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Archive for July, 2011

The Ways Our Paths Cross – 6 Degrees of Separation and Pastor Maland.

As you know one of the reasons that we started this blog is to share the many and varied ways that our paths cross and our partnerships exist and we operate as the body of Christ in ways we may never know about unless somebody stumbles upon it.  The “6 Degrees of Separation” article about Ron Carnicom was an example.  Well here is another.

I was doing some presentations and other “stuff” at one of my favorite places in the world, Lutheran Island Camp at Battle Lake Minnesota.  It is great place and Ken Erlandson is a great servant leader and quiet model of the love of Christ.  He was getting ready along with Marvin Swyter to do something that I thought then and still think is crazy.  They had cut a huge rectangular chunk of ice out of the lake and were getting ready to have people go and jump into the water.  Polar Plunge I think it was called.  Check it out at  While waiting for the insanity to ensue I met a quiet young looking guy sitting by the door by the name of Randy Maland.  In talking with him I felt that I had met a kindred spirit.  We shared the same philosophy of ministry, service, etc and it was refreshing to talk with him.  The fact that he had either done the Polar plunge or was going to do it then did not change my opinion that here was a smart and dedicated servant of Christ.

Since then I have done other presentations at the camp and have been made welcome and helped along by Rev. Maland’s fun and calm demeanor.  Now we jump ahead to Maryann, the yarn lady as I have come to call her.  She is woven throughout these blogs.  I had been contacted by President Fondow that Pastor Maland had been involved in a serious accident and was taken to Minneapolis.  Several Pastors from Minnesota North have already traveled down to see him, but imagine my surprise to get this email from Maryann –

I think you might know Pastor Maland from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Henning, Mn. Did you know that he was in an awful motorcycle accident this past week and is in a Twin Cities hospital. You can go to for more information. He is the pastor at my “home congregation”. Please add him to your prayer list. Thanks. Mary Ann
Since the day of the accident I saw a report from Pastor Pr. Karl Weber.  He writes
 “On Monday evening I was at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) from about  11:00 PM – 12:30 am. I prayed with and stayed with Chris, Randy’s mom,  Alice, and many brothers and children of Randy and Chris. During my visit there I also met Pr. Tim Vaughn he arrived there earlier.” 
Later on another day he went to visit Pastor Maland but found he was undergoing surgery.  He writes “So, I left a bulletin with a note on it in Randy’s Surgical Intensive Care Room (SICU) where he will be for a period of time. When I placed my bulletin/ note in Randy’s waiting room I placed it alongside a note from Pr. Blake  Rickbeil and Rev. Ray Henderson who were there from approx. 1:00 am 3:00 am and they returned to Bertha / Sebeka.  Randy will make it, he will live, the brain, heart, lung are fine with  apparently no internal injures for which we thank Jesus”.
So I have written about this in the blog “Living in the Waiting Room”.  Pastor Weber whom I have also met is another quiet, dedicated servant of Christ.  He doesn’t talk about the anxious trip to Minneapolis and long trip home in the dark for him and Pastor’s Rickbeil and Henderson.  He doesn’t talk about the anxiety on the faces of family and friends and the desire to “fix it” that he and Pastor Vaughn felt because they follow compassion incarnate, Jesus the Christ, their Lord and Savior.  He leaves them unsaid, but for those servants who do these midnight visits over and over I will say it – it is draining and difficult.  It is also a great honor and joy.
So let’s do what Maryann said and let us pray for Pastor Maland, but also for all those ministers of Christ who will travel to visit him and show him the love of Christ over the weeks ahead.  As members of the Body of Christ we are all in this together.



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I am getting ready for church tommorow and see that the Gospel lesson is the feeding of the 5000.  I suddenly remembered my first visit to Kibera, Kenya, a slum where one million people are stuffed into an area about the size of Grand Forks North Dakota. 

Kibera – Nairobi, Kenya East Africa December 2003

Bernhard Seter

 How to describe this place – the first thing you notice is the sound.  Like the murmur of a thousand bees.  Noise that moves around you like a cloud. You cannot identify it at first but it is there in the back of your mind like an unfinished not quite forgotten errand.  Something is there but you cannot put it into context until it develops full blown that this is the sound of human voices.  Children laughing and crying; mothers calling those children; men cajoling one another, and as these sounds coalesce into what can be identified as a crowd of human beings the second thing that you notice is the smell.  It too moves around you like a cloud, not always easy to identify but there.  This time it is in the front of your mind because it is an assault upon your senses.  Nothing subtle here at all.  Too much that easily identified; burning rubber, charcoal, perfume, human waste, wet dog, old goat, rotting vegetables, and here and there food, shoe polish, and people packed together until the identifiable becomes the unknowable and again it coalesces into the smell of misery.  But is it really?  Is it really misery?

