Lifetimes: August 2020

From the Staff

Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

In a recent Zoom meeting, we paused for a time of prayer requests and this is what emerged:

  • A local teacher asked for prayers as their school plans to re-open.
  • Others asked for prayers for all teachers, administrators, students and families as they prepare for the fall.
  • Prayers were requested for a family member who was a victim of a racial attack.
  • There were multiple prayers for family members with COVID-19.
  • A prayer of thanksgiving was offered for a family member who graduated from a police academy, as well as prayers for their protection and encouragement.
  • We celebrated, in prayer, a few work projects that were successful beyond imagining.
  • We included prayers for friends and family members facing the loss of loved ones or weighted by concern for their elderly parents or struggling with a recent diagnosis.

The prayers of this group were a microcosm of what’s happening in our community, in our homes. The weight, at times, seems unbearable, doesn’t it?

Yet, I was also reminded of the gift we have in one another, if only through Zoom. We get to walk together. We grab hands (virtually) and know we are not alone. We rely, together, on a source of encouragement and strength that comes from outside of us but works in and through us for the sake of one another. It’s a spirit of encouragement when discouraged; a spirit of unity and community when threatened with division; a spirit of hopefulness when despair seems an easier road to travel; a spirit of love that will not let us be consumed by fear.

In August, we are preaching through Paul’s letter to the congregation at Philippi. The letter is Paul’s most encouraging letter, most joy-filled. It doesn’t deny the peril of the world but it helps the reader decide that the promise of God’s presence in that world, in our world, is a promise to be celebrated. It seems like a good time to be reading Philippians.

I want to leave you with some of my favorite verses. I hope they will encourage you.

  • I am confident that the one who began a good work in you (in us, Incarnation) will bring it to completion.
  • Live your life in a manner worthy of Christ.
  • Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interest of others. That is the mind of Christ.
  • Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on.
  • Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice.
  • The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Keep on doing the things you have learned in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Thanks for being together on this journey!

Peace. Kai

Solid Ground

The last few months have been especially difficult for Solid Ground families. Many residents have lost their jobs or have had work hours reduced and cannot afford to meet their most basic needs. This year’s coat drive and fall shower are particularly beneficial to help our neighbors during these trying times. Items and monetary donations will be collected throughout August and September.

Winter Coat Drive

Please help the families at Solid Ground stay warm this winter. Donations of new or clean gently-used coats, boots, hats, gloves and scarves in all sizes are needed. Boots are especially in short supply. Items can be brought to Incarnation during the outside drive up/drop off collection days on Thursdays, August 20, 27 and September 3 from 9:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. Collection bins will be available inside Incarnation when the building is open. Monetary donations are especially helpful to purchase coats or boots when sizes are not available to meet the needs of families. Donations can be made online under the Solid Ground Coat Drive designation or by check to Incarnation with the designation in the memo line.

Fall Shower

You are invited to participate in a Fall Shower for families at Solid Ground. Many families arrive with few, if any, personal belongings. They are thrilled to be welcomed into their new home with essential kitchen items and linens. To participate, please purchase new items from the list below or from a more complete list on Incarnation’s website. Items can be brought to Incarnation during the outside drive up/drop off collection days on Thursdays, August 20, 27 and September 3 from 9:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. Collection bins will be available inside Incarnation when the building is open. Monetary donations are also very much appreciated to purchase items most needed by families. Donations can be made online under the Solid Ground Fall Shower designation or by check to Incarnation with the designation in the memo line.

Fall shower items most needed: bakeware (cookie sheets, pans, casserole dishes), kitchen knives (sets of three are preferred), kitchenware (measuring sets, mixing bowls, can opener, colanders, cooking utensils), pot and pan sets, shower curtains, liners and rings.

Many Parts, One Body: Caring for Our Neighbors

By Kate Lawless

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world hard. We all have seen and felt it’s impact in our own daily lives for months now. As Christians, we are also called to see the effect on our neighbors lives, as we do our own. And not everyone has the same access to adequate financial aid, health services and basic necessities that help us weather trying times. Now, we are called to think about these effects on our neighbors lives and what we can do to help.

At the beginning of 2020, Bonnie Moore read that there was a need for face masks. As a lifelong sewer and quilter, she knew that this was an area in which she could help. So Bonnie found face mask sewing patterns on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website and got to work. 

