Lifetimes: March 2020

Holy Week and Easter 2020

The theme for Holy Week 2020 is Another WayThroughout the season of Lent we are focusing on The Way of Jesus. Holy Week intensifies the contrasts between the ways of the world and way of Jesus. Holy Week invites us to walk the way of selflessness not selfishness, non-violence rather than violence, generosity not greed, love not fear. Holy Week invites us to live Another Way. 

To most effectively tell this story, we are going to worship in another way. The events of the original Holy Week were public and communal, drawing people from different places and backgrounds into a shared experience. We want to echo that experience and energy of the larger community coming together for a shared experience. To do this, we will be using the musicians from both our traditional and contemporary services on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. So that all generations can experience worship together, there will also be no SPARK Sunday that day. We have adjusted the worship service times and spaces to make this possible.   

Palm Sunday: 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary. 

Easter Sunday: 7:30 a.m. /8:45 a.m. /10:00 a.m. /11:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary.  

This schedule also allows for communion at all the services. Note: Because we want to create a shared community wide experience and we are using musicians from both service types to tell the story, we are focusing our worship experiences on Sunday morning. There will be no 6:00 p.m. service on Palm Sunday and Easter.  

Each Service during Holy Week will tell a part of the unfolding story: 

Palm Sunday will focus on Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem and continue through the Last Supper. Both services will have communion and utilize musicians from both worship spaces. Children’s processional with palms will accompany Jesus into Jerusalem. SPARK students will sing and a children sermon will be offered. SPARK students will remain in worship instead of going to class. No 6:00 p.m. worship this evening. * Please note that the times for Kairos will match the special worship times for this day. 

Maundy Thursday (7:00 p.m. in the main Sanctuary with communion) will pick up the story of the Last Supper and move us in the Garden of Gethsemane. The focus will be on Passover and how Jesus gives it new significance. Worship will end with the stripping of the altar. 

Good Friday (11:00 a.m. family service, 5:00 p.m. led by contemporary musicians, 7:00 p.m. traditional musicians. No communionwill move us from the Garden to the cross and focus on Jesus’ seven last words. 

Easter will begin briefly in the dark of the tomb and then burst into the light and love of Jesus’ resurrection. We will celebrate communion. No 6:00 p.m. worship. 

The preaching theme for Easter Sunday and the Easter season theme is simple: Resurrection Matters! It does. For your life, for this community, for the world.   

Just Go For It!: A Team Approach to All Hands On Hope

By Christianna Shortridge

What does a high school robotics team, neighbors from Hugo and bankers from the Northeast Metro all have in common? They are all on teams working toward a common cause—packing food for All Hands On HopeIncarnation Lutheran Church’s annual Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) MobilePack™ will run May 4-8, 2020 at Incarnation in Shoreview. 

Leigha Wood, a freshman at Mounds View High School, hopes to pull together two packing teams consisting of her robotics team, their parents and robotics coaches. According to Leigha, robotics has a competitive nature based on scoring points. She sees friendly competition as a motivator for her two teams to pack and compete against each other as they count boxes and see which team packs the most at the end of their shift. “My robotics team does lots of community outreach and tries to get involved,” said Leigha. “Just go for it!” Leigha encourages. “If you can put together a team to help feed starving kids, there’s not really a bad side to it.” 

Jerry and Lana Whalen also give back through their own FMSC team effort. After downsizing and moving from their Shoreview home to a townhouse in Hugo a few years ago, the Whalens organized a social activity with their new neighbors, joining in the All Hands On Hope MobilePack™. The Whalens continue to count their neighbors and extended family as part of their All Hands On Hope packing team. What is the response of their neighbors and family who pack as a team? “That was so much fun! When is the event this year? That is such great work FMSC does for people, especially kids, around the world.” Jerry and Lana feel that, “God has been good to our family, and we feel his spirit in our souls as we help others less fortunate through this wonderful event.” 

Kristi Jacobson, a Vice President at Old National Bank in Blaine, has been organizing groups of co-workers for Incarnation’s MobilePack™ for the past six years. She sees packing for FMSC as a fun alternative to a work happy hour. Kristi finds that part of the motivator for getting a group of co-workers to give up an evening to pack for FMSC is having your colleagues join you in a completely different environment. She views FMSC as a good equalizer. “We are all side-by-side in our hairnets—managers, tellers and bankers,” notes Kristi. “We are at all different levels at the bank but become equal as we pack together.” 

The All Hands On Hope MobilePack™ is not only as a social event for a good cause but also a way to invite friends, family and co-workers to experience Incarnation in a different way. “All Hands On Hope is such an easy way to share your faith, your place of worship and to share it in a way that brings people together,” says Kristi Jacobson.  

