All Saints’ Sunday – November 2015

Greetings!    All Saints’ Sunday, one among many of my “most treasured” Christian festivals, is one more time of year when God’s presence is made known to us in powerful and mysterious ways. We are fast approaching the end of our Church year; only a few Sundays remain until we begin a “new” year and enter into the season of Advent. The last three Sundays are focused on the saints in the Church – past, present, and to come. We celebrate in order: All Saints, Saints Triumphant, and Christ the King bringing our year to a climactic close. These last weeks, then, will give us pause to reflect on the season past as we realize the simultaneous winding down of activities related to the cycles of nature. As human beings, and Christians in particular, we are a people of story. And the stories we recount at this time of year, the dying of the year, are especially stories of remembrance and hope. On Sundays such as All Saints, we reflect on our own stories—the stories of our families, ancestors, and the stories of ordinary saints from within our community of faith—people whose lives are not all that different from our own. By calling to our remembrance those who have died we connect ourselves to previous generations and take our place in the passing on of knowledge and wisdom. Without the stories of our ancestors we would have to learn everything from our own experience; we would lose our way and struggle and search, perhaps vainly. The memory of our ancestors in faith weaves us into a story we do not need to begin on our own, but only to continue. So at the dying of the year there are festivals for calling to mind those who have died—All Saints.   We visit graves. We light candles. We pray in gratitude as a people called to hope. Hope shapes our lives by eradicating fear NOW. Remembering shapes our lives by showing us the reason we dare to hope. So it is that past and future meet to form and inform our present lives, connecting us to the origin of our hope and to the destiny of our remembrance. So it is that God declares to us, that the end of our lives is NOT the end and that the end of the present time is not the end forever. Newness is in the very fabric of creation because God is the loving cause behind it! How grateful I am for all the saints who have gone before me, St Ignatius, St. John, St. Augustine, Luther, my father and mother, grandparents, YOU, and the faithful of every time and place! The light of their lives kindle the Spirit of Christ burning within me—and for that I am exceeding grateful!   Rev. Katherine Rood


Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! – April 2015

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Easter never ceases to thrill me and I pray that might always be so! There is something about the smell of damp earth pregnant with possibility, the perfumed greening smell that wafts in the breeze, and the strengthening of the sun’s power that defies clinging to darkness. Easter morning comes and I awaken to a sense of urgency, of feeling fully alive. It’s true! I will NEVER be old on Easter morning! In the days leading up to the Resurrection celebration, the whole Church literally vibrates with activity. The Altar Guild and Ushers attend to every behind-the-scenes detail, Musicians and Cantors perfect their skills singing and playing their pieces again and again, while other Worship leaders practice assigned readings. Youth work diligently alongside their parents to prepare for leading the Sunrise Worship and the Easter Breakfast fellowship event. It is amazing! In the early hours of Easter morning, while it is still dark, we will make our way to the empty tomb and hope for our own resurrection from death to life! And we will NOT be disappointed! It is breathtaking to walk into the darkened sanctuary and wait to experience the Procession of Light led by the new Paschal Candle specially designed by our ninth grade confirmation students. We will watch as piece by piece the altar is dressed and all the beautiful flowers are placed for ultimate aesthetic impact. A burst of “Alleluias” lift heavenward in joyous praise while hope beats in the hearts of the faithful and the Church NEVER grows old! It is a great gift we have been given through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ! Do not be lulled into thinking that once Easter Sunday has passed, your Easter dinner consumed and the last clean dish is returned to the cupboard that Easter is over. NOT SO! The Season of Easter is a fifty-day celebration carrying us to the Festival of Pentecost and the birthday of Christ’s Church on earth. Go ahead, clean up the last of that pesky Easter grass and be sure to find all those hidden eggs, but be aware that the Easter party has just begun! Christians recognize that our uniqueness of faith lies not only in believing that Jesus is the Messiah, but also that he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. Because that is so, we are rightly called an Easter people – committed to living in The Way of Christ, offering our lives in love and service to God and our neighbors. Easter makes real the new life rising all around us and within us, calling us to community, acts of mercy, and to strive for justice and peace. As I write this article, it is late in the evening on Palm Sunday and our Worship this morning stills lifts up my heart! Later, as our First Communion Class, their parents, sponsors, and extended family members gathered to bake bread and celebrate the Sacrament, I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God yet again! These ten students will be joining our larger Table Fellowship beginning on Maundy Thursday. By God’s grace, they have entered into the great Paschal Mystery, the foretaste of the Feast-to-Come and the Communion of Saints. Every year I am reminded by their youthful excitement and reverence what a privilege it is to be a member of the Body of Christ. May it be so for all God’s Children this Easter that Christ’s Church may be forever young! A Holy and Blessed Easter to All! Rev. Katherine Rood


