Tag Archives: Hagerstown

Saturday, February 17, 2018

In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And 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. A voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1: 9-11

Even though Jesus is God’s own son, he came down to the river to be baptized by a man. John, a simple man of strong faith, baptized our Savior. God acknowledged Jesus in front of everyone who was at the river; he did not wait until Jesus was alone.  Likewise, we should acknowledge Jesus as our Savior and share his love and lessons with those around us. We should follow the example of our Lord, and tear open the barriers around us and share the love he has given us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for coming among us, and for saving us. Thank you for loving me, even though I am a sinner. You acknowledge me, and I will share your love and your word. Amen.

Yvonne Shealy

Friday, February 16, 2018

Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscious, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:21

As the father of a teenage son, I am often yelling into the bathroom that shower time is over!! It feels good to be squeaky clean. I must confess, I enjoy a nice hot shower myself when time allows. The truth of the matter, however, is that as clean as our body can get, each day our thoughts, words, and actions have a way of making us unclean. We can’t help that we were born into it!

The good news for us is that through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, we can daily ask God for a good conscious with the help of the Holy Spirit, which is always present in our lives and is present in our baptismal water. St. Paul says in Romans 6, “We have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Through baptism, we have the humble opportunity, by the grace of our Father, through his Son Jesus Christ to receive a daily spiritual shower that is greater than any hot shower we could ever imagine. Through daily sorrow for sin and repentance, the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned, and we should do our best each day to try to be the best disciples of Christ that we can be.

Prayer: Lord, help us to remember our baptism and that each day is an opportunity through our faith to walk more closely with you in our thoughts, words, and actions. Help us to allow the Holy Spirit, which is present in our lives and in our baptismal water to guide us each day. Amen.

Duane Hine

Thursday, February 15, 2018

We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 20b, 21

On Sunday, January 21st, Pastor Barth, referring to his past service in the prison ministry, began his sermon entitled, “Serving Time.” He then posed a question to us, “Aren’t we all ‘Serving Time’?” For some of us, that time here on earth appears to be moving toward an end.

As we age, we realize more clearly our faults, our energies, our mistakes. We know we need to “face up to them,” knowing also that we will be judged. Someday we will come face to face with God – free of all constrictions and with resurrected bodies. We will become brighter, more beautiful, as God enters our very lives, as we have known, believed and followed his Son, Jesus Christ. The old life is gone; a new life begins. We have lived our lives by believing, not by seeing; following Jesus with love and thankfulness; knowing always that he died for our sins.
Our many concerns regarding our bodies and how they function or even what is happening in our world – the great need to “talk it over with God,” gives us peace of mind.
We are Christ’s ambassadors – God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead to others, “Come back to God.”

Prayer: Loving God, help us to see that each new day here brings new blessings and new ways to serve you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Betty Roney

Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018

…you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51: 16-17

What is the historical significance of these passages? According to the Lutheran Study Bible, Psalm 51 is a prayer for cleansing and pardon. In 2 Samuel: 11, we learn that King David had Uriah killed to cover his sin of committing adultery with his wife Bathsheba. It follows that Psalm 51 was written by King David and was his cry to God for forgiveness.

What is a broken and contrite heart and what is the message for us today? I have thought about this and have several beliefs and opinions for us to ponder. If we have a contrite heart, we will feel truly guilty for our sins and seek humble repentance. We will not rationalize, explain, excuse, defend or justify sin. We have an obligation to take responsibility for our actions and not seek to blame our failures on other people or God. A self-righteous spirit will not receive God’s forgiveness. And, finally, the person with the contrite heart understands that he or she deserves nothing and is at the mercy of God.

God wants us to acknowledge our sins and repent. Many people believe that if they give more, busy themselves in religious activities and maybe pray more, that God will accept these actions in lieu of true repentance. It is clearly stated in these passages that God doesn’t want our sacrifices or burnt offerings; he wants us to have a humble spirit and seek forgiveness by repenting our sins.

Prayer: Dear God, create in us a clean heart and free us from bondage by helping us to acknowledge and repent our sins with a humble spirit. Amen.

Bernie Gettel

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 – DEMDSynod

“Go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy… – Matthew 28:7-8

They were on their way to the grave after a death filled with sorrow in the midst of a busy holiday. Death comes at inopportune times when we cannot give grief its due. Now they were at the grave to finish the job of burial and to cry out their grief. They came to the grave wishing they did not have to be there, hoping it was not real, but expecting to find death. Their memories could not console them now. No laughter or hope was left. Death had taken everything from them.

When we don’t want to believe, the turned up sod and temporary marker forces us. Life is gone. Death is done. The grave has won. We have been there. We have the scars. We still carry the pain of the loss.

We come to Easter and its empty tomb because we too have a past filled with disappointments, sorrows and dead ends. We come seeking a future – the future Jesus promised. We come facing our own mortality and yet we come seeking more than comfort. We want life stronger than death.

He has been raised! Now we are challenged to let go of the pain and memories, of disappointments and despair, of sin and guilt. What may seem an unbelievable tale or words that promise something too good to be true are real. He has been raised! You will see him! Easter beckons to us. Hope slaps our disappointment in the face. Don’t be afraid. Don’t live as the dead among the living. Don’t be distant from the present hope that God has given you. You are not on your own nor are you your own. You belong not to death but to life in Christ; sin, death, and the devil have no power here.

This Easter, our first as bishop and synod, pastor and people; my great prayer and fervent hope is that we will continue to live into this story, this resurrection story – and live as if it matters.

What would we look like; how would the church be different if we took this joyful Easter hope as seriously as we do the many disappointments, dead ends, broken promises and death that confront us each day?

At Easter, we too will make our pilgrimage to the empty tomb. Let’s not go home the same way we arrived. Let God’s love astonish and amaze us one again – and let our fear be swallowed up into a great joy. We can risk everything for our love of God and neighbor; everything, for even death gives way to new life.

This is my message for you. Don’t be so busy with your preparation (Lutherans love Lent) and celebration (we also love a party) that you miss the promise of Easter: We are resurrection people! Let us go with little fear and great joy, together, to share the good news.

Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017 – ELCA

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb.

So begins the Easter story in the Gospel according to Matthew.

The women had lived through the pain of Friday and
the emptiness of Saturday and were expecting death.
All of their hope had come to a dead end.

And just then, as the first day of the week was dawning,
hope was restored. The angel said, “Do not be afraid;
I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here: for he has been raised, as he said.”

Instead of death – life. Instead of the end – the beginning.

On Easter, we will have glorious celebrations in our congregations
and worshiping communities. There will be rejoicing and music
and flowers and alleluias. And that’s a good thing.

But when the flowers fade and the pressures of life seem so heavy,
when the brokenness of this world breaks our spirits,
when we have come to a dead end … rejoice. Because it is exactly
there where the risen Christ meets us. It is precisely there where we
are given resurrection life. It is at that point that we say, Christ is risen.

Christ is risen indeed. Hallelujah.