04/05/2020 = John 12:1-8 = “Extravagance and Extra-Vigilance!”

(Click HERE to find the video feed. Bless you deeply and richly!)

Mark Wheeler

John 12:1-8

Generous Giving: “Extravagance and Extra-vigilance”

Lent 6, Palm Sunday, 04/05/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

This morning we begin with a Musical Prelude that was written, composed, played and sung by Jake Davis. Listen to this (and read along) as a testimony of faith – and consider the ways his words could be your own words [“Walk with the Carpenter”].

 

Spokane is just about to start its third week of “quarantine”. And, looks like we are this way until Cinco de Mayo! Maybe longer. Please let us know if you need help gathering food, supplies, medicines. We will get through this, but it does mean hunkerin’ down a little deeper and little longer.

 

I really just want to talk about Holy Week services and Maundy Thursday Communion and Easter Cantatas, etc…. But, alas, on this Palm Sunday we are waving these “jazz-hands” [palms], and we are doing daily Holy Week devotionals on-line, and the Easter Cantata is on hold until whenever we’re allowed to get back together again.

Until then, we rely on our faith-roots to grip tight to God’s Word and God’s truth, and to find hope, peace, joy and love wherever we can.

 

Our worship today comes from several locations, so, bear with us – our opening music was recorded earlier, as was our Call to Worship – our prayers and preaching will be “live” – hang with us as we struggle to make this happen as smoothly as we can.

Friends, be filled with God’s holy presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear God’s Word.

 

Vern Lightbody leads us in the liturgical responsive Call to Worship from Romans 11:33-36 (the Message).

 

Through the Written Word,          

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,          

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Today we read a Bible story that happens early on Jesus’-Palm-Sunday-entrance-day into Jerusalem – from John 12:1-8 …. —-

To set the stage for this story, the chapter that leads into this tells the story of Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus who had died, and Jesus raised Him back to life. This is the same story where the “shortest verse in the Bible exists”, right? “Jesus wept.” So, Lazarus died, and his sisters Mary and Martha are grieving. Mary stayed in the house and Martha went out to find Jesus – you remember the other Mary and Martha story where Martha is doing all the work and complains that Mary is just sitting at Jesus’ feetthis time Mary is just sitting at home crying and Martha seeks Jesus’ presence! And Jesus tells Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life – do you believe this?

Then we come to today’s story – a pretriumphant entry story, it’s actually preparatory for the triumphant entry storyBethany is a town on the back side of the Mount of OlivesJesus walks the 2 miles from Bethany around the hill, past the Garden of Gethsemane, down the hill toward Jerusalem and the people prepare the path with palm frawns and their cloaks and blankets! But, just before that:

1 Six days before the Passover [on the weekend before what became Resurrection Sunday], Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served [as would be expected, I guess], while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; [picture this, smell the aroma, listen for the splashing liquid, experience the wonder] she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

 

Think of all the ways we might show kindness to others. Our Generous Giving devotional points out that even in this short story we count five or six ways kindness is shown in Lazurus’ house:

  • Friends opened their home to Jesus
  • Martha served Him dinner
  • Lazarus offered the gift of his presence
  • Mary anointed Jesus’ feet
  • Judas reminds those gathered of other ways they could love, of their responsibility to the poor
  • Jesus reminds those gathered that the opportunities to show kindness are abundant

 

The two main characters here are Mary and Judas. Mary does the amazing thing with her hair and expensive perfume. And Judas, the author tells us, is a selfish pig who only looks out for himself.

Imagine, with me, for just a minute, that we don’t know Judas, that the author doesn’t give us the inside scoop that Judas is a thief, and is about to betray Jesus, the Hero of the Gospel Accounts. Do you disagree with him here? He tells us that this expensive anointment could have fed hundreds at the Union Gospel Mission, it could have provided diapers for dozens of single moms, it might have been traded for two cases of Charmin® toilet paper!

Have you ever looked at one of the great cathedrals in Europe (or downtown or the South Hill) and thought, “Wow! This is amazingly beautiful, but there are homeless people all around the building – what a waste!”? We might also say that about our new car, our extra bathroom, our vacation to DC or Cali or Mexico… right?

 

People are suffering everywhere! They are suffering in Bethany, in Bethlehem, in Jerusalem; they are suffering in downtown Spokane, in Hillyard, right outside our doors on Nevada Street. Jesus has made it His mission to care for those in need – the widows and orphans, the sick and lonely, the imprisoned and home-bound. But in this story, here they are, enjoying a delicious meal and pouring expensive ointment on feet! When Jesus leaves Lazarus’ house smelling like Scrooge McDuck’s cologne closet – what will people say?!

 

So, what do we make of this? Jesus says that Mary did the necessary thing – this perfume is a part of His burial ritual – but He’s not dead yet! We are still sixish days before he will be arrested and crucified! But Mary remembers the day Jesus came to comfort them after Lazarus’ death, and she remembers how Martha had stated her belief in Jesus as the resurrection and the life! This is Mary’s way to demonstrate her extravagant faith, too.

Yes, God calls us to care for those around us who are in need – but that does not mean we don’t also honor God with our sacrifices directly to offer praise to Him! There must be a balance!

