Wednesday, December 30, 2009

January newsletter

From CrossWind Photos
Although the church year technically begins with Advent, January always feels like a time for new beginnings. It’s time to pull out a new calendar, and get used to writing a new date on checks. We have to answer important questions like “is it ‘two thousand ten’ or ‘twenty-ten’?” Arguably, 2010 isn’t just a new year—it’s a new decade, even. And that’s always a great opportunity to look back on what God has done in our lives, and to look ahead to what God is going to do!

As we move into a new calendar year here are some of the things that I am looking forward to:
  • Next summer’s Mission Trip to the Lake Traverse Reservation. We are going a little farther afield this summer to learn about what God is doing in a community that is quite different from ours, but not that far away! (Haven’t signed up yet? Talk to me ASAP!)

  • The after-Christmas return of K.I.C.K., our after-school program, which has blossomed in the past few months.

  • Joint meetings of some of our women’s groups at MLH, to change things up a bit during the winter. Always a delight!

  • The return of the 30 Hour Famine at the end of February.

  • Lent and Easter, 2010!

  • Our post-Lent adult study on the book of Luke. It’s always great to read the Bible together, and Luke is one of my favorites!

  • Presentations from our Confirmation students during worship. (I can’t tell you all the details—it’s a surprise! But they are going to be great!)
What would be on your list? What are you looking forward to in 2010? Perhaps more importantly, what do you think God might be looking forward to? I don’t know exactly what is in store for us…but knowing God, it’s bound to be good!

So…Happy New Year! And Merry Christmas! (12 days, remember?)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Breaking news!

Have you seen our synod's new website?

Scroll down to the bottom of the page. The photo in the left-hand corner is from our 2009 mission trip! Isn't it awesome to see our amazing youth showcased like that? Thanks to Lois for pointing this out!

No comment on that other photo.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy [insert-day-here]

In keeping with my theme of remembering holidays that occur around this time of year, here is a run-down of the past few days:
  • December 26 is the day for St. Stephen, using the logic that as the first martyr, Stephen deserves to have his heavenly birthday the closest to Jesus' birthday. His day is mostly remembered by American Lutherans only when they happen to be singing "Good King Wenceslas".

  • December 27 is St. John's Day, on which it is traditional to be really confused as to which John is intended. (Okay, not really, but "John" is the masculine equivalent of "Mary" in the New Testament...you have John, John, and the other John.) Visiting the island of St. John is not a tradition on this day, but it really should be.

  • December 28 is the Holy Innocents, which, no matter how you look at it, is not the most cheerful of feast days.
~Pastor Sarah

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! :) May the news of Christ's Incarnation fill you with his joy and and peace and love. In the midst of all the craziness of this busy season, still he comes into our midst. Sometimes the angels herald his coming...but quite often, he slips in quietly, while we are looking the other way--like a baby born in the middle of the night in a tiny village.

Given the weather, perhaps it is appropriate to offer a prayer for travelers.
Lord Jesus, your parents traveled a long, hard road to get to Bethlehem for your birth! Be with all those who travel in this season--give them safe journeys and happy homecomings, protect them from any dangers along the way, and fill them with your peace when their plans are interrupted or delayed. Bless all those who are unable to be with their families because of weather, or distance, or illness, or broken relationships--and especially those who have no families with whom to celebrate. As we rejoice in your Incarnation, help us to find--and to be--signs of your own gracious presence in the midst of all our confusion and uncertainty. In your holy name we pray. Amen!
~Pastor Sarah

Disclaimer: No, I did not stay up until midnight to post this. I programmed it to post in advance, in keeping with my family's traditional approach to holidays that involve staying up late (i.e. we go to bed anyway).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas surprises

Actually, the snowstorm we are supposed to get this afternoon (which is currently taking a break, I understand) is not much of a surprise, since it has been predicted for several days. What is a surprise--and will continue to be a surprise--is how much that snow will or will not affect our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day service plans.

So far, my guess is that unless it is literally snowing (or blowing) so hard you cannot see across the street, there will be a service at Fron at 4:00. The 10:00 service and services at the country churches are anyone's guess right now. Come if you can, and if it seems safe--and if it isn't safe, then by all means, please stay home! Jesus came into the world 2,000 years ago without us being at church to witness it, and he will continue to do so. It's awesome to celebrate that together as a church family on these festival days...but Jesus will still love us even if we are not able to do that. (Thanks be to God!) And who knows? The weather may not be as bad as they're predicting.

If you are stuck at home because of the snow (even if you're just waiting for the snow plows), here is a fun article from NPR about snowflakes, which pleases my inner science geek. Then you can enjoy tonight's lectionary readings with links to associated art.

Update 11:45 a.m. As of now, in anticipation of worse weather to come (especially the winds), Christmas Eve services are canceled at St. Johns and Indherred. At Fron, the 4:00 service is still on but the 10:00 is canceled. As for Immanuel's Christmas Day service tomorrow morning, we are still waiting to see what happens.
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ringing in the holidays...

Bell choir puns should generally be avoided, because:
1-They are entirely too easy, and
2-Bell choirs enjoy them entirely too much.

However, there are not a whole lot of bell choirs around Starbuck, so I think I am fairly safe.

That said, check out this video. It's a local news segment featuring the handbell choir of a church in West Columbia, SC (there area where I went to seminary). They are playing a Christmas tune witha lovely variety of handbell effects. If you have never had the chance to see a handbell choir in action, it's worth checking out just for that--otherwise, you can amuse yourself by trying to figure out which of the guys playing the really big bells is one of my classmates from seminary, who is doing his internship at that congregation, and who has seen my dad's rock band in person (unlike me). (He and his wife are both knitters, as well. Nobody tell Pastor Paul.)*

I have always considered handbells a particularly churchly instrument, because, well, the nature of the choir is that you need everyone working together for it to work. If one person drops out, you have a serious gap--but if one person plays alone, you have no melody. This is a great illustration of life in the Body of Christ! This particular group does a great job--they don't go much into the two-bells-in-one-hand technique or the really exceedingly high treble bells, but they really go for the big bass ones. Be on the lookout for the mallets in the beginning and the martellato** at the end.

~Pastor Sarah

*I kind of hate to admit it, but facebook is actually pretty good for finding out this kind of stuff about people you used to go to school with. And then appropriating their cool links.

