Mt. Pisgah

Lutheran Church


9379 Hwy 127 North

Hickory, NC  28601

(Bethlehem Community)

Phone:  828-495-8251

Fax:  828-495-8252


Worship:  8:00 and 10:30 am

(Nursery provided)

Sunday School:  9:15 am

(For all ages)


Church email

 secretary@mtpisgahelca.org


Webmaster email

slgreene13@gmail.com

 


Follow Us On

 

Instagram

mtpisgahelca

 

Events

 

Saturday, October 27th

Fall Festival

12:00 to 3:00 PM

 Lunch donations to benefit

Farrah Hefner

 

Sunday, November 18th

Thanksgiving Feast & Worship

Dinner 5:15 Worship 6:30 pm

 

Saturday, December 1st

Bethlehem Star Lighting

6:30 PM Dinner

 7:00 PM Star Lighting


Sunday, December 2nd

Deacon Consecration

One service at 10:00 am

Bishop Tim Smith preaching

 

Sunday, December 9th

Mt. Pisgah Choir Cantata

8:00 and 10:30 am 

 

Sunday, December 9th

LRU Candlelight Concert 

7:00-8:30 pm

 

Sunday, December 16th

Children's Christmas Program 

8:00 and 10:30 am

 

Monday, December 24th

Christmas Eve Worship

5:00 and 7:00 pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday
Dec122017

A Bittersweet Christmas to All

This morning I was struck with an unmistakable directness sometimes necessary to truly get a needed message across. My morning festive Christmas celebrating with Santa cap on and carol singing was abruptly interrupted by a phone call from a woman who had just become a widow, following her husband's suicide. The fact that I had to move my Santa cap tassel just to put the receiver to my ear, made the contrast between the sweetness and the bitterness of that moment all the more ruthlessly stark.

Perhaps it is because in this precious of seasons, where expectations run high for sweet blessings, that the painfully bitter times seem to loom so large in contrast. Ask any orthodox Jew, though, and they will let you know that THE meal is not complete without the Wilderness bitter herb and the Promised Land honey. One without the other betrays the truthful realities of what it means to be on this journey we call life...regardless of what season it might be.

Just in my morning prayer time today, I...

— Gave thanks to God for the sweetness of marriage and a dear wife, but lifted up in prayer a dear couple who just recently divorced.

— Blessed God for the special little church He has called me to serve, but my attention was diverted to offer prayer for those parishes which are struggling.

— Gave heartfelt gratitude for two sons, but was quickly overtaken by the prayer for a family whose son has been struggling for life since the tragic accident.

— Celebrated the sweet comfort of good health, when my mind swells with thoughts for so many, whose lives are preoccupied with the challenges of illness.

The sweet and the bitter... This time of year?

But what is Christmas REALLY all about?

“And this will be a sign unto you that you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Not exactly the sweet experience of a Messiah we were expecting.

In fact, pretty easy not to find any sweetness in that at all.

Born in a feeding trough, under the indifferent gaze of animals, who probably outnumber the gathered human witnesses, not really sweet, but pretty stinky. And, just about as bitter of birth scene as one could imagine. So, what is the message... the Sign?

Don't try to dress it up too much. Don't get too sophisticated. One does not come in such intentionally banal, earthly simplicity just for us to dress it up and adorn it with heavenly pious niceties. It is, what it is. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else needed, than Emmanuel…God With Us. There is no bitterness of life we can experience that He has not been through, or will not be through with us. Nothing we experience on this side of heaven that He will not be there with us. Is there any news greater than that? The One who is with us, Emmanuel wants us to know that the Heaven which awaits us, is nothing but Sweet... No bitter there. No wonder the early Christians were so fond of saying Maranatha, “Come Lord Jesus.” So may your Christmas be bittersweet—always filled with the faithful presence of Emmanuel, as we eagerly await his second Advent.

