Lifetimes: December 2019

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Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen


By Pastor Kai Nilsen

On Twitter, I searched #blessed to see what people think it means to be “blessed.” Here are the top results:

  • A female professional wrestler’s daughter saw her mom’s image on a WWE poster and burst into tears. #blessed.
  • A football team is in the top 12 of the CFP rankings. #blessed.
  • Three students sign athletic scholarship offers. #blessed
  • Four green lights in a row. #blessed

On and on it goes. Blessing, if Twitter has anything to say about it, is almost always about what we get.

At Incarnation, we are inviting you to experience A Season of Blessing through the Advent/Christmas seasons. Certainly, we will focus on the blessings we have received—the expansive love of God, the breath we take each day, the joy of relationships, the fruitfulness of our work and service, and the celebration of Jesus’ birth. But, as one preacher said it in his sermon on Genesis 12:1-3, Blessed to be a Blessing, “Maybe when God blessed you, God didn’t have you in mind!” In other words,

the blessing we experience is designed to be extended!

As I enter my sixth month of leadership at Incarnation, the capacity we have to be a blessing to our world is becoming increasingly apparent. We have committed and competent staff who are dedicated to this community and our future. We have hundreds of people each week/month gathered in Small Groups to experience the transforming power of community and to be a blessing to each other. We have an abundance of gifted people who are well-positioned in our community so that the blessing of Incarnation can be experienced throughout all sectors of our world. And . . .  And . . . And . . .

We have a God who has continued to bless us so that we can bless our world.

So, how can you be a blessing this season?

  • Invite a friend, neighbor or co-worker to join you for worship.
  • Be intentional about contacting someone you know who is struggling with the pain of loss or loneliness.
  • Give generously to Incarnation and other local charities that are making the world better.
  • Pray for peace in our world and, then, be a peacemaker in your relationships with others.
  • Make a deeper commitment to your inward journey (experiencing the blessing of God’s love) and your outward journey (being a blessing of God’s love in the world) for 2020.

Maybe when God blessed you, God didn’t have you in mind!

A Season of Blessing. See you in worship.


Wednesday Evening Worship
Wednesdays, December 11 & 18 from 7 – 7:30 p.m.
Gather in the Sanctuary for a quiet, reflective experience of God’s blessing in the world using the Holden Evening Prayer service.

Sundays in Advent
December 1, 8, 15 & 22 at 8:45 a.m., 10:05 a.m., 10:45 a.m. & 6:00 p.m.
Sundays in Advent will each focus on a different facet of our blessing:
  • December 1: The Blessing of Attention
  • December 8: The Blessing of Transformation
  • December 15: The Blessing of Our Witness (the Senior Choir will lead worship at 8:45 a.m. and 10:05 a.m.)
  • December 22: The Blessing of God’s Presence

Blue Christmas
Tuesday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary
Blue Christmas is a prayer service for anyone who has mixed emotions about the holiday season. This service acknowledges that even during this joyous time of year, some still experience sadness, loss and loneliness. Blue Christmas is a chance to name these realities and seek comfort in our God who took on flesh and walked among us precisely because this messy world needed a new way to hope. Come for yourself or invite someone to come with you. Communion will be served and the nursery will be available.

Christmas Eve Worship
1:00 p.m. & 3:00 p.m. – Designed for families with young children. Discover the Christmas story in an interactive way, sing Christmas Carols and receive a blessing or Holy Communion. Service length: 45 minutes.
5:00 p.m. – Worship with Communion, Christmas carols led by the worship band, and candle-lighting. Nursery available.

7:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m. – Worship with Communion, Christmas carols led by the organ, musical ensembles and choirs, and candle-lighting. Nursery available at the 7:00 p.m. service.

Christmas Day
10:00 a.m. – Lessons and carols with Communion.

Blessing of Households
Sunday, December 29 at 8:45 a.m., 10:05 a.m., 10:45 a.m. & 6:00 p.m.
Close out 2019 together by celebrating the Blessing of the Households. A household can be one person, any configuration of family, multiple generations, or any group of people (formal or informal) that is committed to supporting one another through the journey of life. As you receive your blessing, others in your life are blessed through you.

