by Pastor Sara Spohr
As I prepare for worship this Sunday, I’d love to know about the special saints in your life.
• Who are the saints you are remembering this All Saints Day?
• Who has shown you what God’s love looks like?
• How did they best express that love?
Could you take a couple of minutes to share your answers with me now? Here’s a short form you can use to respond.
My home was built in 1923; it's not quite 100 years old. Many of the homes in my neighborhood have reached that 100-year milestone and more. They were built to last at the turn of the century. Do you ever wonder what life was like in this South Minneapolis neighborhood 100 years ago? Families living in the homes we now occupy, doing their best to build a meaningful life, a connected neighborhood, a thriving community.
Now, remember that those same families,100 years ago, were just coming out of a time of quarantine after the 1918 flu pandemic. I don’t know anyone that was alive during that pandemic. But it’s powerful for me to remember that in the very neighborhood I live in now, people were doing exactly what I’m doing, staying home to stay safe, wearing masks, keeping distance, trusting in God’s presence.
This is the power of All Saints Sunday.
We are connected to generations of faithful people who suffered, endured, and continued to trust in God. We are connected to generations of faithful people who found hope, love, and joy even in the midst of uncertainty. We are connected to generations of people who have kept the faith, convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
This Sunday we’ll celebrate the communion of saints. We'll lift up the names of those beloved saints of Lake Nokomis Lutheran who have died in the last year. We’ll give thanks for their love in our lives, their witness of faith, for their contributions to this community. We’ll trust that they are now a part of the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ that surrounds us as we continue to live in faith. We’ll remember that God is the God of all generations and as these beloved saints passed on their faith and love to us, we now use our lives to share that same love and faith with the generations who will come after us.
This Sunday is also the beginning of our fall Stewardship Series, “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Be sure to join us as we reflect on what really matters. Here’s your spoiler: Love matters more than winning, generosity matters more than status, relationships matter more than wealth, and gratitude matters more than accumulation. I look forward to reflecting on what a life well-lived looks like with you, and giving thanks to God for guiding us toward the things in life that really matter.
by Pastor Sara Spohr
On Nov. 1 we'll celebrate the beautiful tradition of All Saints Sunday. In churches I’ve been a part of in the past, we have read the names of beloved saints, lit candles, rung chimes, and told the beautiful stories of those who have shared the faith. Every year on All Saints Sunday I remember my two grandmas. I remember my Grandma Spohr’s joy, unconditional love, and silly songs. I remember my Grandma Boyum’s faith, wisdom, and spectacular Scrabble skills. I remember them when I sing "For All the Saints," particularly the third verse:
Oh, blest communion, fellowship divine,
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in thee, for all are thine.
This year, like none other, I pause on those words “we feebly struggle.” This year will be different. We cannot gather for traditional worship, but we will pause to remember the beloved saints in our lives and in the life of Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church.
Join us on Wednesday Oct. 28 for an All Saints Faith Walk. Come to the church parking lot any time between 5:45 and 7:15 p.m. You’ll be able to walk from your car, through luminaries along the sidewalk, through our sanctuary space, and out the sacristy door back to your car. The whole walk will take about 10 minutes.
Here are a few ways that you can participate:
I hope to see you next Wednesday. During these uncertain times, we need sacred moments like this to connect us to God and one another. We need to immerse ourselves in moments of faith, love, and hope.
Mark your calendar now for two more LNL Faith Walks:
• Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday Nov. 25
• Christmas Eve Eve, Wednesday Dec.23
by Ginny Rudloff
Ginny is a retired Prevention Coordinator for Cherish All Children and member of Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church.
"Love born of faith in Jesus Christ calls us all to attend to, discuss, resist, and reject the system of sexual exploitation." (ELCA Message on Commercial Sexual Exploitation, pg. 1)
What was your childhood like? Mine was pretty happy. I grew up on a farm with four siblings and lots of cousins to fill my days. It was a time of exploration, joy, and growth. There were no major bumps in the road; just the occasional spats with my siblings, heated arguments with my parents about short skirts and independence, and lots of love.
Life is not like that for every child. Many live in fear and insecurity, conditions that make them vulnerable to sex traffickers. The Polaris Project, which runs the National Trafficking Hotline tells us, "Traffickers recognize and take advantage of people who are vulnerable in certain ways. There are several factors that may make a child vulnerable to sex trafficking including having an unstable living situation, having a history of domestic or sexual abuse, being frequent runaways, being involved in the juvenile justice or foster care systems, experiencing poverty or financial need, and/or dealing with addiction.”
Traffickers look for these vulnerabilities and groom individual victims for sexual exploitation. Cherish All Children acts with congregations to educate, equip, and engage them to prevent child sexual exploitation and trafficking.
At Lake Nokomis Lutheran, members have used the “Prayers for Cherishing Children” to pray daily for the safety and well-being of youth. One member told me that she carried a list of the children and youth in our congregation in her workbag. While she waited for the light rail each morning, she prayed for a few children each day as she moved through the list. Our congregation ha also prayed for children on their baptismal anniversaries each week in the Prayers of the People, reminding them that we love them, cry with them in their sadness, and rejoice in their delights.
We have also hosted community discussions on ending the demand for trafficking, and have fostered conversations in our Faith and Life Conversations, our youth groups, and other small gatherings. Cherish All Children has provided resources to equip us for protecting our youth and guiding them to recognize some of the tactics traffickers use to groom and exploit children.
When a coalition of organizations working to prevent trafficking advocated for the passage of Safe Harbor legislation, Cherish All Children urged congregations to join community and faith groups to support this sea-changing legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support. It has had a profound effect on trafficked youth who saw no hope in their future.
Please join the Faith and Life Conversation on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 9:15 a.m., with Joy McElroy of Cherish All Children. We can all learn how to help our youth stay safe online while engaging in conversations with adults and peers about risk and prevention. I am personally thankful to Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church for making a difference by supporting and participating in this tiny little organization with a huge vision. We are active advocates for prevention!