Fall Plan and Programming

Our plan is to get the congregation together in person, safely, as much as possible in the next two months. We know that time is short, and winter is coming. We know that, barring a miracle(which we are praying fervently for!) we are likely going to be exclusively online for most of the late fall and winter. Knowing that we are offering a robust series of outdoor worship opportunities, each including Holy Communion. I encourage you to take advantage of these.

On Sunday mornings we gather on the lawn of the church for worship. We sit six feet apart and wear masks. Holy Communion waits for us on our chairs. We worship using the video created for that week, stopping it for the children’s dismissal to Sunday School after the children’s sermon and then again to celebrate Holy Communion prior to the prayers. After worship we get to fellowship and catch up, all while remaining safe with the added security of the outdoors. Join us at 8am or 10am.

On Wednesday morning, beginning on September 9th, we will begin having worship weekly at 9am. We’ll begin a new sermon series called “The Church has Issues!” exploring the letters Paul wrote to the early church as they figured out how to be Christians. There will be music and prayers and Holy Communion.

On Wednesday evenings, beginning on September 9th, we launch a new worship service called Wednesday Night LIGHT. LIGHT stands for Living in God’s Holy Truth. As the sun sets we’ll gather under new lights on the lawn and enjoy a pleasant evening of worship together. This service will focus on the basics of the Christian faith. We’ll begin with a series on Martin Luther’s small catechism discussion of the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed. This service will also be live-streamed. Following worship, which includes Holy Communion, we’ll gather confirmation students for their class and one of the pastors will lead a conversation with the adults.  We intend to add this service as a permanent feature of our ministry going forward.

We will continue to pour our energy and resources into the online video as that reaches the largest percentage of our congregation. However, if you haven’t had communion for awhile, if you’re feeling isolated and lonely, if you just miss seeing your congregation I encourage you to take advantage of one of the above opportunities. I think we all need this and it will serve us well during this Covid year.

-Pastor Travis

Learn With Me

In my own hometown, Superior, Wisconsin, there was exactly one black family, the Turner’s. They owned the Billings Park cafe. The “other side of the tracks” was the North End of town where most of the low-income housing was. I would say the income disparity created a wider divide growing up for me than race did? (Which is funny in itself since we too lived paycheck to paycheck, but, my parents owned their home.) It isn’t to say racism didn’t exist, because with one black family in town, who everyone knew, you can bet that if an unidentified person of color showed up somewhere eyebrows were raised. I remember lots of slurs that if I heard people using today would immediately lead me to call them out. But I don’t think it was until I went to college that I had any real sense of diversity beyond the different Scandinavians and some Native Americans I grew up with.

I have a lot to learn on how to be an ally to people of color. While I would like to believe I’ve always recognized that and tried to be “a good person” I’m realizing now that complacency is not okay, but growth and vulnerability are.

Pastor Carrie

From the Pastor

How do we respond to the killing of George Floyd? How do we respond to the protests that followed? How do we respond to the destruction of property that is happening? We all have our opinions and our knee jerk reactions. But let’s stop and ask how our Lord and Savior would have us respond. Too often in these situations when emotions run high and our echo chambers take sides, we forget that we have a Lord, that we follow Jesus. Where is Jesus leading us?

A Christian is called to compassion. Think about your own response, your own emotions. Are you being compassionate? How do we show compassion to the family of Mr. Floyd? How do we show compassion to the protesters? How do we show compassion to law enforcement? How do we show compassion to law breakers? How do we show compassion to the African American community?

The word compassion means literally “to suffer with.” God showed compassion to humanity by coming to us in Jesus and suffering with us. God suffered betrayal, oppression, injustice, violence and murder. Jesus lived a life of compassion. He always had his eye on those who were being oppressed. In his day it was Samaritans, women and children. He spoke harsh words to those in power like Herod and the Pharisees and his own people. But to those who suffered oppression he showed mercy, grace and love. He used his power to bridge divides and offer healing. He never retreated to the safety of his tribe; he never circled the wagons; he always crossed over in compassion and love.

