Meet Our Pastor 

Pastor Dan Murray grew up in Livonia, and was an active member of St. Paul’s youth group during that time.  He went on to study at Concordia University, Ann Arbor in the pre-seminary program, and then attended seminary at Fort Wayne.  He did his vicarage at the dual parish of Grace Lutheran Church in Neligh, NE, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin, NE.  During his fourth year at the seminary, he married Julia, who he had met at Concordia. 

During his first call to St. John Lutheran Church in Cleveland, OH, they had their first son, Benjamin.  Samuel, their second son, was born as the Murray family was preparing to move to Chatham, ON, Canada, for Pastor Dan’s second call.  From there, the Murrays moved to the Chicago area where Pastor Dan served the dual parish of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Alsip, IL and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Whiting, IN.  The COVID pandemic lead to a decline at the congregations, and a pastor could no longer be supported, so Pastor Dan recently moved back to Michigan, where he has been working as a hospice chaplain. 

Pastor Dan now serves as the pastor of the dual parish of Hosanna-Tabor, Redford, and Immanuel, Dearborn Heights.

Pastor’s Notes
February 2023

by Pastor Dan Murray

This year, Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday fall in February. In other words, Lent is looming on the horizon. What does Lent
really mean, though?

Lent is traditionally the season when we think about sacrifice. If you were to go around and ask people on the street what Lent is about, they’d probably say something about giving things up. Maybe, they’d bring up some Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras tradi- tion. Some might talk about the old practice of not eating meat. After all, giving up meat for Lent is where the word “carnival” originates, from the Latin expression, “carne vale” meaning, “goodbye, meat!”

Fasting and hardship are certainly strong themes in Lent. Lent has long been a time of various kinds of fasts. Just as Advent takes us to the desert with John the Baptist and we get a little taste of his austere life there, Lent takes us to the wilderness where Christ fasted and was tempted. In fact, Lent first began as a ritual to gain some insight into just how tough Christ’s fast of 40 days and 40 nights really was. Of course, most people would starve to death in about 30
days of no food and three days of no water. Christ essentially performed a miracle so that His temptation could be all the more powerful, as He hovered on the edge of death. As a result, the custom of Lent always included the provision that those fasting could drink whatever fluids they needed. It was also decreed that Sundays weren’t actually a part of Lent, so normal eating would be allowed once a week, whether participants in the fast were going completely without food as the monks did, or simply abstaining from meat.

Certainly, we do discuss Christ’s hardship on the way to the Cross during Lent. We look at the sorrows and pains he suffered on our behalf, because of our sin. Maybe we can even find a certain joy, or at least a release in this sort of penitential focus. First of all, He took our punishment
in our place, which is an enormous relief. Beyond that, those who struggle with great guilt might feel a sense of release spending 40 days looking at what afflicts them, and what Christ did to take that guilt away. Those who suffer from great sadness might feel relieved to think of Christ mourning with them. Some people might feel comforted to hear that Christ loves them so much, He was willing to go through horrible things on their behalf. Some are simply bewildered that anyone would find anything positive in hearing so much about suffering, and wonder why anyone would want a celebration of such gloomy things.

So, where does that leave us for Lent? Well, Martin Luther says in the Small Catechism, “Prayer and fasting are certainly fine outward training.” If we take on some hardship, we get a greater understanding of what Christ went through for us. We also start to understand better what others go through. Part of the reason that the prohibition on eating meat during Lent was enacted in the Middle Ages was the fact that most people could not afford meat during the Middle Ages. The church considered it important that the nobility of Europe understand what their subjects experienced on a regular basis. This is tied closely to the idea that we make these sacrifices in order to make us better servants for those around us. If we understand what our neighbor is going through, we are better able to help. We are also more likely to help. After all, even today, there are many people throughout the world who struggle with finding enough to eat.

We no longer make sacrifices in a temple because of Christ’s sacrifice for us on the Cross, but we are still called to make sacrifices. Fasting and praying, yes, but also giving and helping those who need us. We are called to consider the poor, the lonely, the disabled, the hurting, those who are sick or in prison and can’t get out and around, those who just need a friend sometimes. At the end of the day, that’s what Lent is really about. We are called to have a self-sacrificing love for our neighbor, because that’s the kind of love Christ had for us.

Pastor Murray