FaithBits

 

A weekly digital publication called FaithBit:

FaithBITs will be:

 


August 3, 2020

 

 

 

Feeling Sheepish

By Cindy Paulson

I was recently reminded, while learning to felt a rug from a full sheared sheep fleece, of my complicated relation with sheep. Yes, sheep!

Several years ago I was tasked with preaching at a Lenten service on the story of the Good Shepherd. This caused me great angst, not because of the public speaking part (if you know me you know I’ll talk to anyone at great length!) but because I have never liked the idea that I was a sheep. Sheep are dirty, dumb, and really smelly—all things I don’t want people to think about me!

I was driving down to see my youngest at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and was stewing about how to handle preaching on this text. I couldn’t exactly be honest about disliking the comparison to sheep. As always on that drive, I stopped at a wonderful little farm that sold hand-spun and dyed yarn. When I pulled in it occurred to me I could ask the owner, whose name I learned was Ida, about her sheep. Ida was probably in her 80s but as spunky as could be, and it turned out she was very familiar with the story of the Good Shepherd. When I told her about my dilemma, she brought me out to the pasture. She started calling her sheep in by name and they came running in to nuzzle her. “See,” she said, “I know their names and they know me.” Touché, Ida.

We went back into her shop and she handed me some stinky, dirty, unwashed wool and then led me to where a couple of women were carding clean wool and spinning it into yarn. The difference between the dirty, smelly locks of wool and the cleaned, carded wool was stark. “Isn’t that what Jesus does with us?” Again, point well made.

So last week as I went through the process of turning a dirty, stinky, and honestly quite ugly raw fleece into a beautiful wool rug I thought about Ida and the impact she had on my perspective and faith. As I washed the dirt, gunk (a nice way to say urine and dung), and smell out of that fleece I thanked God I am a part of Jesus’ flock of sheep and that he knows my name. And I thanked God for Ida.

 


July 27, 2020

 

 

 

Light in the Darkness

By Paul Savereide

A few years after moving into our house, we lost power after dark.  Since this had not happened before for any length of time, we fumbled around finding flashlights and candles so we could see again. 

I took one of these candles upstairs and set it on a ledge above the stairs.  It immediately lit up the surrounding area, nearby rooms and cast its light down the long upstairs hallway.  Over the next couple hours, I kept finding more places in the house, upstairs and down, where the light from that single candle found its way even if it was just enough light to see where I was going. 

As I think about that candle, I think about how when we lovingly reach out and support others, even in seemingly small ways, there is potential to spread God’s love in ways we cannot imagine.

 

 

 

 


July 20, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahhh....Minnesota

By Kelly Meyers

Ahhh … Minnesota.  The land of (over) 10,000 lakes.  

Many of us make a point in the summer of getting to ‘the lake’.  Either a cabin, resort, local beach, the majestic north shore, the list goes on.  Every summer my family goes to Pelican Lake for a week of nothing but being outside and on (or in) the water.  I look forward to it each year not only because it’s time away, or because the heat of summer is my favorite time of year (I know, I'm crazy!), but because of the water.  Water is healing for my soul!

My favorite time each day is coffee at the beach.  The air seems fresher.  The sound of the loons is mesmerizing.  And the sound of the water as it rolls into the beach causes me to stop and LISTEN.  I don’t do enough listening – I’m a talker!  But my yearly time at Pelican Lake causes me to just listen and reflect.

This year our good friends joined us and we spent each morning at the beach, coffee in hand, doing the d365 devotion.  And each day God spoke to us through Word, reflection, and the water!  We were cleansed just by the sights, sounds, and smells.  Our friendship deepened in our faith discussions and holding hands in prayer.  And we were surprised daily how timely each verse of scripture was for us. 

I need to make more time to enjoy God’s creation and the healing water He provides.  I’m thankful I don’t have to go far!

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  Isaiah 58:11 (ESV)

 


July 13, 2020


 

 

 

 

Buy someone a muffin

By Anna Nelson (Anna is a Student Leader and first shared this message at Youth Rejoice in February)

As humans, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, and we all at times try to walk on our own path rather than the path God wants us to walk. But the never-ending love of God eventually leads us back to the correct path and reminds us that we never have to walk through this life alone. 

