Mother’s Day and Mission Madness

Central,

Mother’s Day and Mission Madness!

On Sunday, May 21 we will celebrate our 8th annual Mission Madness Day! There are over 20 projects that you can sign up for to go out into the community and serve.  Sign up this Sunday at the tables in the lobby or email Sonja.knutson@clcelkriver.org and let her know you will be there.

In my life one of the greatest servants I know is my Mother!  In fact most Mothers are models of servant hood and examples of mercy. The Hebrew word translated “mercy” is rachamin – from rechem, meaning “womb.” After a Mother bears her child in her womb, she passionately seeks nothing but good and all that is right for the child she loves fiercely.

Two questions:

Do you know in your heart that God’s love for you is a mother’s tender care, but to the nth degree? God sees our waywardness and self-interest – but instead of rejecting us, God grieves, pursues and relentlessly loves us.

Will you join the body of Central and love this community in the same way that a Mother loves her child?  Mission Madness is a great way to start learning how to love this community.

I hope to worship with many of you this coming Sunday as we recognize our Mothers and the following Sunday as love our community through Mission Madness!

Paul

TEEN CHALLENGE CHOIR – LET GOD USE YOUR SCARS

Central,

LET GOD USE YOUR SCARS!

After His resurrection, Jesus displayed his scars. Why did Jesus have scars? Read John 20:24-27. Could it be that scars were left to testify to the work of Christ? “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.” Could it be that those scars are there for all the Thomases who need to see to believe? Jesus knew what those scars represented – healing, restoration, the forgiveness of sins, peace between God and humanity.

What about our scars? We don’t have physical holes in our hands and feet, but sin and rebellion against God leave painful gashes in our hearts and souls. All of us are broken and wounded in some manner. All of us have scars. But in and through Christ, the most severe injuries and healed, and with that restoration comes a story – a testimony of what God has done!

This spring I would like to challenge you to think about your own scars, think of the ways you can use your testimony to share your journey from death into life. There are others who are going through similar circumstances. They need your encouragement and words of hope. But that means you must be willing to speak about the things you have tried to hide in the past.

Never underestimate the power of your testimony. Revelation 12:11 underscores the importance of the ‘word of our testimony.’ Satan knows that the stories behind our scars will destroy him. That’s why he deceives and shames us into hiding them. What is your story? What is your testimony? This Easter season you will have the opportunity to write and share your story.

I HOPE THAT MANY OF YOU WILL JOIN ME THIS SUNDAY as we are blessed by the songs and stories of the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Choir!

Paul

 

Happy Easter

Central,

HAPPY EASTER! John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though she die, yet shall she live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”

May you celebrate the gift of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life given to each of us through Christ’s death and resurrection. EASTER WORSHIP at Central is at 6:30, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00AM. In Christ’s Name, WELCOME!

We, the Staff and Council, look forward to celebrating Easter with you. And remember JESUS CHANGES EVERYTHING!

Paul Johansson

 

Good Friday and Seven Witnesses

Central,

I pray that you will have a Good Friday!

Following Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, desertion, false trials, denial, condemnation, beatings and mockery, Jesus was required to carry his cross to “The Place of the Skull,” where he was crucified with two other prisoners. How can the day Jesus was crucified be called GOOD FRIDAY? On the cross Jesus does for his friends what they cannot do for themselves.

When Jesus made the journey to the cross he did what no one else could do, or would ever need to do again. He did battle with the forces of evil and emerged victorious. He bore our pains and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. He defeated death itself by death. His death was not just an example of sacrificial love. The death of Jesus on the Cross was a singular and unrepeatable act for the whole world. On the cross the pain, guilt, shame and fear of the whole world was gathered.

The story of Good Friday is either the most important thing in the world or it is scandalous nonsense. There is no middle way. We cannot help but tell the story of Good Friday! We are Jesus’ forgiven friends! Jesus has paid the price, he dealt with evil, he defeated everything that separates us from God. Words cannot even begin to describe the depth, height, width and breadth of Jesus’ love for you and me. On the Cross Jesus took all your sin, sorrow, and suffering. And that is why we sing, “What a Friend we have in Jesus.”

I hope you will join me at 7:00PM on Friday night for our service of light and darkness. Seven friends of Jesus will share their stories. Come and be blessed by the witness of Jack Orth, Sarah Perkins, Chris Dorff, Nicholas Goodwin, Shelby Novotny, Jenn Cira and Julie Haugen as they respond to Jesus’ last words from the Cross.

Paul

Spying on Wednesday and Betrayal on Thursday

HOLY WEEK WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY

The gospels do not specifically mention what Jesus did on Wednesday of Holy week. Could it be that Jesus rested and spent the day in Bethany with his friends? In some traditions, the emphasis on Wednesday is not on Jesus but it is on us as human beings. Wednesday of Holy Week is referred to as ‘Spy Wednesday’ since it is traditionally thought of as the day Judas conspired with local authorities to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14–16). For this he was paid thirty pieces of silver. It is important for us to take time and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how we betray our Lord Jesus. Are you praying?

On Thursday Jesus gathers his disciples and celebrates the Passover meal with them. He gives the meal a new meaning. The bread and the wine are his body and blood, broken and poured out for you and me. He instituted the Lord’s Supper. In the gospel of John he washes the disciples feet and gives us the new commandment to love one another as I have loved you. After the meal Jesus made his way to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony, knowing what lay ahead of him. Jesus knew that he had to face Caiaphas and Pilate, temple guards, and Roman soldiers, weeping women and mocking crowds, betrayal, denial, torture and death. It was not just human adversaries that Jesus was facing; he was battling principalities, powers and spiritual forces. Jesus had to walk this journey alone, and it is an agonizing journey, so that he begins to sweat drops of blood. Why did Jesus stay in the Garden knowing what was going to happen? And what does it mean for you and mean to stay there with him?

