Faith Formation - Pastor Sarah's Post

JUNE 2019

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:19-20 NIV)


A few months ago Faith Lutheran hosted a First Communion class.  This class was open to 5th graders and any student older or younger that would like to be able to take part in the Lord’s Supper.  I know for some families there was a conflict with schedules and so I would like to offer another class in June.  Mark your calendars for June 11th, 12th, and 13th.  The classes will be held at Grace Lutheran from 5:30-6 p.m. on the 11th and 12th which is before Vacation Bible School, and from 7:30-8:30 on the 13th, following the potluck and VBS program.   A special Communion service will be held at each church on June 23rd so the students who have taken the class can have Holy Communion for the first time.  Again, this class is for all students that would like to take Holy Communion, that means 5th graders, students who may be older that have not taken the class before, and those younger (that have parental permission).  Parents are welcome to attend these classes as well. We will be talking about the Passover, Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, and also on the last night baking bread which will be used for the service on June 23rd.

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As we move into summer, with hopefully warm temperatures, I am well into a couple really good books.  One is of course a theological book, the other is not. I would like to share a couple of quotes from the book entitled “Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World”, which is written by Andy Stanley.  The title caught my attention which is why I purchased the book. I’ll be honest, I have not read many books by Andy Stanley, although I have listened to some of his sermons. While I am not in complete agreement with all that is written, Andy certainly does emphasize Jesus’ purpose on earth, from his ministry to his mission….stating “While Jesus was foreshadowed in the old covenant, he did not come to extend it.  He came to fulfill it, put a bow on it, and establish something new”. (p. 96) I agree. According to Mr. Stanley we, the people, tend to focus on the old and the new…meaning we remember the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament yet we try to insert Jesus into the old covenant God made with the people. Jesus even tells us “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets.  No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” (NLT) In Jesus the old law was made complete. The entire Old Testament is the chosen people doing their best to keep the law and God’s commands, and we all know how well that went. It didn’t. So, Jesus came. And in doing so fulfilled the old law and gave us a new command…. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (NLT) In doing this one commandment, loving each other, we express our love for God.


Mr. Stanley offers a great illustration to make his point.  He writes of a cell phone. If a person buys a new cell phone you do not continue to use the old one.  Why? Because you have a new one, you have no need of the old one. Same with the covenant. He goes on to say, “God’s covenant with Israel was made obsolete the moment Jesus ratified the new covenant.” (p. 139)  The book goes on to talk about how all of those other commandments are wrapped up in the one Jesus gave us, love one another. If we act, speak, and think with love surely we will not covet our neighbor’s items, we will not steal, we will honor our parents and so on. 


I share this idea with you because the church has been around for hundreds of years now, and so often we get stuck.  We want to hold on to what we had, what we know, our old cell phone so to speak…especially if it’s a flip phone because those smartphones are a bit over our heads.  Jesus calls us to love one another as he has loved us. What does the church look like when we live out this new commandment? What do our relationships look like when we speak with love to our friends, partner, significant other, or spouse?  How can the ministry of this congregation expand beyond the walls of the building and the confines of this community if we imagine and think with love? A few things to ponder as we enter the summer months when families are traveling, spending time together, and we enjoy all that the warm weather brings.  As a new summer approaches may you be reminded of the new commandment given by Jesus, one that he lived each day he was on earth, and made extreme in his crucifixion…LOVE. Love a little more with your words, thoughts, and actions this summer and beyond, all for the glory of God and honor of Jesus.


Summer Blessings,

Pastor Sarah


May 2019


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” ~1 Peter 1:3


I would like to begin by saying “Thank you”.  Thank you for the prayers, cards, encouraging words, and support as I navigated my way through a cancer diagnosis and surgery.  The good news is the cancer was contained and was completely removed in the surgical process so no further treatment is needed. As with any major surgery the recovery has been slower than I would like, however, I feel blessed that I was able to lead the Good Friday and Easter services.  I also want to thank everyone who stepped up and filled in leading worship and making sure activities continued as scheduled. I am fortunate to be part of two wonderful congregations. Thank you.

As I move back into full time work May will begin with the 9th graders affirming their faith.  This past confirmation year has been a learning curve for both the students and I as we navigated a different classroom style than they were used to.  Much was gained by both the students and myself these months together and will result in some changes and modifications for next year’s confirmation classes.  Congratulations to those students affirming the faith they were baptized in, and on May 5th they will be sharing a bible verse that is meaningful to them and why they chose that verse.  Attending this service is a great way to show your support for our young people as they continue to grow in their faith.