Gratitude – November 2014

It’s hard to imagine that 2014 is soon in our rearview mirror! Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas with all the added concerts, programs, recitals and gatherings for both family and the work place have already crowded our calendars for the next two months. Time is always a precious commodity, but when squeezed between all our obligations and desire for the Good Life, the lack of it can cause heart palpitations! And if that doesn’t cause you some angst, the added financial burden just might do the trick! If you’re still reading this “little reflection”, there IS some Good News! Contrary to everything in our cultural malaise of social distress, these same two months mentioned above, afford all God’s creatures the opportunity for giving thanks! Taking a few moments each day to prayerfully and gratefully contemplate the blessings of each new day, including a review of the past ten months or more, will cause an inner shift and grant us a new lens as we live into the hectic days ahead. Gratitude simplifies even the most complex situations. Gratitude can loosen the knot in our stomachs, the squeeze around our hearts, and with every breath – miraculously, give space and time for what is most important to living the Good Life. Gratefully acknowledging the grace of God who gives us life, breath, and the awareness of being made in His image and likeness enables us to experience a simple, yet profound truth: We have been created in love, by love, for love! When that truth comes home to us, our priorities come into proper focus and time is stretched from here to eternity!   The key is in your own heart; gratitude unlocks the door to a life well-lived!     Rev. Katherine Rood Christ Lutheran Church


The Season of Lent…

LentenHeartCross
Is something of a conundrum in our busy work-a-day lives!  Seriously, amid March Madness, preparations for spring, trying to relocate those boxes of lighter weight clothes and figuring how much winter fat stored around our mid-section needs losing, slowing down seems grossly counterintuitive!  Especially as winter drags on and on, parents, teachers, and daycare providers are in double overtime just trying to keep up with children who have now touched every possible surface of interior space!
  The world grasps the benefit of Christmas both economically and emotionally, but this dreary march through a spiritual wilderness for 40 days + 7 Sundays before arriving at the celebration of Easter defies logic.  Given there is NOT a big market for ashes, repentance, Hallmark cards with pithy reconciliation sayings, items you can do without, a “Top Ten” list encouraging acts of kindness, or competitive ways to enhance financial giving to the work of the Lord, we might be tempted to just skip it.  Honestly, time being our most precious commodity, is an additional hour a week for an outdated tradition an unrealistic expectation?   In a consumer oriented society where instant gratification carries the day, what is the Church thinking?  We live in a time when “tracking cookies” make it possible to buy and sell people surfing the internet even before a selected page is downloaded on the screen in front of them (this determines the Ads we see - scary!)!   The History of our every desire, preferences, purchases and interests are stored in an electronic profile that regurgitates “recommendations” identified uniquely “for you” at favorite sites.  Why?  To save us “time” and make us “feel special”!  In such a highly individualized and personally gratifying market place reality, you might ask, “How can the church possibly expect us to find relevancy or invest in the somber Season of Lent?”   Lest you mistakenly think I am advocating against Lent, rest assured I am not!  We desperately need to return to the Lord our God by spending time in prayer and Worship, simplifying our lives, repenting, and serving our neighbors in need.  Lent offers Christians around the world an opportunity to do just that as we intentionally walk the way of the cross together.  The hard facts reveal that the ruler of this world (Satan) until Christ returns has always offered counterfeit goods to replace the real thing.   Lent reminds us that the words “for you” and treating others like beloved family members did not originate with Satan, the internet or marketing experts!  It began with Jesus!   14When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given “for you”. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out “for you” is the new covenant in my blood.   Luke 22:14-20 NRSV (Emphasis mine)   Dear friend, the Season of Lent reminds us all that we have been bought at great price in order that we may know the love and salvation of our God through Jesus Christ.  All this has been done “for you” that you may come to know again and again how precious you and all God’s children are!  Take the time to appreciate and share that Good News!


