Written by Nate Crary, Director of Worship
I love spring time so much. Ever since Chelsey and I bought our home in NE Minneapolis over five years ago, I’ve so enjoyed the time leading up to the return of the sun’s warmth and the gradual increase of daylight as we near the summer months. Each day, I take notice of the growth our returning perennial plants make, showing up bigger and stronger and greener.
Sometimes, though, the bulbs I plant in the fall fail to pop up through the ground. When signs of typical growth fail to meet my expectations, I’ve learned to trust the unseen work that might be happening underneath the surface. Maybe the energy of the plant is being spent underneath where the roots are growing.
As a church over the past 15 months, we’ve really had no choice but to adjust our expectations and cling on to some hope for the signs of life that might pop up next season. And, still I wonder, is the next season here? Are we ready for what’s next? Will CtK ever feel like it used to? How are we to celebrate new life while we’re still grieving what’s been lost?
As many signs of normal life have been absent over the past year, the Spirit has continued her work underneath the surface, growing our roots stronger, deeper, and wider as a community of faith. Online worship and coffee hour have welcomed around 100 households each week into a deep encounter with God’s word. We’ve confirmed two classes of confirmation students and have celebrated several baptisms. CtK’s youth basketball team took second place in the championship tournament last week. Staff and members have been calling each other on the phone to check in and writing notes of comfort during times of loss. In what other ways has God strengthened you and our church while the building has remained closed?
Today is the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit comes to us to shake us loose from the barriers to living fully into the promise of God’s unending love. The Spirit never leaves us. And when her breath blows so strong that we can barely hold on, we remember the roots that keep us grounded.
Written by Jill Loegering, Council Member
CtK’s Values Statements include a big idea: Engaging Worship, which our member listening group sessions described as: “We value worship as vital to our growth as the Body of Christ, and seek ways to share in a variety of roles within the Body.”
To me, one word is a neon light. Which word, you ask? “Variety.” Another word in the statement is both a beacon and a reminder, “Body.” It makes sense. All my body parts need to work together regularly at just the right time to be and stay healthy. If one part, just one, internal or external, takes a break, other body parts know about it before my brain recognizes and notifies me there’s a problem.
Variety. Worship has a lot of moving parts. It needs a variety of people to be active. Over the years I’ve done quite a few things as part of the Body in worship. I’ve sung, read scripture (lector), prepared communion, served communion, ushered, been a member of the Worship & Music Team, helped plan worship services with the pastors, and a variety of other stuff I can barely remember.
As many members mentioned, I like a variety of music styles in church, and I appreciate a variety of members being active participants in Sunday leadership. Wait a sec! Here’s an idea that struck me upside the head: I most need and appreciate the time to quiet my heart to pay attention to what God is telling me. We stop to pray – not as a remote, routine thing we always do - but as a heart and soul requirement. Thoughtful prayer and focused worship mean I need to engage my brain and my heart during worship. (Note to self, that includes no wandering thoughts.) Huh. Turn concerns off, and be busy keeping both personal and congregational body parts active in learning and praising God every day. That is a challenge, isn’t it, remembering it’s God’s vision that counts the most.
“Say Amen, everybody!”
By Pastor Peter Hanson
“We value worship as vital for our growth as the Body of Christ,
and seek ways to share in a variety of roles within the Body.”
At Christ the King, we place a high value on offering worship that engages us all as members of the Body of Christ. Such worship nourishes the mind, soul, and spirit. It is deeply rooted in our traditions, while speaking to the realities of life today. Worship constantly seeks a balance between reflecting the lived experiences of those who have assembled and stretching us to consider our larger community and the wider world. Sometimes this means learning an unfamiliar song, hearing from a new voice from the pulpit, or considering a different interpretation of a favorite Bible passage. At its best, worship is meant to bring comfort when we are troubled, as well as to trouble us when we get too comfortable.
The engagement of worship, though, does not simply go in one direction. Christ the King values folks being engaged in worship as members of the Body. Our worship is designed to emphasize broad participation, shared purpose, and the authentic practice of our Christian faith rather than getting too caught up in performance, perfection, or individual preferences. The congregation is not meant to be passive recipients or even attentive audience members, but active contributors to the worship itself. Similarly, worship is not something in which we engage for an hour or so a week, but can help form, inform, and transform us for ministry in the world throughout the week.
This past year has been a challenge for us as a worshipping community, as the COVID-19 Pandemic threw a monkey wrench into our patterns and practices of worship. We had to learn new ways of sharing the old, old story, and different methods of involvement. Engaging in worship has meant learning how to use new (and at times overwhelming!) platforms such as YouTube, Zoom, and Facebook Live. Worship planners and leaders have developed new skill sets, and figured out new tools. People “in the pews” have also adapted, figuring out how to print off bulletins, remembering to set aside bread and wine for communion. Some have been able to engage in our worship who may not have been able to before.
As we prepare to gather again for in-person worship beginning on Sunday, June 6th, may we be reminded of the value we place on engaging worship. May our worship in the living God help us engage, equip, and empower one another to be God’s hands and feet in the world around us.
By Brett Kosec, Church Council President
As we emerge from the dark days of winter and hopefully exit the worst of the pandemic, I am encouraged and reminded daily by the impact CtK has had on its members and community. Several years ago, we hosted a number of intentional listening sessions where we spent many hours talking and listening with one another about what makes CtK the community that it is today. As a result of that process, the church council took what we heard from the congregation and began developing a new set of core values. We then presented those values at the annual meeting in early 2020, before lockdown and the pandemic took us away from in-person gathering and being able to continue to explore and lean into these newly defined core values.
So the council, in recent months, has been asking the question, “what can we do to continue those conversations around our core values and showcase how those values play out in our daily lives together?” As a result, we have decided to spend the next four months focusing our energy and reflections on a different core value each month. Below, you can see each month’s value:
May: Engaging Worship - We value worship as a vital for our growth as the Body of Christ, and seek ways to share in a variety of roles within the Body.
June: Building Community - We value strength in diversity and strive to build a beloved community by actively inviting our neighbors to share in God’s mission.
July: Growing Compassion - We value God’s calling to care for all creation through compassionate justice, service and prayer.
August: Nurturing Faith - We value preparing all ages to live out their faith in daily life, offering hope and encouragement.
Each month, we will have different Sunday blog posts that focus on the month’s core value. These blog posts will be authored by council members, staff and congregation members. We will have an introduction to each core value, see how those core values are put into action by various parts of our congregation, and look ahead focused on that core value. We will also provide you with concrete practices to help you start to put these values into practice every day.
We look forward to this exploration of our core values together and seeing all of you again in the coming months.