Walk with Jesus

 October 2012

Every day is a walk with Jesus.  We Christians believe life is spent in the presence of our Lord.  Therefore, we can talk about every day as a day during which we walk with Jesus.  Some days we feel Jesus’ presence.  Some days we feel quite a distance from Jesus.  We boldly proclaim that, regardless of how we feel, Jesus is there.  Jesus walks with us every day.

Between now and the end of the year you will be asked by your church leaders to think about your use of money and possessions as a part of your walk with Jesus.  This is most appropriate, because when Jesus walked this earth with his disciples, he often talked about money and possessions.  If money was a part of Jesus’ first walk on this earth, it should be a part of our walk with Jesus today.

We believe that everything we have, is or was given in trust from God, given to us to care for and manage.  What we do with it is very much a part of our relationship with our Lord.  This will be our focus in the coming weeks as we discuss our current giving shortage and the offering needed to support the ministries of First Lutheran throughout 2013.

For the next few Sundays we will see bulletin inserts and hear personal talks in worship. 

You will also receive a letter from the Stewardship team and the Executive committee outlining a clear picture of our ministry and the financial support required to maintain First Lutheran Church.   We pray that each of you may reflect upon your own walk with Jesus, and how your participation in the ministry of First Lutheran is part of your faith.

pastorcl & pastorhh

New Feature: PhotoStory!

I mean really, who doesn’t like looking at an old photo?

For those who were there, old photographs conjure up memories of a treasured-but-forgotten time.


For those who were not born yet, old photographs give the young a glimpse into the lives that came before them.

From now through Pack the Pews Sunday (November 4, 2012), we will feature a First Lutheran PhotoStory each week.  Take a look and wonder…what was life and faith and church like in a time gone by…?

In this excerpt from a church directory, you’ll hear the story of how Red Oak Grove and First Lutheran congregations separated in 1952, as well as a description of the parsonage (place where the pastor’s family lived).

By the way, you may click on the jpeg to enlarge it for reading.

Near the bottom, you’ll view a photo of some past Women’s Missionary Federation presidents, the precursor to our current Women of the ELCA.  Though the title has changed–and so have clothing styles!–two things have remained the same:  the fantastic leadership of faithful women; AND  the laser-beam focus of women’s outreach as practical mission to the neighbor.

If this conjures any memories for you, please share them with a comment.

Our ministry continues,


Possess a photo with a connection to First Lutheran that you’d like to contribute?  

Please contact me (pastorhh) with your photo and a brief story.


There may be as many explanations for the question, “Why does suffering exist?” as there are people in the world.

Many–most–all? of the world’s major religions take on the challenge of illuminating human suffering.  These religions also come out with vastly different conclusions.  Some say that suffering is to be avoided at all cost, even transcended…that is, when one can practice right action, speech, and intention.   Still others say that suffering is way God tests or refines his people.  And still others say suffering is mysterious, not always meaningful and purposeful, not always from God…a result of evil that exists in the world…which may even be carried out by those with the best intentions.

It is worth examining your own preconceived notions about suffering as we turn to the readings for Sunday, September 19th.

By the way, the blog post this week will not be coming to a tidy conclusion with prayer.  Rather, I would like it to leave it open to interpretation with this photograph and the story of Gordon, a runaway slave who joined the Union Army during the Civil War.


In the fall of 1862, Gordon received a severe beating–ordered by his plantation owner, yet carried out by another–for undisclosed reasons.  During a 2-month long recuperation in bed, Gordon planned his escape.  In March 1863, Gordon fled his home, heading east towards the Mississippi River. Upon learning of his flight, his master recruited several neighbors and together they chased after him with a pack of bloodhounds. Gordon had anticipated that he would be pursued and carried with him onions from the plantation, which he rubbed on his body to throw the dogs off-scent. Such resourcefulness worked, and Gordon—his clothes torn and his body covered with mud and dirt—reached the safety of Union soldiers stationed at Baton Rouge ten days later. He had traveled approximately eighty miles.

