What does it mean to be grateful? Gratefulness is a feeling of appreciation by a recipient of another's kindness. This kindness can be gifts, help, favors, or another form of generosity to another person. The word comes from the Latin word gratus, which means "pleasing" or "thankful". For what are you grateful?
Sunday’s readings pointed out much for which we should be grateful.
From our Isaiah 40:21-26 reading:
And from the Gospel of John 1:1-14:
All of these things to be grateful for in just 20 of the 31,102 verses found in the Bible. Imagine how many more are found in scripture?
The problem is that many people do not read their Bibles. However, God knew that it wasn’t the best source of communicating with us that is why the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus, God with us, was born, raised in a family, and lived his life as the embodiment of God’s Word.
As followers of Jesus we are called to be witnesses of God. We do so best when we recognize for that for which we are grateful, and have the desire to help others do likewise as we share kindness, gifts, help, favors, or another form of generosity. In doing hopefully gratefulness is felt by that person and they can join us in giving thanks to God and passing on gratefulness.
I encourage you to take a moment to write a quick list of which you are grateful; in fact, I invite you to do so every day. Many people keep a gratitude journal, it helps them focus on what is good and going well in their lives, and in doing so gives them a foundation and strength when facing difficulties in life.
Below are the responses from those who shared theirs on Sunday. Are you surprised by the list? Are the things you are grateful for already listed? If not, share yours in the comments. (A number in front indicates multiple responses).
May you be grateful for all the blessings you have received, giving thanks in Jesus’ name. Amen
Youth: 4th-12th Grade, July 9-14. Seeds: 1st-3rd Grade July 14-16
Summer Bible Camp = increased faith life and church involvement
“Life up your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these? The Lord brings out the stars one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of God’s great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” – Isaiah 40:26
Camp engagement was the most frequent response among rostered ministers age 45 and younger who grew up in the ELCA. Among this group, 71% attended Lutheran Outdoor Ministry (LOM) summer camp and 60% served on LOM summer camp staff. A remarkable 67% of this subgroup agreed that their camp experiences were instrumental in their call to rostered ministry.
I’m no longer in that age range, but I attended Bible Camp and served as a Counselor, Adventurist, Program Director and Site Director in LOM. I am a pastor primarily because of summer Bible camp. A quote I share with camp staff is true for me.
“You can’t change a kid’s life in a week, but you can give them the week of a lifetime.”
For me Jesus became more personal, more real, a relationship instead of an activity when I attended camp, both as a camper and as summer staff. I asked the St. Luke’s youth last night prior to campfire worship why youth should go to camp. Their responses were much like mine as a youth:
Above is the theme verse for the week. Just as God creates and calls forth the stars, God does so with each one of us. So I read the verse like this:
“When I look to the campers, who created all of these? The Lord brings forth each child one by one and calls forth each one by name. Because of God’s great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
If you want to join in the Bible Studies, please click: HERE
Know that all of you are in our prayers. Please keep us in yours.
Would love to hear your prayers and your camp stories share it in the comments.
Today is the Celebration of Independence for the United States. I have a second cousin who reminds anyone who greets him with “Happy Fourth of July!” that we are not celebrating a date, but an ideal. The United State’s grand experiment of democracy continues, with all of its faults and failings.
The same could be said about Christianity, which also has many faults and failures – first and foremost the desire for a Christian nation. I will continue to point out that Jesus, the Son of God, never desired to establish an earthly government. We hear him declare during his arrest, “Put your sword back into its place, for all who take the sword will die by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?” – Matthew 26:52-54
This coming week we will continue our series on the Book of Isaiah. The passage we are studying is often read on Christmas Eve,
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders, and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Great will be his authority, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.” – Isaiah 9:6-7
It is in this reading that I hear what the work of the church is to be – peace, justice, and righteousness – Godly righteousness, not self-righteousness. It is the latter that Paul is speaking against to the Galatians.
Chapter 5 opens with “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Vs. 1). Paul is speaking against other missionaries who wanted to bring the Galatians under the constraint of a new religio-cultural system of domination.
Commentator Richard Hays shares the following in the New Interpreters Bible pg. 310
Paul’s letter is a clarion call to stand firm in the freedom won by Christ. Beware of confusing the freedom of which Paul speaks with nationalistic discourses about freedom nor about rugged individualism or an inner liberty of the conscience or the will. Freedom in Christ manifests itself through the formation of concrete communities where the old barriers of nation, race, class, and gender are overcome in communion at the one table. The freedom Paul proclaims is to be embodied in the corporate life of the church.
