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Where will you find peace this holiday season?

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Coordinator

Crisp air, falling leaves, apple cider…if you haven’t noticed it’s definitely autumn!

I’m probably not alone in thinking that the holiday season can be quite stressful. The last weekend in October, we held an event at St. John’s called “Self Care – In Real Life.” Our speaker, Anna Rendell, walked us through some ideas to care for ourselves every day and especially during the holidays.

Here are some that stuck out to me:

  • When you take out things to decorate if you aren’t in love with it anymore and it doesn’t bring you happiness get rid of it. Donate items that you don’t use anymore and help another family to create new holiday memories!
  • You don’t have to do everything. Do things that are meaningful to you and your family.

Trying to make the “perfect Pinterest Christmas” won’t always bring you joy, it might just drive you nuts. (I took a little liberty with that one!)
Overall, make sure the things you do this holiday season bring you life!!

During Advent, we’ll be hosting a book study called Advent Conspiracy: Making Christmas Meaningful (Again). We’ll be re-focusing on what the season is truly about. For many of us, there is a struggle to find the connection between our Christmas to-do lists and the story of Jesus’ birth. An overwhelming stress has overtaken worship and celebration. This time of year when focusing on Christ should be the easiest is often the hardest. Somehow, this had become the new normal. It is our hope that you might create new patterns of celebrating the season! You can join us on Sundays during Advent starting on December 2 at 9:10 am in the Youth Room.

Lastly, this month we celebrated 3-year-olds as they received a prayer pillow from the congregation. They will all receive prayers every month from December to October 2019. Prayer Pillows were given out on November 4 and 7 at all services. Keep these young ones in your prayers as we support them in learning the power of prayer in their lives.

True disciples

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

Our western idea of faith as cushioned pews and convenient sacrifice flies right in the face of what Jesus called us to. It’s in Luke 9:23-24: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” To which you can almost hear someone saying, “In that case, I think I’d rather run my own life. It sounds like there’s too much to lose in following Jesus.” Well, you need to listen to Jesus’ startling equation, “For whoever wants to save His life (or hang onto his life) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Hang onto your life, you lose it. Give it away and you find it.

Maybe you’ve tried to discount Christianity. It’s very popular. Of course its only a pale shadow of the disciple Christianity Jesus calls us to. You go to the meetings, you believe the beliefs, you give in the offerings, you sometimes read your Bible, and you pray. But it’s a surface commitment, a commitment that still leaves you in control. My guess is that discount Christianity has left you unfulfilled and unsatisfied. It can’t satisfy you. You were made to be abandoned to Jesus, taking up a cross, making choices that might cost you, building His Kingdom instead of yours, and accepting assignments from Him that go way beyond your comfort zone.

And as for “the honor and the rewards?” Jesus said that no one who sacrificed for His great adventure” will fail to receive a hundred times as much in the present age…and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). You can’t out-give Jesus. True Christianity is expensive but it’s ultimately fulfilling and rewarding.

Jesus asks you to take your commitment to Him at a whole new level. And you can be sure the cost of not following Him is far greater than the cost of following Him. He’s waiting for your answer to His invitation. By God’s grace, your answer will be, “Jesus, I will cheerfully join you and I will partake of the dangers, difficulties, and fatigues. I anticipate the honor and the rewards.

As we are beginning a new fall season, let us encourage each other to worship regularly, pray daily, give generously, and to serve others to show our love for God and for others. There are many opportunities here at St. John’s to help you to make that commitment.

Please keep our call committee in your prayer as they are discerning to call our new senior pastor.

Ongoing opportunities this summer

  • Adult Bible Forum with Pastor John
    Sundays, 10:00 am
    Conversation going deeper into scripture.
  • Prayer Group with Pastor Nirmala
    Mondays, 10:00 am
    We pray for our congregation, community, and world.
  • Lutheran 101 with Pastor John
    Thursdays, 6:00 pm
    Learn more about the fundamentals of Lutheran faith, practice, and teaching.