Tips for building your own team: 

  • Invite early and follow up with those who say YES to make sure that they show up to pack. 
  • Make it a fun social event. Go out for dinner before packing or for ice cream afterwards. 
  • Invite people who are likely to show up to pack and who believe in the mission of FMSC. 
  • Realize that no is an acceptable answer and set a deadline for a response. Make it clear that there are no hard feelings if they cannot pack, but you want to give slotto people who can pack. 
  • Visit the All Hands On Hope webpage to sign up for a shift, make a donation to help raise the $220,477 needed to pay for ingredients we’ll packlearn about The Te Wouj Project  or just learn more about the MobilePack ™ and FMSC. 

Responding to the Coronavirus as People of Faith

By Erin Thorstad, Director of Communications

Over the past few months, media coverage and anxiety about the coronavirus has increased and the CDC has asked the American public to prepare themselves for the virus to spread. People are nervous for their health, their loved ones, the economy and what the future will bring. While there is good reason to be concerned about the virus spreading, we can be thoughtful about how we respond to the coronavirus as people of faith:

Take practical action

  • Educate yourself from a reputable source. While you’re at it, you can speak with other people and encourage them to learn more or share what you know so they too have accurate information. Misinformation can spread easily on social media sites and is often counterproductive.
  • Follow the advice of the CDC and the Minnesota Department of Health. Put some extra food and supplies in your home, follow their tips for staying healthy and practice good hygiene, for your health and everyone else’s. By avoiding spreading the virus, we help protect those who are most vulnerable.

Want to wash your hands like a pro? Click here . . .

Use best practices to prevent the spread of illness.

  • Wash your hands regularly (for at least 20 seconds) or use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue and throw it away.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid contact with people who are ill.
  • If you suspect you’re becoming ill, stay home from work and school.

Keep fear out of the driver’s seat

Fear and panic are very natural human reactions to uncertainty, but fear isn’t always rational and can lead us to say and do things that don’t reflect who God has called us to be. Fear has sadly led some to say or do insensitive or sometimes even racist things.

God is well acquainted with our fears. On the night when God took on flesh and came into the world, the angels’ first words to the people was, “Do not be afraid . . .” because God knew our first reaction would be to panic. We all live with some type of anxiety or concern, but what seems different about the coronavirus is the uncertainty and feeling powerless. We don’t exactly know what the next few months are going to look like or how our lives may change because of the virus.

But we’re not powerless. We never have been.

God lives in all of us, invites us to the best versions of ourselves and has blessed each of us with gifts to help combat fear and provide solutions when trouble comes calling. For some, this means their calling from God is to work towards a vaccine, caring for those who are ill, or to educate the public. If this is your role right now, God bless you and thank you for your work! If this isn’t you, there are still ways you can help . . .

Care for your neighbor: Help others become more prepared too!

  • Assist homebound neighbors in getting supplies.
  • Donate to the local food shelves. There’s a lot of folks out there who don’t have the resources to buy food and supplies in bulk, weeks at a time. We have a mission to care for their well-being too . . . in fact, it’s Minnesota Food Share Month so now is a great time to donate food or money!
  • Volunteer for these organizations as they assist others or to other global relief organizations, like Feed My Starving Children. This is a global issue and people around the world need critical support.

Care for your mental health and for the mental health of others

It can be mentally taxing to feel like you’re living under a threat. If you’re experiencing anxiety, you might try some of these ways to alleviate your stress:

  • Spend time in prayer with God, asking for his peace and pray for others who are in need.
  • Talk to each other. Telling a friend your concerns can help you feel less alone. Also, check in on someone to see how they’re doing. Sometimes people need an invitation to discuss their feelings.
  • While staying up-to-date with what’s happening with the virus is worthwhile, if you find it is making you more anxious, take a break. Do something every day that you enjoy
  • If you’re still struggling with anxiety, reach out to one of Incarnation’s pastors or a mental health care professional.

Best practices at Incarnation

Incarnation is monitoring the guidance of the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Minnesota Department of Health as well as asking the Incarnation Safety Task Force to create a plan for the welfare of the congregation concerning the coronavirus. We will also be observing what measures the school systems are taking. If you wish to speak with someone about this further, please contact Danette Griffith, Administrator at 651-484-7213 or

  • Should we need to close the building we will send out notifications via email, Facebook and the Incarnation website.
  • Currently, we are asking worshipers and attendees to refrain from shaking hands.
  • We are asking people to please be diligent in following the recommendations of the CDC. If you are feeling unwell, please refrain from attending worship or other gatherings.

Ultimately, things may look different for a while, but we’re committed to the ministry we share together and Incarnation has big dreams for 2020 – we’re going to continue forward in manifesting them. There will be updates and communications should we need to make more changes to worship or our public spaces for the health of the community. Until then I offer up a prayer:

God of heaven, surround your people with your presence. Grant healing to those who are ill, comfort to those who mourn, and give peace to those who are anxious. Bless us with a spirit of solidarity, that we may respond to this situation in ways that would please you and support everyone. Amen.

