What questions and changes are you facing today? As we navigate these changes, it can be very helpful to take some time for intentional and prayerful reflection.
A friend of mine, Jonathan Swenson, who is both a Lutheran pastor and a professional actor, recently shared a very interesting exercise that actors sometimes use to help develop characters into “real” human beings, with thoughts, emotions, desires and intentions. Four questions are asked of the character:
1. What do they need?
2. What do they want?
3. What do they fear?
4. What do they love?
Jonathan went on to say that this exercise can also be an interesting tool in everyday life. The questions can help us consider the hopes and intentions of others, as well as our own needs and desires as we face decisions, opportunities, mixed emotions or relationship difficulties.
The question of what we fear can be particularly insightful. When we identify what we fear, this can “take away the power, to some degree, of whatever is [bothering me] or holding me up from a goal, a relationship or a project,” according to Jonathan. So we ask:
1. What do I need?
2. What do I want?
3. What do I fear?
4. What do I love?
Prayerfully reflecting on these questions, along with a biblically-grounded understanding of what God calls us to do and be, can be a worthwhile exercise for us. Jonathan adds: “The answers will absolutely guide the next steps in coming to resolution. They will help you in communicating and building trust and finding answers with others. And they will also inform your prayers, as you bring those concerns and fears to God and continue to ask for clarity and help.” -Why not give it a try?
-Pastor Deborah Lunde
Have you ever wondered how we choose the texts for Sunday worship each week?
Many congregations, including those from our Lutheran tradition, follow what is called a lectionary. Lectionary readings are arranged according to the Christian Church calendar and are intended to be read at the regular, weekly gathering of God’s people. The readings fit the various seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and the long Pentecost season. Already in the fourth century, readings were gathered for this purpose.
The benefit of following a lectionary is that a congregation hears a broad range of Scripture texts, and often the texts for a particular Sunday relate to one another in some way.
Many congregations in our Lutheran tradition use either the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) or the Narrative Lectionary (NL). The RCL is a three-year lectionary which lists several readings for each Sunday: an Old Testament reading, a Gospel reading, a New Testament reading (often from the Epistles) and a Psalm. Each year of the RCL centers on one of the synoptic Gospels – Matthew (Year A), Mark (Year B) and Luke (Year C). The Gospel of John is read periodically in all three years.
The Narrative Lectionary (NL) is a four-year cycle of readings, one year to focus on each of the Gospels. The Church Year helps to shape the flow of the Narrative Lectionary. During the fall, Old Testament readings begin with the early chapters of Genesis, and move through stories of Israel’s early history, exodus, the kings, prophets, exile and return. This leads naturally to the stories of Jesus’ birth and life from the Gospels during Christmas and Epiphany through Holy Week and Easter. After Easter, selections from the book of Acts and Paul’s letters trace the movement of the resurrection message, culminating on Pentecost with readings focusing on the Spirit. Summer becomes a time to delve deeper in the Bible with a sermon series.
One of the benefits of the Narrative Lectionary is that we get to hear the entire sweep of the Bible story in an orderly fashion, beginning in Creation, through the Old Testament, leading to the coming of Jesus and then the formation of the Christian Church. In an era when biblical literacy is not high, this can be a great help for people in understanding the flow of God’s activity through history!
To learn more about these lectionaries, one can take a look at www.workingpreacher.org and click on the tab for “Narrative Lectionary” or “Revised Common Lectionary.”
I look forward to using the Narrative Lectionary this fall, with a focus on key Old Testament stories that help us understand the history that led up to the coming of Jesus!
Pastor Deborah Lunde
It was a quintessential summer picnic: salads, fruit, desserts and lemonade; conversations around the picnic tables; views across the sand, of families, beach umbrellas and the waters of Puget Sound! That’s what some of us from Denny Park Lutheran enjoyed last Sunday as we gathered at Golden Gardens Park for a congregational picnic. Yes, these are the slower-paced days of summer, when we are eager to enjoy the warm weather and some time outdoors!
While the calendar is not as full during the summer weeks, there is a bit of a buzz at Denny Park Lutheran Church as we gear up for the fall. The landscaping around the southeast corner of the church has been completed and looks great! There are plans for enhanced lighting to highlight the beautiful architecture of the building and to allow the church to be more visible to the South Lake Union neighborhood. And there are ideas for updating some inside areas that will see more use in the upcoming months.
Physical updates and enhancements of the building are the visible expression of new opportunities to share the Gospel and make a positive impact in our community! We want our building to be a warm place of refuge in a fast-paced, frenetic urban area; a space where people can gather, learn, grow, worship, and build community. Ultimately, a place that radiates the love of God, and encourages people to meet Jesus. This is the long-term goal and direction we have as a congregation!
Already, our building houses four different congregations with a variety of worship styles and languages. This fall we anticipate hosting some additional groups and gatherings. I am grateful for the ways that Denny Park Lutheran, the Sanctuary at Denny Park, and the various groups that meet here, are making a positive impact in our neighborhood. Let us pray that God will continue to work with and through us, in this time and place!
Pastor Deborah Lunde