by Kisten Thompson
We commemorate The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a Federal Holiday on the third Monday of each January. We have done this as a nation since 1986. We remember Dr. King as a civil rights leader in the 1950’s and 1960’s, as a committed proponent of non-violence as means of protest and activism for systemic change, and as a remarkable preacher, prophet and pacifist. Dr. King’s actual birthdate is January 15 and he would have been 94 years old today had his life not been cut short by an assassin’s bullet April 4, 1968 at the age of 39.
Dr. King was quite young when he sprang to national prominence in 1955. He was the associate pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL and because he had just been elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, which had called for the boycotting of city public bus transportation until certain rights had been acknowledged and given, he was called upon to be the spokesperson for the boycott.
On December 5, 1955 he gave a speech outlining the reasons for the boycott and calling upon the words of the biblical prophet, Amos: “We are here this evening for serious business. We are here in a general sense because first and foremost we are American citizens, and we are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its means. We are here because of our love for democracy, because of our deep-seated belief that democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth. But we are here in a specific sense, because of the bus situation in Montgomery. We are here because we are determined to get the situation corrected. . . .
My friends, I want it to be known that we’re going to work with grim and firm determination to gain justice on the buses in this city. And we are not wrong, we are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, then the Supreme Court of this Nation is wrong. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a Utopian dreamer and never came down to earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie. And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight until justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."
With these words and with the actions of the determined and peaceful Black residents of Montgomery, change began to happen. It was not without violence, hardship and suffering. But after 381 days, the segregated bus practices had been outlawed and a new day dawned. But it was only the beginning of a long and hard journey.
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we remember the struggles, barriers and obstacles that were faced in every day life by African Americans in this country. And we continue to look to Dr. King’s legacy and the contributions of so many named and unnamed participants in the fight for justice, equality and inclusion, giving thanks for their dedication, and vowing to continue to uphold these values for all, to call out oppression when we see it and advocate for change where it is needed.
by Pastor Sonja Hagander
Just as the ice began to freeze on the lake this year, I headed out to shovel a rink. As I looked out across the lake, as the sun was rising, I saw someone running with a cape---no, it wasn’t superman and it turned out it wasn’t a cape, either. A man was chasing a white goose. Then another joined and another and pretty soon 5 young men were chasing a goose on an icy lake. They appeared as if they were going to capture the goose with a large piece of material. I crabbed out loud to my family: “look at those mean guys, chasing that goose all over the lake...can’t they just leave it alone?”
My husband quickly chimed simply: “Maybe they are trying to help the goose.”
Maybe they are trying to help the goose! Such a simple phrase with the power to change my interpretation.
Epiphany is like that. It is the season of illuminating discovery. It is the season when the perception of reality intensifies. It is when Jesus is branded as God. It is a eureka--an aha! With one simple phrase from my husband, the reality of what was happening on the lake came into focus. These young men weren’t out to get the goose, racing around the lake being mean. No, in fact, geese can fly and this goose wasn’t flying. It was probably injured and the reality was, those young men were taking precious time away from skating and ice fishing to help this creature, the goose.
Maybe they are trying to help the goose. Jesus' invitation to us has the same power: we can be caught up in a new way of looking at the world: Eureka!
I wonder if you’ve had a similar experience; you’re watching something, making a judgment about how things are and then, simply, with another’s insight, the reality of the situation becomes clear and things are illuminated for you. You become caught up in a new reality.
It could be the illumination that occurs with a face to face conversation--o how we long for those--that explains a messed up email exchange.
Or maybe it’s an epiphany with a larger narrative.
It could be the illumination that the phrase: “We are all immigrants,” erases the many Americans that did not immigrate here, like Native Peoples or those brought here against their will as slaves.
It could be the illumination from a friend who shares something vulnerable with you and draws you closer.
It could be the illumination about decisions leaders make for the sake of the whole.
Epiphanies often come to folks when they are afraid, clouded by doubt, wrapped tight within themselves, or in the midst of a barren land of unjust systems and death. I give thanks for those voices who are the bearers of epiphany.
Join with me in this New Year plea to God: I need a new lens God, I need a new lens, give it to us now....we call to you! Help us see, help us trust you are hidden amidst our lives. Make yourself known in our life together.
I love C.S. Lewis words: “I believe in God as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This New Year, my hope comes from Jesus, our lens through Whom we see everything else.
by Tim Van Rooy
As we move into the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are reminded of the Bible’s teachings. Whether rich or poor, we are challenged to a different value system than our culture may exhibit. Romans 12:13 reminds us to “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Giving can make such an impact. I will always remember the time as a young child growing up in Wisconsin and going months without my father’s paycheck when his company voted to go on strike. Times were tough for our family. If I wanted to go play down in our basement, I needed to bring down the light bulb from my bedroom because we didn’t have enough light bulbs for every room. That was when we experienced the spirit of God’s generosity through our friends at church. Several families pooled their resources and brought us bags and bags of groceries (including light bulbs). I remember my mom saying with tears in her eyes how and she and my father were trying to decide between paying the mortgage or feeding the family. Because of the generosity of our church friends, Mom and Dad never had to make that decision. When you experience God’s love and generosity through his church body, it changes your life. At least it did mine! Our family went from literally being in a dark place, to seeing the light of hope.