As President Lincoln had granted African Americans the opportunity to serve in segregated units only months earlier, Gordon was at the front of a movement that would ultimately involve nearly 200,000 African Americans. It was during his medical examination prior to being mustered into the army that military doctors discovered the extensive scars on his back.  Gordon was asked to pose for a picture that would reveal the harsh treatment he had recently received.  It was this photo, in part, that helped the abolitionist cause to take hold in the hearts of the American people.

Smithsonian Collection

September 16, 2012 Potluck & Dedication

First Lutheran Church wishes to extend an invitation to the Blooming Prairie community


 A-L – Hot dish

M-Z – Salad

 Sunday, September 16, 2012

12 noon



The garden is a gift given by Arden Wold,

longtime member of our community,

who loved his God, his family and his community.


Bluegrass music from The Zumbro River Band


will begin at 12:30 pm

with more bluegrass music to follow.

Please come, enjoy the fellowship and the beauty of this wonderful gift.

Courtyard Almost Finished

Snapped these photos just a half hour ago.  Things are coming together! Sunday, September 16 we will dedicate this space with a potluck, program, and bluegrass music from the Zumbro River Band.  And best of all, the whole community is invited!  Potluck starts at noon with program to begin at 12:30 pm.  See you there–

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Racing Hearts and New Starts

Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.

He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.”  Isaiah 35:4

A more literal rendering of the Hebrew phrase nimharê lēb (those of a fearful heart) yields, “the ones whose hearts are racing.”  Isaiah is called by God to preach to people whose hearts are racing, Anathea Portier-Young writes.

The more I read about how stressed-out and busy our nation is, the more I wonder about my own racing heart.  Is my often-racing heart even able to notice the ways God is coming, saving, coming, saving, coming and saving again each day?

Of course, a racing heart isn’t always avoidable.  Think of the athletes who cross the finish line at the 5K.  The mother in labor, soon to give birth.  Or the teacher standing up in front of his or her first Sunday School class.

A racing heart might be the first sign that God is near.  Nearer even than our own hearts beating.

Blessing for the First Day of School

[Lay hands on each child and say]

Dear God, as we get ready to start another year in school, we ask that you would protect these, your own children.

As they do the very important work of being students, bless them with:

eagerness to learn, that their world can grow large;

respect for teachers and students, that they may form healthy relationships;

love for nature, that they may become caretakers of your creation;

happiness when learning is easy and stick-to-it-iveness when it is hard;

faith in Jesus as their best teacher and closest friend.

Watch over them and keep them safe as they travel to and from school.

As they learn, help them discover the different gifts you have given each one of them to be used in your work in the world.

As they hear the many voices that will fill their days, help them to listen most carefully for your voice, the one that tells them that you will love them always, no matter what.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.
Sundays and Seasons, Year B 2012, pg 264

Standing on the Edge

Many of us have had the experience of standing on the edge.

As children, we pretend the curb is a high wire and we are the tightrope walker.

Who hasn’t tried to see just how far that chair would tip back in study hall?

Tourists flock by the tens of thousands each year to stand at the lip of the Grand Canyon and peer 2 miles down, down, down, all the way to the near-invisible rafters who brave the white waters of the Colorado River.

In our first reading, the people are on the edge of  new place. About to cross into the Promised Land, they are asked to renew their loyalty to the covenant God has made with them, and to take that covenant into the new place in which they are traveling.

This Labor Day weekend, the children of Minnesota are preparing for their first day of school.  For many, it is a standing-on-the-edge kind of experience.  Between the safety of home or daycare for kindergarten, the known terrain of the elementary school rituals for the variety of high-school classes.  Somewhere, at this very moment, college students are panicking, looking at the reading list on their syllabi, navigating a new roommate, or moving into a first apartment of their own.  And don’t forget their instructors and professors, who look out over a new group of faces which will soon be–but aren’t yet–known by name.  These are the edges of our lives.

As God’s people, we have the privilege of reminding those who stand on the edges of this great promise:  though all they may encounter will be unfamiliar, yet there is one place where they are never a stranger.  In God’s covenanting love, each pilgrim will always find a home.