 

In just a few days Jesus is about to invite His disciples to join Him for His last supper – instituting the Communion Feast, which we are about to celebrate in our homes.

Communion embodies Jesusextravagant love for us – His life and death given for our sake. As we observe, let’s do so celebrating God’s extravagance – but also remembering that His lavish love overflows our lives as we experience extra-vigilance in caring for our neighbors!

 

Today is officially Palm Sunday. The end of John chapter 12 tells this storyJesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Why did we read the PRE-triumphant story today? Because there will be a Sunday when we can meet TOGEHER again! THAT day will be a celebration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem [and Spokane and LPC] – THAT day we will celebrate the Lord’s Table and Communion TOGETHERTHAT day we will celebrate EASTER, the RESURRECTION, our Lord’s VICTORY over death and over COVID-19!

 

Until then, let’s pray … with extravagant and extra-vigilant faith….

 

Prayers            Offering       Communion Service  –Prayer led by Linda Tufto…..

Friends, today we experience something brand new to the whole Christian Community – I mean, we’re not the first church to do this, but we are the first generation to wrestle with this as a possible thing to do – On-line Communion.

There has been much debate – over the theology and over the practical practice of – celebrating the Communion meal … while not in communion with each other.

So, to set the record for us – we are in an unusual life-circumstance wherein keeping distant from each other is the wise option for health – so this will be an unusual, irregular, and not-to-be-made-normal practice.

Virtual Communiondraws from something in the past (the actual sharing of Communion that we have previously experienced) and looks forward to something in the future (the restoration of this practice once the present constraints are relaxed). This should remind us that our usual practices have exactly the same status!

And we look forward to something even much greater—a feast in the Kingdom of Heaven, where our sharing is not just a morsel, but a fully satisfying feast on God and all His extravagant goodness with all of creation. Today, in our homes, or when we are restored back to our Christian community, we experience a mere foretaste of a much fuller reality.

What matters here is not what we offer to God, but what God offers to us, His whole people, gathered together, to receive both Christ and “all the benefits of his Passion” as we remember Him in bread and the cup.

 

So … from geographically afar, but in Christ, gathered in His name over our phones, tablets and computers … using whatever elements we might have in our own homes … we hear the Words of Christ:

 

As Christ sat in that Upper Room, with His disciples (including that same Judas who had by now already betrayed Him), He took the simplest elements of the Passover Meal and made them far more powerfully meaningful.

Follow-along with me, [hit the like button or click the <3] with whatever simple elements you have in your home, something like bread, and something like wine or grape juice

Jesus took the “bread”, and He blessed it and broke it, and said, “This is my Body broken for you, every time you eat of this, do so in memory of me” – as we receive the gift of broken bread, “together”, receive also Jesus as the true resurrection and the life….

And He took “the cup”, gave thanks and blessed it, saying “this cup is the Cup of Redemption, the New Covenant, my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins, every time you drink of this, do so in memory of me” – He also said that He would “not drink of the fruit of the vine again until He sees us in Paradise” – so we look forward to when we shall do this together in person, face-to-face again, and even more-so in the Heavenly Kingdom, face-to-face with Jesus Himself! – as we receive the gift of “this” cup poured out, receive also Christ’s extravagant love and extra-vigilant mission to be at one with Him!

(If you would like to DONATE to Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, click HERE.)

 

Resources:

Marksbury, Erika; Generous Giving: An Illustrated Devotional; Illustrated Ministry; Racine, WI; 2020; Pp. 24-26.

03/29/2020 = Mark 10:13-16 = “How to Receive the Kingdom of God”

(Click HERE to find our “live cast”, Part 1)

(Click HERE to find Part 2)

Mark Wheeler

Mark 10:13-16

Lent 5, 03/29/2020

Generous Giving: “How to Receive the Kingdom of God”

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

That Musical Prelude was Josh Snodgrass performing “I Surrender All” – with his permission.

 

Spokane is finishing its first full week of “quarantine”. And, at this point, there is no end in sight. It is exhausting, even for us introverts, to stay as cooped up as possible, to isolate from our dearest friends, to hold even family at bay. I miss being with my church family more than I could have imagined.

I mean, I always thought I would be just fine after retirement. I enjoy vacations and stay-cations and even lay-over-cations – but forced separation feels like torture.

 

I am also so tired of all the news reports and businesses telling us how they are handling the Coronavirus. I certainly could go a whole hour without another proclamation or email or post-card telling me that everyone is doing what they can, so just “keep trusting [our] businesses into [their] hands.” It’s not that I don’t believe them, I do. I just so much want to pretend that everything is alright and that we can go back to normal life.

I really just want to talk about Easter Cantatas and Holy Week services and Maundy Thursday Communion, etc…. But, alas, none of that takes precedence right now.

We find in God’s Word, over and over again, how God desires to live with us – from the Garden of Eden stories, through the Abrahamic covenant and the Exodus stories of the Lord’s Tabernacle, into the events inside the Promised Land, where the Temple is built, and rebuilt, through to the incarnation, Emmanuel, God with us, in Jesus Christ, and right through to the Revelation stories of the new Heaven and the New Earth!

All of that proclaims God’s desire to dwell in our midst, to walk with our lives, to rescue us into His everlasting presence (John 3:16 summarizes all of this), even and especially during days like these when we need Him so desperately.

