from the pastor's desk

Bounce Ahead?

Catherine Anderson, the NE MN Synod Minister for Discipleship and Christian Community recently sent another of her outstanding updates to the leaders of the Synod, that included this insight:

                           We know planning and returning to ministry this fall isn’t going to be easy. Covid variants, parent and youth 
                           hesitation to gather in- person, anger that we aren’t doing enough in-person, young people who aren’t
                           eligible to get vaccinated and the impact of 18+ months of disruption mean the path forward isn’t necessarily
                           clear.


I must admit, I have been minimizing those impacts as I have been involved in planning ministry with you for the coming month and beyond. A really big part of me wants to plan as if everything will be normal, or “normal-ish.” In spite of the little stuffed Tigger on my desk reminding me not to “bounce back” but “bounce ahead,” I keep slipping back into “it will be like before” mode.


It will not be like before.


There is some evidence of that already as the Christian Education Team and Worship Arts and Music Team have tried to get a sense of how many of you we will be directly working with in the coming months. So far, very few of you have let us know if you will be coming. Sunday Worship’s “in-person” numbers rise and fall like a Midway ride at the State Fair. Our cooperative Confirmation Ministry Team with Zion has encountered the same ambiguity.


Bottom line? We don’t know who to plan for. Catherine offered this encouragement in her article for us in the midst of this transition, “But regardless of what comes, God is still at work in and through you, multiplying your ministry in ways you can’t even imagine. You are enough because your God is abundantly more than enough!”


With that encouragement, there are things your Council Advisory Team here at Our Savior’s is called to lead us into, now, during this time of transition prompted by the retirement of Associate Pastor Karen Linné.


1. Pastoral Ministry will be supported. Pastor Joy Armstrong has been contracted to serve, at least for a transitional time (and hopefully beyond), as 10 hrs./wk. Visitation Pastor. She will also be the first Pastor to be contacted for Supply Preaching and emergency contact in my times of absence. Pastor Joy is a member here at Our Savior’s, an ordained ELCA Minister of Word and Sacrament and eager to begin her service here in mid-September.


2. Planning for the future will be supported. This is another ministry that the Council Advisory Team is called to lead us into. To that end, Pastor Phil Blom, an ordained ELCA Minister of Word and Sacrament and son of Our Savior’s (his father was Pastor Arnold Blom, who served Our Savior’s during the construction of the bulk of Our Savior’s current building) will be contracted to help lead us in Transitional Planning. He too is eager to aid Our Savior’s in pro-actively planning for the best ministry to meet the transition at hand and beyond. We expect his service to start with Our Savior’s in October.


3. The functional aspects of the entirety of Our Savior’s ministry will be supported. The Administrative Assistant will return to a “full-time” position, enabling Our Savior’s current Administrative Assistant, Katie Keller, more effectively function for the good of all the ministry teams and staff.


Together, those temporary adjustments to Our Savior’s staff configuration, will not exceed the budgeted expenses planned for Pastor Karen had she remained in her call as our Associate Pastor.


There is a lot going on. There are lots of moving parts that we don’t even yet know about. But Catherine is right, I believe, God is at work in and through you… us! God is preparing to multiply the ministry we share as God’s people here at Our Saviors “in ways [we] can’t even imagine. You are enough because your God is abundantly more than enough!”

Together we can “bounce ahead!” I believe that, so I remain on that journey with you!

