Lifetimes: August 2021

From the Senior Pastor

Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

An old Jewish parable probes God’s reasoning for choosing Abraham, Sarah and their descendants to be a blessing to the nations of the world (Genesis 12). In brief, “God is asked, ‘Why did you choose the Jews? You could have chosen the Greeks with their minds full of wisdom and some of the best philosophers the world has ever known. You could have chosen the Romans with their unperilled ability to build kingdoms and connected roads and aquifers to sustain their people. Why the Jews?’

God paused for a moment, then succinctly replied, ‘The Jews . . . they are great storytellers!’”

In the end, our lives are nothing but a conglomeration of the stories we have lived, listened to, loathed, and loved—for good or for ill. Which means the stories we immerse ourselves in—what we watch, listen to, or live with one another—have the capacity to change us and the world we inhabit. Michael Margolis says it this way, “The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions.”

Our theme for the fall is simply, Our Story. The weekly worship themes will encompass both the scriptural story which we are part of and our unique place in God’s story. In contrast to the toxic individualism of our culture, we will remind each other that our story is inextricably bound to the stories of others. It will also give us a chance to share “Our Incarnation Story”.

September 12: Your Story Matters
September 19: God is Present in Our Story
September 26: Our Neighbor’s Story is Our Story
October 3: Telling Our Story
October 10: The Stories We Once Believed
October 17: Everchanging Stories
October 24: The Danger of Single-Story Lives
October 31: Ancient Stories that Shape Modern Lives
November 7: Remembering the Stories Told

Put on your schedule, now, September 12—Your Story Matters. Plans are coming together for two worship services that will include the blessing of backpacks for our kids, a “homecoming” celebration for our friends in this community and beyond who are just beginning to make their way back to public worship gatherings, food trucks so we can enjoy the simple gifts of food and drink with one another, and a “take-home” that will give you the opportunity to be a blessing to someone you know.

If you want to change your world, change your story!

Look forward to the stories that will be told through you, through us!

Peace. Kai

Save the Date: September 12, 2021

Mark September 12 of this year down on your calendar because we’re going to celebrate coming back “home” to Incarnation and the start of a new school year!

What you can look forward to on September 12:

  • 8:45 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. worship will have a special blessing of the backpacks for students
  • Food trucks (Philly Xpress, Amish Annie, Dawg House, FatHouse BBQ)
  • Bounce houses
  • Climbing wall
  • Free Bibles for children
  • Yard games
  • Blessing kits
  • Outdoor music

We’re grateful to be able to gather as a community and we want to share that blessing with others, so everyone is welcome! Invite your friends, neighbors and family members to this fun event.

All Hands on Hope Feed My Starving Children MobilePackTM is Back!

By Sally Lawless

After a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID -19 pandemic, we are looking forward to hosting another Feed My Starving Children All Hands on Hope MobilePackTM event October 28-November 1, 2021.   This will be the 14th MobilePack TM event hosted by Incarnation since 2007. Incarnation’s Feed My Starving Children Action Group has been busy planning and praying for this event after working with FMSC in April to execute a safe and successful trial event. Since then, the federal and state guidelines have become less restrictive and will allow us to host more volunteers and pack more meals!

The global pandemic has had a profound impact on world hunger. According to the FMSC website, there are:

  • 690,000,000 people around the world who regularly go to bed hungry
  • 14,000,000 children under the age of five that are suffering from severe malnutrition
  • 6,200 children who die each day from causes related to undernutrition

By volunteering at just one shift at our MobilePack TM event, you can make an impact on global hunger during this crucial time.

Slated to run over five days with packing shifts available each day, we will be hosting many volunteers and encourage all in the community to attend. Volunteers will be asked to sign up in pods of up to 10 people. Shift times and number of volunteers are still being finalized, but keep checking the All Hands on Hope MobilePack web page for updated information. An announcement will be made when FMSC’s registration site is open.

At this time, the Incarnation Reopening Task Force is following the recommendations of the CDC and Ramsey county, strongly encouraging that everyone (vaccinated or not) wear masks while inside the Incarnation building. The Task Force and FMSC will continue to monitor current health and safety guidelines to ensure the safety of our volunteers and the recipients of the meals. More updates will be communicated as the MobilePack TM approaches.

We are finalizing our financial goals at this time, but we will need to continue fundraising for this event. We are grateful to be starting this season with $55,000 in Incarnation’s FMSC account which will be directed toward this event.

How can you help now?

