From the Staff
Our Lenten theme this season, Be…Centered, invites us into a another aspect of our spiritual journeys. As the Epiphany theme, Be… Loved, is focusing our attention on the living dynamics of being both Beloved by God and participants in Beloved community, the Lenten season will direct our attention to the center of our Christian faith, the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and invite you, through simple practices and reflection, to center your moments, your days, and your life on the way Jesus’ story shapes your story.
Beginning with Ash Wednesday on March 2, we will gather for worship on Wednesdays both at noon and 7:00pm in the main sanctuary. Though the services on Ash Wednesday will be a little longer than the others, the remaining services will be ½ hour in length and will center on the music of the season, a brief reflection on a life-changing encounter between God and God’s people in the biblical narrative, and a centering prayer time shaped by Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” The 7:00pm services will be livestreamed.
Throughout the season we are setting up two stations for personal spiritual centering during the week. We are setting up a walking Labyrinth in the Fireside Lounge. The winding pathways of the labyrinth mirror the varied paths our lives take. The journey itself allows you to shed the distractions you have in your life so that you can get to the center of the labyrinth—a centering posture in your life. The journey out from the center sends you back to your world, hopefully, with a renewed spirit, a centered heart, and clearer eyes to focus on what’s important and meaningful in your life. We will also have the chapel set up with chairs centered around the cross on the floor for you to use for quiet reflection and prayer.
On Sundays, there will be a cross outside of each worship space for you to write down whatever obstacles, distractions, fears, anxieties are keeping you from living a more centered life. You can leave them at the foot of the cross physically and, hopefully, spiritually.
Holy Week services will be centered on a central narrative of the Jesus community—the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Services will include:
- Palm Sunday-April 10: Two identical services at 8:45 and 10:15 a.m. in the main sanctuary as we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and anticipate the divine paradox of the week ahead. Both services will be livestreamed.
- Maundy Thursday-April 14: One service at 7:00 p.m. in the main sanctuary with three poignant images—a community gathered around a meal, a leader and teacher who washes the feet of his disciples, and the stripping of the altar signifying the loss, the desperation, the loneliness of the journey that Jesus takes to the cross. This service will be livestreamed.
- Good Friday-April 15: Our 11:00 a.m. service will be designed to tell this story of Good Friday in age-appropriate ways to our kids and families. The 7:00 p.m. service in the main sanctuary will include the seven last words Jesus spoke from the cross, congregational singing, our Senior Choir, and instrumental music meant to connect with the emotion of Jesus’ death on the cross. The 7:00 p.m. service will be livestreamed
- Easter Sunday-April 17: 8:00/9:15/10:30 a.m. services in the main sanctuary. We will launch our Easter sermon series Be… Alive!—a celebration of the ultimate promise that neither life nor death nor anything else in all creation will separate us from the love of God in Jesus—the resurrected Christ!
Look forward to seeing you in worship. Peace. Kai
Be Centered – Lenten Labyrinth and Prayers
Lent is a season for new or renewed faith practices on the journey to be centered in Christ. This season walk a labyrinth in the Fireside Room in silent reflection and prayer. The Chapel will also be setup for times of personal prayer around the cross. In both sacred spaces, there will be ideas to help you get started. Starting on March 2, Ash Wednesday, you can stop in Monday-Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Both spaces are also available on Sundays from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. A labyrinth is a simple walking path used for prayer. The path moves toward the center, a place to pause, and returns to the outside. Unlike a maze, there is only one path to follow, giving you a chance to be present to your time of prayer. The prayer spaces will available when the building is open (see above) with a few exceptions including Fridays and times when the Chapel is reserved for a group.
Apostles Library Book Review
by Vernita Kennen
“Grace changed everything” is the title of an interview with Katie Langston in the August 2021 issue of Living Lutheran. Katie’s personal story of her growing up in a very strict Mormon tradition, her conversion to Christianity, and her now preparation for ordination in the ELCA is important and profound. Katie is someone you will want to meet!
Langston is someone who often speaks to Mormon audiences about Christianity and to Christian audiences about Mormonism. This book is like a personal conversation with us as readers. You will learn some things about Mormons themselves and the Mormon church that you perhaps didn’t know before. And it will give you a different perspective on grace from someone raised in a very different tradition.
