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December 2013

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising                                     God and saying,"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace                              among those whom he favors!"   Luke 2:13-14

 

                                       "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” Matthew 2:2

 

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. Hebrews 1:1-2

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

 A song, a star, a son: These are the words we will focus on during the Advent worship times on December 4, 11, and 18, 7:00pm.  A simple song, a single star, and a special son begin to flesh out the bare bones of the words and the worship times will take you further into the mystery of God the Father sending God the Son into the world through the work of God the Holy Spirit. 

The mystery of the incarnation is one that is hard to explain.  How does God become a human?  Does that human experience everything the way I do?  What would that person know that I don’t?  Did that person really need to be born?  The younger people of our congregation keep on asking questions about God and Jesus.  I have been talking to them about the concept of the Trinity and Jesus being both God and man are especially difficult to absorb.  That is true for almost any age.  We will be celebrating the Trinity and the Incarnate One during the worships and maybe even understanding them better through the Biblical witness, a cantata (the choir has been working on this for a while), and Christmas hymns.

For this year at least the Advent worship times will be more like pre-Christmas worships than strict Advent ones.  So if you like to sing Christmas music make sure you get to the Advent worship times.  They will fill you up both with congregational singing and choral arrangements of Christmas music.

Sometimes the difficult theological concepts are able to be absorbed through music.  We sometimes need to connect with a different part of our brain than just the logical, rational part.  The music that will be shared during these worship times will help us be able to appreciate what God has done for us and how we are able to live hopefully, peacefully, and contentedly, even if we are not able to fully understand God or all of God actions rationally.

As we travel through this dark part of the year let a simple song bring you joy, a single star bring light into your life, and a special son bring you the acceptance and belonging that we all long for.

May you have the peace of the Christ Child in your life this month and always,

Pastor Dean Oelfke

 

P.S. Remember all the other opportunities to celebrate and make your Christmas Season meaningful: Calvary Family Christmas Festival December 1, 6:30pm (a Choir festival for all members, family and friends of the congregation to hear); Advent Brunch Dec. 8, 10:00; Advent Festival Dec. 8, 11:15; (crafts for the whole family); the Sunday School Christmas Program Dec. 15, 10:15; Christmas Eve Worship Dec. 24, 4:00pm and 10:00pm.

 


November 2013

By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. Job 37:10

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of 

the hail? Job 38:22

From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost 

of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

Job 38:29-30

As I write these words to you I sit watching the snow pile up in my backyard. Last night I heard that we could 

get 2 – 4 inches of snow. I thought: sure we will. Even if we have snow fall it will melt before it piles up that 

much. The ground is still too warm for it to stick. But now I would estimate that we indeed have about that 

much on the ground. I have also been reading an outdoor book that talks about a trip in October in which a 

camper was caught unawares by a snowstorm. 

Those two things made me think of the Bible passages that I have at the top of this article. They are the 

ones that Sir Ernest Shackleton searched for in his Bible. Once he found them he tore out the pages and 

dropped the rest of the Bible on the Antarctic ice. He was trying to impress upon his crew that they could only 

take what was absolutely necessary as they continued on their journey. Their ship had been crushed by Ant-arctic ice and they were about to enter the lifeboats and try to make it from the ice flow they had been drifting 

on to the closest land. They finally make it to Elephant Island where the crew was rescued. 

As we move into the time of year when snow and ice can come I wonder are we ready? It used to be 

people would take a lot of time to get ready for winter. Enough food needed to be stored up. Wood needed to 

be cut, split and piled or stacked to provide warmth in the cold of winter. The house had to be prepared with 

storm windows and doors to keep the warmth in. About all I have to do is throw my snow brushes in the cars 

and make sure I have sent in the pre-buy for propane. Even if I don’t get the pre-buy in I will just have to 

spend a little more to heat my house. It may be that we have to get ready more mentally than any other way.

Shackleton had a clear idea about what his men had to do to make it out of the Antarctic alive. He 

worked hard to make sure everyone was ready. That was an example practicing what he was telling them they 

needed to do.

Our Synod has said that as we travel through this season of our lives together that we need to keep on 

focusing on the Discipleship Practices if we want to survive as the church. We need to be more prepared for 

what is to come than we have in the past because we no longer have a favored place in society. The things that 

we used to be able to take for granted, like Wednesday evenings being free for church events and people com-ing to worship and Sunday School on Sunday mornings because there wasn’t anything else going on are done. 

We are now only one of many activities that a family can do on Wednesday or Sunday morning. Families get 

pulled in all kinds of directions these days.

It may be that as the church we need to think of ourselves in the situation of Ernest Shackleton rather 

than the easy preparations that we have to get ready for winter nowadays. The preparation is getting ourselves 

grounded in our faith so we are ready to share our faith. The Discipleship Practices: give, invite, serve, study, 

worship, prayer, encourage are there to help us prepare. I have been asked and am teaching classes in Practic-ing Discipleship. These are classes to help us get into the practices a little bit deeper and figure out how our 

congregation might encourage them. You will see information in the bulletin for when these are in the month 

of November. If you would like to be a part, the classes are free and I would be happy to take you along to 

them. The banner in the front of our sanctuary is the discipline that we are focusing on for the month. You 

have seen, “give” in October in November you will see “invite”.

So I wonder, are we ready? Ready to dig in and get our faith ready so we are able to share it when op-portunity comes. Let’s get ready for the coming season: for our weather and also for the climate in our soci-ety. 

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke  




October 2013

You shall make this response before the Lord your God: "A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and  populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors;  the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.  The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me." You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 26:5-10

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

We were on our way to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  We were in the really cool Mercury Marquis.  It had a back window that could be put down electrically.  I was in the back seat behind Grandma who was driving the car.  I was leaning up against the door and in that state of mind between being wide awake and falling asleep.  I remember seeing the car next to us getting closer and closer to us and then the next thing I knew I was laying on the blacktop of HWY 494.  I could tell that there was something wrong with my arm so I held it against my belly with the other one and walked back to the car which was now smashed up against the railing of the bridge going over Minnetonka Blvd.  They took me to the hospital and put my arm in traction and then eventually in a cast.

I don’t know what happened exactly on that day, because I blacked out.  I think maybe the car I was in or another one ran over my arm.  All the bones by the elbow were broken.  I still have limited movement in that arm.  I suppose I could have decided that God didn’t care about me or protect me and that is why I was injured in the accident.  I have decided instead that God was with me otherwise I could be dead.  God reached out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.  I believe that God helped me through the difficult times that came after that and healed me in the best way possible.  Even though I am not able to move my arm in a fully functional way I can still do most everything that I want.  I am able to see that God has brought good things out of that situation.  I am able to sympathize with people who have gone through car accidents and hospital stays because of my own experience.  I think that my trust in God is greater because of that experience also.

Everyone in our congregation has a faith story, some even seem miraculous.  It is important to share these stories with one another.  It helps us to hear and remember that God is with us even in the dark moments of our lives.  It is like what Moses tells the people that they should do in the first fruit service.  They rehearse what God has done for them in the past so they can see what God is doing for them now. 

 

We ask the Confirmation Students to write out their Faith Story and share it with parents, council members and classmates as the final part of their confirmation preparation.  They get to talk about their faith and how they see God active in their lives.  We will be doing that on October 9th during the Confirmation Class time.  If you would like to join us that night you are welcome to do so. 

I think it would be interesting to collect faith stories from our congregation and put them into a devotional booklet.  Let me know if you have a story or would be interested in editing something like that.

 

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke



September 2013

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve,whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

 

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Here we are at the beginning of another school year. Summer vacations are all taken and we push off into the fast moving waters of school activities.  Hopefully you have had good times with your family this summer and are refreshed and revitalized for this busy time.  It is kind of like being in a boat right before you head into white water.  You have a chance to look over the way ahead a little but then you are right into it and have to figure out how you will make it through. Depending upon what happens as you are doing it you have to adjust your plan.  Sometimes it feels like that when we are in the middle of our lives.

