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Our Saviors Lutheran Church of Virginia, Minnesota News

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500 Food Shelf Items

As we climb “500 Steps” towards a stronger financial future, let’s serve our neighbors and collect 500 non-perishable items for the Food Shelf!

Brought to you by the newly formed Hunger and Justice Team.  Follow us on Facebook (Hunger and Justice group at the OSLCMN Facebook page) or sign up on the Mission & Ministry board in the narthex.

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100 Steps of “500 Steps Up” Goal

We are excited to share that together we’ve raised $3,000 (100 Steps) toward our $15,000 (500 Steps Up) matching goal! We thank everyone who gives so generously of their resources and time to build, strengthen, and share the ministries of our congregation!

There is still time to give before the Dec. 31st deadline. Click here to make a donation, or continue reading to learn more about this exciting appeal.

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will be glad and rejoice in it.”  Psalm 118:24

Dear Faithful Friends,

Thank you, thank you for all you do.  Our Savior’s Lutheran Church has so much for which to be grateful.  As a congregation, we have some exciting steps ahead in our Christian journey.

OSLC has been strengthened with Colleen Brown serving as our secretary.  And have you noticed all the children in worship?  Our Youth Director Meagan Esterby continues to ignite energy in young people throughout our community.  We are very blessed with a renewed caring spirit through many of our evangelical ministries.  When we join together each step of the way, we really do make a difference.

As the Call Committee continues their mission identifying our next pastor, we remain confident that God is guiding our church family.  We give thanks for the blessing of Bridge Pastor Joyce Piper, as she walks with us in Christian mission.

Yet there are concerns because the financial picture is less bountiful.  Currently OSLC is approaching the maximum amount allowed to borrow.   The Finance Ministry Team has come up with an appeal to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation.  We’re calling it “500 Steps Up”.  This opportunity takes 500 steps up a “mountain” to reach a goal of $15,000 at the top.  An anonymous donor has committed to match donations, up to $15,000, given through December 31st towards this “500 Steps Up” appeal!  This means dollar for dollar, all “500 Steps Up” donations will be doubled!  With this challenge, OSLC will be able to repay the line-of-credit and put us on a strong financial footing for the New Year!  Please note these matching funds do not include regular giving to the general fund, which is also greatly needed.

Heartfelt thanks to all of you for giving so faithfully of your time, talents & resources.  There will be a poster in the narthex showing the progress we make in donations towards the “500 Steps Up” appeal.  If you are able to give towards this challenge, please designate on the memo line of your check to “500 Steps Up” or click here to make your special “500 Steps Up” offering online.

In Christ’s Love and Peace,

Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Council and The Finance Ministry Team

Nathan LeBeque, President

Charlie Baribeau, Treasurer

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Sunday Sermon – Pr. Joyce

1502435_488720847898065_5065822072428423218_o (1)Matthew 21:33-46 / Isaiah 5:1-7

It has NOT been a quiet week in Lake Woe-be-Gone.  It has been another heartbreaking week in Lake Woe-is-With-us!

News of yet another senseless massacre of innocent folks sickens us.  We are so weary of violent news that reminds us there are too many lost souls with big weapons and no regard for life.  Our vineyard is very messed up if it’s not safe to attend a concert, a movie, a nightclub, a prayer meeting in church, go to school, or walk down a street for pedestrians only.

At Wednesday confirmation we closed our devotion time with a lament from Psalm 13:  How long O Lord?!   How long will you forget us?  How long must we have pain in our souls and sorrow in our hearts?  We are living in a time of lament along with the psalmist.

Our scriptures from Isaiah 5 and Matthew 21 assure us that God is crying also.  The fallen state of our humanity is nothing new and God’s response to violence, greed, murder, and injustice is consistent.  God condemns wickedness and never stops pursuing all of humanity with an invitation to love others as we have been loved by God.

The vineyard love-song from Isaiah 5 is a vision of paradise lost again during the 8th century before Christ, nearly 3000 years ago, give or take a couple centuries.  The nations of Israel and Judah were God’s chosen people, given a Promised Land known as the Fertile Crescent.  The vineyard love-song becomes God’s lament in these verses and the verses that follow.  The vineyard has produced noxious/poisonous fruit rather than fine wine.  God changes his tune from “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.”  What starts as a love song changes into God’s lament over his people who amass property at the expense of others, who ignore hunger among neighbors in their midst, who speak falsely calling evil good and good evil, who take bribes and deprive the innocent of their rights.  In summary in vs 7, God expected justice (mishpat) but saw bloodshed (mishpakh); expected righteousness (tsedaqah) but heard a cry (tse’aqah).  The Hebrew words that sound almost identical but have entirely opposite meaning capture the betrayal that God feels from the people God has loved and given everything.

