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Matthew 25 in a COVID World…
“Have you been vaccinated yet?” It’s a question that ranks right up there with “how’s the weather?” a common point of interest where we all share in the answer to the question; a common point of interest where we all share in being protected – individually and collectively – from the ravages of COVID-19.
In the casual conversations that I have had with many of you the answer to the question is: “Yes, I have been vaccinated!” And many more of you are about to get vaccinated, or get your second round of vaccination. Praise God! As needles go into arms this is a HUGE step in bringing us back to some sense of NORMAL that we all hope and pray for.
But as the world’s pharmaceutical saviors ask us to roll up our sleeves for each of their rolled out vaccines, I’m struck by how the whole process can bring out the best, and the worst, in any given moment.
First, let’s talk about the best. It is good that the most vulnerable among us are being vaccinated, and that there is plenty of advocacy on their behalf to make sure that the elderly are at the front of the line, and that convenient venues are open for travel, or better yet, smiling nurses have come to the facilities of those most vulnerable.
Related to this, the smiling nurses who give those shots, together with all of those who care for us when we are sick, and the essential workers who keep us safe and protected, they too need to be brought to the front of line.
But where supply and demand cannot keep pace with delivery and distribution, there is plenty of room to wallow in our worst, not giving flight to our better angels.
As I write these words to you, I, like millions of other Americans, am patiently putting my name on different waiting lists wondering when a 59 year-old white, male, in reasonably good shape, but does have underlying conditions of diabetes, and suffers occasionally from exercise induced asthma, might get vaccinated.
There is so much that is out of my control with respect to when I will get my “luck at the poke”, might this then drive me to a deeper dependence on a God who holds the final victory in my life? Answer: of course!
At what point in the lottery of luck, importance, or providence I get vaccinated I do not know, but one thing I do know is that there is plenty to work for, and to pray over, so that ALL God’s children can get vaccinated, and play their role in herd immunity, and get us ALL back to worship!
As a privileged white male, who is well insured, who has plenty of resources at his disposal, and who can sit on hold for multiple minutes on his cell phone waiting for the next available appointment to open up, I have a leg up on most of the world; and so do you.
Go on the Google and you will see article after article on how the inoculation efforts of our country (however well intended) reveal huge chasms between the rich and the poor, people of color, and other self-inflicted barriers where we do a pretty good job of building a bigger wall, rather than constructing a larger table.
What can we do about all that? Good question. I guess the first step is to give it voice. Part of my Lenten discipline is to revisit and reinterpret Matthew Chapter 25:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me. [I needed a COVID-19 vaccination and you gave it to me!]
God bless, be well… Pastor Kevin
Our Savior’s Emergency Food Shelf –Please consider donating to Our Savior’s Emergency Food Shelf as it continues to offer a life line to those individuals/families that find themselves in unexpected circumstances. Thank you and God bless.
Midweek Lenten Worship Services—-Created for Community: A Midweek Lenten Series
The challenges to gathering our church community during this season of COVID have long been documented and they do not need to be repeated here. Yet nevertheless the invitation of the Lenten season reminds us that: “together with the whole church we are created for communion with God, to love one another, and to live in harmony with creation.”
Though many common Lenten practices rightly invite us to individual acts of repentance, prayer, fasting, sacrificial giving, and works of love, Lent is also a time for the deepening of community.
This year, as we gather for our Midweek Lenten Worship Services via live stream You Tube, we will do so under the theme of In Community… Perhaps now more than ever, as we are physically distanced from family and neighbors whom we love, we ponder all the more the significance of Christian community.
As in year’s past, all services will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings. Also, as in year’s past, the long-standing, favorite liturgy of Marty Haugen’s Holden Evening Prayer will be used. Different than year’s past, all services will be held and broadcast from Our Savior’s (We are forced to do this due to the technical challenges of yoking how our two churches broadcast our worship services differently.)