Freedom in Christ says, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ, who lives in me.” (2:20).
Freedom in Christ is a gift, not an achievement. Where freedom is so understood it leaves room for genuine diversity. We need not be bound by anxiety about pleasing others, or meeting expectations imposed on us by those who fancy themselves the guardians of order. We are accountable only to God, in whose service is perfect freedom. The freedom that we know now in Christ is a future-oriented sign, a foretaste, a pointer to the new creation.
So let us celebrate the Independence of the United States, but even more so the celebrate the greater freedom found in Jesus. Paul directs us how to best do that at the end of the 5th chapter, words that as a Christian and also as fellow citizens would be good to live by…
“For you were called to freedom brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ If however you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another…By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:13-15, 22-26
I wanted to reach out and say a HUGE Thank you to all the VBS volunteers, children, and families that made it all possible. We had 32 kids this year and lots of volunteers. The children were just beaming with huge smiles all week, they certainly had a blast and so did I! VBS is one of my favorites and I look forward to it each year. It was a Food Truck Party theme this year, so of course we had to have a real food truck at our celebration. I want to thank our St. Luke’s Foundation for covering the costs of everyone’s meal at our event. We are so grateful for the foundation and I think the families enjoyed it very much! If you have not tried Scramblin’ Egg Food Truck yet, you need too! They will be at church every Thursday morning for the next couple of weeks. The food was amazing! Even though VBS is over for now, the fun songs will be stuck in my head for a long time- which is a good thing!!
Click here to view more wonderful pictures from the week.
Director of Children and Family Ministries
The only miracle found in all four of the Gospels (Matthew 14:13–21; Mark 6:33–44; Luke 9:12–17; John 6:1–14) is the Loaves and Fishes, feeding 5,000 men, (which means there were even more adding in the women and children. Matthew and Mark record a second feeding 4,000 (Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-10). What is true in all of them is that Jesus had compassion for the people, taking care of one of the most basic needs – food. As Christians we continue to meet that need is a variety of waves. This week we lift up Loaves and Fishes.
After retirement I didn’t want to do anything. Eventually, I felt the need to serve. My husband Andy and I have delivered Meals on Wheels for a number of years. When St. Luke’s needed a coordinator for the monthly meal service I said, “Okay I’ll do it.” The congregation had a need and I was available. I get to work with a really fun group of people from St. Luke’s who are dedicated.
I’m impressed with Loaves and Fishes.
Like all nonprofits, funding is always difficult. Grateful to St. Luke’s members who make additional donations to Loaves and Fishes. You can identify Loaves and Fishes when giving online to missions, or simply put Loaves and Fishes in your check memo or if cash note it on the offering envelope.
Currently there is a matching fund offered by Otto Bremer Trust, up to $30,000 for all donations given by the end of August.
Another fun way to support them is to attend their Fall Jubilee on Saturday, September 23. An evening of fun, philanthropy, and community with food, drinks, live and silent auctions, raffles and more.
Thank you to the 15 St. Luke’s Members who sign up every third Wednesday of the month at Hope Presbyterian Church 7132 Portland Ave. Prep begins about 2 PM, meal is served 5:00 to 6:00 PM, with clean up following. Members tend to sign up for a shift of prep, serve, or clean up. To join the team contact Jan Pankratz Andy Pankratz email@example.comABOUT LOAVES & FISHES
To provide healthy meals to Minnesotans in areas where need is greatest.
We are guided by our vision that all people – regardless of socioeconomic, cultural, religious, or ethnic background – deserve to meet their basic needs for food, dignity, and respect.
OUR GROWING IMPACT
We have steadily increased the number of free, healthy meals served to Minnesotans in need. In 2022, we served over 4.6 million meals and are on pace to serve over another 4 million in 2023.
Learn more at: https://www.loavesandfishesmn.org/
It is with great joy and celebration we honor the Graduating High School Students. They have been nurtured in the faith. Let us continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers trusting in the promise…
(Name – High School. Future Plans. Current Favorite Bible Verse)
Tommy Denesen – Bloomington Jefferson. Future Plans: Gap year then college. John 11:25-26 – I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Allie Erickson – Academy of Holy Angels. Future Plans: Crown College, St. Boniface studying Biology. Jeremiah 29:11. – For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Aubrey Hendrickson – Bloomington Jefferson. Future Plans: Cornell College, Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, while playing softball. Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD is with you wherever you go.
