Lifetimes: November 10

From the Staff

Written by Joel Vander Wal, Pastor for Children, Youth, and Family.

Recently I had the great privilege of visiting a member in her last remaining days here on earth. Her breaths were shallow, quick and audible as she slowly passed from this life into the next. That night when I went home and kissed my kids on their foreheads as they slept, I was struck by the deep, quiet and slow breaths that they each took. All were resting peacefully. And I believe that in both my kids’ bedrooms and in the hospice care room God was present. One of the reasons why I believe this is because of the very name of the God we worship, Yahweh.

The sacredness of the name of God is so profound and so holy that many choose not to even say the name of God, instead they may refer to God as “Adonai” (my Lord) or “HaShem” (the Name) as a way to show reverence for the name of God. In fact, in our English translations of the Bible, rather than translating God’s name as “Yahweh” it is most often translated as “LORD” as a sign of reverence and respect for the name of God.

Scholars like to point out that the very name of God is unspeakable and yet, the consonant letters that make up the name of God are so soft and so quiet that one simply has to breathe in and out to say the letters, “yod, he, vav, he.” For example, in his book The Naked Now, Richard Rohr points out that, “This unspeakability has long been recognized, but we now know it goes even deeper: formally the word was not spoken at all, but breathed! Many are convinced that its correct pronunciation is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation.” (25)

In this way the very name of God becomes like nothing, something that is barely even audible. Yet, at the same time the name of God is everything since we cannot help but say the name of God everytime we inhale and exhale! Whether we realize it or not, the gift of life that God gave to Adam in breathing new life into him is the same breath we take every moment of our lives and what’s more all those around us are saying the same prayer! It’s no wonder the book of Psalms ends with this call to worship, “Let everything that breathes praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 150:6) Our constant breath calls upon the name of God, whether we are nearing the end of our time here on earth, or softly sleeping in our warm beds, we are praising the LORD!

Seasonal Worship

Thanksgiving Service

Wednesday, November 21 at 7:00 p.m.

All are invited to the Thanksgiving Eve worship service at Incarnation, which is followed by pie and connecting time. After worship, go to Grace Hall for the Faith in Action activity and create Christmas cards and ornaments for pastors to deliver on hospital visits and to shut-ins.

Mid-Week Advent Worship

Wednesdays, December 5, 12, and 19 from 7 – 7:30 p.m.

Advent begins at Incarnation on Sunday, December 2. Join us mid-week for a half hour worship service that is a wonderful way to inject some calm and peace into what can be a busy season. The frame of the service is Holden Evening Prayer.

Generous Living: Let’s End the Year Strong

Written by Pastor Chris Smith, Interim Senior Pastor

If you’ve read the Ministry Opportunities Sheet in the bulletin recently, you’ve noticed a small section on financial stewardship called “Generosity.” That report provides year-to-date information about the budget, the congregation’s giving, and actual spending levels. A quick look will show that giving is below what was budgeted by 11% through September. That’s not unusual for a church because giving typically drops during summer months as people are out and about enjoying our wonderful Minnesota summers. To account for the drop in giving, spending has also been reduced about 9% as well.

I’m told that the congregation at Incarnation fell far behind in giving during the fall last year, resulting in a big push in December to catch up. The Church Council would like to avoid that. Let me prayerfully invite you to consider helping your church catch up beginning now as the year starts to draw to a close. We all share the exciting mission to feed the hungry in heart, body, mind and spirit. Thank you for your generosity to make that mission happen at Incarnation. Click here for more information about Year End Giving.

Pastoral Transitions: Four Mission Assets

Know the Mission

Here’s a challenge for you: Print out and post Incarnation’s mission statement in a place where you’ll see it every day. Now, memorize it.

Here it is: Fed by God’s grace, we feed the hungry in heart, body, mind and spirit.

It’s important that the people of a church know their mission. By knowing it, you can tell if your church and your own life reflect it. Knowing the mission is especially important during times of transition. The fact is, pastors come and go, but the mission remains as the guiding star for the congregation’s efforts.

