Category Archives: Worship

bwca-gull-lake (5)

Ecclesiastes 5:18

Ecclesiastes 5:18

This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot.

Wow, it is August! How did that happen? Is it just me or does it seem like the summer has flown by? Last May I wrote a list of all the things I want to do, places to see and house projects to complete during the summer… I still have a long way to go on my list. In reality, I haven’t achieved much on my list because this summer has been quite busy at church. But, busy is generally a good thing. Busy means that the Spirit is active and energized. My busy life received a wake-up call today when I read a daily devotional that my friend sent me. I read the book of Ecclesiastes. (I encourage you to read this book now before continuing with the newsletter. It is only 11 pages)

Ecclesiastes was written by a wise teacher. A teacher who reflects upon their life shares words of advice. The teacher realizes that many years were spent striving after riches, success, accomplishments, and even wisdom is like chasing after the wind. The teacher says that constant striving doesn’t bring fulfillment or meaning to life, and that life is meant to be enjoyed.

In the devotional, my friend reminded me that when I read Ecclesiastes to read it like it was written to me personally from a friend, from someone who knows me and knows what I need to hear. I suggest you do the same. When you read it, take it as encouragement to occasionally step back from the work of life. To take it as permission to leave your work, even if just for a moment, and to step out under the sun – after all it is August and the days are getting shorter every day. Ecclesiastes reminds us to accept God’s invitation to sabbath, as an invitation to rest.

These Holy words have been a major help to me this week and month. Summer is almost over, and it should be enjoyed and spent surrounded by loved ones. September is going to bring lots of exciting youth ministries and other activities, and we are going to need to be well-rested.

Your co-worker in Christ- Pastor Erik

 

Bible study 3

Bible Study Times

We have various Bible Studies that are ongoing @ OSLC. You can check out one of these listed below, or stop by the office for a little more info about the topics being studied or who to get in contact with if you would like to try one out.

  • Mondays @ 2pm: The Rouchleau Women’s Weekly Study meets at Rouchleau apartments.
  • Third Tuesday of the month @ 9:30am & 1pm at OSLC:  The WELCA Circles meet @ OSLC.
  • Wednesdays at 7:30am: The Men’s  Breakfast & Study Group meets weekly at Perkins in Mt. Iron.
  • Wednesdays @ 2pm: OSLC  Weekly Bible Study is in the Fireside or youth room meets and is open to everyone!
  • Thursdays at 3pm: The Ladies Weekly Study @ Adventures Restaurant meets.
bwca-gull-lake (5)

Pentecost and the Holy Spirit in Your Life

Acts 2:1-21
1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17 “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
John 14:8-17, [25-27]
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
[25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.]

This week I would like to try something new with the weekly witness. Instead of simply telling you what I think of the reading, I would like to hear from you. Below are three discussion questions. Please ponder them and tell me what you think. You can email me at pastorerik@oslcmn.com or even better- stop by the church and we’ll share some coffee and chat about the Holy Spirit.

Discussion Questions for Pentecost
Amazed. Perplexed. Witness to deeds of power. When have you had a Pentecost experience? (Acts 2:1-21)

When have you, like Philip, yearned for a sign so that you can believe with confidence? (John 14:8-12)

How is the spirit being poured out in your own life and in your congregation? (Acts 2:17-19)

(http://www.workingpreacher.org/)

_Large (5)_Moment

A Challenging Love

John 14:23-29

23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

                Last week we focused on the “new commandment” that Jesus spoke of in John 13:34 “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” I interpret this weeks Gospel reading from John 14 in light of John 13. Therefore, when Jesus instructs Judas (not Iscariot) that the keeping of Jesus’ word is connected to the love of the Father together with the mutual indwelling of Jesus and the Father with the disciple. So, loving each other just as Jesus modeled his love for people is what we are understanding verse 23 to be about. Again, this love that Jesus is commanding is agape love. It is not romantic (eros) love. It is brotherly/friendship love (philia). It is a self-giving, humbling, servant, promise of unconditional welcoming and acceptance type of love.

For me, this scripture is extremely upsetting and challenging and I worry that I can’t live up to this expectation. In fact, I know I can’t. However, I am greatly relieved and calmed by verse 26 because in it Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to be my guide, teacher and advocate. By naming the Holy Spirit as a teacher, Jesus acknowledges that he knows I still have more to learn and that “I’m not there yet.” So, of course I am upset and challenged, as I suspect most of you are to because at the moment, I am not equipped to fulfill this expectation. But I will be because of the Spirit’s promise. And you will be too.

Your co-worker in Christ~ Pastor Erik

_Large (2)_Moment(2)

“. . .If You Have Love for One Another”

“. . .If you have love for one another.” 