Fast forward 800 years and Matthew’s gospel shares another devastating vineyard story.  This parable is in the section of Matthew after Jesus has entered Jerusalem, attacked the corrupt leadership of the Temple and continues to confront the chief priests and Pharisees for their lack of faithfulness.  We know how that story ends.  Jesus will die for speaking truth in the face of injustice.  The wicked tenants will kill the son just as this parable foreshadows.  A couple weeks ago Matthew’s parable revealed life isn’t always fair.  This parable is just downright mean and nasty with violence and judgment.

Here’s a sidebar comment:  I get a little nervous about delving into these scriptures that carry condemnation of the wicked, because the scriptures have far too often been used throughout history in judgmental ways.  People sometimes take the place of God and use scripture as a hammer to condemn their enemies and condone further violence.   These scriptures are meant to bring conviction against injustice, but conviction against hardened hearts needs to not just be about “those people” out there but starting right here . . . what’s my part in this nasty state of affairs and what am I going to do about it?

Lament is a necessary response to darkness and evil, but it can also go in unproductive directions that lead to dead-ends.  Judging others without taking one’s own personal steps to remedy a situation is a dead-end.  Giving up entirely is another dark temptation.  I get it.  I understand the helpless feeling of senseless death. A real gut punch.

Last week a gifted young pastor in St. James, MN and dear friend of all who knew her died a few days after a routine gall bladder surgery.  The complications of an artery being nicked during surgery may never be completely understood.  How could THAT happen?!  In any case Pr. Maggie Lux Cumings, died at age 37 and has left behind in this earthly life her husband of 11 years and two children ages 8 and 4 years old.  Maggie’s last name at birth, Lux, means light in Latin.  And throughout her all-too-short lifetime she lived up to her name as her obituary describes her as “effervescent, wise, witty, comforting and irrepressibly cheerful.”  She was the life of the party or worship or even at long, planning meetings for synod assemblies, not as the center of attention, but because she included everyone and just made things happen in delightful ways.

Our vineyard is indeed a mess.  We are messed up.  And lo and behold, God loves messed up people.  God does not stop going into seemingly hopeless situations.  Over and over again in our parable, the landowner keeps sending in more resources, even his beloved son whom they killed. 

The builders rejected the cornerstone . . . Jesus was crucified.  But death did not have the last word and never will.  Rock/paper/scissors!  Life conquers death.  Love overcomes hatred.

So let’s embrace the lament, but let’s not get stuck in judging others or paralyzed by fear.  God never gives up on us and all things are possible through God’s love.

Pr. Maggie was a fine writer and fortunately maintained a blog, so her legacy of sermons and reflections carry on.  So here are some words from Pr. Maggie’s blog during the past year as she continues to preach to all of us with the last words of this sermon:

“Let’s be gentle with each other.  And let’s be fierce against the forces of hatred, intolerance, and fear.  Let’s remember love.”

And all God’s people said:  Amen!

In Christ,

Pr. Joyce


Youth and Family Ministry Update

Dear friends,

The last few months we have celebrated many baptisms in our church! What a blessing and joy as we walk with the families of our congregation!

We celebrate this baptismal theme in Confirmation each year, both by exploring the five baptismal promises at our Confirmation Camp Retreat in August and affirming those promises again during one of our Confirmation devotions at the start of our year together.

At a workshop this summer our speaker explained how children, teenagers, and all people seek three things: an identity, a role, and a place to belong. As a faith community, we have the important responsibility to help the children and youth of our congregation discover those answers as the children of God!

In Baptism and Affirmation of Baptism we are named and claimed as the children of God (identity), we promise to “serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for peace and justice in all the earth” ELW 236 (role), and we are welcomed “into the body of Christ” ELW 231 and promise to “live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper” ELW 236 (place to belong).

