Dear Cross of Glory Family and Friends,
Christmas can be talked about in a hundred different ways. We as Christians primarily choose however to speak of Christmas as one of the world’s greatest stories: God coming to the earth to do what we humans could not. God takes upon Himself our struggles, our shortcomings, our sin and makes them His own! Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, the Light no darkness can overcome! God penetrates the darkness of our lives in the stink, stank and stunk of the stable. The star that hovered over Bethlehem, the Christmas star that beckoned wise men from the East to visit the Christ-child, continues to shine brightly in our lives. Because of Christmas, we CAN be people of hope and joy. We CAN share God’s richest blessings with other people. We CAN live in newness of life!
Say what you will about other World Religions. We, as Christians, claim that Christianity is the only one of them that has the Almighty coming down to us rather than the other way around, people of desperation and futility reaching upwards to their respective deities.
But even though Christmas has been beautified and glorified over thousands of years, we must not forget that the story had its struggles as well. To be sure, there were angelic choruses, the wonder of an astounding pregnancy and the astonishment of visitors from afar bearing gifts for kings. But Christmas also had its questions about the pregnancy, the difficult 80-mile track from Nazareth to Bethlehem and it’s possibly rude innkeeper at the end of the journey. Christmas has a teenager Mary saying “Yes” to God, shepherds falling over themselves to see a baby and yes, “cattle lowing as the poor baby awakes”. But it also has King Herod killing babies, troublesome dreams and the Savior of our lives, the Savior of the cosmos born out back somewhere in the cold and indifference of David City’s missing it all.
Christmas meets us where we are at in both the better AND worst times of our lives, the good AND the bad. If Christmas were a story set aside for only the most astounding of pageants, the most incredible of music halls and the greatest, most virtuous of peoples, Christmas would miss the rest of us completely! Thank God that God chose to do Christmas the way God chose to do Christmas…for we can relate to the cobwebs of the stable. We know what straw feels like at times. We have experienced cold and darkness. Yet, in honesty, we must also attest to the incredible times in our lives where even in our loneliness, our fears, our insecurities and misgivings, God touched us through the love of someone or something. At that instant, Christmas graced us with belief in a possible, better tomorrow. It restored our appreciation for others and gave us hope in a world SO magnificent, yet oftentimes SO VERY cruel.
I saw the dichotomy of Christmas in a funeral service I did yesterday. A 95-year-old woman had passed into greater life. Members of her family chose to speak about her at her service. I had been warned ahead of time that one daughter was particularly bitter about the family’s decision to put the mother in a nursing home. When this daughter started to speak of her mom, she began with an endearing tribute…but ended with a sharp accusation. The daughter insisted that her mother had died of a broken heart, killed in the nursing home BECAUSE of neglect, dehydration and malnutrition! Though not naming any of her siblings, the daughter named them all right, in a rant of disgust, anger and criticism. The daughter went so far as to remind everyone in attendance that God wanted them to “Honor their Parents” just like one of the Ten Commandments “commanded!”
As the woman spoke, I interpreted the faces of many in the congregation. Many were fuming. Some fidgeted, terribly uncomfortable while seemingly wondering about interrupting the woman’s speech. As the daughter concluded her rampage, a hush fell over the audience. I wondered if anyone else would get up to speak. I wondered what I was going to say! Then, I saw a head pop up. It was son Greg, the one that I had spent an hour with days before. Greg was the one that told me about his sister’s discontent. As Greg approached the podium, I took hold of his elbow. He looked back at me incredulously. I whispered to him with pleading eyes, “Be gentle! Be gentle!” Greg gave me an awkward, uncomfortable, twisted little smile and with a wink said, “Mike, I CHOOSE to be gentle.” Greg spoke lovingly of his mom, choking up every so often as he beat away the tears from his eyes and swallowed the lump in his throat. He spoke of an elegant woman who liked finer things in life, a trip to the Oxford Hotel for lunch or the Trocadero at Elitch Gardens to dance. Greg did not address the sharp accusations of his sister. He CHOSE the higher ground and opted to use his time to memorialize positively the woman he claimed was an angel on earth. As he talked about the harsh winters of his mother’s childhood, walking to and from school, (of course with the cliche, “In a blizzard, uphill BOTH ways), he talked about the amazing AND the bitter times of his mom’s life. He concluded his comments by saying that he hoped Jesus remembered being bounced around on a donkey both before His birth AND before His death! Greg said that he hoped Jesus was not only his mom’s Savior, but One who could be a friend to her in heaven as Jesus remembered being tossed around, like us in life, with OUR difficult decisions and occasional missteps along the way.
The world is not perfect. It is why Jesus came in the first place. As we try to reflect Christ in what we say and do, letting our lights shine so that other people may see God’s brilliant light, let us remember that Christmas, with its hopes AND its fears (throughout the years), gives us leeway. God didn’t come to Earth to judge us. He came to Earth to hold us in His love.
