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Our Saviors Lutheran Church of Virginia, Minnesota News

give

She gave out of all she had. . .

Mark 12:38-44

38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” 41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

                Jesus’ words have constantly and consistently been a problem and an inconvenience to the elite/wealthy members of society ever since he spoke them. The Gospels are filled with stories showing Jesus comforting the conflicted and conflicting the comfortable. Jesus brilliantly sees through and beyond the surface and recognizes the actual intentions and character of rich and poor alike. Do we follow Jesus example? Do we hold people accountable to their actions that denigrate and oppress the voiceless? Do we hold ourselves accountable for participating in systems of greed and oppression?

For the past several weeks I’ve found myself thinking back to a day in early October when I was in Honduras. We were in the 15-passenger van travelling to El Buen Pastor Lutheran (Good Shepherd Lutheran) for worship on a Sunday morning. During the drive I notice several huge factories on the outskirts of town. Each factory contained 10,000 workers devoted to making name brand shoes and clothes. The workers earn 8 dollars per full day of work. Next to the factories were several 2 to 3 million dollar homes with big fences and heavily armed security guards patrolling the properties. It is not secret to anyone that the people who own those homes are connected with gangs, narco-trafficking, and/or corrupted government. Seeing such stark examples of elite/poor, greedy/humble, oppressor/oppressed I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ words. I do feel some comfort knowing that some day Jesus will right all these wrongs and bring into the fullness of Kingdom, but I am also impatient and upset that people are suffering now. But I am also encouraged that Jesus invites me and you into God’s powerful mission of sharing God’s love and peace with all. My wise Grandmother used to tell me that if I don’t like something instead of whining and complaining I should do something constructive to help change it.

Blessings~ Pr. Erik

Christmas Candlelight

Advent and Christ’s Arrival

 

  Luke 21:25-36

25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Blessed Advent everyone!

The future coming of Jesus Christ with glory and majesty is a big part of this weeks reading. We are at the first Sunday of the liturgical year, but our reading today builds upon and continues themes from previous weeks. Recently, we observed All Saints Day which focused on drawing all people, with special recognition of those who have recently passed away, into the body of the resurrected and ascended Christ. Promises made by God and promises kept by God are themes to diligently remember. We’ve also been talking about Apocalyptic texts which reassures the promises that God has made to God’s people in spite of the tragedy and oppression that the community faces. Last week was Christ the King Sunday which centers on one of Christ’s roles/offices which is King. Themes of Christ’s kingship extend into Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

Sunday’s gospel reading is located near the end of Luke’s gospel. Jesus tells his followers to be alert because redemption is drawing near are also words that we (people living in 2018) should also take to heart. Paying attention and being alert to the needs of our neighbors are super important. Being alert to what and where God is calling us to live our lives is our purpose. In short, Advent is a time to prepare for Christ’s arrival, and we prepare not by simply waiting, but by actively engaging in the world that God love so much.

With faith, hope, and love~ Pastor Erik

 

Rooted in Faith + Growing in Christ + Reaching to Serve

 

Christmas Rejoice

UPCOMING: Fun Events & Bible Study Times

News,  events & Christmas services:

 

Christmas Wreaths: You can make an order at the church on Sundays, or in the office Monday – Thursday, by Dec. 2nd. They will be distributed on Sunday, Dec. 9th. The cost is $20 and the proceeds will go to Youth Ministry.