 

 

Pastor Chris 

Pastor karen's musings

Vision: Yours, Mine and Ours

 

   I’ve been thinking about vision and eyesight lately as I’ll be having cataract surgery sometime in April. People tell me it’s not really a big deal, it only takes about 15 minutes and yes, that is true. However, I have a history with eye surgery so I have a different view of this surgery. Fifteen years ago, I had a visual disturbance and saw my ophthalmologist who sent me immediately to a specialist. She looked in my eye and said, “You will be having surgery tomorrow.” Wow. Turns out, I had holes in my retina (different than a detached retina) which the surgeon was able to plug somehow. I had an eye patch for a few days, my eye looked really gross, I needed eye drops four times a day and had double vision for awhile. Since surgery, I just don’t see as well out of that eye. (My vision was usually 20/50 and last month it was 20/100). My cataract surgery will take 30 minutes (still a short while) because of cleaning out the scar tissue. But I do get a little anxious about being awake and because of my last surgery, I’m a bit hesitant even though I expect this will be much easier. And yes, I will put myself on the prayer chain for that surgery and recovery. I probably will see better after the surgery than I do now so that will be a welcome change. I’m just not too keen about going through the process which will result in better vision. 

   I have also been thinking about how my views of the world have changed. In my teens, I thought issues (such as abortion) were pretty black and white. I have learned over the years that there are many shades of grey and issues are more complex than they initially seem. I had not even heard the term Doctrine of Discovery regarding views of our native brothers and sisters until last fall. With all the civil unrest following the murders of George Floyd and other black individuals, I’ve become more aware of advantages that I have simply because I am white. How many issues am I not aware of at all? The older I get, the more I realize how little I know.

    How will our worship and environment change here at Our Savior’s following this year of not meeting together due to the coronavirus? (On page 1, Pastor Chris referred to Deacon Brenda’s well-written article). Will we simply slide back into doing things the way we’ve always done them because it is easier? Might we realize that things that bothered us before are really not a big deal? Might our awareness/view of issues here change? Might we ourselves be tools for positive change?

    I’m hopeful that my vision will improve once this surgery and the healing process are completed. May we as a faith community emerge from this coronavirus absence more aware of the Holy Spirit prompting us to perhaps “see” issues known and unknown in a new way. And through it all, yes, God is present. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. And with the empty tomb at Easter, we are reminded that “Death does not have the last word.” Good news for all of us; especially those who grieve the deaths of loved ones no matter when they occurred. Thanks be to God.

 

About Good Friday

 

   Every Good Friday, we remember Jesus’ death on the cross. As we confess our faith using the Apostles’ Creed, we state in the second article “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was…crucified, died and was buried.”  And we probably can envision Jesus on the cross with his arms and feet nailed to the cross. Here’s a little more information about that form of execution from articles by Dr. David Terasaka and Dr. Andreas Lambrianides. I would note that it is rather unsettling and not for the squeamish.

  “Crucifixion was invented and used by the Persians as far back as 400 BC. The Romans perfected it as a method of execution which caused maximal pain and suffering over a period of time. Roman citizens were not subjected to this treatment. Crucifixion was discontinued by the emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD.

  The crucifixion site was purposely chosen to be outside the city walls because the Law forbade such within the city walls for sanitary reasons. The crucified body was sometimes left to rot on the cross and serve as a disgrace, a convincing warning and deterrent to passers-by.

   The sedulum served as a crude seat attached midway down the vertical post. When the victim pushed up on his feet, respirations became easier, but the pain in the legs mounted. When the pain became unbearable, the victim slumped down on the sedulum with the weight of the body pulling on the wrists. The victim alternated between lifting his body off the sedulum in order to breathe and slumping down on the sedulum to relieve pain in the feet. Eventually, he became exhausted or lapsed into unconsciousness so that he could no longer lift his body off the sedulum. In this position, with the respiratory muscles essentially paralyzed, the victim suffocated and died. The average time of suffering before death by crucifixion is stated to be about 2-4 days. Sounds excruciating doesn’t it?”

   Much of Jesus’ life was about not breaking expectations. (Remember, folks thought that the “king” would be born in a royal home, not a stable!) Deuteronomy 21:23 states, “Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.” There was no distinction made between a tree and a cross. No one believed that the Messiah would die under a curse. No one believed that Jesus would hang out with tax collectors and sinners and yet he did. I am glad he did. Remember the quote, “If you draw a line in the sand and are sure Jesus is on your side, you can be sure Jesus is on the other side!” Our faith can certainly challenge us!