NEAT Dinner: March 23 at 4:30pm
Menu: macaroni and cheese, chicken tenders, rolls, green beans and almonds, dessert and beverages. Reservations appreciated by Monday, March 20. A freewill offering will be taken to offset costs.
Open AA meetings: Wednesdays at 7:00pm
- Connecting with God
- Community with others
- Caring for the world
We pray that you will join us as we seek “joy in the journey” in relationship with God and one another.
In the grace and peace of Christ,
Pastor Lisa Vander Wal
For children ages 3 & 4
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2017-18 school year
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Pastor's Ponderings for Lent
Something you may not know about me is that I collect crosses. I have a number of cross necklaces: some set in silver, some in gold; some are delicate, others bold and chunky; some simple, some ornate; some come from my childhood, and others are recently purchased from places throughout the world to which I’ve traveled.
Other crosses in my collection adorn the walls and shelves of my home and office. One is surrounded by a butterfly, signifying the resurrection; another has a manger scene at its center, signifying that Jesus was born to die. I have a Crusader’s cross known as a Cross of St. Andrew (who Christianized the Romanians in 100 A.D.), which our son brought me from Romania. Sitting below it on my office shelf is a pewter Shepherd’s cross from Rome, depicting symbols of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. A cross on my desk I obtained in China, and the Mandarin words written upon it are from John 3:16 and 14:6: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” There, too, is a wooden cross I received in Jerusalem as we walked the Via Dolorosa, the way of the cross. Most recently I obtained a wrought iron cross in Arles, France, which depicts, from a fisherman’s perspective, the three Christian symbols for faith, hope and love.
So why do I tell you this? First, in order to emphasize that the cross is not our “personal property”, and the church is not limited to our tiny corner of the globe. As I have traveled to many places in the world to meet with other Christians, I am constantly humbled to see that we do not have a corner on the truth of Jesus. Christians around the world are doing amazing gospel work, both in evangelism and social justice, and we can learn much from their work and witness.
Second, I write this to remind us that the cross and the empty tomb are still at the center of our faith. Just as the cross is front and center in our worship space, so we come to know the God whom we worship most completely through the cross. The cross reminds us that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that we might not perish but have eternal life.” Therefore, we must resist making the Christian faith primarily about doctrines or moral imperatives, and instead speak about the love and grace of God.
Finally, the cross reminds us that God’s love is suffering love. In the incarnation God came to us to be one with us, to suffer beyond what we will ever suffer, in order to be in relationship with us. This means that God is with us in our suffering and will never leave or forsake us.
The final cross in my collection is the wooden one I received along with my Doctor of Ministry degree from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in May, 2016. You will often see it around my neck as I lead worship. It is a reminder to me that my ministry among you is centered in the cross of Jesus Christ.
My prayer is that as we journey through Lent this year, we will be people who witness to what God has done for us in sending Jesus to be our Suffering Savior, who bears our sins and heals our diseases.
Joyfully serving with you,
Pastor Lisa Vander Wal
P.S. — On a lighter note…A man and his ever-cross wife went on vacation to Jerusalem. While they were there, the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband, “You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in the Holy Land, for $150.” The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.
The undertaker asked, “Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?”
The man replied, “Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance.”