John 13:34 reads, “Love one another as I have loved you.” As Christians, God calls and equips us to love the people around us and serve others in any way we can. No matter how long you’ve been attending Immanuel you’ve probably at some point heard the words, “Called to care. Sent to serve.” These words describe what I believe to be a large portion of what being a Christian truly means. We are called to care for others in the way God cares for us, and we are called to serve one another to create connections and relationships. 

But believe me, I know how hard it can be to constantly keep up the connections with people and try to keep a positive attitude when inside we feel like we’re falling apart.

If you know me, you know I can be kind of a hectic person to be around at times. Growing up, I’ve always strived to be this happy person all the time, and I had this expectation for myself to keep a positive mindset 24-7, and if I was doing anything less than that, if I felt angry or sad or anything other than my 100%, I felt like I was failing myself and the people around me. I still needed an outlet to express the hurt and the sadness I was feeling, and in my case that took the form of self-deprecating humor. I thought that if I could show my pain in a way that made people laugh, it would become easier to deal with. My friends began telling me how much they appreciated and admired my positive mindset, which made me even more scared to let people down. Being positive like this worked for a little bit, but pretty soon my emotions became so massive, that they weighed me down and I became numb. I started believing the self-deprecation that was spilling from my mouth. I didn’t want to, but my words became my thoughts, and my thoughts became my emotions, and I became so broken. I was walking through life with this fake positivity, constantly and consistently slipping up and praying nobody would notice how much I was hurting. 

But people did notice. My friends began asking if I was ok; they said I didn’t seem like myself, and as much as I wanted to open up to them and tell them what was wrong, I didn’t know how to talk to them. And then one night I was sitting on my bed, procrastinating from doing my homework, thinking about my life, and asking God what it was that I needed to do to stop feeling like this. And then my dad walked in. My dad had just walked in to say goodnight, but he walked in at the exact right moment, and upon his entrance I burst into tears. He sat down on the edge of my bed and he listened as I melted into this puddle of all the emotion I’d been holding back for months. After that night, not everything was fixed. I was still hurting. I was broken. But I knew I wasn’t alone. 

God gave us the people we have in our lives so we can work through the hard times together. Nobody’s perfect. We all have bad things happen to us, we all experience hurt and pain. So, let’s grow together. Serving isn’t always about life changing moments. Serving is about showing up for others in little ways every day. Serving is about letting others know that no matter how hard life gets they don’t have to walk through it alone.

Show someone God’s love through your actions this week. Show up for someone, have a genuine conversation with someone you don’t normally talk to; call or text that friend from a couple of years ago that you’ve been meaning to check up on, buy someone a muffin. I don’t know! Show someone that you love them because love is the most powerful connection that we have.

 


June 29, 2020
 

 

 

 

I will uphold you

By Katharine Morrow (Katharine is a high school Student Leader)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

This may be a very popular verse but I feel as if it holds true now more than ever. We are all trying to find a glimpse of hope in this time of chaos. Many people are feeling incredibly alone in quarantine, forgetting that they are not alone, for God is always with you.

For me, this quote is really getting me through this hard time without being too worried because I know God is with me. I originally felt anxious about the future when this pandemic started. There is no way to know what the future holds, so how could you not have a little fear? But I wholeheartedly believe that God has taken our hand and is slowly helping us out of this time of panic. 

Dear God, I pray you can help us in this time of need and guide us to the end of this seemingly never ended pandemic. Amen.


June 22, 2020




FaithBits

Start by saying hello.

Reflection by Paul Carroll

With all that has happened these past few weeks, I did what I often do when I needed to think, I went for a bike ride.  I pedaled through Eden Prairie, waving to my neighbors.  It wasn’t until I made it to Hopkins did I notice there were fewer families out and about.  In Loring Park, I was caught off guard by the sight of 20 or so bicycle police officers lounging under a tree.  Downtown Minneapolis appeared to be a boarded-up ghost town.  Once in the Mid-way district, I got to see firsthand both the devastation and community generosity we have all seen on TV.

I made several stops on my loop around town to check in with and to offer encouragement to store owners and employees I know personally.  We were all confused about what to do next.  I was particularly conflicted by how I should respond to seeing a brand-new bicycle outside of a recently added tent encampment with a hand written “For Sale” sign only blocks away from the bicycle shop that was looted earlier that week. 

