“For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8)
Worship / Homily
Let us come together in prayer and praise!
During the challenging Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic:
We will be worshipping, meeting, studying, and supporting members and our community remotely. Check back often as we will be back to church soon!
Dear Partners in Ministry:
In today's gospel Jesus reveals his power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead. The prophet Ezekiel prophesies God breathing new life into dry bones. To those in exile or living in the shadow of death, these stories proclaim God's promise of resurrection. In Baptism we die to be with Christ that we might be raised with him to new life … life filled to the brim and overflowing.
May the lessons for the Fifth Sunday in Lent assure you of the abundant life that is yours in Christ during these shelter-in-place days.
Be assured of my thoughts and prayers for all of you.
Blessings and peace. May you continue to be Lent rich!
+ Pr. Jim
FIFTH SUNDAY in LENT
PRAYER OF THE DAY
Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death. Breathe upon us the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in righteousness all our days, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
FIRST LESSON Ezekiel 37:1-14
[Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones is a promise that Israel as a nation, though dead in exile, will live again in their land through God’s life-giving spirit. Three times Israel is assured that through this vision they will know that “I am the LORD.”]
SECOND LESSON Romans 8:6-11
[Paul contrasts two ways of living. The unspiritual life may seek to please God but cannot do so, for it is marked by self-reliance. The spiritual life begins with our justification by God and continues in the power of
the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead.]
HOLY GOSPEL John 11:1-45
[The raising of Lazarus is presented as the last and greatest sign (miracle) in John’s gospel. It reveals Jesus as the giver of life. But as John 11:45-53 makes clear, this sign leads to the plan to execute Jesus.]
Pastor Jim Kabel's Homily for Sunday, March 29, 2020
Alive in Christ
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
As followers of Jesus, all of us have hit a wall and hit hard at some point in our earthly pilgrimage. Just as we have with COVID-19. Truth be told, our 2020 Lenten journey has been very different from those we have experienced in years past. This year we hit a bump … a rather large bump … which has changed our default way of worshiping and doing ministry with discovering new and innovative ways of doing mission and ministry.
In today’s Gospel, death had visited the household of Jesus’ friends at Bethany and friends were gathering for the mourning period that followed the burial according to the custom of the time. Buried almost immediately after death, Lazarus’s body began to deteriorate. “There’s already a stench,” Martha said when Jesus asked to see the body of Lazarus.
But those weren’t her first words to Jesus. Like her sister Mary, Martha had asked earlier why Jesus didn’t arrive sooner rather than later. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Those were the first words Martha spoke to Jesus, and Mary echoed the very same words when she rushed out to meet Jesus upon hearing that he was near.
I wonder … Are these the words of sisters somewhat irked at Jesus’ seeming indifference to their brother Lazarus? After all, Lazarus lay sick … so the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Didn’t their message carry enough urgency? Or had Jesus dilly-dallied along the way and missed the opportunity to heal Lazarus?
The disciples had the same question. They had been with him and knew that “when he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This illness does not lead to death, rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of Many may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for “two more days.” Strange behavior, isn’t it, for one who loved Lazarus? And what a strange explanation he gave for taking his good-nature-time. The disciples must have been as stifled by Jesus’ actions just as Mary and Martha were.
And now here they all stood with Jesus weeping over Lazarus death in keeping with custom … with Mary and Martha’s rebuke hanging in the background, and with Jesus’ request to open the grave. “By this time, there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Twice today’s gospel notes that Lazarus has been dead for four days. And that’s a significant number. According to Jewish piety the soul hovered over the body for three days hoping somehow to return. When decomposition began, the soul left. It’s too late! Much too late! Death has claimed its latest victim, and all they could do is mourn and wonder why the only One who could have done anything about it had done absolutely nothing but dilly-dally. Some of the mourners were even asking a tougher question: “Could not the One who opened the eyes of the man born blind have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus asks to have the tomb opened. After thanking the Father for the revelation of his glory in his Son, Jesus simply orders Lazarus to come out. But note according to the Gospel … this wasn’t a statement of hope, but a command: “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Immediately following, however, we read that this event is the triggering point that led to Jesus’ own death. “From that day on they (the religious authorities) plotted to take his (Jesus) life,” John records. Lazarus’ resurrected life leads directly to Jesus’ death.