A review of the list of things not to do so your faith grows from the articles this summer can help us to see what we can do to make it through the whitewater of activity.  1. Don’t try to live your faith by yourself. 2. Don’t think that you are in control. 3. Evaluate the Aquarium. 4. Don’t keep hanging with people who you know bring you down. The fifth and final thing not to do for your faith is “Don’t keep faith vague”. 

The review reminds us that we need to stay connected to the one who can give us the strength and courage to make it through whatever is coming our way.  We can’t just show up at the God box once and a while and think that our faith will support us.  Vagueness will dry up our faith like the hot summer weather can dry up a plant that isn’t getting watered.

The antidote to all of this is to get involved.  That is what Joshua was trying to tell the people who he was leading that they needed to do.  He wanted them to think about what they were doing and who they were putting in the center of their lives.  There could be any number of things that would be the most important.  But Joshua wanted them to have God be the center of their lives then they wouldn’t be discouraged or dismayed by what happened around them.  They would have the strength and courage to make it.

Putting God in the center of our lives and having activities that help to encourage our relationship with God, helps us to make it through the rush of other things that keep coming at us in life.  Using the Marks of Discipleship helps us to see what kinds of activities keep us connected to God: Daily Prayer, Weekly Worship, Daily Bible Reading, Serving, Nurturing, Tithing and Inviting.  As we involve ourselves in these things we gain the strength to make it through the current that carries us along.

There will be lots of opportunities to participate in faith activities here at church this fall, take advantage of them and grow your faith.  It is very tempting to think that church is just one more of the activities of life.  If we think about it in that way all the other activities will take over and there will never be enough time for God.  All of the other things in life can become other gods for us.  Keep serving the LORD.

 

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke



August 2013

Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one's nearest 

kin. Proverbs 18:24

The righteous gives good advice to friends, but the way of the wicked leads astray. Proverbs 12:26

Make no friends with those given to anger, and do not associate with hotheads, or you may learn their ways and entangle yourself 

in a snare. Proverbs 22:24-25


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A friend in need is a friend indeed. You can tell who your friends are when you have trouble. Both the Bible and folk lore have proverbs about friends. There is always the problem of knowing who a true friend is and if the friend is going to be good for you or not. Other proverbs that bring this to mind are one bad apple spoils the whole bunch or you wouldn’t jump off a bridge if _____ did it would you? These tell us that we always have to check out friendships to see if they are working or not.

Tiger McLuen said that one of the things that will wreck your faith is to: Keep hanging with people who you know bring you down. They may get you into trouble like the Proverbs say, or they may just put you into a bad mood and keep you from the joy of life. Either way they just don’t help you out in your faith. 

There are times in our lives when we all have to face being with friends or doing the right thing. I remember in middle school when we were stuck in the gym because of bad weather one of the rules was not to go on the stage. The friend I was playing with said, “Lets go up there.” I said I wouldn’t so I got left behind. Another time when I was in H.S. a friend wanted to play a game that you would go driving around with your car and try and lose the person behind you. It didn’t seem to me to be real safe. 

I learned what Tiger McLuen said, “There are people you like to be around but you know are not good for you. Sometimes you have to let go of friendship to keep following God.” He shared with us that he had a friend who was not helpful to him. He wanted to practice his faith in a greater way than he had in the past, but his friend held him back. It was a friend that he did all kinds of “fun” things with that didn’t seem to Tiger like such a good idea any more. Tiger said that in those situa-tions one should, “Pay attention to the voice inside.” He said that we all have that voice that tells us if what we are doing is right or not. It will lead us and guide us if we listen to it. We can rationalize do-ing just about anything but that will not be good for us in the end. Listen instead to what the Holy Spirit is telling you.

Instead of following a friend that will lead us astray or getting entangled in a snare from fol-lowing their habits, Tiger said, “Be with people who dream big.” They will help us move beyond where we are and grow to be the people God wants us to be. So adding to our list of things not to do for our faith is #4 Keep hanging with people who you know bring you down.

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke  


July 2013


I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Over the school year, I wrote about the Seven Marks of Discipleship: Give, Invite, Serve, Study, Worship, Prayer, and Encourage.  Each month I encouraged you to practice one of the seven for that month.  Hopefully you have been living and growing in the faith as you have been working on them.  It is good to practice these so they become a habit in your life.

I am now going to take a different track.  Wednesday, April 17, the confirmation class and teachers traveled to Immanuel Lutheran in Brunswick.  We were invited to come and hear the guest speaker Tiger McLuen.  He is the president of Youth Leadership a group that educates, equips and encourages leaders in youth and family ministry.  Tiger also speaks at many youth events.  I have heard him at the NWMN Synod Jr. High Youth Gathering and the ELCA Youth Gathering.

His presentation at Immanuel to the youth was entitled, “Five Things You Can Do to Ensure Your Faith Will Suck by the End of the Summer.”  If you want to erase all of the things that you have been working on over the past year his five easy points will help you to do that.  So over the next five months I will share one of the points that he presented for you to think about.  Hopefully you will not want to erase your faith and you will do the opposite of these points. Point number one was: “Try to Live Your Faith by Yourself”. Point number two is: “Start to Think That You are in Control”.

Point number three is: “Don’t Evaluate the Aquarium”.  What he meant by that was don’t examine or reflect on the place and society that we live in.  He said that if we don’t evaluate it, it owns us.

In an attempt to evaluate the culture he said there were Four P’s that our culture values more than anything else.  They are Personal Looks, Popularity, Performance, and Possessions.  If you don’t have enough of any of these things you are a nothing and a nobody.  If we believe these are the most important things in our lives and live trying to achieve them we will probably live always trying to achieve them.  We will never know whether we have made it or not.  It could make us compulsively trying to make it.  We could be compulsive in our eating, work, or having the right clothes and looks.

Jesus on the other hand wants to give us what will help us to feel beautiful, connected, and full.  He tells us that on our own we will never accomplish these things.  It is an endless chasing after the wind.  God has given us each and every one of these things when God created us.  We have worth and values because God loves us and makes us God’s own.  

Tiger used a clip from Saving Nemo to show us that one needs to evaluate the aquarium and that we should create an escape plan.  In the movie the fish want to get out and experience the real world.  They have to come up with a fantastic plan to get out and into the sea. 

We have it a lot easier to get out of the aquarium and into the real world.  God gives us the way.  As we use the Marks of Discipleship, we learn the escape plan.  God leads us out of the world.  We don’t have to conform to the world and how it functions.  As we worship God and help others in the world we are transformed.  God gives us what we can’t get on our own.  We don’t have to worry about getting the four P’s but we can get the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.  That is a much better set of gains than the four P’s.

 

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke


June 2013

I know, O Lord, that the way of human beings is not in their control, that mortals as they walk 

cannot direct their steps. Correct me, O Lord, but in just measure; not in your anger, or you will 

bring me to nothing. Jeremiah 10: 23-24

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on our

selves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue 

to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again. 2 Corinthians 1: 9-10

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Over the past seven months, I have been writing about the Seven Marks of Discipleship: Give, Invite, Serve, 

Study, Worship, Prayer, and Encourage. Each month I have been writing to encourage you to especially practice one of 

the seven for that month. Hopefully you have been living and growing in the faith as you have been working on them. It 

is good to practice these so they become a habit in your life.

I am now going to take a different track. Wednesday, April 17, the confirmation class and teachers traveled to 

Immanuel Lutheran in Brunswick. We were invited to come and hear the guest speaker Tiger McLuen. He is the presi

-dent of Youth Leadership a group that educates, equips and encourages leaders in youth and family ministry. Tiger also 

speaks at many youth events. I have heard him at the NWMN Synod Jr. High Youth Gathering and the ELCA Youth 

Gathering.

His presentation at Immanuel to the youth was entitled, “Five Things You Can Do to Ensure Your Faith Will 

Suck by the End of the Summer.” If you want to erase all of the things that you have been working on over the past year 

his five easy points will help you to do that. So over the next five months I will share one of the points that he presented

for you to think about. Hopefully you will not want to erase your faith and you will do the opposite of these points. 

Point number one was: Try to Live Your Faith by Yourself.

