Since Pastor Susan announced her resignation in November, OSLC’s church council and executive committee have been working closely with the synod to identify leadership to guide our congregation into the next phase of our congregation’s ministry. We are excited to welcome Pastor Paul Lutter as our Interim Sr. Pastor. Pastor Paul began his ministry with us Dec. 1st. Here is a message from him:
Finding Hope in Unique Places
Several years ago, when I was about to move from my parents’ home in Cloquet to college in Bemidji, I was asked to go through my collection of things and decide what I was going to keep and what I wouldn’t. This was a task I was dreading; it seemed pointless. “Just give it all away,” I told my mom. She was not having it. “Maybe you should keep this stuff. I mean, when I become famous, you can make a fortune on my drawings from elementary school.” She knew, of course, that on the off chance that I was to become famous, it wouldn’t be for the stick figures drawn with crooked crayoned lines that adorned sheets of colored construction paper. “Do it,” she said. I wondered to myself why I was pushing back on this rather simple request. Underneath the complaining and procrastinating, I noticed that I was a little overwhelmed by what I might find – and what I might remember in the process. Underneath it all, I was amazed at what memories were unearthed. Through it all, I was amazed at the gratefulness that washed over me for all that had been. Through it all, I was amazed by how hopeful I felt for what was yet to come. Through it all, I was amazed by the ways that I found hope in unique places I didn’t expect by just giving myself to the experience, the process.
Hope comes in ways we cannot expect, through experiences we might think we are going to dread but end up being full of grace, alongside those whom we didn’t realize were our companions along the way. Wherever we are, God is with us. Wherever God is, there is hope.
There is hope. God is with us. God is coming to us.
In the season of Advent, we lean into this hope with patient expectation. We wait for the hope to become flesh in our lives and life together. We have no idea how this hope will find us. All this waiting and hoping – as wonderful and grace-filled as they are – can overwhelm, can unsettle us. While we long to gather at the manger, to sing alongside the choirs of angels with unbridled joy at the birth of the Christ-child, we may wonder and worry at what comes in between now and then. While hope is the signature of this season – and of our lives in Christ Jesus – we may feel a bit unsettled, a bit uncertain, and more than a little overwhelmed.
There is hope. God is with us.
Added to the uncertainty of this season for some of you, dear members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, is the news that Pastor Susan Swanson has taken another call. You may wonder what comes next. You may wonder where God is during this new season in your life together. In this season of Advent, it is possible that some of you feel even just a little bit hopeless. All of this is completely understandable. Grieving the loss of a pastor is real grief; attending to the process of healing honors both the time and
impact of Pastor Susan’s ministry in the congregation and community and the mission and ministry of the congregation.
There is hope.
Recently, your Church Council and I met to discern what God might be calling Our Savior’s to in this new season. Through a very gracious and hopeful conversation, we discerned that God was calling me to come to Our Savior’s as your Interim Senior Pastor. I will start my work among you on December 1, though I will first get to meet you on Sunday, December 4, when I preach and preside at the Sunday morning worship service.
I am honored and overjoyed to be serving among you. This is neither my first time as an interim pastor nor as a senior pastor; I have served two congregations as a senior pastor, and five congregations as an interim pastor. I have also been a solo pastor, a Lutheran campus pastor and a college professor. I have served congregations of all sizes in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. I love being a pastor, a call I heard first at Camp Vermillion when I was a camper. Later, as a camp counselor at Voyageur’s Lutheran Ministry, and a participant in Lutheran Campus Ministry, I heard the call even more vibrantly. I look forward to hearing your story, and to sharing together with you in faith and life.
There is hope. Truly.
Let me assure you of this. And because there is hope, we aren’t going to spend this time of interim doing work that you’ve already accomplished so well through the excellent Transition Task Force whose report still speaks so well, even over a year after their initial work. Instead, and in addition to the regular work of a pastor at Our Savior’s, I’ve been asked to give myself to four key areas of focus – and I will be inviting you into this work alongside of me as well – in our life together:
- Community Building
- Long Range Planning
Together, by God’s grace, let’s lean into hope!
Rev. Paul Lutter, Interim Senior Pastor