6.6.20 Saturday

Good Saturday morning. A colleague of mine (Carrie Ballanger) who serves in Jerusalem wrote a very poignant post yesterday. I am posting it here with her permission.

The thing that infuriates me about church folks who get uptight about the phrase “Black lives matter” (and subsequently the BLM movement) is how utterly BASIC these words actually are.

Black lives MATTER.

Hours-long church council meetings have been held about these things that MATTER (actual examples):

Red or white wine at communion

Bread or wafers

Changing the worship schedule

Including a Spanish hymn in the liturgy

The color of the pastor’s office walls

Why won’t Pastor let us put Jesus in the nativity scene the day after Thanksgiving

Whether to switch to fair trade coffee for fellowship hour

Can acolytes wear flip-flips under their robes

That time Pastor said “Crap” in her sermon

(“More Jesus, Less Crap” was the quote, BTW)

These issues MATTER enough for us to call meetings and set up task forces.

These issues MATTER enough for us to argue among friends and sometimes threaten to leave the church.

White people: Do the lives of our black and brown neighbors MATTER enough for us to do the same to protect them? To demand justice? To examine our complicity and change our behaviors? To upend this filthy rotten system and join God in giving birth to something new?

Again, it still strikes me as So. Very. Basic. “Black lives matter” doesn’t go nearly far enough.

To say something MATTERS just means it counts. It’s worth talking about. It warrants my attention, and probably some action. Like the sound flip-flops make under an alb on Sunday morning.

But Black lives and Palestinian lives and Refugee lives and Imprisoned lives don’t just MATTER. They are worth so much more.

Right? Right??? More than one council meeting. More than one “racial justice Sunday”. More than one week of protest. More than 4 officers arrested. More than one hashtag.

If white Christians can’t confidently proclaim BLACK LIVES MATTER with as much passion as we talk about the font in the worship bulletin then I don’t see how the church MATTERS. Period.

(end rant! Back to sermon writing.)

Think about how many issues we feel are so important we spend hours during committee meetings hashing them out. We must look differently at our issues because in the whole scheme of God’s plan for all God’s people, many of our issues are not worth discussing, while other issues need our full attention.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

6.6.20 Saturday2020-06-06T07:38:24-05:00

6.5.20 Friday

Good Friday morning. I’m off to a bit of a later start this morning. Covid, daily news, funeral of George Floyd, hot weather, all brought on a bit of overload and fatigue. I can imagine you feel this many times as well. I hand over all of my concerns and your concerns to our gracious and most wonderful God who will see us through anything!

I am looking forward to our parking lot worship services this Sunday. It will feel so different than being in our sanctuary, our normal worship space, but most of us are so ready to get back to doing at least something together. Just follow instructions from the parking lot attendants, grab a bulletin on the way in, and tune in to the FM station we tell you about. We are setting this up tomorrow. Pray for success.

We will be honoring our 2020 grads at the 10:00 service.

As you exit, someone will be by the drive-out with an offering plate for you to place your offering if you are not doing it online yet.

James writes a wisdom proverb at the end of Chapter 3.

James 3:13-18 (NRSV)

Two Kinds of Wisdom

“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”

“For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.” Verse 16 speaks to the events of the past week. Our country needs more righteousness sown in peace, not violence, and certainly not a violent response to violence. Our country needs more wisdom from calm, smart, and gentle people. Cool heads will prevail, not the ones who incite violence on either side. God be with us. God help us. God strong!

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

6.5.20 Friday2020-06-05T08:34:43-05:00

6.4.20 Thursday

Good Thursday morning. In my old Camp Vermilion songbook, there is a song called, “Less of Me.”

“Let me be a little kinder

Let me be a little blinder

To the faults of those around me

Let me praise a little more.

Let me be when I am weary

Just a little bit more cheery,

Think a little more of others

and a little less of me.”

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all followed that notion?

“Let me be a little braver

When temptations make we waver

Let me strive a little harder

To be all that I should be.

Let me be a little meeker

With my brother that is weaker,

Let me think more of my neighbor

And a little less of me.”

Who is my neighbor and why should we even care?

“Let me be when I am weary

Just a little bit more cheery

Let me serve little better

Those that I am striving for.

Let me be a little meeker

With a brother that is weaker,

Think a little more of others

And a little less of me.”

Who is my brother?

