Glory in the Cross

Oh, in the cross of Christ I glory,
For it tells my salvation story.
A sinner,
and condemned;
here and there,
and going nowhere.
Seeking pleasure,
all here on earth.
Striving after wind,
and Breath,
and gaining only death.
But on the cross my Savior died,
taking all my sin,
this life,
my strife.
Then Jesus rose from death for me,
taking all my self,
my soul
now whole.
And now I live, I mean, really live,
a life unending,
all transcending.
For, now its Jesus,
only Jesus,
now and forever,
He will never sever.
And so I’ll glory in the cross of Christ.
Oh Jesus my Lord,
it’s you I adore.

Gathering Around Your Word ~ An Opening Prayer

Holy God,
mighty and merciful;

send Your Holy Spirit as we gather around Your most holy Word.

May You drive away all that clings to our hearts;
weighing it down.
May You direct our eyes to the cross;
wherein the King of glory died for us.
May we gaze into the empty tomb to see our Savior gone;
risen to New Life for us.

And as we have our attention redirected from the sinful ways of the world,
fill our hearts with Your peace
that we may grow closer to You and
fall into Your loving arms;
not the arms of this decaying world.
May Your word penetrate the hardest of hearts and
draw Your children back to You.

All praise and glory be unto You,
Holy Father,
through Ch
rist Jesus our Lord


The Pastor -|—

Crushed, Pierced and Bruised (2 Corinthians 5:21)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 Corinthians 5:21]

Does seem fair, does it? To make Jesus know sin; the one who lived a sinless life in obedience to God. It doesn’t seem fair that God made Jesus experience the weigh and judgment of sin because are so stupid and unfaithful.

I am joyful and excited and exuberant, though,when I think about Jesus dying the cross and rising from the grave on the third day. I mean, what a show of grace. What a show of love. And so I repeat this refrain and give thanks that Jesus died and rose that our sins would be forgiven and that we may have the hope of the resurrection to eternal life. It all makes for great worship refrains.

But try this refrain on for size…

The sinless one
The obedient one
The glorious one
The kind one
The loving one
The forgiving one
The wise one

Took upon himself that which he did not deserve. Jesus took upon himself sin; something that he had not known except for the sinners he compassionately received and dined with and healed and forgave. Jesus took upon himself that which God hates; so much so, that God turned his back on His son as he hung on the cross dying:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Or how about the prophet Isaiah’s description:
Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was CRUSHED (emphasis mine) for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Oh, how I can’t imagine what that would be like; to be forsaken by God and to be crushed. But this is what Jesus did. He died for you. He rose from the grave for you. But Jesus was also forsaken for you that you may not be forsaken by God. Jesus was crushed for you that you may not be crushed by God.

Think about that for a moment and you too might think this sin-placed-on-Jesus-shoulders thing is unfair too. But praise be to God that he is “unfair” because if He were fair, we would certainly be forsaken and crushed for our iniquities.

So as you worship God this weekend; as you sing beautiful refrains of Jesus dying and rising for you; as you give thanks to God for His wonderful gift of grace; REALLY think about what Jesus did for you and let that crush your shallow perceptions of what Jesus means for sinners.

Jesus was crushed for you.
Jesus was bruised for you.
Jesus was forsaken for you.
Jesus was pierced for you.

Jesus has saved you! Alleluia!

Oh holy God, I can not comprehend what you have truly done for me through Jesus. I can not comprehend what Jesus went through for me. And, I can not comprehend why You would do such a thing for a sinner such as me. But I praise and worship Your holy name, oh God. May sinners run to You and receive this gift of life. Amen.

May God bless your day as you meditate on the cross of Christ.

The Pastor -|—

Palm of my hand to my forehead

I did it again…

[Palm of my hand to my forehead]

…I forgot the cross. (see my post from two years ago: Where’s the cross)

“Traditionally” we put a huge, rugged cross in the narthex at Salem on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Holy Week.  It has a crown of thorns on top with a purple cloth draped over the cross beam. For Good Friday, the cross is moved outside to the end of the ramp leading to the narthex with a black cloth draped over the cross beam.  Then for Easter the cross is moved into the sanctuary where it is “decorated” with Easter lilies (something that gives my allergies a run for it’s money).

After this happened in 2011 I asked my secretary to write it on her calendar figuring one of us would remember. We remembered for 2012…just not for 2013.  So…like what we did in 2011, we will wait to put the cross out until Palm Sunday as a way of setting Holy Week apart.

There is so much that can be said theologically about this but I will refrain since I am too busy palm planting my forehead.


The pastor -|—

Creative cross

This is too cool not to share.

My release time kids were using crayons to write prayers to God and then seal them in an envelope to read later.  After we were done I asked a couple of the kids to round up the crayons and put them away.

This is what I found 🙂

I love it that these kids thought to do this.


But enough said…praise be to God!

edh -|—

Clutching to the cross

Here a rugged and mis-shapened cross for you.  Have you seen something like this before?

It is called a “Clutching Cross”.  Is uniquely designed to fit in your hand in a clutching position; as if you are holding on to it with dear life.  It’s the only way it fits in your hand comfortably.

I saw this in a Christian bookstore and was drawn to it.  When I placed it in my hand it just fit so nicely.  I liked the feel of literally clutching the cross…so I bought it.  I wasn’t exactly sure why I was buying it but I knew I “needed” it.  Maybe it was because of its uniqueness.  Maybe it was the feel of the wood ~ I don’t know.  Whatever the case, it now lies on my desk and I clutch that cross whenever I have a chance:

~ I clutch the cross when I am reading scripture.
~ I clutch the cross when I am praying.
~ I clutch the cross when I am contemplating God’s mission in this congregation.
~ I clutch the cross as my mind wanders.
~ I clutch the cross…well…whenever I can.