Moving into the summer months we will be working through two different sermon series.  One on the book of Hebrews and the other on the book of Psalms. Both will offer a more in depth look at these books and invite discussion and learning.  I am looking forward to preaching on these two books and hope you will join us this summer in worship!

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! I encourage you to live the resurrection daily.  We are a people of hope because of the risen Jesus Christ. No matter what challenges we face in life, we can be certain that because He lives we shall live also, and that hope of eternal life fuels our light while we live and serve on this earth, and in this time and place.  May you be encouraged this Easter season and beyond to shine the light of Christ.

Blessings,

Pastor Sarah

April 2019

As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

1 Corinthians 12:20 (ESV)

This Lenten journey, for me, involves time spent in the dictionary and in scripture.  I recently looked up the word “potluck” and came to the North American definition as “a meal or party to which each guest contributes a dish”.  So often we attach our own meaning, or add on to the meaning of a word. Yet, simply stated a potluck is a party in which those that attend bring a dish to share.  This simple definition was the intent behind the creation of the potluck meals after the joint worship services. There has been some confusion….and I write this article not to offend, hurt, or dishonor anyone….but rather as a way to provide information.  Coming together and gathering around a table was often done in Jesus’ time, and still is today. I often wonder if the disciples made those meals as complicated as we tend to make them….or did they just hope for a variety of good food and excellent conversation.  Did they even have expectations when they came together? Or maybe they were simply excited to sit down, rest their tired feet and bodies from their travels, and listen to the wise words of Jesus….and share their own tidbits about the events and people they encountered?  It is my hope and prayer for each of us, that every potluck and church meal may be a time when we can sit down, take time out of our busy days and hectic schedules...gather around a table and enjoy the company of each other and the conversations that ensue; all expectations and rules set aside.  After all, the world beyond the church has enough social rules about who should do what, when, and how. May this Lenten journey be a discovery of new meaning on some ordinary words, and a time of gathering, trusting that although there are many of us, together we are the one body of Christ. Amen.

Pastor Sarah

March 2019

“As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”.  John 20:21

This verse is a great summary of our calling as congregations.  We are called and sent out into the world to proclaim the good news, to shine our light, and be examples of God’s grace and mercy. Recently Pastor John Peshek led a retreat for staff and council members.  In covering a variety of topics and concerns facing the church today Pastor Peshek stressed the importance of being a congregation centered on mission and embodying Christ in God’s kingdom today.  Often churches become focused on reduced attendance and membership, thus changing the focus from outward and mission driven to inward and survival driven.  The concerns are significant and attention needs to be given to them.  One major concern is the lack of attendance due to the decline in smaller farms and households in the rural areas.  Another concern is clergy.  Pastor Peshek recently read a study that stated in the year 2020 there will be a shortage of over 1,000 pastors in the ELCA (United States) alone.  There is cause for concern regarding both of these statistics.  With that said, we need not panic but remain faithful to God’s mission and calling for this parish.  In order to do that successfully and truly embody Christ, Pastor Peshek discussed the importance of change and trust.  To put it bluntly, we must change or we die.  In order to change there needs to be significant trust and relationships built and established.  There must be trust between the pastor and people, going both ways.  The pastor needs to trust the people and the people need to trust the pastor.  Just as important the people need to trust each other.  It is these basic foundational blocks and the focus on mission that will keep this parish strong as we head into uncharted territory and times for the church as a whole.  We are sent.  We have all been sent with the same mission, serving the same God and the same Lord Jesus.  As we move forward in this year let us continue to discern God’s mission for us as a parish, and grow together in trust, faith, hope, and love….ready to change and move out of our comfort zone for the sake of God’s Word.

Pastor Sarah

February 2019

MID-WEEK LENTEN WORSHIP

The season of Lent is just around the corner, and worship planning has begun for the mid-week services.  As in the past, the Wednesday services will alternate between Faith Lutheran and Grace Lutheran each week, with a meal hosted prior to worship.  The focus this year will be on the following: “Jesus came to earth in humble means for a distinct purpose…to be our Lord and Savior. God in the flesh.  His life, death, and resurrection was courageous, unique, and radical and displayed true honor.”

Each week we will focus on a particular word to describe Jesus and his ministry.  The weeks/words are: March 13 – Purpose; March 20 – Courage; March 27th – Humility; April 3 – Unique; April 10 – Radical.  I am looking for individuals who would be willing to share their faith story as it relates to one of the following words.  Please be in prayer and if you feel God is placing it on your heart to share your story or would like more information please contact Pastor Sarah at 320-808-8772.

