April – Pastor’s Reflections

April 14, 2023

Christ Has Risen Indeed!  

As I write this monthly pastor’s page the day after Easter Sunday, my spirit rejoices in the journey we shared these past forty days from the mountain of the Transfiguration to the Empty Tomb.  When you really think about it, we really have come far together! 

Derek and I were amazed with your solid attendance in weekly bible study.  We kept growing in numbers and in faith.  We got to know one another better as we shared over studies and participated in the Living Last Supper.  The evening of Living Last Supper the sanctuary was packed with your family and friends.  Thank you for your witness.  The choir singing “I Surrender All” acapella, stirred my soul at the Good Friday service.  Our witness spilled through the St George both in person and by media coverage as we walked the stations of the cross together.   The Pancake dinner brought us around the table into community once more since the pandemic. For the first time in ages we welcomed the Risen Christ around an early morning bonfire.  And the music , drama, flowers, and the Sunday message spurred us to call out, “Christ is Risen, Indeed!”  There is something about the power of community to carry us further along on our journeys of faith.  Thank you all for continuing forward.  

Remember we have just begun the Easter season even after the chocolate Easter candies go on sale at the supermarket.  In these great 50 days our Great Story tells us that Jesus appeared to the followers and disciples more times than can be counted.  

Last year at this time I walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail for 50 days.  When asked about my timing, I explained that I wanted to walk the Resurrection Road and meet the Risen Christ in however, he would appear each day.  On my first day out of Pamplona, I stopped at a hostel, and befriended a younger woman who had a similar passion for Spanish history as I.

After a satisfying first day conversation about the sites we wanted to see the next day, it suddenly occurred to me that I had not introduced myself.  

When I asked for her name, she paused, then replied cheerfully, “It’s Christa.  That’s Christ with an ‘A’”. 

I just can’t make this up!  I quietly thanked God for introducing me to Christa and our budding friendship that continues to this day.  

Keep you eyes out.  The Risen Christ is with us.  

See you in Church.

Pastor Joyce

April 1, 2023

Dear Friends,

Though it may not quite feel like it temperature-wise, it is indeed spring and Holy Week and Easter are upon us!

While the high holy day of the Christian year is certainly Easter, and much of our planning and energy is focused on that particular Sunday (April 9 if you haven’s heard!), I have always strongly encouraged the congregations I have served to partake of the rich offerings of all the Holy Week services. The great celebration that is Easter is that much more meaningful if we have sat at table with the Disciples and Jesus at the Las Supper, witnessed Jesus’ trials (and felt tempted to turn away, like most of his disciples!), and have walked with Jesus along the way to the cross. The power of Easter is so much greater if we have joined Jesus in his suffering and death.

Here at Shepherd of the Hills, on Maundy Thursday (April 6), we will be reenacting the Last Supper through the lens of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting at 7 pm. The worship will include a Choir Cantata, narration with the disciples and Jesus in costume, and the celebrating of Holy Communion together. This will be an excellent opportunity to invite neighbors and friends to attend with you!

On Good Friday (April 7) there will be two worship experiences we will be participating in. One is the Stations of the Cross processional, sponsored by the Interfaith Council, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at Sandtown Park. We will make our way to the Catholic Church, stopping to reflect and pray at various spots along the way, each a reminder of Jesus’ walk to the site of his crucifixion. The second Good Friday worship opportunity will be at 7:00 pm at the New Promise Lutheran Church. We will join our Lutheran and Presbyterian siblings for this ecumenical worship service. Come to either – or even better – to both!

Easter morning will be a time of quiet joy AND exuberant celebration! The quiet joy will begin around a campfire by the Memorial Garden, while it will still be dark…6:30 am!!! We will welcome the rising sun (and Son) together with a time of singing, reflection, prayer and praise. Be sure to dress warmly and bring a lawn chair or something to sit on, as we gather around the fire. We will have two traditional Easter Celebration Services in the sanctuary – 8:30 and 10:30. Make note of the different times! Each service will include a brief Easter drama, chancel choir, bell choir, and an inspiring message. Again – a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to join you at church.

AND…from 9:30 until 10:30 there will be a great breakfast served in the courtyard – pancakes and sausages – for folks to enjoy before, after, or in-between worship services (whichever may apply!).

I hope you will be able to participate in these worship opportunities. Each points us toward the great miracle that is Easter – the promise of Eternal Life… Eternal Life which is not only for those who have died, but for all of us to experience right now! We join the Risen Christ and all the other outsiders, outcasts, and outlaws, in recognizing our worth and our identity as God’s beloved ones.

See you in church!

Pastor Derek