 

 

Our worship today comes from several locations, because unlike last week when a few of us got together to sing and pray and lead – this week we have been told to keep separate.

So, bear with us – our opening music was recorded earlier, as was our Call to Worship – our prayers and preaching will be “live” – hang with us as we struggle to make this happen as smoothly as we can.

Friends, be filled with God’s holy presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. Feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear God’s Word.

 

Lilly Haeger and Johnny Sides lead us in “It Is Well with My Soul” and Chris Tomlin’sGod of this City” –

 

Gerri and Scott Lockwood lead us in the liturgical responsive Call to Worship from Psalm 68:17-19.

 

Through the Written Word,          

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,          

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Today we listen to some of the most famous words from Jesus’ lips – and possibly the most misunderstood – from Mark 10:13-16 …. —-

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

 

There is so much going on in this short-story!

Those poor children are caught between their parents and Jesus’ disciples fighting over where these kids should be! It isn’t their idea to be there at all, and suddenly they’re in trouble from all these grown-ups!

And those poor disciples – they get in trouble from their Master for trying to protect Him from a bunch of squirrelly rug-rats! Jesus was busy every day – they’ve watched Jesus escape to lonely mountainsides, into boats sailing across the lake, and into gardens late at night to pray … only to be caught by more crowds needing more time and energy from Him. Now, a troop of toddlers are trampling His time and taking His touch.

And those poor parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles! What does every caregiver want for their charges? Health, happiness, food, friends – these are the things Jesus offers everybody.

 

Right? March 2020 – these are the things we long for for our loved ones, and for ourselves! These children, Jesus’ disciples, the parentsyou and I – we’re all just trying to do our best. Friends, keep trying to do your best.

 

But then, in this story, and in our stories, the voice of Jesus breaks through the confusion and the criticism.

 

Our Lenten Devotional this year points out an aspect I have never really caught before. Yes, Jesus scolds the disciples for “stopping the little children from coming to Him”. But far more important is what He does!

Jesus goes out of His way to welcome these children by taking the children in His arms, touching them, and blessing them!

And He doesn’t stop there – His words, heard by both sternly speaking disciples and hopeful parents, encourage us, invite us to love these children. Right? We often consider children as unworthy of our time and attention – but Jesus holds them in His arms, and blesses them.

 

Two things about blessings:

  • Blessings are extremely personal. Every blessing recorded in the Bible involves a touch and memories of that person’s life-achievements and promises for the future. There is not a singleafter-you-sneezed-gesundheitblessing in the Bible. (Although, with full-disclosure, the “after-you-sneeze-God-bless-you” came from Pope Gregory I in the 6th Century to ward off the Plague-pandemic – part faith, part superstition – maybe it’s time to start actualGod-blessings” again.)
  • Blessings are also a full-on public display of the blesser’s honor, good fortune, and approval of the blessee!

 

In this story we get to see Jesus welcome, embrace and bless these children. Did you hear the blessing? Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

 

Honor, good fortune, and approval … for children! Jesus is granting these children power and authority!

 

Who in Jesus’ world lived with the least power and authority? It was the children – followed by women, people with leprosy and other diseases and disabilities, the poor, the widows – but children were at the top (or the bottom) of that list!

In 2020 in Spokane, who is on that list? Children are still there, along with homeless, poor, maybe elderly, alone. Jesus gives us the power and authority to bless othersthose others!

Jesus uses His power to give power to those least likely to experience any power at all!

 

When I first came to this church 25-½ years ago, at the Congregational Meeting where you voted about me, it was a near unanimous vote. There was one no vote – and while I was not in the room, when there is one no vote – word gets out. I knew who this one No vote came from. And she wasn’t wrong. I was not her pastor. Not yet, and not for a while.

But this woman blessed me a few years later when she introduced me to her doctor at Holy Family Hospital as “her pastor”. Nora gave me power and authority that day. She blessed me that day.

 

Jesus says Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.

He uses those words to not only bless the children with power and authority.  He also tells us how to enter the Kingdom of God. Receive the kingdom of God like a little child.

I have always read that line to mean something like, Receive the Kingdom of God with the same innocence and excitement that a child receives things ….

But our Devotional footnotes offer an alternate way to read that – and, frankly, the story honestly pushes me to read it in that wayReceive the Kingdom of God the same way I am receiving these little children!

 

Does being in God’s Kingdom mean we shift the way we view people’s value and worth?

During this season of being closed-off, shut-in, walled-up – with our only outings being those necessary runs to the store for required necessitieskeep those others whom we might ordinarily ignore or think less of in mind. If you already have a brick of cheese, let the single mother buy the only other brick left. If there’s  only two packages of toilet paper, make sure and allow the widow behind you in line have one. If you have an extra of anythingraise the value and worth of another by sacrificing for them!

And, by the way, say thank you to your postal carrier, your paper deliverer, any sort of first responder you see, anyone involved in the medical professionnurses and doctors, of course, and also receptionists, billing department personnel, house keepers, who else?….

 

Remember that our starting principle here is that God so loves us, you, that He gave us His one and only Sonthat’s the value and worth God holds on us – can we receive those whom we think of as “less than” as “more important than”!

