A weekly digital publication called FaithBit:

FaithBITs will be: emailed on Monday mornings, archived on this page, available on our social media channels and printed and available at the Welcome Desk.

April 6, 2020


Cindy and fam

Unexpected Blessings

Reflection by Cindy Paulson

Working in a church can make worship, TRUE worship, difficult for staff…or at least for me. Not only am I usually not able to sit in a full service on Sundays when we have Sunday school, but I get distracted from mindful worship and go into “work mode.” I will see a particular person and think “Oh, I have to remember to talk them about ________!” or “I wonder how they mom is doing after her stroke?” Or, and especially, when I see a new family with young; Do they know we have Sunday school for kids as young as three? Are they aware the worship service can be heard in the nursery? Most of all, I miss being in worship with my family. While I know I am surrounded and loved by Immanuel family surrounding me in worship, there is nothing quite like worshiping with your own family.

Cindy's quote

This past Sunday Jerry and I took advantage of the live-streamed service, sitting together on our couch and worshiped together (I’m so glad I have a techy husband who knew how to set up his computer to our TV!) A blessing not only in the midst of this crazy time in our world, but because of it!

What are the blessings that you can find in your life today, and every day, as we navigate a new normal together as a church family?

March 30, 2020


Empty Sanctuary

The Sanctuary Was Empty

Reflection by Lori Hanken

The sanctuary was mostly empty.  A full-sized figure of Martin Luther sat in the back.  Our chairs were separated so that we could still practice ‘social distancing’.  It was very surreal.  I would even say awkward at first.    I was a little self-conscious (if you know me, that is not me - at all!) and a little anxious.  It felt like a HUGE responsibility to be there sharing God’s word to all the people that no longer can come to church.  Little did I know that I was the one to be blessed.

Like many churches, we use Holden’s Evening Prayer for Lenten services.  I know the music and the words by heart.  But last night.  Those words.  Oh, those words.  As the service continued I was overwhelmed by a sense of peace, love and awe.  Those words seemed so much more powerful.  Maybe I had been forgetting lesson #2 (see below).  It is so easy to go through the motions during a church service.  Not last night.  Those words washed over me.  There is Hope.  There is Peace.  There is Joy.  There is Love.

“Jesus Christ you are the Light of the world; the Light no darkness can overcome; Stay with us now for it is evening, and the day is almost over.  Let your Light scatter the darkness and shine within your people here.  Joyous Light of heavn’ly glory, loving glow of God’s own face, you who sing creation’s story, shine on every land and race.  Now as evening falls around us, we shall raise our songs to you, God of daybreak, God of shadows, come and light our hearts anew.  In the stars that grace the darkness, in the blazing sun of dawn, in the light of peace and wisdom, we can hear your quiet song.”

And, oh so powerful…

“Love that fills the night with wonder, love that warms the weary soul, love that burst all chains asunder, set us free and make us whole.”

It continues….

“You who made the heaven’s splendor, ev’ry dancing star of night, make us shine with gentle justice, let us each reflect your light.”

I sang with every part of my heart and soul the canon that followed.  After worship was over, I found out that family members and many others were watching and singing along.  How powerful is that?  Satan has no hold.

“Let my prayer rise up, like incense before you, the lifting up of my hands as an offering to you.  O God, I call to you, come to me now; O hear my voice when I cry to you.  Keep watch within me God; deep in my heart may the light of your love be burning bright.  All praise to the God of all - Creator of life; all praise be to Christ and the spirit of love.”

Lori's quote

In my work with Holy Commotion, the youth Confirmation band at Immanuel, I only want them to learn two things from me:

#1 Being a worship leader is all about giving glory to God through music.  It is not about your own glory or about your musical talents.  It is giving of your time and talents to glorify God.

#2 Really hearing and feeling the words while sharing worship music.

Last night, I felt both those lessons so dramatically it made me cry.

So, maybe this is a good thing.  We cannot hide behind our church walls anymore.  We cannot be safe together in a sanctuary.  We need to worship where we are.  All day.  Every day.  This situation has already taught me many things and I am sure I will continue to learn and grow as a person through this process.