Christmas can be talked about in a hundred different ways. Let us CHOOSE to speak of its love and live in its hope!
Merry Christmas! Pastor Mike Lemke
Dear Cross of Glory Family and Friends!
There is a Norman Rockwell painting of an elderly grandmother, black pillbox hat atop silver-gray hair, seated with a reverent grandchild at an Americana Cafe Diner. Incredulous men of various age, some wrinkled by the toils and troubles of life look on. The grandmother, fingers twisted with arthritis, clasps her hands in prayer posture as she leads her grandson in Table Grace. In hushed solemnity, Norman Rockwell captures the essence of devotion to God and the world’s wonder (and envy) about it.
As a pastor, I am privy to a lot of confidential stories, tails that I will not be able anytime soon to share with others. Let’s just say that I have been moved profoundly by certain people’s generosities over the years, people who relative to most, did not have a lot of materialistic means but nonetheless gave from their hearts that other people would experience life. Thanksgiving is a time to look beyond ourselves to the Giver of all Good Things. God blesses us at every turn. Our challenge is to give Him gratitude everyday, not just on a select day in November. There are many dear, amazing, good-hearted people that have lead the way in demonstrating for me, potentially others, an example of Thanksgiving and appreciation for all the Lord is doing in their lives.
I will always remember the Time Talent and Treasure Pledge Drive we did in my former church, Joy Lutheran in Parker. Like at Cross of Glory, we too in those years supported a food bank in downtown Denver. Throughout the course of the year, we would encourage our members to bring non-perishable items to place in a big food cart we had prominently displayed in our narthex area. One particular Sunday morning, during a children’s sermon, I had prearranged with certain congregational members a plan to promote donating to the food cart. I had given six or seven different people in the congregation some canned goods and when I brought the kids forward for the children’s sermon, asked these “plants” to start bringing up their canned goods for all to see in the congregation. The kids would be impressed that on the spur of the moment, good-hearted people were sharing food items that could help the hungry. The lesson of course was not only for the kids, but for the hundreds of worshippers that day.
True to form, six or seven people from the congregation came up to the front of the church with the prearranged donations of food for the food cart. The lesson was taught but not before an elderly man of the congregation, one that we were already bringing food into each week because of his fixed income, stepped forward during the children’s sermon. It was an awkward moment for everyone. The man explained to me, the kids and everyone within earshot of the front, that he had neglected to bring food for the cart that day but he wondered if it would be okay to share $5 with the kids and the hungry in Denver. Of course, I could not tell the congregation at large that we were bringing food into this man’s family each week. Up in years and on a fixed income, so much of his money routinely going out of his pocket to pay for costly medicines, I would deliver a box of non-perishable items to this man’s home often. I was profoundly touched by this man’s generosity. I could not relay to everyone witnessing this man’s gesture of kindness that his sharing was indeed likened to Jesus’ story of the widow who places two small, copper coins in the treasury of Christ’s day. Jesus would explain to his disciples that this woman, entrusting materialistically relatively little, had actually given much, much more than those that could afford to part more easily with their offerings.
It is easy to point fingers at the rich and tell them that they must do more and lift up particularly stories of the poor who sacrifice much. Let us just say that there are stories everywhere of people’s amazing generosities and let us strive to be the people that give from the heart…even when it hurts at times. No, even when always our giving stretches us!
What you give to the church by way of your precious time, incredible talents and financial resources is entirely up to you. Your Thanksgiving devotion, your appreciation for God’s many blessings to you ought always to be between you and the Lord. Remember however that when all is said and done, God will not ask us about the materialistic possessions that we had in life. God WILL ask us however about the hearts that we shared with others, about the opportunities that we acted upon to give others a hand up in life. In part, we are blessed to BE a blessing to others.
I can go on and on about loving stories of people who have given blessings to others, who have BEEN living sacrifices for others. Perhaps i will tell you more of such stories as we gather together for Thanksgiving Eve Worship service, November 21, at 7:00 pm. I hope that we have a wonderful throng of appreciative, blessed Cross of Glory family members and friends, along with extended family members, Cook Park neighbors and any others wishing to say “Thank You” to God that evening. Pass the word! Be thanklivers in keeping with our deep and sincere thanksgivings for God’s great love and attentions towards us!
Share God’s blessings! Be God’s blessings!
Pastor Mike Lemke
Hello Fellow Reformers!
And you ARE reformers! YOU are the church!
A couple of Sundays ago, the Praise Band led us in singing the campfire song, “WE ARE THE CHURCH.” We were reminded that the church is not a building and that we do not go to church, but rather we go to worship! The church is the body of Jesus Christ. We are the church, the believers in Jesus, linked one to another in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. To that end, we are the movers and the shakers. We are the arms and legs of God’s Holy Purposes. Though ultimately, the acts are God’s, we are the actors, the agents of God’s Divine Will.