Season of Advent

Each New Year in the Church begins with the Season of Advent, a time, at least for Christians in the Midwest, of experiencing a cycle of dormancy in nature.  As colder winds blow, temperatures fall, and snow threatens - our bodies internalize the change of season.   Our eating habits, sleeping patterns, wardrobes, and activities all undergo a marked shift.  This past Sunday Les came in from outdoors rubbing his hands together and said, “I’m waiting for spring!”   Of course, he was joking but like all our ancestors before us we strain toward the hope of warmth and light on the other side of darkness.  Waiting is what Advent is all about! In the time before Christ was born the world was filled with darkness and the cold reality of relationships sorely fractured and removed from the presence of God.  Leaders were largely interested in maintaining their grip on power and privilege while those who were oppressed and marginalized clung to survival.  Religious leaders turned away from those who had the greatest need: the sick, those disabled, widows and orphans with a result that birthed ever-increasing brutalities and suffering of every ilk.  The whole world was straining toward the hope and warmth of a light that would push back the darkness!  Sound familiar? Even with the profound change of seasons for lifelong Minnesotans it can be a challenge in our world of artificial light to fully grasp the significance of Advent.  As I’m writing this article, we have not yet celebrated Thanksgiving and yet stores, TV commercials, and our communities are all bedazzled with Christmas lights!  And, YES, they are pretty, but in our anxiousness to push back the dark we also push back the mystery of waiting, longing, and the contemplation of promises already fulfilled and those yet to be realized.  I know that sounds a little Scrooge-like, but Advent is a time for remembering that because God fulfilled his promise of sending a Messiah born in Bethlehem, so also will Christ come again at the end of the age!  Because God is steadfast faithful and sure we can trust that his promises concerning our future are also sure! As children, and adults, wait for Christmas - getting caught up in the giving and receiving of gifts, parties, and family gatherings (all of which can be good!), I wonder whether we truly “get” what it is we are straining toward, for what it is we are waiting.  I fear the truth that we are waiting for Christ to come again in glory is at the very best, pushed to the farthest corners of our hearts and minds.  Seriously, what would happen if Christ returned on Christmas morning, 2013?  Would we even be expecting him? Often when we are not expecting someone to be present and they suddenly appear we can be so startled we don’t even recognize them!  When Christ comes again in glory that will not be the case!  Scripture tells us, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12So then, each of us will be accountable to God (Romans 14:10b-12).”  How wonderful for us who are graced with the privilege of knowing Christ, who are entrusted with sharing the Good News of God’s faithfulness!  All of which means we are called to the discipline of “waiting” as we live expectantly into God’s future for us and all of creation. Yet truth-be-told, never before in human history has “waiting” been so difficult!  We are a people of “instant gratification” who hate the idea of waiting for anything!  We jump in our cars, shop online, have next-day shipping, and if we do find ourselves waiting in line, the line better move and the wait be worth it!   Right now a Jimmy John commercial is running through my head and the elderly gentleman who says, “What took you so long?!”  Sadly, we laugh because we “get it!” The Season of Advent reminds us that life is not only about the destination, but the journey.  It is about our relationship with God and one another, about loving and serving and forgiving and Kingdom living until Christ returns!  Advent reminds us that we are called to “WAIT” upon the LORD because the wait is worth it!  And when at last we arrive, harried, worn, and tender at the manger of Christ on Christmas Eve/Morn may we rejoice anew at the GIFT already given, “Eternal Life” now and forever when Christ comes again in glory!   A Blessed Advent & Holy Christmas to All! Rev. Katherine Rood