Connecting with Cornerstone Mission

On Sunday, February 21, CLF gathered to eat French toast and to remember the homeless.  Over 100 people ate a meal that was prepared and served by the Social Ministry Team to raise funds for Rapid City’s Cornerstone Mission.  Nearly $700 was donated.

Last week Social Ministry Team members Jackie Hartwick and Linda Markegaard met with caseworkers at Cornerstone  to brainstorm ways for CLF to engage in ministry to homeless people in partnership with The  Cornerstone Rescue Mission.

If you feel drawn to dream about and implement this ministry please speak with Jackie or Linda.

You can find out more about The Cornerstone Rescue Mission by clicking here.

Calamity Island?

On my drive home from church I regularly change lanes to avoid the stray photographer who has paused on the shoulder of Highway 16A to snap a picture of Calamity Peak.   General Custer’s party named the familiar massif, “Granite Knob” for obvious reasons.  The eastern portion of the outcropping does look surprisingly like an old, enamel doorknob.  However, this impressive stand of granite could more accurately be described as Calamity Peaks, since there is a second, less prominent, fraternal twin of a peak to the west of the higher summit.

In addition, the twin heights of Calamity Peak are actually an island.  Last June I was looking out our kitchen window at Calamity, the shortened name used for this big rock by my family, when a large fog bank rolled in from the east.  I had supposed that the familiar granite knob was connected to the many other jagged peaks in that neighborhood of the Buckhorn Range, but as the fog covered the hills behind Calamity all the other rocks disappeared, leaving the twin peaks of Calamity standing as an island in a sea of fog.

After the fog had passed I could see what had been there all along.  The rock that I had thought was so familiar was obviously separated from the surrounding hills.  Interesting that I hadn’t noticed such an obvious fact.  The background and foreground blurred together in my less than thorough examination of my big, gray neighbor to the east.

As I think about this distinctive island of a peak I think of the view that I have from the pulpit on a crowded Sunday morning.  As my eyes scan the gathered people I  see the regulars sitting in their usual pews and am curious about the people who I don’t recognize.  I see people I assume to be someone’s relative or perhaps a newly invited neighbor, but as I preach I often see the crowd more than I see the individuals, much like looking at a forest while speeding by at 60 miles per hours.  It is difficult to hold both the individuals and the crowd in my mind’s eye at the same time.

Not so with God.  God sees us a group of variously created folks gathered together in jeans and t-shirts, boots and flip flops.  At the same time God sees us as individual, valued gems, standing out from the crowd.  God knows our laughter and our bruised spots, our fears and our dreams, our talents and our skills.  We are individuals gathered together to be more than we can be alone.

I think Paul is describing  a similar truth when he writes in 1 Corinthians that the church is the body of Christ.

“As it is there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (12:20-22, 27).

As I look at the various crowds that gather in the church building, I wonder what talents are going unnoticed.   I invite you to look at your neighbors not just as a group of people sitting in a pew or gathered around a table but as individuals full of skill and talent just waiting to be unleashed for service.   Look at your neighbors anew.  There may be an island of possibility that you hadn’t noticed.

I am grateful for you as a varied mountain range in Christ and as the risen Lord’s beloved islands.

Thanks for the Invitation

Pastor Kent is now an official author of this blog.  I’m not sure if that qualifies as “news,” but that’s what I’m going to call it.

Singing the lectionary: entering Lent in song

Lutheran colleges are known world-wide for their choral music.  St. Olaf college offers a weekly program entitled, “Sing for Joy,” that combines the lectionary readings for the coming week with music performed by the various choirs.  Beautiful.  The campus pastor, Bruce Benson narrates these short programs.  Even though I enjoy many styles of religious music, I’m pretty sure that I’ll hear a Lutheran college choir when I walk through the pearly gates.

Click here to listen to the program for the first Sunday in Lent.

Grocery Store

There are certain questions that people ask when they find out what line of work you are in.  If you are a physician, you are likely to have a person pull up his or her pant leg in the grocery store aisle to show off a bum knee.  If you are a car mechanic, you will regularly have friends and relatives asking you why their car engines make knocking noices on cold mornings.  And if you are a pastor, you will have people apologize for not being at worship more regularly.

I’ve come to realize that when I go to the grocery store, I can expect to have two or three conversations with people who feel guilty the moment they see me.  Sometimes I smile and wonder if congregation members think I am like the Puritan ministers of old, looking to throw them into the stocks for missing worship.  Like Clark Kent magically turning into Superman the moment he steps into the phone booth, I step through the grocery store doors to become the holy truant officer, skulking through the dairy aisle to find those who’ve been skipping out on my sermons.  Really, I’m just there to buy a gallon of milk.  Yet, I’ve had the shamefaced meetings often enough that I can sometimes guess what a person is going to say as he or she extends a hand in greetings.  If he is a long time member who has been out of town for a number of weekends, he may jokingly reintroduce himself in case I had forgotten who he was in his absence.  Or a busy Lutheran may hurriedly give me an account of the sporting events, sick relatives, and family reunions that she has been tending to in her weeks away from worship.

In a way I’m glad that people feel the need to tell me why they have been gone from the routines of worship.  It’s almost as if they seem to miss the ordinariness of going to church.  In January we began the season of the church year entitled “ordinary” time.  It begins the Sunday following epiphany, continues until Lent, then starts up again after Easter to continue the long stretch of green banners that will take us through next summer and fall.

I find Ordinary time an appropriate name, since Christ came to us in ordinary ways.  He called ordinary people as his disciples, ate ordinary bread, walked on ordinary roads, taught on ordinary hillsides, rode in ordinary boats.  Yet, his very presence made everything he toughed extraordinary.  Remember that Christ is present in each ordinary moment of each ordinary day.  One of my favorite hymns speaks of God’s presence in the routines of our days:

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,

Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe:

Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray,

Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,

Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace:

Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,

Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,

Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm:

Be there at our sleeping, and give us , we pray,

Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the the day.

Perhaps it is true that Christ encounters us when we least expect it.  Who knows, maybe he’d even find you in the dairy aisle.

click here to listen to the tune “Slane”  used for the songs “Lord of All Hopefulness” and “Be Thou My Vision”

Hello world wide web!

Welcome to the new weblog of Custer Lutheran Fellowship. This new internet ministry is being unveiled today, Ash Wednesday, partly by chance and partly because I’m lousy at giving things up for Lent. Instead of giving something up this year I am adding a few good things.  Beginning the weblog as a way to stay in contact with more folks from CLF is one of the good things.  The early morning theology breakfast this morning wasn’t bad either.

Five of us had invigorating conversation about the need to reappropriate one’s baptism again and again until we die.  Thanks to Wolfhart Pannenberg for wise words.