Even amid overwhelming schedules and competing weekend activities, what we have to share is important. It is not flashy new activities, spaces, or programs. It is the grace, purpose, relationships, and community we discover in our baptisms. And that really is worth sharing.

with joy,

Meagan Esterby

Director of Youth and Family Ministry • 218.410.4704



Ref Fest @ Camp Vermilion

Dozens of campers and retreaters from our church have already enjoyed the beautiful new dining hall at Camp Vermilion! What a warm and welcoming space this new building provides for all guests in God’s great Northwoods as they learn and grow in their faith.

Though the building is nearly finished, the fundraising goal for the building, the “Watch them Flourish” appeal, is far from complete. To support this mission, the Lutheran churches of our entire Laurentian Conference are joining forces to host a fundraiser, the…


Commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a full day of fun,  Saturday, October 28th, and help raiser money for VLM’s “Watch them Flourish” appeal for the new Dining Hall!

Schedule of events (come for all or part of the fun!):

  • 9-10am Register for the 2K Walk, 5K Run, or 5K Trail Run ($20/person or $30/family)
  • 10:15am 2K Walk / 5K Run / 5K Trail Run
  • 11:30-12:30 Picnic Lunch ($5/person; 0-3 free!)
  • 12:45 & 2pm Grace Space Options
  • 3:30-5pm (Root) Beer & Hymn Sing

Sunday Bible Readings – Month of October

You may find it helpful to read the weekly passages before each Sunday’s Worship service.

Sunday, Oct. 1  Jesus’ parable about two sons who don’t do what they say reveals surprises in the reign of God, such as prostitutes and tax collectors going before others into God’s kingdom. In the reading from Ezekiel the people question whether the ways of the Lord are unfair; instead they are to repent and turn to the Lord. Paul urges us to look to Christ as a model of humility, looking to the interests of others above our own. Nourished by the broken bread and shared cup, we offer our lives for the sake of our needy world.

Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32  The fairness of God’s way
Psalm 25:1-9 
Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love. (Ps. 25:6)
Philippians 2:1-13 
C hrist humbled to the point of death on a cross
Matthew 21:23-32 
A parable of doing God’s will

Sunday, Oct. 8   In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable of the vineyard, an image of Israel, the prophets’ mission, and Christ’s death. For Christians, the vineyard also speaks of God’s love poured out in the blood of Christ, given to us for the forgiveness of sin. Grafted onto Christ the vine at baptism, we are nourished with wine and bread, that we may share Christ’s sufferings and know the power of his resurrection.

Isaiah 5:1-7 The song of the vineyard
Psalm 80:7-15 
Look down from heaven, O God; behold and tend this vine. 

Philippians 3:4b-14 Nothing surpasses the value of knowing Christ
Matthew 21:33-46 
The parable of the vineyard owner’s son

 Sunday, Oct. 15   In Isaiah we are given a vision of the great feast to come, when God will wipe away death forever. In Jesus’ parable about a great banquet, those invited do not come, so the invitation is extended to others. In our liturgy God spreads a table before us. Even amid anxiety and hardship we rejoice in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. With great joy we feast at the table of the Lord, and we go forth to share the wonderful invitation with others hungering and thirsting for the abundant life of God.

Isaiah 25:1-9 The feast of victory
Psalm 23  
You prepare a table before me, and my cup is running over. (Ps. 23:5)

Philippians 4:1-9 Rejoice in the Lord always
Matthew 22:1-14 
The parable of the unwelcome guest at the wedding feast

 Sunday, Oct. 22   In today’s first reading God uses the Gentile ruler Cyrus to accomplish divine purposes. When the Pharisees try to trap Jesus, he tells them to give the emperor what belongs to him and to God what belongs to God. To gather for worship reminds us that our ultimate allegiance is to God rather than to any earthly authority. Created in the image of God, we offer our entire selves in the service of God and for the sake of the world.

Isaiah 45:1-7 An earthly ruler as the instrument of God’s will
Psalm 96:1-9 [10-13]  
Ascribe to the Lord honor and power. (Ps. 96:7)

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 Thanksgiving for the church at Thessalonica
Matthew 22:15-22 
A teaching on giving to the emperor and to God

Sunday, Oct. 29  Jesus’ summary of the law in today’s gospel echoes our first reading from Leviticus. We are called not only to love God with heart, soul, and mind, but also to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is out of such deep care that Paul shares the gospel with the Thessalonian community. In the confession of sins, we acknowledge that we have not loved God, neighbor, and self; yet we gather to hear the word of forgiveness and to be strengthened by word and meal to be signs of God’s love and mercy in the world.

Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 Holiness revealed in acts of justice
Psalm 1 
Their delight is in the law of the Lord. (Ps. 1:2)

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 The apostle’s tender care for the Thessalonians
Matthew 22:34-46 
Two great commandments: love for God and neighbor



Celebrating & Commemorating the Reformation in 2017

Martin Luther’s intention 500 years ago was reformation of the church, not division.  Unfortunately, he lived at a time when open critical dialogue was not commonly possible.  The church of the 16th century was deeply mixed with the political and economic interests of those in power at the time.  Excommunication was often used as a means of silencing those who expressed criticisms.

For the past 50 years Roman Catholic and Lutheran leaders have engaged in extensive ecumenical dialogue toward overcoming long-standing and outdated divisions.  In 1999 a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was created and agreed to, by the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), stating that the mutual condemnations of the 16th century were no longer valid.  Other Protestant denominations have recently signed this agreement as well.

Catholic and Lutheran Christians began a “Common Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017” already on October 31, 2016.  Pope Francis, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge led the common prayer service with leaders from the Church of Sweden and the Catholic Diocese of Stockholm.

“From Conflict to Communion” is a joint statement for the commemoration of the Reformation in 2017.  (Online link: [PDF]From Conflict to Communion – The Lutheran World Federation).

Five commitments are included as imperatives:

  1. Catholics and Lutherans should always begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division in order to strengthen what is held in common even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced. (#239)
  2. Lutherans and Catholics must let themselves continuously be transformed by the encounter with the other and by the mutual witness of faith. (#240)
  3. Catholics and Lutheran should again commit themselves to seek visible unity, to elaborate together what this means in concrete steps, and to strive repeatedly toward this goal. (#241)
  4. Lutherans and Catholics should jointly rediscover the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ for our time. (#242)
  5. Catholics and Lutherans should witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world. (#243)

We are living in a time when Catholic and Lutheran leaders are focusing more on our common unity in Jesus Christ rather than former divisions.  What a healing moment this is for our families and congregations!

In Christ,

Pr. Joyce Piper



Quilting Ministry Seeks New Volunteers

Lutheran World Relief has sent out approximately 534,000 quilts to 16 different countries. And when hurricanes hit close to home, the quilts made here are also delivered to the victims.

What does this mean for the Quilters of OSLC? On average, the Quilting Group makes 350 quilts a year!  Fun Facts:

350 quilts = a little over 2 miles of fabric

350 quilts = AT LEAST 875 hours of work

350 children a year will benefit from the many uses of these quilts; they become baby carriers, bedding material, floor coverings, tent guards for malaria stricken areas, even clothing articles.

We thank you for your dedication, ladies, and also, we thank  those who donate the needed items to make this ministry possible. All of this is done over coffee & fellowship, and anyone can get involved! LWR even helps connect the quilting ministry to the kids of the congregation with  summer camp projects, etc.  If you would like to join this ministry, on a regular basis, or when you have free time to do so, we meet in the Fellowship Hall on Wednesdays, 8 am to noon, we would love to have you!


WELCA Fall Gathering

The Laurentian Conference Women’s Gathering will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tower Saturday, October 7th, 8:30am (registration) to 2:00 pm. A silent Auction will be held, if you would like to donate a basket of items . Proceeds will go to the Triennial Fund to send Laurentian  Conference women to the 2020 Convention.

At the Gathering, the following items will be collected for Feminine Hygiene kits that will be sent on to Guatemala: Bars of soap, combs, hair ties, deodorant, mini-pads, children’s multivitamins, toothbrush & toothpaste, Acetaminophen (Tylenol),  no ibuprofen please, wash cloths, white dish towels.  Thank you for considering a donation!


Reformation 500 Book Fair

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is fast approaching! Do you want to learn more about Martin Luther, his writings, and their impact on Christianity? Do you want to reflect on the ongoing impact of the Reformation today? Stop by our Reformation 500 Bookstore to shop for engaging books on the Reformation for readers of all ages and interests! Save up to 50% plus receive free shipping on all Bookstore titles. Simply sign up for your book requests at the table by Oct. 29th. Payment may be made when the book arrives.

Stop by the Church Narthex now until October 29th to get fascinating books on the Reformation for you and your family.

Our Bookstore is sponsored by Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the ELCA.