As we enter Hispanic Heritage Month, we encourage you to explore resources for learning about the vast and varied history and experience of hispanic cultures and people.
One great online resource is the website of the National Museum of the American Latino. You can visit their site HERE.
We recommend you spend a few minutes watching the 3.5 minute video from Somos (we are), a video that discusses the great diversity within Latin cultures that is often overlooked.
We also have a fantastic opportunity to learn about hispanic heritage in our own building. Cristo Rey is a vibrant community whose congregants hold a multitude of experiences and represent a variety of Latin cultures. If you haven’t (or even if you have), consider attending a Cristo Rey service this month.
By Pastor Sarah Anderson
What are you looking forward to this fall at CtK?
As you watch the video, how would you answer that question? There is quite a variety of ministry happening this fall and there is something for all ages. Take time to familiarize yourself with Christ the King's Mission Statement and be curious how you will actively engage your faith. Be courageous and try something new! The Holy Spirit moves in surprising and powerful ways as we grow, gather, and give of ourselves.
Here are some ideas of how we can live out Christ's mission together:
Growing in faith and understanding
- Pick one of the many Bible studies to attend
- Attend the book study hosted by the Racial Justice Team in October
- Participate in SALT (Sunday Adult Learning Time) after worship (new this year is an option for childcare so parents can attend SALT)
Gathering for worship and fellowship
- Even if it's been awhile, come to worship in-person at 9:30 on Sundays
- If you see a new-to-you face, introduce yourself
- Stay for coffee and donuts after worship
- Sing in the choir or play handbells (beginners welcome!)
Giving of ourselves and our resources
- Help at a Wednesday evening meal
- Stretch your financial giving
- Steward the earth: pick up sticks and leaves at CtK
- Write a thank-you note
CSC Reaches Out to Stretch Your Donations
CSC serves people in many ways that often don’t include financial aid. Many of our applicants don’t know how to access assistance that is available from government funded sources or other nonprofit agencies. They are stuck in a crisis. CSC analyzes their situation and directs them to any appropriate resource. Sometimes this takes weeks or months of personal direction to achieve success. If all other resources have been used, CSC steps in. Here is an example:
Terrance is a single dad who lives with his disabled father. They split the rent. A few months ago, Terrance got laid off from a job he enjoyed working at for 9 years, and at the same time his dad was hospitalized. When he came to us, they were about to be evicted. We needed him to get an income enough to pay his bills moving forward before we could help. We got more time from his landlord to hold the eviction off, and by his next appointment, Terrance had a fulltime job at Subway in walking distance from his house. Between that and his dad’s disability payment, it was enough for them to be sustainable. CSC discovered he would be eligible for county assistance and helped Terrance apply. Soon enough, the county approved his application and paid all but $500! We paid $500 and stopped the eviction.
Then we kept working with him. He was comfortable with the job and seemed to want to keep it, just happy to have a job and be stable again. We stressed to him that his income would not be enough to allow him to save, to prevent a future crisis. He said the threat of being homeless with his daughter and father was the worst thought, so he agreed to keep looking for work. We helped create a resume for him and had him apply for better jobs. A construction company hired him, and within a month he was working a full-time job with overtime and benefits. Terrance couldn’t believe it! Now we are working with him on ways to build his credit score. He has already saved $100.
by Trish Blomquist
Like vines in the garden, these are rambling thoughts of expressing the joys of gardening!
God, the very first gardener, planted his garden with love. Today we plant and tend the Community Garden with love.
God planted his garden with joy. We plant our community garden with joy in knowing that we are serving our friends and neighbors with food for their tables. We ask God to open our eyes to see more clearly the relationship of Gardener – Father’s Love for everyone.
