We (I am not sure what the right word is…) survived…, celebrated…, endured…, adapted to…, enjoyed…, tolerated…, a COVID Christmas. Whatever word fits your experience of it, I pray that the true message of it, the hope, peace, joy and love of it, the “God incarnate” of it, made a vital difference in your life. I suppose we will see about that in the coming days. Sometimes it is hard to know early on what kind of lasting impact (if any) an experience will reveal in your life.
The ancient Church, as it shaped the yearly flow of worship seasons we as Lutherans still embrace, seemed to have understood this. Epiphany follows Christmas. Epiphany allows us to ask questions of our lives like “what does it mean to us that Jesus is born?” “What is God’s appearance in the world way back then doing to my life now?” The Sunday Gospel lessons for Epiphany guide us in our shared, communal exploration of that “revealing,” and, together with the other Sunday readings, will help us see if the Christmas message of “peace on earth, good will toward humanity” can really take hold in this world. Sometimes it seems like “peace and goodwill” are not making much progress in our world. The message of Epiphany is that God is at work, revealing hope, peace, joy, and love in real people like you.
May it truly be so among us; I am on that journey with you.
This year Epiphany will also reveal an ever-widening variety of ways the faith community surrounding Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Cloquet can work together to support those human acts of hope, peace, joy and love.
We have seen remarkable support from the larger expressions of our Church, the Synod and the ELCA in the past challenging months. Pastor Karen, Children Youth and Family Ministry Director Jennifer and I have been prayed for, encouraged, supplied with ideas, and in general, had our ministry leadership supported by the ministry leaders of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod and Churchwide ELCA. Our Savior’s has been able, in the past three years as a part of the Rejoice Renew Reach Mission Appeal to provide financial support for the World Hunger ministries of the Synod and Churchwide ELCA. Beyond that special appeal, Our Savior’s has been unable to financially support those larger expressions of our church for a number of years. Together, you and I need to creatively explore ways to return to vigorous support of our church, including Voyager’s Outdoor Ministry. Our new Synod Bishop, Amy Odgren has pledged to continue to support us here at Our Savior’s. The rest of the Synod staff has a proven history of being there for us. Elsewhere in this Messenger you can find a listing of the newly identified Synod Ministers who will be serving us and how they will serve with us.
Supporting the work of our church is vital in these times; I am on that journey with you.
Another facet of the ever-widening variety of ways the faith community surrounding Our Savior’s can work together that is being explored this Epiphany has to do with re-imagining the impact of the Rejoice Renew Reach Mission Appeal for the longer haul of Our Savior’s ministry. Officially the Mission Appeal wrapped up this past September. You may have noted, however, that you were asked to consider continuing your financial support for it in 2021. There was a letter sent with that encouragement as well as an option on your “Pledge Card” to share your plans to continue your support. (The results of the Mission Appeal as a whole are detailed in this year’s Annual Report for Our Savior’s Annual Meeting on January 24. I encourage you to look for that report; it will be mailed to Our Savior’s members this year to assure we all get it in a timely fashion in preparation for the Remote Annual Meeting. Details of how that meeting will work will be coming soon.)
The re-imagining of the impact of the Mission Appeal is necessary. The financial realities of supporting the work of Our Savior’s Church, and especially the Ministry Staff, have evolved considerably as a result of the successes of the Rejoice Renew Reach Mission Appeal. Thanks to you and your support, Our Savior’s has an excellent crew of Ministry Staff in place serving you and serving with you with a consistent message of hope, peace, joy and love, made real in our world today.
Continuing to prayerfully and financially support that ministry is vital; I am on that journey with you too!