At first, Bonnie was sewing face masks on her own and donating them to local organizations like homeless and women’s shelters. Then she found a Facebook group called Mask Up MN, run by furloughed nurses who were using their free time to help with the mask shortage. Here, she found a community of support, with the shared goal of easing the fear of spreading COVID-19 in our most vulnerable communities. When Bonnie would run out of elastic or other supplies, she could ask for help in the Facebook group and there was always someone with a little extra to go around. 

Since she began this project, Bonnie has made around 200 masks. But her work helping our community did not stop there. Bonnie applied for a service grant from her employer, which promised to match her own donation. The grant went through and Bonnie intends to donate that gift to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf to help with food insecurity in the Twin Cities. 

Bonnie, and many community members like her, are finding ways to use their talents and skills to help those in need. Whether you are making face masks like Bonnie, donating to food shelves, taking extra time to care for loved ones, or finding your own unique way to give, we all can do something to help support our community. There are so many people who are struggling with basic things like affording face masks, getting groceries and finding ways to cope financially and emotionally with the effects of the pandemic. The story of Bonnie and the Mask Up MN Facebook group reminds us that our individual acts of service can have a massive impact when we come together with a shared mission of compassion. 

Whether it is finding another service group or making a renewed commitment to supporting the work of Incarnation, we want to encourage you to not only find ways to give back to our community, but also to recognize the importance of those connections, especially when we are social distancing.

Hunger in the Time of COVID-19

By Vernita Kennen

At the same time as we are in a once-in-a-century pandemic, we are also in a global increase in hunger unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. Hunger is increasing both in the U.S. and internationally at alarming rates. More people are expected to die from hunger than from the virus itself.

ELCA World Hunger, one of Incarnation’s ministry partners, has an opportunity via Zoom to learn more about how the COVID-19 pandemic is deepening food insecurity at home and around the world. The event will be Thursday, September 24, 7:00 p.m. CST. This event will help us learn about the unique ways ELCA World Hunger is responding to the crisis and let us hear from partners on the front lines tell us how our World Hunger gifts make a difference in their lives.

Rick Steves, guidebook author and travel TV host; ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton, and Bishop Wee of the NW WA Synod will join in the presentation. You will be challenged to continue to confront hunger in the time of COVID-19 in a unique first of its kind online benefit for ELCA World Hunger as we continue to face the global hunger crisis and continue moving “toward a just world where all are fed”.

Register for the event here.

Thank You, Grant Rykken

At the beginning of 2020, Incarnation started the process of getting ready to stream online sermons as part of our vision for Incarnation’s future. The equipment had been ordered, the Media Arts Director position was being developed and everything seemed to be on track – and then the pandemic hit. Like many other churches, Incarnation quickly needed to figure out how to become a digital community and how to bring worship entirely online. Without the equipment installed or a Media Arts Director yet hired, this posed a challenge! We were delighted when Grant Rykken stepped forward and volunteered to help. Since online worship began until just recently, Grant has filmed and edited our services for us so we could continue to gather as a faith community in worship. We are so grateful to Grant for sharing his time and talents with us!

Staff Changes

Goodbye Kristin Bloxham

After serving at Incarnation as the Director of High School Ministry for almost twelve years, Kristin Bloxham has taken another call at Prince of Peace in Roseville as their Office Administrator. Her new position will bring exciting new challenges for her to grow into as well as the opportunity to have a better work/life balance for her family. We lift her service to our faith community up with deep gratitude for the ways in which she loved and supported the families of Incarnation. We will miss her, but know that she will serve her new church family with the same dedication and love for Christ as she did with us – and that is something to celebrate. Thank you, Kristin!

Apostles Library Book Review

Women Talking By Mariam Toews

Of Course, You Can Find Women Talking, But This is Different!

This novel, based on real events, is told through the “minutes” of a gathering of women making decisions about escaping from their secluded Mennonite colony after years of abuse from some men of the colony. The minutes are written by a man who had been a colony member, banished and has returned.

If you think that’s convoluted, you’re correct. The characters, eight women from two families, range from grandmothers to young girls. Their relationships are carefully drawn as they struggle through two days of questions of should we leave, how can we leave, where will we go, etc. They don’t quite know where they are, much less have a map or know the local language or how to read!

This is not idle chatter but a matter of life and death. Read it to learn about the power of forgiveness, group responsibility, and a culture far removed from our daily lives. The author, Miriam Toews, is Canadian.