Gardening is an important part of many people’s lives every year. Each year we come to appreciate the garden more, even though our joints and muscles might say otherwise. The word that keeps coming to me is solace. The feel of the soil in your hands and the beauty and resilience of the plants that populate the garden soothe the soul. Watching the blossoms and then the fruit develop and knowing that it will feed someone in need is a gift from God. Viewing a garden can fill you with peace and happiness – for me it brings joy in looking at the green vegetation and having the opportunity to “play “ in the dirt.
Christ the King’s Community Garden has been in existence for approximately eight years. The garden is not only a source of food for the community (our neighbors) but also as an opportunity for relationship building and connecting with our neighbors and fellow church participants. The original stated purpose for the garden was building relationships, connecting with neighbors, providing food for the Local Food Shelf. These goals have been met with joy and awe, especially when we harvest the produce and deliver it to the Local Food Shelf. Last year we donated over 500 lbs. and we are well on the way to that amount again this year. It is a wonderful to have neighbors walk by the garden as we are working and begin a conversation – outreach in the simplest of forms!
This year we have had several people from the neighborhood stop and ask if they could have a plot. We have, unfortunately, had to share that we don’t have any plots available (we explain that the produce we are growing goes to the Food Shelf) and that then leads to the conversation, how can we expand the garden so that our neighbors could have a plot!
In the Bible, there are many references to gardens or seeds:
Genesis 1-2: Story of Creation
Genesis 2: Adam and Eve in the garden
Psalm 8:16 He is like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden.
Matthew 13 Parable of the sower
Matthew 13:31 Sewing of the seed: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field.
Matthew 13:37 The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world.
Matthew 14 Feeding the 5,000 – This is similar to our contributing to the Local Food Shelf.
Seeds have been planted – use us in unexpected ways
This is your faith planted in you by God
Creating new seeds that will support generations to come…
Probably one of my favorite songs when I am looking for solace is “I Come to the Garden Alone”.
The Community Garden “buddies” enjoy time together and the work we do in the name of our Lord.
I’ll leave you with a few thoughts for the day!
Gardening is a work of heart!
Into the garden I go to lose my heart and find my soul
I love gardening from my head tomatoes
Lettuce Turnip The Beet
If you are interested in volunteering with Community Garden group, contact Trish at 651-283-3173 and we will get you involved!
by Pastor Sonja Hagander
Writer Peter Block says, “It is clear that relatedness, belonging, and community are keys to the future, and that real change takes time and creates uncertainty. We have just been seduced into believing that these are secondary to speed, having a great vision, and staying in charge.”
What a vital sentiment to remember amidst the call process at Christ the King Lutheran Church/Cristo Rey. For anyone paying attention to the call process, and especially most of us not serving on the call committee, we are living with uncertainty. We do not know the details and candidates and conversations and discernments that occur during the process. We may wonder about the tempo of the process, if there is a common vision and may be curious about who is in charge…assuming that speed, vision and power are important in the process.
Block reminds us of what we may know deep down: that humans crave being in relationship, to be truly known and find that we make a difference most powerfully when acting in community. Yes, there is risk in this. That may be why speed, vision and power tempt. However, so many of the tales and stories and remembrances you have shared with me over these many months are, deep down, about what you love and have loved about CtK/CR: fellowship, making an impact in the lives of others, being caught up into something larger than yourself because of the work of Christ…even the stories of “how it used to be” are not really about “numbers” or “programs” but the relationships and experiences of Jesus’ presence in community that are truly life-saving and life-giving.
In the midst of uncertainty (which is very normal) during a call process, I invite you to continue to delve into the community here at CtK/CR. It’s a joy to watch small group leaders preparing to welcome a new pastor and building relationships, to see the Tiger Team exploring with care and detail pathways to address ways to grow financial support for ministry, leaders exploring models of congregational care, gardeners planting and tending, children and youth VBSing (is that a word?) and camping, volunteers traveling to Appalachia, Cristo Rey hosting Cocina Latina, the Racial Justice Team making a difference in New Brighton, staff engaging in vibrant summer ministry activities, POP up choirs singing, and so much more!