Point number two is: “Start to Think That You are in Control”. There is a tremendous burden that we take on 

when we think that we are in control. In the movie, “Bruce Almighty”, Bruce thinks that he would do a better job at run-

ning the world than God can. He finds out it is more difficult than he thought. He even gets to the point where he would 

rather die than have the job. Everything that he does seems like it creates more problems.

As human beings we cannot predict what is going to happen in the future and our attempts at trying to have the 

future happen the way we would like it are not going to work. Adam and Eve wanted to be able to know. They wanted 

to know so they didn’t have to trust God. Knowing would help them be in control instead of having to trust. When we 

try to be in control we may be able to fool ourselves into thinking we are for a little while. But then something will come 

along that makes us realize we are not. It could be an accident, illness, change in economics, or death of a loved one. 

Any of these things quickly put us out of control. 

When we recognize that we are not in control we can respond like Jeremiah and ask God to forgive and help us 

out. We can also learn that God will be with us like the Apostle Paul did through many different trials. Once we trust in 

God who has a plan for the future and is always working for our good we can relax and enjoy our lives. Whatever 

comes good or bad is a part of the mystery of life. All of the events of our lives can help us to learn to trust God more 

whether good or bad.

As an example of people who trust in God in spite of what they are going through, Tiger shared the story of Fran 

and Marlo Cowan. Marlo decided he should get a physical and scheduled one at the Mayo Clinic. He said that they 

should give him the works. So they went to Mayo and he started tests. They packed to be there a couple of days but the 

stay lasted over 10 days. They walked through the atrium of the Mayo Clinic and found a piano there. They plunked a 

few keys and every time they came through they played a little more. They came between all of Marlo’s tests and played 

for the people and took song requests. They got on to You Tube because of their playing. 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI-l0tK8Ok0  

They said that it was a gift they could share and they did it even though their idea about what was going to happen 

got   changed. They could have been upset by it and not done anything but they chose to share their gift 

with others.

So don’t believe that you are in control. Trust that God is working for you. Use the talents you have for the 

benefit of the world and you will be able to appreciate life more.

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke



May 2013

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who                           has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to                               love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of                                some, but encouraging  one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:23-25

 

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Over the past seven months, I have been writing about the Seven Marks of Discipleship: Give, Invite, Serve, Study, Worship, Prayer, and Encourage.  Each month I have been writing to encourage you to especially practice one of the seven for that month.  Hopefully you have been living and growing in the faith as you have been working on them.  It is good to practice these so they become a habit in your life.

I am now going to take a different track.  Wednesday, April 17, the confirmation class and teachers traveled to Immanuel Lutheran in Brunswick.  We were invited to come and hear the guest speaker Tiger McLuen.  He is the president of Youth Leadership a group that educates, equips and encourages leaders in youth and family ministry.  Tiger also speaks at many youth events.  I have heard him at the NWMN Synod Jr. High Youth Gathering and the ELCA Youth Gathering.

His presentation at Immanuel to the youth was entitled, “Five Things You Can Do to Ensure Your Faith Will Suck by the End of the Summer.”  If you want to erase all of the things that you have been working on over the past year his five easy points will help you to do that.  So over the next five months I will share one of the points that he presented for you to think about.  Hopefully you will not want to erase your faith and you will do the opposite of these points.

So point number one is: Try to Live Your Faith by Yourself.  We have the myth that one can pull oneself up by your bootstraps and make something of yourself here in America.  The West was won by people who were willing to go out on their own and carve a place for themselves in the world.  Mythical Heroes like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan support these ideas.  That is at least the myth.

The reality is that from the beginning God noticed that it is not good for the man to be alone.  We are created for community and we need it.  Our faith will dry up and blow away if we are not supported by community.  Tiger illustrated this with an Olympic runner named Dereck Redmond. (If you have a computer watch this at vimeo.com/42573067 just copy and paste the italics into the address bar on your internet browser.)

Dereck was the fastest man in Britain and broke their record for the 400m.  He was running for his country in the Olympics in Barsalona 1992.  As he runs the race he pulls a hamstring.  He is stuck there on the track for a while.  All the other runners finish the race and he gets up and starts limping down the track.  While he is struggling his father breaks through the security guards and comes down to help him.  At first his son acts as if he will push him away.  Then realizes he needs help.  His dad tells him they will finish it together, so the two of them complete the race.

In order to have a full life as people of God we need each other.  Jesus uses the image of a wedding banquet more often than any other image for the kingdom of God.  The book of Revelation has the city of Jerusalem as the model for what heaven will be like.  Living together celebrating what God has done, is doing and will do is what being a Christian is all about.  It is as we do this that our faith is strengthened for the difficult times.

If you want your faith to atrophy and eventually die, try to live your faith by yourself.  If you want your faith to bloom and bear fruit for you and others, live in community with other Christians worship regularly with them and encourage each other.  It is as we do these we are Jesus’ body in the world.

 

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke


April 2013

I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.

                             Romans 1:11-12

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

I ran in track when I was in High School.  In the race I ran, I would run out of steam on the curve.  My brother would wait on the outside of the track there.  He would yell, “Dean keep going!”, or something like that.  It would help me keep on when I just wanted to slow down or stop and catch my breath.  It was a great encouragement to me to hear him there.  I would push myself harder to keep going because of his words.

 

There have been times in my ministry when I have wanted to slow down or stop and catch my breath.   I have received encouraging cards, note, or remarks from you at those times and it has helped me keep going even though I was feeling like I couldn’t.  I would push myself a little harder to make it through the difficult time and finish the task(s) at hand. 

 

We all need to have people around us who will encourage us.  There are times in our life where we may feel like quitting.  The race sometimes gets long and the obstacles seem hard to overcome.  The Apostle Paul says that he wants to share spiritual gifts with the people in Rome to strengthen their faith.  He adds that when he is with them they will both grow by being with each other and sharing their faiths together.  Each will benefit from this mutual encouragement.

 

It is as true today for us as it was then.  We need to encourage one another in our faith.  There are things that happen in our lives that make us think that our faith is no longer worth while.  We might think that it hasn’t helped us and that it is just too much work.  We get to the wall and we just don’t see anyway around it.  All of that stuff like going to church, praying, and reading the Bible doesn't  seem to do anything for us.  That is when we need encouragement from other people in our faith community.  When we are there for one another we keep growing in the faith instead of dropping out. 

 

So keep on running the race of faith and life.  Know that I am here for you and as a congregation; we need to be here for each other.  We need to encourage one another so that we can keep going and make it to the finish line. 

 

 

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Dean Oelfke

 March 2013

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 

And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became 

dazzling white. Luke 9:28b-29

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the

criminals, one on the right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; 

for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:33-34

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Let us pray:

O God, Giver of Life. Bearer of Pain. Maker of Love, 

You are able to accept in us what we cannot even acknowledge; 

You are able to name in us what we cannot bear to speak of; 

You are able to hold in your memory what we have tried to forget; 

You are able to hold out to us the glory that we cannot conceive of. 

Reconcile us through your cross to all that we have rejected in our selves, that we may find no part of 

your creation to be alien or strange to us, and that we ourselves may be made whole. Through Jesus Christ, 

our lover and friend. Amen – Janet Morley

Prayer is the Mark of Discipleship that we are looking at for March. Praying is communication that no 

one ever should stop. One can always grow more in their practice of prayer. Some have even described stages 

of prayer as we develop as humans. We continue to have new experiences and need to be lead by God till our 

lives end here on earth. 

Jesus prays all through his life here on earth. The Gospels record him praying at all the important 

times in his life. He prays for others at the time of his death. His practice of prayer shows us that in good 

times and times when we suffer we need to be in communication with God.

Medieval mystics thought that God was always connected to the human soul. Deep within us God the 

Holy Spirit dwells and we were created to experience that all the time. The problem is that sin keeps us from 

that experience. We shut ourselves off from experiencing God in our lives. Jesus came to open us up to God. 

He has broken down the barriers that kept us from experiencing God in our lives.

Prayer is a practice that helps us be with God. But often our primary mode of prayer is asking. It may 

be asking for ourselves or others. It may be asking for healing or guidance but it still is asking. We are active 

people and we like to get things done and often we are trying to get things done even in our relationship with 

God. If we are going to grow in our relationship with God we need to learn to be, to be with God. We need to 

stop talking to God. We need to learn to be with and listen to God. We need to be still before God and turn 

our wills over to God so that we let God direct us. That is a difficult thing to learn to do. 

