*LENT Schedule below.

Dear friends,

It hardly feels like we are ready to entertain the reality that Lent is right around the corner!  That’s right!  Ash Wednesday    is February 14th also known for the famous Valentine’s Day. 

Created by Robyn Kistemaker

A colleague of mine from a Facebook group of Lutheran Leaders that I belong to created this image for Ash Wednesday and I find it to be profound and thought provoking. 

In a world where our faith constantly rubs up against the secular culture and even how secularism has highjacked our otherwise religious holidays (think Christmas and Easter) it is ironic that this year we have a full-on collision of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day.

Now don’t get me wrong, we live in and among a culture that is informed by the ways of the world way more so than the ways of Jesus.  It is our calling, our vocation, our jobs to meet the world where it’s at and not conform to it, but to bring the light of Christ into it at all the crossroads our faith meets the secular culture.  We can live with one foot in the kingdom of God here yet not entirely here yet and the kingdom of the world in which we do live, work, play, and are influenced by but also have influence over if we choose to live out our faith all days of the week, in all ways, and all places we find ourselves.

As we prepare our hearts, minds and imaginations for the Lenten season that is upon us, we do remember that we are just dust and it is to dust we eventually return, but in the meantime, and nevertheless…. We also remember that we are LOVED.  Loved by a God that is bigger than any teddy bear, box of chocolates or dozens of roses anyone in this world could give us.  We are so loved that God sent God’s only son so that we might have the opportunity to live an abundant and forgiven life.  Thanks be to God!

This Lenten season we will be exploring the theme Altered by the Spirit.  This theme was written and created by ELCA pastors through Church Anew.  On Sundays we will hear from the Gospels of Mark and John and we take familiar Lenten readings and with a different lens explore being altered through disruption, our enemies, creativity and so on.  On Wednesday during Lent we will meet for Soup Suppers at 5 and then worship at 6.  This theme will carry us into midweek worship as well where we will read from the book of Acts, connect with a tangible element like crayons and broken glass as well as construct ourselves a cross of legos.  Hope you will join us both Sundays and Wednesday during Lent!


Join us on Wednesdays during Lent to dig deeper into the Lenten Theme Altered by the Spirit.  Wednesday’s readings will come from the Book of Acts and will be tied to a common element that is often broken, reformed, transformed or altered to create something new.  Come see how the Spirit is calling each of us to become altered by this new time together, through the Lenten journey of reflection and self-examination, of this identity in which we seek to discover and claim as our own here at Our Savior’s. 

Soup Supper ready at 5:15 and worship will begin at 6:00

Ash Wednesday: Acts 1:6-11 Altered in Witness – Legos

February 21: Acts 2:1-13 Altered through God’s Creativity – Crayons

February 28: Acts 8:26-40 Altered on the Edge of Belonging – Kintsugi

March 6: Acts 9:1-22 Altered Alongside our Enemies – Sea Glass

March 13: Acts 10:1-16, 34=35, 44-47 Altered by Disruption – Mosaic pieces

March 20: Acts 12:6-17 Altered Through Stories We Don’t Trust – Candles

March 28: Maundy Thursday ~ Love Altered  6pm

March 29: Good Friday ~ Violence Altered  6pm


Lent is often a time of self-reflection, spiritual discipline, commitment, and community. Congregations gather to sing the minor harmonies of the way of Jesus on the road toward the cross. This Lent with Church Anew, however, we are going to look at a kaleidoscope of stories from the Book of Acts, with Revised Common Lectionary suggestions that pair directly with the theme. We’ll see the ways the Spirit alters our perspective, transforms our communities, and consistently blazes a trail ahead of us. We’ll catch up with the work of the Holy Spirit, finding ourselves altered. Because the Spirit is alive in, with, and under our ordinary lives, always calling us forward into transformation, nudging us into wholeness, and beckoning us forth into an alternative way.


Altered in Witness  – Ash Wednesday (February 14) Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Altered on the Edge of Belonging  – First Sunday of Lent (February 18) Mark 1:9-15

Altered Through Stories We Don’t Trust  – Second Sunday of Lent (February 25) Mark 8:31-38

Altered by Disruption  – Third Sunday of Lent (March 3) John 2:13-22

Altered through God’s Creativity  – Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 10) John 3:14-21

Altered Alongside our Enemies  – Fifth Sunday of Lent (March 17) John 12:20-33

Victory Altered  – Palm Sunday (March 24) Mark 11:1-11

Maundy Thursday – Mar. 28th 6pm

Good Friday – Mar. 29th 6pm

Easter Sunday – Mar. 31st 9:30am

August 2023

My friend Pastor Harris Hostager and his colleague Pastor Alley wrote this long ago for their congregation at the end of a liminal season.  I have saved it over the years for this moment.  For you my friends, as your liminal season starts to come to an end.

Let me introduce your NEW Pastor….

A packet of papers for the call committee showed up at OSLC one day recently…profiles of pastors available for interviewing and a possible call to be the next pastor of OSLC.  I don’t know who they are, but I already know something about the person you will be calling.  Let me introduce your new pastor.

Your pastor will be a messenger of Jesus Christ, will lead worship and administer the sacraments with a deep joy and a sense of high privilege, and will serve the congregation and the Virginia community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Your pastor will be someone who is theologically trained, who represents the office of ministry, and has some years of experience as a pastor in the ELCA.

Your pastor will be someone committed to God’s call, OSLC’s call, and from the day she or he arrives will be passionate about loving the serving the people of OSLC.

Your pastor will be someone who will challenge this congregation toward a broader and deeper mission and will encourage the expansion of OSLC’s outreach to the community and the world. (In your Letter of Call, you ask your pastor to promise to do this!)

