One of the many things I have missed during this time of the pandemic has been congregational singing. In times of great sorrow or great joy, it seems we
turn to music as a vehicle for the expression of our deepest emotions. I find that especially true for me in this season of Lent. I miss singing some of the
beloved hymns that have helped me express my own shame and my regret. The poetic words of hymns more eloquently and more truly describe my
deepest anguish over my sinfulness, my remorse, and my longing to be forgiven. Maybe you have a hymn that does that for you too, a hymn like “The Old
Rugged Cross”, or My Faith Looks Up to Thee”, or” Ah, Holy Jesus”. The hymn that I turn to is “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”. The tune by Frederick Maker
seems to be perfectly matched to the words by Elizabeth Clephane.
Elizabeth Cecilia Douglas Clephane was born in Scotland in 1830 and died in 1869. She lived most of her brief life near Edinburgh. Though in frail health
most of her life, she and her sister worked to provide for the poor and sick in their town, giving of their meager resources to care for the townspeople who
affectionately referred to Elizabeth as “the Sunbeam.”
Three verses of the hymn remain as the common usage in our Lutheran hymnal. It is full of comforting language about the cross – a language which seems
out of character for an instrument of torture and death. Amid the phrases used to describe the cross are “the shadow of a mighty rock,” “a home within the
wilderness”, “a rest upon the way.” In researching this hymn, I discovered two other verses which are not included in our hymnal. They provide other
images of consolation including, a “happy shelter,” a “refuge tried and sweet,” a “trysting place,” and “a ladder up to heaven,” a reference to Jacob’s ladder.
These verses may have been more autobiographical to Elizabeth as she neared her own death.
There lies beneath its shadow, O safe and happy shelter,
but on the further side, O refuge tried and sweet,
the darkness of an open grave O trysting place where heaven’s love
that gapes both deep and wide; and heaven’s justice meet!
and there between us stands the cross, As to the exiled patriarch
two arms outstretched to save, that wondrous dream was given,
like watchmen set to guard the way so seems my Savior’s Cross to me –
from that eternal grave. a ladder up to heaven.
What is striking about these verse is the comfort that Elizabeth found in the shadow of the cross and the inspiration the cross gave her as she anticipated
her own death.
During the Lenten season, our attention is focused on the cross of Christ. We see in the stark simplicity of its two crossed beams, the agony of Christ, and
our own sins. He has borne upon himself our sins. He has endured suffering and death on our behalf. He has suffered this this out of love, that we might
be forgiven, and reconciled to God. But that is not all that is visible.
For in this cross we also take refuge, clinging to these wooden beams for life – for indeed it is life that Jesus offers here, in the shadow of the cross. Here
we long to abide, for here we are forgiven, set free and made whole. Jesus has done that for us.
I take, O cross, your shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face;
content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss,
my sinful self my only shame, my glory all, the cross.
In the shadow of the cross, we sing a song that is both tortured and sweet, a song that is melodic and discordant. We sing a song that is full of sorrow, but
also strength. As we stand in the shadow of the cross – we sing the song together – for here we are sheltered, healed, and forgiven.
continue to be in place at the church with limited capacity and the requirement of mask wearing and physical distancing. Even if you
have had the covid vaccine, you can still be a carrier – and may infect those who have not yet received a vaccine. We will continue to follow the guidance
of the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC.
Let’s keep each other healthy! If you are sick, please stay home!
March Lenten Services & Holy Week
The Lenten Midweek Services continue through the month of March. Around the theme “Missing Church – Longing for Lent” we will be using some of the
items from around our church that we have missed seeing during these many months when we have been absent from church. These items are connected
with some things we long for in our spiritual lives. Please note that the services meet at noon on Wednesdays and are only available on Zoom. Sunday
services still meet at 9 a.m. and are offered via zoom and in-person. Here are the themes for the upcoming services:
March 3 “Candles: Longing for God’s Presence”
March 10 “Altar & Pews: Longing for Community”
March 17 “The Lord’s Prayer Wall Hanging: Longing for Relationship”
March 24 “Bell/Angel: Longing for Good News”
Palm Sunday (March 28) “Entrance Sign: Longing for Strength”
Maundy Thursday (April 1) “Chalice & Plate: Longing to be Fed”
Good Friday (April 2) “Sanctuary Cross: Longing for Forgiveness”
Easter Sunday (April 4) “Baptismal Font & Paschal Candle: Longing for New Life”
Special Offering Focus during Lent
During Lent we will be gathering a special offering for the Garrison Area Food Shelf. With this special offering, the Food Shelf is able to purchase fresh
fruits and vegetables. We are asking that you consider giving a gift over and above your Lenten offering (envelope gifts support our general fund).
Consider giving what you might have given as a freewill offering for the soup and sandwich lunch. Your gifts might seem small to you, but they make a
huge difference for those who are hungry! Thank you for your generosity.
By the middle of March, I will have had my second covid vaccine. If you have also had your vaccines and would like me to make a personal visit to your
home (to bring communion if you haven’t felt ready to return to church yet), please give me a call. I am happy to make a safe visit to your home now that
the vaccines are available.
Thrivent Choice Dollars
You have until March 31, 2021 to direct any 2020 Choice Dollars to your favorite nonprofit organization (like Light of the Cross). To make your donation
today, go to: Thrivent.com/generosity and follow the prompts OR call 800-847-4836 and say “Thrivent Choice” after the prompt. Thank you for the
Choice Dollars you are supplying for our ministries. They are greatly appreciated.
Thank You Notes and Greetings
We wish to thank you for your continued contributions to our Food Shelf. You embody the Christian spirit in every way. Your gift is greatly appreciated. – Dorothy’s
Rainbow Garrison Area Caregivers
Hope everyone is staying well. We are good here. Can’t get the shot easy though. Over 4 mission seniors in Florida plus snowbirds. Reservation lines jammed. So
we continue to hibernate and wait for an opening – John & Delores Miller
From our Missionary in India
Dear Pastor Juli
Greetings and good wishes to you! Trust this mail finds you well.
This letter comes to you with a lot of gratitude indeed for the Covenant from the Light of the Cross Lutheran Church to support my work in South Asia for 2021. I
have been filled with deep thanks for your accompaniment in serving the cause of humanity and justice. I want to specifically thank you for your generous gift. We
are truly blessed in the “Service and Justice Home Area” (our new department in the ELCA) by this expression.
I sincerely hope that you have read my last 2020 Advent Newsletter and that you read about work in the region that is truly blessed by your support. Both Mercy
(my wife) and my family want to do our best at fulfilling the call of God in our lives. It is a privilege to serve God with your prayers, solidarity and gifts.
I continue to pray for all your important ministries, and as we navigate the new challenges posed by the pandemic.
With gratitude, and prayers,
Chandran Paul Martin (Chandran.Martin@elca.org)
Watch for Pastor’s Column in the Messenger
Pastor Juli writes for the Koinonia article in the Mille Lacs Messenger in March. Watch for her articles which will be in the March 3, March 10, March 17
and March 24 editions.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Church
Thanks to Nancy Campion and Karen Raddatz for sharing a couple of “funnies”.
“Frog Parking Only – All Others Will Be Toad”
“I want to grow my own food but I can’t find bacon seeds”
“My wife said I never listen to her … or something like that!”
“Come as you are. You can change inside” (from my desk calendar)
are welcome too. Share a poem, a recipe, a favorite Bible verse or a book review. All of those extras keep people interested in reading