Falling out of Summer in Youth Ministry

Our high school youth group is transitioning from a wonderful summer with trips to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans and a service project with Extreme Community Makeover in Denver.  The adults and high schoolers are now transitioning from the big trips of summer to the more routine tasks of fall.  I was impressed that our group of high schoolers put into place some very solid disciplines to help them bring home the things they learned in New Orleans.  One of their ideas was to meet a couple of Wednesdays each month for breakfast and a devotion before school.  I’m looking forward to our first  WMBC (Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club) this week. But a part of me is still lingering on the fun of the summer, so I pulled together a short video of the to trip to Denver and New Orleans.

The music in the video is from Rachel Kurtz and Dave Scherer (AGAPE)  who created a song based on the theme “Citizens with the Saints.”  Here is the link for the video.

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Joy Exploded

For a number of months Pastor Kent and I have been linking you to the Exploding Joy blog through this site.  Nina Joy worked on staff at Custer Lutheran Fellowship before leaving to work on an advanced degree at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.  While at Luther Seminary, Nina was awarded the Preus Student Leadership Award which allowed her to spend three months in South Africa working in churches and social ministries a continent away from her comfort zone.

She came back to the United States with a powerful story to share, as well as a Dutch Reformed fiance named Wynand Hansen.  Wynand is a church musician in South Africa, working primarily in Dutch Reformed congregations there.

For the past two weeks Nina and Wynand have been in Custer telling their story in word and song.  I am struck by how the intersection of cultures challenges me, poses questions, and makes me stretch my faith.  I am grateful to Nina and Wynand for their ministry in this place.  Here is a short video of their presentation at Wednesday Night Life last night.  The sound quality of the video is my fault, not theirs.

Wynand led us in a number of songs, including a few in Afrikaans.  Nina gave a brief history of South Africa and told her own story.  Check out Nina’s blog to read details about her experience.  If you have ever considered a short term mission trip in another country, Nina’s experience will give you a glimpse of what it can be like.

Play listed

At Christmas this year my wife’s music collection was downsized – literally.  Under the Christmas tree she found a small present about the size of an expensive ring box.  However, instead of opening a gift from Zales or Riddles she unwrapped her own small piece of Apple Incorporated, maker of the MacIntosh computer and the Ipad/Iphone/Ieverything else.  Gail now has her own personalized music downsizing machine.  Her new Ipod nano can hold about 1000 songs in a case the size of a match book.  That’s a lot of music.

We are still are learning our way around the digital music neighborhood.   Our twelve year old is serving as tour guide to the realm of itunes, podcasts, and playlists. I’m most impressed with the idea of a playlist.  A person can become their very own Casey Casem or Rick Dees or whoever programmed the Weekly Top 40 radio show when you were growing up.  A playlist is simply a list of several songs that a listener can bunch together to create his or her own personalized listening experience.

Like I said, we are still new to this technology and don’t quite understand how to make a playlist.  The way Gail’s Ipod is now set up is to play alphabetically by title the several hundred songs that are downloaded on the contraption.  Sorting music this way is a bit disconcerting.  Riding in the car today we were listening to a lilting Calypso tune from the 1950s.  Just as the gentle steel drum pinging ended our speakers filled with the very loud guitars of a 1980s rock band.  Next came the complicated harmonies of several South African women singing in Zulu.

To say the least neither of us is going to be hired as the program director of a radio station any time soon.  I hadn’t realized how much work it is to put together of list of songs that sound good together.

I suppose that effective sorting is a conundrum whenever a person tries to put anything in order.  Whether a person is trying to set a lovely holiday table, arrange the perfect table assignments at a wedding reception, or make sure all the grandchildren get an equal shake in the will, getting things “just so” is a pretty hefty task.

Though most of us rarely think of God as the master playlister, I think the image fits.  If you think about it, God has an awful lot of information to sort through.  I once saw a movie where a human being takes over the job of God for a few days and is absolutely bombarded by the prayers of the faithful.   The premise of the movie made good comedy fodder as the main character promptly messed up the orbit of the moon and several other rather serious matters.  The film made the obvious point that God’s work is beyond us.

Thank goodness that God is constantly at work organizing the ins and outs of our days through a framework of grace and mercy, working with us to create a playlist that sounds right.  And I thought an Ipod was complicated.

Worship under the Pines

On Monday evenings at 6:30 we have been gathering for worship under the pine trees behind the church.  Last week Dave Pickford and his daughter, Anna,  led the singing with  guitar and flute.  Lovely setting.  Lovely music.  Even though I had sung the songs before, the setting made them fresh and very moving for me.

If you have never seen our outdoor worship area before.  This is what it looks like.

Music has long been inspired by the beauty of creation.  According to the Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, the famous Swedish hymn, “How Great Thou Art” was written during the summer of 1885 when Pastor Karl Boberg was returning from a meeting and was struck by the beauty of nature and the sound of church bells in the still of the evening.

The song that was inspired that still evening has become one of the favorite hymns of the church.  On YouTube, Carrie Underwood’s rendition has received well over one million views. Click hereto see and hear this popular version of the song.

Know that you’re always welcome at the Monday night service.

CLF Visits the “Storehouse”

Last week, as part of Wednesday Night Life on April 14, 2010, people of all ages from Custer Lutheran Fellowship (CLF) took a tour of and did a little cleaning for the new “Storehouse.”

Formerly called the “Food Pantry” and the “Exchange,” both had outgrown their basement locations.  They will now be housed together at the Storehouse.  The Exchange is being moved out from CLF’s basement on May 1.  Anyone with trucks and/or trailers is invited to come to CLF at 12 noon to help load up and move things.  The Food Pantry is moving out of the Custer Senior Center’s basement on May 8.  Again, anyone wanting to help just needs to show up at 12 noon at the Senior Center back parking lot.  The “Grand Reopening” is scheduled for May 15 from 2 to 5 pm.

Thanks to director of the Storehouse, Kim Canete, for serving as host to us as well as to Keith Burden for giving his permission to use his song, “Take the Love of God and Pass It On” as part of the video.

Variety Dinner Show this Saturday

Variety Dinner Show

Enjoy a night out with a spaghetti dinner and entertainment!

Saturday, March 20 @ CLF

Dinner begins at 6:30 PM with the show starting at 7:00 PM

Freewill offering will go toward the Colombia mission trip.

A sneak peak list of performers… Keith Burden, Elisabeth & Kent, Casey & Siri, Mary Winchester, Tori Glazier, CLF senior high students… and many, many more!

Please join us!

Going to DisneyLand!

CLFer Kelsey Pickford is going to Disneyland!  Last week Kelsey and her mom Lisa (who works in the church office)  made a whirlwind tour of Chicago where Kelsey auditioned for the elite Disney All-American College Band.  See the band here. Auditions were held at eight different sites across the country.   After a successful multi-instrument audition, Kelsey was chosen to be one of five saxophonists in the 21 piece band.  She will be performing five times per day with the band at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA this summer.

For years Kelsey has gifted CLF with her instrumental music, most recently at Christmas with a flute trio performed with sister Anna and friend Bethany Scott.  Kelsey is a junior music education major at Northern State University in Aberdeen.

If anyone is taking a road trip to Disneyland let me know.  Congrats, Kelsey.