FEBRUARY 2015 - Atonement Lutheran Church

Lutheran Church
9242 Kiefer Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95826
AtonementLutheran @comcast.net
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 276245
Sacramento, CA 95827
Holly Feather
Doug McGill-Office
Mark Heimlich-Organist/
Krista White -Pianist /
Choir Accompanist
Joyce Moss-Choir Director
Voice of Atonement
F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 5
Notes from Pastor Holly...
During the Sundays after Epiphany, our Adult Education Class has been looking at the Bible
using the resource, “Lutheran Questions, Lutheran Answers,” by Martin Marty. As a part of
that conversation, I wanted to share another perspective on the Bible, this one by an author
named Peter Enns (The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to
Read It).
For several years, Enns has been hosting a conversation on, as the title of his blog has it,
“rethinking biblical Christianity.” While I do not agree with everything he says, I appreciate
his willingness to delve into this topic. Recently, he was asked to list ten things he wished everyone understood about the Bible, this was his answer:
1. The Bible doesn't answer all - or even most - of our questions.
Many of our questions, even some of the more pressing questions we face daily, aren't answered in the Bible. The Christian Bible isn't an answer book but a story of how Jesus answers
for us the biggest question of all: what God is like.
2. The Bible isn't like God’s version of Apple's “Terms and Conditions” agreement.
The Bible doesn't lay out before us God's terms and conditions, where failure to adhere to one
clause in the middle of page 87 will cause a breach of contract and banishment from God's
graces. The Bible is more like a grand narrative that reorders our imaginations and holds out
for us an alternate way of seeing reality - with God at the heart of it rather than ourselves.
3. The Bible isn't a sourcebook for fighting culture wars.
The Bible isn’t a club we use to gain political power or a way of forcing secular culture to
obey our rules. America is not God's country and the Bible isn't its constitution. Stop it.
4. The Bible doesn't guarantee “success in life.”
Don't listen to those T.V. preachers. The Bible isn't a step-by-step guide to success, as if buried
there are deep secrets for being happy, healthy, and rich. It is a book that shows what dying to
self and surrendering to God are about. The Bible crushes our egos.
5. The Bible is open to multiple interpretations, not just one meaning.
The Bible is ancient and obscure, and its stories are “gapped” and flexible, which allows, even
demands, that readers to interpret the Bible legitimately in various ways. This is exactly what
has been happening among Jews and Christians for over 2,000 years.
6. The Bible invites debate.
An extremely important lesson for Christians to learn from Judaism is that the Bible invites
debate. In fact, it can't avoid it, given how open it is to multiple interpretations. Winning Bible
feuds with others, getting to the right answer, isn't the end goal. The back-and forth with the
Bible, and with God, is where deeper faith is found.
(Cont. on Page 2)
7. The Bible doesn't “record” history objectively but interprets it.
The biblical writers didn't try to get history "right" in the same sense an author of an academic textbook does. Instead, they interpreted the past in their place and time, for their own communities, to answer their own questions of faith. That's why the Bible contains two very different "histories" of Israel and the four Gospels that recount Jesus' life differently.
8. The Bible was written by Jews (and at least one Gentile in the New Testament) in ancient times.
This may sound too obvious to say, but it's not. The biblical writers were ancient writers expressing their faith in God using the vocabulary and concepts of their ancient cultures. When we transpose our language and concepts onto biblical writers, even if we are
trying to understand the Bible, we will actually distort it.
9. The Bible isn't the center of the Christian faith.
Some form of the Bible has always been a part of the life of the church, but the Bible isn't the center of our faith. God is - or, for
Christians, what God has done in and through Jesus. The Bible doesn't draw attention to itself, but to God.
10. The Bible doesn't give us permission to speak for God.
At least not without a lot of wisdom and humility behind it. Knowing the Bible is vital for Christian growth, but it can also become
intoxicating. We don't always see as clearly as we might think, and what we learn of God in the Bible should always be first and
foremost directed inward rather than aimed at others.
Ash Wednesday Service
Wednesday, February 18
6:00 pm
Worship Servants for February 2015
Altar Guild
February 1 Beverly Olson Rich Keegan
Bodil Drucker &
Beverly Olson
Bodil Drucker &
Beverly Olson
February 8 Doug McGill
Lucy Taylor
Hilda Deterville &
Mary Wudel
Hilda Deterville &
Barbara Hansen
February 15 Jim Weber
Nelson Predoehl
Mary Wudel &
Dolores Hull
Jan Heimlich &
Dolores Hull
February 18 Beverly Olson Doug McGill
Ash Wed.
February 22 Lucy Taylor
Hilda Deterville
Beverly Olson
Barbara Wildrick &
Mary Wudel
February 1...…………Walt & Barb Wildrick
In Memory of Larry Wildrick
February 8…………………..Hilda Deterville
February 15….…………………...OPEN
February 22……………….Joyce McColgan
In Memory of Wes McColgan
Barbara Wildrick &
Jan Heimlich
February 1
Michael Borgg &
Doug McGill
February 8
Judi Phelps &
Lucy Taylor
Mary Wudel &
Phyllis Ransom
Hilda Deterville &
Barb Wildrick
Rich Keegan…………………………….11
Estella Winch…………………………..15
Janice Schwartz………………………...16
Joyce Moss………………………………22
Spaces available to sign up for flowers, lectors, and coffee hour refreshments for February
Winter Sanctuary
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Lutheran Church of the Master
1900 Potrero Way
Sacramento, CA
Men ’ s 12 step study group ( AA )
Meets in the Multi-Purpose Room
6:30—7:30 pm
The Knitters are once again meeting at Atonement!
The second & fourth Thursdays
1:00 pm in the Multipurpose Room
Crocheters welcome also!!