I pray that we can all be a little kinder. That is what the world needs now. Let’s all pray for God to bind up Satan and move us to love our brothers and our neighbors more. Sometimes, it is difficult and we don’t like what our brothers and neighbors are up to. That is Satan tempting you with a bigger ME attitude. Tell Satan to take a hike out of your life. Look to see if there is some way you can show your brother/neighbor the love of God and the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Who is my neighbor?

Ahhhhh. Good question. Look beyond your back yard and out into the world. We are all God’s beloved children!

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

6.4.20 Thursday2020-06-04T07:25:33-05:00


Good Wednesday morning. We had quite the thunderstorm here last night. Some really loud bangs. Later, we found a part of a tree down by our mailboxes. It didn’t hit anything luckily.

James goes off in a different direction as we continue through this small book.

James 3:1-12 (NRSV)

Taming the Tongue

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters,[e] yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

The tongue is a powerful instrument when combined with voice. I pray that people will think before they speak and use their tongue in positive manners of speaking. In the Small Catechism, Luther explains the 8th commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” He asks, “What does this mean?” He answers, “We are to fear and love God, so the we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light.”

Now put the words of James together with the words of Luther and think about the events of last week. How could speaking well about your neighbor have changed anything that happened? I pray that we all try a lot harder to speak well of our neighbors and come to their defense. Even harder, to interpret everything they do in the best possible light! Let us all pray to keep our tongues closely guarded to fear and love God above all else.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue



Good Tuesday morning. June 2, 2020. I pray that you are as excited as I am about worshipping together on Sunday. I asked Kristy if she could play, “Shall We Gather in the Parking Lot.” I may just have to write new words!

So, back to James in this very controversial statement of his that enraged Luther so much. James 2:14-26 (NRSV)

Faith without Works Is Dead

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? ……….. 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

Ok, so what do you think? Our Lutheran tradition and doctrine holds that we are saved by grace alone. Works cannot save us. Even non-religious/faithless people do good things! We don’t have a monopoly on goodness, that’s for sure. Martin Luther declared his position: Justification is by faith alone, our works add nothing to our justification whatsoever, and we have no merit to offer God that in any way enhances our justification. This created the worst schism in the history of Christendom. It actually got him excommunicated.

What James is saying is this: If a person says he has faith, but he gives no outward evidence of that faith through righteous works, his faith will not justify him.

The book of James was most likely written in the late first century, long before Luther came along. Now, when I hear people offering “thoughts and prayers” to others experiencing devastating events, it seems so empty. We do good works and good things in response to what God has already done for us, what Jesus did for us on the cross. I know I am saved by my faith, but I also feel it is important to live out my faith.

What do you think?

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue


6.1.20 Monday

Good Monday morning and happy June 1st, the beginning of meteorological summer(not astronomical). It is supposed to be a hot week. Our country survived a rough weekend with protests and riots, but once again, the human spirit of goodness rose above evil. Evil did not triumph.

Your council met on Sunday to discuss reopening the church for worship. After discussing all of the limitations, they agreed that we would begin phase one with parking lot worship. We will worship on Sunday, June 7th at 8 & 10 am in our parking lot. We will park 6′ apart from each other. Feel free to bring lawn chairs to sit beside your car, or remain in your car.

A reopening task force was formed to consider how to reopen the building safely for worship and fellowship in the future for phase 2. We ask for your patience so we can do this safely.

We would appreciate your contributions of hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and masks. You can drop them off by the main entrance and Jen will pick them up daily.

I put up my mom’s painting today that has pink lady slippers and the poem: “Come right in you pretty June, sweeter than a piper’s tune. You’re only here for 30 days, so let’s just lay around and laze.”

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

6.1.20 Monday2020-06-01T06:49:11-05:00

5.30.20 Saturday

We weep with Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Lamentations 1: 1-3

1How lonely sits the city

that once was full of people!

How like a widow she has become,

she that was great among the nations!

She that was a princess among the provinces

has become a vassal.

2She weeps bitterly in the night,

with tears on her cheeks;

among all her lovers

she has no one to comfort her;

all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,

they have become her enemies.

3Judah has gone into exile with suffering

and hard servitude;

she lives now among the nations,

and finds no resting place;

her pursuers have all overtaken her

in the midst of her distress.