Praying Together

Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt
Interim Pastor

What is the distinguishing mark of the Christian church?

PRAYER

Throughout redemptive history, corporate prayer has been a primary focus of God’s people. Former ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson once commented that “A praying church is a growing church.” I am convinced of that truth throughout my ministry.

We must be praying people, first, because we know that our only help in the name of the Lord. It is the Lord who builds the house and watches over the city, who gives success to the church’s mission. In praying together, we admit that we are helpless. In prayer, we ask God to do the awakening, regenerating, maturing, and gifting that only He can do.

Secondly, when we pray together, we testify and remind one another that our hope comes from somewhere else entirely. We are not wringing our hands, desperate for human solutions.

Thirdly, when we pray together we grow in love for one another. Each person who is united to Christ, everyone who loves Him and is loved by Him, is also bound together with us in love.

I write this article to remind ourselves of the power of Corporate Prayer. It is a critical time in the life and the mission of St. John’s Lutheran Church. We have formed a call committee to choose our Senior Pastor.

We need to come together in Prayer seeking wisdom and discernment in selecting our new shepherd.

I am available on Mondays at 10:00 am to lead a prayer group. We gather just to pray. All are welcome!

Prayers for our travelers

We have two groups of travelers this month. Our confirmation students will be at Sugar Creek Bible Camp in Ferryville, WI June 10-15 and a bunch of our High Schoolers will be headed to Houston, TX for the ELCA National Youth Gathering with thousands of youth from around the country. Pray for safe travel and that God may speak to them through these experiences.

Growing Young

Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

In February’s Messenger article I spoke a little bit about the book, Growing Young, that comes out of the Fuller Youth Institute in California.

February’s article centered around the concept of the warm community and how important it is to get to know the people around you. By getting to know one another we are able to have empathy for one another’s joys and challenges. By getting to know one another we truly become the people of God, one body in Christ.

During this Lenten season I am contemplating and daily trying to sit with one of the other important concepts that comes out of that book, namely, to take Jesus’ message seriously. When I started to think about that concept in a real way I realized that I have some serious work to do. What is the main way that we can take Jesus’ message seriously? By pulling out our Bibles and engaging with God’s word every day. Now, as someone who works in a congregation for a living you would think that I get to do this on a regular basis, but when I thought about it I have fallen desperately short. The past year plus has been pretty busy not only at St. John’s, but also in my personal life as we work to figure out how to help our son, Oliver, overcome his apraxia of speech. Most days I find myself simply trying to make sure I have eaten enough and gotten what needs to happen taken care of.

But during this time of Lent I wanted things to be different. Small steps, for me, is the only way to really create a habit. When I overwhelm myself in an attempt to get it right the first time…that is usually when I find myself stumbling, falling, and going back to old habits. In trying to set an intention for this Lenten season I came across an excellent spiritual practice in the book we are reading for the moms’ book study, Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline. One of the practices which the author suggests is concentrating on your breathing. Try it. Breathe in slowly and completely, then hold for a second. Breathe out slowly and completely, then observe the moment between breaths. Try this a few times throughout your day. Be intentional. Think on this verse when you do, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4). And just like that you have made something you do without thinking into a prayer, into worship.

Prayer Stations

During Lent on Sundays and Wednesdays there will be different interactive prayer stations available for all ages to try out. There will be a variety of activities rotating during those weeks, but they will all center around the concept of spiritual practices and ways that we can take our faith into our ordinary lives. Check them out – you may find a great new way to connect with your faith!

Recommitting to Prayer

Amanda Sabelko
Children, Youth, & Family Ministry Director

Labor Day weekend again marked the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year at St. John’s!

We’ll be getting back into the groove of things for Sunday School, Oasis, and Club 56 starting the week of September 17. Registration forms are available in the office or at www.stjohnskasson.org/lifelong-learning

This year I am working on different ways to strengthen my own prayer life. In the coming weeks, I plan to start a daily prayer practice. It will be open to others who are looking for a place to listen to God and the world around us. If we truly believe prayer is meant to be a conversation with God we must take time to center ourselves on Godís Word and just listen. As you finish your summer out, I pray that youíll take a little time to be still.

