Lifetimes: July 2022

Lifetimes Newsletter


Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

This article was also sent as the “It’s Monday” email earlier this week.

Edwin Friedman, an ordained rabbi, and family therapist, also a chief architect of the family systems theory I studied, observed that highly anxious people, families, and communities most often revert to binary, either/or thinking. They cannot see or imagine another place to stand than at the end of their chosen polarity.

To state the obvious: We live in a highly anxious time–with highly anxious people, families, communities, and systems calcified around either/or thinking.

Can I also make this obvious statement? Life is not that simple, is it? It’s mysterious and messy, beautiful and broken, complicated and unceasingly complex.

Take, for instance, the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade from the Supreme Court. For decades it’s become a wedge issue in our country with only two apparent options—you are pro-choice or pro-life. Can it be that simple?

I was reminded by a physician friend of mine that even the term abortion covers way more than you might think, “ectopic pregnancy, a healthy birth in which some tissues of the pregnancy are retained in the uterus, uterine infection/sepsis, molar pregnancy, miscarriage that is incomplete (to name a few), the treatment of all of these, technically, is an abortion. Without treatment, these patients will die.”

Maybe it’s not so simple, is it? And who should be able to make these life altering decisions?

The Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Elizabeth Eaton, put out a pastoral statement to our communities in response to the Supreme Court decision. I have attached it here.

Bishop Eaton issues pastoral message on SCOTUS ruling regarding Roe v. Wade

These statements are not binding on individuals. They recognize each community can represent multiple points on the spectrum of responses to the issue. These statements are wise biblical, theological, and practical guidance for wrestling with the hard questions of life and for living in a broken and complicated world. If you read carefully, the words seek to move beyond the simple polarity of pro-choice or pro-life and imagine other ways to respond as Jesus’ people.

From the pastoral letter, “Laws should be enacted and enforced justly for the preservation and enhancement of life and should avoid unduly encumbering and endangering the lives of women.”

In other words, we can honor both the sanctity of life and the agency of women.

I’ve often heard people ask, “Why should Christians get involved in politics?” My response is simply this: Politics is the way we choose to order our common life for the greater good. Those choices can help and benefit our common life or they can hurt us—some more than others. Don’t you think Jesus is interested in us ordering our lives toward helping as many as we can—especially the most vulnerable?

Which brings up one more point for us as Jesus’ followers: Jesus’ ministry had a decided and focused attention on those who were poor or outcast or marginalized in his world. Don’t believe me, just read the Gospels and ask the questions, “Who was heartened by Jesus’ presence and ministry?” “Who was offended?”

Again, words from my physician friend, “If you remove the doctor-patient relationship from the matter… health, safety, and life are threatened—particularly for the poor, the marginalized, and the isolated. Good laws must accommodate nuances that protect all of the most vulnerable.”

Nuances that protect the most vulnerable. Not either/or.

We need to think beyond the polarity of an anxious world. We need to act in particularity with hurting people so that, together, we can begin to imagine and co-create a more loving world for all.

Peace, Kai


Wyatt Stahl, Congregation President
Wyatt Stahl, Congregation President

In 1964, a Minnesota native by the name of Bob Dylan wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’”.  His statement was correct then and is also correct now.

One aspect of change that the Covid pandemic either helped cause, or accelerated, was worshiping online.  We recently looked at these changes by comparing attendance “on site” versus “on-line” during the last several years with 2018 and 2019 being our “baseline” – we only had on site services at that time.  What we found was very interesting.

First of all, April is usually the month with the highest attendance, which makes sense considering that Easter is typically in that month.  Second, you can see the months where we could not attend in person during 2020 and then in 2021 and how this impacted how we worship.  One other significant insight; even though our church is now open for in person attendance, on-line attendance remains high.

On-line worship is a great blessing for those that don’t attend in person for various reasons including health, challenges in traveling to and from church, and difficulty in schedules.  And on-line worship will continue to be part of our “new normal” of worship going forward.  It is exciting, however, to see attendance in person coming back.  The fellowship that we can experience together before, during and after worship is a great blessing that we had lost, and now have regained.

See you on Sunday.



Update on Projects

Water standing in rotted window frame.
Water standing in rotted window frame.

