Youth Gathering Wrap-Up

Several of our young people gave a powerful presentation in worship this morning about a couple of mission projects they learned of at the Youth Gathering in New Orleans last week.  They challenged us to Be The Change.  Take a look at the links below–learn more –how might First Lutheran make a difference?

100 Wells Challenge

ELCA Malaria Campaign

To hear even more stories of faith in action, join in next Sunday’s Adult Forum, August 5, after worship (approx 10 am).

Gut Feelings

As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.  Compassion is one of those extremely misunderstood words in the church.  It’s not a Hallmark, heartstring sympathy.  Compassion is a gut feeling is being utterly, totally moved.

In our culture, gut feelings usually refer to the feelings that keep us from going into the secluded gas station at midnight or giving telemarketers our personal information.  Our gut as has been conditioned to signal fear and danger.  So much so that when you say you had a “gut feeling,” it is equivalent to saying you had some kind of “warning.”

Much less often is our gut tuned to any sense of…compassion.

So what happens when our gut feelings pull us away from protecting ourselves and toward helping another?  Do we listen to those gut feelings of compassion, or do we just keep ignoring them until they finally fade away?

After being moved to compassion, Mark’s Gospel says that Jesus taught those people “many things.”  What do you think he taught them?

Could it be that this passage is calling us not to only be recipients, but givers of compassion as well?

Credit: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

ELCA Nat’l Youth Gathering

First Lutheran faithfully supported and is now proudly sending 14 youth and adults to New Orleans, LA to participate in the ELCA National Youth Gathering.  They were commissioned and blessed in worship on Sunday, July 15 and left on the bus on Monday afternoon with smiles on their faces!

A summary of the 2012 gathering theme, CITIZENS WITH THE SAINTS, is posted here.

To read about the speakers and musicians, click here.

To follow along with nightly worship/program/speaker @ 7 pm (July 18-21) and again for Sunday July 22 worship @ 9:30 am, click here.

New Orleans Youth Departure

This was the scene at First Lutheran yesterday afternoon, as a group from our congregation, Red Oak Grove, and the Mankato area churches carpooled (bus-pooled?  caravaned?) toward New Orleans, LA for the ELCA Youth Gathering.  The excitement was palpable!

We pray for safe travels and a meaningful experience for them and their 36,000 new friends.  If you’d like more updates all week on the gathering, become a fan of our FB page and follow the links that will be shared.

Thanks to cameraman JH for capturing the moment.

Did YOU attend a youth convention in years past?  If so, leave a comment with the city, state and year, please!

A difficult story

The Death of John the Baptist story from Mark 6:14-29 is a difficult one to hear and understand its’ place in the gospel.  Scholars believe the story may be meant as a precursor for the crucifixion of Jesus or a parallel to the martyrs of his disciples; but Mark’s uncommon attention to detail and the story’s inclusion at this point in the gospel remains puzzling.  It is a tragic story of moral reflection tucked in the midst of Jesus’ kindness and miracles of feeding and healings.

Are we being asked to remember that tragic events are a part of our stories too and that when in the midst of our sad stories we might be reminded that God’s greater story  of healing and love surround us?

As we ponder this story, can we hear the surrounding stories of promise?  When you or a friend is struggling with a tragic story, can you hear God’s more promising stories also being told?

A familiar heresy

[First, a definition.  A heresy is a belief that goes outside of the mainstream, accepted teaching of the group.]

In the first part of our Gospel reading, Jesus confronts a familiar heresy.  No, really…

it’s a heresy about familiarity.

Long ago, the Christian confession landed squarely on the teaching of a doctrine know as the Incarnation, that God comes in human form in Jesus of Nazareth.  And the heresy against Incarnation (God made flesh) goes like this: 

God couldn’t possibly be nearby–God is far away, maybe even unreachable, except for a lucky few.

God couldn’t possibly be contained, limited like we are, born in a human form–God is beyond all categories, divided from humanity, nothing like us.

And God couldn’t possibly show up in the everyday circumstances of life as we know it–Because, come on!  God is way too busy doing important things to care about

I believe that was the root dilemma in Jesus’ hometown, as presented in our Gospel reading.  This heresy of familiarity:  Jesus was too familiar to be holy.  He was too known to be divine.  He was just too regular, and because of the unbelief of those who knew him, Jesus’ powers were limited.

Jesus, Lord of all, your reach knows no limits.  That we might see your fingerprints of healing on the mundane things, the everyday people, the rhythm of our own situations, and on us; we pray.  Amen.

Look Up!

Look up at your the top of your computer screen (your browser where website domain is listed) and you will notice that First Lutheran blog received a face-lift. 

We simplified our name.


[No www.  No .wordpress anymore!]

Simple!  Easy!  Less to type!  And Best of All,

New Blog Features Coming Soon!

Please update your bookmarks accordingly.