Your Partner in Ministry,
by Kisten Thompson
For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed and celebrated Independence Day, July 4. I can remember picnics, fireworks, family gatherings, parades, red, white and blue clothing and streamers…it has all been great fun and filled with so many memories.
But for many, Independence Day has not been seen as a holiday that celebrates freedom. If we remember the history of this country, there were people who were not free…they were not seen as equal…in fact, as the Declaration of Independence was being written, people of African descent were not even seen as fully human. They were regarded as 3/5 a person. Independence Day has not been a day of freedom for all here in this country. Abolitionist Frederick Douglas wrote on July 5, 1852, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” How can someone who is not free celebrate freedom?
This is why Juneteenth is such an important and meaningful holiday. You read in this week’s Herald that while the Emancipation Proclamation declared that all enslaved persons were declared “forever free” on January 1, 1863, it took more than two years for this news to reach Texas. The Civil War ended in April, 1865 but enslaved Texans were not told this news and continued to work for their “owners”. It was not until June 19, 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger came to Galveston and announced, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free…”
In her children’s book, The Juneteenth Story, Alliah L. Agostini put the news this way: “900 days after the Emancipation Proclamation; 89 years after Independence Day; 339 years after the first enslaved Africans came to the land that is now America…the secret was finally out: Freedom now belongs to enslaved people, too.”
The first Jubilee Day or Emancipation Day festivities were held in Texas, June 19, 1866 and the celebrations continued in Texas and throughout the country, eventually becoming known as Juneteenth in the late 1800’s. While its celebration has ebbed and flowed over the years, it regained popularity and prominence during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. With the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Juneteenth was nationally spotlighted as a time of emancipation and calls for true freedom for all. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.
So why should Christ the King Lutheran Church acknowledge and lift up Juneteenth? Our mission for racial justice is that we commit to combating systemic racism in our congregation and community…that means we need to know the history of those who have been oppressed and hurt by racial systems of injustice. As Maya Angelou wrote, “History despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” And knowing stories of enslavement, emancipation, jubilation and celebration invites us into the work of doing all we can to address and change unjust policies and practices in both society and the church.
We can and will still celebrate July 4 as Independence Day but we also learn about Juneteenth; we rejoice with our Black kin; and we seek ways to grow and embrace freedom for all people. Check out the wonderful library books in our Ramsey County Library system. Tune into PBS for some great programming on Juneteenth. Seek out neighborhood celebrations-I promise, if you search, you will find them. How will you honor, remember and celebrate Juneteenth?
Peace, Kisten Thompson, Racial Justice Team
by Nate Crary
There is a song in the new All Creations Sings (ACS) hymnal that I just love called, “God, We Gather as Your People” (ACS 1038). I find the lyrics in the third stanza, written by local church musician and activist David Lohman, to be especially meaningful:
Oh, we pray for all the young lives cut short by fear and shame,
so afraid of who they are and whom they love.
May the message now be banished that your love is for the few;
may their faith in you renew.
June is PRIDE month and is a time to celebrate the fullness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual/aromantic (LGBTQIA+) community. As people of faith, we can expand our knowledge and imagination to provide the best hospitality possible in our community.
It is not that difficult to notice how our worship life at Christ the King / Cristo Rey reflects this expansive love for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions considering much of our traditional hymnody, prayers, and holy scriptures already express Christ’s message of radical love for all of God’s wonderfully diverse creation. Throughout PRIDE month we are also using liturgical language developed from Reconciling Works which advocates for the full welcome, inclusion, and equity of LGBTQIA+ Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church, congregations, and community.
I wonder what new things we can learn about or try this month as a faith community to continue to make clear God’s expansive and inclusive welcome to long-time churchgoers, first-time visitors, and everyone in between. Here are some of my ideas:
As with any song we sing on Sunday mornings, my hope is that the lyrics, with God’s help, become reality. May it be so as we sing the refrain from “God, We Gather as Your People”:
Oh, may our hearts and minds be opened,
fling the church doors open wide.