What you are is a person who is part of God’s being and God’s will. When we learn to be before God 

we are able to see better how our lives should go. We also see how we don’t have to worry about ourselves 

but are better able to see that we can serve others. We are able to be in and for the world. We can be who God 

wants us to be.

In this month of March we will listen to Jesus tell us who he is with the “I Am” statements during the 

Wednesday worship times and we will observe Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We will 

remember all that God has done for us. Take time to be before God in each of those events.

Let us pray: Like your disciples on the road to Emmaus, we are so often incapable of seeing that you, O 

Christ, are our companion on the way. But when our eyes are opened we realize that you were speaking to us 

even though perhaps we had forgotten you. Then the sign of our trust in you is that, in our turn, we try to love, 

to forgive with you. Independent of our doubts or even our faith, your love burns in our heart of hearts. Amen 

– Brother Roger

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Dean Oelfke

FEBRUARY 2013

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship                                                   the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God                                   is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

                          The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."

Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you." John 4:23-26

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  Hebrews 10:19-25

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Worship is the topic for February from the Marks of Discipleship.  Worship on Sunday mornings can sometimes seem a burden.  It is hard to get up and go out into the cold on a morning you could sleep in and stay in bed.  Lives are busy and we do need rest. 

However some of the exhaustion that we feel in our daily lives comes from us not taking advantage of the things that God provides for us and invites us to be a part of.  Sometimes the burdens of the week actually get lifted because we come to worship and so we can leave invigorated for the week ahead.

Jesus invites us to come to worship in spirit and truth.  We come to give God praise and glory because God is God.  Coming on Sunday really is about God and not about us.  God seeks people to worship God.  That may seem a little narcissistic of God.  But God seeks us out to do this so God can connect with us and help us in our lives.  We become more aware of the other people and the world around us by worshiping.  God seeks us out so we can have a fuller life.

We may think that we are not good enough to come to God, or we may think that everyone else is so much better than us that we can’t come to worship on Sunday but the author to the Hebrews wants us to look at life in a different way.  We are not worthy on our own to come to God.  Without Jesus we only will experience God as an angry judge who punishes those who go against God’s perfect laws.  Sometimes as believers we still experience God that way.  But we can have confidence to come to God and experience a new and living way instead of the old judgmental way.

Jesus life, death and resurrection open to us a new way of living and worshiping God.  We can have full assurance of faith because Jesus has earned forgiveness for us.  Our hearts are sprinkled clean from a guilty conscience and our bodies are washed clean from our sins with the pure water of Baptism.  If God promises to do all that to us why wouldn’t we want to come to worship and receive it?

It is up to us now to hold onto these promises that God gives to us.  As we gather our hope is renewed and we are given the strength to carry on with our lives.  We may get discouraged and find life difficult at times.  As we gather we can encourage each other in the difficulties that we have in life.  We can also spur one another to keep doing the good that we can in the world around us.

 

 

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Dean Oelfke

 

 




JANUARY 2013

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who   heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke  2:46 & 47

You are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah.  Matthew 23:8-10

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Now that the rush around Christmas is over you probably have some time that you are not going shopping, to Christmas events or getting ready for family and friends to come over.  Some people get depressed in this time of year, because all the activities have come to an end and the short daylight. 

I would like to propose doing something that will give meaning to life.  The Mark of Discipleship that we are focusing on in January is STUDY.  Taking some time to study to grow in your faith is something that was done by Jesus while he was on earth and told us we should also be doing.  He sat with the teachers and learned from them.  He also says to us that we are all students. 

I would suggest reading the Gospel of Luke to start your study off this year.  We will be reading many Gospel readings from that book this year and it would help you to have read the book so you get an idea of how all those lessons fit together.  Sit down and read the book through all at once, then go back and study different parts of it.  If that won’t work for you read it chapter by chapter or a number of verses at a time and keep track of what has gone on before.  Do what works best for you but dig in and follow Jesus example of studying. 

If that particular suggestion doesn’t seem right to you try something else that Jesus seems to be directing you to.  You might even share what you are doing with someone else and study with them.  You might even find new community doing something that will help your faith.

Remember God can use everything you have read to help you to grow in your faith and deal with the problems and difficulties of life but God can’t use what you don’t know to help you.

Jesus came to bring light to this dark world.  Don’t let the darkness get the best of you.  Find something new to study in your faith and grow.  You will not only get rid of the darkness but enjoy the light.

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Dean Oelfke

 

Thank you to all who wished us a blessed Christmas, sent cards or gifts. Jane and I     appreciate your generosity and you remembering us in this holiday season.


December 2012


The greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.   Luke 22:26-27

 

Maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 1 Peter 4:8-10

 

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

The discipleship challenge for this month is to work on the discipline of serving.  So the word for the month is “Serve”.

 

It may be odd to think about serve as the word for December.  We normally think of giving and receiving in this month.  Especially since gift exchanges have become such a big part of our Christmas celebrations.  Yet Jesus always talks about being one who is here to serve. So it makes sense that we would learn about serving and practice it as part of honoring the greatest servant of all. 

 

Jesus came into this world to help us to be able to come to God.  His life was one of servant hood.  Christmas is the celebration of the greatest servant that ever was coming into our world.  That is probably why Jesus is not born in a palace and laid in an expensive bed.  He is born out in the open or in an animal shelter and laid in their feed box.  The king of the area does not come to see him, shepherds, whose lives were lived in service of their sheep, came.  The king tries to kill him instead of helping him grow to his potential.  King Herod is not interested in serving anyone.  He is interested in seeing how many people he can get serving him.

 

We have those two models for how the world looks at service and how God looks at service.  When we act selfishly we follow King Herod’s example.  When we live our lives serving others we follow Jesus.  God becomes our servant and so we are asked to live as servants to each other and to the world.  So as you go through this month think about how you can serve those around you and you will have the Christmas spirit in you.  The season will be more meaningful to you than if you are worrying about gifts.

 

Each and Every Sunday in December brings something different here at Calvary.  Keep watch of the calendar so that you are able to participate in all the special events: Ethnic Brunch, Calvary Family Christmas Festival, Advent Festival, Sunday School Christmas Program, Christmas Eve Worship Times and the Carol worship.

 

God’s blessing to you as you celebrate our servant Lord’s birth.  In this month, may you find the joy of serving.

 

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Dean Oelfke

 

 November 2012

Jesus said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not   invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind…

Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready now.' But they all alike began   to make excuses… 

Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and  the lame.” 

And the slave said, "Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.” Then the master said to the slave, "Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.”

Luke 14:12-13, 16b-18, 21b-23

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The discipleship challenge for this month is to work on the discipline of inviting. So the word for the month is “Invite”.

A couple of experiences with invite that I have had in the last week can help us begin to reflect on inviting. The first is I was talking to my daughter and son-in-law about Thanksgiving. They were telling us how their time off would work and we were deciding on how we were going to get together. In that situation the invitation to come and be with us was assumed. We wanted to get together the only thing that needed to be worked out was the time.

A second experience was that I invited one of the young pastors in the area over to our home for supper. He came to our house with his wife and children. My first call was similar to the situation that he is in now and so we shared stories and hopefully were helpful to them. 

In neither of those situations did I invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, unless because of their incomes either of those two couples qualify as poor. I didn’t invite someone that I didn’t have a connection with. Both of these two couples are able to invite me back. 

Let’s think about our life in the church. You have been invited. Jesus has invited you through many people to be one of his disciples. It doesn’t matter who you are or what blemishes you have, if you are poor, crippled, lame, or blind. Jesus wants you at the banquet that he is serving. You get to come weekly to hear his word and participate in his sacraments. You get to be a part of any of the activities that go on here at Calvary as one of Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus also wants us to invite others to come to meet him. That may be asking someone to come to church. If so, we might be getting together with others from our congregation. That would be like Jane and I getting together with Becky and Phil. It might be inviting a friend to come to worship with us. That would be more like having the other pastor and his family over for dinner. It might be inviting a person we are acquainted or work with who doesn’t have a church home to come and be a part of ours. That would be more like what Jesus describes. 