Christ the King has been that kind of community for so many. I’ve heard numerous stories from members who have experienced gifts when in need. Whether it was someone offering to help take care of children for a fellow member in a time of family crisis, or providing Christmas presents to the children of a single parent at a time of need, CtK has shown that spirit of generosity. And today, CtK continues to be a wonderful example of giving and hospitality within our local congregation, community and in global mission.
At this time of year, we have so many opportunities to embrace that generosity spirit by sharing and giving of all that God has blessed us with. Whether it is sharing groceries with a family in need, supporting our local food shelf, or making a pledge to support our congregational ministry, we can live out the generosity teachings of Christ.
In honor of your generosity and that of your fellow congregational donors, the CtK Generosity Committee and CtK Foundation wish to thank you for your support by inviting you to attend a free concert on Sunday, November 13th at 3:30pm in our sanctuary featuring renowned signer and performer, Jennifer Grimm.
Attendees are encouraged to bring Thanksgiving themed food items such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, canned yams, canned corn, boxed Jello, canned fruit, cornbread mix, pumpkin pie filling, evaporated milk, all to be donated to Ralph Reeder Food Shelf. If you prefer to donate a monetary gift to Ralph Reeder, you can do so with cash or check or give online at https://www.givemn.org/story/3Z2i4g
Feel free to pass on this gift of music by inviting friends or family members to attend as well. We look forward to celebrating all you do to help support the ministries of CtK.
by Richard ArvidsonVeterans Day, November 11!
We as a nation have rights which are spelled out in the Constitution. As a combat wounded veteran returning from Viet Nam, I saw one of these rights first hand (freedom of speech). At that time, the protests were in full swing and being in the service was not popular. Because of the draft, people had to make a decision, serve their country or leave. If they served in the military, nobody said, "Thank you for your service."
Members of the military have made great sacrifices so we as individuals and as a nation have these rights guaranteed in our Constitution.
Our nation has been protected by members of the military, and the rights that you have today are because of them. We live in one of the greatest countries in the world. So not only on Veterans Day, but any day, say to a veteran, "Thank you for your service."
by Kisten Thompson
Eighteen members of Christ the King have been in conversation the past four weeks, discussing the 2019 ELCA Declaration to People of African Descent. The Declaration is an apology, not only to people of African Descent for the 400 years of enslavement, systemic racism and white privilege culture in this country but it also an apology (that is, an explanation) for why we, as Lutherans must not only care about this issue but work to address, lament and repair the damage that has been done. The ensuing conversations have been eye-opening to say the least.
Many participants did not know the extent to which slavery was embedded into the very fabric and foundation of our country from as early as the 1660’s. Many did not know that the Northern colonies were every bit as much involved in slavery as the Southern colonies. Many of us did not know what the Jim Crow laws were all about or how long they lasted or how the after effects continue to linger into 2022. We didn’t have clear understandings of words and ideas like “white privilege”, “white supremacy”, “reparations”, “reconciliation”, and so much more.
Here's what a few of us had to say about the class: “One of many topics that has impacted me is the concept of white privilege. Also, how one group receives privilege or special opportunities which means that there are those who are “other”, that is who do not get those same special privileges but in fact are restricted, set apart, and denied opportunity.”
Another wrote, “this ELCA series has emphasized how embedded structural racism is, not only in our nation’s founding documents, but in our society today. I want our congregation to join the SPAS, and the ELCA, to act on our apology by engaging in the work of anti-racism, racial and economic justice, the study of reparations, as well as addressing and ending current forms of slavery, and human trafficking.”
And finally, one very simply said in our last session, “We need more sessions” and “We have a long ways to go”.
The topics were serious and sometimes very hard, but we all agreed the study was worthwhile and so very important. We all left feeling encouraged, enriched and committed to continuing our learning and the journey. And we did a lot of laughing!
So what’s next? The Racial Justice Working Group will be setting our goals for the coming year in the near future. (And we invite anyone who is interested to join the team!) Participants agreed they wanted to have at least one follow-up to check in with one another again. We all have a new lens with which to view the world, and our community, and current events… a lens of justice, equity, inclusion and “seeing” the neighbor around us.
Peace and Hope to all of you,
The Racial Justice Working Group: Kisten Thompson, Priscilla Berg, John Hanson, Nathan Lemke, Bob Benke, Alice Kaukwarf, Don Zatroch, Sarah Zatroch
Generosity mailings are on the way and as we begin this year's campaign, Gary Floss of the Generosity Team shares this message with us.
by Gary Floss