Written by Pastor Peter Hanson, Lead Pastor
Note: This was not the blog post I had planned to write. I’ll write
more about my sabbatical time of renewal in the coming weeks. Pr. Peter
On Monday, George Floyd, an African American man, died in the custody of Minneapolis Police, having been arrested for an alleged act of forgery. A deeply disturbing video recorded by a bystander showed an officer kneeling on the unarmed man’s neck for several minutes while he struggled to breathe. While the four officers who were at the scene have since been fired by the MPD, at the time of this writing no arrests had yet been made.*
I personally grieve the brutal murder of George Floyd, a beloved child of God. While I know that I cannot speak for all of us, I know that others at CtK join me in sensing anger, rage, heartbrokenness and lament that is being expressed in so many ways throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. We condemn the systemic racism that is so deeply entrenched throughout our nation and which we can no longer ignore within our local communities.
I must admit some of the dilemmas I feel as I write about this. While I am tired of white people like me feeling the need to each make our own profound declarations, people of color whom I love and respect have asked me to use my privilege to amplify their grief, their fear, their cries for justice. While I have been complicit in abstraction, what one friend calls the “preferred weapon of the white church,” I know we need to be more specific about our response to issues of racial injustice, putting our money where our values are, placing our bodies in spaces that allow us to listen directly to our siblings of color and other marginalized communities. And while I know that some think that churches should not venture into areas deemed too “political,” I believe that the Biblical witness says otherwise. The people of God have always been called to love our neighbors, and to show a particular care for the vulnerable among us.
Christ the King is blessed with a certain measure of diversity—particularly with folks from the Latinx and Liberian communities. At the same time, we are a congregation which is predominantly made up of white people. I believe God is calling Christ the King to confess how we have benefited both directly and indirectly from our white privilege, to repent of the ways we participate in and perpetuate the systemic racism we have inherited, and to commit ourselves to exposing and dismantling white supremacy among us and around us.
Church, we have both internal and external work to do. We need to continue to pray with and for those people most affected by the killing of George Floyd, as well as those communities for whom his murder has triggered pent up frustration and anger about generations of inequality. We need to educate ourselves about systemic racism and white privilege. However, a one-off Forum or seasonal book study is not enough. We need to humbly seek how we are being called to confess our sins of the past and to repent of the ways we continue to perpetuate such injustice. As council president Isaac Warner says in his own reflection below, we need to commit ourselves not simply to rejecting racism, we need to become “actively anti-racist.”
At the same time, we need to work beyond ourselves, individually and collectively connecting more closely with people of color and other marginalized communities. We need to go to them, actively listening to them in their own voices, within their own contexts. We need invest both time and monetary resources in organizations which are led by people of color, who are leading the way in confronting and dismantling racism and other injustices.
It begins with prayer, but it must not end there.
Pastor Peter Hanson
*Since this writing, former MPD officer Derek Chauvin was taken into custody and charged with murder.
Becoming the Body of Christ, Where All Bodies Are Valued by Isaac Warner
Resources for Racial Justice
Written by Heather Nelson, Director of Music
This year started out like any other year. Actually, I was looking forward to more things in 2020 than previous years! We had just finished a wonderful new Advent Rejoice service, and I was excited about the many upcoming musical opportunities at Christ the King for 2020. The youth put on a fantastic musical, I planned a whole season of fabulous concerts to kick off the Music and Arts series, I was looking forward to rehearsing and singing a brand new Cantata, “What Wondrous Love” for Good Friday, and the ultimate, taking the Sanctuary Choir to sing Kim André Arnesen’s, “Magnificat” in CARNEGIE HALL in April. What an exciting spring!
Then, news hit about the spread of Coronavirus. On Wednesday night, March 11th, we were rehearsing like so many choirs around the world. We had an awesome rehearsal for our new shape-note style Cantata, and best rehearsal we had ever had of the “Magnificat” for New York. We were ready to perform this! The next day, the world came to a screeching halt. It has now been about 10 weeks since this happened, but it feels like it was years ago.
I know I am not the only person whose life changed drastically in a day. Everywhere you looked something was cancelled. It felt like EVERYTHING was canceled. Every single person in the world now had some aspect of their life that was different. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see anything like this during my lifetime. Yet, here we are.
