Lifetimes: March 2019

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray” Lenten Sermon Series

The sermon series for Wednesdays during Lent is “Lord, Teach Us to Pray.” Using Jesus’ teaching in the Lord’s Prayer as inspiration, explore different ways of connecting with God in prayer. You can find the audio recordings of the sermons after each Wednesday worship service and other Lenten resources here.
March 6: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name
March 13: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.
March 20: Give us today our daily bread.
March 27: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
April 3: Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
April 10: For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

With Gratitude to the Call Committee

By Pastor Chris Smith
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-7

On the day this article is published, the Incarnation community will receive the announcement of a Congregational Meeting scheduled for Sunday, April 7 at 12:00 p.m. The purpose of the meeting is to hear the final report of the Call Committee and to discuss and vote on the recommendation of the Incarnation Council to call the candidate the Call Committee recommended in late February for senior pastor.

Confidentiality has been necessary from the time the Call Committee received the names of candidates from the Bishop, and now it continues to be important for the candidate who has been recommended, right up to the time of the Congregational Meeting. Of course, it’s understandable that people want to know who the candidate is, but once the meeting is announced, the candidate needs time to inform his or her own church leaders so that they can plan how to communicate with their own community of faith. This is an exciting time for Incarnation, but remember, it will be a time of disruption and grief at the church the candidate is currently serving. It’s good to be patient and respectful of the process and the candidate’s needs.

That brings me to my main point: An expression of deep gratitude to the Call Committee. They have conducted themselves with such excellence. They have made this work their top priority, maintained strict confidentiality, listened deeply and acted with faith and prayerfulness as they discerned the promptings of the Holy Spirit. More than that, they have acted as a true team, each speaking their own minds while also committing to one another to work in unity. They have reflected so well the words of the Apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians: “For in every way you have been enriched in [Christ Jesus], in speech and knowledge of every kind . . . so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift . . .”

It is important to remember that it has been close to 25 years since Incarnation has gone through the process of calling a senior pastor who is brand new to the Incarnation Community. Serving as a member of the Call Committee could be a daunting prospect. God has big plans for Incarnation and deciding which candidate to recommend to the Council and to the congregation is a heavy burden. Members of the Call Committee have carried the burden well.

I am grateful to the Saint Paul Area Synod and Bishop Lull who has been very supportive and resourceful. I close by recognizing Call Committee Chair Dave Katzke for his wise and careful leadership. Dave brought just the right mix of faithfulness, insight, determination and careful listening to his role as chair. You can all be grateful that God placed Dave in the right role at the right time.

See You in Church,
Pastor Chris Smith

Turn Hunger Into Hope: April 29 – May 3

By Erin Rowles, Congregation Council Member and Feed My Starving Children Action Group Member

The Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) Action Group has been meeting for months to plan logistics, communication needs and fundraising tactics for the 2019 All Hands on Hope MobilePackTM. But, the first big, public day for this annual event occurred on March 6 with the opening of shifts for volunteers who will pack 750,000 meals over five days to feed 2,054 children for one year.

The FMSC MobilePackTM event has become a tradition for the congregation. It is one way we show our commitment to our mission: Filled by God’s grace, we feed the hungry in heart, body, mind and spirit. While the majority of the communication typically seen and heard in the weeks leading up to the pack are geared towards the status of volunteer and funding needs to make the packing goal, it is important not to lose sight of why we do this as a congregation and the short-term, as well as long-term, impact this ministry has on so many outside of the church’s walls.

How does the food we pack impact the children receiving it?

The hope is that food will be the foundation for the children receiving it. Imagine the difference these meals can make to kids who don’t have a consistent food option in their lives. Without FMSC meals, many of these children may have very few other options for consistent food. Consequently, their growth and development can be stunted. They can struggle to concentrate or succeed in school, they have very little energy or ability to grow and mature­—basically, they never really get to be kids. But with consistent food, and food that is packed full of goodness for them, they are able to develop, grow, learn and play. Perhaps best of all with enough food to eat, or at least something to eat, they can begin to think about the future, grow, dream and wonder what their lives could become.

One touching example of the hope that comes from this food is the founder of a FMSC partner located in Haiti, Light Up Our Youth. Charles grew up as an orphan in Haiti and ate these meals as a child. Check out his story: From Orphan to Engineer: Charles’ Story

How does the food we pack impact the families of the children receiving it?

FMSC MobilePackTM Development Advisor, Dave Gunnlaugsson, shares, “I’ll never forget the first time I placed a box of food on the head of a mother in rural Haiti. As our eyes met she had tears in her eyes and I did as well. This is more than likely a mother who battles every day to find enough food for her family to eat.  And in that brief moment we shared she was receiving enough food for her family to eat for a month.”

This food is hope for families who are too often trying to survive impossible situations as they experience days when they have to decide which child will eat on which day. This food is hope to so many families who have no other options.

What does the food mean to the in-country partners distributing it?

Imagine all of the things FMSC’s partners are asked to do for the people they serve: housing, clothing, water, food, work, money, healthcare and on and on the list goes. Imagine food being available consistently to these partners. If FMSC can take care of the food, then they are more available for healthcare, water and education. FMSC is looking into long-term relationships with some of their larger partners that would take care of food for them for three years at a time so they can plan accordingly, knowing the food portion is taken care of. The food is essential to so many of them and the countless things they are trying to do to love and serve those in need.

How does the MobilePackTM impact the neighboring community around Incarnation?