Seasonal Office Hours
Thanksgiving: Closed Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday. (November 28 – 29)
Christmas: Closed at 12:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day. (December 24 -25)
New Years Day: Closed. (January 1)

Renew Your Life

This new year we hope that God will renew our lives through lively conversations around essential life questions, daily practices that open us up to God’s creative and renewing Spirit, and simple opportunities to serve in our everyday lives. We will be using Pastor Kai Nilsen’s book, Renew Your Life: Discovering the Wellspring of God’s Energy, as a guide. We are designing many ways that you can engage the chapter themes of grace, possibility, paradox, relationships, and rest, among others.

Read the book on your own or read with others. Books will be available throughout the season near the Sanctuary, Incarnation Hall and in the Incarnation Office.

Worship: The chapter themes will be the guide for our opening preaching series in 2020. Come each week and invite a friend to join you.

1/5       Renew Your Life
1/12     Energy of Grace
1/19     Energy of Possibility
1/26     Energy of Paradox
2/2       Energy of the Natural World
2/9       Energy of Relationships
2/16     Energy of Fruitful Work
2/23     Energy of Rest

Daily Practice: We will be encouraging a few daily practices that you can incorporate into your life.

Friendship Groups: Invite a few friends from your Small Group, your neighborhood or your workplace to read and discuss the book themes with you.

New Small Groups: New Renew Your Life Small Groups will start and meet four times from January to early March. Check the website for information or to register or contact Denise Floe.

Parent Group: A drop-in group for parents will meet from 6 – 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights for four weeks from January 15 – February 12 in Adult Room D. Children and youth will also explore one of the spiritual practices from Renew Your Life in their Sunday and Wednesday groups.

Opportunities to Serve: We will also be connecting to Shobi’s Table, an outreach ministry of the St Paul Area Synod, creating serving events for you and/or your Small Group in which to participate during January and February. To learn more about these volunteer opportunities or to sign up, go to Learn more about Shobi’s Table at

As we enter a new year, we often reflect on the year past and then look forward to the year to come. Would you like to feel more alive—spiritually, emotionally and relationally? Join us as we ask God to renew our lives individually and as a community.

2019 Solid Ground Coat Drive – An Unprecedented Success!

By Claire Gilbert

Incarnation Children’s Ministry staff member, Stefanie Straka, was at Target in early October and heard a mom telling her son that soon they would be getting new mittens, hats and coats at their “little store.” Stefanie, who normally does not eavesdrop, found herself in conversation with the family and mentioned Solid Ground and the coat drive. It turns out that the “little store” the mom had mentioned was actually the Solid Ground coat drive where she and her family rely on getting warm clothes for each winter.

Over 180 men, women and children were blessed by the generosity of the Incarnation community at the Sold Ground coat drive this year. We collected over 1,680 items, many of them new, and we were able to outfit almost everyone who came with warm, attractive coats, hats, scarves, gloves and boots. The collection of quality items was incredibly overwhelming and so very needed.

A huge part of our success this year was due to the donations from SPARK ministries. They adopted the coat drive as their September and October giving opportunity, which greatly increased the giving. Their box was filled every week with wonderful outerwear and we appreciate their partnering with us.

Each Monday a crew of about six people from a pool of 14 volunteers sorted, culled, sized, counted, bagged and stored the donated items. Several of the volunteers came numerous weeks, allowing for very efficient sorting sessions. A special thanks to these faithful workers as they volunteered so many hours to this mission. On the day of the coat drive, six people transported carloads of bags to the Solid Ground campus where we set up “shop.” Again, the efficiency and hard work was a tribute to 16 fabulous volunteers. All afternoon families showed up for their appointments to shop with our volunteers. There were so many smile-producing moments: a little boy running around in his new Mickey Mouse coat, a young girl twirling in her new white coat, reticent teenagers gaining interest as they found a coat and hat that they thought were cool, people helping each other and showing gratitude.

Finally, an unprecedented cash collection was gathered from the SPARK ministry and our congregation. We collected $1,021 to be used for the winter wear needs of Solid Ground.