John 13:31-35 Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,  if you have love for one another.”

This Sunday’s gospel reading is commonly known as the “love commandment.” Interestingly, Jesus declares that he has a “new” commandment for the disciples. However, the commandment “love one another” is not new. It is a solid Old Testament theme that has been a foundation of the faith for many generations. Leviticus 19:18 states, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Also, Leviticus 19:34 “The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God”
So, in what sense is this new commandment to love one another new? Identifying the context of John 13 is helpful. John 13:1-21 is the depiction of Jesus portraying servant leadership by washing the feet of the disciples. Jesus is modeling love by humbling himself and serving rather than being served. Therefore, serving others is what love is. Then in John 13: 21-31, Jesus foretells his betrayal by Judas. This betrayal sets in motion the arrest, sentence, humiliation, crucifixion, and ultimately the death of Jesus. Wow. Judas has done immense evil and caused terrible pain. Jesus knew all along what Judas would do, but he still included him in the foot washing. So, Jesus models the act of love to include forgiveness and mercy. As if that is not enough John 13:36-38 is Jesus’ prediction that Peter will deny Jesus three times. So, Jesus’ love is even abundantly given to those who cowardly deny knowing him.
Loving others who are kind, gentle and loyal is easy. Jesus commands his followers to move above and beyond the easy and convenient life. Loving others who have betrayed us, caused pain, abandoned us, and live a life of greed and self-service what we are called to do. No, simple task, and we can’t do it alone. In order to lead a loving life we need to support of each other. We need to worship and be part of a community. We need to hear over and over again that we are loved, blessed and forgiven by God. We need to know that every day, through the gift of baptism, we are born-again and can start fresh.

God’s Love~ Pastor Erik

 

blessed1

Blessed & Overjoyed

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I hope your summer is going well. It is hard to believe August is already upon us. The past two weeks went by especially quick. I was able to spend a week visiting my family in WI as well as attend a conference at Luther Seminary entitled “Rethinking Stewardship- from solemn obligation to inspired choice.” Playing card and board games into the wee hours of the morning with my family, picking cherries with Nozomi and Ronin, enjoying nature, and watching sunrises and sunsets over the harbor were the highlights of my vacation. I am also looking forward to sharing with you what I learned at the rethinking stewardship conference. I feel like the past two weeks have refreshed by soul.

I am very grateful for the past two weeks because congregational life for the foreseeable future is shaping up to be busy and eventful. Notably, a priority for us is to find a new person to direct our youth and family ministries. We surely miss Meagan, but we excitedly await the unique gifts and talents of our next colleague in Christ. We currently have several advertisements about the position, and we are hopeful to fill the position soon. If an intriguing person comes to mind, please encourage that person to check out all the details about the position from our website or give the church office a call. I am confident in God’s guidance and joyfully looking forward to where the Holy Spirit leads us next. In the meantime, I ask for your prayers, patience and continued participation in the congregation.

I also want to use this month’s newsletter to share with you my thoughts about the ELCA churches here in the Quad Cities. For many years, there has been interest and conversation about churches collaborating in shared ministry as well as even merging together. Because merging together is a very serious subject, and there are lots of emotions and details involved I want to be as open and straight forward as possible. Interest in having these conversations and working together to develop proposals has recently been renewed. To be clear, so far there haven’t been any formal conversations about merging. I invite OSLC into an intentional time of prayer and discernment about hopes, dreams and goals. I’d like to frame this discernment in terms of stewardship. A theological point to make is the church and all its resources belongs to God. God has called us and entrusted us to use, manage, and share God’s resources as efficiently as possible.  We are guided by the Holy Spirit-and God continuously invites us to participate with God in God’s mission.

Your thoughts and feedback are valuable and needed. Please share them with me. I will keep the congregation informed if any formal conversations are scheduled.

I am so blessed to be part of this loving community of faith. I am overjoyed and honored to be called to serve as your pastor, and I am excited to see what God will do next. Enjoy the rest of the summer.      Enjoy your family and friends and God’s beautiful creation.

Your fellow servant in Christ~ Pastor Erik

NewYear-NewYou-header

A New year. . .

 

Jeremiah 29:11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me.

Happy New Year! I hope this newsletter finds you all well. I hope everyone had a Christmas filled with wonder, peace and cheer. Last month, the church was busy and full of activity. I want to send a special thank you to all of you for your prayers, participation, generosity and faithfulness during the Christmas season. The things you do and the love you share are very much appreciated.