Click Here for the Memorials

Thank you for your generosity and support!


Communion Services

Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:00 p.m., beginning August 17
Attend a Communion Service in the Sanctuary and enjoy a time of scripture reading, prayer and instrumental music. Communion will have pre-made individual servings of cups and wafers. (Sorry, gluten free is not available at this time.) The services will last for around 20 minutes and will be capped at 25 people. Registration is required and we ask that you don’t sign up for more than one service a week. Masks covering both the mouth and nose will be required for attendees and worshipers will be spread out during the service.

Katch Up with Kai – LAST CHANCE

Join Pastor Kai Nilsen as he marks his one-year anniversary with Incarnation. Meetings will be held via Zoom in a small group format every Wednesday, now through August 19th at either 10:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m. The meeting will include a year in review, a check-in for each attendee, council reflection with a council member and a Q&A session. Please sign up at least two hours in advance of the meeting you wish to attend. Click here to register.

Praise and Prose

Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m., beginning August 19
These outdoor experiences will be 30-40 minutes in length and consist of a combination of hymns, songs and reflective readings. They will be led by the pastoral staff and Sean Turner, Incarnation’s contemporary worship leader, and a small combo of instrumentalists and singers. Please bring your own lawn chair or a blanket for the grass. We will use the grass and parking lot in front of the building. If you want to gather early with your own picnic dinner, you’re welcome to do so. In case of rain, the gathering will be canceled. Attendees are required to wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose and physical distance will be observed. Registration isn’t required for the Praise and Prose gatherings. On August 26, Shobi’s Table will be in the parking lot, so bring some cash to purchase some food!

Kaffe with Kai

Mondays in August at 10:00 a.m.
Join Pastor Kai on Mondays at 10:00 a.m. on Facebook Live for Kaffe with Kai. Ask questions, say hello to others from our faith community, or if you can’t join in at 10:00 a.m., watch the video later at your convenience.

Solid Ground Winter Coat Drive

Thursdays, August 20, 27 and September 3 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Please help the families at Solid Ground stay warm this winter. Donations of new or clean, gently-used coats, boots, hats, gloves and scarves in all sizes are needed. Boots are especially in short supply. Items may be brought to Incarnation during the outside drive up/drop off collection days on Thursdays, August 20, 27 and September 3 from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Monetary donations are especially helpful to purchase coats or boots when sizes are not available to meet the needs of families. Donations may be made online under the Solid Ground Coat Drive designation or by check to Incarnation with “Solid Ground Coat Drive” in the memo.

Solid Ground Fall Shower

Thursdays, August 20, 27 and September 3 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
You are invited to participate in a Fall Shower for families at Solid Ground. Many families arrive with few, if any, personal belongings and they are thrilled to be welcomed into their new home with essential kitchen items and linens. Purchase new items from this list and bring them to Incarnation during the outside drive up/drop off collection days on Thursdays, August 20, 27 and September 3 from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Monetary donations may also be made to purchase items most needed by families. Donations can be made online under the Solid Ground Fall Shower designation or by check to Incarnation with “Solid Ground Fall Shower” in the memo line.

Children, Youth and Family Bonfire

Wednesday, August 26, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Come for an evening of fun and fellowship We will be gathering outside Door 6, near the Alleluia Chapel. Attendees will need to wear a mask and we will be observing social distancing while we are gathered.

Incarnation’s FMSC Zoom-Based Virtual Trivia Event Fundraiser

Registration is due August 31
Join Incarnation’s second FMSC virtual trivia fundraising event the evening of September 1, for more fun and friendly competition, while helping to pay for ingredients packed into life-saving meals for kids around the world! Grab some friends, family, neighbors, coworkers or anyone for your team of six and register to be a part. Registration fee is $10/person and registration is due August 31. Learn more and register here.

