Lifetimes: November 2020

From the Staff

By Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

Senior Pastor Kai Nilsen

Author Anne Lamott, breaks open our theme for the Advent/Christmas season—Simply Hope. She writes, Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” 

Simply Hope! 

Hope begins in the dark. Advent begins in the dark. The worldwracked with Covid, wrecked by political poison, and wrapped in a toxic individualism that asks only what benefits me not what we can do for the benefit of others—feels, at times, dark and void of hope. But, hope is stubborn—it shows up in our daily lives as we wait and watch and work. We welcome the dawn and awaken its possibilities with simple acts of kindness, simple gestures of love, and by simply seeking justice for all. So, we don’t give up. We won’t give up. We will insist on telling the story, once againsimply, elegantly, and hopefully. Our souls crave it. The world longs for it. So, we share it. 

The themes for each of our Sundays in Advent and our Christmas celebrations with explore different aspects of this simple hope. We hope you will join us for worship (AND INVITE A FRIEND) each week in-person or online.  

  • November 29–Advent 1:  Simply Hope: Hope is Persistent 
  • December 6–Advent 2:  Simply Hope: Hope is Patient 
  • December 13–Advent 3:  Simply Hope: Hope is Participatory 
  • December 20–Advent 4:  Simply Hope: Hope is Promised 
  • Christmas Celebrations: Simply Hope:Hope is Present 

Note that our Thanksgiving Eve service has been moved to a Thanksgiving celebration on the previous Sunday, November 22. There will be no Thanksgiving Eve inperson service. On subsequent Wednesdays in Advent we will worship online using the Holden Evening Prayer Service by Marty Haugen as our guide.  

So, what we hope you will do during the season is be consistent in worship.  

We will also simplify and deepen your experience of Advent by providing you with an Advent Kit  and guide for each day of the season. There will be five candles to light, one per each week of Advent and one for Christmas. As you gather in your home, whether it’s a single person home or a family home, we will provide a guide for conversation and reflection about the weekly themes of Hope in Advent. Plan for 15 minutes a night, or longer if you choose. I know it’s hard to carve out time every day. Let me remind you that what we choose to do with our time is a reflection of what we want to be in our lives. We hope you want to be filled with hope this season—the stubborn hope that if you just show up each day and do the right thing, a new dawn will come.  

There will also be weekly giving opportunities as we support our ministry partners who will be doing the in-person work of caring for those whose season will be quite unlike most of ours.  

So, it’s simple: Worship—inperson or online, gather daily around the candles and conversations of hope, give.  

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” 

Peace. Kai 

Staff Changes

Goodbye Pastor Jeanne

Before Pastor Jeanne’s last day, we will think of creative ways for the community to be able to celebrate her ministry at Incarnation and say goodbye. In the meantime, if you’d like to send Pastor Jeanne a card you may do so and mail it to the Incarnation Office at 4880 Hodgson Rd., Shoreview, MN, 55126. Her email account will also be active until her last day.
A letter from Pastor Jeanne Hartfield . . .

Dear Friends in Christ, 

After 18 years of ministry together, the time has come for me to leave Incarnation. I feel God calling me to a new venture, but it is hard to listen fully when my heart and time and energy are still so deeply engaged at Incarnation. So, I am listening to words that I’ve spoken to you again and again over the years and I am stepping out in faith; trusting that as I do so, God’s Spirit will lead me to what is next. 

I am so grateful for all of you and who we are as a community together. I was a new pastor when I arrived at Incarnation and you helped me learn and grow into the leader I am today. You allowed me to share in your holy moments of grief and joy and in the midst of ordinary days. It has been a profound honor to serve with you all these years and my time at Incarnation will forever be one of the great blessings of my life. 

Our family will miss Incarnation as our church home. This is the community where Andrew and I were married, Tillie was baptized, and we were loved and supported and encouraged through some difficult seasons of illness, loss and grief in our personal lives. There were also countless moments of laughter and holy tears, rich sharing of faith and questions, serving side by side, and worshiping together. We will cherish all of this. 

Though our futures will diverge, Incarnation is blessed with strong leaders—lay leaders, staff and in our pastoral leaders. We are living in a time like I’ve never experienced, which presents unique challenges and calls for innovative engagement in the world. Incarnation is rich with the gifts of people, passion, compassion, and financial resources to shine the light of Christ brightly in the world in this unique time. I will be praying for you and cheering you on. 

What’s next for us? I will take an extended time off. I want to be more fully present to our family, enjoy some creative projects, and practice deep sabbath that will allow me to listen to the call of God’s Spirit and prepare me to begin the next venture with renewed energy and vigor. I will be available for a new call after October 1 next year. 