Look for God every day

LindsayColwell 2017webLindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

When people aren’t familiar with the type of job that I have or are not familiar with St. John’s they tend to say to me as the school year winds to a close, “Things must be slowing down for you now that the school year is ending, right?” Usually that produces a laugh from me and the comment, “No, I am actually MUCH busier in the summer.” I spend my summer preparing last-minute details for the high school and confirmation trips, putting together summer mid-week worship with Amanda, and trying desperately to get everything ready for the coming school year. Three months sounds like a lot of time, but in reality it goes by in a flash.

This summer in mid-week worship around the fire pit we are using a book called Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. The book outlines how everything from waking up in the morning to checking email to going to bed are sacred practices in the life of our faith. We are also spending time concentrating on prayer. How can we not only make prayer a more regular part of our lives, but how can we pray for one another. One of the things that we are trying out is writing our prayer requests for the week on a Post-It note and then at the end of the service taking home someone else’s prayer request to include in our own prayers. Busy lives get in the way of our faith at times, but perhaps if we spend a little time shifting our perspective about what prayer looks like we will see that our entire day can be seen as a prayer. I have a quote up in my office that says, “God comes to you disguised as your life” (Paula D’Arcy).liturgy-of-the-ordinary

Take a moment to look around and see where God is showing up in your life. Take a moment to pray for someone else. Open your eyes to the possibility of the sacred in the everyday ordinary occurrences in your life. Find a few moments this summer to set aside the busyness and thank God for the wonder that is life. God’s blessings to you in your sacred, ordinary life.

 

Interactive Prayer Stations

Everyone is invited to join us after Wednesday night worship during Lent for interactive prayer stations. Adults and kids alike can color, work with Legos, check out the blessing wall, and more changes to explore new ways to pray. Join us in the Narthex starting Wednesday, March 8 at about 7 pm (after worship).

Praying, sending, welcoming, & listening – what our mission trip needs

LindsayCowell2Lindsay Colwell
Youth Ministry Coordinator

July! How is it already so far into summer! As I write this I am surrounded by paperwork and resources as I prepare for this month’s senior high school mission trip to Philadelphia. St. John’s will be sending 13 students and 4 adults to Philadelphia July 15-23 to participate in service work through YouthWorks, a non-denominational Christian service trip organization. Our group will be learning about urban gardening, poverty issues, and food sustainability. The people of St. John’s have generously supported us over the past several months as we have prepared for this trip. You have attended our Chili Cook-off, joined us for Sunday morning coffee, and let us cook soup suppers and Sunday morning breakfasts for you. Through all of this food-related fundraising you have been overwhelmingly generous with both your time and your money, and for that we are immensely grateful.

And now, I have another favor to ask of you. This is much more difficult than giving $20 here and $5 there. What our students and adult leaders will need most from you is emotional and logistical support. Our mission team needs your support and feedback. We need your prayers for safe travel and God’s presence to be tangible as we serve in Philadelphia. We need you to send us off with encouragement. We need you to receive us as we return with open arms of welcome, listening ears to help us process our experiences, and willingness to help us apply what we learned in Philadelphia to our own context here at home in Kasson. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for our youth!

An easy way to pray & bless each day

Amanda Sabelko CYF Ministry Development Director

Amanda Sabelko
CYF Ministry Development Director

Amanda Sabelko, AIM
CYF Ministry Development Coordinator

Over the past few months Lindsay and I have been walking through the Faith 5. We’ve learning about sharing highs and lows, reading a Bible verse or story and talking about the Bible reading as it relates to our highs and lows.

This month we’ll be looking at the last two steps of Faith 5 – prayer and blessing.