Jesus invited us to follow him and his way in the world. We must therefore condemn racism in all its forms. We must listen to the African American community with compassion and the desire to understand their experience. We must acknowledge the ways that those of us who are white benefit from being in the majority. If we have voice and power, then we must use that to serve our neighbors who are ignored or silenced. And we must confess our own sins of commission and omission. We ask God to forgive us and we repent. That is the Christian way, the way of Jesus.

What would it be like to have an officer have his knee on your neck until you died? What would it be like to be so angry at the oppression of your people that you wanted to march in protest? What would it be like to be so frustrated by injustice that you wanted to destroy something? What would it feel like to live in constant fear that a minor infraction could lead to your death?

I don’t have the answers to systemic racism in American. But I think, at the very least, we can start with compassion. We can suffer with those who are hurting and put ourselves in their shoes. Maybe then we can be part of the solution. In the end it is only God who can change the human heart. May God transform us again and transform our hearts and the heart of this nation. May we all see and treat each person as a fellow creature made in the image of Almighty God.

-Pastor Travis

Evil Be Gone

“Say a prayer for my neighborhood tonight please. It’s under siege. They are finding hidden accelerants all through the neighborhood, at businesses, in yards, in alleys. We’re an hour away, but still terrified. Also maybe a prayer for some peace for me and my family.”

This was how the week started on Sunday evening with a text from my best friend from college. Her family lives in Minneapolis now, just blocks away from the corner where George Floyd was murdered. So I took a deep breath and thought of the Holy Spirit blowing on what was Pentecost Sunday and I prayed for my friend, for all the families in her neighborhood, for George Floyd and those that loved him, and for the breath of the Holy Spirit to sweep in when we can’t breathe.

For the last few days I have been looking at some of the upcoming lectionary texts and this one struck me for the time and place that we are living in today, the text is from Jeremiah the twentieth chapter, here is verse eleven:

“But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.”

In the verses beforehand Jeremiah feels the pain of rejection from those who do not want to hear what he has to say. It reminds me today of all the times and places when the people have spoken out and still haven’t been heard. Yet even in the midst of this rejection, persecution, injustice; the final verse of the passage tells us that glory belongs to the Lord and only to the Lord shall we sing praises, “For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.” And so we pray today that evil be gone.

-Pastor Carrie

Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

This has been a challenging week. I feel like that is an almost weekly lament in this pandemic life, but this week, it is the naked truth. While we put together two beautiful worship services, continued with the regular work of the church, and put in motion a plan for the summer, it also seemed like the world continued to move into deep despair. We passed the 100,000 mark in deaths related to the Coronavirus, we face deep divisions in how we as a nation or a locality handle the messy middle of a pandemic, and then we witness the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. What is going on in this world. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

At the top of this blog I shared with you the verse from Micah. I wonder what it will take for us to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly. I’ll tell you I feel like I’ve seen just the opposite of these requirements of the Lord this week. My heart is heavy, which for me is a sign that I have work to do. It’s time to do more listening and learning, and to use my voice, (my voice of privilege) to bring justice, kindness, and humility to all the work I do as the Lord requires of us.

Last Monday we had 13 youth affirm their baptism. In the time leading up to that we had conversations with each of them and took the opportunity to remind them of the responsibilities that we are entrusted with in the gift of our baptism. Let me just share with you the final few lines of what those responsibilities are: “you are entrusted to…proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.”

It’s time for us to remember these promises and to live into them each day as we die and rise again in Christ through our baptism. Where are the places and what are the ways you remembered your baptism today? I hope that you can find ways to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly in this world as we cry out: “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

-Pastor Carrie

Prayer Practice Fridays – May 1, 2020


Now that the weather seems to really be turning into Spring it seemed like a good time to share exercise as a prayer practice. Exercise might seem pretty pedestrian to some in terms of prayer and ideal to others. It can be a time to ourselves, where we get to choose what to focus on, what to think about, perhaps to rewire our minds a little bit and to take a break from all the things that we have to think about or do. Some exercise admittedly requires full attention on what you’re doing, but the aftereffects of having exercised can provide a good head space and sense of clarity for prayer. Other exercise offers time for thought and prayer while you are in the midst of it.