**What's a martellato, you ask? Well, it's that thing they do at the end.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy St. Thomas day!


Day Trippin' in Madras
Originally uploaded by Prince Roy
Today is the festival day for St. Thomas, which is hardly ever celebrated by Lutherans, because a-it sounds like something Roman Catholics would do and b-it is entirely too close to Christmas, and we already have enough extra services this week.

We mostly know Thomas for his famous profession of faith in the risen Lord (hey, I can always dream). What you may not know is that, according to tradition, he is also said to have been the first to take the gospel to India--in fact, to this day, there are Indian Christians who trace their roots back to Thomas. In Chennai, India, you can visit St. Thomas Basilica, which is said to be built over the saint's tomb (which you can also see), or St. Thomas Mount, where he may have been martyred. (When I was in Chennai a few years ago, we did not get to see inside the basilica because there was a funeral or a possibly a wedding going on. But the outside is gorgeous.)

Then, of course, there is the island of St. Thomas, which sounds pretty good this time of year, even though their website does auto-play an annoying sound effect.
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sing, choirs of angels!

Yesterday, it was my privilege to sing Christmas carols* with two very different groups of people: the residents of the Minnewaska Lutheran Home and the kids who come to our after-school program, K.I.C.K.

At the nursing home Christmas service in the morning, the residents' choir sang "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear":
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth
To touch their harps of gold
...and "that glorious song of old" never sounded better than when sung by the voices of God's faithful in that place. Women often tell me that they can't sing like they used to--well, I didn't get to hear these women "back then", so I can't compare, but right now, I firmly believe that their songs are as precious and lovely in God's ears as the voices of the angels.

In the afternoon, we went Christmas caroling to the apartments next door with the K.I.C.K. kids. They did a great job (some of them even volunteered to sing "Silent Night" in Spanish), and even got to the third verse of "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful", which goes:
Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
And once again I was struck by the thought that choirs of angels never sounded better! Some of the kids have wonderfully musical voices; others are more enthusiastic than tuneful. Some of them obviously love to sing; some of them would like you to think they would rather be somewhere else. This isn't the kind of music you get on recordings of kids singing Christmas carols: so sweet and adorable and perfect. This is real kids, really singing--and I am convinced that the choirs of angels themselves love to hear them, and maybe even sing along.

After all, the choirs of angels didn't sing for the great musicians of the court--they sang for shepherds, who probably didn't have a lot of musical training. And Jesus didn't come to the powerful elite--he came to ordinary people, in an ordinary town, in an ordinary way--so that we can all join in the song.
~Pastor Sarah

*Okay, so it isn't Christmas yet, but sometimes you have to make an exception.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Holidays!

It is apparently necessary, at this time of year, for Christians to complain about the use of "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". There are plenty of good reasons for this, not the least of which is that it is annoying to be constantly corrected. But after thinking about it, I'm not really sure if it's worth the fuss.

Even for Christians, we are clearly talking about more than one holiday here--it's not just Christmas. Between now and, say, early January, we have the following occasions:

Even from a strictly Christian perspective–-and even if your particular Christian tradition celebrates only a handful of the above occasions-–it is pretty clear that we are dealing with a whole season full of holy days. So...“Happy Holidays!” is surely a perfectly appropriate Christian greeting. “Happy season that includes Advent, Christmas, New Year’s, the Epiphany, the Baptism of Our Lord, and the commemorations and feast days for St. Thomas, St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it for some reason.

So, the next time you hear "Happy Holidays", don't just get annoyed. Instead, think of the rich opportunities for to celebrate God's love that fill this darkest time of the year--and give thanks.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mission trip 2010 update

If you don't already know, we are planning to travel to the Lake Traverse Reservation in Sisseton, SD on the week of June 6, 2010. We are working with an organization called YouthWorks, and we’ll do some fund-raising in the coming year to lessen the cost for families. CrossWind youth should have received at least one mailing about this already (another is coming)--if you didn't get yours (or lost it), just call the Fron office (or let me know) and I'll send you another.

Now is the time to register. Really. Please call the Fron office, or talk to or email me as soon as possible to reserve your space. You can either turn in your deposit or talk to me if you need to make other arrangements. We need you to commit to this trip as soon as possible, preferably in writing, so that we can make sure there is a space for you. If you're still not sure, please let me know what you are thinking! (Going with YouthWorks offers us all sorts of advantages, but it also means that we need to be really firm about the deadlines.) Anyone in 7th through 12th grade is welcome to register—you may also invite your friends from outside of the parish!

Parents and other adults: Please talk to the youth in your lives about this amazing opportunity! If you have any questions, or if you are interested in being an adult participant (we are allowed one for every five youth), please let me know!
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's snowing again (+larger church news)

But I can't complain like I did in October, because it's supposed to snow in December. (And actually, it's kind of pretty.)

At 4:30 (Central), the ELCA is supposed to put up the video from yesterday's Town Hall Meeting with Bishop Hanson. Some of my seminary classmates saw it, but I was still driving back from the airport and did not get home until it was nearly over. Anybody get to participate live? Even if you disagree with Bishop Hanson (or aren't into this new-fangled technology stuff), it's at least interesting as a first-of-a-kind thing for our larger church. Will there be more? Should there be more? Should the presiding bishop be focusing on other issues, or is this precisely what he ought to be doing?

The Lutheran World Federation is calling on member churches (we're one of them) to ring church bells "or take other symbolic actions for climate justice" on December 13. This is designed to coincide with the talks in Copenhagen. This is a huge issue with theological, ethical, and missional implications for the church, and it's exciting to see Lutherans around the world attempting to address it. And besides, it involves church bells. (If it's got church bells, I'm bound to like it.)

I don't know that we will be doing anything in particular, but as we always ring our church bells on Sundays, and the 13th is a Sunday, we will at least sort of technically be participating (although probably we will not give the suggested 350 rings). Which could be cool, if it makes the news.
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December newsletter

For those of you following along at home: Yes, I am publishing this post retroactively. Because it's tidier that way. And because I can.


“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:13 (The Message)
These were the words that guided our synod’s Junior High Youth Gathering in Willmar, November 20-22. We read them, and sang them, danced along to them, and wore them on our t-shirts. With 1300 other youth (and adult leaders) from around our region, we reflected on how, with God on our side, all things are indeed possible!