 

How to receive the Kingdom of God? In a way it’s just about reflecting God’s glorious generosity. Receive these little children like God receives us. Love and respect each other, and discover God’s amazing grace and mercy. Look for the vulnerable, and offer a sign of hope.

 

We recognize the Kingdom of God in our midst when we love our neighbors as we love ourselves!

In this season of fear and anxiety, make the most of your time. Simply experience God’s blessingsreceive Christ with as much joy as He receives these little children, and share those blessings with any in your path – receiving them as God’s precious gifts to you!

 

That Christ has regarded [our] helpless estate, and has shed His own blood for [our] soul – may it be well with your soul!

 

Friends, we close this worship together with the Prayer and Faith Statement of “It Is Well with My Soul”, verse 4 – Johnny and Lilly ….

(Click HERE to DONATE to Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church. Thank you!! 🙂 )

Resources:

Marksbury, Erika; Generous Giving: An Illustrated Devotional; Illustrated Ministry; Racine, WI; 2020; Pp. 20-23.

April 2020 Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church Newsletter

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

4449 Nevada Spokane, WA 99207

509/487-9667      lidgerwoodoffice@gmail.com

LidgerwoodPresbyChurch.wordpress.com

Rev. Mark Wheeler, Pastor

Kathy Sandusky, Visitation Pastor

 

 

 

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, where we

Know the power and love of God, and

Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, compelling us to

Go in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit, loving and serving others who do not yet

Know the power and love of God ….

 

 

 

 

April  2020
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
 

Everything on this calendar is contingent upon how we are doing with COVID-19…

 

…  except Birthdays! They are still on schedule!

 

 

 

1

 

 

2   Day-2-

Pray

10a Bible Study

6p Easter

Cantata

Rehearsal

3

11:30a Praise

Team

 

4

 

2p Rssn Bible St

Maggie

             Haverfield

5    Palm Sunday

10:30a Worship –

Communion

11:45a Fellowship John 12:1-8

6

 

 

7

 

Kayden

                 Allen

 

8

 

 

 

9

10a Bible Study

6p Easter

Cantata

Rehearsal

 10

11:30a Praise

Team

 

11

9a  Breakfast

Fellowship

2p Rssn Bible St

 

12   Resurrection

                 Day

10:30a Worship –

Easter Cantata     11:45a B-Day Celebs

Joyce Gizzarelli

13

 

14

 

7p Deacons &

Elders

 

15

 

 

16

 

10a Bible Study

 

17

 

11:30a Praise

Team

Darlene Wylie

18

 

2p Rssn Bible St

 

19    

10:30a Worship     11:45a Fellowship & Lord’s Prayer Corps

John 21:1-14

20

 

 

21

 

 

22

 

 

23

 

10a Bible Study

 

24

11:30a Praise

Team

 

25

 

2p Rssn Bible St

 

26

9a Adult Faith Class

10:30a Worship

11:45a Fellowship

5p Just-for-Fun

Holman Gardens

27

 

 

28

 

 

 

29 30

The Ledger    monthly newsletter of Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

April   2020

 

Another Covid-19 Article, Really?

Are you as weary as I am of all the announcements, articles, emails, Facebook alerts, etc., etc, giving us updates on what every company you’ve ever done business with is doing to stay on top of the Coronavirus pandemic? I mean, I’m glad that Fender® Guitars wants the best for their customers and employees and are therefore doing all they can to keep my order of new guitar strings safe – but, really? Yet another COVID-19 word of reassurance?

Well … yes … one more: LPC, and every other church in the state (nation?) has temporarily shut their doors. All of our group gatherings are on hold, and most of our ministries are waiting for a fresh start.

But not everything! Worship still happens every Sunday at 10:30am on Facebook Live (call Mark if you need help figuring that out), and since it’s on Facebook, we can also watch (and sing and pray) at later times/dates. And our care for each other and for our neighbors is still a real thing – call, email, connect with us for any concerns – we will try to serve those needs as best we can.

Please do your best to “stay safe – stay home” so that our scientists and doctors can work toward stemming the tide on this virus with a vaccine and cure.

Will we be able to come together and announce Jesus’ triumphant entry into

during Holy Week to sing some songs and receive .

Jerusalem, and sit together with Him at the Lord’s Table? Will we be allowed to gather during Holy Week and share devotional thoughts and pray for God’s grace together? Will Maundy Thursday or Good Friday remain times alone and in isolation? Will we miss the Resurrection Day celebrations of the Empty Tomb through the lyrics and proclamations of this year’s Easter Cantata?

The answers to those questions remain to be seen – but, it will probably take much longer than April 12 before we have this thing licked (did I just write “licked”?) (And, for Communion on March 5 – we will worship “together” on-line, and celebrate a “virtual Communion” in our homes.)

But, here’s what we absolutely do know! When we are finally allowed back in the same room with each other – THAT day will be Jesus’ Triumphant Entry! THAT day we will touch and taste the Bread of Life and the Cup of Redemption! THAT day will announce the EMPTY TOMB! Because, He IS, in fact, already RISEN!

In the meantime, friends, love each other and your neighbors by following all the “social distance” requirements. And pray for and thank those who are working to keep us safe and healthy.