The weekly themes and scripture texts for In Community… are as follows:
- Wednesday, February 24th In Community… In the Midst of the Storm , Mark 4:35-41.
- Wednesday, March 3rd In Community… With All Who Suffer, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11
- Wednesday, March 10th In Community… With Our Neighbor, Mark 2:1-12
- Wednesday, March 17th In Community… With Those on the Margins, Mark 5:1-20
- Wednesday, March 24th In Community… with Christ ,Mark 10:32-45
Virtual First Communion Instruction, via Zoom, 5th & 6th Grade Sundays, March: 14th, 21st, 28th from 4 to 6 p.m.
When the grip of the COVID pandemic hit almost a year ago last March, we were in the midst of our First Communion Classes. Like many aspects of our ministry, we hit the proverbial pause button waiting for “things to get better.”
Candidly we’ve waited long enough! We are now in the season of Lent 2021, and as is a part of the rhythm and traditions of Our Savior’s, we reaffirm the practice of scheduling First Communion Instruction for our Fifth Graders, leading up to inviting fifth graders to have their First Communion experience on the Maundy Thursday Service during Holy Week.
Due to the COVID – 19 shut down keeping last year’s fifth graders from completing their First Communion Instruction, this year’s class will be a COMBINATION of 5th and 6th Graders. Still abiding by social distancing protocols, the First Communion class will be taught via the church’s Zoom Account. The Zoom classes will be held late Sunday afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m., on March 14th, March 21st, and March 28th. The textbook we will all use will be Come to God’s Table: Preparing for Holy Communion (Augsburg Fortress, 1989).
All participants will be welcomed into the Zoom conversation via an email invitation. All fifth and sixth grade families participating in First Communion Instruction will receive the email invitation a week before March 14th, and the instruction book will be mailed to your residence as well. (If we do not have a current email address of your family please let us know at the church office.) Questions? Contact the church office at (218) 263-7422.
Council Meeting Highlights (February 9, 2021)
- The council met remotely via Zoom
- We welcomed new members John L. and Cassidy K.; Council installation will be via Zoom at the Feb. 14 worship service.
- Officers were elected: President Scott F.; VP Julie J.; Secretary Melissa S.
- Our Financial Secretary provided an orientation; the General Fund as of Jan. 31 = $20,790.15.
- The virtual Annual Meeting was debriefed; many positive comments have been received. Kudos and thank-yous to our tech crew who made it possible: Chris Magnusson, Dustin Davidson, Paula Jackson, Melissa Schwarze, and John Law.
- We discussed returning to in-person worship. Based on the new virus variants in MN and the slow roll-out of vaccines, we determined to remain virtual-only. We will revisit next month.
- Lent begins Feb. 17th; packets of ashes are available in the office vestibule for the virtual Ash Wednesday service, along with Communion elements. First Communion classes will begin in March.
- Online, radio, and TV broadcasts of services are continuing to be provided.
The Columbarium at Our Savior’s offers perpetually endowed care for the remains of those who choose cremation. It is a place of peace, solitude, and prayer restoring the ancient practice of church burial. If you would like to learn more about the Columbarium, please make an appointment with Cindy in the church office by calling 218-263-7422. An optional payment plan is available.
Confirmation News: (Grade as of September 2020 – May 2021)
3rd grade – Please pick up your Bible from the office hallway. Lent will be a wonderful time for Bible reading.
4th grade – Have you been enjoying Pastor Kevin’s Children’s Talks?
5th grade – Your class will study Communion during Lent via ZOOM, Sunday, March 14th, March 21st and March 28th at 4 p.m. Watch for details via text and email. Please be sure the office has your family’s email address. Celebration of Communion on Maundy Thursday, April 1st .