Sealed: An Unexpected Journey into the Heart of Grace is an amazing and interesting book. It’s the first book from this author who is a student at Luther Seminary and working there as the director of digital strategy for the Innovation team.
Katie Langston was a presenter for one of the January Kairos session.
All Hands on Hope Feed My Starving Children MobilePackTM – Looking to the Future!
by Sally Lawless
As we turned the calendar to 2022, the Feed My Starving Children Action Group has been meeting and reflecting on the work we did as a community in 2021. In summary, we held two different MobilePacksTM.
- The trial MobilePack in April 2021 was designed to help FMSC test new safety protocols for running a MobilePack during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over three days, 298 volunteers packed over 85,000 meals to feed 234 kids for one year, all while refining new procedures for a safe, effective MobilePacks to return beginning in the summer of 2021.
- Our 14th All Hands on Hope MobilePack in fall 2021 was a huge success, with enough meals packed to feed 1,121 kids for one year. Over the course of five days, we hosted over 1,200 volunteers, including many from the greater Incarnation community, during 13 shifts. We were able to raise more than $150,000 to fund all the meals packed in person and beyond!
- We accomplished all this in the midst of a global pandemic!
The Action Group has designated April 26 – April 30, 2023 to hold our next MobilePack on site at Incarnation. We have decided to return to our highly effective spring timeframe that we have been so successful with since 2007.
Unfortunately, global hunger continues to be an epidemic and hungry kids need the life-saving MannaPacks every day. In 2022, we encourage you to continue to support FMSC in the following ways:
- Visit a permanent site to pack meals for a shift.
- Incarnation has shifts reserved the 3rd Tuesday and 4th Wednesday of each month to pack meals at the Coon Rapids site. Visit our web page for details and the sign up link. All are welcome during this time so gather a group of friends, sports team, small group or neighbors and head out to pack some meals.
- Pack at any permanent site on a day and time that best fits your schedule. Visit the FMSC website to sign up for a packing shift.
- Host a special celebration at an FMSC permanent site and invite friends and family to pack meals with you. Ideas include:
- Celebrating your birthday, anniversary or retirement
- A special valentine’s date night – what better way to express love?
- Take time to serve during Holy Week (April 11 – 14)
- Donate to the 2023 All Hands on Hope MobilePack using Incarnation’s secured online donation and giving site.
- Look for a local MobilePack you can support. A list is found here: MobilePack Events
- Pray for all volunteers, FMSC staff, in-country partners and families around the world who are planning for, packing, distributing and receiving these meals.
Claudia Wiebold, Incarnation member and long-time FMSC supporter, recently celebrated her retirement by packing meals at the Coon Rapids permanent site. “I hope that I can use my passion and privilege to help alleviate food insecurity locally and globally,” said Wiebold.
She invited local family members to “Pack & Party” with her to celebrate her retirement. The group had a great time, dancing and singing while packing meals and calling out when a box was filled. She hopes to use her time post-retirement to do more FMSC volunteer work along with supporting the local food shelf.
This work couldn’t be done without the partnership of so many within the Incarnation community. We thank you for all your continued support as we work…until all are fed! Continue to watch for more information on how to support FMSC and the next MobilePack in Lifetimes or by following our social media accounts:
Facebook: FMSC Mobile Pack at Incarnation Instagram: fmsc_at_incarnation
Incarnation – You Are Hunger Heros!
by the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Action Group
Imagine our astonishment when Lisa Baker, Basic Needs Manager of the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf, told the Incarnation Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Action Group that checks sent to the food shelf by Incarnation in 2021 totaled over $100k! Over $100k, wow! As we caught our breath and peeled back the onion, we learned that $78k represented individual donations made by you in 2021 and $23k was carry over from 2020 paid to the food shelf in the beginning of 2021. And not only that, in 2020, Incarnation’s giving to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf (RRFS) of $65k had surpassed any previous year’s giving since the partnership began in 2000. Again, wow, because we now have a new record!