Thank you to everyone who supported us on this trip! It was my great privilege to attend with four youth (check out the youth news for a list of names) and one other adult from our parish. Check out our synod’s website at www.swmnelca.org to see photos from the gathering*—our group was small in numbers, but we certainly made our presence known! Going away for an event like this is a great way for us to learn and grow together in our faith. Ask us what we learned! (Also ask us about: laser tag, dodge ball, crazy hairstyles with glitter, and getting to take home drumsticks used by the actual drummer in the actual band.)

The best moment, for me, took place on Sunday morning. Between breakfast and worship, our youth had a little bit of free time. When I went looking for them, though, they were not on the computers in the business center. They were not chatting with their friends in the hallways, or sending text messages on their cell phones. They were not even at the table set up for the band. Instead, they were sitting in the very front row, ready for worship thirty minutes early—because they didn’t want to miss a single thing. And they had saved us seats, so that we wouldn’t miss out, either!

So now we are moving into the season of Advent, proclaiming again the greatest of great news: Jesus is coming! And for the One who came to earth as a tiny baby, all things are indeed possible—and he’s going to come again, and it’s going to be way too good to be missed! So come and worship with us—we’re saving you a seat!
~Pastor Sarah

*Update: You cannot see photos from the gathering on the synod website because they have decided to password-protect them to protect the privacy of our youth. When I get access, I'll find some to share around the parish.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving is coming...

So, our Thanksgiving Eve service is on Wednesday (at 7:00 p.m. at Fron--join us!). In additional to a lot of fantastic music (really, you have to come just to see how many groups we've got singing, you wouldn't believe me otherwise), I hope to be showing a slide show of photos from the life of our parish in the past year, or several months, or whatever I happen to have photos of. (So, this is the disclaimer: It's whatever I happen to have photos of. Since I am at best a very amateur photographer, with a strong tendency to forget that I am supposed to be taking pictures, this does not come close to representing the full scope of life in our parish. To really do this right, you would have to be a lot more intentional about it, working on it for AT LEAST a whole year.)


The idea is to demonstrate that yes, even though the economy is bad, even though there is always anxiety and tension in the church (at even the best of times)...we have an awful lot to be thankful for. God is doing some amazing things in our community!

So, since this is necessarily only a glimpse of some of what there is to see...what photos would you want to include? What stories would you want to add? What memories would you want to make sure we remember?
~Pastor Sarah

Friday, November 20, 2009

Follow-up: Captive Free

I just realized that although I posted that Captive Free was coming to Starbuck, I never said anything about how it went! I had a great time at both the Saturday night program and the Sunday morning service. Both were a little light on youth attendance (what's up with that? anyone?), but I got a lot of great comments from the people who were there. The music was lovely (I really love organ and piano music and traditional hymns, but it does my heart good to hear something different from time to time), the team was fantastic, and the puppets were adorable.

So, lots of thanks to Captive Free Central Plains, a talented group with strong gifts for ministry. (And they figured out why my computer was projecting green-tinted images.) And thanks to everybody who helped to make their visit a success!
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prayers: School sports

I have to admit, I'm really not a very good sports fan. I consider it a win if everyone gets home without any serious injuries, and if the players on both sides can be reasonably proud that they played a good game, that's an added bonus.

That said, there are some great athletes in our area, and all of the student athletes I know are dedicated and hard-working. They have a lot on their plates, too, what with juggling school and friends and church as well as athletics. Right now, the fall sports schedule is pretty much over, except at the state level. So, I'll say a few extra prayers for those like some of the swimmers in our community, who are still hard at work. May they stay safe, do well, and remember that all of the glory belongs to God! Prayers also go to the teams that are just starting out!
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interested in global mission?

This year in K.I.C.K. we are talking about global mission (among other things, including what God is doing right here in our community). As we have done some of the groundwork (as in, some biblical foundations for why we are interested in this kind of thing), I've also been looking up stories and information about what the church in its various forms is doing in other parts up of the world. I've had such a good time reading them that I had to share stories from ELCA World Hunger. (From there, you can navigate to the more obvious place to start, which is ELCA Global Mission.)

It's really amazing what God is doing with our gifts in other parts of the world--and it's just as amazing to read about the partners in ministry who put them to work! Gone are the days when we can imagine that we are the parent church "taking care of" younger churches--now, it is a privilege and a blessing to be able to walk alongside our brothers and sisters who graciously allow us to share in their journeys as they share in ours.
~Pastor Sarah

Prayers: Captive Free

It's almost that time! We are expecting a visit from Captive Free Central Plains this weekend, and from what I can tell by a brief phone conversation and reading some of their blogs on the website (which you should really check out), it's going to be great!

So, since we are hosting this event, here are some requests:
  1. Pray for the team, that they may be a blessing in our community and we may be a blessing to them and their ministry.

  2. Come to the program Saturday night (7 p.m. @ Fron) and tell your friends! Confirmation and high school youth from our parish are welcome to come at 5:30 for supper (tacos!!!) to help us welcome the team.

  3. If you have any old Legos lying around that you don't play with anymore, bring them to donate. (It's kind of a weird request but apparently they're needed for a future Bible study. More usual things like phone cards and postage stamps are also welcome. And we'll be taking a free will offering to support this awesome ministry.)

~Pastor Sarah

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lots of thanks!

Many, many thanks go to everyone who helped with the Hallowed Eve Carnival on Saturday. The Confirmation class (and their friends) did an excellent job of setting up and running the games, and the Confirmation mentors were pros at helping to decorate. Many of the ones who were not able to be present on Saturday did a great job on Wednesday setting up.

We had about 89 slips turned in for the door-prize drawings, which gives you a ballpark estimate of how many kids came. (I figure some probably didn't sign up, and of course, this does not include parents, and there were a lot of parents.) They all seemed to be having a great time and were on their best behavior. Thanks to everyone who came! (Including our visitors from the Starbuck Police, who did an amazing job of putting up with repeated "great costume!" jokes.)