We still have some time together. My last Sunday will be January 17, 2021. We will get creative and figure out some ways to say goodbye safely in the age of Covid-19I will savor this remaining time with all of you. 

Your sister in Christ,
Pastor Jeanne Hartfield 

Welcome Timothy Linn

Incarnation welcomes Timonthy Linn, our new Accountant. Tim is 30 years old, is from Lino Lakes and studied through the College of St. Scholastica in their accounting program for his undergrad. He has a young daughter, whom he adores, and also enjoys rock hunting, traveling, visiting family and going up to the family cabin, metal detecting, running and hiking, video games, and fishing. He is looking forward to serving at Incarnation, so if you need to speak with the accountant, be sure to introduce yourself and welcome Tim to the community!

Some of Our Favorite Things:  Ministry Partnership with our Tanzanian Brothers and Sisters 

By Christine Anderson 

I was raised by parents who instilled the value of learning in me. Because of their generosity and supportmy life has been filled with opportunities that were made available solely because I have an education. I am grateful to God for the blessing of education and I thank my parents for their gift to me.   

Several years ago, as a new member of Incarnation, I became aware of the partnership Incarnation holds with the Kigamboni and Mkwawa churches in Iringa, Tanzania. highlight of this ministry is the scholarship program that sponsors children to continue their secondary education. The idea of helping a child to learn touched my heart. I hoped my modest contribution would enable a child’s development and position him or her to strengthen the community. 

Tanzania seemed like a distant land to me. In fact, I needed to look at a world map to be reminded where this country is situated. Thankfully, as the years passed, Incarnation’s relationship with our partners became more “real” to me. First, we heard stories from church members who traveled to Tanzania and visited with church leaders and congregants. Then, one day, photos of the pastors, the church community and the children who received scholarships were posted to Incarnation’s bulletin board. I was delighted to see the children smiling so broadly and proudly wearing their bluechecked school uniforms. Beautiful!   

Fast forward to 2020. In addition to sharing photos and videos, we converse via video communication and share updates via email and messaging technologyThe relationship with our partners in Tanzania is a tangible example of Incarnation as a church without walls.   

Today, I am a member of the Tanzania Action GroupI have been encouraged to learn about the richness and mutuality of our partnership with the Kigamboni and Mkwawa church communities. I invite you to share your gifts with this partnership ministry. It’s not too late to be a part of supporting 2021 education for young people of Mkwawa and Kigamboni churches; $400 is the approximate amount to support a secondary student for a year covering school fees, uniforms, books and boarding. We are grateful for donations of any amount  through Incarnation’s online giving site. 

We go forward in faith, together, Bega Kwa Bega or “shoulder to shoulder.”   

The Alternative Giving Fair Goes Online 

Like so many other things that have had to change in 2020, the Alternative Giving Fair at Incarnation will change, too. Many of the same outreach ministries will be making it possible for you to give alternative gifts to family, friends and neighbors but nearly all gifts will need to be made online. 

We have had an unsettling year in 2020 but there are so many others in God’s world who are suffering as a result of COVID-19. As we gather (whether virtually or in person) for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year remembering all the gifts we have received and those which we want to share, it is especially important that we remember others. We CAN make a difference in the world by gifting someone with something more lasting than a new sweater, tie, game or even a book. Making a difference in the lives of others is a way to gladden the hearts of not only your immediate recipients but lets them know that you care for those who have even less than we. 

The Alternative Giving Fair page on the Incarnation website will give you information on each of the ministries involved and how you can make your gifts. You can download the included “gift card”, print and personalize it for your recipient(s), too. Learn more about the needs of others and be generous as we acknowledge the gifts we receive from God each day. 

Apostles Library Book Review

brown girl dreaming By Jacqueline Woodson

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is intended for upper elementary/middle school students but is so beautifully written and so effective in sharing her own memoir that adults will treasure it as well. It well deserves the Newbery Honor status it has been awarded.  

Woodson writes in poetic style of her childhood memories during the turbulent 1960’s. Jacqueline was born in Ohio, but spent much of her early years with her grandparents in South Carolina, where she learned about segregation and was made to follow the strict rules of Jehovah’s Witnesses, her grandmother’s religion. Wrapped in the cocoon of family love and appreciative of the beauty around her, Jacqueline experiences joy and the security of home. Her move to Brooklyn leads to additional freedoms, but also a sense of loss.  

Woodson’s passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, especially when she writes about her early attempts to write books. She has ten very short poems titled “how to listen #__” which are pure delight. Here’s are examples: Even the silence has a story to tell you. Just listen. Listen.” And “Do you remember . . .? Someone’s always asking and someone always does”.  