Pastors Are Sojourners
A sojourner is a temporary resident. Most of the great figures of the Bible were sojourners, from Joseph in Egypt to the Apostle Paul who never stayed anywhere for very long. Pastors are sojourners, too. They are not permanent residents. It can feel like they’re permanent, if they stay a long time, but eventually they will conclude their service. Incarnation has had excellent sojourners in the past and I am confident that God will supply excellent ones in the future. But the constant is the people of the church and the mission in Christ that they aspire to accomplish. You are the owners of the mission. Your pastors and other staff partner with you to accomplish it. After sojourning here for three months it is clear to me that Incarnation is in a great place to accomplish its mission. Here are four reasons – call them four mission assets – for my confidence:

An Adaptable, Serving Church
The people of Incarnation completed the Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) survey in 2014. The results of the CAT survey showed that Incarnation is a church that is adaptable and that it gains energy from ministries that focus on serving others. You continue to be a resilient and outward-focused community in pursuit of an inspiring mission. The next senior pastor will come alongside a community of faith already engaged in active and powerful ministry.

The Synod is a Helpful and Supportive Partner
The Saint Paul Area Synod and Bishop Lull in particular have been excellent partners in this time of pastoral transition. The Town Hall meeting with the Bishop in September was a very positive experience and provided the Call Committee with an effective springboard for the active call process. I have great confidence in synod staff and know that they will continue to provide the support Incarnation needs to emerge from transition on a very positive footing.

The Call Committee is Hard at Work
Most of you don’t get to observe the work of the Call Committee, but it’s been my privilege to witness part of their efforts. You could not find a more thoughtful, energetic, and discerning group of faithful people to do the work of identifying pastoral leadership. They know the mission and they understand the congregation. They also understand their role to find the most effective leader for the next chapter of mission at Incarnation. They will do well in recommending the next senior pastor to come alongside the work of an already vital congregation.

A Positive and Proactive Church Council
There is an old expression that the best way to respond to change is to prepare for it before it happens. Incarnation’s Church Council has been at work for several years to create an imaginative and aspirational strategic plan. The plan seeks to shape mission in a way that aligns with the mission statement of the congregation. The Council has not just prepared for change; they have acted to create change that will sustain mission for years to come. It’s an exciting time for a new pastoral leader to join the Council.

The Ministry Site Profile, approved at the Town Hall Meeting, highlighted these four mission assets along with a long list of other positive qualities of Incarnation’s ministry. As the Call Committee now begins the more intensive work of the call process, you can be sure that God will work through them to build on these assets by calling the next senior leader that Incarnation needs.

See You in Church,
Pastor Chris Smith, Interim Senior Pastor

2018 Alternative Giving Fair

This Christmas season, give gifts that help transform lives by purchasing items during Incarnation’s Alternative Giving Fair held on November 18. Held in Grace Hall again this year from 9:30 a.m. until noon, the Alternative Giving Fair will give you a chance to visit the tables and leaders of all ministries represented in a leisurely fashion while also enjoying refreshments. Available that morning will be a list of the ministries represented as well as what is offered at each table. Consider honoring your family and friends with gifts that could possibly change the life of someone you will never meet. Also available that morning will be ways for you to consider sharing the gift of your time by volunteering with one of Incarnation’s local ministry partners.

An Evening in Bethlehem

Come for an Evening in Bethlehem Friday, December 7 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.! This is a wonderful way to kick-off the Advent season with dinner, special activities, and fellowship. The cost is $15 per family and payment is due at the time of registration. To register, please sign up in the Incarnation Office by Monday, December 3. If you register after this date you will be placed on a waiting list.

Donations will be collected that evening for birthday bags which will then be given to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf. Please bring any of the following items: flour, balloons, cake mix, birthday bags, sprinkles, and frosting.

Fall Blessing Bag Update

Written by Becky Benson

Incarnation, you did it again! You took seriously the invitation to Be the Light for God’s children who are struggling locally by donating an abundance of food and hygiene products, assembling well over 100 Blessing Bags, and distributing these gifts to those you encountered in the metro area who are struggling. Your generosity is profoundly moving and we are grateful that you shared so much of yourself leading up to, the day of and following the Blessing of the Backpacks on Sunday, September 9.

One strategic goal resulting from Incarnation’s Long Range Planning Process is oriented toward increasing opportunities for service related to hunger. A group of people are working on a plan towards this hunger goal and would like your feedback on the September Blessing Bag experience. Please take a few minutes to respond to this brief survey, helping us understand better how this ministry experience affected you and those you encountered.

Again, thank you for living into Incarnation’s mission – Filled by God’s grace, we feed the hunger in heart, body, mind and spirit – by being a part of this fall ministry opportunity.