Martin Luther was really not so unlike us. He loved God and struggled with God. He loved the Church and struggled with her…and yet, Luther has been regarded as one of the most influential people in Western Civilization. What made him so special? Why is he heralded among millions over the centuries?
I think Luther is distinct. His greatness has everything to do with simply, his trusting in God above everything else. You remember how he spent time writing explanations to the Ten Commandments? He wanted others to better understand the Scriptures and God’s desires for all. Luther wrote in his explanation of the Introduction to the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord your God,” that “We are to love, revere and trust God above everything else.” What makes Luther so very special…what makes him distinct and impacting, in my estimation, is simply, his trusting in God above everything else!
Luther had his share of critics. His father criticized him for becoming a monk. The Church criticized him for his outspokenness. Reformers criticized him for not being MORE outspoken! At various times in Luther’s life, he was in danger. He was nearly killed in a lightning storm. He was nearly killed by the Church. And Luther no doubt wondered about his eternal damnation, the ultimate danger, as he was excommunicated from Christianity.
Throughout his life, it would have been easier for Luther to walk different paths. At any number of junctures, he could have settled for a life of “less integrity.” Yet Luther remained true to his principles. He was driven to do what he believed God wanted him to do. He chose the higher ground, the lonely path, the one with twists and turns, thorns and briars, not to be martyred or ascetic, but because he believed in God’s grace and call to be a disciple of Christ’s.
At a unique place and time in history, with Renaissance spreading in Europe, the stage was set for Luther’s challenges to take hold. Much has been made of the time being ripe for Luther’s Reformation of the Church. Probably too much has been made of it. Let us not say that Luther’s ideas “stuck” because Christopher Columbus was sailing around the world. Let us say instead that Luther’s ideas stuck because God wanted them to…and because a man, not unlike us, chose to “trust God above everything else.”
What does it say about us that a man, hundreds of years removed from us, is so honored if only because he lived out his Christianity? The Holy Roman Catholic Church of today gave SAINTHOOD to both Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. When Mother Teresa received her Nobel Prize for ministering to the disenfranchised people of Calcutta, India, she was both humbled and surprised. She did not want to be “awarded” for merely doing what Jesus called ALL Christians to do, namely, loving neighbors as themselves.
Yet the world is curious about those who do not play by worldly rules. Great, influential people in history have been recognized, in part, because they acted bravely or differently from the rest of us. Gandhi, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. were wearied and unsettled by the world. They stood up to the injustices of their societies. They trusted God above everything else…at great, personal cost…and we revere them today as almost even sacred.
Thank God for the Martin Luthers of history! Thank God for those who even great personal cost risk it all to say, “Wait a minute! Something is terribly wrong here!”
Martin Luther has been praised as someone who acted with integrity at a time right for change. We truly thank him for his contributions to Christianity. Our lives have been impacted because of what he endured “for Christ’s sake and the sake of the Gospel.” But let us not leave Luther back in the 16th Century! Let us carry his example into our own day and age.
Perhaps the Church of today is facing its greatest challenge! Mainstream churches are losing members. Apathy reigns. Morals are decaying. With increased frequency, many are wondering about the relevance of God and the need for Church. In our smorgasbord society, we pick our own likings: “If it feels good, do it! If it serves us better, by all means, subscribe to it!”
God is calling US to lives of integrity, courage and faith! Even TODAY, most notably, TODAY, God is hoping we will change our respective communities, maybe even the world, by merely loving others to Him…by merely, being…CHRISTIAN.
Pastor Mike Lemke
Dear Cross of Glory Family and Friends,
Those steeped in Lutheranism certainly know and appreciate this beautiful hymn:
This Is My Father’s World, the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise. This Is My Father’s World, He shines in all that’s fair. In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere!
Indeed! God has unbelievable imagination! To think that this so-far-beyond God, Creator of the spheres of the universe, knows the number of hairs on our head! God is so very other and yet, so very personal!
Try getting your hair-counted head around the following strange and mind-blowing facts about nature:
- There are 12 times more trees on earth than stars in the Milky Way! Scientists estimate there are about 300 billion stars in our galaxy while there are an estimated 1 TRILLION trees on Earth!
- Pluto has not made a full orbit around the sun since it was discovered in 1930! In fact, it takes Pluto 248 years to make one orbit around the sun, which means that Pluto will make its first full orbit since 1930 on March 23, 2178!
- Pineapples take 2 years to grow! Remember this the next time you buy a lovely pineapple and then let it go to waste!
- Baby elephants suck on their trunks for comfort, just like how baby humans suck on THEIR thumbs!
- Sometimes when they’re out gathering nectar, bees will fall asleep in flowers!
And speaking of flowers, in the incredible imagination of God, sunflowers turn their faces toward the sun as they track it across the sky – an activity known as heliotropism, or solar tracking.