Click here for Memorials


Advent Kits and Guide 

Beginning Sunday, November 15, Advent Kits are available for pickup at Incarnation, in the Incarnation Office, at the Welcome Center, and in the Gathering Space whenever the office is open. Each kit includes candles, a wooden tray and a guide to help you worship from home during the season of Advent. You’re encouraged to decorate your Advent kit with paint, markers, natural items, photos – whatever is meaningful to you and then share photos of your Advent kit on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ILCsimplyhope. If you have someone in mind that you think would enjoy having one of these kits you’re welcome to take an extra kit and invite someone else to participate. Please limit one kit per household as supplies are limited to a first come first serve basis. Click here to visit the Advent page.

Congregational Meeting 

Sunday, November 22nd

Save the date of Sunday, November 22nd to take part in the annual process to vote on the nominees for Congregation council, serving from 2021-2024. A gathering will take place after each in-person morning service (abiding by the already in-place safety guidelines). As well, a Zoom option will be made available to participate in a virtual gathering. All confirmed youth and adult members are encouraged to attend. Click here for the Zoom meeting details.

Stewardship 2021: “I’m In!”

It’s not too late to make a commitment for 2021! Without people like you sharing gifts of your financial resources and service, our shared ministry wouldn’t be possible. Please prayerfully consider how you can be “in” during 2021. Click here for more information.

All Hands on Hope FMSC Virtual Trivia Event Fundraiser 

Sunday, November 22 from 6:30 – 8:15 p.m. 

Be a part of Incarnation’s second FMSC virtual trivia fundraising event the evening of November 22for some fun and friendly competition, while helping to pay for ingredients packed into life-saving meals for kids around the world! Grab some friendsfamilyneighborscoworkers or anyone for your group of six and register to be a team. Registration fee is $10/person and registration is due November 20Learn more and register here.

2020 Alternative Giving Fair

Beginning November 22 and through Advent 

Give a gift that will be transformative in the life of another in need! Beginning November 22 and through Advent, Incarnation will have a dedicated webpage detailing alternative gift giving ideas. The page will also give specifics about who and how people will benefit from your gifts, how to purchase giftshow to ensure your gift(s) are transported to recipients (as applicable) and will provide a downloadable gift card to share with your loved ones about the gifts you purchased in their honor. Please note that Incarnation is unable to be a drop off site for any alternative gifts you might purchase for ministry partners this year.  

Living Nativity Announcement

Saturday, December 19 from 4 – 6:00 p.m. 

This year for our Christmas Eve service for Families with Young Children we are bringing the Nativity story to life! Join us for an outdoor experience as we act out the story of Jesus’ birth with singing and live animals. It will be a safe way for us to gather in small household groups and share this truly hope-filled story of God being with us. Register online here.

Serve as a Literacy Tutor Volunteer 

Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul invites us to engage in a completely COVID-safe, critically important piece of work: become an online literacy tutor through its “Opportunity Saint Paul” program. This is a terribly challenging year for students in so many ways! One of the ways to make the most difference is through high-impact literacy tutoring, which has the critical added benefit of providing one more caring adult in the student’s life. Opportunity Saint Paul works with Reading Partners, East Side Learning Center, and others to provide training and support to our volunteers. Click here to learn more or sign up to volunteer or email Sarah Peterka. 

Realm: An Online Incarnation Photo Directory – Upload Your Photo! 

During this crazy COVID time, we don’t get to see each other in person very often and when we do, much of our faces are behind masks. So, let’s use the available tools to see each other’s faces, including Incarnation’s Church Management System, Realm! Log-in to your Realm account and upload a picture of yourself and if you find a photo is already in your profile, feel free to change it to something you like better. Nudge your family and friends to do the same. If you haven’t claimed your Realm account yet and need assistance, contact Amy Martell. Help create an online directory of the Incarnation community! 

Register for In Person Worship

Did you know you can register to attend worship as late as the morning of? You can register via the Incarnation website, call the Incarnation Office at 651-484-7213, or show up and attend if there’s space.
Gather to hear scripture, pray, receive communion (gluten free wafers are now available). Enjoy instrumental music and music from small ensembles, but no congregational singing. Masks will be required. The Nursery is unavailable at this time. Click here to learn more.
After you register, you should receive a confirmation email; if you don’t, please contact Amy Martell. To make registration for worship (and future events) easier, please log-in to your Realm Account (or register if you haven’t yet logged in). Go to to log-in or register your account. After which, click the link to the worship event you are wanting to attend to get registered.
Please note that online worship is here to stay! You will be able to continue to enjoy worshiping from the comfort of your home or while you travel . . . click here for the online worship page.