6th grade – Since you weren’t able to study Holy Communion last year, you too will study Communion during Lent via ZOOM. Sunday, March 14th, March 21st and March 28th at 4 p.m. Watch for details via text and email. Please be sure the office has your family’s email address. Celebration of Communion on Maundy Thursday, April 1st
7th-9th grades – Attend midweek Lenten services virtually. 9th Gr.— your classes start at 7:15 pm during Lent. Watch your email for invites to class with Pastor Kevin. Participation: 10 sermon notes, 10 hrs. of service
10th grade– Participation: 10 sermon notes, 10 hours of service, complete any incomplete work and continue to meet with your mentor.
Property Committee — Heating System Renovation: The System is working great. Still adjusting various area t-stats. Once we get the final invoice from Hart Electric we will have the final total expenses. Donations are still being accepted toward this project and also future capital projects. Columbarium Area: Heater t-stat failed and was replaced with new. Again, great job by all. Boy Scout Room: Painter Larry S. was at it again, finishing the painting of the door trim and the folding closet doors. Mike S. repainted and rehung the bulletin boards. Travis O. will be stripping and waxing the floor, then the room will be ready for whatever activities we wish to use it for. Kitchen: Oak Shop and Rick K. continue to work on the refurbishment of the kitchen cabinet doors and fronts. Following that work, he will begin on replacement of three Formica counter tops. Thanks again to Rick and the Oak Shop. . Security System: The old Permar Security System is gone, and the new system through ESC Systems (Endresen) out of Proctor MN is up and running. Pastor Kevin and Travis should no longer receive nuisance calls in the middle of the night. Sanctuary Roof Replacement: Following the annual meeting resolution support, we have given Range Cornice the go ahead to order materials and put us on their Spring schedule. Please Note: We continue to follow covid-19, State and CDC guidelines. We are utilizing as few people as possible while working on projects. If we need more help, we shall contact people to help. White Elephant Sale WES: With very little change from the CDC, Governor Walz and Local Covid-19 rules toward group gatherings, we had to make the hard decision to Cancel the 2021 WES for the week leading up to April 24th. We are still tossing around what to do with our stored items. Small, non-arena, Mini storage area sales are still an option, but group gathering rules still prohibit that from taking place. If anyone has an idea on how to accomplish some sort of sale, under these conditions please contact someone on the Committee, by way of the Church Office 263-7422. We are booked into the Memorial Building Arena for the 2022 sale (4/18-4/23). Mike S. and Joe A., Co-Chairs
Clothes Closet — Our Savior’s Lutheran Church has a Children’s Clothing Closet with sizes up to 12-14. It is free to use. Usually you can receive two to three outfits, one of which is new. Shoes, boots, winter outer wear, under garments are also available most of the time. Children’s quilts are also available and sometimes twin bed sheets. You must call 263-7422 to request an appointment time to meet with a committee member to help you. Church office hours are Monday thru Friday 8am – 4:30pm.
THANK YOU For all the generous donations to the Children’s Clothes Closet. I appreciate all the help with the clothing to keep things organized and filled. We certainly have been able to keep our school children warm this winter. God’s blessings to all, Sharon and the Mission Group
News from Camp
Family Rejuve – March 5th, 6th, and 7th. Camp Hiawatha invites you and your family to spend a day, a night or the whole weekend playing in God’s great northwoods. Contact us and let us know how you want to engage – make this a weekend that provides what your family seeks. Check out our website for additional information and to register. www.vlmcamps.org/familyrejuve Cost: $100/adult, $75/youth (ages 4-17) for the full retreat (pro rating available for shorter stays). Full retreat cost includes 5 meals (Fri-Sun), 2 nights lodging, snacks, and on-site activities outdoor activities. (Does not include equipment rental, ski passes or activity fees off-site).
Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion Summer Registration is now open! Learn more about our programs, and check out the summer calendar and registration information online at www.VLMcamps.org/summer-schedule.
Help camp welcome back the campers! VLM Program Staff are scheduling interviews for summer staff applicants. More information at www.vlmcamps.org/summer-employment.