  • Dec. 2nd, WELCA Bake Sale in the Fellowship Hall.  Also, in the evening, there will be a Lessons & Caroles Fest @ Gehtsemane 6pm.
  • Dec. 4th, Tuesday, Traditional Lutefisk & Meatball Dinner at Gethsemane, 3-7pm!
  • Dec. 7th  7pm, Choralaires Concert @OSLC, and they will be at Gethsemane Dec. 14th, 7pm.
  • Dec. 9th will be our Youth Christmas Program.
  • Dec. 12th Christmas Caroling – meet here at 5:45pm! All are invited~
  • Dec. 14th – Choralaires Concert @ Gethsemane, 7pm.
  • Dec. 20th there will be a Blue Christmas Service here @ 5pm.
  • Dec. 23rd there will be a Christmas Music Extravaganza during our regular worship time @ 9:30am.
  • Our Christmas Eve Service will be at 4:00pm. There will be services at Gethsemane at 3:30, 5:30, 10pm.
  • Messiah Lutheran’s Christmas Day Service will be at 10am.
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 Study meet at Rouchleau apartments.
  •  Tuesdays @ 9:30am & 1pm at OSLC:  The WELCA Circles meet @ OSLC.
  • Wednesdays at 7:30am: The Men’s  Breakfast & Study Group meets at Perkins in Mt. Iron.
  • Wednesdays @ 2pm: OSLC Bible Study is in the Fireside or youth room meets and is open to everyone!
  • Thursdays at 3pm: The Ladies Study @ Adventures Restaurant meets.
kids helping kids

Be Bold in Your Love. . .

Amos 2:7 5:24 and 6:4-6

2:7“they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals — they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way”

5:24  But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

6:4-6 Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; Who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; Who drink wine from bowl, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, But are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

                Whoa! Amos is being quite bold in his words. Some questions to ask ourselves today. What will God do in response to the cruelty and greed expressed by people? (Please read all of Amos and find out)

Is life today in 2018 much different than mid-700 B.C.? What is God going to do next?

We are going to read part of Amos this Sunday. I love Amos because of his bold courage and because of his deep concern and love for others. His concern and love are often overshadowed because of the harshness of his words, but his love is revealed by urging people to repent and lead humble and generous lives in order to avoid calamity.

A commentary by professor Elaine James helps to clarify. “As theologian James Cone writes, ‘Most theological treatments of God’s love fail to place the proper emphasis on God’s wrath, suggesting that love is completely self-giving without any demand for obedience. Bonhoeffer called this ‘cheap grace.’  1. God’s love demands righteousness, and breaches of God’s call to justice and love cause God grief. As Amos is keen to show us, God is not indifferent to human suffering, oppression, and injustice. Cone goes on: ‘The wrath of God is the love of God in regard to the forces opposed to liberation of the oppressed.’  2. God’s judgment, for Amos, is a manifestation of relationship with a living God, a God of passion who deeply cares.”

I hope everyone has a great week. Be bold in your love. Blessings~ Pastor Erik

Amos article

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3700

David and Goliath field 2

Goliath never stood a chance!

1 Samuel 17:32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”
45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down.”

Here are a few of the verses from the David vs Goliath story from 1 Samuel. It is an exciting Biblical story and it is one of the few Bible stories which most people (whether they attend church or not) are familiar with. People know this story because it seems like whenever there is a sports tournament the story of David vs Goliath is used as a metaphor to entice fans and the crowd into tuning in to watch the competition. The metaphor is used to describe what would appear to be an unfair or unbalanced match-up between the small/weak vs. the big/strong giving hope to the under-dog.

If we think more critically and theologically about this story, we will see that it is indeed the a match-up between the small/weak vs big/strong but not in the way the sports commentators have trained us to think. And the underdog does not win. In fact, big/strong wins. This is not a match-up between David and Goliath. It is a match-up between God and Goliath and Goliath never stood a chance. God is the victor.

If you ever feel like you are the underdog and have to face intimidating giants in your life, take notice of this story, because like David, you also come in the name of the Lord.

God Bless~Pastor Erik

Shovel in the ground, close-up.

God is calling you for something special. . .

Acts 2:17 “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.”

Last Sunday was Pentecost! It was a day of celebration for our congregation. We celebrated Peyton and Madison as they look towards college. We also celebrated the New Testament reading from Acts which described the coming of the Holy Spirit and how people from the early Christian church were given profound abilities to communicate with the people from the whole world about the good news of Christ.

Sometimes I hear from people that they can’t fully participate in the life of the congregation because they are… too old, too young, too new, too busy, too… These verses from Pentecost teach us that we are all worthy and equipped to participate in God’s Kingdom. Nobody is too old or too young. Men, women, rich and poor- all people have something to contribute to God’s mission. Regardless of your status in life, God is calling you for something special.  What is God calling you to?