          Moses must have heard something like this.  – The murmur of thousands that coalesced into one voice that shouted its misunderstanding to heavens – “at least inEgyptwe ate meat and cucumbers and leeks without price but now all we have is this bread from heaven and you have led us off into this wilderness to die”.  The murmur of thousands of voices that forgot in their freedom that slaves must get everything for free.  Slaves must get the essentials of life for free because their souls are forfeit.  And the smell, certainly not the sweet smelling incense of prayer, but the stench of unbridled freedom not recognized, of grace not acknowledged, of mercy not appreciated, all coalescing into something that my Bible says causes the nostrils of almighty God to flare.

          Jesus must have heard and smelt something like this too.  The murmur of hungry thousands waiting to be fed by 12 flustered men with 5 barley loaves and two small fish (or was it 5 fish and two barley loaves?) .  The angry shouts of those who believed their freedom was political and religious, not life lived in a kingdom where man does not live on bread or fish alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. 

          And the smells must have been much the same – the reek from a house of prayer that was also an abattoir for rams and lambs and doves and bulls.  The stench from a place outside the city walls where the garbage was dumped and one lamb took away the sins of the whole world.  And there is misery there.  Real misery.  End of the world misery, depths of hell misery.

          Which leads us to this place where once again we are shown our sin and are reminded again  of God’s cure – always through means.  Manna and quail, flustered Moses and Aaron, flustered 12, bread and body, blood and more blood until a blood arrives that speaks a better word than Abel’s.  Manger crib where blood is spilled. Temple8 days later where again blood is spilled, and a name given that spells out the means; Jesus – Savior – Anointed One – God with us and for us.  Always means.  Seedtime and harvest, God’s hands open to satisfy the desires of every living thing.  By these means he means to change our desires into His.  To take multitudes of flustered disciples and through simple means, word and Sacrament, body and blood, wine and bread and water cause all of us to say, “ we have the bread of heaven and it is enough”.  To bring through and to flustered disciples the recognition of freedom,  the acknowledgement of grace, the appreciation of mercy.  To bring to this place called Kebera and to the whole world that spiritually is this place, through those means, the bread of heaven till we want and need no more.

Kibera STreet Scene









The tasks of the followers of Jesus are to take his gifts that he gives us, let him multiply them and then serve our neighbor.

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Tulsa & Minot

 Rev Phil Hannemann of St Paul Rugby writes:

From July 23-29 our church fellowship hall was the camp out zone for six adults and seven youth from Good Shepherd Lutehran Church of Tulsa, OK.  They logged in time at Minot from Sunday -Thursday gutting the insides of four homes during the days.  Each evening, they showered at the Rugby Armory, ate food provided by St Paul members and watched videos.  They left this morning after cleaning the fellowship hall.

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A cup of cold water or pulling some weeds………..

Seter Garden

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

The words of Christ in Matthew have always haunted me.  We have blogs about the “good stuff” and the little things but they do add up.
I blogged about the wonderful work done in my yard by a group of our friends that got together and planted my wifes flowers while she was in the hospital.  It was wonderful but…… no one could get a handle on the flower garden in the back.  It is hard to see in this picture but we have lilies and decorative grasses and poppies and forget me not’s and spiderworts and all kinds of things that were literally taken over by thistles.  After days of pulling by hand I can finally see the plants for the weeds.  You can also see my artistic eye as I try to match the line of the leaning tree in the neighbors yard with the angle of the ladder against my workshed with the bird bath.  Anyway I got this from Maryann Anderson – remember the yarn lady from a previous blog –
“There is a family who gardens just to the “south” of our plots near the 4-H building in Bismarck who need prayers. I found out from a “neighbor gardener” that the father is seriously ill with lung cancer. The family is young with two children within the ages of 11-8″ish”. Their garden was over grown with weeds and the “neighbor gardener” did clean it. We will be watering it and I and two of the granddaughters will go and weed more today and plant some fall carrots, lettuce and radishes. Our grandchildren and the 4-H Unit Caring Hands they are in was going to donate extra produce to the Hunger Free Garden Project. They still want to do that but also to donate beans and tomatoes to this family. Please pray for this young family and for us to have our eyes and hearts open to the opportunities we have before us to serve them. Thanks again for remembering them.”
 Please pray for us to have our eyes and hearts open to the opportunities we have before us to serve.  What a great prayer.
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Things Done In Christ’s Name – part 2