Mark

 

 

 

Easter Cantata – “He Lives!”

We are in full hopes that we will be able to meet together and worship our Lord and Savior on Easter Sunday, April 12! Our Cantata Choir has worked hard to bring us and to sing aloud the Good News that

“He Lives!”

If this does not happen, please know that we will present this beautiful musical Gospel story

as soon as we can. But either way – know that “every morning is Easter morning, from now on – every day is resurrection day, the past is over and gone”! (Avery & Marsh, 1972)

 

 

Reading through the Bible

Several of us committed ourselves to read through the Bible last year. Each person was blessed, surprised, by how much this simple practice enhanced our faith!

The Church Office has pre-printed schedules you may follow for 2020, or just plan to read 3-4 chapters per day (approximately 100 chapters each month). We will plan occasional gatherings to talk about what we’ve read, questions that have arisen, and insights we have gained.

By April 1, you should be starting I Kings.

 

 

LPC’s Day-2-Pray – April 2

On the 2nd of each month we join forces with others across our region to pray through the seven spheres of influence in our city and county.

This month we pray for Government.  We invite you to invest 5-minutes in prayer (or more):

  • For diligence “as unto the Lord” and cooperation among all government employees.
  • For our courts to judge fairly and uphold the US constitution.
  • For a reduction in crime in Spokane, and for the just punishment of crime perpetrators.
  • For wise leadership through this pandemic.

Invest 5 minutes on Thursday, April 2, praying for the greater Spokane region. Pray from your home, your office, your car, your bed.

If you are on Facebook, ask to join the Lidgerwood Church Group page and put your prayers right there for us to pray with you (only group-members can see this page).

 

 

Just-for-Fun Sings!

Enjoy J4F’s music and fun entertainment on Sun, April 26, 5pm at Holman Gardens.

 

 

Trivia Question

When was the last time LPC’s sermons were published in some form of media (rather than simply preached in a corporate worship service)?

 

Children’s Church

Big THANKS to our trained and ready Children’s Church Leaders! We will be ready to go as soon as we’re ready to meet again! Sandy Benedetti, Ashley Davis, Jake Davis, Judy Durham, Lilly Haeger, Johnny Sides and Jennifer Wheeler: God’s richest blessings upon you (Mark 10:13-16)!

 

 

Adult Faith Class on Sundays

The fourth Sunday of every month, 9-10:15am, we hold a Faith Class for all adults (choir members, it’s harder for you, but you can come late after rehearsal). Right now we are using a video curriculum from Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ book and movie. It’s never too late to join us! (And we also do a Potluck Continental Breakfast! Come in for the goodies, too.)

Sign-up in the main hallway!

 

 

Welcome to our New Members

Last month we were scheduled to welcome three new members into our church fellowship, but, of course, COVID-19 has put that on hold. None-the-less, these three people have been involved in worship and leadership since the days they stepped through our doors. It is with our hearts warmed and our ministry enhanced that we welcome Ashley Davis who will, maybe this month (?), join us by declaration of faith and baptism, Jake Davis who joins us by reaffirmation of faith, and Linda Tuisntra who joins us by reaffirmation of faith!

 

 

CEO:Mission

Pastor Mark’s trip to Kenya has been put on hold for now.  But we expect the groundbreaking of the not-yet built orphan facilities to still take place – we will be present via Facebook Live!

Supporting this mission by regular or occasional donations is also deeply needed and appreciated! And more and more orphans could use a sponsor! Talk to Mark about any of these options.

Future Church Learning

  • When we go out to eat, tell our server we are about to say grace, and ask if there’s something they would like us to pray for them. Simple, right? Courageously show our faith by engaging with a server and offering Jesus’ love by praying. Then reflect on how this changes us as well.
  • Pray for our neighborhood communities – what we notice, what we hear about, what we see in the news; and then act on those prayers – invite a neighbor over for coffee, send a card, offer a service, etc.

 

 

Finance Update **

Income Expenses Difference Year-to-Date
Jan. $8,005.00     $9,303.36 -$1,298.36 -$1,298.36
Feb. $8,468.46 $9,072.06 -$603.60 -$1,901.96
Mar.* $8,044.30 $7,394.17 $650.13 -$1,251.83
YTD   $24,517.76    $25,769.59     -$1,251.83 *as of 03/26

 

Also, please remember our Special Fund Drives for our Child Empowerment Outreach mission:

  • Ongoing ministry support for the orphans. “Kenya Children” on memo-line.
  • Sponsoring a child through CEO:Mission.

There’s a Ground-breaking trip planned in July. Is this something you might consider?

Up: Our relationship with God – worship, Bible study, Sunday School

In: Our relationship with one another – fellowship, games, food, support, Deacons

Out: Our relationship with our community – food pantry, Pastor’s fund, dinners, etc

Further Out: Our relationship beyond Spokane – CEO, Kenya, audio Bibles, etc

Administration & Communication: Monthly newsletter, weekly bulletins, copier, etc

Facility maintenance, etc.: Our facilities, buildings, van, parking area, equipment, are tools for furthering the work of ministry.

 

 

Let’s see if we can faithfully meet this challenge. Thank you for your generosity!

