Dear Congregational Family,

1. Lent: As we continue in the Lenten Season, let me share a couple of poems I have enjoyed. They especially go along with the message I preached last Sunday.

“We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ’s Cross, and Adam’s tree,
Stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me,
As the first Adam’s sweat surrounds my face,
May the Last Adam’s blood my soul embrace.”
(John Donne, 17th century)

“O paradise, garden of delight and beauty,
Dwelling-place made perfect by God,
Unending gladness and eternal joy,
The hope of the prophets and the home of the saints;
By the music of your rustling leaves
Beseech the Creator of all to open to me the gates
Which my sins have closed,
That I may partake of the Tree of Life
Which was given me in the beginning.”
(Byzantine Vespers)

2. Time: Time seems always to go so quickly for me—especially when one feels its limitations alongside the desire to do so much. I have much that I want to be able to do and communicate to you in these closing weeks, but I know it will be impossible. However, I will treasure our remaining time together! I am so thankful for you and for the privilege of being your pastor these years, and I reflect on that with great joy! I wish that I could stop in and visit with each of you in person during this time and to let you know how much you mean to me! Please know how much I love you all, even though I am not able to express it to you in person!

3. Grief: During these past weeks I have thought a significant amount about the stages of grief and what many are going through. Dr. Kubler-Ross is famous for her work regarding the stages of grief during times of loss. Initially, she identified five stages, but she later added two more (shock and testing). In order (although one can go back and forth between them) they are: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance. Perhaps you are going through some of these now. The Bible tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) God understands all things and He will journey with you through this process.

4. Congregational Breakfast: This Sunday between services we will be having our second congregational breakfast. It was a wonderful event last month, and you will want to make sure not to miss it this month! As this is the first Sunday of the month and Holy Communion Sunday, we are also collecting non-perishable goods for the City Mission. You may drop these off in the Fellowship Hall at any time.

5. CONVIVIUM Concert: Next Tuesday (March 7th) at 7:30 p.m. there will be a concert at Ruthfred which will be held in the adult Sunday school classroom. One of the group’s members got to know Pastor McMinn during his seminary time. The vocal quintet, formed in the fall of 2022, comprises five singers who met at Wheaton College, a Christian college in Illinois. The ensemble takes its name from the Latin word for “feast” or “banquet.” Their repertoire spans a wide range, including Renaissance polyphony, jazz standards, contemporary church works, and hymnody.

6. Lenten Soup & Sandwich Supper: Remember our Lenten Supper tomorrow! This is a great time for fellowship. Also, if you come to the afternoon service, be encouraged to return for supper if you are able!

7. Wednesday Sermon: Title: “Sin: Not Hidden, Forgiven”
Text: Psalm 32:1-7

8. Sunday Sermon: Title: “Jesus Wept”
Text: John 11

God bless you as we continue,
“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God.”

Pastor Carlson