We received many thanks from the staff and residents of Solid Ground, and we pass that along to you. Thank you for your generosity, your response to specific needs, your time and talents, your prayers and all you did to make the 2019 Solid Coat Drive the best ever.

Apostles Library Book Review: Razing Hell: Rethinking Everything You’ve Been Taught About God’s Wrath and Judgement  By Sharon L. Baker

Review by Jo Zschomler

Hell is a hot topic (pardon the pun). Seventy percent of Americans believe in hell, as do ninety-two percent of those who attend church every week. Is hell something that you worry about? Does the idea of hell match up with your concept of a loving God? What about the gift of grace which we Lutherans talk so much about?

This title was recommended by the Rev. Roland Hayes when he presented at Kairos this past year. It is a good resource for general readers, pastors and grief counselors. The author, Sharon L. Baker, explores and ultimately refutes many traditional views of hell. She instead presents theologically sound ways of thinking that are more consistent with the image of God as a loving creator who desires to liberate us from sin and evil. You will find that the book provides clarity for those of us who live with questions about hell, God’s judgment, and what happens to us when we die.

Among the Congregation

Sympathy to: Steve Bruggeman and family on the death of his mother; the family of Don Boelter on his death; the family of Paul Peterson on his death; Lisa Boehm and family on the death of her mother; the family of Lorry Massa on his death; the family of Kathy Thorson on her death; Matthew Maakestad and family on the death of his mother; Shane Wendt and family on the death of his father.

Recently Baptized: Josephine Jean, daughter of Emily and Brad Grove; Grace Carrianne, daughter of Marilyn and Joseph Rosendahl.


Feed My Starving Children Monthly Packing in December
Tuesday, December 10 from 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Join the Incarnation monthly packing group to assemble meals at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in Coon Rapids, on Tuesday, December 10 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Make your reservation by  clicking here. Children five and older are invited to pack with appropriate supervision detailed here.

LifeHaven Giving House Gifts
Drop off gifts at Incarnation by December 15
The gifts for the LifeHaven Giving House need to be purchased and dropped off in the LifeHaven bin adjacent to the Atrium or brought to the Incarnation Office (for gift cards) by December 15. Thank you for your generosity as you’ve helped to ensure that the families of LifeHaven have a joyous Christmas celebration!

Christmas Trees for Solid Ground
Now – December 15 
Help provide Christmas trees to 45 Solid Ground families who do not have the resources to purchase them. Give a gently used or new artificial tree sized 4’-6’ tall or “buy a bough” with a monetary donation of any amount, placing “Solid Ground Christmas Trees” in the memo. Pre-lit trees are appreciated but not necessary. Bring trees and monetary donations to the Incarnation Office.

Advent Focus – ELCA Good Gifts
Now through December 22
Searching for a gift for the person who has everything? Members of the Hunger Awareness and Advocacy Group will continue to sell ornaments representing different items from the ELCA Good Gifts / World Hunger catalogue through Advent. Please stop by the table following morning worship.

Primetimers: Christmas Hymns and Teaching
Thursday, December 19 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Primetimers is a time of fellowship and learning for people ages 60 and older. This month we will be singing Christmas hymns together and listening to a teaching, led by Pastor Rich Omland and LouAnn Reese. Cost: $5, includes lunch. This will be the last Primetimers until March. Sign up in the Incarnation Office by Monday, December 16.

Welcome Baskets for Solid Ground Families
Bring items to the Incarnation Office by December 31
Families who are moving into their new homes at Solid Ground often have few, if any, household items.  We have an opportunity to welcome our new neighbors with a basket full of cleaning supplies.  Welcome baskets include a laundry basket, mop, broom, dustpan, plunger, toilet brush, paper towels, dish scrubbing pads, toilet paper, etc.

Stock Gifts to Incarnation
Stocks make an ideal gift to the Incarnation Operating and Capital fund with contributions of all sizes working for Incarnation’s mission. If you want to donate a gift of stock, please take action as soon as possible to ensure the transfer is complete before the end of the year. Please contact Amy Faymoville to let her know of your stock transfer so she knows who is donating it as well as the number of shares and the name of the stock. Otherwise we receive stock and do not know who is donating it. Incarnation is working with Fidelity Investments, so please contact Amy Faymoville, for more information on how to make a stock donation.

