Let Us Worship Together!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on Saturday, March 5 at 5:30 pm (casual with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, March 6 at 8:00 am (simple service) and 10:30 am (traditional with choir and/or organ music). The Saturday evening and Sunday 10:30 am services will will also be online via Facebook Livestream!
Join your prayers with the community! During the live stream of the service, you are invited to type into the Facebook chat any prayer requests for those you want included in the prayers of intercession. (As always, you may also send your prayer requests by Wednesday the week ahead to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Please do this at the beginning of the service so that we can write them up and hand them to the pastors before the prayers start.
Saturday 4:00 pm — High School Youth Group
Sunday 8:00 am — First Light Service
Sunday 8:45 am — Fellowship
Sunday 9:00 am — Sunday School for All Ages (including adults)
Readings and Psalms:
Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
First Sunday in Lent, Year C, March 6, 2020
Deuteronomy 26:1-11. Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16. Romans 10:8b-13. Luke 4:1-13
Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Warrenton, VA. The Reverend Terri Luper Church
Safe with God in Times of Trial
Oh my! I am not yet used to this freedom we have been given. Shaking hands? Giving hugs? Seeing more of your smiling faces here—HERE?! It’s lovely! We did our bit when asked and changed everything about how we did church. For the first time in my pastoral ministry, I told people NOT to come to church. It was the right thing to do—the only thing. But now, my friends, it has worked! Here we are, fully able, with all the guidance from the doctors and scientists and more, to gather together in person. Last week, for the first time since before the first patient, when our continuity of ministry committee met, there were NO patients in our hospital with covid. The CDC changed its guidelines, and we are in the green zone. I know that virus could rear its ugly head again and we may have to add back some safety precautions, but for today, for right now, we are safe here. And it is awesome!
However, I don’t know about you, but it also makes me uncomfortable. I must rely on trust in those scientists and our congregation’s leaders that say for the first time since the pandemic began that most of us are safe to come here and shake hands, give hugs, eat together, and put the masks away. That said, it is a risk to trust. They could be wrong. We could be wrong. And that’s what trust is like. It is not easy, and we should not take it for granted. If you are not yet ready to take those risks, we do not judge you. (Please, folks, don’t judge each other!) But if you are, I hope you will come back, and bring your friends and neighbors, for this place is a home, a community, and we rely on each other. We miss you!
And through it all, we have been able to trust that God was with us. And we know that God will be with us no matter what comes next. We just heard a reminder of that promise: “He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,”
Those verses from Psalm 91 always reminds me of one of those holy moments in ministry, when I visited a church member in the hospital. Her name is Marian, and you may have heard her story. If not, here is a small part of it. One January day, while volunteering at church, Marian had an aneurysm rupture in her brain. A ride in a helicopter, surgeries, medications, and lots of prayer led to a moment, weeks later, when she was able to eat, so I brought Holy Communion. Although she was not doing great, she was so improved that we all started to have hope that she would pull through.
I was lucky that my visit coincided with two other pastors in her life—a dear friend and her sister. She needed some Coke to wake up enough to know someone was there, but it wore her out, and she fell back to sleep. But that did not stop us from praying! I started a song from the bulletin I brought along. As we got to the refrain, “And he will raise you up on eagle’s wings,” without opening her eyes and still confused, she joined in in the song! I must admit that Sarah and Nancy and I were not able to sing much more after that point—what with our eyes filled with tears of joy and hope.
This song was proof of the words of the psalmist: God does protect us and hold us safe in times of danger, testing, and temptation! Marian has a strong faith, and a life filled with worship and choir practice and service to God has deepened it. Through that regular habit of prayer and singing the psalms and hymns in worship, the Holy Spirit has imprinted plenty of scripture on her. The word was indeed on her heart, and we heard and saw it on her lips. And it came to her when she needed it most that day. (Or was it the three pastors who needed to hear that promise that day? I can’t say.) Either way, Marian was using that song to fight for her life, clinging to the promises of God. It made her feel safe.
We just prayed Psalm 91 together, but we also heard it quoted in the gospel reading:
9 Then the devil* took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you”,
“On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
It is ironic that the devil chose this scripture to test Jesus, for by quoting it God’s Son was reminded that God would protect him. In fact, that psalm was written, as I just learned, as one of the psalms specifically written to ward off attacks of the devil! Of course, the test was a spiritual one—did Jesus have enough faith that God would protect him to throw himself off? But that scripture was not about testing to see IF God would be there, but THAT God was there. Whether physical or spiritual protection were needed, God’s angels would surround him and raise him up. It’s almost as if the devil inadvertently gave him the answer key to the test.
We know that trust in God does not mean we will never suffer hardship, trials, or physical death. The news is filled with reminders of that, as are hospital visits, lost jobs, and broken hearts. However, trust does means we have confidence that when we do face them, God is with us, sheltering us and keeping us close.
Mark Knisely shared a story of one charity helping orphans. I read in the news that Warrenton Bible Fellowship is collecting funds to connect with a charity set up to welcome refugees in Romania. Lutheran World Relief is on the ground giving out blankets and care kits—possibly the ones our own ministries made. God is present in Ukraine, even if not always clear to see.
And God is with you, no matter your struggle, no matter your pain, no matter the test of your faith or your ability to be faithful. Remember that you are precious to God, who will send angels to guard you as well, now and forever. Amen.
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