COST: $197,798

,RAISED TO DATE: $175,318

ISSUE: Rotting window frames due to improper installation

HISTORY: In the past couple of years, windows in the 2005 addition called Incarnation Hall have begun to leak and rot. In the last year, attempts were made to see if the damage could be claimed on insurance and repaired. A legal firm was also hired to see if there was any ownership of the problems with the original construction companies. None of this proved available.

PLAN: Replace the 33 windows with new windows and install them with proper techniques. The outside walls will be redone with new material and the walls surrounding the windows will be repaired and sheetrock installed.

INFORMATION: Rick Gravley, Facilities Manager OR Danette Griffith, Administrator

SUPPORT: Online or checks, stocks, grants to Incarnation Lutheran with project indicated.

Pastor Joel hoping for a catch in the pond created by improper runoff.
Pastor Joel hoping for a catch in the pond created by improper runoff.

COST: $328,275
RAISED TO DATE: $140,676

ISSUE: Improper runoff of drain water and no handicapped parking near building.

HISTORY: The parking lot has served well for many years but needs proper drainage installed to avoid water pooling. The handicapped parking is not next to the building which makes members and guests cross moving traffic to get into the building.

PLAN: Redesign parking lot with handicapped slots next to the building. A sidewalk will be installed along the south side of the building to connect Door One and Door Two. In this first phase, the south parking lot will be resurfaced and restriped. Future phases will include other parking areas.

INFORMATION: Rick Gravley, Facilities Manager OR Danette Griffith, Administrator

SUPPORT: Online or checks, stocks, grants to Incarnation Lutheran with project indicated.


Preschool Positions Available      

Our NAEYC accredited preschool program is seeking qualified candidates to fill lead teacher and assistant teacher roles for the upcoming school year. These positions will be on either Mon/Wed/Fri or Tues/Thurs. Additional hours for positions are required throughout the school year for meetings, trainings, prep work, orientation, and school events.  Substituting hours are also available if interested. The ideal candidates will be able to meet Minnesota DHS and NAEYC requirements.  For more information and job descriptions, contact Kirsten Barie at or 651-766-0723.

Apostles Library Book Review

Another Kind of Happy Hour,” was an introductory workshop and a full 10-hour course, offered in 2021 and 2022 by Donna McDonald and Christine Harnack through a Budding Ideas grant from Incarnation’s Endowment Fund.  Sixty-four Incarnation members participated.  The curriculum is designed to help increase the capacities within each of us to flourish in our lives. Based on scientific research related to happiness, the course also intersects with faith-based practices, Jesus’ teachings and scripture.  Books related to the curriculum have been added to the Incarnation library’s collection and are ready for check-out. They are displayed on the library cart during July.

Here is a review of one of the titles as well as a listing of some of the other titles available:

The Happiness Advantage by Sean Achor
This book explains the benefits of happiness from increased creativity to improved health and how a positive mindset can change your personal and professional life. In addition, it provides strategies for adopting a positive mindset, remaining optimistic in the face of adversity, and raising your happiness baseline.  Sean Achor is one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success and is a lecturer and advocate for positive psychology.

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential Lasting Fulfillment   by Martin Seligman

Love 2.0: Creating Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection by Barbara Fredrickson

Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons

Thanks to Small Groups

Thank you to everyone who was part of a small group in the past year! You’ve been a gift to everyone else in the group, simply by being present and taking part! This is especially true in a time of adapting to ever-changing COVID circumstances. Thank you! You’ve prayed with others and for others. You’ve engaged in meaningful dialogue. You’ve laughed together. You’ve served others. Most important, you’ve created a sense of  community together.

An enormous thanks goes out to everyone who has organized, gathered or guided a small group. You’ve created sacred space and we value your time, initiative and heart for other people. Again, this has been an unusual time to navigate, sometimes requiring flexible plans and extra patience with technology. Thank you!

“It’s the people” is what group leaders and participants tell us again and again, when asked “why take part in a small group?” It takes each individual person to create that experience for others. It takes initiative to gather people. Together, you’ve created sacred space to connect with God and with one another.

Tons of Love is back!    July 2022 Tons of Love for Ralph Reeder Food Shelf

Tons of Love campaign is back! Join us in providing financial and non-perishable gifts for our neighbors through the 2022 Tons of Love campaign that benefits our community’s Ralph Reeder Food Shelf. Please click on this link to learn more about this year’s Tons of Love campaign.

2022 Tons of Love Volunteers
Help the Tons of Love campaign go smoothly by volunteering. Check out the various volunteer opportunities this year – transport donations, collect items at “Food For All” event, hang out at “Drive By Drop-off”. Learn more and sign up here.

