Pentecost Call to Worship

As we prepare for Pentecost this year, I couldn't find a piece of the liturgy that fit well with what we are doing at Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church, so I wrote this call to worship. With the thought that perhaps it will be useful to others, I am sharing it here.

Welcome in the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

On that first Pentecost, God Spirit transformed the lives of the disciples and changed the world. As we gather, we pray for that same Spirit to be poured out on us.
Come, Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit is a fire, consuming our selfishness, our hatred, and our indifference – filling our lives with new life and the light of God.
Come, Holy Spirit!

Filled with the Holy Spirit, our lives bear fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Like the beacon of a lighthouse, may the fruit of the Spirit shine in our lives.
Come, Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit never leaves us where we are – we are sent by the Spirit out into the world to be the salt of the earth, to show God’s love to all people, to bring God’s Spirit of joy to the world.
Come, Holy Spirit!

Gracious God, pour your Spirit into our hearts, that we would worship today with all our hearts, that our lives would be transformed by your power, and that we would carry your joy from this place into all the world.

To you we give our honor and praise, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Church Bells: A Parable

Listen, and I will tell you a parable.  The modern church is like a church bell.

Once upon a time, the large church bell in the steeple played an important role in the community. They drew the community together, and provided vital service for everyone in the neighborhood.

On Saturday night the bell rang at sunset, to let everyone know that there would be worship in the morning.

Important news in the community? The church bell rang to alert everyone.

A death in the community? Listen for the church bell - you would even find out how old the person was.

Sunday morning - the bell rang a few hours before worship, reminding everyone to start gathering together.

Everyone in the neighborhood heard and depended on the church bell as a part of life together.

And then things changed.

Silent church bells on display. 
The world became noisier. Cars and planes, cell phones and televisions and radios. Better insulated homes. The church bell couldn't be heard as well.

And once the church bell couldn't be heard as well, it started to ring less often.

Many churches still have bells. Most often they are rung right as worship begins, so that those inside the church already know that worship is beginning.

Once upon a time, the church bell was an important source of news and information for everyone in the neighborhood.

Now the bell only rings for those who are inside the church when worship begins.

A New Hope - Easter 3A

My farewell sermon as the Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church of Prairie Hill, preached on May 4th, 2014.

The stained glass window to the in the picture to the right provided a visual aid, and the convergence of Star Wars Day with my last Sunday may have also influenced the sermon.

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Funeral Sermon: The Tongue of a Teacher

A funeral sermon preached at St. John Lutheran Church of Prairie Hill for Pat Schroeder. Text for the day were Isaiah 50:4, 7-9a; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, 53-57; and John 11:21-27.

 As we head into Holy Week, it a fitting time to look at how even as we go the grave we make our song: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

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Announcing My New Call

Earlier this week, I sent a letter to the members of St. John Lutheran Church, announcing my new call as the Pastor of Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church. Portions of that letter follow: 

Dear family of St. John,

It is with a mix of joy and sadness that I write to share the news that I have accepted a call to serve as the Pastor Redeveloper of Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church in The Woodlands.

Megan and I have been praying about this decision and the future of St. John. This call is an exciting opportunity for our family and the right choice for our life together. As we look at the paths ahead of us as a family, it is the right time and opportunity for us to relocate. As a congregation in redevelopment, Spirit of Joy! is a great fit for my particular gifts and strengths in ministry. My last Sunday as the Pastor of St. John Lutheran Church will be May 4th, 2014.

In 2006, you took a chance on an untested Pastor straight out of seminary. In the eight years that followed we shared our lives with one another, and Prairie Hill became my home. We shared in joy – celebrating baptisms and confirmations, marriages and new jobs. We shared in sorrows – celebrating the lives of the saints at funerals, talking through the difficulties of life.

We have accomplished much over the last eight years. Together we have grown the ministry of St. John and seen glimpses of the Kingdom here. You have taught me much about the Gospel, the love of God, and what it means to be a community of faith. I could not have asked for a better first call experience than what I had at St. John. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

While I am not your pastor any longer, I am certainly your friend. I will continue to pray for you individually and as a congregation – and I hope that you will pray for me and my family and the ministry at Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church.

With my deepest gratitude and love,

David Hansen