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


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

~Pastor Sarah

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Prayers: National Youth Gathering

Right 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 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 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