When the service was over, we all felt it.  We knew we really had just experienced something truly special.  I read the comments from the live stream when I got home.  Families worshiping by candlelight at home, people from afar joining us, taking communion on their sofa, worshiping against all odds.  It was such a blessing to me.

March 20, 2020


Tony & Jill

Peace…like a superpower

Reflection by Tony Szczepaniak

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3

Although I’ve read those verses many times, it was not until 2019 that they became personal.  Last year I experienced a non-life threatening but life-altering medical issue that gave me new context for how God works all things for good, no matter what!  This most recent trial is the most trying medical issue I have experienced, and it strengthened my relationship with God and my family.

I have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which is caused by an auto immune deficiency in my body.  This has impacted what I eat and drink, how I exercise, and how I deal with stress in general.  Foods that I have enjoyed for years are now restricted and some of the adrenaline producing stress that I have thrived on for years needs to be better managed.

And that is how the story would end if it were not for our wonderful, amazing, Father above.  While I could have easily turned negative and full of self-pity, I found the exact opposite happened.  During the worst of the trial, my prayer was not about cure or pain relief.  Instead, it was focused on two things – my trust in Him to be in control and my gratitude for the people He has surrounded me with.

Tony's superpower quote

I’ve heard about trusting God and letting go and for years but had not grasped what it meant much less how it feels.  The peace that God has brought me through this has almost been like a superpower in and of itself.  At times, I’ve almost felt untouchable and that has given me a sense of calm and peace that is truly amazing.

I’ve felt the prayers of faithful family and friends and have experienced relationships grow closer.  My wife, Jill has been an absolute source of strength and comfort for me.  I have seen God through her medical research, doctor visits, prayer, and hugs.  The love we share has been strong and it has grown stronger because of this trial! 

While the long-term treatment is stable, there continues to be some uncertainty. But, I know one thing that is rock solid – God loves me and I love Him.  While trials are never fun, this one is perfecting my faith and through it, will help me be reflection of God’s love not for my benefit, but for the benefit of those he puts in my path, and that is a wonderful thing to be joyous about!

March 13, 2020


Sheridan Story

Food Insecurity in Eden Prairie

By Cari Larsen

On a recent Friday morning I was at Prairie View Elementary distributing food from Sheridan’s Story for some students. Sheridan’s Story provides food to families at many schools in Minnesota who experience food insecurity. Immanuel provides funding to pay for the food for the Prairie View students through our Social Ministries benevolence budget. We also provide the volunteers to distribute the food.

I don’t know who the students are - only their teachers and the Prairie View social worker Julie Weeden knows. The school is pretty quiet at 8 am on Fridays. Some students are in the multipurpose room for before school activities; the teachers are usually in grade level meetings, and the hallways are pretty empty. It’s a peaceful time to pray.


Cari's Sheridan Quote

As I organize the food to be distributed, I pray for each family who will receive food. As I walk through the halls, I pray prayers of thanksgiving for the Prairie View teachers. As I leave the school I pray for Julie and the Prairie View office staff and the Immanuel volunteers who take turns distributing the food. I am grateful for the opportunity to respond to God’s call to care for our neighbors.

Archive of the current year

March 30, 2020: The Sanctuary Was Empty by Lori Hanken
March 20, 2020: Peace…like a superpower by Tony Szczepaniak
March 13, 2020: Food Insecurity in Eden Prairie by Cari Larsen
March 6, 2020: The Seven Last Words of Christ by Diane Johnson
February 28, 2020, Behind the Scenes by Pastor Angela
February 21, 2020: Acts of Service by Kari Totall
February 14, 2020: Live in the Moment by Nora Fairbanks
February 7, 2020: Dear God…7th Graders’ Prayers
January 31, 2020: Front Row Church Buddy by Glen Person and Sara Koepp
January 24, 2020: I Have Cancer by Dave Nieting
January 17, 2020: Experiencing God through Service and Music by Hope Anderson
January 10, 2020: Everyday Faith - From Hand to Hand by Pastor Angela
January 3, 2020: Following Jesus in the New Year by Martin Rathjen

Archived FaithBITs from Previous Years


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