“Food For All” MobilePackTM – July 29 & 30

Volunteer to feed our global and local neighbors

The Feed My Starving Children Action Group, with urging from Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), has planned a community-wide “Food For All” MobilePackTM , held on July 29 & 30 at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview, MN. FMSC reached out to Incarnation because the need to feed more of our global neighbors is so great! The FMSC Action Group worked with FMSC to plan a “mini” (for us at Incarnation) MobilePack. But, the FMSC Action Group thought we should help out our local neighbors, so they reached out to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf (RRFS) Action Group to plan for collecting donations from those attending the MobilePack. And to add a little fun, they have planned a community meal before or after packing shifts on both days.

In summary, our goal is:

  • To Feed Global neighbors – Pack FMSC MannaPackTM bags!
  • To Feed Local neighbors – Bring a bag… from the store of your choosing!
  • To Feed Community – Grab a bag… of chips, hot dog, beverage!

More details:

  • To Feed Global neighbors, visit the FMSC site to register to volunteer.
    • To volunteer to help behind the scenes with the MobilePack or the community meal, click here
  • To Feed Local neighbors, bring a bag of non-perishable items to the event and drop it off in a vehicle near the “Tons of Love” tent either before or after packing for FMSC.
    • To volunteer to help with the “Tons of Love” campaign, sign up through this link:
    • To Feed yourself, join us at the community meal before or after packing for FMSC.
      • If weather permits, it will be in a tent outside of Door 6. Otherwise, find us in Grace Hall.

We look forward to seeing you at the “Food For All” MobilePackTM!   Let’s come together as a community to help feed those in need.

Solid Ground – THANK YOU

Thanks to our caring community, Solid Ground received an abundance of brand-new household items this spring— everything from vacuum cleaners to cooking dishes to shower curtains and so much more.  Your donations will help replenish the dwindling supplies available for new families moving in.  Monetary funds were also donated to help supply families with essential household needs when Solid Ground’s inventories are not sufficient.  Thank you for your amazing generosity in welcoming our neighbors with your gifts as they settle into their new homes and begin their journey toward a brighter future at Solid Ground.

Solid Ground Volunteers Needed for Summer Activities

Solid Ground is putting together a summer calendar of fun, family-friendly events, and would like to invite any interested volunteers to lead a small group activity! Do you have a special hobby or skill that you would like to share with Solid Ground families?  Some examples include, but are not limited to: cooking, hiking, arts & crafts, gardening, sports/recreation, sewing, DIY projects, board games, etc. If interested, please reach out to Dylan at 651-846-9024 or DMcDonough@soli​

Worship Arts Banner

Green is the liturgical color for the Season After Pentecost, also known as Ordinary Time, meaning ordered or numbered time. It is the longest and final season of the church year.  The natural world’s plants are growing green during this season, so green is a natural color to symbolize a time of growing in our knowledge and love of Jesus.  The banner depicts this with sturdy stalks of foliage exhibiting vigorous growth.

Among the Congregation

Recently Baptized:
Merrick & Magnolia Linn son and daughter of Matthew & Amanda Linn
Maverick Bliss son of Abby & Kyle Bliss
Aurora Markie, daughter of Frank & Tabitha Markie
Alexandra Estelle Dorr daughter of Andy Dorr & Mindy Park

Doug Oliver (service on 5/12/2022)
Carol Swanson (service on 5/13/2022)
Douglas Vickers (service on 6/1/2022)
Bob Lodermeier (service on 6/15/2022)

Orris Haraldson, Joe Stepka; Wyatt Stahl; Bill Winefeldt; Sheryl Pachel; LeAnn Sullivan; Jon Hansen; Wayne Quehl; Sarah Steil; Mark Ostlund; Lowell Odland; Erling Husby; Tim Abraham; Erica Bratland; Jim Morse; Linda Hudepohl;  Sue Bernlohr’s Mom and Dad; Bill Fitzsimmons’ brother; Claudia & Don Wiebold’s daughter; Al and Carolyn Ek’s son; Bill & Joan Reichwald’s friends Mike, Emily, Jonathan & Harper; Kim Wielenberg’s friend, John; Josh & Amy Johnson’s friend, Joel

Sympathy to:  the family of Matt Dion on his death; Mike Johnson & family on the death of his father