Sleeping Out not Homeless

Tonight I am sleeping out with clergy from the Plymouth area to raise awareness about homelessness. On a number of occasions I have slept out for over a week.  This picture is from a twelve day camping trip in the Redwoods of California back in 2012. Cooking out of the back of a minivan, shuffling through bags to find “clean” clothes and looking for open camp-sites. Sleeping out and homelessness might have some similarities, but lots of differences fore sure. Tonight we will gather round a fire and share stories and food while building relationships between our faith communities. We will wake up cold and stiff but we will be headed to warm offices or even going home to clean up. These sorts of events give me a glimpse into how hard homelessness is for an individual or families and how vulnerable you are when you fall between the cracks of society. 

Jesus was always hanging out with and working to make a difference for those who fall between the cracks.  Claimed by Jesus’ love and called to work for the thriving of my neighbor–I seek to act.  First by donating to organizations like Interfaith Outreach.  Second by talking with my elected officials so they know I value affordable housing.   

Turned Toward Christmas

  In our house we have a “rule” Christmas music can’t start until the day after Thanksgiving. So, we wait with growing anticipation for the first rock around the Christmas tree. The music of the season sets a joyous mood as we dance and sing-along we decorate the tree and the house.

As I put the ornaments on the tree I read, in mom’s handwriting, when we got each ornament–the red and green sailboat from 2008, the bulb with Mr and Mrs Clause kissing from 1977. Hit with nostalgia I was transported back to Crosby, ND and the feelings of warmth and closeness around Grandma’s tree. While Grandma is gone our family traditions connect us to the past and remind us who we are as we moving into the ever shifting future.

On the first Sunday of Advent at Peace Lutheran we are “Greening the Church,” bringing out all the decorations and traditions and telling about their histories and meanings. This worship has now become part of our family’s traditions. We join the Peace community and turn our faces toward Christmas. We look again at the hope that Jesus’ birth brings into the world. And we sing. As we sing we make real, in us and the world, the amazing love born in human flesh and born in us each day. It is like Martin Luther said, “As long as we live, there will never be enough singing.”

The Compartmentalized Life

What does if mean to live a compartmentalized life?  It means we are one person at work/school, another at home, another in sports or clubs, another with our extended family, another at church, and yet another as we live out our civic lives.  But God invites us to live lives centered in Christ.  That life centered in Christ has three core claims:

  1. God creates and calls us to live in an integrated and interconnected way, holding faith in Christ at the center.
  2. Vocation, the call to be God’s hands and feet, bridges the gap we often feel between Sunday worship and Monday-Saturday life. 
  3. Our vocation is lived out in the many roles/arenas of daily life—family, occupation, citizen, neighbor, and the list goes on. 

Let’s start with that list—what are the varied rolls you inhabit?  Grab a pen and start writing all your rolls.  An example from my life is, I am: husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin. But as a cousin I am a cousin in three different systems (Ferris, Svangstu, and Carlson). Take time and make your list.

Look at your list, all of these roles/arenas pull us to be a different person.  In some roles we feel drastically different, in others just ever so slightly.  This is what is meant by the Compartmentalized Life—we have all these different roles and we are lead to believe that they need their own compartment.  Vocation bridges all of our roles.  Vocation empowers us to live as integrated whole beings. With Christ as our center we are free to move in and out of the different roles while always being who we are—a Child of God.

Vocation Small Groups

Vocation Small Groups

Henry has been reading for his Vocation small group. Join him in reflecting on how we are claimed by God’s love and called into service for the thriving of neighbor and world. Sunday 10a or Wednesday 6:15p at Peace Lutheran Plymouth.

What will the Vocation small groups discuss? Grace & vocation.

God already loves you. You can’t do anything to make God love you more than God already loves you right this minute. God has already claimed you and called you. As it says in the verses from Isaiah 43, “I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…You are precious in my sight…and I love you.” You don’t have to prove or earn anything! This is where we, as Lutherans, start: with God’s action towards us.

If we don’t have to worry about our own status with God – if God already loves and accepts us – then we are free to turn outward and love our neighbor. We are free to love because God first loved us.

In Matthew 22:37-39 we hear Jesus lay out the cornerstones of his ministry: love God, love your neighbor. Jesus even suggests that these two are connected. The love we have from God and for God plays out in the love we share with those around us.

So you see, the whole idea of “vocation,” how God invites us to live as God’s people in this world, starts with God’s love for us. How we respond to that love, then, is our vocation, our calling! And that vocation or calling is lived out in a variety of ways and in a number of different roles in each of our lives: as a parent or spouse, as a teacher or business person, as a neighbor or volunteer.

Vision Team

Vision Team

Peace’s foundational claim is that, in the waters of Holy Baptism, each person has been claimed by God’s grace alone and called to lives of service for the well-being of our neighbor and the world God loves.  Starting with the fall, Grace & Vocation sermon series and small group study and continuing into 2020, Peace is increasing focus on this theological claim.  To hone that focus and do what matters on a daily basis to get better results Peace is engaging the help of Vibrant Faith Ministries, a church consulting organization.  Through the Vision Team, Val Sorenson, Inger Trooien, Janelle Leppa, Pastor Kjell, Kate Tofteland (not pictured) and Jen Stoffel (not pictured), Peace will clarify our identity, strengths, challenges, and opportunities for ministry, and develop a written strategic plan that guides the congregation toward living into its mission, vision, and values.
  With council the team members will:

  • Assess the congregation’s uniqueness and strengths through interviews, surveys and observations of its norms.
  • Listen and learn about the local community and how the church might serve and connect with its residents.
  • Host a visioning retreat designed to clarify congregational priorities
  • Create a ministry plan or road map to guide the congregation’s efforts for the next 3 years.
  • Introduce the plan to the congregation and assist members with discerning how they might contribute to its fulfillment.

Please keep the Vision Team and their work in your prayers and look for the upcoming dates to participate in the conversations.