In stark contrast to the 90-degree days of the last month, today is overcast and even suggesting that Fall may be around the corner! This morning, I passed a field of thousands of sunflowers. What really intrigued me about the unbelievable beauty of the moment was that in the grey skies of this day, the sunflowers seemed rather confused! Some sunflowers were pointing towards the east as they always do as the sun rises. But other sunflowers seemingly pointed their proud, lovely heads in other directions; the sun hidden behind the rain clouds of the morning! It was obvious to me that the sunflowers did not know where the sun was!
Now we all know that the sun was there! Granted, I too wondered EXACTLY where the sun was, but I trusted that it was bringing life to flowers, TO US, from up above, nurturing and blessing creation.
When we have trouble finding God in the dark times of our lives, let us trust that beyond the moment, beyond grey skies and difficult circumstances, God is indeed shining and wishing to bless us with hope for a new day. Sunflowers must be pretty smart! They have the wisdom to always be looking towards their source of life.
Might we do the same? Might we look to the God who knows us through and through and STILL chooses to be in association with us?
This Is My Father’s World…and He loves us so very much, through thick and thin, day in and day out and in bright days AND stormy ones.
God’s Peace and Joy!
Pastor Mike Lemke
AUGUST 2018: Pastor Mike’s Letter
Dear Cross of Glory Family and Friends,
As I think about it, it is hard for me to believe it has been 20 years! Going back to 1998, when I began my funeral ministry, I could not have envisioned that I would have done over 2000 funerals! It truly is staggering to me! And over the course of the last decades, I have had so many unusual experiences with my services.
There was the time a fist-fight broke out in the cemetery. And how about the cold December of 2006 when the funeral coach slid off a snowy highway into the ditch! And then there was the memorable African service where hired mourners rushed the casket and were kept off the coffin by men positioned in front of it! There have been occasional services where plain-clothed policemen attended the funeral because of the threat of violence. During one service, members of rival gangs attempted to place their own colors in the deceased’s casket while tensions in the congregation mounted!
I really could share a hundred stories of memorable funeral happenings… and have been blessed to be part of each one of them.
Recently, I did a graveside service at Crown Hill Cemetery in Wheat Ridge. When I received the phone call learning of the death, I instantly remembered the woman informing me of the passing. I will call her Elizabeth. I had met Elizabeth years ago when her son Bruce died. She impressed me immediately as a sweet woman of devout, Christian faith. Though understandably heartbroken by her loss, Jesus shined through her. She thanked me over and over again for presiding at the funeral. In unmatched graciousness, Elizabeth greeted each person in attendance as the worship service began (and concluded) with her loving eyes and gentle hugs.
In our recent phone conversation, Elizabeth told me that her sister had died and that her niece (I will call her Roberta), would be contacting me for a sit-down meeting of introduction. Roberta called the next day and we agreed upon a meeting time at Cross of Glory to discuss details.
A half hour before our church meeting, Roberta called and in a frantic voice told me that she was tied up in traffic, had a number of things she was trying to do in preparation for the service and that I should try to meet her at a place close to I-25 and Evans. I suggested that we meet at the Perkins off of Colorado Boulevard. Roberto shot back: “I SAID EVANS!” Knowing only of the McDonald’s at that intersection, I told her that the only sizable restaurant off of Evans that I knew was the Breakfast Inn not far from church. Roberta insisted that we meet there and so we did. With Cross of Glory only 5 minutes away from the restaurant, I arrived earlier than Roberta.
I immediately recognized Roberta as she stormed through the Breakfast Inn doors. I remembered her from Bruce’s service years before. She looked imposing then. This time, she was indeed… energized! A big woman anyway, she appeared even larger, carrying on her person… preoccupation. Self-absorbed, Roberta brushed past the receptionist barely acknowledging her. Mild-mannered aunt Elizabeth trailed timidly behind, in what appeared to be Roberta’s tornado debris.
“So you’re Pastor Mark,” she blurted out. Elizabeth quickly corrected Roberta, “That’s Pastor Mike.” After a quick, firm handshake, Roberta plopped herself down in the Breakfast Inn chair and yelled across the restaurant, “I want a glass of water!”
Normally I would meet with a funeral family for 45 minutes to an hour. I knew that this conversation would be short-lived. As the waitress came over to the table, I ordered a cup of coffee. Elizabeth did the same. Roberta ordered nothing. As the waitress came back to the table with our coffees, Roberta glared at her. In a harsh retort that those in the McDonald’s at I-25 and Evans could hear, scolded, “And where is MY coffee?” For the next half hour, Roberta demonstrated numerous instances of volcanic eruptions, her lava spewing all over the Breakfast Inn and dear Elizabeth particularly.