Even though I am a bit melancholy because I must wait and entire 11 months until Advent/Christmas comes again, I am excited about events that are coming up this next year. Specially, welcoming new members on Jan. 20 and making congregation plans at the annual meeting on Jan 27th. Also in January, we are going to start fund raising for a renovation project in the West Wing Conference Room. Currently, there are over a dozen groups that meet in the west wing during the week. All these groups are focused on helping others flourish in life and making the world a better place. I counted all the people who participate in these groups and I found that the West Wing Conference Room is the most used room in our building (including the sanctuary on Sunday morning). Given the high use of the room and the positive impact of the groups who use the room, the church council and I thought it would be an effective use of God’s resources to show the individuals who use the room how much they are cared for by making it more functional and intentional. Specifically, we plan on putting in new upper and lower cabinets and a countertop. There has already been some needed and appreciated plumbing work done.  Please consider making a donation to help with this project. Designate your giving, “West Wing Conference Room Renovation.” Thank you.

This January I am also celebrating our amazing confirmation program. OSLC is hosting confirmation for the month. If you would like to help prepare the Wednesday evening meal for the kids, your participation is welcome and needed. There is so much positivity, learning, and relationship building happening with our young people.

On January 10th at 2 PM there will be a meeting in the fireside room for anyone interested in joining the next Honduras trip. The trip will be a week after Easter for 8 days. I am really looking forward to the next trip, we are going to be focused on visiting as many of the worshiping communities in Honduras (and eating lots of tamales). I am very proud that OSLC reflects in our church constitution our passion and commitment in supporting local, state, national, and global ministries.

I also want to update everyone about what the OMG (Our Saviors, Messiah, Gethsemane) committee has been discussing lately. Now, we are just looking at our calendars to find times and ways to worship and enjoy fellowship with each other. We anticipate a shared mid-week Lent and Holy Week (week before Easter) worship.

Your co-worker in Christ- Pastor Erik

 

lent-image-feature (2)

UPCOMING: Lent and Easter Information

OMG is the trio of three ELCA Churches in the Virginia & Mt. Iron area that are sharing services and events ~                                                    Our Savior’s Lutheran, Messiah Lutheran, and Gethsemane Lutheran churches have teamed up to provide the following services for you to attend during Lent. We hope you find it convenient to come worship with us!

OMG Lenten and Holy Week Services & Events

OMG Fat Tuesday Pancake Dinner @ Gethsemane Lutheran:              Address: Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 901 4th St S, Virginia, MN. Time: 5-7pm                                                                                                                     This Dinner is Open to everyone! A freewill offering will be taken to benefit Quad Cities Food Shelf – funds collected are matched by Minnesota Food Share!

Ash Wednesday Services –With Holy Communion & Ashes:
March 6th:  12:00pm, and  6pm Soup Dinner,  followed by                        6:45pm Worship.  At Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Virginia.

Wednesday Lent Soup Dinner  &  Worship with Communion
Each week will host a 6:oopm Meal & 6:45 Worship                               
March 13  – Gethsemane Lutheran (address above)
March  20 – Our Savior’s Lutheran, 1111 8th St. South, Virginia
March 27 – Our Savior’s Lutheran
April 3 – Messiah, 8590 Enterprise Drive, Mountain Iron
April 10  – Messiah Lutheran

Holy Week Services& Events 

April 18th Maundy Thursday:  There will be 2 Seder Meals at Messiah Lutheran- Confirmation students on April 17th, and an RSVP event Apr. 18th, with a Foot Washing service. Call the church for details or to reserve a seat for the Seder Meal.
April 19   Good Friday Services: 12:00pm & 6:30 pm  Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Virginia.

Easter Services:  9:00 & 10:45am  Gethsemane Lutheran                  9:30 Our Savior’s Lutheran  and     10:00 Messiah Lutheran

 

Sunday Sermon – Brenda Tibbetts, AiM

6th SUNDAY after PENTACOST – Year C

July 20, 2014 – OSLC, Virginia, MN

TEXTS: Isaiah 44:6-8; Psalm 86:11-17; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

THEMES: Is. – “Do not fear or be afraid,” says the Lord. “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god – there is no other rock, I know not one.” Ps. – “Great is your steadfast love toward me…you, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and be gracious to me, give your strength to your servant…” Rom. – “We know that the whole of creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; …For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Mt. – “Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers…let anyone with ears listen!”

 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope, we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God..” Romans 8:22-27 Let us pray…

OPENING PRAYER:

Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, grace and peace. Amen.

