St John's Lutheran Church, La Grange IL 60525 (LCMS)

St. John's Lutheran Church and School
47th Street and Brainard Avenue, La Grange, Illinois 60525


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Whoa! Woe!

February 10, 2013

I hear it uttered in the halls of St. John’s School. It’s one of the first commands a rider learns to speak to her horse. Backseat drivers are quick to say it. But how do you spell it? I confess, I had to look it up: Whoa!

“Whoa!” has a homonym cousin, “Woe!” The former calls out to stop; the latter calls for sorrow. I’d like to suggest that we can use both to help us take a step farther this week as the seasons change for spiritual pilgrims.

This Sunday is called “Transfiguration” in the church because it recalls a mountaintop experience with Jesus. His appearance was miraculously changed before the disciples. His glory peeked out from under the covers of his ordinary guy likeness. He was transfigured. It was a time of “Whoa!” and “Woe!”

To those gazing at his glory, it was a moment that halted them in amazement. Whoa! And as the glory of God enveloped them, they trembled in fear. Woe!

God’s voice from heaven declared, “This is my son,” and then said, “Listen to him!” Whoa! Alongside of Jesus were two heroes alive from ages past, Moses and Elijah. They were talking with Jesus, “about his departure.” They were talking about his death. Woe!

Peter was moved to suggest they set up camp and stay awhile. Whoa! Jesus, however, had taken this short stop to prepare them for a different route, “If anyone would come after me,” he said, “he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Woe!

This Transfiguration Sunday and story sends us a message of “Whoa!” and “Woe!” also. We are transitioning into a season Christians call Lent. It is a time to slow down and stop at the feet of Jesus. Lent cries out, “Whoa!” It is a long-needed respite from the hurried lives we live. I would venture to guess that someone who cares about you has recently said, “You need to slow down.” We all hear that wise counsel, but we have a lot of reasonable excuses why that’s not possible. That’s where the, “Woe!” comes into the picture.

Lent begins this very week with Ash Wednesday. The mark of ashes does more than slow us down; it confronts us with our mortality. Woe! “Dust you are,” the ashes touch our forehead, “and to dust you shall return.” Woe! Ash Wednesday isn’t all ashes and sorrow, but it is a grievous confrontation with everything that Jesus needs to cleanse and heal in our lives. If there isn’t that “Woe!” we won’t be able to receive the healing benefits of the Lenten respite found in a peaceful, “Whoa!”

Today is the day to look ahead and begin applying the brakes and prepare a Lenten plan for your life. As a supportive community around you, St. John’s has prepared a number of tools that might help us together spend a little more time with Jesus and find a greater freedom from the daily race. The insert included with this issue of The Mission provides a framework that you can customize to your own Lenten plan for refreshment. Our framework takes place in three movements: a daily personal quiet time in the Word of God, a weekly small group and our larger gatherings for worship. These 40 days of Lent get us to stop with the brutal reality of the “Woe!” but they fill us with the joy and wonder of stopping at the feet of Jesus. “Whoa!”



(c)2012 St. John's Lutheran Church and School | 505 S Park RD | La Grange IL 60525
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Pastor's Blogs

Bill Geis has led a variety of missional ministries for over 20 years. He has served as senior pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in La Grange, Illinois since 2004. He is the proud father of teenage daughters, Erica and Monica. His partner in ministry and in marriage, Sandi Geis, serves with him on the team at St. John's as prayer ministry leader, devotional writer and music teacher. He has a passion and calling to rally Christian communities and disciples to help people Meet Jesus in authentic and life changing ways.

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