May there be room enough for ev'ryone inside.
For in God there is a welcome, in God we all belong.
May that welcome be our song.
View our pastors' thoughts about the Spirit via the video HERE.
Reflecting on Confirmation
by Jen Miller
This Sunday, we celebrate confirmation. This ritual is an important part of the life of church members, as well as the church as a whole–it is a way for individual members to affirm the promises made on their behalf in baptism, as well as a way for the congregation to see the path of the church into the future.
My daughter, Zoe, is one of three young people getting confirmed this weekend at Christ the King. Over the last few weeks,I’ve watched as she has worked on writing out her faith statement, responding to three questions:
Her response made me wonder if asking confirmands for a faith statement is what we should be doing. What if in confirmation, we instead asked our young people–and ourselves–to commit to a life of embracing and exploring these questions, without expectation of definitive answers? Having heard the conversations Zoe has had as part of confirmation, I know that she is being encouraged by pastors and other mentors to see these questions as ongoing guides throughout her life, but given the emphasis in the church as a whole on creeds, explanations, and statements, I wonder if the importance of dwelling in the questions themselves gets lost along the way.
Imagine how freeing that could be, for a 15-year-old (or a 45-year-old!) to know that they didn’t have to have it all figured out! And from a rhetorical standpoint, prioritizing the questions themselves, rather than the answers, turns confirmation into a checkpoint along a faith journey, rather than an endpoint, a way to emphasize that faith is a lifelong process of learning about God.
While a person who can make a confident profession of faith seems to be the model of a strong faith, isn’t someone who is committed to embracing key questions of faith just as important of a model? The disciples are great examples of this–they are always full of questions. Even in the reading from Acts for this week, the very last thing the disciples say to Jesus before his ascension is to ask, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” It would be easy to chuckle at the disciples over their continued lack of understanding, yet they continue to walk alongside Jesus, striving to understand while serving him, loving him, and loving each other.
This model of a life of faith as one that asks questions, rather than provides answers, also sets believers on the path of humility, rather than arrogance. Rather than believing that we can come close to describing God, when we ask questions, we acknowledge that we don’t–and can’t–know God fully on our own, yet we are committed to coming ever closer.
Imagine how different our world might be if instead of approaching our neighbors with answers, we approached them with questions. How different would the history of our country look, for instance, if the first European settlers had come asking questions about the beliefs and values of the Native tribes, rather than providing them with answers? How different would our current political discourse be if leaders on both sides of the aisle asked questions to promote genuine understanding, rather than score points against an opponent? When our kids act out, what if we asked what was bothering them, rather than lecturing them?
In this embrace of questions, then, we might, paradoxically, also find an answer to one of the questions our confirmands were asked. In this embrace of questions, we have a way for us to live faithfully among all of God’s people.
The Big Question
by Pastor Sarah Anderson
“The BIG question!” That’s what I've come to call the query we ask of families at baptism and youth during affirmation. You might be able to guess the question which asks:
Do you intend to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
to proclaim the good news in word and deed,
to serve all people,
and strive for justice and peace in all the earth?
It’s a BIG question, because a lot is packed into it. In fact, it’s really more like five individual questions all lumped together, and each question is a commitment in and of itself. This Sunday, three youth will be asked this question, and the congregation will also have the opportunity to say they will continue to support these young people in their lives of faith. As the ninth graders make a public statement of their faith, I invite you to pray for them, engage with them, and celebrate with them.
Additionally, you are invited to reflect on the BIG question and how it impacts your own life. Be curious how you are attentive to all its parts and the ways it impacts your decisions and your actions. You might notice there is an area you would like to set a goal to work on from now until the end of the summer. Whether the question is asked at our baptism or during the rite of confirmation, it is a living question, asking us to continually pay attention to our lives of faith.