Stewardship Devotion for February
During the coming months, we will be sharing a series of devotions on Stewardship. These re not writings
about money (although money may occasionally be mentioned) but thoughts on stewardship in the broader
sense of care for self and creation. We hope you will find these of value on your spiritual journey.
Devotion 1
Realizing How Much God Loves You – Luke 15:11-32
How do you see God’s love in your daily life? Jesus’ parable of the prodigal is an example of the deep and
profound love between a father and his son (and, God with God’s people). This parable could also be named
the parable of the prodigal father. It is the father who is a central character. The selfish and jealous behavior of
the two sons is a sharp contrast to the loving behavior of the father. Similarly, God’s most basic character is
What experiences in life are brought to memory by this parable? Has there been a time in your life when you
wanted to go off to a far country? It was not unusual for younger Jewish sons to venture into the Dispersion.
Centuries later in colonial England, it was not unusual for younger sons to venture to the colonies to start their
life. And in our own country, it was not unusual for younger sons to respond to the challenge, “Go west, young
These ventures were often undertaken because there was sense of love and security at home, and a loving relationship with God. The life of Jesus was a venture to live in a “new creation”, a “new age.” It was difficult for
the disciples to leave their settings and follow Jesus. It was even more difficult to grasp the significance of Jesus’ teachings. Yet as their experiences evolved there were revelations that showed God’s love and presence in
every day life.
The older son struggled to see the loving relationship with his father and brother upon the brother’s return. Yet
the father’s love was free, unmerited and unconditional to both sons. It is this kind of love that God has for
God’s people.
The breadth of this love is expressed in words penciled on the wall of a narrow room in an asylum
Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade:
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, tho’ stretched from sky to sky.
“The Love of God” Lillenas Publishing Co, Kansas City, MO 1917
In reflecting on the breadth of God’s love, what steps might you take in your life to enhance your realization of
God’s love?
Let us pray: Lord God, you are a loving Creator and Provider. Help us to see your presence in our daily life, in
the gift of life, in the gift of your Son Jesus Christ and in the Body of Christ. Give us the vision to look beyond
our personal desires and needs. Give us the sensitivity to hear your word above our daily activity. Open our
eyes too, to the times when we are like the older son, looking for the best robe and the fatted calf, only wanting
for ourselves. May the Holy Spirit give us guidance to see your loving presence and will in our life. Amen.
Thoughts On An Age-Old Lenten Practice
So many people during the Christian season of Lent give up something. It is what we are supposed to do, right? In preparation for
celebrating Easter, we give up Starbucks or chocolate, or fast-food, and the list goes on. And so we ask each other, “What have you
given up?” Almost like it’s the newest fad – it is “in” to not eat chocolate for 40 days. Or it is “in” to not drink caffeine for 40 days
and be a beast of a person because you did not get your morning caffeine. And the count down to Easter begins when you can have
caffeine or chocolate again.
The tradition of fasting during Lent is an ancient tradition. But is our modern-day fasting in the sense of the ancient practice? The spiritual practice of fasting typically involved not eating while the sun was up (in some cultures, there is a ritual of a feast
in the evenings). In place of worrying about our physical needs, we focus on our spiritual needs. Now, I don’t know about you, but
when I see people who have given up Starbucks or chocolate for Lent, I see that their lamenting is focused on Starbucks or chocolate. That leaves me wondering, is this what Lent is about?
I wonder, “What would the spiritual life and a relationship with Christ would look like if instead of giving up something, we
added something?” There are lots of ways in which we express our faith and our relationship with Christ. John Wesley talked a lot
about works of piety and works of mercy. Works of piety include worship, prayer, Bible study, daily devotions, and participation in
the sacraments. Works of mercy include doing good, helping a neighbor, and caring for the poor.
Perhaps, we can start Lent by considering ways we can add a spiritual practice or discipline to our lives. A practice or discipline
that is different from our norm. Lent is a powerful time of encountering the Christ who lived, died, and rose again for us. Lent forces
us to see the wounds, the bruises, and the scars that lead us to Easter.
And it is uncomfortable.
Lent is about being uncomfortable. When we step out of our comfort zones, through our piety and mercy, we encounter the
Christ of Easter. When we take that risk to step out of our normal routine, we open ourselves to powerful encounters with Christ that
transform us.
Consider works of piety you might add to your spiritual life. If you have never attended the Lenten services at your local church,
consider participating in the Ash Wednesday and Holy Week services. If your church has a Lenten Bible study or small groups, consider joining one as a way to grow in your discipleship. If you have been slacking in your prayer life, consider finding a friend with
whom you can be accountable with in your prayer life. If your church offers a Lenten devotional in addition to the Upper Rooms, use
them both! Or maybe you just need more quiet time in your life. Carve that time out and maximize your time with God.
Consider works of mercy you might add. What areas of need are there in your community? What areas make you uncomfortable?
Are there areas of service within your congregation that you have never served before? Maybe it is volunteering to be a greeter or
usher. Maybe it is volunteering to lead children’s church or help out with youth group. Maybe it is volunteering at a local soup
kitchen or homeless shelter.
Focusing on our spiritual lives and our relationship with Jesus Christ provides us with time to consider how we are living our
lives. Do our actions and words reflect our faith? Are we striving towards perfection? Are our hearts warmed and our hands dirty?
Why not consider what you can take on for Lent this year.
Jason C. Stanley is an Ordained Deacon and Associate Pastor of Youth and Education at Peakland United Methodist Church in
Lynchburg, Virginia. Megan and Jason now live and work in Lynchburg, Virginia with their rescue greyhound, Roux. For more,
check out his web site: JasonCStanley.com
Article Source: http://www.sowingseedsoffaith.com/devotions/lent-dont-give-up-add/