by Jerry Winzig,
Jerry serves as LNL treasurer
A few days ago I saw again a commercial that's been around for a while. It features an older gentleman touting the advantages of owning gold. He says he even likes the feel of gold. At the end, he puts his gold coins in a safe hidden behind a picture on the wall.
I've never liked that commercial. But the gospel reading for LNL today (Nov. 15) was Jesus' Parable of the Talents, where a master entrusts his property to his slaves. This commercial reminds me of the slave who buries his talent in the ground until his master's return.
When Judy and I were married in 1974 and merged our finances together, I discovered that Judy, who was a lay associate for the Lutheran Church in America at the time, and was giving $10 a week to Messiah Lutheran Church. Lay associates didn't make much money, and for that matter, neither did I. I was a practicing Catholic when we were married, and thought I was doing pretty good if I put a dollar into the offering plate at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church every week. $10 a week seemed like a big commitment.
Judy told me about Alf Teigen, a long-time member of Messiah whom everyone called Grandma. At the time, Grandma Teigen, a delightful woman who was long past retirement age, worked in the child care center at Messiah. Her husband had left her during the Great Depression, and she had had to do whatever she could – sewing, doing laundry, working various jobs – to support herself and her two daughters. But she felt that all she had had come from God, and so, every Sunday, she gave 10% of her income in the weekly offering before managing to pay the other bills. This was one of her guideposts as she successfully raised her daughters to adulthood, and she contributed her talents in other ways, like being "Grandma" to a child-care center.
This was a transforming experience for this young Catholic guy who was in the process of becoming Lutheran as a result of marriage. Judy and I made a commitment to "tithe" – to give 10% of our income to church. It became an ingrained habit. It also became a commitment, a priority that has helped center all of our financial decisions. We kept up the habit through layoffs, job losses, job changes, Judy going to seminary, my becoming self-employed, and our adoption of three wonderful kids decades apart. During all the intervening years, we never lacked for any real necessities, though we didn't have everything we might have "wanted" at the moment. When Judy died, I didn't think twice about continuing the habit.
I have to admit that, while we went through lots of ups and downs and many challenges, we were never destitute or impoverished. And as the years went on, we were blessed with incomes that improved, and were not hit with medical crises that have ruined some families' finances. So the lesson here may not apply to all. But I've found that setting aside part of my income for giving as a matter of course is an ongoing acknowledgement that God is the source of all that I have. And it helps bring clarity and purpose into what I do with what has been given to me.
by Pastor Sara Spohr
Can you name a time, event, or experience where your faith grew significantly? Stop, think about that question before you keep reading. Really look back. When has your faith, or your trust in God, or your understanding of God’s presence in your life, gained strength? Here’s this week’s opportunity to share your story.
I can think of three pretty specific moments in my life when I gained a new understanding that God mattered, faith mattered, my connection to a spiritual community mattered.
The first was my time on summer staff at Luther Crest Bible Camp. I always knew the words of faith, but this was the first time I remember seeing people actually live their faith in a loving Christian community.
The second was when my dad got sick and we didn’t know if he would survive. His pastor gave our family communion around his bed in the St. Cloud Hospital. That day, for the first time, I felt an indescribable strength in that holy meal.
The third time was when I started to give sacrificially. When I began to give in this way, I learned that giving was less about a church budget, and so much more about my relationship with God.
This Sunday as we worship, we’ll once again consider this question “How will you measure your life?” Start now. Process this question – how has your faith grown, evolved, matured? What moments of genuine community, hardship, or sacrifice have helped you to see your relationship with God in a new light? Share your short story here.
This week members will receive a letter from Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church with an ‘Intent to Give’ form. As you reflect on your faith, prayerfully consider how God will use the gifts you give in the year ahead to really make a difference in our shared mission in the world. Every gift given makes us a stronger community of individuals more trusting in God to guide us. Every gift given allows us to make an impact in our work to share God’s love with all.
Can I give you one more reason to tune into worship this Sunday? I’ll tell you the story of my newest pair of shoes and how they continue to remind me of my need to trust in God.
by Pastor Sara Spohr
Today, I went for a morning run around Lake Hiawatha and this Hamilton lyric was stuck in my head the whole way. “But the sun comes up and the world still spins.” If you’ve seen the musical, you know that this particular lyric comes from the song “What’d I Miss.” It’s sung by an excited, eager, and hopeful Thomas Jefferson as he arrives back in the United States from France after the Revolutionary War. He’s more than ready to be a part of a brand new government. If you know the show, or know your constitutional history, you also know this – there will be obstacles.
As I write this morning, it is Wednesday Nov. 4, 2020, and one of the few things I know for certain is that the sun has come up, and the world still spins. We’ve returned from the “far off” land of campaigns and political promises. We’re both weary and eager for a hopeful turn of page in our country. It doesn’t matter how you voted. There are still obstacles. “But …
... the sun comes up and the world still spins.”
Not only that, and far more importantly, God is still God. Full stop.
We know that God created humanity with the capacity for love. This is our work, and it continues to be our work no matter who sits in the seats of power in our government. My pastor friend has said this: "If we think that the results of this presidential election could somehow outperform the love of God, then we should spend some time exploring where our faith is rooted."
God has created you with love. Acts of service, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, are your way of sharing the power of God’s love at work in the world. Now, as much as ever, we need to see this, name this, celebrate this God-given love.
Here’s your opportunity to respond this week: Big or small, share the story of an act of kindness that inspired you. Click here to tell your story.
This morning on my run, I had to pause at the top of the hill by the Hiawatha clubhouse because the view was breathtaking. The lake was covered in fog and the mist spread across the golf course where geese were still resting. Behind the lake and the trees, the sun rose with the warmest orange glow. It was postcard worthy. For me, for this day, it was a picture of hope.
“But the sun comes up and the world still spins.”
I’m not trying to gloss over a difficult day and deeply divided political climate with a “just have hope and everything will be okay” kind of statement. It will be hard. There will be disappointments. Our notions of justice and love will be questioned. The strength of our love will be tested. I am telling you, that as we share these pictures, stories, moments of love, these are the hints of hope that we so desperately need to see. In them, we will be reminded that a God of love is at work. In every single act of kindness you encounter today, God’s love is at work. Do not underestimate the love of God. Do not underestimate what God can do in you. It is beautiful.