  • Put the dates on your calendar and look for more information on shift times and registration information after Labor Day. Details can be found on the AHOH web page.
  • Donate to the MobilePack TM using one of these methods:
    • Make an online donation via Incarnation’s Secure Online Donation and Giving
    • Make a check out to Incarnation with “FMSC MobilePack TM” in the memo and mail to Incarnation at: 4880 Hodgson Road, Shoreview MN 55126.
    • Apply for a Thrivent Action Team grant of $250, which can be applied to this MobilePack TM (if you are a Thrivent member). Once you receive your Action Team card, bring it to the Incarnation Office to the attention of Becky Benson.
    • Make an online donation to Incarnation’s All Hands on Hope MobilePack™ via the Feed My Starving Children website.
  • Pray for those we serve around the world.

We couldn’t be more excited to move forward with our MobilePack TM events again! Look for more information coming soon.

Apostles Library Book Review

The God Who Sees: Immigrants, The Bible and, the Journey to Belong by Karen Gonzalez

The God Who Sees: Immigrants, The Bible, and the Journey to Belong is a personal story of seeking refuge and safety in another land. Author Karen Gonzalez currently works for World Relief. Here she tells her family’s story of immigration from Guatemala to the United States first to Los Angeles and later to south Florida.

This title is an excellent combination of one person’s experience but also the helps us understand the story of displaced people in our scriptures, both Old and New Testament. Seeing with new eyes the experiences of immigrants and immigration policy in our country helps us understand the way God has worked with immigrants throughout the Bible. Every other chapter in the book is Karen’s own story told through five of the sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church: baptism, communion, confirmation, anointing the sick and reconciliation. These visible signs of an inward grace help inform our understand of God.

The author says: “The story of belonging is always an important story. Immigrant stories always matter, because immigrants are image-bearers of God. . . As such, they are always important stories to tell. Always.” You will find the book informative, surprising, and moving. The notes and the discussion guide are very helpful, too.


Click here to give online.


We honor the memory of loved ones in the memorial gifts given below:

Donor Fund Name  In Memory of
Joy Burdick Memorial – Undesignated Bill Stein
Joy Burdick Memorial – Undesignated Theresa Peterson
Cathy Carter Memorial – Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Mark Lorenz
Cathy Carter Memorial – Solid Ground Emilie Vasseur
Cathy Carter Memorial – ELCA World Hunger Rev. Robert Lorenz
Marlys Nelson Memorial – Worship & Music Earl (Sherb) Sherburne
Sonja Sherburne Memorial – Worship & Music Earl (Sherb) Sherburne


Mask Update
Due to the rising COVID cases in Ramsey and Anoka Counties, the Reopening Task Force is recommending that we encourage everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear a mask while inside the church. If you don’t have a mask when you enter the building, you may find some outside the Incarnation Office that you are welcome to have. The Reopening Task Force will continue to monitor the situation to provide further guidance, as needed. Thank you for your patience and faithfulness as we strive to care for one another as a Christian community.

Collective Reflection – “Hell, Hope, Healing”
The pandemic has created and uncovered some very deep wounds in our society, our world and in ourselves. On Wednesday, August 11 at 6:00 p.m., we’ll gather as a community and process the last 15 months together with an experience designed to acknowledge the hell, recognize the hope and experience the promise of healing that God extends to us. Come for a space to process life together with prayer, scripture, silence, music . . . and ice cream! Gather outside of Door 6 and bring a chair, blanket or stay in your car.

Formation Leader for Middle School Students
Incarnation Lutheran Church (Shoreview, MN) seeks a part-time Formation Leader for Middle School students to begin immediately. You will work as part of the Teens and Families Formation Team to listen for, take note of and invite others into what God is doing in teens (grades 6-9) & their families. In partnership with the Formation Leader for Teens and Families, you will walk with us in 3 key ways: 1) help envision and execute the redevelopment of “confirmation”; 2) share administration of this emerging ministry; 3) co-coordinate logistics of summer experiences, focusing on the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2022. This position is 25 hrs/wk and offers prorated vacation and sick time. It is preferred that you have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and must have a high school diploma or GED. Full ministry description available upon request. To apply, please send a cover email with a brief statement of your faith formation, and resume to Danette Griffith, Administrator by August 12, 2021

Formation Leader for High School Students
Incarnation Lutheran Church seeks a part-time Formation Leader for High School students to begin immediately. You will work as part of the Teens and Families Formation Team to listen for, take note of and invite others into what God is doing in teens (grades 9-12) & their families. In partnership with the Formation Leader for Teens and Families, you will walk with us in 3 key ways: 1) embody a relational vision for ministry by practicing presence; 2) share administration of this ministry; 3) co-coordinate logistics of summer experiences, focusing on the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2022. This position is 25 hrs/wk and offers prorated vacation and sick time. It is preferred that the candidate have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university but must have a high school diploma or GED. Full ministry description available upon request. To apply, please send a cover email with a brief statement of your faith formation, and resume to Danette Griffith, Administrator by August 12, 2021.