 

** The editor of this Ledger fully realizes that this report is missing some info. With the Church Office functioning at its bare minimal hours and staff, the Feb report isn’t completed, and the March report hasn’t been clarified. The May Ledger will have completely updated numbers.

And, full disclosure, March numbers are looking good, but Pastor Mark rejected $2,392.54 from his March salary. We hope to make that up to him in  the months that follow.

 

On-Line Giving

With the inability to meet on Sundays for the last few weeks (and maybe for the next several), we have instituted a way to give on-line. If you get this Ledger electronically, you can just click on this LINK. If you get this in hard-copy but have internet access, go to http://bit.ly/lpcoffering.

Of course, mailing your check to Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, 4449 N Nevada St., Spokane, WA  99207 still works just fine!

 

Trivia Answer

We, along with churches across this nation, printed our sermons in the newspapers during the 1918-19 flu epidemic. The Spokane Chronicle printed local sermons since church sanctuaries were closed to minimize the spread of the flu.

03/22/2020 = Luke 8:1-3 = “Loving with Integrity”

(Click HERE to watch this worship service on-line.)

Mark Wheeler

Luke 8:1-3

Generous Giving: “Loving with Integrity”

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

Lent 4, 03/22/2020

 

Last week we made our first attempt at broadcasting our worship service live – on Facebook – and it was a little hilarious how badly we did – Jake’s version on the private church page went OK; the audio was great, but the video was super tiny and hard to seemy version on the public page was just plain terribleI had my phone on my music stand, so when I looked down at the music stand, of course what I saw was my face, but when I looked up at the congregation the camera pointed straight up my nose…. And my phone was too close to my singing voice, and when I tried to show the song lyrics, they were of course in mirror image and so unreadable….

Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show is doing 15 – 30 minutes each night from his home; his wife is the camera-operator, his 6-year old daughter does the graphics and his computer offers things like laugh tracks. It’s awkward, but he made me feel better about our efforts because his first night was terrible and has improved a little each time.

 

Our worship today will probably be like that – a little better than last week, but still a little awkward; shorter than  our normal 60-75 minutes, but filled with God’s holy presence and power, in your homes, through your phones and computers, and in your lives. So, feel free to laugh at our efforts … and pray with us … and hear God’s Word.

 

Through the Written Word,           

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,          

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Today we look at a short little three verse passage from Luke’s Gospel, but before we turn there, let me ask:

Who makes what you do easier to do, more fun , maybe even just possible?
Julie and Dick, and Scott, and Jake, and Lilly and Gary and Donna, and sometimes Hope, they all make our Sunday morning worship happen – and I love them for that! (Even today, with very little tech-help, and not all of us, would have been way less fun, for everybody, if it were just me singing!

 

Every year the first Sunday in May Spokane hosts the world’s largest timed raceBloomsday (except this year it will be in September 20!)! I am not a runner, and so far, I have a perfect record of never participating…. (I’m actually a little ashamed of that fact, but not so ashamed that I plan to fix it….) Again, I am not a runner.

But there is another 10K race two weeks after the 12k Bloomsday that I did run every year while my kids were little. It is a fund-raiser for food banks, called CROP Walk (10k is approximately 6.3 miles – took me 2 hours to “run”!) But, in addition to raising funds for local and global food banks, what made the CROP Walk fun was all the people with signs along the way cheering us on, the water stations every kilometer, and the small lunch and snacks at the end of the “race”.

Who made that “race” easier? All those volunteers along the way!

 

Throughout the Gospels, we see the importance of what other people bring to Jesus’ ministry – making it not just His ministry, but theirs as well. Even among the Twelve Apostles there were people from several different back grounds, skills, income levels, etc.; but beyond the Twelve there were maybe 100 or even 200 others, mostly unnamed.

Today we meet a few of them in Luke 8:1-3 …. —-

1 After this (after Jesus had forgiven the sins of a woman with a reputation), Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

 

Did you hear that? Jesus traveled the countryside, with the aid and companionship of these friends and followers. Jesus, we know, had the Pharisees and Sadducees who were constantly attacking Him, His character, and His ministry. I imagine that some of these followers were cheering Him on, bringing him lunch and water, and making His ministry possible through their financial support!

 

We have the privilege of watching the ministry in our garageIf You Could Save Just Oneadds to the ministry of Lidgerwood Church through their outreach activities to low-income and in-need neighbors – they are partnering with us sometime in the next week to provide a “drive-thru” give-away of personal hygiene products, something that this Corona Virus has made necessary. We could not do this without them! And they could not do it without us! And, it turns out, all of it is done in support of Jesus’ ministry in Northeast Spokane 2020!

And beyond Spokane, what happens with Child Empowerment Outreach in Kiminini and Mumias, Kenya, couldn’t happen without Edina and Fellowship Church and Lidgerwood Church and Heart for the Land, or without you! Because of how you support and pray for and cheer that ministry on, Jesus is at work way beyond what we could imagine! Last week Stella, one of our CEO high school girls, had emergency surgery on a growth in her neck that was cutting off her tracheal tubes and air passages. Amos has finally been approved for his knee surgeries – of course he’s now waiting for COVID-19 to settle down. Jesus’ ministry happens because of you!