We pray to you, Oh God, in this time of chaos and destruction. Do not let us fail, amid the fires and looting, the deep grieving that has gone on for centuries, to see, to hear, to have empathy. Do not let us fail to change behaviors after all these years and all of the deaths. Do not let us fail to love our neighbor. Deliver us from this terrible time, Oh God and restore our cities to order. In the name of your risen Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.30.20 Saturday2020-05-30T07:07:43-05:00

5.29.20 Friday

It isn’t a very good Friday morning, is it? My heart is breaking for our Twin Cities this morning. This is so sad for our state. The violence, fires and looting are such poor examples of humanity in the face of an injustice. Businesses should not be the targets of anger and injustice. Peaceful protests and demonstrations are one thing, but violence does not solve any problems and it just makes the protestors look bad. I understand their rage, but I do not understand their actions. God help us all.

I think we will leave the book of James for this morning and dwell in our grief with a Psalm.

Psalm 140 (NRSV)

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers;

protect me from those who are violent,

2 who plan evil things in their minds

and stir up wars continually.

3 They make their tongue sharp as a snake’s,

and under their lips is the venom of vipers.

4 Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;

protect me from the violent

who have planned my downfall.

5 The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,

and with cords they have spread a net,

along the road they have set snares for me.

6 I say to the Lord, “You are my God;

give ear, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications.”

7 O Lord, my Lord, my strong deliverer,

you have covered my head in the day of battle.

8 Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;

do not further their evil plot.

9 Those who surround me lift up their heads;

let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!

10 Let burning coals fall on them!

Let them be flung into pits, no more to rise!

11 Do not let the slanderer be established in the land;

let evil speedily hunt down the violent!

12 I know that the Lord maintains the cause of the needy,

and executes justice for the poor.

13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;

the upright shall live in your presence.

Gracious God, our refuge and our strength, you have bound us together in a common life. In all our conflicts, help us to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, to listen for your voice amid competing claims, and to work together with mutual concern and respect. Uphold us with your love, Lord, and give us the strength we need. Keep our law enforcers, firefighters and National Guard safe in this time of great turbulence. Help us amid the confusion and negative energy that threatens to envelop us. Heal the hurt, console the bereaved, protect the innocent and the helpless, and deliver us all. We pray all this in the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior. Amen.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.29.20 Friday2020-05-29T06:57:20-05:00


Good Thursday morning. Wasn’t yesterday a beautiful day? I celebrated God’s gift of sunshine and fun with a nice ride in my old convertible, a burger from the Roadhouse, and a relaxing visit by the lake. I finished off the day with listening to Hawaiian music and birds on my porch until dark. Very fulfilling. Of course, I watched Shawna preach another one of her great sermons. She is a blessing to our congregation.

Unfortunately, as I was engaged in fun, a whole segment of our Minnesota neighbors were not having fun. They were demonstrating their dissatisfaction with another death through police force. Their demonstration took a horrible turn toward destruction of property last night.

James addressed the issue of social class in this next section as we plow through his writing.

James 2:1-8 (NRSV)

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2 For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This is very poignant today as Minneapolis has called for the National Guard to help with the demonstration taking place over the tragic death of George Floyd. A peaceful protest has turned in to a dangerous riot. Now there has been a shooting in that same area. There have been fires and looting in the area of Hiawatha and Lake Street.

Pray for peace and healing, calm and order. Pray for the family and friends of George Floyd. Love your neighbor as yourself. We can do better.

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue


5.27.20 Wednesday

Good Wednesday morning. Midweek already. Any time Monday is a holiday, my whole week is thrown off. Shawna is doing the service tonight so I can relax that it is Wednesday already! Otherwise, I’d be scrambling to get everything done in time for worship! I pray that Shawna is inspired. Sunday is Pentecost so get out your red shirts!

Let’s look at a big chunk of James this morning. Verse 19 is a powerful verse for us to ponder today. It would probably be enough to focus on, but the rest speaks to me this morning after hearing of the death of George Floyd and the demonstration that followed in Minneapolis.

James 1:19-27 (NRSV)

Hearing and Doing the Word

“19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Again, Luther disliked the book of James for his emphasis on works, but I don’t see any allusion to salvation by works in this passage. I hear a call to listen to Christ’s words that call on us to be nice, say nice things about others, help others, love others,… you get the picture. It’s all about others. It’s about caring. Being a doer of the word is a good thing. Of course we know it doesn’t bring us salvation, but it is the right thing to do in response to God already saving us!

Does this passage speak to you? The world has gone wacky in division, speaking ill of others, hurting others and killing those we fear. How can we keep ourselves “unstained by the world.”? Something’s got to change!

Blessings on your day,

Pastor Sue

5.27.20 Wednesday2020-05-27T06:46:06-05:00