My evenings went from rehearsing and making incredible music with friends all over the Twin Cities, to “Zooming” with them in the evenings to hear about their new lives. Choirs quickly learned that the technology is just not supported and available to have live rehearsals, so our rehearsals turned into virtual happy hours and family check-ins. It has been so wonderful to continue to see people online and catch up on life. But musicians, like so many others, have been left with a huge hole in their heart where ensemble music making once was.
I personally have gone through all of the stages of grief, and now, after news continues to prove that the choirs of the world may be among the last elements to return to normalcy, it is time to get creative. I have had many friends remind me that singing itself is NOT canceled. The Sanctuary Choir is very excited to bring to you a huge project that we have worked on during this time of quarantine. Make sure you tune into worship on May 31st, (Pentecost/Music Sunday) for a very special presentation from the Sanctuary Choir and friends!
If you have spent any time on social media, you have probably seen a virtual choir or two. There is absolutely no substitute for singing in community, but virtual choir has been a great way to help us get through this global pandemic. My husband, Chris, has produced a handful of these videos for choirs in the Twin Cities. People always ask how he does it. Simply put, first someone records an accompaniment. Then, one singer at a time, listens to that piano accompaniment in headphones, while singing over it and recording themselves live from the comfort of their home. One by one, those audio tracks are aligned, balanced, blended, tuned, and synced. Then the entire process has to happen with the video files as well. It takes 30-60 minute per singer for each video. This is why you haven’t seen the Choir sing in worship on a weekly basis, but I am so proud of each and every one of them that has participated in this project! We are really excited to share this labor of love with you all.
So, remember the things that aren’t canceled: love, kindness, hope, dreams, peace, faith, self-care, having fun, exercising, and singing. And when the danger has passed, we will gather again in person to sing together. Because nothing can replace the universal heartbeat we feel when we sing together.
Heather Nelson, Director of Music
Written by Amity Lantz, Director of Youth and Family Faith Formation
When many of us think back at our time as youth in the Lutheran Church, we may conjure up a memory or two about our time in Confirmation. These could be happy memories of summer retreats and camps, memorizing bible verses and the Apostles’ Creed in church basements, or in my case- shaving the head of my pastor. Either way, Confirmation has come to be an important milestone in the life of our church youth.
The tradition of Confirmation has been around for much of our Lutheran history, and many of us may have wondered “what is the point?” As a lover of tradition, church history, and youth ministry, I love to answer this question! I would say it’s important to note that the Rite of Confirmation ceremony is also referred to as the Affirmation of Baptism. After we have been welcomed into the body of Christ, oftentimes as babies, this is an opportunity to affirm those things that our parents and sponsors promised during our baptisms, but this time for ourselves.
We spend our classroom and education time not only teaching our youth, “… to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God, share in the Lord’s supper, the Lord’s Prayer, the creed, and the Ten Commandments.” But we also strive to focus much of our time together on the second half of the promises their parents made, “so that they may learn to trust God, proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.” We answer beautiful, deep and profound questions of faith, the character of God, and of Jesus, and how to be a believer in the current times and atmosphere. Through mentorship, classes, retreats, service work, and worship participation, we hope to engage the faith of the youth in a way that will be impactful and long lasting. We also welcome these newly confirmed peoples to be full participants in the democratic side of our denomination, making them full voting members, as well as eligible to hold various positions on any of our councils and committees.
Here at Christ the King, we view Confirmation as a step in the journey of faith. We look to partner with families as we continue to empower our youth to experience their faith in new and relevant ways in our ever changing society. We would have celebrated this milestone this Sunday in our church, congratulating a class of 9th grade students who have worked diligently over the last few years to achieve this milestone. As we are not meeting during these uncertain times there is a sadness in having to wait to engage in celebration on this accomplishment. Yet, we look forward to the time when we will be together again. We will congratulate these young people on their dedication to their faith and welcome them in a new form into our diverse and loving body of Christ, as they join their Christian brothers and sisters around the world, and especially here at Christ the King.
Until we are together again, peace and blessings.