I said in the last blog that anything that almost an entire congregation turns out for is worth talking about.  I also wrote in a previous blog that Jesus commandment was a “truly new thing” when He said that his disciples were to love as he loved them.  There was, in no sense of the word, any “merciful concern for the poor” before Jesus came and gave that commandment.  Before the Christian Church was born there were no orphanages, schools of help for the blind, the deaf, the insane or handicapped.  In fact early in the churches life there was no need for these things because “every Christian home was an asylum for the……… indigent”  There are reports from history that members of the early church would go door to door in what we would call a motel, and see if any of the travelers were sick or had died during the night.  If they found someone sick they would help.  If they found someone dead they would give them a proper burial.  They did these things freely of their own will.  It was reported by a Roman governer that wherever the pagans are (read Christians) there are no homeless or hungry or sick littering the streets “as there are in Rome”.  It used to be the norm that the entire congregation were workers of mercy.  So here are somemore pictures of the Trinity expedition to the Northland Rescue Center.
















The quotes above come from a book called “Christian Charity in the Early Church” that I am finding fascinating.  We will be talking about it more.  In the meantime I have had a lot of response to that last blog.  I would love to hear about other congregations and their “expeditions”.

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The Things Done In Christ’s Name.

When we started this blog we said that we wanted to capture the partnerships and the myriad of things that we do as the body of Christ, up here in the North Country.  I am stunned as I travel around Minnesota North and North Dakota of the things that congregations support and participate in because the “love of Christ compels them”.

Northlands Rescue Center in Grand Forks
Earlier this Spring almost the entire congregation of Trinity Lutheran Church in Drayton traveled to Grand Forks to the Northlands Rescue Center where they cooked and served lasagna and ice cream desserts.  I discouraged taking pictures because I thought that was very intrusive but I did get some snap shots of some of the members and their families after the dinner and clean up.

Some Trinity members

The two boys in the hats called Bingo later in the evening.

Trinity Members and relatives

This is not all the people that were there and some even brought their relatives along.  The interaction with the clients was a good thing to see.  At any rate I thought that any project where almost the entire congregation shows up was worth talking about.  I plan to keep track of all the different mercy/witness emphasis that I hear in the Districts and let you know what God’s people do because the love of Christ compells us.


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Youth and Partnerships

I was privileged to be with the some of the youth of North Dakota at the senior high gathering at Jamestown last weekend.  I talked with them about the “one really new thing” that Jesus brought into this world (see July 18 and 19).  Pastor Nour, a Palestinian who was born in Nazareth was the Bible study leader and did a great job.  He made a great emphasis on the fact that we are God’s “treasured possession” and what that means for our life and work. I also mentioned the emphasis that the District Presidents of Minnesota North and North Dakota are putting on the Project 24 Rescue centers and making them a “living laboratory” by sending some of our Pastors over there to stay and work and teach at a center for 10 or 12 days.  The reaction was honest when I asked how many would be interested in going over seas and doing something like that.  Several eagerly raised their hands and wanted to go.  About the same number said that they wouldn’t do something like that for all the “tea in China”.  That is the kind of honesty I like.  We are getting ready to put together a formalized package of what this trip would look like – what the cost to the traveler would be; who is eligible to go; how do we choose who goes; what the rules are when they get there; how do they get out in an emergency; what shots and medical needs are there; how to behave in that culture; what kinds of work would be done? etc.  Stay tuned.  I my mind I am looking for a graduate of High School who thinks they might want to be a deaconess or a missionary but isn’t sure.  I am sure that the District Presidents have their ideas as well so wait for it – it is coming.

Jamestown High School Gathering

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LWML and Partnerships

Judy Anderson and Kay Kreklau at Trinity

“This little site is designed to help us to see how the body of Christ functions, communicates, works, struggles and cares up here, in this part of God’s creation. Up North, where you might see the Northern Lights, we are hoping to give glimpses of God’s light shining in our hearts as we “live together as Christ’s people”. We hope to hear from those people in the months and years ahead as paths “cross” and partnerships are formed and we witness, show mercy and share our “life together” in Christ.”  I keep going back to this statement that I wrote when we started this blog site in April.  There are so many things that churches are doing corporately to show the love of Christ in the world.  There are so many things that groups are doing to show the love of God in the world and so many things that individuals are doing too.  I am stunned at the programs and projects that the Board of International Missions looks at that take place all around the world.  I am completely amazed when I hear of the different projects that individuals are involved with.  We want to encourage all of that and at the same time focus on things that we can to together.

The Lutheran Womens Missionary League has always been a great source of inspiration and help to me in many ways.  There is a true partnership with the LWML at all levels from the congregational units to the District to the Synod.  At least there should be.  Kay Kreklau from Drayton North Dakota was recently elected to be the President of the national LWML at Peoria.  She was installed and commissioned but we had a little ceremony of blessing and “sending” at Trinity on Sunday July 10th.  Judy Anderson is the President of the Northeast Zone of the North Dakota District and she gave Kay the flowers.