Retirement Small Group

Once a week on Mondays from 7 – 8:30 p.m. on Zoom 
If you’re recently retired, considering retirement or want to reflect on retirement, this small group will focus on how retirement can be a time of purpose, meaning, relationships and spiritual growth (the group will not discuss financial planning). Drawing from the book, How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free, the group will meet for six Mondays, starting September 21 by Zoom (no subscription needed). Leaders: Nancy Stutzman and Grant Rykken. Register:

Holy Envy Small Group

Twice a month on Wednesdays, 1 – 2:30 p.m., October – March 
Engage in conversations around the book, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others, by Barbara Brown Taylor in a small group setting. In Holy Envy, Barbara Brown Taylor, recounts her journey teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates and how her own spiritual journey was renewed by connecting with people of other faith traditions. The group will meet by Zoom (no subscription needed, assistance available), starting on October 7. Leaders: Anne Cremons and Georgia Schultz. Register:

Job Transitions and Loss Small Group

Once a month starting in September, dates/times TBD
Connect with others who are unemployed, under-employed or in a job transition, including those impacted by COVID-19. This small group is a chance to meet other people in a similar life circumstance to find a sense of hope, purpose and community with a faith perspective. The group will gather over Zoom (no subscription needed, assistance available). Leader: Mike Styba. To register or find out more, contact:

Pack Feed My Starving Children Meals at Coon Rapids 

Now available through September

Great News! FMSC has adjusted processes and practices with COVID-19 in mindallowing volunteers to pack meals for God’s beloved children, while keeping everyone safe. Limited opportunities for volunteers to reserve spots to pack at all permanent packing facilities including Coon Rapids, are now available through September. Packing stations accommodate up to five volunteers who will not be socially distanced so it’s best to sign up with people with whom you are comfortable being physically close. Learn more and register to pack 

Company Matching Dollars to Support All Hands on Hope MobilePack 

Incarnation’s Feed My Starving Children All Hands on Hope MobilePack Event is back: Get fired up for October 21-27 when we’ll together back over a million mealsNow is a great time to consider applying for a matching donation from your employer, as money is raised to pay for the ingredients packed into those meals. Some companies will double or triple your donation; others will make a cash donation if you volunteer a certain number of hours. Be sure to include this idenifier with your company’s submission form: Event Code: 2010-009EA All Hands on Hope. Check out this link to see if your company will match: 

Tons of Love – Final Total 

As of July 31, you donated an astounding $48,553 through Incarnation but we also know several of you donated directly to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf in support of Tons of Love, bringing the official campaign total to $53,500 by well over 200 donors! We have also learned that some of you made donations which are eligible for company matching dollars and we are grateful for that; thank you for helping your dollars to go farther! To all of you, thank you for your amazing and faithful generosity which means many of God’s children will receive nourishment and other necessary supplies the coming monthsLearn more here

“Unbelievable response and generosity by so many people. We can’t thank you enough for your long term commitment to our mission and your trust in our process which allows us to continue to flex, pivot  and most importantly, prepare to meet the ever changing needs and demographics in our neighborhoods, schools and cities. We appreciate all of you who worked so hard to create this unique virtual drive during the covid epidemic…Congrats on a VERY successful Tons of Love 2020 fundraiser!” – Lisa Baker, Basic Needs Manager of the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf 

2020 Servant of Christ Award

Congratulations Incarnation, you’ve been awarded the 2020 Servant of Christ Award from Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota! This award honors congregations that exemplify the value of neighbors serving neighbors. LSS created this short video to recognize our ministry of service that empowers neighbors to live their best lives.

Continue to Support Twin Cities Mutual Aid Sites 

Thanks to all of you who generously and repeatedly donated food, hygiene and household items to Twin Cities Mutual Aid sites supporting underserved communities where food deserts emerged this summer. Learn how you can continue to contribute to a Twin Cities Mutual Aid site and/or serve at the Holy Trinity Lutheran site in S. Minneapolis where volunteers are needed. To make a financial donation to Twin Cities Mutual Aid through Incarnation, write a check to Incarnation with “Twin Cities Mutual Aid” in the memo or make an online donation here. For questions, contact Becky Benson.

Building Update

Besides the Communion Services, worship will continue to be online through Labor Day. When we return to using the building for worship and other ministries, there will be a number of best practices in place. This will include wearing face masks that cover both the mouth and nose, keeping six feet apart, staying home when sick, and checking in to your ministry activity. Thank you for your support and your patience as we navigate how to reopen safely. Click here for previous building updates.

Good Samaritan Fund Donations Needed

Incarnation’s Good Samaritan Fund is used to help individuals in need find aid to sustain them during a difficult time. This year, we’ve helped several individuals and the fund is running low. Please consider donating online or sending a check to the Incarnation Office with “Good Samaritan” in the memo to help people in our community. Thank you for your generosity.