July 2019

A Word From Pastor Jackie

     Have you ever wondered what the Synod is good for?  Our SW MN Synod accompanies the congregations in sharing the good news of Jesus by equipping, supporting, and leading. On June 7th and 8th, Ardell Rettmann and Howard Ryberg from Zion, and Randy Cook and Cheryl Pederson from St. Paul’s and I attended the Synod Assembly entitled: “Everyday Spirituality.” Rolling bandages, assembling visitation kits, and packing food were the work projects that some attended. Others learned about “Being the Church in the Digital Age” and “the Five Gifts of Discipleship.”

     The assembly challenged us to think about the words of Joshua: “Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” In light of God’s ongoing presence and faithfulness how do we live an Everyday Spirituality? Deanna Thompson led Bible study on 1 Corinthians 12, imagining the digital world as helping us to live as the body of Christ. For when the church is at its best, it is being the body of Christ supporting its weaker members. Bishop Jon gave two reports, one with the theme “Remembering and Noticing.” We want to remember and notice what we do together as we live into God’s promise that God is with us wherever we go. So, what does living a life of faith look like? It involves every dimension of our lives, practicing our faith, telling and listening to stories, and more. Curious to hear more? Both of Bishop Jon’s talks are available on the SW MN website as well as other portions of the assembly.

The other theme that I noticed is the concept of “Congregational Vitality.” This is not defined by the number of people in the pews, nor building, nor endowment size. It is “communities of Jesus where there is life-giving relationships with God, each other, and the world.” God is making us anew as God sends us into the future. Some ways to move forward are to practice Everyday Spirituality, tell and listen to stories to fuel holy imagination, and engage in holy experiments. We are called to move forward by paying attention and talking about---What is God doing in our midst?

     Bishop Jon’s second talk was about “Trusting and Following.” During pressure, we freeze, flee, or fight. That’s human nature. But, we are called to trust and follow. “Do not be afraid, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.” God’s Spirit blows in our midst in ways that we may not notice. We are called to follow and to trust that God’s Spirit will lead us into God’s future. For, God’s grace we have what we need to cultivate life-giving congregations and to plant God’s work in the world. And to think about, what we need to let go of strategically in order to engage in God’s work? We need to develop an everyday sacramental spirituality in order to see the intersections and innovate in order to deepen congregational vitality. Bishop Jon’s talk gave us hope in the future of the church. If you want to experience these talks and others from the Synod Assembly, check out their website.

Our SW MN Synod is good for equipping, accompanying, and leading us in growing our Everyday Spirituality. I see God at work in their guidance and opening up conversation. This month, I encourage you to begin the practice of looking around and asking and answering the question--- What is God doing in our midst?