Eli Norris-Weber – Southwest Minneapolis. Future Plans: Augustana Lutheran Sioux Falls, SD. for Sports Management. Romans 5:10 – For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.
Rowen O'Hara – Yorkville High School. Future Plans: Community College for Nursing. 1st Thessalonians 5:11 – "Encourage one another and build each other up, jus as in fact you are doing."
Cole Remer – Bloomington Jefferson Future Plans: Hennepin Tech. 1st Corinthians 10:13 – No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
Michaela Zdenek – Shakopee High School. Future Plans: Cosmetology School. John 16:4 – I have told you this so when that time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this first because I was with you.
Lord God of our ancestors, we thank you for what you have done and will continue to do in the lives of these graduates. Walk with them in life, and keep the evil one from obstructing their path. You see all; you know where the water is deep. Keep them from danger. Order their steps and guide their feet while they run the race of faith. May the good work that you have begun in them be brought to completion at the day of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Monday – Thursday, June 19-22. 9 AM – Noon!
Special Congregational Celebration, Thursday at 11: 30 AM
Food Truck Party VBS invites children of all ages to get on a roll with God as a parade of Food Trucks rolls into their neighborhood for the summer's biggest party!
Using Matthew 6:11; "Give us this day our daily bread", children are invited to pray as Jesus teaches. These words serve as a reminder that everything we have comes from God - and our daily needs are met by God.
Through stories in both the Old and New Testaments, kids' eyes are open to the countless ways God provides, loves, and cares for us while inviting them to join God in providing, loving, and caring for others. The goal of Food Truck Party is to help children build on the practice of using daily prayer to turn to God for their needs - and also to serve as the hands of God in ensuring that the needs of others are met.
Invite your family, friends, and neighbors’ children to join the fun. Register: HERE
Join the fun by volunteering for the week, a day, or provide one of the snacks: HERE
Any Questions, Contact: Emily Schoeller, Director of Children and Family Ministry. firstname.lastname@example.org / 952-881-5801 ext. 104.
Come and enjoy the best week of the summer – St. Luke’s Vacation Bible School!
You’ve heard of the 3 R’s for Education: Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic – and we wonder why “over 50 percent of Americans and Brits earn low marks on a spelling.” (English Spelling Society 2009 – my guess is it is worse today.)
My fear is the percentage is similar or worse concerning Christian Faith. Too many live a faith based on ritual, busyness, consumerism, apathy, and neglect, corresponding antonyms to the 5 R’s of a Healthy Spiritual Life.
That is not how it was intended. Jesus invited us to, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Join St. Luke’s the next three weeks on Sabbath. Summer is the perfect time to reflect on the Gift of 5 R’s for a Healthy Spiritual Life.
REST – “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:1-3
If the creator the universe took time to rest, why do we think we don’t have to? There is a societal sickness of putting a badge of honor on for the number of hours we work. Please do not buy in or celebrate this misguided feat. Take time to rest. To do so requires…
RELAXATION – “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 61:1-2
One of last week’s readings was Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”
For me relaxation begins with taking in a deep breath. I recall this passage and image the Spirit coming in, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2). Let me unpack “the fear of the Lord.” It is best understood as awe, and respect for the relationship we have with God and the gifts we have been given. Who doesn’t need wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, and knowledge when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.
RECREATION – “Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do.” Ecclesiastes 9:7
The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites. God delights in our inquisitive nature. It is honored by having an entire book on the search for meaning and purpose. In the end the philosopher shares this understand, “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. You can argue the Bible supports school vacation. (Ecclesiastes 12:12b)
REVERANCE – “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13For six days you shall labor and do all your work. 14But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you.” – Deuteronomy 5:12-14
I am old enough to remember remnants of the blue laws, a body of regulations designed to preserve the Sabbath by proscribing most labor, the sale of alcohol, and other things on Sundays, thus taking away obstacles for worship. This should have been settled with Jesus when he told the judgmental Pharisees, ‘The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; 28so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.’ (Mark 2:27)
Is attending worship out of obligation truly worship? My hope and prayer is that people experience all 5 R’s of a Healthy Spiritual Life, receiving “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit,” (2nd Corinthians 13:13), and go out into the world to share it with all.