For the first time in over 2,000 funeral services, I thought for a moment of telling someone they would need to find another minister for their funeral. I understand that grief-stricken people are not themselves. They typically are lost in a gamut of emotions. But Roberta? This was beyond emotional grief. This was just plain ugliness. And I felt so badly for sweet Elizabeth. After a difficult conversation of half-answers to my many questions about Roberta’s mother, Roberta and Elizabeth left the restaurant.
The morning of the funeral came. When I had asked Roberta how many people she thought would be in attendance, she had looked at me with disbelieving eyes before remarking, “How should I know?” Maybe to her surprise, there were about 20 people in support at Crown Hill. Roberta was not interacting with any of her family members nor friends at the grave. She stood off to the side of the casket, dressed in black, saying everything in saying nothing. As I began the funeral with the words always used, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Roberta turned from the funeral party and walked from the grave towards her car. For the remainder of the graveside service, she stayed there. No one went to check on her.
And then sweet Elizabeth, sitting in front of the casket, dressed not in black, but in the soft blue colors that her sister adored, interrupted me in the middle of the 23rd Psalm. Elizabeth said what I think I will always remember. Looking at her family members, she exclaimed, “Roberta has not made things easy for us. There have been the many times we in turn have been terribly unkind to her. If we are to honor Jesus, and my sister, we need to take the first steps towards reconciliation and forgiveness. We need to love Roberta so that she may love the Lord and love herself.”
The world is full of people that don’t love themselves. They have heard about the love of Jesus but have not felt it for themselves. Today we have the opportunity, following Elizabeth’s encouragement, to love others so that they may love the Lord. To be sure, in a lifetime, there will be those who treat us unfairly. There will be those who chide us with harsh words or who put us down. Jesus did not charge his disciples to just love those whom it was EASY to love. Jesus charged disciples, US, to love everyone, friends and foes alike!, 1 John says, “We should love others because God has first loved us.” We should love others. Period.
May it always be our primary hope at Cross of Glory to love God first and our neighbors as ourselves. Let us pray for the Robertas in our world, recognizing that at times, WE have probably been not so unlike her. Thank God for God’s patience with… US.
Thank you Cross of Glory! Thank you… church!
God’s Peace and Love!
Pastor Mike Lemke
Dear Cross of Glory Family and Friends!How many years now have we done our annual Cross of Glory yard sale? I am not sure. I want to say that we have had a yard sale every one of the thirteen years that I have been at church. I DO know, carrying tables and chairs and boxes full of treasures to be sold onto our lawn was a lot easier thirteen years ago then it was last weekend! I guess I am feeling my age these days! Haha! How many times have we said this will be the LAST year that we do a Cross of Glory yard sale? And then there are the many, many pluses coming out of the yard sale weekends!
I think we had more items donated to us this year for our annual yard sale than in years past! Thanks to all you who gave us “treasures” and…who priced them ahead of time! Haha! In addition to raising hundreds of dollars in promotion of Jesus and God’s Cross of Glory ministry, you did some serious Spring Cleaning these last months, clearing out from your closets and your drawers, even homes and garages, “I can live without” odds and ends! With space now to spare in your closets and drawers, homes and garages, you then in turn bought NEW items to replace your OLD ones! Ah, the rationale behind such!
Even though we often remark each year that our annual yard sale is pretty grueling, we DO see the benefits of hosting them. Helen Devantery, one of our newest members to Cross of Glory, gladly accepted the responsibility of being our fearless leader! She did an INCREDIBLE job, even months before our sale, in preparing for last Saturday’s, June 23, “Meet and Greet” neighbors and donations! With her coordination, and publicity of our sale, and weeks of sorting, pricing and carrying donations throughout our church, onto the lawn and then off our grass, Helen was a champion! She made our annual yard sale a lot easier, and yes, even, fun!
And then there were the stories that made it all worthwhile! A man named Glenn was among our first customers. Arriving at 7:45, fifteen minutes before our sale began, he started to look at items already on our lawn. Glenn struck up a conversation with one of our members. He talked about his grandson never attending a professional baseball game and then noted our church was encouraging neighbors to join us for our July 29 Faith Day outing to Coors Field (The Rockies play the Oakland A’s at 1:10 that Sunday. Jon Gray, Ian Desmond, and Charlie Blackmon will talk about their devotion to Jesus and baseball after the ballgame. Join us! Tickets for the game and show thereafter are $20 each)! Glenn will be bringing his grandson to Faith Day with us…along with the baseball mitt Glenn bought from our yard sale! Then there was Sheila. She was waiting patiently at our checkout stand when another woman confessed that she had forgotten her purse. Sheila, with a smile, interjected, “I’ve been there before” and gladly paid for the woman’s jigsaw puzzles. Pay it forward, right? How about the Spanish-speaking lady who was joking with her husband about needing more tables and chairs. The husband kept shaking his head, “NO!” (Some things translate easily regardless of language barriers)! This man was NOT going to be roped into buying furniture pieces that would clutter their condo AND be too heavy to carry! The woman, however, won a victory of sorts. She got her husband to help load up the very tables and chairs SHE WANTED into another man’s vehicle! (“Yes, dear,” i.e, “Si carina!”).
