On November 10 & 13 at all services all 3-year-olds receive a prayer pillow from the congregation. They will then receive written prayers each month December through October 2020. Keep these young ones in your prayers as we support them in learning the power of prayer in their lives.
Can you believe it’s already September? The summer flew right by, actually this entire year has been a blur! The ease of summer is now gone and with it comes the busyness of fall. Starting school, the beginning of harvest, sports, raking leaves…the list of things on our plate is endless.
In my family, this was always an anxious time of year. Growing up on a farm in western North Dakota, there were always worries about harvest time. How would the harvest turn out? Did it rain enough? Too much? Will the market go up? Mostly things we couldn’t control. I remember listening to my dad and other farmers sitting around coffee talking about the weather and the markets; all the worries on their minds. It’s hard not to think about everything that could go wrong.
When something is constantly on your mind, Paul calls on us to talk to God about it. In Philippians 4:6, it says “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Ask God to bear that particular burden for you. Worry doesn’t do anything but suck the life out of today. I can’t say it’s easy not to worry, in fact I’ll be the first to admit that this is a daily challenge for me.
While this fall might bring anxious times, I pray that you also find peace. Whether it be in a literal harvest of crops or the abundance of life around you, may you experience the assurance of God’s grace and love in your life. Hear this blessing – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
The season of Lent is upon us as we head into the month of March. I started to fall in love with Lent when I was in seminary. Growing up, my family never practiced the discipline of giving things up for Lent. To be honest, most of my memories around Lent revolved around going to worship and the emphasis being put on Easter morning.
When I started seminary in 2007, I fell in with a great group of friends who taught me how to immerse myself in the season of Lent. I think Lent appealed to me because there was an element of dark in it, an element of it’s okay to not be okay. As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety for a long time it felt good to feel that acceptance and the call of God to find peace in the saving death and resurrection of his Son. Seminary was also the first place that I encountered the practice of taking on a discipline for that season, rather than giving up something. I have never been good at giving things up, especially when I try to do it intentionally. I don’t know about you, but for me, habits are hard to cultivate and they are even harder to break. But for this Lent, what about trying something new with me? Well, it isn’t that new, since I introduced the idea to you last Lent in some of our prayer stations. The idea comes from the book, Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline by Catherine McNiel. Let’s try taking on the spiritual discipline of prayer. But there is no need to make it complicated. Try reciting the Lord’s Prayer in your head when walking. Try taking 5 minutes to breathe deeply with the words of John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Let’s see if we can allow the Lenten season to become part of who we are this year, rather than just another thing we have to do. May the peace of the Lord go with you now and always.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
Mark your calendar, register, and pray for travelers
- Youth Retreat
- Dr. Seuss VBS
Ages 3-4th grade
- Family Fun Night
- Colorado Backpacking Trip
June 24-July 1
- Action Packed Day Camp
- Colorado Backpacking Trip
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).
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!