So the challenge this month is to invite people to Jesus. The statistics are that Lutherans invite someone to church once every 21 years. So some of you may think you have accomplished your quota. We can do better. We may start out just arranging to meet someone who we already know to get together for an activity at the church. See if there is someone you think about who could benefit from being a part of our congregation invite them. 

Inviting people to Jesus is bigger than just inviting someone to come to church. Sometimes it is telling someone else about your relationship with Jesus and sharing your faith with them. That way they can get to know Jesus through you and be invited along on this journey we are all on with Jesus.

Whatever way you decide to work on this go ahead and invite someone to Jesus.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Dean Oelfke

October 2012

"Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you. I  am God, your God. Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.  I will not accept a bull from your                      house, or goats from your folds.  For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.  "If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine.  Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?  Make thanksgiving your offering to God, and pay your vows to the Most High.  Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." Psalm 50:7-15

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

Give is the Mark of Discipleship that we talk about this month.  God does not need anything from us.  Psalm 50 reminds us of that.  So why should we give and what should we give?  We give because we need to.  We need to so that we grow and stay alive.  When we hold everything to ourselves we begin to die. 

We need to give of ourselves to the people around us so the world will be what God wants it to be.  We need to respond creatively to the world.  Each of us is given a gift to share with the world.  Musicians need to play music, dancers need to dance, painters need to paint, writers need to write, greeters need to greet, bakers need to bake, teachers need to teach, preachers need to preach, mechanics need to make and repair things.  The list goes on and on because each of us has a part to play in this world.  Each of us has a gift to share.  They are not all the same but they all are needed. 

Each of us has a certain amount of material stuff too.  We all have some kind of financial means that we need to manage.  God invites us to give of this too.  Mark Hanson writes, “Money is such a private issue, and so often it’s loaded with feelings of guilt, and maybe bitterness, and even resentment.  We’re living in anxiety – producing times – the uncertainty of the economy, the degree of debt experienced by us, mortgage related problems.  Many of us are afraid to admit that we’re in over our heads and need the wisdom of financial resource people to keep us healthy emotionally and spiritually.”  The anxiety we live in may make us want to keep as much as we can for ourselves.  God invites us to trust that because God has given to us in the past God will continue to give to us in the future.

We give so that we learn to trust God and not in the material things that are around us.  When we trust God we are able to share what we have with the world.  Each of us is able to give different amounts according to what God has given us.  We are not to compete with each other.  Nor should we compete with what we have done in the past. We are to look at what we have and see what we are able to give and send it out into the world.  Some of us will be able to grow in our giving because we have the ability to.  Some of us may not be able to give as much as we have in the past because our financial situation has changed.

Whatever our financial situation, God still invites us to give the gifts to the world that we have been given through the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Make thanksgiving your offering to God, and pay your vows to the Most High.  Call on God in the day of trouble; God will deliver you, and you shall give God glory.

 

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke

September 2012

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your                           

lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as                             

you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.   Colossians 2:6-7

 

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

I have been invited to be part of the group "NE MN Synod Discipleship Challenge: Love Like Jesus”.  It is in response to the ELCA Youth Gathering and what our youth learned there.  Actually our whole Synod is being asked to take part in a synod-wide Discipleship Challenge to Love Like Jesus! The Discipleship Challenge is an invitation to grow deeper in our faith as we walk together in ministry. We will use the 7 faith practices lifted up by the ELCA as a focus for this Challenge. The faith practices are not something to achieve and succeed at, but are a way of life as a response to become who Christ has called us to be…to follow and love like Jesus.  It is a way to grow our roots deeply into Jesus.

Each month October through April we will be challenged to work on a different faith practice: in October: Give; November: Invite; December: Serve; January: Study; February: Worship; March: Prayer; and April: Encourage.  So each month I will write up an article that has to do with the faith practice for that month and we will have other materials available to use or activities to do, to help us develop that discipline.  You can go on to the Synod Homepage and click onto the Discipleship Challenge toolbar heading to see videos and other material for this.

We will be starting up a lot of events in September for our congregation to help us grow in our discipleship: Bible Studies, Sunday School, Youth and Adult activities.  The Social Ministry Group has planned a number of Adult Forums to help us grow in our understanding and hopefully response to hunger both in our city and around the world.  We will be having speakers coming in September 9 to talk about local hunger efforts, September 23 to talk about Church World Service and the CROP Walk and October 7 a speaker on the ELCA World Hunger Program.  We will hold these Forums in the Sanctuary during coffee time.  Come and find out how you can fight against hunger here and wherever it exists.

 

 

In Christ’s Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke

 August 2012

We love because God first loved us.  1 John 4:19

Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are  possible." Matthew 19:26

 For Jesus is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity inplace of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.  Ephesians 2:14-20

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The ELCA Youth Gathering is going on right now, although by the time you read this it will be over.  Our H. S. youth joined the NEMN Synod Journey down to New Orleans.  They traveled from Mora to Gulfport Louisiana together with about 500 youth and adults from our Synod.  The first two verses from Matthew and 1 John were key for the theme of their time together.  Their theme was Mission Possible: Love Like Jesus!  They learned that to love like Jesus one needs to be welcoming, forgiving and serving others.  They had worship and Bible study time and they also practiced living out Jesus’ love in service.

Our group worked at Claire and Tom’s house where they helped take out sheetrock that was damaged by Katrina.  They were also sent into the brush to remove Chinese Tallow and Privet which are not native species and are taking over the brush.  Waiting for them was a nasty little plant called Smilax.  This vine tangles around the brush.  They were all scratched up from this project.

They are now in New Orleans at the Youth Gathering along with 35,000 other ELCA youth and leaders from all over the country and some from around the world.  My daughter and her husband are also leading a group there.  Jane and I watched and listened to the opening worship of the Gathering.  It was impressive.  They said in the intro that even though this was a youth gathering it was the largest gathering of ELCA adults too because of all the leaders that were along on the trip.

Bishop Mark Hanson had an excellent opening sermon that he shared with the group using the Ephesians passage as his text.  He also said that 60 of the 65 Synod bishops were also at the gathering.

The music and the speakers that our group has heard so far have challenged them to live out their faith in their lives.  Our last update from Terry Johnson one of the leaders on the trip said that when they got back to their hotel and had sharing time everyone had something that they wanted to say about the events that evening.  Many of them were deeply moved by what they heard.  This is one of those spiritual events that keep on supporting faith for a whole life long.

All of this goes back to God through Jesus.  Jesus is the one who did the work to bring us back to God.  We are citizens of God’s kingdom because of what Jesus has done for us.  The Youth Gathering helps all who go there feel that they are a part and have a part to play in the kingdom.  Thanks be to God.

Pastor Dean Oelfke


December 

But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:20, 24 & 25

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     Dreams are involved with Jesus from the beginning.  Joseph takes Mary as his wife, he is warned to leave Bethlehem so Jesus isn’t killed, he is told in Egypt that it is safe to come back to Israel and he is warned again to pick a safe town so that Herod’s son would not be any problem, all in dreams.  Jesus is kept alive and well because Joseph pays attention to the warnings that God gives him in his dreams. 

     Dreams are common to us all.  But lots of times we don’t know what to do about them.  We wake in the night and think them significant but then struggle to remember them in the morning. They are mysterious and sometimes fade easily when we wake up, and then we think, what was it that I dreamed?  We also ask ourselves what does it mean?

     Martin Luther says about dreams: This is fact: Many of them are true and are fulfilled.  But nature cannot be sure of this beforehand.  After they have come true, a man thinks back and says: Why, that is the very thing I dreamed! – But before a dream becomes reality, no one can be sure of it without a special inspiration… True dreams bring with them impressions which deeply move the heart as with a kind of dread and consternation.  Therefore they cannot be contemptuously shaken off. Such were the dreams of Pharaoh (Genesis 41) and Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2).  Other dreams are meaningless, vain hopes and imaginations that should simply be ignored.