It’s there … in our Lord’s death … that we see what “glory” is all about. It’s not about power … majesty … splendor … or dignity. It’s about dying on the Tree of the Cross. It is Christ’s glory to die for the world. There in the darkness of Good Friday, the light of God’s glory shines brightest. His death on the Tree of the Cross is the glory that came fully into view in the Resurrection three days later. Christ is not only the death of death, but he is the One through whom and in whom new life emerges as a new possibility. “I have come that they may have life, life in its fullest,” Jesus said. Life filled to the brim.
The blessed apostle St. Paul puts it this way in today’s Second Lesson:
“If Christ is with you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you,
who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his
who lives in you [Romans 9:10.11].”
To use the language of the Gospel, we are to “take off the grave clothes” so that we can live as God intends us to live … life to the fullest in him!
John is always quite emphatic about that truth. Eternal life begins in the here and now … at the point where Christ’s claim on us is confirmed and sealed in the waters of Baptism. It’s not a then and there life that we are pointed to. It’s a here and now that becomes a practice ground for the then and there. I am baptized! Here and now we practice and live out that which will be fully ours in the life yet to come. We are not waiting for it. It’s ours already! … here and now … a life called forth from the grasp of sin and death even as our Lord called Lazarus forth from the grave! The fear and smell of death that pervades the earth has been transformed by our Lord into the sweet smell of victory and life beyond our imagination and hope!
And now, it is through us that the Father’s glory is to be revealed. “This is my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples [John 15:8].” Simple … humble service that follows in the shadow of our Lord reveals God’s glory and life in its fullest … life filled to the brim. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love … I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete [John 15:8, 11]”
In this present hour, when so much is uncertain, and many are asking “what can be done?” the Church knows—live freely in joy, live well in the Lord, live for the opportunity to bless your neighbor with life filled-to-the-brim.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
The congregation at Grace Lutheran enjoys a variety of worship settings. We worship God through liturgical and alternative settings. The congregation offers some “blended” worship formats. Blended simply means we have simplified the liturgical setting and then added songs and music from non-traditional sources. The congregation uses the Lutheran Service Book, The Other Songbook, With One Voice and Worship and Praise as resources in our preparations. We are a Lutheran congregation and we strive to be true to that reality.
The worship services regularly employ organ, piano, flute, bass, guitar, some percussion, vocalist, choir, worship leaders, and occasionally brass. From time to time the congregation may have guest artists participate in our worship settings.
Our services are Christ-centered and respectful. The sermons attempt to be inspirational, lively, relevant, applicable and true to the Biblical record. Our services generally last about one hour. Holy Communion is offered every Sunday. All baptisms are set in our worship services. We work to make our services visitor friendly. Folks come dressed casually and formally. All are welcome. Come worship with us.
We are an active congregation involved in doing good works in the community.
The Mission & Ministry
This means being involved in what we do as a congregation, how we function as an organization with people taking specific responsibilities, i.e. Council Officers, Ministry Members and Volunteers, Ashland Emergency Food Bank. It means supporting our outreach to the community and the world through what we give and how we serve in Christ's name.
We also enjoy numerous Bible studies at Grace:
Choir & Band, Piano and Organ Music
We rehearse every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the church. The choir is a magnificent way to frame your life by the Grace of God, versus by the cares of this world. See you there!
Our choir is 25 voices strong, and we have a great choir director: Stu Turner, as well as our wonderful accompanist: Tatsiana Asheichyk.
Come fill your life with song!
At Grace, life in Christ starts at home and among friends. God meets us where we live and wherever two or three come together in His name to share in Christian community. For us, the point is not just “going to church,” but being church in our daily lives and everyday interactions with others.
During fellowship events we share life, tell stories, eat meals, pray, serve and grow together in Jesus Christ.
Fellowship events express who we are as Christians and therefore we take time to worship, pray, laugh, reflect on scripture, and play, because that’s what Christians do…without these things (worship, prayer, scripture reflection, and more) we have a club, but not a church. Please join us for our next fellowship gathering!
Become a Member
Being a "Member" means making a decision to be a part of the Fellowship, Mission and Ministry of Grace Lutheran Church.
There are various ways people can become Members:
You will be publicly received on a Sunday morning, and introduced to the congregation. If we can assist in this process talk to the pastor or office staff.