Celebrate with the Ellisons
Dave and Cindi Ellison will retire from their ministry at Incarnation on August 15. That morning, Incarnation will hold two of the same services in the Sanctuary at 8:45 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. The Senior Choir will musically anchor both of the services. There will be a reception, outside, after each of the services so you can greet the Ellisons. If you like, you may:
  • Send a card to the Incarnation Office expressing your appreciation for their ministry. The cards will be passed onto Dave and Cindi at the end of August.
  • If you want to give a financial gift in honor of their work, Dave has asked those gifts be designated to two places of importance for them: 1) Organ Fund: This provides ongoing upkeep for Incarnation’s magnificent organ. 2) Feed My Starving Children and Incarnation’s MobilePack Event. You may either send a check to the Incarnation Office with “In honor of Dave & Cindi’s Ministry” in the memo or give online here. For either, select “Honoring Dave and Cindi’s Music Ministry – Organ” or “Honoring Dave and Cindi’s Music Ministry – FMSC”.

Men’s St. John’s University Retreat
A two-day retreat at St. John’s University and Abbey Guesthouse is planned for September 9-10. The program will include learning, fellowship and opportunities to enjoy the venues and natural beauty of the campus. The featured presenter will be Bill Cahoy of the St. John’s School of Theology, who will lead a discussion on the spiritual practice of contemplation. Also, Professor of Economics, Louis Johnston, will discuss current issues in the world of economics. Space is limited and reservations are due by August15. Reservation forms are available in the Incarnation Office or contact Jim Fruehling at 651-335-3554 or

Solid Ground Coat Drive Donations, now thru September 12
We can help the families at Solid Ground stay warm this winter by donating new or gently-used coats, hats, gloves, snow pants and boots. Solid Ground is currently providing housing and holistic support services for 99 families. They are working hard to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty with the help of their advocates and the innovative programs Solid Ground offers. You can help families stay warm by dropping off winter wear donations of all sizes. A box will be available inside the Incarnation building thru September 12.

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” designation or by check to Incarnation with “Solid Ground Coat Drive” in the memo.

Coat Drive Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers are needed to work in a group setting at Incarnation to help sort and mark donations on Mondays, August 9 – 30 and Tuesday, September 7 from 9 – 11:00 a.m. Additional volunteer opportunities will be available on September 10 to set up Coat Shop at Solid Ground and on September 13 to assist Solid Ground families select their winter wear. Times to be announced. If you can help with one or more of these opportunities, please contact Claire Gilbert or Mary Hoyme.

Help with LifeHaven Outdoor Landscaping
LifeHaven is seeking financial support and volunteers to help spruce up the outdoor landscaping around the LifeHaven home before the end of summer. The front lawn could use some added rocks, mulch and flowers for the empty flowerpots they have. Financial donations to purchase the materials and volunteers to implement plans are both needed. This is a great application of a Thrivent Action Team. Otherwise, make an online donation and select LifeHaven, write a check to Incarnation with “LifeHaven landscaping” in the memo or consider buying a gift card to Menards, Home Depot or Lowes. For questions or to indicate interest in helping with this project, contact Khaliya Dorry at LifeHaven.

Solid Ground Back to School Backpack Sorting and Delivery
Volunteers are needed to help sort and delivery backpacks for Solid Ground’s children, August 16 – 19. To volunteer, email Dylan McDonough or call 651-846-9024.

Summer 2021 Packing Opportunities at FMSC Coon Rapids Permanent Site
Join those of the Incarnation community at Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids to pack meals during shifts that have been reserved specifically for Incarnation.

One evening shift on the 4th Tuesday of each month and a daytime shift on the 4th Wednesday of each month, are available. FMSC has adjusted processes and practices following the most up-to-date COVID-19 guidelines, allowing volunteers to pack while maintaining safety.

For more information and to sign up for a shift, visit the FMSC page on the Incarnation website. Let’s make this a great summer serving God’s kids! Pray, volunteer or donate today!