     Luther identifies two types of dreams he calls the one true and the other meaningless.  I would identify them as a divine message and nonsense dreams.  There are also dreams that we have that help us make sense of our world.  We also work through problems that we have in our lives as we dream.  God has given us the gift of dreaming so that we have another resource to make it through life.

     This Advent we will take a look at some of the dreamers of the Bible.  It is interesting to note that only half of them were God’s followers and the other half not people of God. In addition to the two that Luther mentions we can add Abimelech, Pharaoh’s cupbearer, and baker, a Midianite soldier and possibly the wise men who came to see Jesus.  Most of God’s people who dream are in the Old Testament.  Only Joseph and Peter are in the New Testament.

     We will look at the stories of the dreams and see how God might be trying to get a message through to us in our dreams.  On each of the three evenings, we will take the following topics successively: dreams of warning, one’s that help us develop our identity, and dreams of Theophany.  Our first Advent Worship is Nov. 30 then we have two in December the 7th and the 14th, all of them at 7:00pm.  Come and find out how you might make more sense of your dreams and listen better to God in them.

     There are a lot of activities going on in December.  Take a close look at the calendar so you don’t miss one.  If you like to sing Christmas Carols there is an opportunity to do so every Sunday in December at the special activities. Note Christmas Eve worship is at 4:00pm and 10:00pm.  Christmas Day and New Years Day we will have only one worship at 9:00am.

 In Christ’s Love, Pastor Dean Oelfke

 Wedding News

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, "Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.  But they made light of it and went away… those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.’  Matthew 22:1-5a,10

 

On December 30, we will be having the wedding of Becky Oelfke and Phil Lashinski here at Calvary.  We wish we could invite everyone like the King does in Jesus parable.  Unfortunately we don’t have the resources or the room that the king did.  It looks like we will fill the fellowship hall for dinner with the relatives and friends of Becky and Phil.  Yet we may have room depending upon weather or if those invited make light of it and don’t come. Please feel free to come to the worship time. If you wish to attend the dance at Bowes please let us know ASAP so that we can order enough dessert.

November 2011

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.  Ephesians 1:15-19

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In November I think of two things All Saints Sunday and Thanksgiving.  In the first, we remember what has happened over the past year and the loved ones that we have lost. In the second, we rejoice in what God has done for us.  There is a prayer and a poem that I share with you as you reflect on both of these events.  In a Thanksgiving Sermon one year I sang the song, “Grateful”.  I share it with you as a poem and maybe some year I will sing it again:

I’ve got a roof over my head. I’ve got a warm place to sleep.

Some nights I lie awake counting gifts instead of counting sheep.

I’ve got a heart that can hold love. I’ve got a mind that can think.

There may be times when I lose the light and let my spirits sink

But I can’t stay depressed when I remember how I’m blessed!

Chorus: Grateful, grateful truly grateful I am.  Grateful, grateful truly blessed and duly 
   grateful.

In a city of strangers, I’ve got a family of friends.

No matter what rocks and brambles fill the way, I know that they will stay until the end.

I feel a hand holding my hand. It’s not a hand you can see.

But on the road to the promised land this hand will shepherd me…

Through delight and despair, holding tight and always there.

Chorus

It’s not that I don’t want a lot or hope for more or dream of more. 

But giving thanks for what I’ve got makes me so much happier than keeping score.

In a world that can bring pain, I will still take each chance…

For I believe that whatever the terrain our feet can learn to dance.

Whatever stone life may sling, we can moan… Or we can sing!

Chorus

The prayer is one that is used in the Compline service in the hymnal.  It is one that I find gives me comfort when thinking about my own busy life and also my loved ones who have gone to their heavenly home.  It goes like this:

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Live in the wisdom and riches God has given you and share it with others.

In Christ’s Love,  Pastor Dean Oelfke

October 2011

O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.                     Psalm 96:1-3

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

      The music selection committee met the week I write this.  We talked about what worship is and what we should be doing in it.  They said I should share some of the thoughts we had with you in the Newsletter.

     Giving God honor, glory and praise was the most important thing we wanted to accomplish in worship.  We also thought we should be listening to what God was telling us. Responding to God’s message and 
amplifying the message with the music is what we work on when we pick hymns.

     Knowing that is the goal we work as a committee knowing that we each come to the table with a little bit different background and knowledge of church music.  We also take into account what the congregation is asking for.  It is interesting that we sometimes get requests for the opposite thing in worship.  Some people want old favorites, others new songs.  Some people want peppy music others want something slower and 
easier to be able to sing the words.  Some want upbeat music others like a hymn in a minor key because of the emotions that it helps them express to God.  There is no way that we can please everyone in a worship service.

     As a committee we also noticed that we sing some music seasonally which makes sense too.  So if Christmas music is your favorite music we will be singing that in the Christmas season but probably won’t be during the Easter season.

     It is interesting thinking about all that and thinking about the Bible verse that I started with.  There are nine times when the command to sing a new song to God is in the Bible seven in the O.T. and two in the N.T.  It never says sing and old familiar hymn.  Although there is a place for familiar hymns too.  Having hymns so familiar that you have them memorized can let the Holy Spirit bring them to mind when you need them most.  So we need to sing many hymns so they become familiar to us.  It is also good to learn new hymns because you may not have learned your favorite hymn yet. 

     When I was in ND my congregation was just beginning to use the green hymnal.  I had sung almost all of the hymns in it because our choir director in St. Paul made us warm up by singing through the hymnal.  I had them sing some of the hymns they didn’t know.  At Easter time we learned the hymn, “Now the Green Blade Rises”.  Being wheat farmers the hymn made a lot of sense even though they had to learn a new tune.  It rapidly became a favorite of a number of people in the congregation and requested when we got to the Easter season and at other times in the year.

     If they had refused to learn any new hymns they may not have learned their favorite.  Every hymn is new at one point and the only way to find out if one is any good is to try them out.

     As a music selection committee we will continue to try and have music that will help us worship God.  We will have a wide variety of music to fit the different things that God may want us to hear.  We will also try and get favorite hymns and peppy and familiar and upbeat and minor.  Although you can see that we won’t be able to do that every Sunday.  Here is a good time to say come to church often because otherwise you may miss the Sunday that we sang the hymn you wanted to hear.

So come to worship and sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all you people of Calvary.  Sing also as you go through your week in whatever you do praise God.

In Christ’s Love
            Pastor Dean Oelfke

 September 2011

     For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

     Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.  Romans 12:3-16

 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     I had a unique experience while I was at the Churchwide Assembly that illustrates the Bible passage above.  Pastor Christie Manisto and I went to the reception that the college and seminary presidents were giving one evening.  While we were there we met Pr. John Nunes the president of Lutheran World Relief (LWR).  We got to know him when he spoke to our NEMN Synod Assembly this Spring.   We asked him to tell us what he knew about the relationship of the Missouri Synod and LWR.  He said to us that he thought the relationship would continue to work but that he would like us to talk to the first vice president of The Lutheran Church – 
Missouri Synod.  He said, “I think it would be good for you to share your concern with him.”   So he invited us to a reception that he was giving in his room so that we could talk.

     We went to the reception later in the evening and talked to The Rev. Dr. Herbert C. Mueller Jr. the first vice president of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.  We shared with him that we were disappointed with the rumors that the Missouri Synod was dropping out of the work that we were doing together.  We thought it was a shame that even though our theology is much closer than other denominations that we would not be able to continue our work 
together.  He assured us that they were not going to categorically drop everything that we were working on together.  They were going to review all the ministries and see which ones they could continue and which ones they couldn’t.

     I stayed to talk to Mueller for a while by myself and while I was there Pr. Nunes brought over the Rev. Martin Junge the general secretary of Lutheran World Federation so he could also visit with Mueller.  I visited with both Junge and Mueller for a while and then headed off to my room in the motel.

     As I reflected upon this I thought it was quite a night.  How often would a Lutheran from Mora MN get to visit and possibly influence two world leaders and a national leader in one evening?  It is only something that can happen in the Christian Church where we are one body in Christ, where we don’t think of ourselves more highly than we should, and are not haughty, but associate with the lowly. 

