the Son of Mary rides a donkey down the Mount of Olives into David's City.  All of Jerusalem is aflutter.  The Romans are there in force as Jerusalem balloons to at least three times its population.  It's Passover.  Jews and others flood the city.  And there rides the Nazarene carpenter on a donkey.  Palm branches and cloaks are spread beneath the hooves of his mount.  How threatening could he be?  But first, a question, just for trivia's sake.  How many times do you suppose Jesus rode on a donkey?  I would think at least a few times.  Perhaps the first time would have been while he was still in Mary's womb as she and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem.  Then again, as the Holy Family escaped to Egypt.  And once more as the three of them returned to Nazareth after Herod died.  I raise the question only to suggest we do not know the entire story of Jesus' life.  After all, some eighteen years of his life are shrouded in mystery; those years after the Temple questioning and the beginning of his public ministry.  Back to Jesus' triumphal ride.  This ride is the most Messianic thing he does.  It is foretold the Christ of God would ride a donkey in Zechariah 9:9.  And now He does.  A King enters Jerusalem.  Caesar's prefect Pilate and Caiaphas and chosen disciples and everyone else takes notice.  Join us Sunday to hear this blessed story and be part of the shouts raised to heaven: "Hosanna in the highest!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!"

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As in Private, so in Public

Living in Amish country can be eye-opening.  We know about their horse drawn carriages, straw hats on the men, and bonnets on the women.  Even on days when it snows and the wind is blowing it isn't unusual to see clothes hanging on the line.  I'm not prepared to retreat two centuries and live in their "good-old-days."  However, I respect their choice to be faithful in their own way.  There is, no doubt, much we could learn from their peaceful life-style.  Recently I watched fourteen Amish sit at a restaurant table.  Seven men sat on one side and seven women sat on the other.  I couldn't tell if they were in pairs, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were; each opposite their partner.  I listened to them pray.  Then they ate like every other diner.  It occurred to me their gender-separated seating arrangement was purposeful.  It reflected their sense of faithfulness.  What they do in their homes and in their worship, they observed in public.  It was a revelation to me of something I assumed but had not noticed.  They modeled in public their private order.  I wonder if those who observe us in public could say the same thing?


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Patience in Lent!

Patience is not my virtue of choice!  (Notice the exclamation point.)  There are days when I need more of it than is available at my fingertips.  I've been waiting for Spring since before Christmas.  I'm always impatient for the cold, snowy weather to leave us.  When March appears I know it won't be long before warmer temperatures will regularly greet me when I step outside.  I was hoping this was the week.  I naively believed by this time the snow would be kept in the big snow-vault-in-the-sky.  Yet, as I look at the immediate forecast, we're to have snow mix and rain and low thirty temps for another week.  And a light dusting of snow covered the ground before sunrise.  It's still Lent.  Self-discipline and self-sacrifice should be at the forefront of my spiritual exercises.  I should count myself lucky I don't live along the east coast or north of Boston.  Nevertheless, patience compels me to count my blessings and remember my calling.  Easter's coming!  (Notice the exclamation point.)  It's early this year.  Let it draw near and may we all be ready for the great blessing of life God will again reveal.

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