Showing posts from September, 2008

The Other Side

There is a scene in scripture that seems to find and challenge me every time I get too comfortable in my life or cozy in ministry. In Mark 4, Jesus gets poetic and shares parables and teachings with the crowds. People are in awe and the disciples are finding some popularity in this place. Just when they get comfortable and confident about the way this ministry might play out, a storm blows in and the weather changes. Jesus surprises them by saying, "Let us go to the other side." He gets in a boat and heads across the lake where people don't know them and they're unlikely to be accepted. It is here, in chapter 5, that Mark tells the stories of mission and ministry that are most fascinating to me.

It is construction season in Minneapolis and 35W serves as a greater divide than usual this time of year. While the bridge near the U of M is back up and running, other bridges near my home and church are still closed. It takes creativity and patience to cross the divide, esp…

Welcoming the Neighbor

You never know what you're going to get when you knock on a stranger's door. If you have ever been a solicitor or walked through neighborhoods taking a survey, you're familiar with the adventure of door knocking. Anything can happen.

I've spend many afternoons since arriving at this congregations walking through the community and introducing myself. I've been told to "milk being new", and this is one way I do. I knock with no intention to survey or sell, bother or harm. My smile and small flier simply inform neighbors that they are always welcome at St. John's. Sometimes, that's the most surprising news of all to those I meet.

I was called because this congregation believes they are meant to grow in and for the community. There is a desire to serve as a neighborhood church, to be proclaimers of the gospel and the hands and feet of Christ to those right here. There are plenty of churches in our neighborhood with bigger Sunday school programs a…

I Know A Place

I know a place where a tiny cornfield thrives in the city and people come together to tend the soil. I peered at this garden from a bus window on the way to school and now run by it on sunny afternoons. I take a break from the sidewalks and houses to rest my breath and let the sweat beads gather on my temples. The bugs sing happily and and crickets chirp freely. I enter through the chain link fence lightly because something about this place is sacred and carefully designed.

September is a fall month that demands warmth and sunshine before the days draw too short. We know that each beautiful day will follow with another before snow dominates, so I enter with relief that warmth and growth are not quite gone. This is a good place to come when you want to believe in change and collaboration, hope and harmony. People in this neighborhood have miraculously turned a dusty lot into a sanctuary and brought life to a city block.

Maybe I'm an easy sell, but a moment in this place is enough to…

Back to School

This week, buses have been lining up outside the schools near church. Kids pour in and out of the buses with new backpacks, homework, and friends. Our childcare center is in full swing, welcoming kids for another year of fun during the day.

Since I’m a “pipeliner” and went straight from college to seminary, I have never experienced this season without new classes of my own. Even pastoral internship was marked with self, supervisor, and committee evaluations that marked the time like a school year.

I celebrated this week by cleaning out the Sunday school classrooms and restocking them with fresh supplies. I love this ritual that takes place every late summer. I used to bring my supply lists to Office Max and cruise the aisles. Like most Type A - First Born children, I color coded my notebooks and folders for each class and had everything tucked in my backpack neatly by mid-August.

In college and seminary I loved receiving my new syllabus on the first day (or download it ahead of t…

A Thousand Words

I am slowly hanging things on the walls of my office, in part because these walls are stubborn. Behind the paint is red tile that only a drill hammer can conquer. For now there is one piece that claims my identity in this room and perhaps it deserves this time alone. I reused a nail that remains from pastors past and proudly display a large photograph of my great, great grandfather, Pastor Nils Arveson, and his 1904 confirmads from North Prairie Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church.

The scene is a formal sitting room with heavily draped windows and a large rug for d├ęcor. The girls wear long, white dresses with high laced collars, their hair in sensible and stylish buns. The boys are in suits and ties, hair parted down the middle and straight faced. My grandfather sits in the middle, his clown collar a distinguishing sign of the times.

The matte and frame are originals and the back of the frame is closed and contained by the slates from an old orange crate. Somehow it has lasted in fa…