Big thanks also to everyone who donated candy this year. It takes a lot of candy to pull off something this big!
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, October 29, 2009

November newsletter

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

As we head deeper into the fall season this year, it seems like there’s an awful lot on our minds. If you’re not concerned about the actions of the larger church, you’re worried about the economy. If you’re not worried about the economy, you’re probably worried about the flu. And through it all, the seasons are slowly (or sometimes quickly) changing, and let’s face it—the grayer skies and longer nights are a little depressing! And can you believe that early snow? Can it really be almost winter?

But we’re also coming up on Thanksgiving, when we thank God for all the blessings of the past year. And even though the days are getting shorter, still there are signs of new life all around us!

Just look at the number of knitted and crocheted hats and mittens we’re collecting, to let people right here in community know that someone really loves them. Or stop by K.I.C.K. one Wednesday afternoon, where we have more kids than ever, some of them coming into our parish for the first time, as they learn and play together and experience God’s love. (Sometimes it gets a little noisy or messy—but it’s always lively!) Or visit any one of our congregations to see the regular work being done by men and women in our parish, to maintain the church buildings and see that the coffee is served. Just this month, we have a visit from Captive Free, the Junior High Youth Gathering, our Thanksgiving service with a joint choir—and we’re already working on next year’s mission trip!

So, as we head into winter this year (hopefully later rather than sooner), let’s also keep our eyes open for all that God is doing among us. And then we’ll really see how much we have to be thankful for!
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Reformation!

It isn't just because the color is red that I love Reformation. (Although, let's be honest, it is not an insignificant part of it.) There is also the excuse to talk about Martin Luther (not to be confused with another famous reforming pastor, although that doesn't happen much in this part of the country). I get to talk about Martin Luther a lot, which is awesome, because he makes for some great stories.

One of the things that I love about Martin Luther is that he wasn't a perfect guy, and we don't (usually) pretend otherwise. He could be...let's face it...a jerk (understatement of the year). He had a nasty temper and said some things in his later life that have caused his followers some serious embarrassment (as they should). He enjoyed his beer, married a nun, and wrote entirely too much about his stomach problems (really, any would be too much).

That we would actually name our church after this dubious character (though he himself did not want us to do so) says a lot about us, I think. It says something rather hopeful about how Lutherans view sin...and how, despite our best efforts to the contrary, God saves us from our sin through Jesus Christ. If Martin Luther can be justified by grace (through faith for Christ's sake), then maybe there is some hope for us modern-day Lutherans, as well. We may get things wrong, or say dumb things. Okay, we surely will get things wrong and say dumb things. But still we confess "Jesus is Lord", and it is Jesus who alone can save us.

In other news, my little red car was in what I think of as "stealth mode" for Reformation. Not wanting to show off its Reformation red too much (Lutherans can't stand to show off), it added some mud from the wet gravel roads to lessen the effect. It has been seriously wet around here lately. Pray for better weather so the farmers can get the harvest in!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back in town

Pastor Paul and I are back in town after our synod's Fall Theological Conference, an excellent opportunity for learning and fellowship. It was great to take a break from the regular routine to spend time with colleagues and learn from teachers in our church. Although times are a bit rocky in our synod and in the ELCA, I am constantly amazed at the amount of steady, faithful ministry that is happening every day in our region.

There was also yarn shopping involved, because this is me we are talking about, here. (Yes, I bought some yarn, and yes, it is red.)

We are also moving forward with the planning for next summer's mission trip! Based on the input of the youth and parents who were at the planning meeting last night, we are tentatively looking at an early-summer trip to the Lake Traverse Reservation, just over two hours west of us in South Dakota. We should be finalizing this choice over the next few days, so if you have input, better get it to me quickly!
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Prayers: Schools and teachers

Today we have no Confirmation class (although everything else is happening as regularly scheduled because Thursday and Friday are days off school for our youth. Usually we have class unless there is no school on Wednesday, but this is a special case which I hear is traditional. So, Confirmation students--enjoy your day off! And for the rest of you: enjoy your long weekend!

This is apparently to allow teachers to go to a really big conference, so this is a great time to remember teachers and school staff who are not getting these days off, but are, in fact, working really hard! Teaching, especially in the public schools, is a challenging calling, and our teachers need lots of prayers and support!
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, October 12, 2009

Guess the season!

Now it appears to be fall.

This morning, however, was clearly winter.


Tomorrow, I figure, is anyone's guess. (But I'm betting it won't be spring.)

This did not, however, prevent us from having a great time at last night's hayride. Many thanks to the guys who put this together, the youth who came (and brought friends! excellent!), and...well...you know who you are. I laughed so hard I fell over. What a great way to celebrate God's creation! (Yes, even the surprising parts.)
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October newsletter

“Built on a rock the Church shall stand,
Even when steeples are falling;
Crumbled have spires in every land,
Bells still are chiming and calling…”
I’ve been thinking about this hymn recently, and not just because of the work being done at Indherred! In this parish, we know that steeples are important—and bells, too. Between our four congregations, we have four beautiful buildings in a variety of styles, standing as a physical witness to the presence of God in our midst, inspiring us to lift our eyes and hearts up to the heavens. We also know that with beautiful church buildings comes the responsibility (and sometimes the burden) of keeping them in good shape! There is always something that needs to be done.

As important as our buildings are, though, Nicolai Grundtvig’s classic hymn “Built on a Rock” (LBW #365) reminds us of what is truly foundational to our life together—no other Rock than Jesus Christ himself! Every earthly building will eventually decay. Every earthly institution will sometimes fail. Every steeple will finally fall (though not, if we can help it, for a very, very long time). But Christ remains constant. Always.

And so where steeples crumble, bells still ring out to call us back to worship. And where bells are silent, we hear God’s Word proclaimed in the voices of worshipers singing, or the cry of a newly-baptized child, or the quiet rustle of pages of Bibles or hymn-books. And Christ is present, because he is faithful to his promise. And, wonder of wonders, in him there is hope—not just in some distant future, but also right here and right now, in this place and with these people, temporary as it is, fragile as we are.

As the hymn concludes with the words of Jesus Christ:
“My peace I leave with you. Amen.”
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A church bell expedition

While at a wedding rehearsal over the weekend, I had a chance to climb up and take a look at Immanuel's bell:
The inscription reads:
HY STUCKSTEDE
BEL FDY CO
ST LOUIS MO
1918
Which I take to mean that it was cast by The Henry Stuckstede Bell Foundry Co. of St. Louis in 1918. This was one of the larger bell foundries west of Cincinnati.

