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“A Serious Time!”
For weeks the world has been watching and listening to news about the war between Russia and Ukraine. NATO nations are monitoring it closely as they try to assist the Ukrainian people without being drawn into a world war with Russia. It has been gut-wrenching to see the numbers of those killed and those who are fleeing their homeland.  As I write this article, it was reported that over 4 million Ukrainians have fled from their homes to seek safety in neighboring countries. It seems most refugees are women and children as the men remain behind to fight this invasion. The world is watching these events with great concern and fear that use of biological, chemical, and even nuclear weapons will draw the world into a war. This is a serious time for the world as it tries to navigate a peaceful resolution. Please offer your own prayers that peace be restored and people live in safety and freedom.

This is also one of the most serious times for the Church and in the Church year. We are over halfway through the season of Lent and our journey with Christ to his cross.  Perhaps we have been serious in our observance of this holy season, perhaps not. But, as you receive this newsletter and read my article, we will be on the verge of Palm Sunday where Jesus enters Jerusalem and then into the very week in our Lord’s life that we now call Holy Week. It is not too late for us to take seriously that which we are called to observe and understand about those days and what was taking place.  I have always felt that for anyone to appreciate what Jesus accomplished on the cross, we must give serious reflection to the events of Holy Week.

 We know Jesus could not be dissuaded from entering Jerusalem and becoming the sacrificial lamb for the redemption of the world. Knowing what awaited him, he intently entered Jerusalem and throughout the next week took upon himself the penalty for humanity’s sins and willingly died on the cross so the price for our sin was paid.  He gave the disciples and the Church the sacrament of Holy Communion, where his very body and blood are offered up as the sacrifice that pays the price of humanity’s rebellion. He stooped down to wash the feet of the disciples, reminding them and us of what humble service to our Lord and others must look like. Even in death on the cross he offered forgiveness to a thief and promised that he would see paradise that very day. And with his dying breath, he pleaded with God that even his executioners would be forgiven for their part in his death.  And then, it was off to an empty tomb for the dead body of Christ our Lord.  And while he lay in that tomb, the world was dark with despair as the Savior of the world did battle with death and the devil. Three dark days of despair, when the disciples and those who believed in Jesus as the Messiah wondered if they had been wrong.  And then, Sunday arrived.  The sun arose on Sunday morning, and the Son of God rose to proclaim death defeated, the devil vanquished, and the power of sin to claim us forever broken. Then, from that morning till now, we have lived in a restored relationship with God, looking forward to our own resurrection unto eternal life.

We are entering a serious time in the church year.  This is the time when we reflect upon God’s gift of a Savior and the Savior’s gift of salvation to us. With that in mind, I encourage you to pause in the activities of your day, week, and month, as well as your concerns about the status of the world, so you might consider this very serious time when the church contemplates the passion and resurrection of our Lord for our salvation. This seems especially appropriate at such a serious time for the world.

I close with two thoughts that always carry me through life’s ups and downs: 1) Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do; and 2) Alleluia, Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia.

May God bless us as we continue our faithful journey to the Cross, the empty tomb, and then beyond!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Butler +