Our church received a long-overdue sound system upgrade that was completed during Holy Week by local audio professional Jim Corley at a cost of $5,300. The upgrades bring the church into the "21st Century" with Bluetooth-enabled speakers throughout the sanctuary and (soon!) the Sunday School classrooms. The previous system was about 40 years old - and in technology years, that's old! Thanks to our generous members, the sound system was paid off in full.
In addition, the church switched WiFi providers and now saves $18 each month. The new WiFi is much faster and better serves our Pastor and Finance Team, who rely on the speed for virtual worship video uploads and accounting software.
As of April 18, we have $2,440 left to pay on the roof.
Our church continues to march forward, and we are so blessed to have a congregation dedicated to its longevity.
A few years ago we were celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the town church in Wittenberg, Germany. His intent was to have his students discuss, based upon scripture, some questionable practices of the church of his day. However, the Theses were hand-copied – and then, with the help of Guttenberg’s recently developed printing press, additional copies quickly spread throughout Germany and many other countries. The Reformation had begun!
Three and a half years later on April 18, 1521, something happened that changed human history. Many think that it was the second most important trial in human history (second only to the trial of Jesus). Martin Luther was called to renounce and recant his writings which spoke against some of the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. However, Martin Luther stood his ground and stated, “I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand.”
Modern historians have described it as the trial that led to the birth of the modern world. Many credit his courage and his writings for influencing great changes in the course of human history for the last 500 years, including the concepts of human rights and civil rights, the effort to teach girls to read, the writing of the Bill of Rights, the end of slavery across the British Empire and eventually the Abolitionist movement in the USA.
In 1934, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta sent their senior pastor, the Rev. Michael King to Berlin for a Baptist World Alliance meeting. While in Berlin, Pastor King witnessed the beginnings of Nazi Germany - Adolf Hitler had become chancellor the year before. The Baptist conference responded to what they saw happening as they issued this statement:
"This Congress deplores and condemns as a violation of the law of God the Heavenly Father, all racial animosity, and every form of oppression or unfair discrimination toward the Jews, toward colored people, or toward subject races in any part of the world."
Although the meeting was in Berlin, Rev. Michael King toured much of Germany, the country that is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. When he returned to Atlanta, the senior King decided to change his name, and his son's, from Michael King to Martin Luther King and Martin Luther King, Jr., after the German Protestant leader.
So, as we remember the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s trial at the Diet of Worms in Erfurt, may we rejoice in the progress which has been made, and commit ourselves to further progress in the field of human and civil rights in accordance with God’s Word.
March is the month when we start to think ‘green’ – the temperatures are warming, the snow is gone, and it won’t be long before all the brown grass in my yard and all of the bare trees start to turn green again. Of course, we also think of little Leprechauns in their bright green suits, four-leaf clovers, and some food coloring in a glass of beer to turn that green, also. I’m not Irish (that I know of) but, because it is March, I am sure that I will eat some corned beef and cabbage at some point this month. And, who knows - I might even be lucky enough to catch a Leprechaun, and when I set him free, he will give me his treasure (a pot of gold) and I’ll be rich.
Okay, that last part isn’t going to happen, but it’s an interesting legend that got me thinking about the difference between being lucky and being blessed. Many people use those two words interchangeably – and while they are similar in some ways, they are also quite different as well. The similarity is that the words ‘luck’ and ‘blessings’ both refer to something good that happens to, or for, a person. The difference is in the source of that ‘goodness.’
My understanding of luck it that it is something which happens by chance. It has no rhyme or reason, it comes out of nowhere, and it is quite random. Blessings, however, are a positive result which come about through a relationship with something or someone (and as Christians we believe that blessings come through our relationship with God.) Blessings are something we hope for, even though we do not necessarily deserve them – because blessings are not random occurrences; they are based in a relationship that is rooted in love and grace. God blesses us (gives us good things) because he has established a relationship with us. He has made a covenant to love us and provide for us, even though we don’t deserve it. That isn’t ‘luck,’ that is a ‘blessing!’