At the conclusions of each service families will be able to take home a wooden block with the word of the week printed on it.  Once we reach Good Friday you will have made a cross through the collection of each block.  This word cross can be a reminder of Jesus, his ministry, death, and resurrection as well as our call to continue Jesus’ ministry today.  By displaying in your home the cross also invites faith filled conversation as people inquire about the words on the cross – this becomes a great way to minister and share personal stories of how God acts today in our lives.  I look forward to hearing your faith stories and moving through the coming Lenten season.


January 2019

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

–Romans 15:13, NIV

 Blessings to all of you this New Year!  This verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans is my prayer for all of you as we enter 2019. These first few months of my call with Grace Through Faith Ministries have been filled with much learning and relationship building.  I look forward to the coming year and would like to take a moment to thank you for the cards, gifts, treats, and all of the prayers and support you give to me and to my family these first months.  Please know all is greatly appreciated!  I feel truly blessed to be part  of a wonderful ministry and am excited for the ministry opportunities in the coming year.

~  Pastor Sarah


November 2018

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more….” Revelation 21:1

You may have heard this verse from the book of Revelation read at a funeral of a friend or loved one.  Offering words of hope and promise through a revelation given to the writer of the book of Revelation by Jesus these words speak of a new time.  Reading further in this chapter we find this new heaven and new earth to be part of a time and place where there will be no more pain, suffering, or sorrow.  Although these verses offer words of hope and beauty, there is much of the book of Revelation that seems to be quite the opposite.

Beginning in November we will be starting a sermon series on the book of Revelation based largely on the book “Revelation and the End of All Things” by Craig Koester.  Each week we will be exploring a few chapters and verses in more detail.  The study will also unpack some of the larger themes of the book.  Hopefully through the sermon, outlines, and your own study and reading the book will become less confusing, and will show God’s love and promises. 

The following is the outline for the sermon series, feel free to read ahead and prepare for the sermon discussion.

Week 1: Chapter 4 verses 1-11

Week 2: Chapter 5 verses 1-13

Week 3: Chapter 6 verses 1-8 & Chapter 7 verses 9-17

Week 4: Chapter 21 verses 1-6 & Chapter 22 verses 1-5

Blessings to you as you begin to look at the book of Revelation.

Pastor Sarah




 October 2018 

Did you know?....“In the United States, as many as 2.8 million kids run away from home every year.  Within 48 hours of being on the run they will be approached by a pimp, trafficker or perpetrator looking to sexually exploit them.”  (Terebinth Refuge email)

Hard statistic to swallow….we don’t want to believe that we live in a world like that, a world where someone chooses to sell children for money and use them for sex.  And yet, the reality is the illegal profits made from trafficking or sexual exploitation is $99 billion dollars or 66% of the trafficking pie, which also includes forced labor and domestic servitude.  These statistics are from the International Labour Organization, the World Economic Forum.  The Bible is clear in telling us how important children are to God.  Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a real blessing.”

 A phrase that seems to always be on my mind is that it takes a village to raise a child.  Today, however, society has created walls instead of a village.  People are disconnected from each other, replacing face to face conversation with text messages and leisure time with electronic games.  The result is staggering.  Young people are finding connection in unhealthy ways, seeking companionship and love in a virtual world.  What they are finding is not love but abuse, drugs, and a great deal of danger.  Look on facebook.  You will constantly see posters of missing youth, often with comments about how they met someone online.  These perpetrators are good.  Good kids are falling into the trap of being groomed by these people, often right under the nose of school teachers, counselors, parents, and friends.  I believe it is time to rise up as a community.  No longer can we think that because we live in Brandon or Evansville, MN that it cannot happen here.  I have noticed even in this area that people on facebook are reporting suspicious people and vehicles that seem to be canvassing the area…and this IS what it takes to be that village.  People need to pay attention, to pass the word, to educate themselves and children….. to get INVOLVED in the lives of young people.

 On Sunday, October 14th Grace Through Faith Ministries is going to team up.  There will be a joint worship service at Grace at 9 a.m. which will talk about this very issue.  Laurie Kallevig who works on a global scale with her ukulele ministry will share her passion and call.  Others from the community will share what is going on in our area around human trafficking and what we can do to be that village to support and nurture our youth.  This will be an ongoing conversation with other opportunities for education and awareness.  Curriculum will be presented during confirmation touching on this topic with the students and any parents that want to attend. Self-defense classes will be offered empowering young girls and women to stand up for themselves, giving them the tools to keep their bodies safe.  Please plan on attending this worship service, it will be difficult, but I feel very necessary as we work to keep our young people safe.  I look forward to this service as well as the opportunity to serve both congregations as your pastor….and feel very blessed by the welcome I have received.  Thank you!

 Blessings,

Pastor Sarah