Hunger Awareness and Advocacy: Why Being Counted Matters for Everyone 

By April 1, 2020, every home in the U.S. will have received an invitation to participate in the census. Not only is the census every ten years mandated in 
the U.S. constitution (Article 1, Section 2) but the population numbers determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flows into states and communities. The population numbers also determine each state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Once the invitation arrives at your home, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone or by mail. When you respond to the census, you tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1, 2020. 

Incarnation is a congregation which God has called to feed the hungry in heart, body, mind and spirit. Federal funding is important as we work together to do that here in the U.S. We can all do our part by being counted and encouraging everyone we know to do so, too. 

Apostles Library Book Review

A Map Into The World: by Kao Kalia Yang

My very favorite new children’s book of 2019 was A Map Into the World by Kao Kalia Yang. (She’s the local author of The Late Homecomer which told the story of her Hmong mother’s journey and adjustment to life in the U.S.).

This beautiful book shows the changing seasons and lifestyle of a young Hmong girl and her family as they move to a new house and town, find new neighbors, and welcome twins to their family. As Paj Ntaub makes friends with her new neighbors and birth comes to her family, death comes to one of the elderly neighbors. She uses treasures she has collected from nature to make a sort of story cloth for neighbor Bob on his driveway in the spring. (A brief note on the copyright page helps make the connection to the Hmong story cloth which is on the wall of Paj Ntaub’s home.)

Wonderfully told and illustrated this book shows both the changes of seasons and the changes in families and relationships. There are lessons for children and adults alike in how friendship can bring healing and comfort to neighbors.

Among the Congregation

Sympathy To: Rocky Chapin and family on the death of his mother; Marlys M. Nelson and family on the death of her sister-in-law; Mike Koopmeiners and family on the death of his brother-in-law; Amanda Pitsenbarger and family on the death of her uncle; Mistie Hachfeld and family on the death of her mother; Erick Mikkelson and family on the death of his brother; Bill and Cherie Supina on the death of their nephew; Lori, Emily, Traci Tapani and Ailie and Maija Olson on the death of their grandmother. 

Recently Baptized: Matthew John, son of Charles and Lesley Vollhaber. 


2020 All Hands on Hope Feed My Starving Children MobilePack
Registrations are open now. The event is May 4 – 8
Are you ready?! Online reservations can now be made to pack at the 2020 All Hands on Hope FMSC MobilePack™ Event, when we’ll together pack more than one million meals at Incarnation! Plan your groups, reserve the spots you need, fill in names as soon as you can and release spots you don’t need. Go to to learn more, reserve your spots and make a donation for the food we’ll pack together. 

Share the All Hands on Hope MobilePack Plans with Others on Social Media! 
Now that the All Hands on Hope MobilePack registrations are open, share the plans with others on social media so that more of the community can be a part of this life-giving work!  

Follow us on Facebook:  

Follow Us and Share Your Story on Instagram: fmsc_at_incarnation 

Follow Us on Twitter: @FMSCincarnation 

Thrivent Action Teams – A GREAT Way to help fund the FMSC All Hands on Hope MobilePack Event
Thrivent Financial members are eligible to lead a Thrivent Action Team and apply their seed money of $250 towards the money we will raise to pay for ingredients packed during Incarnation’s All Hands on Hope FMSC MobilePack Event. Upon receipt of your action team money, bring your card to the Incarnation Office “attention Becky Benson”. Learn more by going to  

Thrivent Choice Dollars
Deadline for directing 2019 funds is March 3
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 2019 funds is March 31, 2020. Learn more by going to  

2020 Minnesota FoodShare
Now – April 13
A portion of the dollars donated to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf from March 1  April 13 are matched by Minnesota FoodShare. Dollars can be stretched as food is purchased through discounted suppliers. Drop off food/household donations in the large food shelf bin and/or make your checks to Incarnation with Ralph Reeder Food Shelf in the memo. Thank you for your continued generosity. 

Preschool New Classroom Donations
Sunday, March 22 or 29
In order to meet the needs of families in the community, Incarnation Preschool is excited to expand our physical space to use classrooms 13-14 for an additional class for the coming school year. Numerous items and furniture will be needed to make this happen. We need your help! Only financial donations can be accepted. Visit the Preschool table on Sunday, March 22 or 29 to find out more information and drop off any donations. Contact Kirsten Barie, Preschool Director at 651-766-0723 or with any questions. 

Discover Incarnation is on a Sunday!
Sunday, March 29 from 12 - 2:30 p.m. 
Discover Incarnation is offered to anyone interested in learning more about Incarnation as well as ways to engage within the community, and is required for those who wish to step into membership. An interactive opportunity is available for children three years through 4thgrade, and childcare is available for those younger with an advanced registration. New: lunch will be served to all adults and children participating this day. Contact Becky Benson atbbenson@incarnationmn.orgby March 25 by 4:30 p.m. to register.