From the Desk of Pastor Mark

August 9, 2021




I'm reading a book entitled, "Reimagining Apologetics: The Beauty of Faith in a Secular Age", by Justin Bailey. Here is the line he begins the book with from a young man in his congregation, "When we are in church and I'm listening to the preaching, it's like you are weaving a spell. I believe, and the world makes sense to me. But then I walk out the door of the church and the spell is broken". 


When I was growing up in Brainerd, I would hear the church bells and chimes from the Missouri Synod church ring throughout the day. It was like a background music that I just assumed to be there. It wasn't until I left home and went to college, that I found I missed it! I just assumed it was a part of my daily existence, I barely even noticed it. Yet, when it was gone, I did notice. It felt weird. Maybe this is the disconnect we can feel between Sunday morning and the rest of our week. In my lifetime, I'm soon to be 58 years old, there has been a tidal wave of change in our culture that can best be described as the de-enchantment of Christianity from the culture. You no longer, for the most part, experience Christianity just from everyday life and from the culture. How about you? Do you notice this? I will explore more of this in the coming week. Stay tuned.....





From the Desk of Pastor Mark

October 21, 2020



I shared a funny story on FB this morning about how I discovered how out pet rabbit, Fluffy, had learned she could climb up a 4.5 foot fence and escape out of her corn crib enclosure. I had seen her in the yard a few weeks ago, happy bunny, outside of her home and eating grass as I approached her with the pet carrier to bring her back to her protection of her home. 


Humans often talk about "Freedom". It's one of those things in life we as Americans cherish. We are fortunate to enjoy many freedoms in our nation--freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom to practice the religion of ones choosing (or not), ect. The list is long and worthy of our defending it with all we are as a people. 


Yet in the Gospel of John in the 8th chapter, Jesus speaks about truth and freedom. He says, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth and the truth will set your free." The people Jesus says this to object--"We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone." But Jesus goes onto say, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free (and he does) you will be free indeed.


Fluffy found her "freedom". Eating the sweet grass in the yard and being able to roam anywhere she wanted to roam. Yet, this freedom had a price. (1) About 9 feral cats roam the immediate environs, (2) two dogs who once broke into her bunny hutch and nearly killed her are next door, (3) would a domesticated rabbit even live a few days without water or other challenges? So, she was "free", right? You get the picture? Really, the bunny bin is her version of the Garden of Eden. She has food, water, heat, and company, but her inclination is for the "more". Sound familiar? 


If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36)


Enjoy your day! God Bless and Keep you in his tender care.


Pastor Mark




From the Desk of Pastor Mark

October 20, 2020


It's almost three pm in the afternoon and wow is it snowing! Check out the date above and then check it out again--October 20th! Wowzer! This will be the most snow since we began recording weather in Minnesota for this date. Weather is always full of surprises. It's not just the weather-- its life. 


Each day when we wake up, who knows what the day will bring?  It may be the start of some amazing journey in our life, or it may be our last day on this earth. Just think of both possibilities. We never know what the day will bring. Yet, we can be assured that God in Christ Jesus is with us in every moment from the moment of our conception until the moment of our death. God has you! Always and forever. 


This pandemic really, really stinks for so many reasons. Nothing is the same. Things we used to take for granted are either hard now, or impossible. We have lost income, lost joy, and some of us have lost loved ones.  A lot of loss. It's also going to be a while. We are going to have more tough things to go through this winter. 


But in Christ, we cling to hope. We know that weeping sets in at night, but Joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5) Morning is breaking people, morning is breaking. But like my sermon on Sunday and the example of my little 5 pound dog going up 4 stairs and resting/waiting, then flinging her head back and going 4 more before she waits again, this is the NOW. We are like Daisy on the step but our sight is onward and upward! We will get there with God by our side. WE will, Messiah Lutheran! We will. Maybe. just maybe, we will be stronger and better for the road that lies after. 

 

:Psalm 130--Remember the Pattern:


(1) Cry out

live

(2) Wait

live

(3) Hope

Eternal life


God Bless!






From the Desk of Pastor Mark

October 19, 2020



I wanted to give some reflection on the last almost 8 months we have been in the storm of this pandemic. I  think  we have done a good job of playing a "middle ground" in terms of worship opportunities. We have held a number of different worship services since we "opened" back up for worship in the sanctuary, and for the most part, I think this has gone well. I think the fire pit services went well through out the summer even though I know some people might have preferred an earlier start at 5pm. We had a real summer this summer so the later 7 pm start was much better in terms of the heat and having shadows come in play in terms of the back of the church to keep things a bit cooler. We can talk about whether an earlier time would be preferred next spring/summer. The Parking lot services gave people an opportunity to commune and get out of their PJ's and go to church without having to go inside if that was out of their comfort zone. We have had numbers in the sanctuary of about what I was expecting given the circumstances. 


In terms of programming we are at the moment getting some of the regular things back up and running. We started Sunday School in the first week of October in a large group setting in the sanctuary. We are asking for kids age 3 to fourth grade to attend. We start at 10:45 and go until 11:15. We wouldn't want anyone to miss a second of those amazing Vikings! ;) (HaHa!). Confirmation is going well as we are meeting at United Lutheran in Elbow Lake on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:45, grades seven through ninth (which is a change). We start out in a large group with screens and large group interaction and then break down into small groups with adult leaders. The Impact group is also up and running on Tuesday's after school for about an hour and a half. 



In terms of giving, we are holding our own. One of my concerns has been the roof payment that comes due in the fall. We had to take funds out of the general saving to pay it this fall. The general savings is very minimal right now. I encourage all those who have pledged to keep up with the pledge. If you have not pledged--I encourage you to help retire this debt, and if you have already fulfilled your pledge, I would ask you to prayerfully consider additional giving. 


As always, if you have any praises or concerns let me know 24-7. My cell phone # is (218) 851-3153


Peace,

Pastor Mark





















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