RENEWAL – “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31
This might seem like a contradiction declaring that God rested, and Isaiah writes, “God will not grow tired or weary.” Rest is why God will not grow tired or weary. We are created in God’s image. We need Rest, Relaxation, Recreation, Reverence, and Renewal to keep awake and refreshed.
Remembering in the 5 R’s we can live like the Psalmist who summed up all of this best.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:1-5
What “R” of a Healthy Spiritual Life are you most in need?
How do you live out the “5 R’s in your life?
Dear St. Luke's,
I will be leaving the position of Choir Director at St. Luke's on Tuesday, June 6.
It has been a true blessing to work over the last two years with such a talented, musical, and faithful choir, and with other gifted musicians in the St. Luke's community. I have appreciated working with St. Luke's dedicated staff and ministers, and I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to get to know many members of the congregation.
Finally, I appreciate having being part of St. Luke’s 100th Anniversary celebration. I wish you God’s blessings in St. Luke's 101st year and beyond.
Godspeed Bernie! Sunday, June 4
Please join in celebrating Bernie Asher’s ministry here at St. Luke’s as the Choir Director. We will recognize Bernie at both worship times and enjoy a treat in his honor between worship times.
Bernie are a person with many talents. Thank you for not only leading the Choir, but also playing congas, drum set, and accordion. Most of all for your love of Jesus and your desire to help others join you in praise. Prayers and blessings to and your family.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David: O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. – Psalm 139:1-4
What a joy, to God be the glory! People came from Canada and Hawaii.
The Anniversary Team and all the ministry teams did an amazing job representing St. Luke’s.
How fun to have a flash mob of current and former members kick off the night with singing.
Robert Benedict, grandson of Charter Members Oscar and Hulda Anderson, walked us through the history of St. Luke’s; a history that continues to be written.
The 100th Anniversary Video funded by the St. Luke’s Foundation encapsulated the 100 years of ministry that was started by just eight families. Currently we have 261 households – imagine what we can do…
The mayor and bishop spoke words of thanks, praise, and hope for our future.
Tawny Homesley and Pastor Mark Halvorson shared staff reflections.
The food on Saturday and Sunday morning was fabulous, as was the serving staff along with the baristas.
And then at Sunday worship…
Two commissioned musical pieces were debuted:
The Bells of Praise, “Illumina – Word of God. Light Our Way.” by Cathy Moklebust with former Bells of Praise Director Tawny speaking the words.
The Festival Choir sung, “Be the Light!” composed and conducted by former Music Leader, John Helgen.
Pastor Bud Eskritt gave the sermon and was surprised by the congregation to be appointed Pastor Emeritus. He said it was one of the most remarkable experiences he has had as a pastor.
Others joined him in their reflections of the day…
“I’m still basking in the afterglow of one of the most memorable and inspirational weekends of my life. Thank you, thank you!” Blessings, Mark Bergherr
“I am still riding a high from this weekend! To spend the weekend with so many people who've had such a profound impact on my life was truly a gift. And you know it was good when you have so few pictures because you were just too busy taking it all in. My cup runneth over.
'We are called out of the darkness. Light had shined bright in the darkness. Jesus said 'I am the light of the world.' Let your light shine before all.' –(John Helgen’s song lyrics)” – Mollee Erickson
“Such an exciting time and event!” – Laurie Blanchard
“Grateful for this community of faith and for all the ways they’ve cared for and loved my family and me” – Jana Cinnamon
“Great to see so many friends and share in the music for worship this morning at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington as they celebrated 100 years of ministry. Kudos to the singers of St. Luke’s, choir director Bernie Asher, and accompanist Lori Murray in the performances of my newest choral anthem “Be the Light!” which was commissioned by St. Luke’s for today’s celebration. Here’s to the next hundred!” – John Helgen
If you missed any of it, the Saturday Night Program of Celebration and Praise, along with both the 8:30 and 10 AM worship were recorded. You can find them here.
We are also collecting pictures of the weekend. Please share your pictures to our Google Photo Album or send to email@example.com or tag @stlukesbloomington to your online posts. An album will be created on our website with these pictures.
May the weekend not only be a memory…
…let us build off of it into the next 100 years. To God be the glory!!