“Rise, O Church” is the opening line of hymn #548 in the ELW. I asked the staff in the Synod Office for ideas for a title for this blog. Some were not so helpful, but Bishop Crist suggested a title/first line of a hymn, so I started looking. “Rise, O Church” caught my eye. I have to confess that I don’t know that I have ever sung the hymn, or if I have, it wasn’t memorable. (Sorry to the composer of the tune—Timothy J. Strand. I would suggest using the lyrics with the tune from “Lord, Dismiss Us With Your Blessing” ELW #546 instead) But the lyric by Susan Palo Cherwien are powerful.
Stanza 1: “Rise, O Church, like Christ arisen, from this meal of love and grace; may we through such love envision whose we are and whose, our praise. (Alleleuia, alleluia), God, the wonder of our days.
Stanza 2: “Rise, transformed, and choose to follow after Christ, though wounded, whole; broken, shared, our loves are hallowed to release and to console. …. Christ, our present, past and goal.”
I believe my call as the Director for Evangelical Mission for the Montana Synod is to call the church to rise, to grow deeper into Christ, to be transformed in following our Lord more intentionally and ever more faithfully, to be courageous in our following, trusting that the God who has been faithful will continue to be faithful to each of us and to the church even as we face an unknown future.
The first benchmark of the Montana Synod is to “meet the future boldly”. “Rise, O Church” is an affirmation and an invitation to get up, get going, to move with trust into God’s future, not knowing where we are going, but trusting that God is going with us. As we follow our risen Lord, Jesus Christ, we too, rise in living lives of service, love and mercy!
Keep an eye on the blog in the next weeks and months. My intention is to provide you with resources and suggestions to help to strengthen congregations and all of us as we follow Jesus. Rise, O Church! And here is a suggestion–work the hymn, “Rise, O Church” into a service sometime in the next month.
Yours, in service to our Lord,
Pastor Peggy Paugh Leuzinger, DEM
Over the last several months, a group of clergy and LPAs in the Montana Synod have been working on some resources for individuals and for congregations based on the passage from 2 Corinthians 4 where twice the Apostle Paul uses the phrase, “We do not lose heart.” In verse 1, he writes, “Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.” At the end of chapter 4, after Paul reflects on the challenges of life in living faithfully as Christians, and in verse 16 states, “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”
Ministry in congregations sometimes is hard and challenging. There are those who confess that it is tempting to “lose heart”. The group of clergy and LPAs who met in March took the passage seriously and have produced resources that they offer to the Montana Synod. The first resource is a series of devotions that several wrote about scripture passages that give courage and hope in the midst of life, to “not lose heart” that they offer to you.
The second resource is a series that could be used for sermons or for an adult study based on the book of Exodus about God’s people wandering in the wilderness and their continual encounter with the God who would not let them go. The material is divided into six sessions/sermons suggestions.
These resources are on the Montana Synod website under the dropdown tab, “Resources” where they can be downloaded. Please check these resources out and make use of these in your devotional life and in your congregation as you see fit.
Thanks to Pastor Katie Emery, Pastor Marllow Carrels, Pastor Will Johnson, Pastor Tanner Howard, Pastor Kim Wilker, Pastor Ellen Ayres, Pastor Valorie Putt and Kelley Miller for their work to put these resources together.
Pastor Peggy Paugh Leuzinger
Director for Evangelical Mission, Montana Synod