Staff Transitions

Offering a Grateful Good-bye to Staff Member Kathy Kalsow

Kathy Kalsow, who has served faithfully as Incarnation’s Church Administrator, concluded her work as of October 23. Staff and many of you can testify to how much Kathy has been appreciated in her attentive and dedicated service to the people and mission of Incarnation. Pastor Chris, Interim Senior Pastor, can offer his own witness about how rare and in high demand good church administrators like Kathy are. We will all miss her in the Incarnation Office, but are also delighted that Kathy and Bill will continue their relationship with Incarnation. As a gesture of encouragement, the staff are already referring to Kathy as a “super-volunteer.” Amen. Please greet Kathy as you have the opportunity and thank her for her service. A team of volunteers, with Pastor Chris, are at work to identify a successor to Kathy.

Hello to Kelsey Blinn

On October 3rd Kelsey Blinn joined our Children, Youth and Family team as our new Director of Confirmation and Middle School Ministries. Before joining our staff at Incarnation, Kelsey served in outdoor ministry leading retreats and hiring summer camp staff at camps in Iowa and Wisconsin. She is a graduate of Luther College with a degree in Religion and Anoka Technical College with a degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. She has a heart for mission, connecting people and education. All of which she was able to combine when she served as a Young Adult in Global Missions Volunteer for a year in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. While there she worked with those with disabilities assisting them in daily activities and also teaching children English and Math lessons.

Kelsey first joined our staff in August of 2016 serving as our Financial and Small Group Secretary. Last May she left our staff to pursue a position as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, however, she has always felt a call to youth ministry. When this position opened up she spent a long time in prayer and conversation with her husband, Nate and other trusted friends, to discern whether or not she should pursue this position. We are really excited for her to use her experience and talents to serve in this role.

In her free time Kelsey enjoys camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, reading, and knitting. She lives with her husband in Mounds View. If you get a chance, please introduce yourself to her and welcome her (back) to the Incarnation staff!

Among the Congregation

Hospitalized: Wilma Jorgenson; Kay Larson.
Sympathy to: the family of Walt Harmer on his death; Marge Baab and family on the death of her brother;Oliver Hanson and family on the death of his father; Nancy Stutzman and family on the death of her mother; Donna Nelson’s family on her death; Bill Reichwald and family on the death of his mother.
Recently Baptized: Galvin Lucas, son of Jessica and Mory Touray; Enzo Nicholas, son of Kara and Daniel Galvin; Saige Jean, daughter of Brittany and Craig Brand.
Recently Married: Andrew Trapp and Helen Diekoff; Angela Hoover and Brady Otterness; Lisa Schroetke and Jeff Theisen.
Congratulations to: Tabitha and Frank Markie on the birth of their son, Axel; Myles and Anne Carlson on the birth of their daughter Ellery Rae.


Congregational Meeting
There will be a brief congregational meeting for the sole purpose of election following all four worship services on Sunday, November 18. The worship service will end and the meeting will begin immediately with each portion recessed after the election vote. As this is a continued meeting throughout the day, the only opportunity for presenting additional names from the floor will be the portion of the meeting immediately following the 8:45 a.m. worship gathering. Elections will be held to serve in positions on the Congregation Council and Synod Representatives.
When: November 18 at all worship services.

Christmas Trees for Solid Ground Families
Many families at Solid Ground would like a Christmas tree this year but do not have resources to purchase one. If you have a gently used or new artificial tree to donate, bring it to the Incarnation Office between now and December 14. Trees can be up to 7 feet tall.
When: Now – December 14.

Creative Journaling on Faith Small Group
This small group is a chance to engage with a Biblical text, then spend time creatively journaling with a variety of art supplies. Suggested contribution: $10. Register:
When: Every other Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., October – December.

Sunday Morning Small Group
Gather with others to watch and talk about short videos from the faith studies NOOMA (Rob Bell) and Everybody Always (Bob Goff). This easy-to-do small group is a great way to connect with others. Leader: Grant Rykken. Register:
When: Once/month on Sundays, 9:45 – 10:45 a.m.

Caregiver Resources and Support
From support groups to a resource and referral program, a variety of services for caregivers are available through Lyngblomsten (a ministry partner of Incarnation). Find out more at:

End of Year Reminders: 2018 Contribution Deadline
Checks and cash that are placed in the offering plates or delivered to the Incarnation Office on or before Monday, December 31, will be credited to your 2018 giving statement and may be claimed as a charitable contribution deduction for 2018. 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!

End of Year Reminders: 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 before December 1st 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 a new brokerage firm, Fidelity Investments, so please contact Amy Faymoville, for more information on how to make a stock donation.