Keep up the Good Work you do. Your fellow servant of Christ~ Pastor Erik

bless this mess 2

Bless this Mess!

God Will Bless the Mess

One of the joys I have as pastor is that I am invited into peoples’ homes for conversation, communion, and relationship building. I like learning about others, hearing their story, and sharing my story. In addition to conversation, I learn about other people by taking notice of what people hang on their walls—photographs, art, souvenirs, and folky sayings. One of my favorite hangings is one that simply says, “Bless This Mess.” I can relate to that phrase well, and if you’ve recently visited my house, or especially my office lately, you’d agree. It seems like I live in a constant state of messiness.

There are so many reasons why homes and offices become untidy, disordered, and messy. Some reasons are fun and positive — children who make a mess are often so excited for the next project or event that things are not cleaned up first. Messiness can be proof that things are happening, and life is being lived. However, the reasons for a mess can also be upsetting and painful—poor health, financial distress, broken relationships unhealthy conflict. Sometimes a messy office or home reveals a troubled heart or mind.

I am confident in saying that everyone’s life is messy to some degree. I am also confident in saying that God will bless the mess. Stacks of dirty dishes in the sink means there was a recent meal with laughter shared by friends and loved ones. That is a blessing from God. Muddy footprints on the carpet mean someone had a great time splashing in the puddles on the sidewalk or playing in the yard. That is a blessing from God.  Or, neglected chores and housework can be a result of illness, depression, or loneliness. God sees the mess, hears the cries, dries the tears, brings hope of healing, meaning, and fulfillment. God calls you to notice the harsh messiness of the world and respond with grace and mercy, and blessing.

Have a blessed summer~ Pastor Erik

Shovel in the ground, close-up.

Projects. . .

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

My parents, especially my Dad, loves gardening. When I was 9 years old my family moved to a home with a big backyard in Colorado Springs, CO. The first project that my family and I did together at our new house that year was to completely remodel and reorganize the backyard into a serious flower and vegetable garden. We built huge raised bed gardens, pulled out overgrown shrubs, planted trees, hauled rocks and pavers, and put in new grass. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. Every year since then my Dad plants flowers and vegetables in ever square inch of the garden.

This past weekend, my family and I put together some raised bed gardens at our house. It has been something we’ve looked forward to for many years. Previously, we’ve always lived in an apartment where couldn’t have a garden. It was so much fun to put everything together. I hope Nozomi and Ronin had as much fun gardening as I did when I was a kid.  During our project, we were constantly thinking about what we should do to have the healthiest and most productive plants. Which materials should we use? Where should we put the raised beds in order to get the most life-giving sunshine? Which soil ingredients do we need to use to have the most nutritious soil? How is gardening in Northern Minnesota different than Colorado? Lots to think about and lots to do, as well as lots of happy memories and eager expectation about future harvests.

Throughout the project, as a pastor, I realized I am constantly asking these same types of questions about church. Like my garden, I want Our Savior’s to be as healthy and productive as possible. Like a garden, the question is how best to engage with resources we have. I know the church’s best resource is the people. The best resource is you. You are uniquely talented and skilled, and your talents and participation are greatly needed and always greatly appreciated.

One of the most important and impactful things you can do to nurture the congregation into continued health and productivity is to talk about the fulfilling and meaningful ministries that take place here with your friends, family, and neighbors. Then to invite them to come and see for themselves the magnificent things God is doing here.  To help you gain confidence and comfortability in speaking about what God is doing, here are some sentence prompts which I encourage you to complete. Also, I would love to hear about what you write and how other people have responded to you.

When I talk to other people about Our Saviors, I say ___________________________

One thing that is different now than when I was a kid is ________________________

I hope the church will start _______________________________________________

I’m Lutheran because

___________________________________________________

My favorite part of Sunday worship is ______________________________________

I go to church on a week day to ___________________________________________

As always, it is a joy, honor and privilege to worship with you and to serve as your pastor.

I am always available to you and open to hear your questions, comments and suggestions.

Faithfully yours~  Pastor Erik