summertime!

So here are a few things (well, a few more than a few) going on that people ought to know about:
1. Both Pastor Sherri and I will spend a week at Red Willow Bible Camp this summer as the on-site pastor of the week. Awesome! I’m looking forward to reporting for duty Sunday afternoon and hanging out with some highschoolers.
2. On Friday, June 13 (yep, Friday the 13th) TCM will be meeting up at the New Rockford musical. If you wish to meet us there for the performance, go to http://dprca.com/ or call 701-947-2174 to get tickets reserved.
3. Pastor Sherri is starting a bible study at Trinity on Tuesday mornings at 9. The topic will be the upcoming sermon text each week. I am thinking that an evening study would be excellent, so look for that in July.
4. Speaking of sermon texts, we are going to be doing three (yes, three) sermon series this summer: Ruth, Wisdom (selections from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) and Spiritual Gifts. Ruth starts June 15 (or 19 in Hannaford), so please join us!
5. Wednesday evening services began at Faith in Hannaford last night (true sign of summer, right?)
6. Some churches will be having worship at the lake, so please keep your eyes on calendars and bulletins for time AND location changes.

I’m sure there is more to come, but we’ll keep you posted!

Advertisements

Adventure at a preaching festival

So I drove to Minneapolis in a thunderstorm
Went to IKEA
Walked and took bus
Worship (where I spent much time looking for familiar faces)
Storyteller
National Lutheran choir (I knew someone)
Then back to dorm where as soon I laid down and tried to sleep, fire alarm went off.
What a day!

Farewell, February

Okay, so this past month has seen astounding amounts of complaining about the cold.
I don’t know about you, but this winter has pushed me to the limits of what I can handle. I had no problem moving to North Dakota a couple years ago because I thought “I prefer cold to heat.”
But I have since had to learn to clarify my language a bit more: “I love cool or cold temperatures, but the artic blasts and frigid temperatures are too much.”
I find it amusing the first couple times the thermometer drops below zero.
It has ceased to be amusing.
In fact, my current goal is to look at the weather forecast and not see any negative signs anywhere attached to numbers.
Simple, right?
Well, I keep hoping and praying.

But I do strive to see the good in everything. So while the temperatures may be negatives, there are some positives.
(did you catch that double meaning…negative as in bad and in super cold?)

Positives:
– sundogs. Gotta love weather phenomenon that shock and awe.
– pretty blue skies. In case you don’t pay attention, the color of the sky is a pale, pretty blue when it is ridiculously cold. In summer it is a deeper, richer hue.
– snow days (or cold days or ice days). Who doesn’t like a day off? The perfect way to change plans: enforced time to stay in your pajamas.
– sunglasses. Seriously, the snow is blinding so you should protect your eyes.
– clear roads. No ice forms or sticks to roads because it is too cold to melt in order for it to become ice. I’m not looking forward to the great melting.
– sweaters. I love sweaters. I love to feel warm and cozy.
– earflaps. If you haven’t seen me around, I have two fuzzy hats with earflaps. Stylish and practical! And only acceptable in subzero temps.
– remote starter. My Christmas gift to myself this year was breaking down and buying that handy little remote.
– permafrost. Well, I’m not sure if this word actually applies, but I was fascinated to hear people say that some areas have frost 5 1/2 feet deep. That’s taller than me. Impressive…
– crisp air. Just smells fresher and cleaner than summer. If you can inhale it into your lungs, that is.

Today is the 28th of February.
Tomorrow is March. In like a lion this year? A really cold lion, perhaps?

When I think of the many blizzards we had last Feb/Mar, I think I’ll stick with the cold.
I really didn’t like shoveling snow that much…

So close you can almost taste it…

Well, some of us have already started tasting the delicious foods that show up once a year.

But for many, the countdown has shifted from days to hours.

Less than 24 hours from now, people will be gathering for Christmas Eve services. We will hear the good news of Christ’s birth. We will sing songs we know by heart. We will light candles. We will be moved and inspired by how God interacts with us. 

Our waiting is almost at an end. 

And yet we continue to wait. 

We will celebrate and rejoice but we also wait with bated breath for the big changes that will come when Christ comes again, not just when we remember a birth. 

We wait and can sense change is coming because we know Christ truly is Emmanuel, God with us. Christ is Jesus, God saves. Christ is the Messiah, Anointed One, chosen to rule and lead God’s people in this world and the next.

Isn’t it exciting and wonderful and amazing?

Summer is winding down…

Sad face, right?

Hard to believe that summer is basically over for many of us. The weather warms up again to over 90 degrees for the first time in weeks (I miss the cooler temps already) just in time for students and teachers to reenter the school buildings (hopefully with air conditioning). Farmers have started to harvest crops (barley and wheat, from what I as a non-farmer understand). And we at TCM are plotting and planning for confirmation and Rally Sundays.

