By Barb Geiger and Keith Atkinson
Congregation members Barb Geiger and Keith Atkinson first shared these thoughts at Three-Church information sessions held during September.
Reflection from Barb Geiger
I think back on my former congregation, Epiphany Lutheran. Much like Lake Nokomis Lutheran, we were a warm and welcoming congregation, full of ideas, vision for the future and the desire to respond to God’s call. Unfortunately, Epiphany membership dropped over time, leaving us unable to sustain our congregation.
I wish Epiphany had the opportunity that we have at Lake Nokomis. We have been given a gift, a gift of stewardship, to create an incredible new way to share our building and allow us to move into the future as a secure, stable and sustainable congregation.
Reflection from Keith Atkinson
I first came to LNL in 2012 and after being greeted and welcomed so warmly, learning the LNL motto of “Come as You Are,” and seeing it expressed so openly – all these things told me this was my new church home. In the subsequent months, I got to know many of our church family members. I was pleased to learn that many members of LNL were from diverse backgrounds and Christian denominations. I met former Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, agnostics, one neighbor boy who identified as being Jewish, and the list goes on. Learning of these others who had been so welcomed into this church despite these differences only solidified the core value of the church that I had come to love.
To me, LNL is a church of conviction boldly stating, “Come as You Are” yet without a caveat of, “… but Only if You Are Like Us.” Our church faces a decision. This decision to me is not so much on voting for a Three-Church Initiative. It is more the question, “Do our actions on this vote reflect our words and beliefs of who we are and whom we serve?” The Apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NIV).
I know many of you are concerned of the changes that may come to LNL. Change is often scary and the uncertainty of the unknown can be troubling. However, I believe that change is also a necessary component of growth that leads to wonderful new creations.
I look at the example of my children when thinking of change. On the one hand, I want my children to stay the same sweet, little, bundles of joy they were when they were born. Yet, I also rejoice in their accomplishments as they mature, which is only possible from growth into adulthood. Recently, I dropped one of my children off at college. I didn’t want to see her go and I didn’t want the resulting change that I knew would affect my life. However, I knew that in order for her to keep growing beyond an already amazing young woman, she would have to keep growing and keep changing.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV).
By Pastor Sara Spohr
Do not be afraid — I am with you!
I am your God — let nothing terrify you!
I will make you strong and help you;
I will protect you and save you.
Isaiah 41:10 (Good News Translation)
In the pages of the Bible we hear the same straightforward message hundreds of times: “do not be afraid.” This is certainly good news. Sometimes though, fear and uncertainty can simply overwhelm me. In those moments, I wonder if my fear actually just exposes a lack of faith and trust in God. There is no shortage of things to fear these days, a global pandemic, civil unrest, systemic racism, a contentious (to put it mildly) upcoming election … of course that list could go on and on.
I heard a young dad vulnerably express his fears in an interview this week. He said, “Maybe there’ll be another spike, and my business will get shut down even further. And there’s been nights laying up at night in tears and late nights with the two of us yelling and screaming at each other or yelling at the kids or just staring at the wall because we don’t know.” (NPR interview - Matt Simonds, Albuquerque NM)
We don’t know. If the last year has given us any kind of certainty, it is that what’s coming next is uncertain. So how do we, as people of faith, live with courage and hope during these uncertain times? Can we really be “unafraid” as a child of God?
This fall at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church we are digging into questions like this in our worship series: Unafraid: Hope in Uncertain Times. Jesus faces difficult questions, system-wide injustices, fierce critics, and a successful attack on his very life. We’ll look to Jesus’ wisdom, action, and promises in the face of these fears. We’ll consider these current moments in the life of our church, city, nation, and world. We’ll name and face this fear head on, and find the courage and hope to move forward in faith together.
I am eager to worship with you, share the gospel together, and find renewed faith in the community of faith.