2019 Contribution Deadline
On or before Tuesday, December 31 by 12:00 p.m.
Checks and cash that are placed in the offering plates or delivered to the Incarnation Office on or before Tuesday, December 31 by 12:00 p.m., will be credited to your 2019 giving statement and may be claimed as a charitable contribution deduction for 2019. Online gifts are subject to business hours processing and must be processed prior to December 31. Mailed gifts must be postmarked on or before December 31. Thank you for your support!

Renew Your Life Small Groups
January and February
Connect with a Small Group and engage in a lively conversation around Pastor Kai Nilsen’s book, Renew Your Life: Discovering the Wellspring of God’s Energy. New groups will meet four times in January and February with a variety of schedule options. Sunday worship will also focus on these themes, so you’ll be part of an Incarnation-wide conversation. Pick up a copy of the book starting on Sunday, December 8 outside of the Sanctuary and Incarnation Hall. If you’d like to join a small group or to find out more contact Denise Floe, visit the webpage, or stop by the Renew Your Life table on Sunday.

Shobi’s Table Volunteers 
January and February
Be a part of Shobi’s Table, a pay-as-you-can café during the months of January and February 2020, by preparing food on Monday nights or serving prepared meals to guests in the neighborhood near Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill, during the noon time on Tuesdays. This is a great opportunity for friends, Small Groups, families or anyone 12 years and older, to serve together. Or, step in as a single or couple, and meet some new Incarnation friends. Learn more or sign up for a shift, click here.

Preschool Registration

  • Thursday, January 2 – Thursday, January 16: Open enrollment period for currently enrolled children
  • Friday, January 17: Processing begins for forms received from returning/previously enrolled families and NEW children from Incarnation families
  • Tuesday, January 21: Processing begins for enrollment forms received from NEW families for both age groups

We are pleased to announce that along with our traditional half day class options, we will be offering longer sessions in the 2020-21 school year as well! Visit the Preschool webpages for details. Registration packets for 2020-21 school year will be available for pick up at the Preschool or Incarnation Office by mid-December. Forms may also be downloaded from the Incarnation website and submitted anytime. Forms will be date stamped when received and held in order for processing following the registration timeline below. Forms/fees may be submitted early. Confirmation of enrollment status will be mailed within two days of processing. Call Kirsten Barie at 651-766-0723 for more information, to schedule a tour or to have a packet mailed to you.

Preschool Open House
Thursday, January 9 from 5 – 6:30 p.m.
This event provides an opportunity for prospective enrolling families with preschool age children to tour the classrooms, explore learning stations, meet the teachers and ask questions. Contact Kirsten Barie or call 651-766-0723 with questions.

Change to Incarnation’s Formal Partnership with Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, Inc. (LWLBC)
After careful review, changes have been made to Incarnation’s formal partnership with Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp, Inc. (LWLBC). For a more complete explanation, please click here.

2020 All Hands on Hope MobilePack™ 
May 4 – 8, 2020
Incarnation is preparing for the 2020 All Hands on Hope Feed My Starving Children MobilePack, May 4 – 8, when together with Roseville Lutheran Church and the wider community, we will pack 1,023,000 meals to feed 2,802 of God’s beloved children for a year! Incarnation has made a commitment to finance and pack an additional container of 273,000 meals each year for the next three years, in support of a new Project Based Food Assistance program for the community of Te Wouj, Haiti. In 2020, this additional 273,000 meals will be added to our 750,000 meal commitment. Read more about the 2020 MobilePack plans, what PBFA is and how it can transform a community.

Tanzania Partner Congregation Secondary Student Thank Yous
Throughout the year but especially on September 29, you were very generous with your financial gifts which will allow students in our partner congregations of Mkwawa and Kigamboni to receive life-changing education in 2020. Take a moment to read letters of thanks and see photos of secondary students Incarnation sponsored in 2019, posted on the bulletin board near the Sanctuary.