Amen

 

(Playlist - Amy Grant "Welcome to Our World

 

Thursday
Nov022017

ALL SAINTS DAY

  With All Saints Sunday this Sunday and Reformation last Sunday, I recall that it is said that Martin Luther once said to his dog, “ Growl not little one, for in the resurrection you will have a golden tail”.

It does not surprise any of us with furry angels to entertain that notion that they too will be in the Church Triumphant.

I learned from my dog that it is good to remember; to never forget those who have touched our lives.

Remembering,

An old routine revisited
Nightly I turn on the porch light
And go outside..
a necessary routine before
a remembrance ritual now
reenacting a special time
taken for granted then

But now a hope that there might appear
in the shadows
a little white dog

Who always before
made his presence known
Back thru the door each night
Alone ...accompanied only
by a tear of loss and a smile
of memories

I never want to forget
So will this ritual soon end?
Maybe
Maybe not
Maybe it should
Never

For it is a blessed remembrance
Of one who
Without a word
Said so much
Reminding each day

That there is nothing
Absolutely ...nothing
that we have in this life
like each other

Relationships are
All that matter
I picture his golden tail
Wagging
Affirming that
well lived truth


Thursday
Jun152017

Daddy...

One of the greatest gifts that can ever be given to a Father is to be honored and loved by his children. The relationship between Jesus and the Father is one of tender closeness that cannot be mistaken. In Jesus‘ day, the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh, was never to be spoken or written. Jesus tells us not only to call God, Father, but even invites us to speak or write, His new title as “Daddy.” 

The Lord's Prayer should properly be started as “Our Daddy.” Try it. It might make you blush, but is guaranteed to make Him smile. I think a huge part of Jesus’ mission on earth, was to correct a wrong understanding of His Father. He wanted to show everyone, particularly the religious leaders, that His Daddy created laws not to be checked off, as much as to provide loving parameters for His children. Thus the Sabbath and all the laws, are not a hoop to jump through, as a gift to be opened. 

We see Jesus using the most vitriolic language, not against the tax collectors, prostitutes, and the “unclean” around Him, but rather those who so boldly misrepresented His Father. He must defend, with the greatest of emotion, to reveal not only the Father's true heart but also the heart of those who were presenting the Father as an ill tempered judge, who needed to be appeased and placated. 

As a Dad, I would be most appreciative of my boys defending my character, especially if it were misrepresented in a bad way. On the other hand, I would be devastated, if, at the end of the day, our relationship were nothing more than a routine to be dutifully observed. Or, if my sons wanted to “do lunch.” or go on vacation together, just out of some obligation, or even worse yet, fear. 

Jesus meant it when He said that He did not come to abolish, but fulfill the Law. He came to let us know that we have a Daddy who loves us, who hangs on our every word in prayer, and who would rather die than live without us. The difference between religion and relationship is absolutely huge, thus, Jesus’ reaction to His Father being so misrepresented had to be dealt with in such a dramatic and emotive way. (See Matthew 23). To know God as such a loving “Daddy” changes everything and may be the most important truth we will ever know. 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr262017

Searched and Known, and Still Loved

 

Psalm 139 is a favorite scripture of so many. Its appeal may be the refreshing realization that we were a twinkle in our Heavenly Father’s eyes — even before we were born. As the Psalm shares, He keeps meticulous track of our every move, knowing before we sit down or rise  up; who even discerns our every thought and is acquainted with our ways. He even knows what is coming from our lips before we speak.

This is not some Facebook stalker, who wants all the dirt on us, but an endeared Father, who is intimately involved in every detail of His kids. It is humbling and affirming to think that He knows more about me then I know about myself.


Even my limited knowledge about me, can sometimes leave me less than a fan of me, but His intimate interest persists. The One who knows all about us, and insists on loving us with a reckless abandon, is such a contrast to our world, where so many who comparatively know so little about others and themselves, still persist to use harmful labels and prejudices.


