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Dear Congregational Family,

1. Lenten Services and Soup & Sandwich Suppers: Our Lenten Services are every Wednesday at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. In addition, this year we are also having Lenten suppers from 6:00-7:00pm. Come and enjoy some wonderful fellowship together! See the picture below of the supper.

2. The Good Shepherd: Our Lenten theme this year is “The Psalm/Song of the Shepherd” and our text which we are focusing on and memorizing is Psalm 23. Kathryn Carr created a new bulletin cover (see picture below) for the season which features one of the earliest surviving paintings on plaster by the early church from the 1st or 2nd century. It was found in the catacombs in Rome which were underground caverns where Christians secretly met, worshiped, baptized their children, celebrated Holy Communion, and also buried the remains of the martyrs of the faith.

This famous piece is simply titled: “The Good Shepherd.” In the catacombs, eighty-four variations of it have been found. You will notice that it has the Good Shepherd, Jesus in the very center. On His shoulders is a ram (male) lamb and on each side of Him is another sheep; an ewe (female) and another ram. Although there is no explanation attached to the painting, church traditions were that the sheep beside the Good Shepherd are those who are safely in the green pastures of heaven, and the lamb on His shoulder is a lost sheep that has been found, or a dying soul that is being carried to heaven by the Shepherd.

In looking closely at the painting many other things are noticed which quickly bring their Scriptural connections to mind. Two doves are seen at rest on the tree tops. Doves in the Bible represent peace. Noah sent out two doves from the ark to see if the flood waters had gone down and if it was safe to come out of the ark. The first dove returned empty, but the second dove returned with an olive spout in its beak (note the dove on the left has an olive branch, while the one on the right does not). The third dove Noah sent out did not return because it found dry land and then Noah knew it was safe to go out. In the Bible two doves were also used for sacrifice at the temple to redeem the firstborn son. Joseph and Mary presented two doves when they brought Jesus as an infant to the temple.

There are also two trees in the painting.
In Genesis 2, in the Garden of Eden, there were two trees; the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and were removed from the Garden before they could eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in sin and death.

In the last chapter of the Bible (Revelation 22) in the Apostle John’s vision of heaven, he writes of one tree in particular, which is The Tree of Life. The tree is so immense, that it appears on both sides of the River of water which flows from the Throne of the Lamb of God. This immense tree has leaves which are “leaves of healing for the nations.” In the paradise of heaven there is perfect healing, and eternal life.

Note also the abundant green grass upon which the Shepherd and the sheep stand. Heaven is the perfect restoration of the paradise of the Garden of Eden. The Good Shepherd has come to lead and to carry His sheep back into the green pastures of paradise where they “will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” as Psalm 23 concludes.

3. Parents’ Night Out: Last week our youth group hosted a dinner (and entertainment) for their parents in our fellowship hall. It was a wonderful evening together! About 60 parents and youth attended. Thank you Brandon for your ministry to our youth! Thank you to Peggy & Steve, Al & Kerry for your work in the kitchen! (see pictures below)

God bless you as we continue,

“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God”

Pastor Carlson

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