Your pastor will be someone who will challenge each of you to regular attendance, to active participation in the ministries of the congregation, and to be generous in support with your offerings and your talents.

Your pastor will be someone as human as you are, a sinner in need of grace.  She or he will not likely remember your name the first time you meet, will say something stupid at some time, will be late for a wedding rehearsal, or a funeral visitation, and will at some time get the flu.

Your pastor will be someone who will not possess every gift every member desires.  She or he will need your understanding, support, encouragement, prayers…and sometimes your forgiveness…all the same things you need.

Your pastor will be someone who will do her or his best to honor the office of ministry, will be diligent in the study of the scriptures, will pray for you, and will urge you to be diligent as well.  Your pastor will speak for justice for the poor and the oppressed.  These are promises your pastor has already made in ordination and will repeat them when installed at OSLC.

Having been given a glimpse of OSLC through the profile and interviews, having met some members of OSLC before saying “yes” to the Call, she or he will be honored and humbled to be chosen and called to serve in this place.

At the same time as there is excitement about coming here, she or he will be feeling some grief over all the “goodbyes” recently shared with the also-loved people among whom a call has just ended.  She or he will likely arrive here a little exhausted from concluding that ministry, packing, moving, and letting go. You will be calling a particular person, but for the above reasons I hope you already honor, respect, and support the ministry she or he will do among you.  Please prepare the way for your new pastor coming with your prayers! 

One of the most exciting things you can say to your new pastor is:  “Welcome, Pastor!  We have been praying for you!”

I am so excited for you, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, and the incredible journey God has planned for you with your new pastor.

Blessings to you and your family now as always,

Interim Pastor Tim Ehling

Part 3…. Mark 7: 1-23 July 2023


A story that is at the heart of what Jesus is saying in Mark 7:

At a school fundraising dinner in New York the father of a student delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.  After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son Shane?  Everything God does is done with perfection.  By my child cannot understand things as other children do.  My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do.  Where is God’s perfection?

The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish and stilled by the piercing query.  I believe, the father answered, that when God brings a child like mine into the world…one who is handicapped… the perfection that God seeks is in the way people react to that child.

He then told the following story about his son Shane:  One afternoon Shane and his father walked past a park where some boys Shane knew were playing baseball.  Shane asked, “do you think they will let me play?”  Shane’s father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team.  But Shane’s father understood that if his son was chosen to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging.

Shane’s father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shane could play.  The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates.  Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning.  I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shane’s father was ecstatic as Shane smiled broadly.  Shane was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field.  In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shane’s team scored a few runs, but was still behind by three in the bottom of the ninth inning.  Shane’s team scored again, and now with two outs and the bases loaded with the potential winning run on base, Shane was scheduled to be up to bat.

Surprisingly, Shane was given the bat.  Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shane didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it.  However, as Shane stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps forward to lob the ball in softly so Shane should at least be able to make contact.  The first pitch came in and Shane swung clumsily and missed.  One of Shane’s teammates came up to Shane and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch.  The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shane. 

As the pitch came in, Shane and his teammate swung at the ball and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher.  The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman.  Shane would have been out and that would have ended the game.  Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman.  Everyone started yelling, “Shane run to first.  Run to first.”  Never in his life had Shane run to first.  He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled.  By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball.  He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shane, who was still running.  But the right fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head.  Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second.”  Shane ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him circled the bases towards home.

As Shane reached second base the opposing team’s short stop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, “Run to third.”  As Shane rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shane run home.”  Shane ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a grand slam and won the game for his team. 

That day… said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection. That day those boys were not living from the law but from the heart. The heart of Jesus words from Mark 7.

God’s peace and strong presence be with you and your family.

Interim Pastor Tim Ehling

Our Savior’s Lutheran, Virginia MN

Part 2 of 3 June 2023

Mark 7: 1-23 Continued….

It began with a discussion about the table.  A discussion that you may have had before around your table…  “…Jesus why do your disciples not wash their hands before they eat?”   It wasn’t that the Pharisees and the Scribes were concerned about germs, they didn’t know about germs in those days.  Nor was it that they were remembering what Mom or Grandma taught them about proper table manners….along with no elbows on the table…speak when spoken to…don’t talk with your mouth full…wait to be excused.  It was more than that, so much more.

At first glance it would seem it was about the law…the law of God…but it wasn’t.  Some key words tell us otherwise.  Verse 3… “Thus observing the tradition of the elders…”  Tradition of the elders, not the law of God was the concern.  It was the tradition that the leaders of the church made up to help remind the people of the law of God.  It was God’s law that the priest should wash their hands before entering the alter thereby keeping things holy.  Later the pharisaic tradition expanded the law of God to ordinary people on ordinary occasions.   While the intent was to honor God, it had the opposite effect.  To lift up a tradition to a place that is equal to that of the law of God meant that the law of God was not as important as the tradition.  As Jesus says in verse 6:

This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me;  in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines… you abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.

While spiritual traditions are important and have a purpose in our faith lives when they drift away from God, or are placed in a position of scared holiness when they do not belong there, they tend to have no heart in them…and often they lose their meaning.

It’s the heart Jesus said that really matters.  It’s from the heart that comes good and evil.  It’s your heart God is concerned with….not what you wash….not your traditions.

Growing up there was an unwritten tradition that many people I played baseball with followed:

1.  only the best/strongest on your team

2.  you win at all costs

3.  those who are weak and unable to play should only watch

Next month a story.  A story that is at the heart of what Jesus is saying.  It’s about a group of boys who didn’t follow that tradition, but something more important.

God’s peace and strong presence be with you and your family.

Interim Pastor Tim Ehling

Rooted in Faith   Growing in Christ   Reaching to Serve