Today let us choose and cling to hope. Hope in the God who is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and searches the heart…

In light of the news coming out from Gaza, Ukraine, Niger, Pakistan, Syria, and other war-torn places of violence, it is “easy” (and tempting) to claim we know for certain where those weeds of destruction have been planted in God’s global field. It is easy to spot those glaring human rights violations, condemning “their” actions and give labels to groups. Derogatory labeling makes others “less human” while at the same time labeling the opposition with names of gallantry makes group “more than human”. Yesterday’s Freedom Fighters become today’s rebel insurgents. What will they be called tomorrow? The labels are dependent on which group matches your personal political viewpoint.

Killing innocent children I the air or on the beach while hiding behind launching pads or walls is just plain wrong. I think we would all agree – it ought to provoke a global humanitarian outcry. Yes, we are very astute in spotting the enemy’s weeds growing in God’s global field.

But just how astute are we, in spotting the weeds of destruction and disharmony in our own country, in our own community, or even in our own lives and relationships? What seems good and harmless on the outside may not always match the intent of the heart. And we too often judge one another based on outward appearances.

Where are the weeds of divisiveness allowed to grow alongside the wheat? Or the weeds of envy, anger, lack of self-control, addictions, untruthfulness or unwillingness to forgive? Where do we launch destructive rockets through our words, our texts or our postings? Are these weeds in our lives recognizable to others who look out at the fields of our faith community?

“Parables are designed to shake us up. They make us look at the world in a different way. If it makes us ‘uneasy’, the parables have done their work.” (Amy-Jill Levine)

It is always far easier and far more comfortable to look at the world’s field’s rather than our own. Yes, it is wrong to shoot rockets at innocent children – no matter where they are; but what about those children coming across our own southern-most borders? Are we to label them “What” or “Weeds”? Again, often according to personal political affiliation? The fact remains – they are children, for God’s sake!, and these children deserve to be treated compassionately and as reflections of God’s own image.

When parables make us uneasy, they are doing what they were intended to do – make us take a second look at our lives. Indeed, the Word of God is living and active and it does something in us.

I won’t even begin to say that I have a clue as to how the border situation should be handled – any more than I would have the wisdom to say how nations should respond to the other acts of violence taking place in the world. When innocent children are involved, it is complex – and it should be compelling us to prayer and action.

The news headlines flash for the purpose of selling and titillating until the next big headline comes along…Yet, I wonder how I would react if I were in those places dealing with violence every day. Have you ever done that? Wondered what you would do it those were your children? As a parent in north Minneapolis, Chicago, Ukraine, Gaza, Jerusalem, Honduras, Guatemala, Nigeria – what would I do to protect my children? To what lengths would you or I go to keep them safe and provide for them their daily needs, education…and most importantly, hope? All of a sudden, the news stories are seen in a different light. I’m not sure I would be able to tell the wheat apart for the weeds. All of a sudden, I recognize news of violence is closer to home.

One spring, I was over-zealous in weeding my garden. As a result, I lost a bunch of my favorite Monarda (or Bee Balm) plants just beginning to poke out of the group. It taught me to be more patient in letting them grow so I could indeed, tell the difference between those flower seedlings and the weeds. That’s what Jesus was talking about in this parable. We aren’t the ones to make those distinctions. Jesus tells us justice will come – in God’s time. But justice (or lasting peace for that matter) does not happen without judgment. And the good news is, we are not the judge.

We live in the “meantime” of planting and harvest. We are called to grow in God’s hope, mercy and steadfast love now. We are called to share those crops of God’s love with one another now.

Perhaps you have seen field upon field of sunflower plants. It’s a gorgeous sight – the bright flowers lifting their multi-colored faces to the sky…following the movement of the sun. We are called to be like that in the fields God has planted us in. Blossoms of hope that follow God’s Son bringing light and hope to God’s global fields struggling against the invasive weeds of destruction.

As we bathe in the light of God’s love and soak up nourishment rooted in the soil of God’s word, we can help strengthen others to continue to meet Jesus and to follow the living Christ, whose love is stronger than death…We can prayer and encourage others to pray back the enemy’s weeds in order to bear witness to the world, to our community, to our homes – that God’s peace, mercy, and Shalom will ultimately be a reality for all of God’s people God is worthy of our hope and our trust.

Today we chose and cling to hope. We celebrate the gift of new life and hope in the baptism of Conner this morning. We say Yes to God’s gift of forgiveness and new life in the meal to which Jesus invites  us. We claim the promise given in God’s word – “Do not be afraid. I am with you always…the Spirit helps us in our weakness – interceding on our behalf, and on behalf of the world and all creation, with sighs too deep for words.” Share the hope! Thanks be to God. Amen.

Let us pray: “O Lord God, where hearts of fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams” We ask this in the name of the One who himself, bears the marks of human violence and overcomes the powers of darkness, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (ELW p. 76)