One of the joys of doing our annual yard sale is that our Cross of Glory members let their hair down in ways not typically seen on Sunday mornings! There was the banter about who would be eating FIRST K.C. Keefer’s grilled hot dogs! Nancy Barlow, former president of our Cook Park Association and K.C., not even members of our church, nonetheless, braved the heat of the day and spent their Saturday, great neighbors that they are, helping US! Nancy and K.C. you are the best! There were the funny stories about which Danielle Steel novels were the “seediest” and that some of our members would be “in the know” about such! And how at Cross of Glory do we attract new people to our ministry? Just ask poor Scott Dankenbring! Our newest member to Cross of Glory (Scott joined our church last Sunday with Jackie Phillips), Scott had set up our new grill days before our sale and carried dozens and dozens of boxes onto our lawn that yard sale morning! How we joked that we probably would get more people to join Cross of Glory if we did not immediately put them to work! Haha! The stories were precious. Prayers were shared on our lawn as we learned of people’s joys and challenges. Members of the Cross of Glory-sponsored Gambler’s Anonymous group, meeting at the church at 10:00 AM on Saturday mornings, pitched right in, carrying chairs and heavy furniture pieces onto our lawn! All in all, though a long day, even months in the making, our annual Yard Sale turned out to be pretty joyous. Thanks to all who made the day… once again… memorable and joyous!
Church is many things. Some speak of hymns and sermons while others, stained glass windows and steeples. At the very least, let us remember the first lesson many Lutheran Christians learn in Confirmation: Church is YOU! YOU ARE THE CHURCH! Church is the Body of Jesus Christ: People forgiven, renewed and energized by God’s living and relentless Holy Spirit! The church is not a building made of mortar and stone. It is the man or woman who places trust in Jesus, who attempts to love God in loving service to others.
In our recent Bible Study on the Book of Acts, we learned that the early church ALWAYS did three things when coming together for worship. Firstly, new converts to faith prayed. Secondly, the first followers of Christ sang spiritual songs. Lastly, the church celebrated the Lord’s Supper together, believing that in the bread and in the wine (in a mystery of faith), Jesus was somehow present in loving support! Worship happens from 10:00 AM to 11:15 AM on Sunday mornings at Cross of Glory to be sure, but it is NOT Church! Church is YOU! It is laughing while bringing Spencer the dog some water from the kitchen! It is smiling when a neighbor wants to talk down prices on our grass! It is YOU getting sunburned on a Saturday afternoon because you know that helping Cross of Glory will help others. Thank you for being the church! Thank you for being YOU!
I do not know if the early church had yard sales. I DO know that the early Christians SHARED their possessions one with another so that no one was without. Might it be our hope in upcoming yard sales at Cross of Glory to meet our neighbors, those made in God’s image, in THEIR need and in THEIR joys! Might we as the church, allow God to live in and through us as we carry tables and chairs onto our grass? Better yet, let us realize the privilege and joy in carrying Christ well beyond our Cross of Glory walls, onto our grass and down the street! God will give us the strength to do His work… and even help us with that heavy, walnut desk on the corner!
Thank you Cross of Glory! Thank you…church!
Pastor Mike Lemke
Hello Cross of Glory Family and Friends,
Spring has sprung! My sneezing can attest to it! Now that trees are budding, my nose knows it! Haha! As new life springs around us, we continue to relish the beauty and wonder of the glorious Easter season! Jesus stepped victorious from the tomb 2000 years ago to call Mary by name and reach out lovingly to her. His triumph over sin, death and the power of the devil is our victory as well! As spring springs (haha,) we appreciate the new life in Christ that Easter resurrection brings.
Having said that, we painfully realize that death still pierces our souls. It breaks our hearts… Painfully, we experienced recently the passing into greater life of our dear sister in Christ, our amazing friend, Maysel Christy. I was so proud of the many ways that you, as her loving congregation, stepped up to meet this challenge. Husband Tom, and children Leigh Ann and Stephen thank you for your kindness and continued expressions of empathy and care.
Peculiarly last evening, I wondered about my friend Madylon Hood from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had heard from Madylon’s daughter, Susan, around Christmas that Madylon, residing in a Pittsburgh nursing home, was not faring well. I googled her name and instantly saw her obituary. Saddened, but not altogether surprised, I learned that Madylon had died a week earlier. Instantly, I thought of precious time spent in Pittsburgh while on my seminary internship.
As I arrived in Pittsburgh, now decades ago, I probably felt pretty sure of myself. I was near completion of my seminary education, and with my parents’ and family’s influence, I had virtually been raised in the church. What possibly did I have to learn yet as a self-assured 23-year-old (need I say more)? And yet, looking back on things, I had EVER SO MUCH to learn! My, how perceptions change as one gets older!