Recent events have me wondering whether I need to get to know Minneapolis again, as if it were a new city.  Maybe you do as well.  If so, I encourage you to get on your bike and pedal out of the familiar comforts of Eden Prairie.  If you are struggling to determine a destination, consider biking up to Immanuel’s partner church, Redeemer Lutheran.  Stop in at their bike shop, Venture North, and buy a tube or some other needed item and take the time to introduce yourself.  I don’t know where the conversation will lead, but wherever we are going to go as a society, it’s going to start by saying hello. 


June 15, 2020




FaithBits

A sewing miracle for the COVID front line!

Reflection by Jeanne Roudabush, Linda Herzog and Ruth Lunde

Greetings from the COVID front line.” Jeanne Roudabush, an Immanuel member, recently wrote these words. She went on to say, “My team works in senior assisted living and memory care and experienced an outbreak of COVID-19 in May. With PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at a premium and often unavailable, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends turning to friends for homemade gowns.”

After an exceptionally tiring shift Jeanne shared her feelings on Facebook when writing, “I am tired. …tired of having to reuse my isolation gown…I am hopeful….I am prayerful. More than ever before I know I need to lean on God because I am terrified and tired.”

Linda Herzog, another Immanuel member, heard Jeanne’s prayer and was moved to act. Linda said, “The reality of COVID is sobering. So, I contacted Jeanne and asked her if I could make some isolation gowns for her.” Jeanne responded, “We need so many gowns that it would be nearly impossible.” Linda pressed her and asked, “In a perfect world how many would you want?” Jeanne replied, “25. Go big or go home, right?”

Linda needed help to get that number done so she reached out to the quilting group at church. And Linda said, “That’s when a sewing miracle started happening.”

Ruth Lunde, one of the sewers said, “In the recent weeks/months, with all the troubling things in the news, I have asked God, ‘What can I do to help?’ Then things mobilized quickly. About a dozen women from Immanuel volunteered to cut and sew isolation gowns needed to protect healthcare workers. God was at work through the quick response from all willing to help.”

As of June 10, thirty-two gowns have been delivered to Jeanne! Thanks to Linda, Jody, Mimi, Julie, Clare, Becky, Pat, Gwen, Jan, Colleen, and Ruth! (Linda has also made 10 gowns for her daughter, Lindsey, and the facility where she works, with 10 more on the way with help from Gwen, Ruth, and Coleen).

Jeanne concludes, “What a fabulous group of sewers I have encountered here at Immanuel! Thanks for keeping us safe during this unprecedented time in healthcare! We are so grateful! And you have made a huge difference!”


June 8, 2020




FaithBits

 

Neighbors helping neighbors...in Jesus' name

Reflection by John Urbanski “Out of the depths we cry to you, oh, Lord! Lord, hear our cries!” Psalm 130:1

Our whole community is crying out right now, crying in grief over the death of George Floyd, crying in anger and sadness over injustice and hate, crying in fear and confusion over violence and destruction. Where do we find comfort? How do we come together? Where is healing for our broken community, for the divisions between us and the injustice among us? Lord, what do we do? Lord, hear our cries!

The words above opened the online message from Immanuel last week in the midst of the crisis in our community. I was asking these exact questions – What can I do? Why did this happen, again? How can I help? Where can we find hope amidst the sorrow? My feelings and those of my family grew as the civil unrest intensified. We watched in disbelief at what was happening. As our adult children scanned social media, we began to see postings of opportunities to respond.

There were going to be collections of food, baby formula, diapers, cleaning materials to provide for people whose local grocery stores were destroyed. There were opportunities to gather and help clean up from the overnight property damage, ways to donate money to community organizations for emergency funds to help those in need. Kim Rathjen (Coordinator of Outreach and Inreach at Immanuel) shared information from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, an ELCA faith community at the epicenter of the unrest. They were planning a collection of items for members of the neighborhood that now had nowhere to obtain these essential needs. We thought, that is something we can do right away!