This summer has been full of adventure and fun. The last time I posted was shortly after the skating at RWR. After that, I was a world traveler who visited three countries (Iceland, Germany and Canada – although Canada was just for one night), went to Nashville twice (after never having been there before, I visited my sisters one trip and attended a conference the other), and flew with 6 different airlines (5 over the course of 3 weeks in June). I toured numerous locations that I have never seen before and some I had not seen in years. I saw old friends and met new colleagues. I even went to my high school reunion where we opened some time capsules from 5th grade. Talk about sharing old memories and catching up on the recent changes in life…

But it was not all fun in other states/countries:
– McVille Days with the outdoor picnics and the canoe races and the baseball games and the 5k (yep, I walked it with some TCM members!)
– Glorious days for hanging laundry outside to dry
– Clergy retreat in Grand Forks through the Presbytery (have to admit that the waterpark attached to the Canad Inn and Alerus center was impressive, especially for being indoors)
– watching the helicopters as men dangled below in order to hang up the new powerlines

But laid-back summer is transitioning to education-filled autumn. It’s always bittersweet at this time of year as vacations end, weather starts to turn (but not for some time…), and classes resume (I admit openly that I am a nerd at heart who likes learning).

May God bless the fun and adventure we have in life while constantly helping us to grow and learn in faith and love

Pastor Kara

Lenten reflection #1

During the season of Lent, we are shaping our Wednesday services around phrases taken from the popular song “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”
Our first two weeks were structured around the first two lines of the song: “Beneath the cross of Jesus I long to take my stand” and “The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land”
Pastor Joel worked with the first line and I worked with the second.

I talked about rocks.
Rocks are firm, solid, able to withstand much pressure, unchanged by water or wind.
Rocks can provide shelter and serve as barriers from harsh circumstances that endanger lives, like a shadow in a sun-filled and weary land.
Rocks are good things to have in a desert.

But that is not the only reference to rocks.
We know that God is our rock (see Psalm 18 for an example), but how many of us think of other people as our rocks, our pillars of strength and shelter?
Even in the Bible, people realized that people in our lives could be rocks sent by God.

I learned that Isaiah 32 is where we find a reference to a the mighty rock in a thirsty land. In this passage, we read that God will send leaders who will be just and righteous, who will provide a break from the not-so-pleasant leaders the Israelites have been living with and under. These rocks will come at the time in their lives when they are in need of safety and strength and shelter.

So we worship God our Rock and we thank God for the gift of other rocks sent into our lives to be sources of shelter and strength, in the midst of the harshest storms in life.

Pondering

I often wonder about life.
Why we exist.
What our purpose is.
Whether we should seek change through our actions or wait for God to act.
Why we spend so much time preparing for the future and forget to live in the moment.

For the February newsletter, I wrote up an article about preparing ourselves.
We live in a world where we receive warnings that may be ignored or heeded.
Totally up to each one of us.
Some days I prefer the ignorance and denial. I would rather simply wait and see what will happen in life.
Other days I prefer to heed the warning and start preparing. I make lists and try to predict the future events.

But today I find myself just thinking.
I’m not preparing for the future.
I’m not pretending that warnings don’t exist.
I’m pondering.

Yes, I still plan and prepare and pretend.
But I also sit and reflect.

Over the last couple days, I have received a few compliments for my short article in the Feb 2013 TCM newsletter.
And while it is not unheard of to receive compliments, I ponder what exactly speaks to people.
I’m curious what exactly connects with people.
I’m curious if it is a new thought or one they encountered new ones.
I’m curious how the words affect lives.
I know that whatever I write or speak will not matter unless the Spirit is active.
When God gets involved, words contain much more power.
And that seems to be the case yet again.

Here are the words I wrote early one morning (the text arrived at 4:51 am and I wrote this article before going back to sleep):

Recently I was woken up in the wee hours of the morning when my phone started making a weird noise. Since I was sleeping, I was confused enough to think it was dying. But it turned out that it was a message to warn me about a blizzard. It would not disappear until I confirmed that I read the warning. I literally had to click a “Confirm” button so that I could go back to sleep.

One line of this warning was literally “Prepare.” This got me thinking about the warnings that Jesus gave to his disciples to prepare themselves for the danger and death that was to come. During Lent we prepare ourselves as we think about the reality of death starting with Ash Wednesday and are faced with Jesus’ death on Good Friday. Lent is a very somber time and yet is very honest. I could compare the somberness of Lent to a warning from a meteorologist who is trying to warn us to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Jesus warned his followers who lived in denial, and I can understand. Few people to spend their life preparing only for the worst. I myself do not like living my whole life in such a state of preparation, but for a short time each year, I am honest about danger and death. Most of the time we prefer to prepare and plan for the good things in life, and the list most definitely does not include betrayal, beatings and death upon a cross.

The reality of our world is that bad things do happen. We have blizzards, extremely cold temperatures, ice and countless other weather phenomenon that can threaten our safety. But we can prepare when we are warned. The same applies to us preparing for the reality of Jesus’ death. Jesus’ warnings unsettled the followers who ought to have had a “Confirm” button so that Jesus could know that they paid attention to the warning. They had to know that the danger would not go away even if they ignored it.

Lent is coming in a few short weeks. We are being warned yet again of how messed up our world can be. Some of us will decide to make sacrifices or seek to change habits. Others will live in denial. But at the heart of the whole season is a warning that comes to us again, telling us that bad things are going to come, but also reminding us that God can see us through even the worst that this life can throw at us. We can prepare ourselves so that when the time comes, we won’t be shocked but can learn to live with the reality of mortality and be at peace.

Prepare yourself. Please confirm.
Peace, Pastor Kara