As dear members of Ruthfred Lutheran Church and friends of interns over the years, Madylon and her husband, soft-speaking Harlan, really took me under their wings. We would go to lunch or dinner in a new Pittsburgh restaurant once a month. And then there were the exposures to new experiences and adventures. I remember the embarrassment I felt at watching the first ballet I ever attended with them: Swan Lake. I still remember marveling at the dancers’ athleticisms!
Madylon was a great sounding board, an outlet for me to share my questions, excitements and even criticisms of unfolding ministry. Perhaps Madylon’s greatest gift was her ability to suspend interjecting her ideas quickly. Rather, she listened attentively to my feelings and ramblings, allowing me to get things off my chest, and heart, hopefully ONTO my brain where I could process ministry responsibly. Mild-mannered Harlan passed into greater life around the time Barb and I were married. Consequently, Madylon continued to live out her passions for people and Pittsburgh adventures without Harlan over the years. Instead of slowing down, I believe she intensified her zest for life and her wanting to share so much of it with willing others.
Madylon and I stayed in touch quite frequently in the first 10 years of my pastoring in Denver. Then, as is so often the case, time slips into time, new relationships form and what was precious in the past is left to memory and storytelling on occasion. We, at Cross of Glory, are fortunate to have known (and been mentored by) so many of the saints, now in heaven, who impacted the character of our congregation. They truly left footprints on our hearts…and as we aspire to be more like them in their devotions to Christ…we miss them terribly. As I reflect on Shirlee Mueller, Maysel Christy and Madylon Hood, sisters in the faith to me, to us, and their greater life in the kingdom of Heaven, I thank God for their rich impacts. They all shared joy in celebrating Christ in the here, now and in anticipation of greater life ahead. I, for one, hope to cherish their memories by trying to be a better person, and even more deliberate, conscientious positive difference-maker in whatever Pittsburgh or Denver, God appoints.
Thank you, communion of saints, for the difference you will always continue to make in my life. Thank you, Madylon, Shirlee and Maysel, in allowing me, to be me, as I processed ministry with you many times over the years. I know the three of you will forever cheer us on as we still run the race of faith at Cross of Glory! Forgetting what lies behind and pressing forward to the blessing of what’s ahead, know that your family members and friends, impacted by your devotions to Jesus, will take the heart the lessons you shared.
Onward Christian soldiers! Go Broncos…and…Go Steelers!
President’s Letter: May 2018
I’d like to share with you “The 7 Ups”, sent to me years ago by my sister. They are good reminders of how we, as Christians, can improve our attitudes and daily habits.
Wake Up! Decide to have a good day.
“This is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Dress Up! The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7
Shut Up! Say nice things and learn to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, so He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking.
“He who guards his lips guards his soul.” Proverbs 13:3
Stand Up! …for what you believe in. Stand for something or you will fall for anything.
“Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good…” Galatians 6:9-10
Look Up! …to the Lord.
“I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Reach Up! …for something higher.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Lift Up! …your prayers.
“Do not worry about anything; instead PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING.” Philippians 4:6
I hope your day is filled with “The 7 Ups”. Have a blessed day!
Our Outreach focus for MAY is the Children of Jesus Ministry of the HanHee Kim World Mission Center, a ministry of our next-door-neighbor Korean Baptist Church.
The HanHee Kim World Mission Center launched the Children of Jesus Ministry in 1996 by providing education to 55 children living in Santiago, Dominican Republic. In 1997, their first feeding ministry in Costa Rica relieved the suffering of 30 hunger-stricken children. In 1998, their ministry expanded to be what it is today: It was able to launch COJ child-sponsorship programs in three cities of Peru (Lima, Arequipa, Cusco).
Children of Jesus is aimed to assist poor and needy children with education, food and basic medical care through love and prayer. Through our prayers and designated financial gift, we are proud to continue to be a part of the vision that was begun several years ago. For more information, talk to Pastor Mike or Kelli Lee.
June Item: CEREAL Metro CareRing operates one of the largest hunger relief programs in Denver. It distributes food and personal care items to the needy, serving up to 500 people every day. Please share as you can to help those in need. Please place your donations in the boxes marked “Metro CareRing.” Thank you for caring and sharing. Kelli Lee, Outreach Chairperson
Worship and Music
Thanks to everyone, the Lenten season at Cross of Glory is always very special. We have enjoyed worshipping together with our friends from Prince of Peace. Our Easter celebration promises to be equally special. I hope you will be able to be with us for either the 7:30 AM Sunrise Service or the 10:00 AM Traditional worship service. The Sullivan family will be providing special music at the 10:00 AM Worship Service.
Music is an important part of our ministry at Cross of Glory. We are always looking for anyone who would be willing to share his or her musical talent with us. Please visit with Olive Keefer or myself if you would be available to participate in our Worship and Music Ministry.
