Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Job: A Further Reflection By Suzanna Swenson



 When I consider Job, my mind immediately goes to suffering. With this in mind, I have some Scripture verses (and my story to go with) that I would like to share and in doing so, hopefully encourage you.


When I was in a time of deep grief after suffering loss, I attended a one-day workshop with times of both teaching and personal reflection. During one of those times, the pastor leading us sent us out to reflect upon Isaiah 43:18-19: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 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."


When I sat with those verses, all I saw was wilderness and wasteland. I could not see any new thing springing up. The depth of my grief and distress was great. This promise of new things -  of beauty coming to wilderness and life coming to deserts - I could not see it or even how it could be possible. Even so, I felt as though God meant those words for me, even in a time when I was not sure I would experience joy on this side of heaven ever again. I hurt so much. I was suffering when I had acted in obedience to what I believed God wanted me to do. Why?


From Job's experience, I am comforted that suffering is not always punishment. If Job - who was blameless and upright in all his ways - suffered so greatly, if Job asked the Lord "why?" and never received an answer - then I am not alone when I experience loss and pain. I am not alone if I receive no more answer to my questioning "why?" than to read "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).


Even more than finding myself in familiar company with Job, what great comfort it is to hear Jesus' own words: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33b). I will experience suffering, but Jesus will be with me. In the Psalms I read further promises: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18) and "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me" (Psalm 23:4a).


While I do not yet  know if the LORD has fully revealed what "new thing" He has for me - there has been a way through the wilderness. There have been streams in the wasteland. And it is most certainly true when God says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1b-3a).


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Adam and Eve: Gleanings from the Fall

 Real Faith for Real Life 

Genesis Chapter 3 

Gleanings from the Fall by Diane Reece 

The serpent is described right away as crafty, cunning. His first words pose doubt. His next words lie. That’s all he says. That’s all there is to him. But it’s enough. We know who he is. We know his purpose.

 Adam and Eve listened to the doubt. Swallowed the lie. Disobedience entered the garden. And the consequences remain. 

It is probably a good thing I am not Eve. Oh to suffer for the rest of my life knowing what my decision caused! To see the suffering, experience the loss--to have walked with God! And then not. 

And then to see how my decision to disobey followed my offspring--to know my oldest killed his brother, my son! And to see what becomes of my oldest after he gave in to temptation...if only I hadn’t listened all those years ago… 

But my decisions are not unlike Eve’s. I have regrets. I tend to be overly critical of my past. Very harsh in my opinion of my younger self. I can see my disobedience and choices follow me around like something nipping at my heels. Trying to keep me unbalanced. Unsure. 

I can see my negative qualities reflect in my children...if only I hadn’t gone with the crowd all those years ago… 

But wait. Adam and Eve were given a promise. I tend to dwell on the bleakness too much. There is hope! God does not leave them without hope. A hope that travels throughout the writings of the Old Testament. It travels many roads, visits many homes, and dwells in God’s people. Hope. There is one coming… One who will come and put things right… 

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. 

Jesus. My savior. Hope realized. In the flesh! Oh, the good!...realized.

 Jesus. My champion. My protector. My redeemer! He has redeemed all that ugliness from my past. Yes, some of the consequences dog me, but they do not defeat me. I have a strength inside me that is greater. I cannot change the past, but I can learn from it. 

And now I’m full circle back to Eve. I can learn from my past, from her past, and others. My children can learn from my past and others. How very brave of her to “let” her life be written! All the faults right there--for everyone to see forever! And to see that despite her failures, her faults, God is there. In the beginning, God. In Eve’s beginning, God. In my beginning, God. He is there. He is always there! 

May my life--faults and failings, joys and successes--point to the One who walks with me. Just like Eve. 

Here is a song my family sang a long, long time ago. It reminds me of how Adam and Eve’s story ends. Victory! Praise the Lord!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpqSZ48u-Xw&fbclid=IwAR0goihlN5eil9HJJlrxsGILLvpqMI6h5tmSJnri8Ut3TVfoN7uareUHuWA

Monday, December 28, 2020

Links to 2020 Children's Program

2020 Children's Program


 I am excited to share with you this year's children's Christmas program! On Saturday, December 12, we took individual pictures of the participating children in grades PreK - 6th grade, which have been edited into our video. Thanks to the wonders of technology, most of our actors are playing more than one part, sometimes even at the same time! 


Cast:
Narrators: Henry Bowman, Jonathan Cooper, Tanner Lohrey

Census taker: Henry Bowman

Townspeople: Sophia Eyer, Tanner Lohrey, Claire Straight, Maryn Adolf, Marshall Lohrey, Levi Straight, Esther Kummer

Mary: Jersey Elseth
Joseph: Charlie Bowman

Shepherds: Jonathan Cooper & Peter Garretson

Sheep: Emma Kummer, Scout Johnsen, Anastasia Cooper

Angel: Tanner Lohrey

Angel Choir: Claire Straight, Maryn Adolf, Marshall Lohrey, Levi Straight, Esther Kummer, Emma Kummer, Scout Johnsen, Eli Lohrey, Anastasia Cooper

We hope you enjoy our program and wish you a Merry Christmas!


Program Only through Facebook:


Included in the Christmas Eve Service from Youtube at minute 33


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Christmas Program Sneak Peak by Suzanna Swenson





 As a child, I observed advent with my family devotions, singing Christmas carols in the dark of our living room, lit only by the glow of Christmas tree lights and the candlelight from our advent wreath, a light that grew stronger each week closer to Christmas. Because of this, the meditative stillness of candlelit services are still some of my most favorite of all worship
services.


