The second covenant in this year’s Lenten readings is the one made with Abraham and Sarah: God’s promise to make them the ancestors of many, with whom God will remain in everlasting covenant. Paul says this promise comes to all who share Abraham’s faith in the God who brings life into being where there was no life. We receive this baptismal promise of resurrection life in faith. Sarah and Abraham receive new names as a sign of the covenant, and we too get new identities in baptism, as we put on Christ.
Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. 2And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 3Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 5No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 6I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”
15God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”
23You who fear the Lord, give praise! All you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
Stand in awe of the Lord, all you offspring of Israel.
24For the Lord does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty; neither is the Lord‘s face hidden from them;
but when they cry out, the Lord hears them.
25From you comes my praise in the great assembly;
I will perform my vows in the sight of those who fear the Lord.
26The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
Let those who seek the Lord give praise! May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord;
all the families of nations shall bow before God.
28For dominion belongs to the Lord,
who rules over the nations.
29Indeed, all who sleep in the earth shall bow down in worship;
all who go down to the dust, though they be dead, shall kneel before the Lord.
30Their descendants shall serve the Lord,
whom they shall proclaim to generations to come.
31They shall proclaim God’s deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying to them, “The Lord has acted!”
13The promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
16For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 23Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
31[Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
February 1, 2021
Congregations of the New England Synod,
Our pandemic winter continues. I, like you, feel the fatigue that is circling about our lives. The good news of vaccine distribution beginning is offset by concerns about variants of Covid19. While I remain hopeful for the longer term (next six to nine months), I remain vigilant and cautious in the near term.
We may be getting closer to gathering in-person, but we are not there yet. Some of our states are beginning to relax their rules around some in-person gatherings, and this may, in some places such as Connecticut, include relaxation around gatherings for worship.
I would exercise extreme caution in moving too soon toward this practice!
Much of the reasoning behind state governments taking more relaxed positions in relation to houses of worship, versus other public spaces, is related to concerns around first amendment considerations. Earlier last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a synagogue that believed it had the legal standing to hold worship services, even when the Governor stated, out of health and safety concerns, that they should not meet. Since that ruling, most states have adopted a “request approach” toward houses of worship. For instance, in Rhode Island, the governor asked churches to not hold in-person worship during a recent outbreak.
My point in this letter is this:
Just because a state government may grant permission or shift its language around holding in-person worship does not mean your congregation should. As my grandmother used to say, “just because you can….doesn’t mean you should.”
This letter serves as encouragement to be thoughtful, careful and mindful of our role as servants.
The ELCA has released “Considerations for Returning to In-Person Worship.” You may view the full document here. Last year, I provided you with a letter offering suggestions on how to approach re-opening, part of that is copied below.
“As I review those documents, along with several news stories of churches that attempted to meet for worship and then had spread of this disease, I want to offer my own personal reflections. If I were serving as a pastor in a congregation, I would say the following to my church council:
“I see no upside to gathering in person for worship for the foreseeable future, and I think we should begin now to plan for many months without it…“
I still believe that is the best path forward.
It seems likely (though who can predict the future these days?) that we will be able to gather for in-person worship in 2021, certainly outdoors in warmer months. Therefore, let’s be mindful of that coming opportunity and not rush too hastily into indoor worship.
I have great confidence in the patience and wise leadership so many of you are exercising. We are moving forward into a new day. I know it is hard, and I know the loss many have experienced during this pandemic is painful. Let us continue to exercise patience and wisdom!
Bishop James Hazelwood
What’s on your mind, what’s on your heart, what can you do about it? We live in difficult times. Let’s talk! Join in with other members of OSLC in a Zoom based “Listening Session.”
More than ten years ago, members of OSLC met to talk about and plan for what would become the United Valley Interfaith Project, a nonprofit organization composed of multiple local faith-based organizations. One of our first tasks was to hold “Listening Sessions” with our OSLC congregation members and hear what was on their hearts relating to their personal needs and the needs of our Upper Valley communities. Then we went to work with UVIP to develop teams to address the needs that were identified such as affordable housing, reliable transportation, affordable healthcare, a moral economy with living wages, employment, mental health services and many others.
After years of faith-based community organizing, UVIP is changing. As of June 30, 2021, it will no longer exist as weknow it. Over the past year its faith-based members have worked to consider and discern joining forces with UVIP’s sister organizations, the Granite State Organizing Project in NH or Vermont Interfaith Action, to continue our work.
In anticipation of this change, we once again look to the members of our congregation for guidance by sharing the important issues that are on your minds and on your hearts by participating in a Listening Session. Please join in. A session will range from 60 to 90 minutes. A Zoom meeting link is provided below for each Listening Session. Choose which date you prefer.
The dates and times are:
Wednesday, March 3rd at 7:00 pm – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82221244899
Friday, March 5th at 10:00 am – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89220251367
Sunday, March 7th at 11:30 am – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/540787538?pwd=Tjlqc0pHQ0NobEdyQ2hsWlhoT0VCZz09
For questions and additional information please contact Gisela Jones or Rosemary Affeldt.
On Ash Wednesday the church began its journey toward baptismal immersion in the death and resurrection of Christ. This year, the Sundays in Lent lead us to focus on five covenants God makes in the Hebrew Scriptures and to use them as lenses through which to view baptism. First Peter connects the way God saved Noah’s family in the flood with the way God saves us through the water of baptism. The baptismal covenant is made with us individually, but the new life we are given in baptism is for the sake of the whole world.
1 Peter 3:18-22
8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
1To you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3Let none who look to you be put to shame;
rather let those be put to shame who are treacherous.
4Show me your ways, O Lord,
and teach me your paths.
5Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.
7Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
8You are gracious and upright, O Lord;
therefore you teach sinners in your way.
9You lead the lowly in justice
and teach the lowly your way.
10All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness
to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies.
18Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Join us Online for Thursday Evening Prayer
Thursdays through March 25
You may download the bulletin for the remote worship service here.
There are three options for participating in remote worship this Thursday:
Daily Watchword Devotions
Our daily Watchword Devotions is a collection of reflections written by and for the good people of Our Savior Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry. May the Holy Spirit continue to meet you as you create time for prayer and devotion this lent. Our Watchword Reflections devotional is available here.
Join us online for Lenten Evening Worship, 7:00 p.m., Thursdays in Lent