And it feels good to have the cross in my hand when I am reading, praying, contemplating, etc.  But there is nothing mystical or magical about this cross.  It has not been specially blessed by some uber holy person.  It did not come from some holy wood from the Holy Lands.  It is simply a cross…

…uniquely designed and mis-shapened.

For me it’s simply a reminder to “clutch” the cross and remember:
~ Why am I here in this place?
~ What has God called me to do?
~ What is the mission God has given us?

I also remember that:
~ I am a sinner and I am a saint.
~ Jesus’ love for me is boundless.
~ God’s grace is amazing.
~ I am part of something big.

So I clutch that cross (not now because typing would be difficult), but I will when I am done here 🙂  I clutch the cross literally and figuratively because I am a child of God; forgiven and redeemed.  I clutch the cross…well…just because I can.

And you don’t need a uniquely designed and mis-shapened piece of wood in order to “clutch” the cross.  You just need to remember…

…Jesus loves you and therefore died and rose FOR YOU.

“Clutch” that!

[And your uniquely designed and mis-shapened piece of wood if you so happen to have one.]


The “bronze snake”

Amazing and merciful God,

Our “bronze snake” has been lifted up.
Our Savior has won the day.
Our Lord reigns on high.

And through this “lifting up” we find forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ.  When we grow impatient,
When we become disobedient,
When we long for that which does not save,
you still show amazing love, grace and faithfulness.  As those Hebrews bitten by those snakes in the desert, we too deserve punishment and wrath.   But as you showed mercy to them you show mercy to us as we confess our sins.

May we look to our “bronze snake” and live.
May we look to our “bronze snake” and see victory.
May we look to our “bronze snake” and give you all praise and worship.

Amazing and merciful God…we give you thanks. 


“Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world adore his sacred name.”
“Come, Christians, follow where our captain trod, our king victorious, Christ, the Son of God.”
[ELW 660 “Lift High the Cross”, chorus and vs.1]

edh -|—


Matthew 22:18-22
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

I share with you the following prayer with the invitation for you to use it as your own today. Dip your finger in some water and make the sign of the cross on your forehead as you say, “I have been seal with the Holy Spirit and MARKED with the cross of Christ forever.”

Almighty and merciful God, through my baptism you
sealed me
marked me
claimed me
and spoke to me: “Child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and MARKED with the cross of Christ forever.”

Wow God…that is amazing.

When I consider this “marking” I can’t help but think that you claimed me because I am somehow valuable, otherwise why would you claim me?  After all…
I am sinful
I am unfaithful
I am disobedient
I am definitely not worthy

But despite that you have placed a claim on me through baptism.  You have said that I belong to you.  You have comforted me with the gift of life.  You have saved me from this world.  What belongs to Caesar is that which belongs to the world.  What belongs to you is that which you have marked and claimed…  


Thank you, God.  May water be that everlasting reminder of you your:
through Jesus Christ my Lord.

Thank you, God that I belong to you.  May your name always be praised.


May God bless your day 🙂

edh -|—

Life through the cross

Life through the cross

This is the wind break wall on the ramp leading to the sanctuary at Salem Lutheran Church.  You will notice that a robin has built a nest on right cross arm.  When my wife noticed this she said to me, “There’s got to be a sermon illustration in there somewhere.”  I think she may be right.  My first thought was “Life through the cross“. Corny…maybe…but leave it to a pastor to do theology with a picture like this.  I guess one could say that I am a theologian of the cross 🙂


What would you call this picture?

What scripture comes to mind when you see this?


Lyle’s cross


Lyle’s cross

In a couple previous posts (shortly before Christmas) I wrote about a parishioner named Lyle; a saint of this congregation that went to meet Jesus.  I won’t talk about him here but I do want to show you something; Lyle’s cross.  I talked about these crosses before; that he made dozens of them (They are 5 inches by 3 1/2 inches).  He made a number for the nursing home and the hospital.  He made a bunch for the people at Salem and Belmont.  And of course he made them for his family.  The one pictured above is one of three that I have.  This one serves as a pectoral cross that I wear in worship from time to time.

I have other pectoral crosses that I wear as well:  I have a pectoral cross that my parents gave me for my ordination that is silver.  I like that one because is very beautiful and reminds me of the faith my parents passed down to me and the support they gave me as I went through seminary.  I have a old wooden cross necklace that I got from my grandma (who died last Feb.) that wear I from time to time.  That one, of course, reminds me of grandma and the faith that she passed down to me.   I have two cross necklaces made of olive wood that were made in Jerusalem.  These remind me of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world; that the church is not just located  in Jackson, MN.  And then I have Lyle’s cross.  This one, of course, reminds me of Lyle and the faith that he passed down to me.

All of the crosses I wear are special to me and remind me of various people in my life that have paved the way for me.  But one thing that I did not say (but I hope was understood) is that the cross, of course, reminds me of what Jesus did FOR YOU and FOR ME.  Formerly a symbol of death; it is now a symbol of hope.  I wear these crosses as a reminder to me and others who see them of why we truly gather together on Sunday morning to worship.  I wear my other (smaller) cross necklaces to proclaim that same message out in the world from Monday to Saturday.  Some people wear cross necklaces because they are a fashion statement.  But whatever the motivation for a particular person, when I see that cross, I am reminded of the life we have in Christ.

So I thank those who have paved the way for me and most of all, I give thanks and praise to God our Father through Jesus Christ, for paving the way to eternal life; carrying us across the Great Divide.