I truly believe we are a light in the darkness—a beacon of light and hope. We don’t just talk about Jesus, we strive to do what he has called us to do: to love God and love his people. The 12 year partnership we have with Feed My Starving Children and the annual MobilePackTM are examples of that. We work extensively with local hunger groups to serve those living in and outside of our community in direct and indirect ways. Some in the community receive these works, all are invited to serve, and many do both.

Holy Hammers to Build St. Paul Townhouse

By Jim Fruehling

Incarnation has been working with the Holy Hammers to build Habitat for Humanity houses for 21 years! Since 1999 the Holy Hammers have built 23 complete houses making the purchase of an affordable home a reality for more than 188 people. As a group, we have donated almost $1.5 million to help sponsor our building projects.

This year the project will be to work 10 weeks starting April 8 to build the first half of a twin home at 593-595 Whitall (between Payne and Edgerton) in St. Paul. There will be an information table in the Atrium and the Gathering Space on the Sunday mornings of March 10, March 17 and March 24 to get information and sign-up to volunteer.

Last year 79 volunteers contributed 110 days of construction labor, eight days of lunches and morning treats, and several days of morning devotions. In addition, Incarnation members made significant financial contributions. Thank you to all who have supported the Holy Hammers over the years and a warm welcome to this year’s volunteers. For further information, please contact Jim Fruehling via email or at 651-483-1704.

Apostles Library Book Review

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation is a timely, touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration from a National Book Award finalist, Edwidge Danticat.

After Saya’s mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother’s warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she is in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. Moved by her mother’s tales and her father’s attempts to reunite their family, Saya writes a story of her own­­­­—one that just might bring her mother home for good.

With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment—and shows how every child has the power to make a difference.

If you’re interested in reading this story, look for this book in the E section of the Apostles Library under the D’s.

Primetimers for March

Primetimers is a time of fellowship and learning for singles and couples 60 years and older and is open to anyone interested—so invite your friends! This month the group will be hearing from a local entrepreneur and Finnish cook, Soile Anderson. Soile founded Deco Catering (serving President Obama and the Dalai Lama), Taste of Scandinavia Bakeries and The Finnish Bistro restaurants. She also did a Scandinavian Mid-Summer Party for Martha Stewart Living magazine. Most recently, in 2017, she co-authored Celebrations to Remember, which includes décor and delicious recipes for themed parties, events and special celebrations.

Share in a Scandinavian meal together, including Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, a vegetable and a sweet treat made by Soile herself!

Sign-up in the Incarnation Office or by emailing Amy Martell by Monday, March 25 at 4:30 p.m. The cost is $4 per person and includes lunch. Please pay the day of the event.

Contact Amy Martell via email or by calling the Incarnation Office at 651-484-7213 if you have any questions about Primetimers.

Among the Congregation

Hospitalized: Craig Sharpe.

Sympathy to: Deb Rykken and family on the death of her father; Erica and Pat Smith on the death of their daughter; Jackie Barrett and family on the death of her mother; Gretchen Schmidt and family on the death of her sister; the family of Carl Buettemeier on his death.

Recently Baptized: Ellery Rae, daughter of Anne and Myles Carlson; John Lawrence, son of Katherine and Benjamin Duckworth.

Congratulations to: Stacy and Tom Chouinard on the birth of Ava Sol.


Minnesota FoodShare

During the month of March

A portion of all donations of food and dollars to Ralph Reeder Food Shelf from now through April 8 are matched by Minnesota FoodShare. Dollars can be stretched as food is purchased through discounted suppliers. Drop off donated items in the large bin near the Nursery. Thank you for your continued generosity.

NEW! Discover Incarnation is on a Sunday!

Sunday, March 31 from 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Discover Incarnation is offered for anyone who wants to learn more about Incarnation’s mission, vision, and values, and is required for those who wish to step into membership. A special interactive opportunity is also available for children three years and older and childcare is available for children under three, with an advanced registration. Registration is due March 27 by 4:30 p.m. Click here to learn more.

Thrivent Action Teams – A Great Way to Fund Your Service Idea

Thrivent Financial members are eligible to lead a Thrivent Action Team and apply for seed money of $250 to make your dream of giving others life, come alive. Thrivent Action Teams encourage a sense of generosity and service utilizing a small group of people who come together for the benefit others. Click here to learn more about how you can fuel an Incarnation ministry you’re passionate about with an action team.

Thrivent Choice Dollars

If you are a Thrivent Financial member, you may have the opportunity to direct your Thrivent Choice Dollars to a charity of your choice, including Incarnation. The deadline for directing 2018 funds is March 31, 2019. If you have questions about how to do this, speak to your Thrivent representative or click here.

Congregational Meeting

Sunday, April 7 at 12:00 p.m.

There will be a Congregational Meeting to hear the final report of the Call Committee and to discuss and vote on the recommendation of the Church Council to call a candidate for senior pastor, as identified by the Call Committee. Information about the candidate will be shared at the meeting. All Confirmed youth and adult voting members are invited and encouraged to attend. If you have questions prior to the meeting, please contact Pastor Chris Smith via email or in the Incarnation Office at 651-484-7213.

Grief and Loss Prayer Service

Thursday, April 11 at 7:00 p.m. at Incarnation

This service is a time to remember and hear words of comfort and hope. Loss comes in many forms. Whether your loss is recent or years ago, whether it is a loss you’ve experienced or you’re walking with someone facing a loss, come for prayers, readings and to light a candle.