February 2020

“Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others.” 

From Pastor Bradley Skogen        February 2020 

2020 Vision: See Jesus Near and Far… “A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are    yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself. That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say: “I make God visible.” But others who se us together can say: “They make God visible.” Community is where humility and glory touch.”           - Henri Nouwen 

 

 There is one line in the reading above that captures my attention this time through: “… together we reveal the face of God to the world.” How clearly can people see the face of God in our togetherness as First Lutheran Church? What are some ways we are “Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others”, so those others see God’s face clearly?  I have been reflecting on the many ways we have lived out our mission over the last year. One powerful and longstanding mission relationship we have sustained for 14 years is with our siblings in Bemidji at Peoples Church.  You may remember just a few months ago when we gathered food and supplies to bring up to Peoples Church so they could prepare a holiday meal for the community there. There are so many individuals who contribute to an effort like that – and even our local business owners who help with discounted prices or outright gifts of food and supplies. We are thankful for the face of God showing up in all of those people and places, too. Do you know, also, that our    congregation provides regular financial support so Peoples Church can minister in other ways on a day to day basis with people who are homeless or hungry or in need of clothing or need a warm and safe place to gather with others in worship and fellowship?  We plan to continue to sustain and build our relationship with Peoples Church and a question I would like you to consider is: How do you/we see the face of God in the community there? A healthy relationship is not one sided. Jesus comes to us through the community of Peoples Church, just as we provide support in Jesus’ name to the people there. Join me in   seeing Jesus near and far in Peoples Church.                     God Bless you, 

 

             Pr. Bradley J. Skogen 

 

 

January 2020 Newsletter

“Bringing the hope we share in Christ to others.” 

From Pastor Bradley Skogen        January 2020 

       2020 Vision: See Jesus Near and Far… “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 

 

Happy New Year! I am seeing things in a new way this year – quite literally! I had an eye exam at the end of December and needed to get new lenses for my glasses. I am one of those folks who need    bifocal lenses to help me read up close and some correction that helps me see clearly farther away. I didn’t know for sure before my appointment if my prescription would change, but the eye doctor said it was clear I needed new lenses to help me see better. It never ceases to amaze me how accustomed I can become to what I see as my ordinary, everyday reality and how much more clearly I can see when I get new glasses or lenses. 

 

This year I am going to encourage you to see – with “2020 Vision” – how we can live out our mission together as a congregation. I hope you will see some of our mission activity in new ways, even though it is through long-term support and relationship. I hope, too, you will join our committees and council in seeing new opportunities through mission partners and projects     locally and globally. We have been greatly blessed – and we are in a place to share the hope we have in Christ with those around us near and far. Happy New Year, indeed!              God Bless you, 

 

             Pr. Bradley J. Skogen 

 

 

December Newsletter

  

Joy is Coming!

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

Isaiah 40: 9

Mountains and valleys – our lives are full of mountains and valleys. We are approaching a “mountain top” of the church year, the season of Christmas. It is a high point for many people, emotionally, as favorite music is played and sung, as families prepare to gather, and as children anticipate the holiday celebration and gifts. It is a high point, spiritually, as we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Christ Child; the moment when God became flesh to dwell among us – a God willing to be vulnerable and humble, born in a stable, and laid in manger. A God willing to enter the greatest darkness of our human experience and emerge as a light of hope, peace, and everlasting life.

I have gained a strong appreciation for taking my time preparing for this mountain top experience. Getting to the top of the mountain doesn’t happen all at once, it is a process of starting low, preparing carefully, and climbing higher and higher during the weeks of Advent. We prepare for the journey, anticipate the celebration and joy of the summit, wait and walk carefully up the mountain. One way I would invite you to prepare and participate in the journey this year is to attend our Wednesday Evening Worship Services. We will be using “Holden Evening Prayer” and with an Advent theme highlighted each week. There are other ways to prepare: renewing a daily devotional practice, reconnecting with a family member or friend where there is a broken relationship, helping as a volunteer in our community, or some other activity to help you pause and consider your faith journey and relationships in the light of Jesus’ promised birth.

When we reach the top, not before, we are in the best position to see and tell the Good News: “Joy to the World! The Lord is come!” I look forward to seeing you at the top and to your partnership in ministry along the way.

       Advent Blessings!

       

        Pr. Bradley J. Skogen