Lisa Baker, along with her colleague, Sue Peake, continued to share highlights of our shared work in 2021, including the service hours volunteered by Incarnation. Even during a pandemic when service opportunities are not what they used to be, you shared 1,044 hours of service with the food shelf, the equivalent of a .5 full-time equivalent staff person. See Incarnation’s Outstanding Faith Partner 2021 statistics to get a sense of the enormous impact you’ve been a part of, even in this crazy, upside-down pandemic world that continues to surround us. As said by Lisa and Sue, “we simply don’t know what we would have done without Incarnation during these last two years”.
Your deep care for your food insecure neighbors has literally paid off big dividends. And, we know our work is not complete. Incarnation’s Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Action Group always invites new members with fresh energy and ideas about how we can support our partners well. As an example, the Incarnation Woodworkers are currently crafting a new drop off bin located behind the food shelf for donations left outside of their normal hours to accept donations. If you’d like to learn more or join the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Action Group, contact leader Claudia Wiebold at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Physical donations are currently welcomed and may be dropped off at Incarnation any time the building is open. Look for targeted suggestions for those physical donations in the coming months. Also, if you are a Thrivent member, consider applying for an Action Team grant and use your seed money to purchase donations, taking someone with you so they can learn about your passion for hunger alleviation and the important work of the Ralph Reeder Feed Shelf.
Know how much your faithfulness and commitment to this shared work is deeply appreciated by the Incarnation staff, Incarnation’s Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Action Group, the RRFS staff and its clients. We look forward to seeing all God will do in and through us together in the coming year.
Join us for Kairos on February 7 and 21. This month we will be featuring Rev. Gary Anderson as our presenter.
Presenter: The Rev. Gary Anderson
7-8:30 p.m. Zoom
Does the Bible Still Speak?
Is the Bible still relevant or is it just plain out-of-date? Can we still hear God speak to us from this ancient literature and, if so, how? Many people today struggle with the question of the Bible’s meaning to people who live in the 21st century with all of our technology, speed of life, and constant change. In these two sessions, retired pastor, Gary Anderson, will help us struggle with and, hopefully, answer the question of the Bible’s relevance. You might be surprised!
About the presenter
As senior pastor of Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview (1993-2004) and All Saints Lutheran in Minnetonka (1982-1993), Gary Anderson has provided vision and leadership and has been a strong advocate for high quality, life-long learning in the congregations. Following his retirement in 2004, he served Luther Seminary as interim seminary pastor for two years, then was director of “Crossing Bridges,” a three-year-$2 million mission appeal for the St. Paul area synod of the ELCA. Gustavus Adolphus College, his alma mater honored him with the Covenant Award for his service on the college’s board of trustees and his church leadership.
An overwhelming thanks was expressed by the staff at LifeHaven for the generosity of participants in the LifeHaven Holiday Gift drive. They relayed thanks from the youth and children and noted that this outpouring of support by Incarnation added more joy to their holidays. The wish lists of mothers and children at LifeHaven were largely fulfilled. This included more than 80 items—clothing, toys, diapers, books, gift cards, and more. Several members of Incarnation’s Hands & Hearts group wrapped the gifts before they were delivered to LifeHaven.
Some 70 additional gifts were contributed for the household overall. This included essentials like bathrobes and slippers, toiletries, pillows, and towel and bedding sets—items that help provide a warm welcome to new residents.
Also included were essentials for helping to keep LifeHaven running smoothly—a microwave, baby gates, silverware, pots and pans, sippy cups, gift cards, and more.
Incarnation purchased and refurbished the home that became LifeHaven more than 20 years ago and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) went on to staff and manage it. In 2003, LifeHaven opened its doors, and the first six teenage mothers and their children who’d experienced homelessness, moved in.
Over the years, Incarnation has continued to be involved with LifeHaven by donating specific items, meals, transportation, childcare, building/grounds maintenance, holiday gift drive and financial donations. While LifeHaven volunteer service have been slim during the pandemic, we continue to be in conversation with LSS staff to find creative ways of partnering together to support the home, youth, children, and programming throughout the year. For more information about, and opportunities to support LifeHaven, please visit Incarnation’s LifeHaven page.