On Pentecost Sunday morning, we went early to shop for requested items and checked our pantry shelves for a few more. After planning our route to arrive at Holy Trinity given the numerous road closures and detours, we arrived just before noon. We witnessed a scene that was truly remarkable and heart-warming despite the destruction. A neighborhood that had been devastated just hours earlier was quickly leaning on one another to stand stronger together. The larger community of the Twin Cities also stepped up in support during this time of need. I spoke to a person from St. Stephen’s in Bloomington, another from Cambridge Minnesota. Neighbors helping neighbors, from near and far, in Jesus name.

We are all “Called to Care, Sent to Serve”. Make no mistake, these needs will continue for quite some time.

Keep watch for more opportunities to serve our neighbors. By doing so, each of us can transform ourselves and our community.

“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

John (for the Urbanski family).


June 1, 2020




FaithBits

The Capacity to Help

Reflection by David Beach (Dave is second from the left)

I’ve helped served breakfast many times at the emergency overnight shelter in the basement of Simpson United Methodist Church. Hundreds and hundreds of eggs, pancakes, sausages, hash browns and dirty dishes later, it’s still easily the most worthwhile, satisfying thing on my far-too-short list of “Things I Do for Others.”

The truth is, plus or minus a couple of degrees, any one of us could suddenly find ourselves homeless and in desperate need of support. Honest. I’ve certainly never served anyone at Simpson who looked like they “deserved” or “wanted” to be there. But one real bad break can lead to another. And another. And another. Some of us are “lucky,” I guess, but none of us are truly immune. Homelessness is very complicated, and there are surely as many unfortunate, frustrating stories as there are individuals at Simpson. Life’s just not easy for anyone, and I’m confident God is acutely aware of that. He sees all our sufferings, of every variety, and He knows the score.

So, we’re “called to care and sent to serve,” even if we don’t have the power to solve the many underlying issues that drive our biggest challenges. Providing a hot breakfast meal at least offers sustenance—maybe even a measure of hope—to some folks that could really use either or both. And if we have the capacity to help, why wouldn’t we? When they’re done, diners deposit their dirty dishes in a plastic bin in a passthrough window between the kitchen and dining room areas. Invariably, a handful of folks out of the 50 or 60 we serve each morning stick their heads through that window and joyously express their gratitude for our efforts. We shout back something like “You’re welcome.” And in that moment, both the cooks and the diners are exposed for what they are: Human beings fighting the good fight. There but for the grace of God we all go, as they say, plus or minus a couple of degrees.

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Note: Immanuel is scheduled to serve at Simpson again this Fall. Please contact kim@immanuel.us if you're interested in serving in this capacity.


May 25, 2020




FaithBits

Pandemic Faith Group

Reflection by Kari Totall

The last time our Faith Group met face to face was February 15, 2020. We had Faith Group scheduled for March, however COVID-19 had other ideas about groups gathering together. We’ve really missed having intentional time to connect....it has been hard! I was missing our time together and didn’t really think about other options to connect. Last week Tammy Vergeront texted me and said “Hey, let’s have a Zoom Faith Group!” Why didn’t I think about this option?

Our group met Saturday, May 16th. Highs and lows were shared along with prayer concerns, smiles, love, tears and virtual hugs. We are meant to be in community; to care and love each other! It’s important for us to find new ways to gather in small groups and continue to see each other’s faces, as well as support and pray for one another. In our Faith Group alone people have been experiencing job losses, distance learning, long hours at work, isolated family members, sick parents and grandparents, to only name a few of life’s challenges!!

We have so missed our small group connecting and praying for one another! This support and care for one other is even more important now as we have been sheltering in place. Faith Group leaders, setting up a Zoom Faith Group is a simple thing to do! Find the date and time that works best for your group and email Kim Rathjen (kim@immanuel.us) she will send you as the Faith Group leader all the info you need to set up a Zoom meeting, forward those details to your group and gather in a new way!! Immanuel has a Zoom membership so no 40-minute time limits on meetings! After meeting with our Faith Group on Saturday and listening to Pastor Paul’s sermon on Sunday I am left with profound feelings of love for my Immanuel family! I miss you all so much.

This time will pass, and we will gather again, but until then continue to be intentional about finding new ways to be together! Scripture really reinforced that this week! 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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Note: If you’re not in a Faith Group but have a group of friends from church that you’d like to connect with, please ask kim@immanuel.us to set you up for a Zoom meeting!


 

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