In the fifth century, according to the autobiographical Confessio of Patrick, when he was about sixteen years old Patrick was captured by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and taken to Ireland as a slave. He lived there for six years, taking care of animals, before escaping and returning to his family in Britain. Some would say that he was ‘lucky’ to have escaped. But the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Just like the Old Testament story of Joseph being betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt - so that through him the entire nation of Egypt and the future nation of Israel might be saved – the same result comes from Patrick’s experience. After escaping from Ireland and returning home to Britain, Patrick becomes a priest. Eventually, out of concern for the people, he returned to Ireland to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with his former captors and owners, and Christianity took root and spread throughout the entire country. Was it luck? No - it was a blessing! God was at work; and because of His love and grace for all people He used Patrick’s experiences to bless both Patrick and the people of Ireland.
It’s March. Wear green if you like, and eat corned beef if you want to. But most of all, thank God for the blessings He pours into your life – health, hope, love, happiness, family, friends, Jesus, and so much more – and then be like St. Patrick and become a blessing in someone else’s life by sharing the good news of Jesus with them.
Because of Valentine’s Day, the month of February is often referred to as "the month of love."
I propose we refer to it as "the month of God." After all, “God is love!” (1 John 4; verses 8 & 16)
And along those lines - if we are God’s people, then we should be "people of love." Does that mean we should be giving chocolates, and roses, and candy hearts with cute little sayings on them to everyone we know and meet? That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s not what I had in mind. That is the world’s perception of love – it’s all about romance, and sensuality, and sexuality. God’s perception of love is filled with ideas about giving, serving, helping, sacrificing, sharing, and bringing true and lasting joy – not through something temporary like chocolates, roses, and candy hearts; but through a gift that is eternal. That gift, of course, is the gift of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
You ask: “How shall we, as God’s people, share love this month (and every month)?" The answer is simple. We share Jesus with everyone we know and meet, and we emulate Jesus for them as well. What is Jesus like? Just look at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Since God is love, and Jesus is God, then: ‘Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He is not rude, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Jesus never fails.’
Now replace Jesus’ name in that passage with your name, and you will understand what Valentine’s Day, the month of February, and every month of every year should be like for you as followers of Jesus. We are to be the very embodiment of God’s love. We are to be Jesus to others.
That has never been an easy task – especially in the early days of Christianity, when so much suspicion and anger was directed at the followers of Jesus, and when so many were martyred because of their faith. But even as the second century of Christianity began to unfold, the faith had spread widely throughout the Roman Empire. In the light of wild rumors about what Christians actually taught and did in their meetings together, a church leader named Tertullian wrote an explanation of Christian practices and a critique of the unjust accusations that had been made against them. In his work, he wrote at one point that these attacks against Christianity were made out of jealousy, because Christians displayed a character of life that their pagan neighbors did not possess. Tertullian wrote: “It is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See how they love one another, they say, for they themselves are animated by mutual hatred; how they are ready even to die for one another, they say, for they themselves will sooner put to death.” (Apologeticus, chapter 39)
In a world in which love is so misunderstood – where love is equated with romance and sex (between virtually any two or more people) – may we, as people of love, stand out as being different from the people of the world. May we be counted among those who practice disciplined living for the sake of Christ in a world that neither understands us nor welcomes our "strange" and "old-fashioned" ways. May we be obedient to Jesus’ command as he says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Even today, may the world look at us and say: "See how they love each other." And may our example of God’s true love draw others to Jesus!
Our world has seemingly flipped upside down in recent weeks as we adjust to strict new guidelines that govern our daily lives in the wake of COVID-19. The outbreak and how we must tackle its spread has left many of us questioning what we can do, who we can see and how we can see them, and if this will ever come to an end.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things we are facing as Christians is our inability to celebrate together the most holy season of Easter. Our churches have been all but shuttered during a time when we need and are crying out to God most.
Living Word Lutheran Church has one simple message for everyone reading this post: Just Keep Praying.
Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God “knows the plans he has for [us], plans to prosper [us] and not to harm [us], plans to give [us] hope and a future.”
The truth is, we won’t be able to see each other in a physical sense during Holy Week. But God Himself is not a physical being, and our faith must not be bound to the physical worship services we are used to. We can still be together in a spiritual sense, and to make that easier, you’ll be able to watch and listen to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday services on Facebook and our new YouTube channel.