Lent Begins March First – ELCA World Hunger Resources for You
It always seems as if the liturgical year moves more quickly than the chronological calendar year. We barely get our Christmas things put into storage and Lent arrives. Here are some ways to move into the new season.
The ELCA World Hunger program has some excellent new resources for 2022 to help us focus on the season as well as the needs of those in God’s world who live with hunger. All of the ones listed below are available on the website and are available free for download. Some of them are also available in print for the price of postage.
The Lenten study “A Way in the Wilderness”, a weekly study guide invites individuals and congregations into deeper reflection on faith and justice. There are inspirational stories about how your gifts to ELCA World Hunger are at work in the world. You may just find a story about something or someone you through the Advent Good Gifts campaign. This resource is also available in large print.
The Lenten devotional calendar for the 40 days of Lent is filled with ideas for reflection, donation, and action. It provides ideas to help you study, pray, be challenged and to help support “for the good of our families, our neighbors and communities around the world.”
by Grant Rykken
Many of you have seen or heard about The Saint John’s Bible Heritage Edition that was given to Incarnation by a generous donor. Each illumination is very impressive with its sweeping colors and gold leaf. And the size of each page and volume is certainly something you don’t see every day. But at the same time, you may be thinking, “Why bother creating such a Bible? Wouldn’t we be better served in the 21th Century with an electronic Bible that anyone and everyone can access on demand?”
There are several reasons for having a physical book of this size and quality. The intent of The Saint John’s Bible is to “ignite the spiritual imagination of people of all faith journeys throughout the world”. The images found throughout the volumes provide the main avenue to make this happen. These are not just illustrations of specific stories of the Bible, but rather images to illuminate the Bible. To illuminate the Bible is to make the Scripture text clearer and brighter, while also posing questions about the stories that we may not have asked before. The illuminations have been created so that the stories can be seen from different perspectives. The size of each page and volume allows a group of people to view it together, ask questions of each other, and share what each person sees, igniting our spiritual imagination. By sharing our thoughts and perspectives, each one of us sees a larger view than if we had looked at it alone. We learn from each other and become community, even if just for a short while.
The original Saint John’s Bible, housed at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, is predicted to last 1500 years because of the methods and materials used to create it. An electronic version of the Bible would not last that long. Even Incarnation’s Heritage Edition is predicted to last 800 years. It is a gift that will allow future generations to gather and ask questions of one another, although the questions being asked in 800 years will most likely be different from those we ask today. The Saint John’s Bible provides a communal experience of spiritual imagination that will be just as valuable in the future as it is today. You can view The Saint John’s Bible in Alleluia Chapel (follow the hallway on the left of the Sanctuary).
Among the Congregation
Kevin Morey and family on the death of his nephew; The family of Curt Pederson on his death; Tom Henk and family on the death of his sister; Mark Tollander and family on the death of his father; Greg LeMay and family on the death of his father; Meg Cambronne and family on the death of her father; Margaret Grittner and family on the death of her sister-in-law; Bev Seabloom and family on the death of her brother-in-law; Val Gese and family on the death of her son
Join February’s online community conversation centered in BIPOC voices and leadership with others on February 17 from 7 – 8:30 p.m., Come Together for Racial Justice hosted by Incarnation’s partner, the Center for Leadership and Neighborhood Engagement. This month’s gathering will feature a dialogue Nekima Levy Armstrong and Cheryl Persigehl, facilitated by Re. Kelly “PK” Chatman, Incarnation’s guest preacher on February 13. Learn more and register here. Former gatherings have been recorded and are found here.
Small Group Offerings
Be Loved Small Groups – Meet in Person
Relationships – An enormous blessing? A gigantic challenge? A wonderful surprise? Hard work? Or all the above and more? Explore the theme Be Loved: Being in Relationship, Being in Community in a small group. New groups will meet in-person on Tuesday afternoons and Sunday afternoons for five gatherings. Find out more on the Incarnation webpage. Register by emailing Denise Floe, Director of Small Group Ministry at email@example.com.
