Dear Friends of the Good Shepherd,
A heartfelt thank you for everyone who made the Installation Service and Dinner so special! I was overwhelmed by the powerful worship service and the hospitality shown to all our guests: some people were surprised by the wonderful meal after the Spirit-filled service. We welcomed Bishop Gary Wollersheim, as well as many pastors and guests, including some of our friends and family from out of town. An installation service is a community event for our church and our church family throughout the area, rather than an event focusing on the pastor; and yet I was deeply moved. The Lord willing, I look forward to Living and Sharing Jesus with you for a long time to come!
This season of Lent, this season of rebirth, renewal, and recommitment, is both a healing and an empowering time for me, and I hope it is for you too. For me, this season has revealed to me the importance of the Ancient Christian Spiritual Practices in centering our daily lives.
In her book, The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church, Diana Butler Bass writes, “One of the lesser-noted findings of the Hartford Institute for Religious Research’s massive Faith Communities Today (FACT) study was the link between ‘personal spiritual practices’ and congregational vitality. According to study co-director David Roozen, ‘The study does confirm that the more emphasis a congregation gives to the values of home and personal religious practices the higher the congregation’s vitality and the more likely it is to be growing in membership.” (Thanks to The Reverend Pamela M. Hillenbrand for this quote.)
As Brian McLaren notes, Christian faith is more a way of life than a set of beliefs: that is why the first name for followers of Jesus is the Way. We are people on the Way, following Jesus on our life journey. The Ancient Christian Spiritual Practices help us find our way as we follow Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. These practices include daily prayer, weekly worship, fasting, communion, pilgrimage, and tithing. The long term vitality of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is tied to how we help one another deepen in faith not just on Sunday mornings but throughout the week, in our homes, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods.
Take a moment, if you will, and reflect on these words from Psalm 46:
Be still, and know that I am God.
Be still, and know that I am.
Be still, and know.
God’s Work, Our Hands,
Pastor Eric Lemonholm