The big wheel to the right allows the bell to be swung via a rope that hangs down below (into the balcony). This takes some doing, as you can imagine, but the sound is incredibly rich. There is also a smaller rope that is attached to a large hammer that will ring the bell (by hitting it) without all that fuss. It's a trade-off. (Just don't try to do both at the same time. That would be bad. Don't do that.)

The view from the bell tower is pretty impressive, too, but I have to admit that I had to be dragged away from looking at the bell in order to see it.

I don't know why I didn't do this ages ago.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, September 28, 2009

Too busy to blog! (youth calendar)

I just finished putting together a brief description of youth events for the next month or so, and let me tell you: it's gonna be so much fun! We have a great bunch of youth and a great bunch of people who love to work with youth. We also have an exciting couple of months planned!

Just FYI, to get this into a more manageable form, the timeline is something like this:
Wed. October 7 - Return of K.I.C.K.
Sun. October 11 - Hayride and Bonfire (invite a friend!)
Wed. October 21 - Meeting about next year's MISSION TRIP!!!
Sun. October 25 - Reformation/First Communion
Wed. October 28 - Set up for Hallowed Eve Carnival
Sat. October 31 - Hallowed Eve Carnival!
Sat. November 14 - Captive Free! (+Sunday morning)
Sat. November 21 - Junior High Youth Gathering

This, of course, does not include the regular weekly stuff like Confirmation, First Communion classes, our adult discussion series on The Shack, or K.I.C.K. (once it gets started). For more information about any of these invents, talk to me or call your church office.

As I've been saying a lot lately: Yes, it's busy. But it's a good busy.

~Pastor Sarah

Monday, September 21, 2009

General updates (or, Monday is office day)

Today is one of those busy but-it's-a-good-busy kind of days. Which happens to involve a lot of sitting in my office, which is not my most favorite thing in the whole wide world (I would much rather be out visiting), but sometimes it has to be done. (In other news, I just don't like Mondays. Never have. Too much time spent as a student. I'm working on it.)

Yesterday afternoon at our meeting to discuss the recent Churchwide Assembly, I mentioned that our synod staff were working hard to produce resources to help us all navigate through faithful responses and reflections. Some are already available here.

We have started to receive information about the Captive Free team that will be coming to Fron in November. From what I've read about this year's team, I'm getting pretty excited! (You can even look on their calendar and see us listed. We are official!)

I am also (and this is the one that is causing me to be in the office all day) working on material for your youth/family meeting tonight. (We're having it at Indherred, and I'm excited about getting the committee out into the community.) One of the big things we are considering is the possibilities for next summer's mission trip. Right now we're looking at going through YouthWorks, a fantastic organization that I've worked with before to great success. (Their model heavily influenced my planning for this summer's "trip" to Starbuck.) Feel free to check out their website and let me know what you think!
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update on the Harvest Supper...

...it smells really, really good. And it's driving me crazy.

Fortunately, it begins in about an hour. This year I'm running take-out orders from the front back to the people who are preparing the orders. Sounds like a great way to work off all the food I intend to eat before my shift!

Now, excuse me while I do a little pastoral poking around behind the scenes. (Hey, I'm learning.)

Update to the update: It was, of course, fantastic. I think I'm still full! The food was so good that at least one gentleman ordered take-out so he could half more the next day! What a delightful experience of our life together in this community!
~Pastor Sarah

It's definitely getting to be fall

Ways I can tell that we are in not-summer-anymore territory:
  1. That one tree across the street that turns red early (you know what I mean, right?) is already losing its leaves.

  2. Rumor is we're supposed to get frost next week. Better harvest the rest of that basil in my garden!

  3. Confirmation and Sunday School are back. With First Communion classes, our adult discussion series, and K.I.C.K. right around the corner (September 23, September 23, and October 7, respectively).

  4. The Fall Harvest Supper at Fron is tonight. Which is kind of hard to miss this week. I can't wait! (The decorations are looking great!)

  5. Bats. (Enough said on that subject.)

~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Resources for CWA

Wow! Between getting ready for the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly (CWA), being at Churchwide Assembly, and recovering from Churchwide Assembly, I haven't been posting much! Sorry about that! I've been taking some time to a. collect my thoughts, b. listen to other people, and c. be really, really busy (which is no excuse because it's nothing new). I was not a voting member, but the group I was with had visitor status, so we were able to be present for some of the important discussions.

Anyway, this delay turns out to be kind of fortuitous, because in the weeks since Churchwide Assembly, I've discovered more helpful resources than I would've had to share when I was right there. (Yes, I was right there. For some of it, anyway.)

So, if you are interested, here are some resources for more information, in no particular order:

A Google search will surely turn up dozens, even hundreds, of other resources, from news articles to personal blogs, some of them more reliable than others (as is always the case with things you find on the Internet). I will be happy to answer questions about the parts that I experienced and to listen to questions and concerns, but I find it most helpful to do that in person rather than online, so it probably won't happen on this blog.
~Pastor Sarah

September newsletter

As I reflect on my experiences at my first Churchwide Assembly, there are a lot of things I still don’t know*. I don’t know exactly what was decided (the policies and procedures adopted will need to be fleshed out over the next weeks and months), I don’t know exactly what it all means, and I don’t know exactly what happens next. But here are a few things that I do know.

First, I am grateful to this parish for allowing me this opportunity. As you may have heard, I was not a voting member, but rather a participant (and planner) for a gathering of young rostered leaders that took place at the same time, which permitted us to observe and experience what was going on at the larger assembly. That event was a great blessing to me and to the others who attended—there were times when I wanted to sing with joy and others when I thought my heart would surely break. God was present in all of them! (I also appreciated the chance to see my father, who was a lay voting member, and who did very well in the vice-presidential election, even though he wasn’t really running. I’m so proud of him!)

Second, I was amazed and impressed by the hard work, dedication, and prayerful spirit of the 1,045 voting members. I am especially thankful for the work of Ed Sievert, who is a member of Indherred and was also a CWA voting member for our conference. Please keep Ed, the other voting members, and all the lay and ordained leaders of this church in your prayers.

