Covid Calling Reflections
Written by Paulette Olsen, CtK Member
What are you missing most during the COVID-19 pandemic? Many would answer “personal contact;” being able to reach out to those who touch our lives with handshakes, hugs, or just sharing a cup of coffee. Recently, several CtK members began an outreach effort of phone calling other CtK members for a pandemic check-in. While there are hundreds of family units on our church roster, most of us are acquainted with only a limited number. As one of the COVID callers, it was a joy to experience the scope of the church’s outreach first hand. Katie Ahern, this blog’s coordinator, asked me to share my experience calling parishioners. Here are some reflections:
Members are diversely affected. Some lives are basically unchanged. Many are working from home. Young people are being home schooled through distance learning, and some go to school. Grandparents and parents are teaching their kids at home. Some members are struggling with job loss, income loss, or worries about paying for fuel to heat their home. Many elders are "shut-in," trying to stay safe from the virus.
CtK extends a BIG thank you to all of our volunteer callers with special thanks to Vern Rice, Diane Shallue, and Paulette Olsen. Your outreach has kept us in touch with members, informed us of otherwise unknown pastoral care needs, and united us in prayer with collected prayer requests. Thank you for your dedicated efforts!
Written by Pepe Demarest, Pastoral Intern
Although Minnesota has been celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day for almost 40 years, this past summer has shown that we are still a long way from honoring his ideals. Here at Christ the King, we have a deep history of racial justice concerns, but like the nation, our concern didn’t always lead to more justice. After the killing of George Floyd, Christ the King began seeking new ways to engage in racial equity work, we called it “The One Thing” and these included ways to get involved, ways to donate, and ways to learn. Some members met to discuss “Dialogues on Race”, and Dear Church: A Love letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S. by the Reverend Lenny Duncan. From those groups a new Racial Justice Working Group was formed. Throughout this year of discovery and self-examination, there has been a yearning for action; Martin Luther King Jr. addressed his church’s yearning for action in this sermon.
“God set forth his guidelines. And through his prophets, and above all through his son Jesus Christ, he said that, ‘There are some things that my church must do. There are some guidelines that my church must follow.’ And if we in the church don't want the funds of grace cut off from the divine treasury, we've got to follow the guidelines.
‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. These are the guidelines.
You see, the church is not a social club, although some people think it is. They get caught up in their exclusivism, and they feel that it’s a kind of social club with a thin veneer of religiosity, but the church is not a social club. But in the final analysis the church has a purpose. The church is dealing with man's ultimate concern. And therefore it has certain guidelines that it must follow.
Let us first think of the fact that if the church is following its guidelines, it seeks to heal the broken-hearted. Now there is probably no human condition more tantalizing than a broken heart. You see, broken-heartedness is not a physical condition; it’s a condition of spiritual exhaustion. I would say broken-heartedness comes basically from the trying experience of disappointment.
The church must say to men and woman that Good Friday is a fact of life. The church must say to people that failure is a fact of' life. Some people are only conditioned to success. They are only conditioned to fulfillment.... But the church must tell (people) that Good Friday’s as much a fact of life as Easter; failure is as much a fact of life as success; disappointment is as much a fact of life as fulfillment.
Secondly, when the church is true to its guidelines, it sets out to preach deliverance to them that are captive. This is the role of the church: to free people. This merely means to free those who are slaves. You have a group who would really like to do something about racial injustice, but they are afraid of social, political, and economic reprisals so they end up silent. And the preacher never says anything to lift their souls and free them from that fear. And so they end up captive.
These are our guidelines, and if we will only follow the guidelines, we will be ready for God’s kingdom, we will be doing what God’s church is called to do. We won’t be a little social club. We won’t be a little entertainment center. But we’ll be about the serious business of bringing God’s kingdom to this earth.”
Delivered June 5, 1966
Written by CtK's Nominating Committee
We have all felt a loss this past year as we have been unable to gather in-person for worship or coffee hour, for meetings, or even for casual encounters in the Narthex or the halls. We deeply appreciate the herculean and creative efforts of our pastors and staff to keep us connected and growing in our faith.