Pray. Take your highs and lows to God in prayer: 1) Thank and praise Jesus for the highs; 2) Ask the Holy Spirit’s help with the lows; 3) Close in Jesus’ name.

Bless. Close your evening with a simple blessing. Trace a cross on each other’s foreheads while saying – “You are a blessed Child of God.”

Even if your family was to do these last two steps each day, imagine how it might change your perspective.  Taking our excitement and worries to God calms the soul. And the daily reminder that you belong to God can empower you and your children to live like Jesus every day!

Learn more at www.faith5.org and on the bookmarks at the Welcome Center or in the office.

 

Friday Roundup – November 13, 2015

What have we been up to in the last week?

Prayer Pillows Milestone

Last Sunday and Wednesday we celebrated a faith Milestone by presenting 3-year-olds with Prayer Pillows. Throughout the year, they will receive a postcard of prayers to learn with their family, one each month. The pillows are made by Colleen Jacobson and are a gift from St. John’s in part of keeping up with our congregation’s baptismal promises.

Prayer Pillows for 3 yr olds

WELCA Thankoffering

The women of St. John’s celebrated their Women of the ELCA (WELCA) thankoffering on Sunday the 8th. The celebration included bringing food and supplies for  SEMCAC Food Shelf and special offerings which are sent to Churchwide Women of the ELCA. These offerings are then used to support and strengthen our partnership in supporting the important ministry efforts of women. Thankofferings show gratitude for God’s blessings. Women have been celebrating Thankofferings since 1889 along with Episcopal and Methodist women. Thankofferings make it possible to support many different programs and organizations.

Kickoff to 12th Grade Quilt Milestone

Each year, high school seniors at St. John’s are invited to receive a quilt from St. John’s upon their graduation. They work throughout the year to choose the fabric and help put the quilt together, so they have to start early! They met for the first time on Sunday. If you missed it, contact Lindsay (Lindsay@stjohnskasson.org or (507) 634-7110) to get started. Thank you to Jen Smith for coordinating this ministry!

Pastors Mioche & Joas Visited from Haiti

Pastor’s Mioche and Joas visited from Haiti on Wednesday. For 11 years we have supported Pastor Mioche’s ministry. It was great to get an in-person update from them! Read more about this ministry partnership here.

Operation Christmas Child Packing Party

Operation Christmas Child packing is in full swing and people gathered Wednesday night for another session of packing boxes. Next week starts National Collection Week and other organizations will be brining their packed boxes to St. John’s.

Ministry of Encouragement to City Hall

On Thursday, November 12, we had a great visit to Kasson City Hall to express our appreciation for all the people there do to keep our community running. And the new City Administrator was even able to be there!

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Family Trip to the Dells

Right now five families from St. John’s having a blast (we hope!) in Wisconsin Dells at an indoor water park. It’s a great excuse to get away and pretend to be somewhere tropical!

The Gift of Prayer

NirmalaReinschmidtDo you pray? Do you pray often, or only occasionally? Is prayer important to you?

I ask you these questions because prayer and praying are essential for your life of faith. Like a breath to the human body, prayer makes the spirit live. Without it, faith dies. On the other hand, person who prays grows in spirit and life.

Prayer is a gift of God. “Gift” is a good word to describe prayer, because praying is not something we can do of ourselves. “We do not know how to pray as we ought,” scripture says. Prayer is a gift God must give. God gives that gift generously to all. So we need to receive that gift and enjoy using it.

Why does God give the gift of prayer? The main reason is because God’s love for us.  God looks for intimacy with us. How strange that sounds! God all-sufficient, all powerful, all-knowing, wishes to draw close, to communicate, to speak to us, to seek our response, to hear our prayer. It may seem unbelievable, but it is true

At the same time, by praying we fulfill the desire we have as human beings to know God. After all, we are made in God’s image. Something in our being thirsts for intimacy with God. That thirst is described.

May we use this Lenten season as a time of worship and prayer

Peace
Pastor Nirmala Reinschmidt