Tomorrow we gather at 12:00Noon and 7:00PM for our MAUNDY THURSDAY worship services. In Christ’s Name, WELCOME!

Paul

The Shack, Holy Week and Monday!

Central,

In THE SHACK, Mack asks Jesus, “Do all roads lead to you?” He answers, “No, not at all – most roads don’t lead anywhere. What I do mean to say is I will travel any road to find you.” That’s why he took the long road from northern Israel to the city, then the arduous path from Bethany to Bethpage, into the valley beneath the Mount of Olives and up into Jerusalem.

Yesterday we celebrated PALM SUNDAY. On the first day of the week Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the ancient prophecies. The crowd welcomed him with “Hosanna” and the words of Psalm 118:25-26. What happened today?

On Monday Jesus returned to Jerusalem and made his way to the temple. He shocked everyone by walking into the temple grounds and wreaking havoc. He overturned the tables, the money noisily falling on the stones, turtledoves flapping their wings to get away and everyone being thrown out……what was going on? Jesus declared, “My house shall be called a house of Prayer” but you have made it a den of robbers. We might ask ourselves what we turn Central into? Is it a house of prayer?

Jesus’ point? The temple was built to be the meeting point between humanity and God. Jesus says that the real temple from now on will not be any building. The temple is Jesus himself! In and through him we are connected to God! But the story continues….. “Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit?” Yes! You and I are temples! God has redeemed us so that others may be connected to God through us.

I pray that each of you will have moments of stillness and silence this week to ponder and reflect on the road Jesus traveled for us during Holy Week!

Paul

P.S. What happens on Tuesday? Read Matthew 21:23-24:51; Mark 11:27-13:37 and Luke 20:1-21:36. It is a day of teaching!

 

 

How Do We Do Holy Week?

HOW DO WE DO HOLY WEEK?

We begin by making our way to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday!

In Jewish history and scripture, there were two primary reasons for going to Jerusalem. You went there to enthrone the king, or to pay him homage and tribute. And you went there to meet God, to offer sacrifice, to celebrate his love, his salvation, his covenant. Of course, it is not so simplistic but enthroning the king and meeting God were the two primary reasons to go to Jerusalem.

So, this Sunday we will join Christ and the disciples and enter Jerusalem, the Holy City. We will imagine Jesus riding a donkey as the crowd waves their palm branches and shout “Hosanna!” to welcome and acknowledge him. The exclamation “Hosanna!” is a way to praise God, but also carries the literal meaning “God save us.” We begin Holy Week joining the crowd of children, young people, adults and elderly waving our palm branches and crying out, “Hosanna!” or “God save us!”.

Palm Sunday calls us to let go and give our fears, sorrows and burdens over to Christ as he enters Jerusalem to lay down his life for you! Let us be praying for one another as we gather this Sunday and begin the Holy Week journey. May each member of this body know that when Jesus walked the way of the Cross, he did what no one else could do, or would ever need to do again. He bore our pains and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities; he defeated death by his death. We cannot do that. Even to try would be blasphemous nonsense. Holy Week celebrates the singular and unrepeatable work of Jesus Christ for all humanity!

If the two primary reasons to go to Jerusalem were, to enthrone a King and meet God, then it might be wise for us to ask ourselves two questions; what does it mean for JESUS to be king? and how do we meet God in and through JESUS? Take some time today or tomorrow and read Matthew 21:1-17 to prepare yourself for worship on Palm Sunday!

I hope you will join me on Palm Sunday as we begin our Holy Week journey!

Paul

In Remembrance of Craig L. Quist

 

Central,

Thanks be to God for the life and memory of Craig L. Quist.

Craig was born on January 21, 1949 and died on March 09, 2017. Craig is survived by Gail, his wife of 49 years, son Derek and daughter Julie. Please join me in praying for the family and friends of Craig. A Memorial service for Craig will take place on Tuesday, March 14 at 2:00PM at Central.

“God so loved the world that he gave his only son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 

Paul

In Remembrance of Laura DuVall

Central,

Thanks be to God for the life and memory of Laura DuVall.

Laura was born on March 17, 1959 and died March 7, 2017. Laura is survived by son Jeff Stai (Jackie) and children Mikayla and William, and daughter Cherie Tobias (Dennis) and children Victoria and Cadence, siblings: Dorothy McCormick, Sue Sweno and Mike DuVall. Preceded in death by brother, Mark DuVall. Please join me in praying for the family of Laura.

The funeral service for Laura is at Central on Monday, March 13 at 2:00PM. Visitation precedes the service at 1:00. Following the service is lunch. We gather in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection from the dead of Laura DuVall. Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you.” – John 14:1-2 

Paul

In Remembrance of Joel Robert Peterson

Central,

We give thanks to God for the life and memory of Joel Robert Peterson.

Joel was born on June 23, 1967 and died on March 8, 2017. Joel is survived by his children Adam and Samantha and their mother, Tonya Marthaler, parents Robert and Donna, brothers Todd, Peter, Ned (Diane), sister Heidi and nieces Hannah and Madison. Please join me in praying for Joel’s family.

A Memorial Service for Joel will take place at Central on Sunday, March 12 at 5:00PM. Visitation precedes the service beginning at 4:00PM and a meal will be served in the Family Life Center immediately following. We gather in the promise of God’s Word, “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, not things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 

Paul Johansson