Although this lack of in-person contact has made the work of the nominating committee somewhat more challenging, we feel that we have a strong group of nominees to lead Christ the King in the coming year and beyond. Some people are changing positions and others are new to council. Many thanks to departing Council President, Isaac Warner and at-large member, Karen Hillerman for their leadership and service. Here are those (so far!) who will be on the ballot at our annual meeting in February:
Executive Board: (one-year terms)
President: Brett Kosec (moving from president-elect).
President-elect: Diane Shallue (moving from at-large member)
Secretary: Bob Benke
Treasurer: Dale Erickson (second one-year term)
At-large: (three-year terms)
Jill Loegering (moving from secretary)
Scott Black (one year to fulfill Diane Shallue's term)
At-large members who will remain on the council:
Peachu Yates (term ending 2022)
Maria Tenorio (term ending 2023)
Chris Frost (term ending 2023)
Dawn Ralston (term ending 2023)
PLEASE NOTE: We need more members on the nominating committee. If you would like to volunteer to select candidates for the 2022 election, please contact Pastor Peter (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Priscilla Berg (email@example.com).
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 2 Thess. 2:16-17.
The Nominating Committee:
Darin Zielsdorf, Jennifer Popp, Adam Miller, Judy Hill, Priscilla Berg
The Now and the Not-Yet
Written by Pastor Peter Hanson, Lead Pastor
A little more than two weeks ago, I had what I considered at the time to be the least authentic (ie, fakest) experience ever in my ministry. At 3:00 in the afternoon on Wednesday, December 16th, I stood alone in the CtK sanctuary, looked directly at my own iPhone fixed to a tripod and declared “Merry Christmas, Christ the King!”
Now, this is not the typical pastoral rant about Advent being its own season, urging us all to be better about waiting for Christmas. No, this is a revelation about how challenging it can be to fully inhabit the physical and emotional space required to lead worship within a faith community, particularly at such meaningful occasions as Christmas Eve. This is a confession about how the necessity of pre-recording our services during this ongoing pandemic can sometimes feel insincere. Fake. Like I’m simply pretending.
When I shared this feeling with the members of my peer support group, I found their reflections to be helpful. First, they reminded me of the example we have in Mr Rogers (of all people!). An ordained Presbyterian pastor, Fred Rogers was perhaps the most authentic person ever on television—speaking kindness, calling for compassion, modeling connection with and for generations of children and adults alike. And he mostly did so, I was reminded, without any children present on the set of his show. Among the role models I regularly look to in my faith, I will now add Mr Rogers, who modeled a distinction between “pretend" and “make believe.”
A second insight my peer group shared was that, while it seems intensified or exaggerated these days, worship has always been a place, a time, an experience of the “now and the not yet.” One friend joked that maybe my opening words for services like this should be “I am coming to you from the future!” There is so much wisdom in what she meant to be funny. After all, God calls us from the future, invites us to imagine that future together as the people of God, and then actually empowers us to live out that envisioned future for the sake of the world. Worship provides an intersection of the now and the not yet, a threshold between the world as it is and the coming world heralded by God’s prophets, ushered in by Jesus’ birth, and continually revealed to us through the Spirit. Christmas, you might say, throws wide open the door between the now and the not yet.
Maybe that’s a word for us in this new year: that as the people of God in this time and place, we are called to more fully inhabit the now and the not yet. We proclaim a future that is not-quite-seen, but that in Christ we make believe. We express our faith in community, even though we are not yet able to gather safely, (paradoxically protecting one another by keeping our distance). We cheer the arrival of Covid vaccines, even as we faithfully continue such practices as masking, washing, distancing, and avoiding social gatherings. We give thanks for such technology that allows us to record, mix, upload, premier, and livestream, even as we long for the day we will gather, sing, pray, laugh, cry, and simply be together in one place. We profess the wonder of the Incarnation, the “God-with-us”of Christmas, even as we watch for the Advent of the One who is always arriving. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Christ the King!
Christ the King Lutheran Church
1900 7th Street NW
New Brighton, MN 55112
Office Hours: 9 am - 2 pm Mon - Thurs or by appointment
Sunday Morning Worship at 9:30 am
12 pm Cristo Rey Servicio en Español