Your Parson’s Post
Longing for reunions
The Fourth of July family reunion at my great-grandparents’ lakeside farm home in Minnesota brought us together every year. Extended family members from across the U.S. knew the date and place. Not every relative could attend every year, but at least 70 made the annual rotation. The noon table was the centerpiece laden with ham, salads, baked beans and pies of every kind. Only homemade pies were allowed. The afternoon held fireworks, swimming and visiting; the day was a feast in every way.
We long for feast days. We long for reunions, especially at the communion table. As we continue to gather for worship via Zoom and YouTube, I share reflections about our longing to be “at table” again.
In May, I was among the rostered leaders of our Rocky Mountain Synod who gathered with Synod Bishop James Gonia via Zoom to discuss how best to be sustained in these different days. The topic was holy communion. One of the presenters, the Rev. Ron Roschke, offered these reflections:
“The body of Christ” is ‘what’ we receive in holy communion—in, with and under the forms of bread and wine. But ‘the body of Christ’ is also ‘who’ we are as we gather to receive the sacrament. As Lutheran Christians we confess our belief in ‘the real presence.’ We insist that Christ is truly present in the sacrament, offering himself for us, building his life within us, just as he promises to do in holy baptism, when our identity and the name of God are ‘dissolved’ into each other. We are ‘baptized into Christ,’ and in holy communion Jesus continues to give himself to us, to fill us with his life and identity. But if holy communion refers to both what we receive and who we are, then ‘real presence’ also describes the assembly that gathers to receive this gift. Here, too, the communal nature of our life in Christ is extremely important. Our identity—our ‘who’—always ties us to siblings in this family of God. We cannot be Christian by ourselves. We always need each other. The Formula of Concord insists that in holy communion ‘bread and wine are taken, consecrated, distributed, received, eaten and drunk and that thereby the Lord’s death is proclaimed,’ but it says that all this is done ‘in a Christian assembly.’ Christ is ‘really present’ not just in bread and wine but in the assembled community that is his body, his real presence, in the world today.
Moreover, Ascension Church Council President Rick Moler brought these important points to the Council in June. We are to see that our congregation provides ministries that are 1. Safe. 2. Meaningful. 3. Accessible. 4. Sustainable.
We wait for the day to return once more to our feast table. That day will come. For now, we wait and celebrate the gift that we have in this different “life together.” Truly, Christ is present in it. The Word is read and preached, the Christian faith is professed, and the prayers for all are offered. Jesus comes. We are sustained, even as we wait for the feast that is yet to come. We hunger. We long. We trust. We pray.
Reunions will come. That is our Lord’s promise.
In Christ with you, Pastor Rebecca
Starting in April, the First Communion class began meeting online by Zoom. The youngsters are only one of the groups who have joined the weekend worship schedule to meet in a virtual setting. Dozens and dozens of meetings have been scheduled in May alone on all days of the week.
Morning devotionals via Zoom are held three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It opens at 7 a.m. Devotion conversation is from 7:20–7:34 a.m.
The Women of the ELCA (WELCA) will continue with the second in a three-part series titled “Just Love” on Tuesday, July 21, at 9:30 a.m. by Zoom. Session 2 “In the community: From tree to we” (Luke 19: 1─10) views the story of Zacchaeus through the lens of restorative justice. What does it mean to make amends for the harm we have caused? How does Jesus invite us into healing relationships that reconnect us to the communities from which we have been alienated?
Wednesday Bible study
Bible study with Pastor Rebecca will be held from 11 a.m. to noon each Wednesday via Zoom with a focus on the upcoming weekend’s Gospel. The schedule is as follows: July 1, Matthew 11: 16–19, 25–30; July 8, Matthew 13: 1–9, 18–23; July 15, Matthew 13: 24–30, 36–43; July 22, Matthew 13: 31–33, 44–52, and July 29, Matthew 14: 13–21.
Although we were not together on Palm Sunday, we awoke to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle front page picture and story about the work led by Denise Martin and her volunteers to make palm crosses from frond leaves. The crosses were then mailed to Ascension members.
‘Drive by’ to assist Little Pantry July 18
Ascension will hold a “drive-by” food collection for the Little Pantry this month. If you would like to donate to the Little Pantry, you may “drive by” Ascension in the east parking lot on Saturday, July 18, between 9 and 11 a.m. Please have your donation in a bag or box in your trunk or back seat. As you drive through the parking lot, your donation will be pick up.
Outdoor Sunday worship planned July 12
The Reopening Team has scheduled an outdoor worship service at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, July 12, in the church parking lot utilizing appropriate social distancing. More details will be forthcoming.
Second online Town Hall scheduled July 16
Ascension’s Church Council has scheduled a second virtual Town Hall meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 16, via Zoom. According to Council President Rick Moler, “This a time for you to ask any questions you may have or give comments to your Church Council.”
Please watch this video about our Faith Builds work which we share with area volunteers, beside the Stephenson family, as we build their home in Cheyenne.
Ascension scheduled to work August 22 on Habitat home
Ascension Lutheran Church will provide work crews for the Cheyenne Habitat for Humanity Faith Builds project on Saturday, August 22. We will work shifts from 8 a.m.–noon and 1–5 as well as provide the meal and snacks that day.
This is the first Faith Builds house project in Cheyenne and the 50th house locally and is made possible through an $80,000 Thrivent Financial matching gift.
The home is designed for Jamie Stephenson and his three children, ages 13, 8 and 6, who work with church partners to construct a home for themselves.
The home site is at 1305 Sonata Lane in South Cheyenne near West Prosser Road.
‘Let us make and break bread together’
During worship April 26, Pastor Rebecca preached on the Road to Emmaus story from Luke in which two disciples saddened by the death of Jesus do not recognize Him on the road but invite the man to dinner. It is when Jesus becomes the host that their eyes are opened. “At that ordinary table they catch a glimpse of His kingdom,” she said, “and everything is made new.” Pastor noted that this “story sets the pattern of our worship each Lord’s day.”
For many years at Ascension, Shirley Kaetzer has baked communion bread and had planned to demonstrate the process to the First Communion class. With physical distancing preventing that, Shirley created a video to show us all how to “make the bread” until we can “break bread together on our knees,” as the old spiritual says.
Now we have a “church yarn that knits us together” not only during this pandemic but also for many years to come. Watch it here:
Written ideas sought for $70,000 gift
While you are social distancing at home, the Church Council wants you to put on your thinking caps and provide input on what to do with the $70,000 gift from Christ Lutheran Church upon its Holy Closure. The first step in the process is to gather ideas and thoughts on how to utilize part or all of the money by submitting them in writing to Council member Rick Flohr or any other Council member. Make sure each idea is on a separate sheet of paper; be specific about your idea(s); include any necessary details, and explain the importance to Ascension. After the ideas are gathered, the next step will be a town hall-style meeting. For information, email Rick at [email protected]