I served as the counselor for the LWML and can attest to the meticulous care that they take with their mites and figuring out how best to use these gifts to extend the work of “mission and mercy”.  I have participated in retreats and presentations with the LWML of the Minnesota North District and I continue to be impressed with their commitment to bring the lost and erring into fellowship with Christ and to strengthen the faith and prayer life of their members.  I am getting to know Cheryl Petersen who is the LWML President in Minnesota North.  Dorothy Abrahamson of MN North can tell you all about the length and breath of the projects that these women undertake.  Sue Corwin the President of the North Dakota District LWML is a quiet example of service and caring.  Joan Johnson my friend from Grand Rapids is an example of the LWML’s evangelical soul.   Kay will be a great servant leader for this organization and I look forward to all kinds of partnerships.

One last word of advice to the Pastors who may be reading this.  It is a mistake that many of us make to think of the LWML as the altar guild or the funeral lunch crowd.  They do those things and they do them willingly and carefully but they are and can be so much more.  My prayer is that every Pastor when he works with the LWML at any level can say what Paul said –

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”.  Philippians 1:3-5

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One Disaster After Another continued and continued and contin……

I received this forward yesterday.  The email is from Kurt Rosin.  I remember driving around Grand Forks in 1997 with Kurt and seeing devastation like this.  It also reminds me of what I saw in Wadena last year.  It would be nice to hear from someone from Wadena how much the volunteer help meant. Here is a picture of Minot and a picture of Wadena.  As I said before all disasters seem to have a mind numbing “sameness” to them while being uniquely individual in the pain they cause.  If you can help please let the District Offices know.

Lots of cleanup will be needed in Minot.

Lots was needed in Wadena

We arrived in Minot today. People are going back into the flooded homes to work. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, with lots of work to do. We are, even at this point, as we talk to people, seeing them cry when discussing what they have to do. We have found places for people to stay. It may be in the church, but there will be places to stay. All volunteers are able to shower at the YMCA, and we are putting the finishing touches on figuring out food with the Salvation Army/Red Cross/Southern Baptists. So it appears the need is great. Consider coming whenever you can. Let us know — we will find work for you to do.


God bless,


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One Really New Thing – part 2

A sign from somewhere in Minnesota.


I’ve wanted to get this picture into a blog for a long time.  In case you can’t see it the Pastor’s name is simply covered up with a board.  I suppose that we can look at this in a couple of ways.  Either the name of the Pastor is to be secret so that if you come to church it will be a surprize.  Perhaps this church goes through Pastors so fast that it is easier to simply cover the name with a board until the new guy comes and then we will get the paint out. Anyway it struck me as a little strange.

We have been having lots of discussion in our circles about the nature of the Office of the Pastor.  In some circles, the Pastor is the embodiment of Christ.  In others he simply does or performs the functions of an office instituted by God.  In still others he is functionary that is more like an “at will employee”.

 In the first installment of “One Really New Thing” we closed with these words – “It seems to me that the essence of discipleship is taking the blessings that God gives and using them to feed others.”  My contention is that God redeemed us in Christ so that we can live liives of mercy in benefit to our neighbors.  In order for that to happen the Office of the Ministry is established by God. 

An article in the Concordia Theological Quarterly in 2004 written by Prof. William Weinrich writes, “The ministry is not a result or function of the collective will of individual Christians in a particular congregation. Rather, the necessity of the office arises from the necessity of faith for the justification of the sinner.  That is, the necessity of the office arises from the will of God that there be a royal priesthood constituted in faith, as a result of the means of grace that the Office of the Holy Ministry was instituted by God to administer. There can be no hearing of faith if there is no preaching of Christ. There can be no reception of the sacraments if there is no administration of the sacraments. Augustana V puts it in classical terms: “In order that we might obtain this justifying faith, the ministry of teaching the gospel and of administering the sacraments was instituted.”

So for there to be “priests” that live lives of mercy, there have to be Pastors that preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments.  Pastors are to equip the Saints to live lives of mercy.  This is the rationale behind the words of our District President Dr. Baneck –

We affirm the understanding that pastors of the ND District are leading, teaching, and encouraging their congregations to go into their community, having Christ-like love for their neighbor. To this end, I would hold up to the District these three priorities for our pastors under the heading of Mercy 1. Pastors are visibly and actively interacting with the people in their community  2. Pastors are actively leading their congregations into the community to do acts of mercy  3. Pastors are in conversation with the leaders of the community as to community needs and concerns (mayor, school principal, police, etc).

I pray that church somewhere in Minnesota was able to get the paint can out.



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