Would you like our congregation to pray for any issues, problems, or health concerns you have? We believe in the power of prayer and know that our petitions are heard and answered. Please call the church office at 218-263-7422 and we will pass your request on to the Prayer Chain.
News from the Mission Action Committee
The goal of a Mission Action group is to feed, clothe and provide quilts to people in the USA and the rest of the world. OSLC has been doing all three generously for many years. Locally our shipping costs are nil when need is accessed, however, when our Lutheran World Relief items need to go to other areas the cost of shipping can be quite expensive. In doing research I found if we were to mail items to the warehouse in So. St. Paul thru Shippo we would get big discounts from USPS, UPS and DHL. This may become necessary due to COVID unless someone going to the cities is willing to help out by taking items to the warehouse there. The cost for LWR to ship kits overseas is as follows: One quilt $2.25, one school kit $1.40, one personal care kit (includes cost of buying toothpaste in country of destination) $2.65, one fabric kit $1.30, and one layette $1.00.
We discussed best use of the generous dollar amount in the food shelf account. It was decided we would revamp what is put into the food boxes and add more protein in the form of canned chicken and Spam. People would prefer instant white rice to brown. Pork and beans, sugar and cooking oil will also be added. Larger sizes of canned fruit will be added. It was noted that expiration dates on cake mixes, crackers and other baking mixes be carefully monitored due to the added fats in them going rancid. Please be aware of this if donating these items.
Mission Action Committee—Sue S.
Please Read our New Bylaws and Constitution
Welcome to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (OSLC)! Upon entering, you will notice the beautiful sanctuary with stained glass windows depicting parables of Christ and the large crucifix hanging above the altar. Friendly congregational members will greet you, and as you sit in the pews, our music will fill your soul! We have an active Temple Choir and also a worship band for a more contemporary sound. Music is emphasized within each service, and the sermons will speak to your heart and feed your soul while creating a deeper relationship with God.
Our church’s mission is A Community transformed by Christ, to be Christ in the World. We invite you to join us to become “the hands and feet of Christ”. Our ownership of this mission is shown in outreach through our Food Shelf, Clothes Closet, Habitat for Humanity, and God’s work. Our hands. Sunday. The Food Shelf is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 1:00-2:30. Our clothes closet can be accessed through appointment only by calling the church office.
Our worship service provides opportunities for you and your family to grow in your Christian faith. Children of all ages are welcome during worship and are invited to join Pastor Kevin for a Children’s Message each week. After service, during the school year, children may attend Sunday School while you enjoy coffee, goodies and fellowship with parishioners downstairs. We partner with First Lutheran (another ELCA church in Hibbing) in our Confirmation and Youth Ministry, as well as some congregational worship and seasonal events through the year. Baptism and First Communion are joyous events which precede Confirmation. Students in grades 3-11 are involved in our Confirmation program. Youth have opportunities through our church to participate in Bible camps, vacation bible school, BWCA canoe trips, national youth gatherings, church services…. On average, OSLC sends over 70 youth to Bible camp each year.
OSLC has a long and rich history of service to the community of Hibbing and the world. Both young and old participate in potluck dinners, Lutefisk suppers, pasty bake fundraisers, the fall bazaar with much of the profits benefiting ministries such as the Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Service, local Bible Camps, and worldwide missionary support.
For over 60 years, we have held the White Elephant Sale in the spring, which provides clothing, furniture, appliances, sporting goods, tools, bicycles, and many other items for inexpensive prices to our community and the surrounding communities.
OSLC is a “community safe space” offering the use of our facilities to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Lutheran Social Services, Advocates for Family Peace, among others.
OSLC was formed in 1903 by Norwegian immigrants under the name “Tabor” with 23 members. It officially became known as Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in 1904. The church held a groundbreaking ceremony in July of 1952 with the cornerstone of our present church laid in October of that same year.
Please call our church office with any questions you may have. Our staff is pleased to help you!