We are blessed to live in a time where technology affords us the opportunity to still keep in contact during the days of social distancing. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give in to anxiety or depressing thoughts. Don’t let the devil try to convince you that God is not listening or that he has left us behind. As the old saying goes, this too shall pass.
Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) reminds us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
If we keep our faith, God will see us through this crisis. When the national emergency declarations have been rescinded and social distancing orders lifted, may we all have a renewed spirit and enthusiasm to rejoin our brothers and sisters in Christ at Living Word and beyond. May we have a new appreciation for what it means to worship together in the house of the Lord.
Many thanks to Pastor Mark Dill for recording mid-week and Sunday Lenten services and sending them to our congregation. Authored by Caitlin Squires, member of LWLC.
Each year, Living Word Lutheran Church offers Ash Wednesday worship services at 7:00 p.m., preceded by a covered dish dinner at 6:00 p.m. We're continuing with that tradition this year, but adding a new worship time to the schedule!
On Ash Wednesday (February 26, 2020), you now can join us at noon for an abbreviated worship service with imposition of ashes. Stop by on your lunch break or avoid the night-time drive. Or, feel free to come to the full-length worship service at 7:00 p.m. Whatever time you join us for worship that day, we'll be happy to receive you.
Check out our Schedule & Events tab for a full listing of upcoming Holy Week worship services. All services will be held at Living Word Lutheran Church on Hill Top Drive.
The current location of Living Word Lutheran Church came to the congregation as a blessing in 2014. Before moving into the building formerly owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Hill Top Drive in Cumberland, LWLC met regularly at the Woodmen of the World social hall on Virginia Avenue. With the new building came a large sanctuary, a nursery, offices, Sunday school classrooms, and a social hall. Church members have dedicated hundreds of volunteer hours to the upkeep and maintenance of the building and contributed to funds that allowed for necessary capital improvements, such as the installation of a modesty rail at the front of the sanctuary, new gravel for the satellite parking lot, and a new sign and garden wall at the entrance.
The congregation of LWLC recently pooled nearly $5,000 to replace the aging roof that was in need of repair. Cumberland-based Grant Family Home Improvements was contracted to install the new metal roof that will last the church for decades to come.
In the near future, LWLC plans to rework the church entrance and install a handicap access ramp, increasing accessibility for our mobility-challenged congregants and visitors. A sound system upgrade is on the docket, too.
Matthew 18:20 tells us that where two or three are gathered in His holy name, there He is among us. Making necessary capital improvements comes at a price - but increasing the longevity and inviting nature of the church where we gather for worship is important.
It's the most wonderful time of the year - the season that celebrates Christ's birth. The congregation at Living Word Lutheran Church gathered for the annual candlelight service at 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, with 90 members and visitors in attendance. To all of the visitors who decided to worship with us on Christmas Eve, welcome to LWLC. We hope to see you again soon - please stop by for a regular Sunday service at 10:00 a.m.
In preparation for one of the holiest days of the year, our youngest congregants put together an adorable Christmas play on December 15. Many thanks are due to our church's musician, the Sunday school leaders, and the volunteers who contributed to the production.
The members of Living Word Lutheran Church also prepared their hearts for Christmas by making spirits bright. In keeping with near annual tradition, more than 25 gift bags for children of all ages were put together and donated to the Salvation Army. The Hat & Mitten Tree collected countless gloves, hats, scarves, and other cold-weather accessories for students in need at John Humbird Elementary School. LWLC is committed to serving its brothers and sisters in Christ in the Cumberland community.
As August transitions to September, students will prepare to head back to school. After a season away, they'll once again return to the classrooms to receive their education. So too would we like for our community to head back to church - to receive the Gospel and all the wisdom it imparts.
On Sunday, September 8, join us for worship at 10:00 a.m. during Living Word Lutheran Church's inaugural Back to Church Sunday celebration! Bring a friend, a neighbor, your family, or come solo - we welcome you with open arms.
Whether you're just visiting or are looking for a church to join in membership, you'll enjoy a delightful service and refreshments after worship.
We are located at 800 Hill Top Drive in Cumberland. Parking is available in the paved lot beside the church or in the gravel lot across the street (at the intersection of Hill Top Drive and Caroline Street). Ushers will be available for assistance at the handicap entrance (front door).