How about you? Do you enjoy singing? Karen Matlock, our organist and choir director, would love to have you be a part of our Cross of Glory choir. No auditions are necessary! Short practices are held following our worship service. Listen for the announcement when our next practice will be held – and please join us!
Pat Lemster, Worship and Music Committee Chairperson
April RTD Sponsored Events: Sign-up sheets are in the Fellowship Hall:
April 18 (Wednesday) – Dead Sea Scrolls. We will see the ancient manuscripts that include the oldest known Biblical documents dating back 2000 years. The scrolls are presented in a massive exhibit case featuring carefully regulated individual chambers. Event time is 10:00 am – 1:30 pm. Departure times and details will be announced prior to the day of. The ticket cost is $19.75 and includes admission to the Museum of Nature and Science. Reservation deadline is March 28.
April 26 (Thursday) – DAZZLE. Event time is 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. Departure times and details will be announced prior to the day of. The cost of $25 per senior includes your choice of three entrees, soda, coffee, tea or a glass of wine, beer or well drink plus Great Live Jazz! Tax and gratuity are included. Reservation deadline is April 5.
Outreach Focus for March 2018:
Cross of Glory’s Helping Hands Program:
Through our benevolence, each month we designate $500 to organizations helping those in need. Four times a year, realizing there are people in our congregation and community who are in need of financial and non-financial assistance, our Outreach focus has been the Helping Hands Ministry. Funds are used to help people based on their unique circumstances. Some of the non-financial assistance can be providing transportation to doctor’s appointments, running errands for someone or helping members with light housecleaning. The beauty of this program is that the funds have a full and direct impact on people’s lives. There is no middle man, no administrative fees or other costs associated with the Helping Hands program. Whatever is donated to Helping Hands goes to those needing help.
Please support Helping Hands with a designated gift or let Pastor Mike know if you are able to offer your time or personal services to help others. If you or someone you know has need of the Helping Hands program, confidential requests can be made to Pastor Mike either personally or via request cards in the narthex.
Metro Care Ring March monthly food focus:
Metro CareRing provides nutritious food to hungry families and individuals while promoting health and self-sufficiency. It is the largest hunger-relief organization in Denver directly serving families and individuals since 1974.
Each month Cross of Glory requests a specific food item from our church family to be given to Metro CareRing. For March, we are asking everyone to share canned fruit and/or veggies. Your donations can be left in the narthex in the marked boxes. Thank you for sharing your donations to help bless others in our community.
Kelli Lee, Outreach Chairperson
Gratitude! Our divine devotion to say thank you to God for all that we have, all that we are, and all that we will become, is the foundation of stewardship. From gratitude, generosity is fostered. And generosity can be measured in so many different ways. Sometimes, it’s that extra call to a friend to see how they are doing, perhaps it’s a volunteer mission you feel impassioned about, a calling, so to speak. Sometimes, it’s as simple as pulling together items that we no longer need so we can build our inventory for our upcoming summer garage sale (hint hint). Stewardship gives us an opportunity to perform duties and give back gratefully for a life that has been so richly blessed by our Heavenly Father.
Jesus was the ultimate Good Steward. In John 8:29, Jesus proclaims, “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” So, think about our need to please our Master as we think about our stewardship. Generosity leads to more generosity because that feeling of love is undeniable when we know we are living according to God’s will.
Humbly submitted to all the amazing Stewards of Cross of Glory Lutheran Church!
Thank you and God Bless you all!
Helen Devantery, Stewardship Chairperson
Outreach Focus for February 2018:
Project Angel Heart:
Founded in 1991, Project Angel Heart’s mission is to deliver nutritious meals to improve the quality of life, at no cost, to those coping with life threatening illness such as cancer, kidney/heart/lung disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. This organization is dedicated to getting nutritious meals to people too sick to go to the grocery store, too weak to make meals for themselves or their dependents or who have to choose between purchasing medications or food. Their delivery area now includes 640 square miles in metropolitan Denver and 164 square miles in the Colorado Springs area. All meals are delivered free of charge by caring volunteers.
Metro Care Ring monthly food focus:
February 4 is the Super Bowl. This month’s donations will be SOUP. This will help stock empty shelves. Your items can be placed in the box in the narthex marked MetroCare Ring!
Outreach Focus for January 2018:
Alzheimer’s Association “MEMORIES IN THE MAKING” (in memory of Shirlee Mueller)
MIM is a creative art expression program for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. Even after people with dementia have lost the ability to use words, they are often able to express thoughts and emotions and to share memories through painting with watercolors. Some benefits include: Improves self esteem; Serves as an outlet for emotions; Increases attention span and focus; Activates neurons; Reduces isolation and provides opportunity to socialize; Taps into pockets of memory that still exist; Reconnects families. The MIM art groups meet in assisted-living communities, nursing homes and adult day programs throughout the state.