LIGHT OF THE VALLEY LUTHERAN CHURCH
Why: I just don’t understand?
The current world situation with Russia and Ukraine concerns us. This is a scary time. We are afraid. We need peace in the world. Now Russia is invading Ukraine and innocent citizens will die. Why, Lord, is this happening?
As of today, in the United States 946,000 people have died of the coronavirus, and worldwide there have been 4 million deaths. Why?
It appears that the world around us is falling apart. Evil is out there and there seem to be MORE problems, not less. When will this hatred, destruction and disease end? How should we deal with these situations?
Are there any answers? We need to know what to do. Problems and negative events seem to be increasing.
We feel the need to do something.
In times like this, we need hope. Intellectually and spiritually we are looking for answers. The answers must be somewhere. Being overwhelmed and feeling hopeless is not helping. We have been given the Bible from God to direct and console us. We need to believe that the Lord can help us. One passage from Philippians 4:5-7 gives us the needed advice.
“Let all people know that the Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything but in everything let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.”
It is so hard to trust and not be anxious. If there seem to be no answers to the problems in the world, what else is our choice? Right now, prayers are needed to help society through these troubling times. We need to feel that the Lord will hear our prayers. We are making our requests and prayers to the Lord and the scriptures affirm to us that the Lord is with us, and that we should not be anxious. This is what Faith means, that we trust in the Lord.
The Christian observation of Lent begins today, and it is a time for reflection and prayer.
Light of the Valley Lutheran Church and its members believe in prayer and that God answers our prayers, and gives us the strength to understand the troubling world around us.
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ST. FRANCIS EPISCOPAL CHURCH
St. Francis Episcopal Church invites you to join us Sunday, at either 8 or 10 a.m. for the celebration of Holy Communion. Even as we begin the penitential season of Lent, we still focus on Sunday celebrations as being “little Easters,” as they are not included in the season of Lent.
Just about everyone has heard about the Christian practice of self-denial for Lent. Many will be giving something up. It might be something that also could help them, like planning to lose weight by giving up desserts or sweets. Some might reduce their alcohol content, again hoping that they might learn better daily habits. There are many things that we might give up for Lent, but I still think it better to concentrate on things that we might begin again during these 40 days. If you have been lax in making it to worship, this might be enough to take on some weekly Eucharists. I have not been consistent in my quiet prayer life so I will redouble my efforts to spend some precious time in quiet prayer. I read spiritual books, but I plan to spend more time in study over these 40 days.
Since we are burying my Mother before this Lent is over, I plan to spend some time grieving my loss, and talking to my family as we make our plans to celebrate our Mom’s good life. We have begun to gather photos that mark parts of our mother’s life, photos we can share when we gather to gather in April. For me, a Lenten rule is actually a joyful task. Sure, I will miss the things that I give up, but my soul is fed so much by the other things I seek to do that I actually find Lent a very personal time of growth and faith. It is the churches time to call us to stop our normal business and spend time in reflection. What is going well in my life and what would I like to change? Repentance means turning back.
We can change the very course of our life if we take the time for self-reflection and repentance. I plan to take a deeper look into my soul, and again affirm that I am a sinner who is dependent on Christ alone for my salvation. I know that I could never win my own salvation, but I am ashamed at how often I forget and think that I am in control.
Come join us on the journey to wilderness that is Lent. It is a journey with Jesus. We are going to try to follow him all the way to the cross and the resurrection. With God’s help, we can enjoy and learn from our journey.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Rev. Michael Carr
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ST. STEPHEN CATHOLIC CHURCH
First Sunday of Lent Cycle C 3-10-19
The Gospel in this first Sunday of Lent describes for us Christ’s three temptations, which shows to us essential aspects of human existence, its difficulties, and the right response. The temptation in the desert has many levels of meaning; the focus here being pointed out is that Jesus is human and gives the true human response. The context of the temptations is Jesus in a weakened state after forty days without food. Just like our own lives the evil one strikes at us when we are most venerable.
When the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones to bread we should be reminded of many Old Testament stories and most especially earlier in Luke (3:8) when John chastises the people explaining to them that God demands from them a change of action after the baptism offered to them in the Jordan. God can make holy children even from the rocks, so if, they want His favor they must change their ways. The temptation to turn rocks into bread is the devils attempt to deny the spiritual nature of humanity; for if Jesus were to simply satisfy his bodily appetite he would deny both the spiritual nature of humanity and His own divine nature. Remember, God formed us from the earth and breathed life into us; we live because God gave to us a spiritual nature to dwell in union with a physical nature.
Obviously, the devil’s offer of power and glory for Christ’s worship is the evil one’s attempt to cause a denial of the Father as master of all. If Jesus was to take the devil’s authority over the world, thus avoid the suffering of the cross, he would have enslaved himself to evil and destroyed our free will. Jesus already had all authority over heaven and earth; he proves his power and glory by making himself vulnerable to humanity and suffers the cross. This same temptation is given to us in our own lives.
Do you choose to focus yourself to the things, ideas, and trends of the world in worship and service; or do you give yourself in worship and service to God. The devil’s offer will enslave, robbing you of everything especially life; whereas, Christ’s way gives you freedom and eternal life. One might ask; why would anyone choose the devils way? Well, it appears to be easier without responsibility or consequence. However, one ends up dead for eternity. On the other hand, Christ’s way appears difficult and demands responsibility with ownership for the results. Christ accepts responsibility for the sins of humanity, although He is sinless, and dies on the cross. However, the result is eternal life in the resurrection.
And finally, the devil challenges Jesus to prove God’s love for him by distorting the Torah. The evil one is striking at the relationship we have with God. By testing the Father’s love for the Son, which would be an action of distrust of the Father’s love and would mean that there was no love relationship in the first place. Fundamentally, it would be a presumption of the God’s will and a contradiction to the unity of the Trinity. In our human experience often we presume God’s mercy and do violence to the Father’s love for us. When we assume God’s forgiveness before we jump into the abyss of sin or consider our wrongs and vices of having little consequence so confession can wait, we communicate to God that His Holy Love is of little consequence. In short such an attitude that a Holy life is worth living only when it is convenient sends a person down of path of spiritual apathy. We are to face the challenges of life and the world trusting that God has our back regardless of the difficulty before us.
When you find yourself weakened while crossing the various deserts in your life, remember Jesus also was tempted in the desert. When the body tempts you with its many desires, fast from the body and be satisfied by the Word of God. When the mind tempts you towards the world of idolatry, fall to your knees in prayer so as to worship the one true God. When you are tempted to doubt God’s love, trust in His presence and see Him again in your life when you do his charitable work.
Rev. Luke Jauregui