Living Your Strengths Small Group
CliftonStrengths is a popular tool used in professional and educational settings which helps individuals identify and be affirmed in their God-given strengths. Join others as you discover and affirm your CliftonStrengths while also reading and discussing Living Your Strengths, a faith-based book based on CliftonStrengths. This could also be a great way to think about how best to connect with service opportunities both within and outside of Incarnation while using your strengths. Gatherings will be held over zoom during the five Tuesdays of March from 7- 8:30 p.m., and the leader of the group is Becky Benson. Space is limited. To register, email Becky Benson, Director of Enagement and Service, at firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, February 24.
Virtual Book Discussion Group: Dear White Peacemakers
If you heard Osheta Moore preach at Incarnation last fall, you already know she is an engaging storyteller. This small group is a chance to read her stories and insights in Dear White Peacemakers and talk with others about her invitation to shalom and the work of anti-racism peacemaking. Osheta Moore is a local pastor, writer and speaker. The small group will meet on Zoom, facilitated by Audrey Fenske and Nancy Stutzman. Find out more about her ministry please link here. For more information on the small group, link here. To register, email Nancy Stutzman at email@example.com.
When: Five Mondays, 7:00-8:30, starting February 28 on Zoom
It takes many people to make Vacation Bible School meaningful and safe for all who participate.
If you are interested in being part of the planning team,
please contact Rebecca Christiansen, Director of Children’s Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opportunities for Service
Short Term Missionary Grant Fund
Are you someone who deeply values the role of short-term missionaries because of your own impactful experience or an experience of someone you know? Incarnation is establishing a new Short Term Missionary Grant Fund resourced by donations of the Incarnation community, which will support high school youth, college students or young adults feeling called to a 3–12-month mission experience. Prospective recipients will apply for a grant and a team of mission-minded Incarnation members will evaluate applications and make recipient decisions in August. Every contribution will help to build this grant fund! Donate via Incarnation’s online giving page or write a check to Incarnation with “Short Term Missionary Grant” in the memo.
The Gathering Volunteers
The Gathering has returned and volunteers are needed to support activities of learning, moving, creating and joy that serve individuals experiencing mid-stage memory loss. Fully vaccinated Lyngblomsten staff, volunteers and participants work together while masked from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. which includes a time of lunch (bring your own) in a setting that allows for social distancing. Register for a zoom gathering to learn more on Monday, February 7 from 1-1:30 p.m. or 2-2:30 p.m. or learn more here.
Solid Ground Community Meal Hosts
Community meals serve as a great opportunity for families at Solid Ground to make connections with each other, volunteers and staff, as well as help stretch their food budgets and give a break from cooking. Solid Ground is seeking groups of volunteers to prepare a meal at their own location, transport the food to East Metro Place in White Bear Lake and serve families who attend. Community meals are typically for up to 50 people and can be hosted on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. A great service opportunity for small groups, a work group, friends or a couple of families to do together. Contact Dylan McDonough for more information and menu ideas at DMcDonough@solidgroundmn.org.
Solid Ground Mobile Food Shelf Market Volunteers
Solid Ground is seeking volunteers to support their mobile food shelf market from 11:30 a.m. on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Wednesdays each month. Roles include assistance unloading food, setting up the market, filling bags and/or assisting residents with transport of their food to their units. Email Dylan McDonough for questions or if interested in serving at DMcDonough@solidgroundmn.org.
Drivers for Solid Ground Residents
Solid Ground is seeking volunteers who are willing and able to drive residents who have limited transportation options to/from various locations. This is a great way to be in relationship with residents while serving in truly helpful ways. Background checks and orientation will be provided by Solid Ground. Contact Dylan McDonough for questions or if interested in serving at DMcDonough@solidgroundmn.org.
FMSC Meal Packing at Coon Rapids Permanent Site, February 15 and 23
Packing meals at Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids is a great way to serve in community together! Tuesday, February 15 from 7 – 8:45 p.m. and Wednesday, February 23 from 2 – 3:45 p.m. have been pre-reserved for you. FMSC continues to update processes and practices following the most current COVID-19 guidelines, allowing volunteers to pack while maintaining safety. For more information and to sign up for a shift, visit Incarnation’s FMSC page.