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Our Saviors Lutheran Church of Virginia, Minnesota News

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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

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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

 

 

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Voyageur’s Lutheran Ministry

VLM is  an Outdoor Ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that offers summer and year-round camping programs for God’s people of all ages.

Voyageur’s Lutheran Ministry  “provides opportunities for Christ-centered spiritual growth, leadership development, and outreach in God’s great northwoods.”

For yoiuth, spend time at Camp Hiawatha or Camp Vermilion during the summer and you will experience a week of a lifetime!  It’s a chance to try some new things, meet new friends, explore your creative side, learn team work, be silly, sing, laugh, and learn what it means to live as God’s people in the world!

We have programs for all ages – a one day experience for those new to camp, a two night program for those not quite ready for a full week, and week-long programs for elementary, junior high, and senior high campers.  No matter what option you choose, we will work hard to make it a experience to remember.

During the fall, winter and spring, there are various retreats that take place for adults and youth. You can find out more by visiting their site at http://www.vlmcamps.org/

 

 

 

 

Mission Jamaica 2018

Members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church have joined others from various  churches in Minnesota and surrounding states to serve in Jamaica. We provide medical care, help residents build homes, and join them in worship and work.

J’ABODE (formerly Habitat for Humanity) – There’s always work to be done for housing. Mission Jamaica missionaries help make simple, decent and affordable housing a reality for families that are in the greatest need.

What we do-Dig footings, pour concrete and tie steel. The focus in Jamaica is to build 16’x20’ one room homes or add-ons to existing homes. We work side by side with future new owners and the community.

In January of 2018 we had over 20 people go to Jamaica  to continue in the work of building homes, and also assist with in care of children at an area orphanage. This Mission continues to be a big part of OSLC, and the congregants’ lives.

If you are interested in going you may speak with Bob Rutka about joining next year’s team! No matter your skill level, there will be something exciting for you to take part of!

Called to Serve

 

 

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New Directory!

NEW CHURCH DIRECTORY

 We are excited to announce that we are updating our Church Directory. Lifetouch will provide the services to put together this important community resource. Our link to sign up for a session is https://booknow-lifetouch.appointment-plus.com/ycyx5sbc/ They offer photo packages if you would like to purchase pictures for your family. The dates for our photograph sessions are May 15th-19th. Tuesday – Friday  the sessions will be held from 2pm —9pm.  Saturday,  May 19th, the sessions will be between the hours of 10am-5pm.

We invite everyone in our church to participate, even if you are not planning to purchase a photo package, so all may be included in the directory.

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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

 

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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

 

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Youth and Family Ministry Update

 

Dear friends,

One of the most exciting parts of working with young people is walking alongside as they mark milestones in their life. In church we celebrate the many gifts children bring to our community—joy, energy, passion, and even noise. What a blessing to celebrate with children as they mark their first communion, learn to acolyte, and step into leadership roles in both worship and our community, especially the last few months as they have offered their energy, strength, and speed cleaning up after each community meal.

Their spirit and joy, in both the momentous and mundane moments, gives me so much life, as has the youth advocacy movement we are witnessing in our country right now.

This month, joining thousands of students across the ELCA as we prepare to journey to Houston, the Sr. High students are “Gathering for Advocacy”. The ELCA has a strong tradition of advocacy, and this month we lift up the ELCA’s initiative called AMMPARO. AMMPARO seeks to accompany children who are “forced to flee their communities because of complex and interrelated reasons, including chronic violence, poverty, environmental displacement, and lack of opportunities…As brothers and sisters in Christ, the ELCA is called to bear witness to the conditions affecting so many communities and find solutions that will acknowledge the humanity in all of God’s children..”

We invite you to learn more at elca.org/Resources/AMMPARO, and join us as we pray:

Blessed are you, Lord Jesus Christ. You crossed every border between divinity and humanity to make your home with us. Help us welcome you in newcomers, migrants and refugees. Blessed are you, God of all nations. You bless our land richly with goods of creation and with people made in your image. Help us be good stewards and peacemakers, who live as your children. Blessed are you, Holy Spirit. You work in the hearts of all to bring about harmony and goodwill. Strengthen us to welcome those from other lands, cultures and religions that we may live in human solidarity and in hope.

God of all people, grant us vision to see your presence in our midst, especially in our immigrant sisters and brothers. Give us courage to open the door to our neighbors and grace to build a society of justice. “Gathering for Advocacy” from Getting Reading: A Youth Ministry Curriculum for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering)

with love,

Meagan Esterby, Director of Youth and Family Ministry

meagan@oslcmn.com • 218.410.4704

 

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“Jesus loves you…INSIDE OUT!” VBS Recap

“Jesus loves you…INSIDE OUT!” Vacation Bible School — We had so much fun this July at our (very warm!) “Inside Out”-themed VBS! Though we were a small group, we made enough joyful noise to fill the entire church, and were happy to dedicate more time to special crafts and conversations. Creating slime and “God’s Eye” crafts were listed as highlights of the week by most of the group. Thank you to our VBS guides Leah Sirotiak, Laurie Miller, and Amara Wilcox for leading the faith-formation fun all week! And thank you to the many generous souls who helped set up and prepared snack and lunch for us each day: Gloria and Steve Gagnon, Diane Vandervort, Jackie and Nathan LeBeque, Marlene Staudahar, Kathy and Mark Hoppa, Carolyn Flaschberger, Sharon Pernu, and Jesse.