     Paul reminds us that living in Jesus is about loving the people around us and using the gifts that God has given us to serve people in the Lord.  As we do that we create harmony build each other in the body of Christ.  As we move back into the fall let’s discover our gifts and use them to build each other up.   
 In Christ’s Love, Pastor Dean Oelfke



 August 2011

Go into all the world and proclaim the goods news to the whole creation.  The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.   Mark 16:15-16

 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Pastor Scott Jacob lead our council in a retreat/visioning event on 17th of July.  We learned a lot about the church and culture that I would like to share with you.  Over the next few months I will be doing just that.

Scott started out sharing how as Lutherans we have worked on growing the church.  From about 1880 to 1920 Lutherans grew mainly because of immigration.  The way church would grow was to get a group of people who spoke the same language together and form a congregation.  People would have worship in their native language and they would put on dinners that would be nostalgic of the food they had from the old country.  When there were lots of people coming from Northern Countries in Europe where there were lots of Lutherans that was a good way to grow.

By the 1920’s to the 60’s most Lutherans had come over who were coming over.  In this time period, most Lutheran couples had 4.7 children born in their families.   There was a
tremendous growth in congregations at this time because of the large families that people had.  Lots of congregations added on educational buildings during that time because they needed room for all those children.  Congregations grew because of all the children around.  Those children got involved in another Lutheran congregation if they moved away from home.

After 1963 the birthrate in Lutheran families dropped from 4.7 to 1.6.  That means if we only relied on kids being born to grow the church our numbers would drop.  There just were not as many people around as there used to be.  Add to that the number of children who went away from their home communities to find jobs and there would be a great decline in numbers of Lutherans.

That is the difficulty since the 60’s.  We haven’t found a way to grow as congregations.  Scott said that the next way he thinks congregations can grow is by invitation.  He said he doesn’t mean by advertisements in papers, radio, TV, or internet. That is only information that is out there.  All those are important to people who are looking for a church.  But invitation is when you say to your friend, “Come to church with me.  I have found it helpful and fun in my life.  I will pick you up on Sunday and afterward I will introduce you to a few people.”  That may be something that we find hard to do.  But if we are to go out into all the world, we are called to do it by Jesus.

So live your life in Christ and invite others along.

In Christ’s Love
            Pastor Dean Oelfke

 July 2011

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side of the lake." So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?"         Luke 8:22-25             

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     God be with us in every pass, Jesus be with us on every hill, Spirit be with us on every stream, headland ridge and lawn;

     Each sea and land, each moor and meadow, each lying down and each rising up, in the trough of the waves on the crest of the billows, each step of the journey that we go.

     We came out of the portage from Fairy Lake onto Boot Lake and the wind was
blowing right at us.  There were whitecaps on the water that came rolling onto the shore.  It would be a mile and a half of paddling into the wind with no shelter.  I was a little bit nervous setting out.  We got water into the canoe just trying to get away from shore.  I paddled for all I was worth to keep the canoe from turning sideways and getting flipped over by a big wave.

My daughter and the other girl in the canoe had a different experience of the whole event.  They saw it more like a water park ride.  The bow of the canoe would travel up a wave and then slap down on the trough of the next.  They laughed every time it happened.  It lightened my mood and I began laughing because of them. 

Even when the disciples are in the calm after the storm they are still afraid and amazed.  They move from being afraid of the storm to being afraid of Jesus.  That seems the silliest thing of all.  But they don’t know who Jesus is yet.  They are still discovering that he is the savior of the world.

The situation that the disciples are in is the situation that all of us are in.  We are all perishing.  Left to ourselves we drown in the deluge of our sin.  Jesus saves us from our sin and the inevitable storms that come into our lives.  Do we recognize that Jesus is with us and stills storms in our lives?  Are we able to live without fear because of our faith in Jesus?

I will be traveling with the youth of our church into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this summer.  I have prayed the prayer at the top of this article before many youth trips and while we are on the trip.  It reminds me that Jesus is the one who will save and protect us from whatever we face in life and especially in the hazards of travel.  You may want to cut it out and use it for your travels this summer.

Remember God is with you each step of the journey.

 In Christ’s Love
             Pastor Dean Oelfke

June 2011

     For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

     Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.                                                                                                                                                            Romans 12:4-11

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

      My Daughter graduated from St. Catherine University with a Master of Library and Information Science degree.  The commencement address was given by Paul Schnell.  He is currently the Chief of Police in the City of Hastings.  He has also worked with the St. Paul Police department.  He has a Master of Social Work degree from the joint program of St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas.  He has worked to have restorative practices be a part of policing both in St. Paul and Hastings.  He said that punishment does not deter people from committing crime.  They do what they do because of their principles and morals or lack of them.  They act because they want something and think there is no other way they can get it. The greater motivation is that people want to keep connected with others.  If they find out their actions do not connect them with others they change their actions.

     I thought that was interesting because of the articles that I have been reading lately: The Only Way to God, Betting on a Generous God, Is Hell Dead?, What if Jesus Meant All That Stuff?.  They are all saying that people will not be Christians because they fear hell.  They become Christians to be connected.  That is what the incarnation of God is all about.

     God wants us to be able to be connected to God that is why God became flesh and lived among us.  God even dies trying to connect to us to show us the depth of God’s love for us.  God realized that punishment will not bring about the change of heart that God wants in us.  The law never motivates someone to do the right thing it only lets us know when we have failed to do the right thing.

     It is the good news that God wants to be a part of our lives and loves us that helps us to come to God and get to know God better.  We live our lives the way God wants because the Holy Spirit helps us to do the right thing.

     Paul Schnell encouraged the graduates to keep on doing what they knew was right because they would never know who they would affect by their positive contributions to the world.  He shared three people that had a great impact on his life that would never have known it.  We can make a difference in the world we live in because of who we are and how we help others.

     Because we are part of the body of Christ we have gifts from Jesus that the world needs.  We are to go out and share them with the people around us.  So stay connected this summer to God and your fellow members of the body of Christ, use the gifts that you have for the sake of the world.

 In Christ’s Love, Pastor Dean Oelfke

May 2011

Now the winter is past, the rain (snow) is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.           Song of Solomon 2:11-13a

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

      It was snowing this morning and the ground was white before I wrote this.  But by the time you will be reading this I hope the snow is over and gone.  I expect that the flowers will be coming up through the ground which is cold and hard now.  The mourning dove is already heard by my house.  The trees also will put forth their blossoms and give forth their fragrance.

     The seasons sometimes seem like they don’t happen as quickly as we would like them to.  A lot of people were frustrated this year because winter seemed to last so long.  But the seasons come around again in their own way in spite of our impatience.

     I was recently asked what seasons of the soul were.  The expression is meant to talk about our relationship with God and how that changes as we live out our lives.  We have times in our spiritual life when we are learning and growing in our relationship with God.  We have times when we bear fruit in our service to God and others.  There are times in our lives when we wonder about what God is doing and maybe even feel like we are just going through the motions with our faith.  There are times when life seems to spring forth again after a long dormant time in our faith life. 

     Sometimes we wish these seasons would go faster than they do.  We get impatient or even think we may have lost our faith.  God continues to work on us and sends the Holy Spirit to help us so that we can learn from whatever season we are in.  Sometimes the best thing that we can take from a given situation in life is the knowledge that we can get through it.  We may be able to share that with another person going through a similar circumstance.

     May is a busy month.  We start off with Synod Assembly and Spring Ring and move toward Memorial Day.  In-between those two dates there are lots of things going on: the Rummage Sale, Mother’s Day brunch, College Graduations, last days of meeting times for Sunday School, Confirmation and all kinds of Bible studies.  We are in a changing season in this month for sure with activities, how about in our relationship with God?  The school year comes to an end and summer begins.  Keep a close eye on all the events that are coming up so you don’t miss any.

 In Christ’s Love, Pastor Dean Oelfke

 April 2011

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.  When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing.
Luke 23:32-34

"If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart." Matthew 18:15, 21, & 35

 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

      Forgiveness it is what Jesus is about.  He practices it when he is on the cross dying to forgive the sin of the whole world.  He tells us that we need to do it as we live out our lives.  There is not just a one time or seven time limit to forgiveness.  Jesus says that we have to keep on forgiving.