God, alone, has the knowledge and right to use such labels and boundaries, but, instead treats us as the dynamic, individually nuanced, children He created us to be. With a word though, we can label each other, and with a phrase, can minimize and marginalize the precious children God has so lovingly and uniquely made. As Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard wrote, "Once you label me, you negate me." Thank God, He refuses to play by our rules.


We can so easily let a negative experience define a whole culture or race. The short-sightedness of such an action was recently confirmed for me. I am a dog lover but recently had a traumatic incident, when a dog bit my nose. Prejudice would inform me to now consider all dogs a dangerous threat. Such a narrow approach would rob me of the many future joys that only dogs can give.

Aren't we so grateful that God does not let one bad action of ours define how He might treat us? Easter would not have happened after the cross, if He did. God models for us and to us, the grace we should share with one another. Years ago, I was Pastor to a family and husband who had lost a mother and wife. There were 5 children from ages 8-16. The children had a question of dad. "Will we recognize Mom and will she us, when we get to heaven?" I was in an adjacent room, but was soon tapped on the shoulder when the father informed me that the kids had a question for me.


When he shared with me what it was, after a quick prayer, I asked the dad a question. "Rich, I know your 5 children very well. They are each very different and unique. Now, if you could make them all identical, would life be predictable and probably easier for you?" He responded with a smile, "Yes, I suppose life would be much less complicated." I replied, "No doubt It would be, but how long before you would miss the uniqueness of little Anna and the energy of your Adam?" He agreed that it he would quickly miss who they really were. Then, with the kids we began by reading Psalm 139 which guarantees our Heavenly Father's passionate interest in each of his special children.

I shared with them the Greek word ‘somos’ as the word used for the body we will have in heaven. Assumed in this new heavenly body, is the reality that our Heavenly Father will retain our individual personalities; idiosyncrasies and all those things which make us uniquely us. A young budding theologian in the room quipped, "Wow! I don't even like everything about me!" Exactly. The One who created you totally and completely as just you, will retain this you into eternity. Even on the other side, you will be easily recognized because there has never been, nor ever will be, anyone just like you.


We cannot give a gift we have not first opened. Psalm 139, when opened, reveals what Abba says about us and all of His children. John so often reminded us that we are all children of God. In 1John 3:1 the last four words are an exclamation mark of how God insists on seeing us. It is a gift, not because we deserve it, or have earned it, or even want it. We are His because He has said so, and so we are.


"See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and so we are."

And all is changed...for everyone


Sunday
Apr162017

Easter

The message of Easter is the exclamation mark of love, which God made for us on the cross. Both Scriptures and Christian tradition are clear in reiterating that Jesus “shared with us” His victory over sin and death. I believe the reason for such an emphasis, is in large part due to the fact that quite frankly, He did not have to share at all.
 

Our natural inclination towards revenge, retribution and justice were denied by Him on the cross. We, who put Him on the cross, should not take this act of generous, forgiving love for granted, anymore than we should take His setting His face towards Jerusalem lightly. 

Both were premeditated acts of love against all human compulsion to do the opposite. Can you imagine having all the power in the world at your fingertips and not using it before or during the ordeal of the cross? Or can you imagine death on a cross, then descending to the dead, then rising again to pleasantly share the peace with those who left you in the dust to save their own skin? Easter, like Good Friday, exemplifies a love this world has never known. After being betrayed, denied, left in the Garden, and left at the cross utterly abandoned by those closest to Him, is it any wonder that the Risen Lord’s triune question to Peter stung to the heart when Jesus justifiably asked, “Peter, do you love me?” 

At the end of this season of Lent that question, I suppose, is our Lord’s question to each of us. If we truly have been touched by His amazing love, we too responsively break out in sharing. Perhaps Isaac Watts in the hymn, “WhenI Survey the Wondrous Cross,” says it best. “Were the whole realm of glory mine, that were a present far too small, Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” 

Amen
 

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing. . .the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites, causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.” 

 

--from C. S. Lewis “The Four Loves”
 
Music - Stuart Townsend “How Deep The Fathers Love For Us”