Finally, with everything I don’t know, no matter what else I say, no matter how I am feeling at a particular moment, I remember the words of the song I learned as a child, “Jesus loves me, this I know!” As a very young pastor, there’s a lot I don’t know, but any five-year-old knows this one—and it’s still true! Jesus still loves me! And Jesus loves you, too—and each of us.

Jesus loves the voting members at Churchwide Assembly—he loves the 60% who were lay people and the 40% who were clergy. Jesus loves the people who made me want to shout “amen!”—and Jesus loves the people who just made me want to shout. (Jesus also loves the people who may sometimes want to shout at me.) Jesus loves the people I agree with, and the people I disagree with, and the people I’m not so sure about.

And Jesus loves me. And you. And us. It always comes back to that. Isn’t that amazing? Jesus loves us! Enough to die for us, and enough to live for us. That is something I do know. Let’s tell the world!
~Pastor Sarah

*I also don't know the answer to that really pressing question, "what do you actually call those red swirly ribbon things they used in opening worship?"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

News from VBS

So far, we have about a dozen kids at our second VBS for the summer. This time it's CrossWind Parish VBS at Fron. And you know it's been a big hit, because this little guy tried to sneak in:
All you could see were his (?) little bat fingers sticking out from behind the picture of Jesus. Obviously, his heart was in the right place! But since bats and small children do not mix, he had to be evicted, as gently as possible, before the kids arrived. Too bad, because I'm sure he would have had a great time!
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back from the races...

Well, we survived! (Although most of us have very sore arms.) Our parish team got off to a rocky start on the first race, but we improved our time with each successive try. Everyone had a great time, and we are already dreaming of how we will do better next year!

And, most importantly, our boat never tipped over. (Some of us count that as a win all by itself.)
Watch the official website to see if they post results. This year there were over 30 teams! (And the second set of races still managed to be running early, much to the chagrin of practically everyone.)
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Team update

Current confirmed count: 12
Minimum needed for dragon boat team: 17 (16 rowers and a drummer)

Will we get there by our 8:00 practice tonight? Only time can tell.
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Regarding salt and dragon boats

"You are the salt of the earth..." (Matthew 6:13a)
This, I think, is why we are having such a hard time getting a whole team together for the Dragon Boat Festival this weekend. Salt, you see, is not much good if it is all together in the salt shaker--you have to spread it around and mix it in. So we have probably enough CrossWind people out there for at least three teams...but they are scattered throughout the other teams. Salt, get it? I figure that if the team that wins has anybody from our parish on it, we can count that as a win, right?

Actually, if you are are in town and you know anyone who is even remotely interested (or might be persuaded), we could use a few more willing rowers. (Note I said "willing", not necessarily "good" or even particularly "able".) This is a fun way to celebrate our community and our parish while enjoying that beautiful lake that God has give us.

(Also, this is my 100th post on this blog. How should I celebrate?)
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, August 3, 2009

Did you see the rainbow?

This is the last remnant of a truly magnificent double rainbow that appeared over Starbuck on Friday night. With perfect timing, it was at its best just before the St. Johns VBS program. (This shot is outside the back door.)

Sometimes you don't have to preach--you just have to point. Sometimes, though, you don't even have to point. God is just that awesome.

(Let's not talk about how long it took me to figure out that I could send a photo message to an email address and thus have it to upload to the blog.)
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Report from the VBS front

I got to spend the morning hanging out at St. Johns VBS, which was awesome. But that leaves the afternoon for office work, so I have to try to motivate myself. (Almost anything is a letdown after VBS. Office work, more so, especially since it's my day-before-the-weekend.)

This afternoon, the kids went on a field trip to the nursing home in Starbuck to sing for the residents. I'm sure it was great, because I heard them singing--fantastic! They're a little rough around the edges--more enthusiasm than musicality--but that's the way I like it. I love the sound of children really singing--not like they do on most recorded music, all sweetly in tune, but like they do in real life--crazy and all over the place! I wouldn't be surprised if I learned that was God's favorite sound--practically the definition of "joyful noise".
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Prayers: VBS

Today is the halfway point in our parish's first Vacation Bible School of the summer! This week it's happening at St. Johns. On Monday, there were 24 kids! VBS at St. Johns is particularly special because it shows how you can't measure a congregation just by its size. (Many congregations with hundreds of members would be happy to have 24 kids at VBS.) Though it is the smallest congregation in our parish in terms of membership, there is nothing small about the ministry that happens there!

So, lots of prayers this week--prayers of thanksgiving, and also prayers that God will continue to richly bless the ministry of the people of St. Johns in our community. And, while we're at it, prayers that the other Vacation Bible Schools in our area--both Fron and Minnewaska have VBS in August--will also be faith-filled, vibrant places where children and adults can explore God's love together.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, July 27, 2009

August newsletter

We did it! Our 2009 youth mission trip (to Starbuck!) was a great success! How do I know? Well, we had a great time—but more importantly, we all learned about what God is doing here in our own community.

We discovered that God is present in the natural beauties that surround is: in the hills of the State Park, in the tiny little toads by the lakeshore; or even in the small and angry swallow that was nesting outside the nursing home. We discovered that God is most definitely present in the lives of our youth, who pitched in with a smile even when the chores were boring, who were brave enough to try something new, and who were even brave enough to invite their friends.

We saw how God is active in this community, in the warm welcomed we experienced everywhere we went, and especially at our time at the nursing home. And discovered that God is present and active in all four congregations of CrossWind Parish, each one full of generous people of lively faith, showing by our ministry together that the one Lord Jesus who unites us is stronger than anything that could divide us.

I usually report that there were eight participants in the mission trip—six youth and two adult leaders. But the truth is, it took a whole lot more than that to pull it off! So an extra “thank you” goes to everyone who was involved--those who prepared meals, those who helped with service projects, those who shared their time, those who greeted us as we were passing by, and especially those who remembered us in their prayers.

But wait! We’re not done yet! This is when it gets exciting, when we get to take what we learned from our trip and apply it in our everyday lives! So here’s the challenge: think about how you have seen God present and active in our community--and tell somebody about it. And always keep your eyes open to catch what God will be doing next!
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Oops!

I forgot to mention that Monday, July 20th, was technically my one-year anniversary of being installed at CrossWind Parish.

Yay!
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Prayers: National Youth Gathering

Right around...now...ELCA youth from around the country are converging on New Orleans for this year's National Youth Gathering.

