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:
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... 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?"