In His love,
Director of Youth and Family Faith Formation
Written by Deb Wolterstorff, Director of Children & Family Ministry
When I was growing up, my mom would say these words to my brothers, my sister and I as we headed out the door to go to school. I never knew how much it meant to me until one day she didn’t say them to me. I was a junior in high school, and we had had an argument before I left for school. I had stormed out the door. When I got to school, I couldn’t focus and kept replaying the argument in my head, as well as the fact that I did not hear those words, “God be with you”. The argument was stupid (I don’t even know what it was about) and I was feeling bad. I ended up going to the office and used the phone to call mom (back in those days it was a dial phone) and apologize. Both of us were in tears. We both apologized, said that we love each other and then she said those words, “God be with you”.
My mom is strong in her faith, full of life, love and laughter - laughter that at times she just could not stop. She’s my teacher and comforter. She loved to read, play games and go shopping. She was silly (reminded me a lot of Lucille Ball). She “feels” deeply, and has much empathy for others. There is so much more I could say about what my mom has meant to me. Today, my mom is tiny and frail looking. She has had a lot of health issues and at times she is confused. There are many things that I miss doing with her. But here is what I know…when she looks at me, I know she loves me. She is happy. She still has her laughter-which she still cannot stop at times and it is contagious. She cares deeply for all of us kids and grandkids and LOVES to just be with us as much as she can. She is a fighter, she keeps coming back to us after a health issue. I am blessed to have her for my mom and count each day a blessing that she is still here with us.
Today, we celebrate moms….and the amazing people God has made them to be. Some of us are celebrate being a mom and the amazing blessing that is. This might be a hard day for those who have lost their moms, for those that have dreamt about being a mom and having that dream not become a reality and for those whose mom was never really there for them. A mom could also look very different to each of us. It could be a grandma, a sister, an aunt, a godmother, a friend’s mom, etc. Where ever we find ourselves, take some time today to celebrate that special someone in your life that you call mom.
As we navigate through this time of uncertainty together, and learn to celebrate moms and other life happenings in a different way – I leave you with these words, God be with you.
I’m excited to share with you what Christ the King (CtK) is planning this summer for kids. Because we cannot safely gather in person, the week-long June Vacation Bible School (VBS) has been transformed. CtK will be hosting a VBS Zoom time together each Tuesday and Thursday morning for 30 minutes throughout the summer beginning on Tuesday, June 16. The overall theme of VBS is about dwelling in our homes. I’m working on a catchy title to match the new VBS format. On Tuesdays, we will introduce the story and share some music. Possible story ideas include Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale and the man who built his home on sand and rock. On Thursdays, we will feature fun activities that deepen our understanding of the story. Stay tuned for more information about registration. And, if you’re interested in volunteering, please let me know. We need story-tellers, creative folks to teach a craft, scientists to help with science projects and fun people who love to play and lead games.
Blessings to you all,
Written by Katie Ahern, Office and Communications Administrator
We’ve all heard that smiling is contagious. Currently, we live in a world where the majority of smiles are covered by a mask when we are out in public. We don’t get to see the smiles on the faces of our friends and family as often as we’d like, if at all. Yet even with our faces covered or distance between us, I’ve experienced that the contagious energy of a smile can still be shared.
In an effort to keep connected with members and their needs while CtK is temporarily closed, I had the opportunity to make personal phone calls to members and check in with them. When I asked how they were doing or if they needed anything, I found that many members who I have never met face-to-face before were more interested in checking in on me to make sure I, too, was doing well. Toilet paper jokes were shared. Prayer requests were collected. I knew I couldn’t change much for anyone with my phone call, but I hoped at the very least my phone call was a good part of someone’s day. What I hadn’t anticipated was the effect that speaking with CtK members would have on me.
Despite so much happening in the world that could cause anyone to justifiably choose to embrace any quality besides love, love was the overwhelming choice that people were choosing. Love to ask about my needs on a call that was meant to be focused on them. Love to seek the positive and take each day at a time. Love in finding a way to laugh during challenging times. Love to be okay with living through tough and lonely days. Love to embrace new ways of being in community.
We may currently live in a world less full of visible smiles, but that can’t stop the infectious nature of human love, care, and connection from being felt and spread, person to person. These qualities are not stifled by cloth or distance, and only require an open heart to be known and felt.
Whether in person or apart, the CtK community is a strong one. Please know if you are in need of anything, we are here for you. We are all here for each other.