In our parish we decided to devote our time to local efforts this summer. However, the national Gathering is also a worthy event, and given that apparently over 37,000 Lutheran youth and adult leaders are supposed to be there, probably also in need of lots of prayers! There are lots of new ways to connect with the Gathering through the Internet, including opportunities to give an offering.

I was a participant at the last gathering in New Orleans (I still have the scrapbook in my office). My youth group was one of a small percentage that participated in service projects in the community. Despite the heat and humidity, we had an awesome time--I still remember seeing neighbors come out and work on their yards as we worked on the public area--and the one who had a tiny baby, and the one who...you get the picture. That was such a success that every gathering since has tried to include a larger service component--and this year, in New Orleans, service is the main focus. This is a massive organizational challenge, not only for the planners but for each individual youth group and leader! So, really, the prayers of those of us who stay at home are just as important as the efforts of those who go!

P.S. I'm sure that New Orleans is fabulous, but this is what we saw:


~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thank you, CrossWind Parish!!!

I have spent the past couple of days industriously writing thank-you notes to anyone I can think of who helped with our mission trip. That's a lot of people! Wow! So, here is another big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed--the youth, their families, all the folks at the congregations and the nursing home and around the community...you can see how it gets to be hard to list everyone!


One thing I keep saying (because it is true) is that we can all be proud of our youth, our congregations, and our community! We had plenty of generous support--without it, the "trip" would not have been so much fun! I did a rough estimate the other day and figured that at least 50 or 60 people were directly involved--and that's not even counting all the folks who were indirectly involved, or who gave us the great gift of their prayers.

Something like this seems to involve a small group of people (6 youth and 2 adults), but really it is a much bigger group that is affected. That's how the church works--all of us pitching in with whatever our gifts and talents may be. Together, with a big added boost from the Holy Spirit, we see that God can do amazing things with us!
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mission trip photos

I've got a display board full of mission trip photos that is currently making the rounds of our parish (that means it goes to St. Johns and Immanuel next Sunday). Afterwards, it will probably stay at Fron for a couple of weeks (most of the youth being from Fron) before I distribute the photos to some of the youth. I don't like to post recognizable photos of youth on the Internet without their permission, so if you want to see them, you'll have to come here!


Here, however, is a preview shot from our faith walk at the State Park on Tuesday.

I am also looking to collect more photos from some other folks, especially the ones who caught things I didn't. (Youth who went on the trip are welcome to email me for a link to an online album, as well.)
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back from the Mission Trip

I had a super-fantastic, amazing, Spirit-filled, all-around-GREAT time on the mission trip. We could not have wished for a better bunch of youth or a more supportive community. Our parish totally rocks!

Right now I still think I need another nap (and my muscles are still really sore), but I'm sure I'll have lots and lots to say in the days and weeks to come!
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July newsletter

I neglected to post this earlier. (My mother was visiting at the time. That's not why I forgot to post this, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
When Jesus read these words from Scripture at the start of his ministry, he wasn’t in some far-away place. He was in Nazareth—his own home town! And although he did go to the bustling city of Jerusalem, most of his work was done not far from his own backyard, in the small towns and countryside where he grew up!

It is in that spirit that we embark on an exciting journey this summer. With youth (and adults) from our parish, we will travel as missionaries—not to far-away places, but right here to our own community. Jesus invites us to participate in the mission he described in Nazareth, and that mission starts right where we are. So we will spend some time this month exploring what God is doing right here in our midst—and perhaps discover that because God is working here, we truly are in one of the most exciting mission fields in the world.

What does it look like to “bring good news to the poor” and “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” in Starbuck? In your neighborhood? In your family? For this month, in celebration of our youth mission trip, I invite you to keep your eyes open and share what you see! Who are the missionaries in your life? Who are the people in your life who could stand to hear the good news? How might God be calling you to be a missionary?
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Today is another anniversary

Today is my first anniversary of not moving. Considering that I had to pack up and move at least twice every year that I was in seminary (and four years of college before that), this is cause for much rejoicing. Among other things, I am settled in sufficiently, for the first time in my life, to have a small herb garden.

(If my posts seem a little light this week, it's because I'm using most of my brain power to work on the mission trip. It's really coming together! There are just lots of little details to work out, as well as some of the devotional materials, etc., to prepare.)
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy anniversary!

Happy anniversary to me, that is. July 7, 2008 was the day I drove into Starbuck last summer. What a difference a year makes!

(Interestingly, though, my house is not a whole lot more organized than it was a year ago at this time. Unpacked, yes. Organized...not really.)
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, July 6, 2009

The day after the parade

Well, it's official: I have been to my first Heritage Days. Wow, that was busy! Highlights (for me, at least) included the variety show on Friday night (at least, the part where I wasn't singing), the craft sale on Saturday, the lefse and tacos-in-a-bag at the sale on Saturday, and the worship service in the park.

Oh, and the parade. I had never been in a parade before, believe it or not. It was great fun, and next year, I'll come much better prepared. (Squirt guns. There should be squirt guns. Or at least one squirt gun--for me, of course. To keep the people on the float entertained while waiting for our turn to go.) An extra congratulations to the young ladies who participated in the Miss Minnewaska competition. (I always knew that the two from our parish were stars.)

Today, the festivities are mostly over, but you can still see a few remnants--notably, a few bits of sparkling streamers along the parade route. Until next year!
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Prayers: Wedding season

This is definitely wedding season in Starbuck--and with four congregations, we keep pretty busy! Early summer weddings are happening, and late summer/fall weddings are in the works. We usually use the PREPARE-ENRICH program for preparation, which is useful and fun (okay, I think it's fun), but it does involve a lot of extra meetings!

I used to worry about working on weddings--what do I know about them, anyway? But now I approach them in the spirit of "we'll learn about this together, which is much more helpful. One of the things I've noticed is that wedding planning seems to be awfully stressful! So some extra prayers would be good--for all those who are getting ready of to be married, and also for those who are recently married. Two people are not supposed to be able to make it on their own--they're supposed to have the support of God and of the whole church!
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reminder: 50 days of prayer

In a post from the end of May, I mentioned that the ELCA Churchwide Assembly is coming, and there has been a request for prayer in the days leading up to it. Starting today!