     Over the time of Lent we have been focusing on forgiveness.  Listening to Jesus words and watching the Davey and Goliath episodes.  Sometimes one needs to forgive one’s self before you can forgive others.  Sometimes it is hard to forgive because we have been hurt so bad.  Sometimes we are in relationships where it seems like the other person is getting a better deal in life than we are.

     Forgiveness does not mean that we say the action that the other person didn’t matter or that it was ok.  Forgiveness means that we take seriously that the other person was wrong and that they did something to break the relationship.  Forgiveness is the first step in moving beyond the offence.  It might never be able to go further than that because sometimes we may not even know who did the wrong to us. 

     God wants us to recognize that this world is a broken place.  It does not work the way that God wanted it to.  God is working to make things right and move this broken world to wholeness and reconciliation.  We are invited to be a part of that.  We can work with God to begin to change the world.  Jesus started working on this when he was here in the world.  He died that we might be reconciled to God.   Now he wants us to put the power of forgiveness into the world so that it keeps moving back to God.

     In this month of April we get to celebrate the central events of our Christian faith happened.  Come to those events and remember our most important beliefs that we hold because of who Jesus is and what he did.  Sunday April 17 we will remember Jesus entry into Jerusalem and his passion. April 21 is Maundy Thursday we will worship at 7:00pm, April 22 is Good Friday and there will be two worship times at Calvary 1:30pm a Tenebrae  and the community ecumenical service at Grace 7:30pm will be characters of the passion.  Our Easter Celebration will happen April 24, 7:00am Sunrise worship, 8:00am Easter Breakfast, 9:30 Worship of The Resurrection of Our Lord.  I hope to see you at many of these.

In Christ’s Love
          Pastor Dean Oelfke

March 2011

   "Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, "He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.' 

     This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." 'Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified."

     Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"

     Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." Acts 2:29-39

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

      The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.  God is calling you this Lenten season to learn what Peter said David knew about Jesus: that God would raise him from the dead, that we would have our sins forgiven because of him and that we would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through him.
     We will be learning all of this from David.  Well not exactly David, Davey and Goliath.  You remember that classic cartoon of the boy and the dog that learned how to grow closer to God as they lived their lives, don’t you?  Well if you do remember and liked them or if you don’t remember we should have fun at our Lenten services watching these adventures.  It should be a profitable time from the things we learn and we will be able to grow in our faith because of them.
     This really is a Lenten time for the whole family because we will have coloring pages for the youngest members of our congregation and discussion question that can be talked about with mentors or others around you at the service or at home.
    
Our Lenten observances will begin with a traditional imposition of ashes service on Wednesday the 9
th of March.  Each of the Wednesdays after that March 16, 23, 30 and April 6 and 13 will have worship and a presentation of Davey and Goliath.  Holy Week is the week after that with a Maundy Thursday worship at 7:00pm and a Good Friday worship here at Calvary at 1:30 and a community worship at 7:30.
    
Let’s gather together on Wednesdays in March and April and receive all that God wants to give to us in Jesus: forgiveness, life and salvation.

 In Christ’s Love
                Pastor Dean Oelfke

 February 2011

When the days drew near for him (Jesus) to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.  And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"  But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. Luke 9:51-56

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     It’s February.  That means it is Vasaloppet time.  I was thinking about the two stories that we have with King Vasa on the one hand and King Jesus on the other.
     King Vasa’s story goes like this: Gustav Ericsson Vasa is running for his life from King Christian the second of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (the Kalmar Union).  He gets to Mora and wants the men to join him in a rebellion against Christian.  Who was a tyrant who had  invited the Swedish aristocracy to a reconciliation party in Stockholm, only to have them, including Gustav's parents, massacred in what came to be known as the Stockholm Bloodbath.  The men of Mora did not want to fight and so they leave Vasa ski away.  He hurries away so he will not be caught by the king’s troops.  The men of Mora soon have a change of heart and send two brothers to catch Vasa.  He does lead the rebellion and on 6 June 1523 he is crowned King Gustav of Sweden, which becomes a fully independent nation.
     Jesus story is very different.  As we read in the verses above Jesus does not run from his enemies.  He walks right into the capitol city Jerusalem and challenges them.  He goes to the temple and tells them what the temple is for and chases out all those who would make it something else.  He then when arrested does not lift a finger to fight.  He continues to show love and forgiveness to all around him until he is killed on a cross.  He does it to show God’s love in the face of the worlds hate.
     It is so ironic that one who bore the name Christian is so anti-Christian.  You might say he is one of the antichrists that 1 John 2:18 warns us of.  How is it that we who call ourselves Christian can go against the spirit of Christ?  It seems to me power and privilege takes over people’s lives and become more important than living in faith, hope and love.  Christian’s story reminds us how easily it is to fall away from God.  We may not do it in as great an extreme as he did and yet whenever we put our own benefit before following God and fulfilling God’s will in our lives there will be trouble in the world.
     Let the Vasaloppet remind you to follow the spirit that Jesus put in you instead of your old self that rebels against God.  Live the free life that Jesus bought for you with his suffering and death that frees you from sin, death and the power of the devil.  Share the faith, hope and love that Jesus gives you with the people around you.                                                                                                       In Christ’s Love,  Pastor Dean Oelfke

 January 2011

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.  Romans 13:1-7

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders… Whether it is right in God's sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge… We must obey God rather than any human authority.  Acts 4:8, 19, 5:29

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

     There are two different traditions about the government in the Bible.  One is obedience and one is resistance.  It all depends on the situation and what the rulers are telling us to do.  If it has to do with the physical, material things of this world often doing what the government tells you is the right thing and shouldn’t be disobeyed.  If the government tells us that we are no longer able to worship God or proclaim Jesus as our Lord and savior then resistance is the appropriate response.
    
Sometimes the differences get blurred when as it is in the U. S. we are the government.  How are we to be good citizens of this country and shape its laws? How are we to be good followers of Jesus and share the good news with the world?
     In an effort to grow both as citizens and followers of Jesus, I am going to offer a chance to watch and discuss a program that was aired on PBS.  It is called “God in America”.  It is a documentary that explores the 400 year history of religion in the public life of the U. S.  The intersection of religion and politics has almost overlapped at some points and has become quite separate at others.  The program interweaves documentary footage, historical dramatizations and interviews with religious historians.
     We will watch the programs together at church on January 9, 16, 23 and 30, 7:30pm at church.  Come and be a part of learning and lively discussion.

In Christ’s Love,
         Pastor Dean Oelfke

Thank you to all who wished us a good Christmas, sent cards or gifts. Jane and I appreciate you remembering us in this holiday season.

 December 2010

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah . . . . Matthew 1:1-6

                                                                                           

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


     Most of us in the U.S. get bored by genealogies. They are mainly used to find the rightful, genuine or legitimate heir to someone. It is usually used to ground a claim to power, status, rank, office or inheritance. Since our leaders are elected and not vetted by blood line we find all of this unnecessary.

     This genealogy however is not your average Biblical one. It has something else going on in it. If you look at the names I have put in bold above you will see: the names of four women. There in the first six verses of this genealogy are: a woman who was isolated because they thought she was a man killer, a prostitute, a foreign enemy and the wife of another man. These are the scandalous women in Jesus genealogy. They are going to help us understand who Jesus is and what he does for us in the season of Advent.

        Dr. Richard Carlson says that Matthew's genealogy is "God's Disorderly Order". He says that Matthew is hanging out the dirty laundry for the world to see. Why would he do that? How does that help us believe in Jesus? How are Jesus' credentials enhanced by having these people in his ancestry?

        We will be thinking about these four women during advent but then there is a fifth that we will think about during Christmas. Mary the woman that Joseph takes as his wife even though she is going to have a child and it is not his: another sexual scandal.

This is the genealogy or should we use the other word that could equally be used here this is the genesis of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the Son of Abraham. "In the beginning", in Hebrew is genesis. In the beginning (genesis) God created the Heavens and the earth. In the beginning (genesis) was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. This is what we are looking toward in Advent the genesis or be- ginning of Jesus coming to us. Let's gather on Wednesday's and Sunday's in December and praise God for him coming even through this scandalous beginning.

 

 

In Christ's Love

Pastor Dean Oelfke



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