When using the time of exercising to also offer prayer it can take many forms. It might be pausing before you begin and being conscious of inviting God into that space with you. Perhaps if you’re at the gym or out pounding the pavement it’s the meditation that comes with regulating your breathing or listening to your steps. However you choose to listen to God in this time it’s important to be intentional in your awareness and invitation to God in that time.

If you find it difficult to be intentional in prayer and reflection while you exercise it could be a better option to engage following your exercise. You might find that you have more clarity or calm afterwards and it is a good moment to capture those thoughts on paper or in conversation with God. Take a moment to notice where your thoughts and your body are directing you; maybe into contemplation of a relationship, a specific part of your work or family life, new ideas for things that you want to accomplish or goals you want to set. This might not be a time for answers, but could be a part of the path to get you there. Vision can come in these moments of clarity and exercise is often a great way to get you there!

Pastor Carrie

Semper Gumby

From the Pastor

Now what? It seems we’ve passed the peak of the CoronaVirus in terms of hospitalizations and deaths in El Paso County. The conversation is now turning towards re-opening and what that might look like. I imagine it will look a lot like it did at the beginning of this crisis, only much slower. I remember that first week before we closed, and it seems a new recommendation was handed down every day. We adjusted our practices, stopped passing the peace and refrained from shaking hands. We planned to be open for GOLA and Worship as late as that Wednesday. We thought through a new way to do communion, and then new recommendations came and we made the difficult decision to close everything down.

As new recommendations come from state and church leadership, we will adapt and adjust and lean into a new reality. We can’t predict the future, so instead we will remain flexible and ready to change as needed to do ministry as our reality changes. I had a colleague who had served in the Marine Corps who was fond of the phrase “Semper Gumby” as one of the unofficial mottos of the corps. It means that you must always be as flexible as Gumby and adapt to changing circumstances. That’s not always easy for the church, a 2000-year-old institution used to doing things a certain way. But it is the way of our leader, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus compares to the wind saying, “the wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” I don’t know when we’ll gather together in the Sanctuary for worship again. I don’t know if we’ll need to limit the numbers in our Sanctuary or how we’ll celebrate and distribute Holy Communion. We may need to check temperatures at the door or require masks and hand-washing prior to entry. I don’t know right now exactly how we’ll come back or what it will look like. But I don’t need to know right now.I know that the Holy Spirit will lead us. I know that we’ll figure it out. I know that the gospel will be proclaimed, and we will be nourished by word and sacrament. I know that the church will survive and continue to follow our leader to be light to the world. I know that God will bring great things out of these terrible circumstances that will surprise and bless us and our neighbor. I know God will continue to teach us how to be church in an ever-changing world. These are the only things I need to know right now.

Thank you, church, for being faithful and being flexible. Thank you for trusting your leaders and being willing to try new things. Thank you for being filled with the Holy Spirit who holds us and keeps us on this roller coaster of life.

Semper Gumby!

-Pastor Travis

Family Reflection

The empty nest is full again…

During this time of stay at home orders most colleges and universities across the country have closed their doors and sent kids home to finish the academic year online. This also means that many parents who were just experiencing an empty nest are now finding ways to all come together again. I know this time can present challenges in everyone being together again, and all the time at that, but it can also bring joy.

I want to share with you an email exchange I had with Chris Lieber last week, after asking how they were adjusting to having two college kids at home again, I hope that you find the same joy in this that I did!

Chris writes:

“Once the kids left for college I never expected to have this kind of quality time with them ever again. It is as if we are a renewed family – fulfilling an empty void that I had unsuccessfully sought to fill over the past several years by working harder, volunteering harder, and playing harder.

Yes, we are wonderfully in each other’s way in the kitchen. We collectively use far more data and band width than our modem can handle. It seems the washing machine is always running. Our topics of conversation at the dinner table have now pivoted to hair color, fresh video game downloads and challenges with online classes. The dishes pile up much faster and the grocery bill has grown exponentially. I am convinced that the messiness and imperfections of family life are one of God’s greatest gifts – they can bind us together through laughter and sweat equity.

I love being a family again! Having “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” back in the nest is a tremendous blessing.”

May we all find the joy amidst the chaos!

Easter Blessings,
Pastor Carrie

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