Voting members will have a lot of hard work and difficult discernment ahead of them, and as our brothers and sisters in Christ, they can always use our prayers!

Some people are concerned about one or another of the issues that will be discussed. Some people aren't all that interested, or hardly even know that there is a church beyond their local congregation. But no matter where we stand, I believe that praying for one another is one of the most faithful and helpful things we can do. When we talk to God, God listens! And when God gets involved, anything is possible. (I think there's something in the Bible about that, even.)
~Pastor Sarah

Saturday, June 27, 2009

More resources for summer Bible study

So, maybe a women's Bible study group isn't your thing. (Or maybe you just can't get enough.) Here are some other resources, from a quick scout around the Internet:

~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Prayers: Women's Bible studies

One of the first things I noticed about this parish is how strong the women's groups are. There are Bible study groups meeting from all four congregations. That's pretty impressive! So this is mostly a prayer of thanksgiving!

Summer is an especially fun time because some of the groups meet together at Berries & Marigolds (muffins and cinnamon rolls, yum), while others will meet in members' homes. This is a great time to get involved if you haven't been attending--you do not have to be a regular member in order to come. (It does help to let the ladies know ahead of time, though.) College students who are home for the summer (or women who are usually working but might have some vacation) would be especially welcome! (Call your church office for dates and times.)

What's really cool is that the entire Bible study for this summer is available online. So if you don't get the magazine or you missed a session, you can jump right in! This summer's study seems like it would even be great for individual devotional reading, if that's more your style or if you can't make it in person.

You can also check out the Lutheran Woman Today blog. They have good taste in blog hosts, don't they?
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to blog while on vacation

  1. Write a few posts before going on vacation.

  2. Schedule them to post while you are gone, because blogger can do that.

  3. Go on vacation.
(How many will there be? When will they be posted? There's only one way to find out!)
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, June 22, 2009

Random highlights from Sunday

The following are some random highlights from our "outdoor" service yesterday afternoon.
  1. The baby sparrow with cute, stubby wings that was lurking in the rafters.

  2. The leak in the ceiling, which happened to fall in the perfect location. I've always wondered what it would be like to have a running water baptismal font!

  3. The rain, which we really needed.

  4. That thing where you throw a hula hoop so that it comes back to you.

  5. The men who sang a capella. (With rain accompaniment, of course.)

  6. Singing "How Great Thou Art" in harmony. With really noisy rain, and birds chirping in the background (it goes with the lyrics, get it?).
~Pastor Sarah

Friday, June 19, 2009

This is my 80th post!

It is also, perhaps, a good time to ask: how frequently should I be posting? I seem to be a bit ahead this month, compared to previous months, although this may change in the next couple of weeks if I manage to actually take actual vacation.

I know that there are at least a few people out there who do occasionally visit (other than my sister). If you are just stopping by, what would it take to get you to comment? Do you like shorter posts, or would you prefer longer posts, with more content? (Is there anybody out there from Starbuck reading this? This could be your chance to let me know!)
~Pastor Sarah

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still no rain

In a last-ditch effort to get some rain, I will now sing (virtually) the Johnny Appleseed grace:
Oh, the Lord is good to me,
and so I thank the Lord,
for giving me the things I need:
the sun and the rain and the appleseed!
The Lord is good to me!
At camp, we used to shout "the sun and the SUN" to drown out "rain" in case anybody forgot and said it. (If you say "the rain", that's supposed to mean it's going to rain, never a desirable thing at camp.) It never actually worked, but it made us feel better.

(Is that random enough for you, Erin?)
~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mission trip update update


Photo by Daniel G DeBlock
- Leiturgia Communications Inc
Within minutes of the last post, the sixth registration walked right into my office. Yay!

Also, just released: photos from synod assembly. (For the doubters, yes, you can see quite a few good shots of Bishop Hanson's stole about which I posted from assembly.) There are a very few pictures of worship services where you can find me if you know exactly where I was sitting, and there are a couple of others where you can see everyone at my table except me, sometimes quite close up. This, in my opinion, makes this the very definition of a good photo gallery from an event I attended.
~Pastor Sarah

Mission trip update

As of now, we have five official registrations and at least one that is about 99% sure. And a couple to a few more that are a strong possibility. So it looks like our summer mission trip is a "go"! (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, I posted about it last week.)

And, of course, anything can happen between now and the end of June, when the late registration period ends. (We just can't be changing the numbers in July. The nice folks who are providing meals need to know what to plan!) So if you or someone you know is interested in participating (or might be talked into being interested), it's not too late! There is even room for college students and other adults who might be willing to donate just a few days of their time.
~Pastor Sarah

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Praying for rain

It seems like every conversation these days comes around to "and we really need some rain" sooner or later. As for myself, I don't much mind that my yard is dry (my neighbors might feel differently), but it's a much bigger deal for farmers. (My basil seems to need something, but I'm not sure if lack of rain would make the leaves turn purplish.)

So it's interesting that this coming Sunday's gospel reading is the story from Mark 4 where Jesus calms the waves during a big storm. It seems a bit ironic, since around here, most folks seem to be hoping for a bit of a storm! It's an interesting twist on the old metaphors--usually we think of storms as times of trial, things to be avoided--but sometimes a good storm is what you need.

I'm not sure if any of this will affect my preaching this week. We'll see.
~Pastor Sarah

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brief report on Synod Assembly

There are lots of things I could say about this year's synod assembly. The worship, as usual, was magnificent and well thought-out. The workshops were good. The dorm rooms have not gotten any better since I left college (although the food was good). And being on the election committee... was probably an honor or something, but it was mostly pretty tedious.

Instead, I think I'll describe one image that I want to take with me. Most people would not be surprised to learn that most of the debate was around the upcoming proposed social statement on human sexuality and related documents. (If you haven't read it, by the way, I recommend that you do. Not just the resolutions, either. The whole thing. There are some helpful FAQs as well.) Not surprisingly, there was a lot of sincere emotion on both "sides" of the debate.

However, at the banquet on Saturday night, I saw people who spoke strongly for certain hotly-debated resolutions and people who spoke strongly against those resolutions--and they were sitting at the same table. If that can still happen, then maybe God is still working here, after all!

(P.S. If you're interested in the other business that happened at the assembly, another synod pastor made a post about the bishop election, and why it matters.)
~Pastor Sarah