 

If I were to ask you to name some famous women in the Bible, and why they’re famous – Eve, Rahab, Esther, Ruth, Mary, Elizabeth, Mary Magdalene – those are among the most famous. Mary Magdalene? Why? Most people say she’s famous because she was a prostitute who got saved … but no where do any of the Gospels define her as such. She should be famous for today’s verse: She, along with a couple other women, supported Jesus financially out of their own means!

She was also the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection! Not named as one of the Twelve Apostles but obviously one of His key Disciples and supporters!

She cheers us on to make Jesus’ ministry our ministry as well!

 

During this once-in-a-century epidemicI do not want to exaggerate or downplay the seriousness of this virus, but it does compare with things like the Black Plague, the so-called Spanish Flu, and other such globally pandemic moments.

But we can and will get through it. Jesus loves us with indominable integrity. We will get through this by loving our God and our neighbors with that same kind of integrity!

 

In John’s Gospel Jesus tells His disciples that we will do even greater things than He did. Jesus cured the sick, healed the lame, and raised the dead! How much greater than that could we possible do? I think what He means is that while He was on earth, Jesus could only be in one place at a timeHis Disciples can be in as many places as there are Disciples!

 

We can be just like Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, and Susanna! Don’t hoard the toilet paper, offer to share with those around us in need, and support the Church to do these things in Jesus’ name!

(Click HERE to DONATE to Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church.)

Resources:

Marksbury, Erika; Generous Giving: An Illustrated Devotional; Illustrated Ministry; Racine, WI; 2020; Pp. 16-19.

DONATE to Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church HERE.

03/15/2020 = Matthew 22:15-22 = “Taxing Our Integrity”

(Click HERE for a link to our Facebook Live feed.)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 22:15-22

Generous Giving: “Taxing Our Integrity”

Lent 3, 03/15/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Through the Written Word,           

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,          

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

As I said when our worship-time began, we are trying something new this morning – leading an entire corporate worship service with far fewer than our usual gathering. With the COVID-19 and the fears that it causes, many people are cautious about going anywhere where people gather. Schools, state-wide, have closed, sporting events have been cancelled, amusement parks have been walled-off. And, many churches have cancelled their services. I want to honor those who are truly afraid to gather – most of us are in those “vulnerable population groups” – over 60 years and with chronic diseases. But I also know that we live in a world where we are already terribly lonely and isolated. “Social distance” seems like something we can avoid if we’re careful.

Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show is doing his entire show to an empty auditorium – so there’s no one to laugh at his jokes or applaud his guests – awkward. This may have a similar feel – but that’s OK.

 

So,,, we start this morning with this question: Have you stopped sneezing in people’s faces? How do you answer that? If you say Yes, you admit to having sneezed in people’s faces; and if you say No, you confess to still doing that!

There’s a Buddhist koan, a riddle used to help in meditation, that says: “If you stay seated, I will hit you with this stick. If you move from your seat, I will hit you with this stick. What will you do?” [Who here knows the answer? – You take the stick!]

 

Listen to the unanswerable riddle in today’s Gospel story (Matthew 22:15-22):

The Pharisees, it seems, were plotting to trick Jesus into committing treason – a crime punishable by death. So these Pharisees sent their disciples to find Jesus and ask Him this question: “You’re a man of integrity,” they said, “so tell us, is it lawful, is it right, is it righteous, to pay taxes to Emperor Augustus? Or is it righteous to not pay those taxes?”

What’s the right answer to this? How is Jesus supposed to answer, right? I mean, we know the answer because this one-liner has become one of His more famous quotes; but what’s He expected to say?

 

 

This is the dilemma that sets the stage for the plot of this story. And it’s a dilemma we face in every country, in every era. Taxes is one of those things that is guaranteed, right? (What’s the other thing that’s guaranteed?)

Sales tax, income tax, inheritance tax, gas tax, sin tax, property tax – we have all of that, and so did the people in Israel in Jesus’ day.

The Pharisees’ minions buttered Jesus up by speaking the truth about His integrity – “You are sincere,” they said, “and You teach the way of God in accordance with truth.

As followers of Jesus, this same integrity ought to describe our character, too. Cheating on our taxes, or even squirming out of them, is probably wrong. I mean, taking advantage of the loop-holes that are offered just seems wise, but purposely not paying what we owe seems wrong.

Because of a condition in the law that says churches do not need to pay Property Tax, LPC gets out of that expense every year. It’s related to the truth that churches and religious institutions offer enough good to the community that the state honors that benefit. But it comes with limitations. Every church in the state of Washington has been contacted in 2019 in preparation for the Property Tax Exemptions for 2020, because, it seems, every church has understood the laws wrong.

I thought, and this church has thought for decades before I got here, that we could loan our Property Tax-Free building to other non-profit organizations without a problem. But the truth is that the law is written in such a way that that is only true for up to 50-times-a-year. 50-times total. So, if we had a weekly AA group in our building, that would be 50-times, and anything else we did would be illegal.

So, with integrity, our Elders and I have been trying to figure out this conundrum for us. I have had a dozen phone calls and emails with Washington State’s Department of Revenue over the last four months before we sent in our Tax Exemption form before next week. Some good news from this dang Corona Virus? Our outside groups have decided to not meet for a few months, thus reducing their building use down to under 50-times!

