All Are Welcome!
Please note that there will be no services through the month of April
P.O. Box 35,
36055 213th Street
Hillman, MN 56338
Pastor Stephen Olson
EMAIL : firstname.lastname@example.org
How To Find Us:
Immanuel Lutheran Church of Hillman is located at the intersection of County Hwy 27 and County Hwy 47. It is one mile west of County 8.
Bethel – Immanuel Lutheran Parish
March 23, 2020
Dear Members of Bethel and Immanuel Lutheran Churches,
I hope all is well with you and your families as we begin our second week of sheltering in place. I would like to share several thoughts with you as we move ahead. I do not know when we will be able to worship together again in person. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the Church is not the building, but people who celebrate the Lordship of Jesus in their lives. Please read my other article in this newsletter for a pastoral perspective on the crisis confronting our communities. I hope that you will find it helpful. The purpose of this short note is to inform you of my plans for the immediate future.
It is important for you to know that I have been in contact with both our congregational presidents. They have been helpful and supportive, and I commend them for their efforts. In an email at the end of last week, I made some suggestions to Jerry Lochner and Brian Lindgren about how we might move ahead. Since both were supportive, I would like to share them with you also.
In Christ ☩
Pastor Stephen E Olson, Intentional Interim Pastor
Reflections on Church Life in the Time of the Coronavirus: We are not alone. Jesus is with us
A story from the sixth chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel: The disciples were weary. Since early that morning, the crowds had surrounded Jesus, bringing their sick and dying so that he might touch them. Preaching, teaching, and healing . . . It had been a long, hard day. Certainly Jesus was tired, but no less than the disciples . . . Following Jesus demanded everything one had. It was a relief when Jesus suggested they leave the crowd that evening and cross the Sea of Galilee to the other side. Perhaps the crowds would not follow them and they might be able to get some rest. Jesus was so weary that he immediately fell asleep in the stern.
But the disciples were not that fortunate. In the middle of the lake, a storm suddenly came up. Its wind and waves were so great that the boat began to sink. Although most were fisher folk, they had never seen a storm like this. Terror gripped their hearts. They were too young to die. After all, they had families and there was so much left to do. And what about the sleeping Jesus . . . Seemingly oblivious to their peril? If he could help others, surely he could help them. But how could he sleep in the raging storm? So, in desperation, they shook him. ‘Wake up, Lord! Don’t you care if we perish?’ . . . Then the frightened disciples waited for Jesus to do something.
I have no doubt that the storm on the Sea of Galilee was threatening and that the disciples were terrified. I identify with this story. As I sequester with my family in St. Paul, I must admit that I am concerned about the future. Isolation is something new for all us as we try to be follow the guidance of our leaders to limit our social interaction with others. We are now being told by our doctors and public health professionals that there is no short-term way to resolve the Covin-19 problem. I would less than honest if I didn’t admit to being fearful about the future. The well being of our loved ones and the financial uncertainty that is sweeping our nation add to the uncertainty.
There is much more to this story than the original twelve apostles caught in a storm. I think that it’s really the story of all disciples who face storms on the sea of life. Mark’s Gospel was written nearly a generation after our Lord’s death and resurrection. I believe that he includes this story as a way of comforting those who follow Jesus as the storms of life break over them. When I say ‘disciples,’ I mean disciples both past and present. The crises of life have often been compared to stormy seas. And they come upon us whether we like it or not. They terrify us. They knock us around . . . And they threaten to destroy all our stability and security. Often, we do not know how long they will continue or even if we can survive them. Let’s be realistic, human life is a precarious business. We live between the extremes of illness and health . . . joy and grief . . . life and death. The boundaries are narrow . . . Sometimes so narrow, that there seems to be no middle ground between them. Like the apostles, we fear for our lives as the sea of adversity breaks over us. We are frightened because it seems that Jesus is asleep and oblivious to our needs. We feel as if we are totally alone.
Why is life this way? The Bible is silent on this. It only witnesses the truth of our condition. Our brokenness with God, with each other, and with the earth brings suffering and death upon us. And worse yet, there are times when we suffer for no apparent reason at all. Bad things are happening all the time . . . Sometimes to others . . . Sometimes to us. Our question of ‘Why?’ never gets answered. In today’s Gospel, we are not told why the storm hit when the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee . . . We are told only that the storm came upon them and Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat.
But what the Evangelist Mark wants those who follow Jesus to understand is that Jesus is present at all times . . . Even in the midst of the wind and raging sea when disciples cry out, ‘Jesus, don’t you care if we perish?’
The good news today is that Jesus does care. Yes, he was asleep, but that does not mean he was unaware of what was happening to them. He was aware of the waves, the wind, and their fears. In a like manner, our Lord Jesus is with us as the storm of life breaks over us. Jesus knows our grief, our isolation, and our fear. He knows because he was totally alone, rejected by the crowds, abandoned by his disciples, and tortured by his enemies. He knows because he experienced it first hand on Calvary’s cross. / / / /
When Jesus awoke, he looked at his frightened disciples with loving eyes. St. Mark tells us that Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘PEACE! BE STILL!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm on the sea. And then he said to all who follow him, ‘WHY ARE YOU AFRAID? HAVE YOU NO FAITH? CERTAINLY YOU KNOW THAT I WOULD NOT LET YOU PERISH. IN THE WATERS OF YOUR BAPTISMS, MY FATHER HAS CLAIMED YOU FOR ALL TIME . . . AND I LOVE YOU MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF. SO OFTEN I WOULD HAVE TAKEN YOU INTO MY ARMS AND CRIED WITH YOU, HAD YOU ONLY LET ME. TO TRUST ME IS TO KNOW THAT NO POWER ON THE EARTH CAN DESTROY YOU. I AM THE LORD OF ALL CREATION . . . EVEN THE WIND AND THE SEA OBEY ME. FEAR NOT, FOR I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE.’
In the name of Jesus ☩