Another, often less quiet, way I meditate in Advent is by preparing Christmas programs. For the weeks leading to Christmas, rehearsals send me reading and reciting a varied
combination of Luke, Matthew, and the old testament prophets. In doing so, I am meditating again on these truths. Last year, it was as though I was reading Micah 5:3 for the first time, which led me to reflect that even when I feel abandoned, I can trust that the truth of the matter is that God is always faithful. This year, Luke 2:19 stands out: Mary pondered all these things in her heart; what would God want me to be pondering deeply in my life?

This year, preparing for the Christmas program was different than it has been in the past.
There were no weeks of practice, no helping children memorize Scripture or songs. But there was still meditation on Scripture -- what photograph do we take to share Luke 2:1? How do we share Luke 2:9, showing the glory of the Lord when the angel arrives?



(Included here are behind the scenes pictures of the children involved this year.) Once it is complete, our program will be shared next Sunday during both worship services and here on the website. It is my
prayer that it will bless you in the watching as much as I have been blessed in the making.




Sunday, December 6, 2020

Tradition!

 

Traditions.  Every era and people has them, so it might seem that they are uniquely a product of human culture.  But, did you know that many biblical traditions are actually God’s idea?  God commanded the ancient Israelites to develop and keep certain traditions, many of which centered around a feast.


Here are a few examples:


  • for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. Leviticus 23:7

  • hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.Leviticus 23:8

  • bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. Leviticus 23:10

  • a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Lev 23:24

  • On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. Lev. 23:40


God wanted them to observe these celebrations every single year so that they would become deeply ingrained in the hearts and lives of the people, “a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”  (Lev 23:14)

These feasts and festivals did at least three things for God’s people (and you can tell that they are spiritual because they all begin with “R.”)  The feasts helped . . . 

  • His people to Remember what he had done,

  • His people Renew their commitment to Him and to each other,

  • and Give His people Rhythm.

With this in mind, at the Adult Forum this morning we shared ideas together about what kinds of Christmas traditions have helped us connect with God.

Remember:

  • Baking a birthday cake for Jesus (Ben Call and Ruth Peterson)

  • Reading of the Nativity story by the youngest reader (Neill Waker)

  • Use the wiseman’s three gifts as an outline for family gift giving.  We give our kids three gifts White/Myrrh (something to help them grow closer to God), Green/Frankincense (Something to wear/ for their body) and Gold (Something they really desire).  (Kate Cooper)


Renew:

  • Attend midnight mass (Don Blanchat, Vince Rocco and Joe Vajgrt)

  • Write Christmas cards to friends as a way to reconnect

  • White stocking: Hang a white stocking for Jesus.  On Christmas Eve each family member writes down a particular spiritual discipline or a specific area of growth and then places the paper in the stocking as a gift to Jesus.


Rhythm:


  • Christmas time was the one time of year we could get Potato Sausage at the grocery store, making it extra special.  (Mark Ahlseen)

  • Having a fish meal on Christmas Eve  (Viince Rocco)

  • Going and picking a tree from the pasture to decorate (Shelly Carlson)

  • Nightly advent reading (Shelly Carlson)


What ways do you use to Remember, Renew and create Rhythm during this season?


Sunday, November 29, 2020

 

Jesus, the King

Some of the most beloved verses prophesying the coming of Jesus begin our Advent season: 

 

When I read these verses it is very hard to not sing them as written by Handel.

And why not? Such hope and promise in these verses!

Promises fulfilled and promises yet to be.

We can trust in those promises yet to be because of the promises fulfilled. 


As you reflect upon God’s promises this week, remember the challenge given to us:

Share. We are a prosperous people.

Whether it is time, money, or prayer, give as has been given to you.

Bless as you have been blessed. 


For encouragement throughout the Advent season and beyond,

join our church’s Facebook community page: Lindsborg Covenant Church Community


And sing!


Handel - Messiah - For unto us a child is born - Parrott


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Community Groups Forming

If you watched Pastor Jeff’s Fireside Chat this week then you have already heard the good news/bad news. The good news is that we have a date on the calendar to reconvene corporate worship and Sunday School. The bad news is that the date is June 21st (still six weeks away). He also acknowledged the weariness many of us are feeling from the social distancing and isolation. We have an idea we hope will be a spiritual/relational lifeline for many of us. While we cannot yet gather in a large assembly, starting May 18th we will be allowed to gather in groups as large as 30. We would like to take advantage of this opportunity to begin to rekindle a sense of community together. In fact, we are calling these “Community Groups.” Think of Community Groups as miniature churches. Each week roughly 10-12 people will gather to read God’s word together, pray and fellowship together, and encourage one another in our walk with Jesus. Over time as we develop trust and risk vulnerability we will get to know each other at a deeper level and do life together, even after church services start up again. For the sake of simplicity and solidarity, we suggest that the groups read and study the Lectionary passages from the previous week (listed in the Friday News). We also encourage the groups to meet on Sunday evenings, if possible. This way, once our full schedule resumes, the groups can continue to meet with minimal scheduling conflicts. Beginning next week, each group is free to meet either in the church building or in someone’s home or back yard. If you are part of our online community, but live too far away to meet in person, please let us know. If there is enough interest, we will form an online group as well. If you are interested in joining a Community Group, please contact Pastor Darrell at beloved_ofGod@hotmail.com or call/text 785-212-9201. When you do, please answer the following questions: 1. Can you meet on Sunday evening? 2. How many family members wish to join the community group? 3. Do you have an interest in leading a group? Following Jesus was never intended to be done by ourselves. We need each other. We have always known that, but now we really feel it. We hope that Community Groups will help foster a sense of family as we journey through the next few months together. Grace and Peace to you, my friends. Pastor Darrell