What was the answer for us? Apparently it was to pray and expect God to make things right! (I am not saying that our Property Tax is the reason this pandemic is happening – but that it formed a loop-hole for us to jump through! God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good!)

 

You see, the question put to Jesus is notis it convenient to pay taxes to Caesar, or is it complicated to figure out what we owe? The question is, is it right? What about our taxes pleases God? (If Jesus is Lord, do we pay taxes to the Emperor? Doesn’t that suggest that the Emperor is Lord?)

So, Jesus can’t say Yesthat would advocate allegiance to an ungodly regime.

But Jesus can’t say Nothat would be treason, trouble that leads to death, and it wasn’t Jesus’ time yet. Almost, but not quite yet.

So, Jesus changes the question and gives this famous answer: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.

 

There are two obvious follow-up questions, right?

  • What is the emperor’s?
  • And, what is God’s?

 

What is the emperor’s? The taxes pay for roads, schools, libraries, law enforcement, fire fighters, and military defense. All of that is “the emperor’s”. But we also know that our taxes are less than systemically pure and clean and righteous. The wealthiest pay the lowest taxes and the poorest pay the highest…. But it’s a start.

 

What is God’s? Psalm 24 reminds us that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it!” In Jesus’ day there was the half-shekel Temple Tax, the 10% of income Tithe, and the First fruits and offerings on top of that.

But, if everything is God’s to begin with, and God makes us stewards of the earth, of our money, of our homes, of our automobiles, our time, our talents, our treasures – then we recognize it is all God’s!

And God’s generosity gives us family and neighbors, friends and food, in times of sickness and of health…. God’s generosity gives us life – to whom do we give anything?

 

You see, it is our integrity as God’s people that is being taxed. Are we willing to pay it well? Amen.

(Click HERE to give a donation/tithe/offering to Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church)

 

03/01/2020 = Matthew 25:34-40 = “Taking and Giving Our Inheritance”

(For an audio link of this message, click HERE.)

Mark Wheeler

Matthew 25:34-40

Generous Giving: “Taking and Giving Our Inheritance”

Lent 1, 03/01/2020

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Through the Written Word,           

And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,          

Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Today is March 1, 67 days after Christmas and 42 days before Easter. The incarnation of the Son of God, the Word made flesh, and the death and resurrection 33 years later of this same Man of God tell the truth of God’s generous grace to humankind!

We don’t often think of God’s grace and mercy in terms of generosity, but I cannot imagine anything more generous than the God of the universe, Creator of heaven and earth, becoming a baby born in a stable, and then willingly dying a criminal’s death penalty in order to offer forgiveness to you and me when what we actually deserve is desertion and abandonment!

These handful of Sundays leading to the cross and empty tomb of Jesus we will examine several ways God is generous and how our faithfulness demonstrates God’s generosity to those in our lives.

 

The context of today’s Gospel lesson is that this is the last week of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion. In Matthew’s Gospel there are several chapters of mostly red ink following JesusPalm Sunday triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He speaks with the Pharisees; he addresses the crowds; and then, in chapter 25, Jesus talks with and teaches the “disciples” (some of these are His 12 Apostles and some are His “followers” [100+ regular disciples]).

They leave the Temple one day, and Jesus starts talking about “end times”.

  • He tells a parable about being ready (the ten virgins)
  • He tells a parable about being faithful (the talents)
  • He tells a parable about being generous (this is today’s passage, the Shephard separates the sheep and the goats) – to make a reference to Paul’s Letter to Titus, which we just read last month, Jesus uses this parable to say that some of His disciples say they believe in God but by their actions they deny Him (Titus 1:16):
    • Matthew 25: 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
    • 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
    • 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

 

I am not one whom you could legitimately call an “end-times-alarmist” – but, if there is an end-times to be alarmed about we must be about 2,000 years closer to it today than we were when Jesus spoke these words, right?

  • Are we ready? What does being ready mean? The ten virgins in the parable needed oil for their lamps – have we prepared our souls, our lives, by knowing God our loving Creator through His Son and Holy Spirit?
  • Are we faithful? What was expected of the servants who were given those talents? Do we listen for God’s voice and obey what we know He wants for us?
  • Does our generosity reflect God’s ultimate generosity?

 

The underlying grace of this whole passage is that the realization of all the Old Testament promises of God are finally fulfilled in Jesus (John 3:16, For God loved the world so much that He generously gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life; John 1:12, All who receive Him, Jesus, the Word made flesh, all who receive Him, who believe in His name, He generously gives the right to become the children of God (the children who inherit the Kingdom prepared for them since the creation of the world)! This is God’s generosity!

Do our lives resemble this for the world around us?

 

Friends, brothers and sisters, as we receive Him in our lives and believe in the power of His name we become His likeness, as Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, we become His image-bearers and faithful generosity starts to flow.

 

The very end of this chapter, Matthew 25:46, tells how “those who do not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe needy, or visit or take care of the sick or lonely will go to an eternal punishment”;

And verse 34 invites those who do do these acts of generosity to “take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world,” and then to give that inheritance to those around us!

 

Can we begin to display Gods generosity toward us by our generosity toward our neighbors in His name? Together, may we receive and believe, and become…. Amen.