Lifetimes: October 2019

Why Give, Financially?  

By Pastor Kai Nilsen

One out of seven of Jesus’ parables or stories addresses the appropriate use of our possessions or money. More than 2,000 verses throughout the biblical narrative deal with justice for the poor or poverty or God’s embrace and encouragement of the poor. I’m no genius, but with preponderance of texts that, in some way, connect who we are and how we engage the world with our money, we might want to take this question seriously. Why give?  

Let me add this: Martin Luther, the 16th century reformer, once suggested that our “gods” are whatever drives us. If that’s true, this consumer driven, money culture of ours has emblazoned the almighty dollar on the throne of many hearts. Our malls have become our churches and our offerings are a quid pro quo with so that when we give, we get!  

Why give, financially? We might want to take this question seriously.  

The first response is simple: All we have comes from God. So, we give as a response to God’s graciousness and love. The biblical message has various ways of quantifying this. We give a tithe, 10%, back to God. We also give offerings—these are gifts over and above the 10% tithe.   

But, Jesus was also concerned about the power of religious legalism (focusing only on the requirement and not adjusting the heart) so he condemned the religious leaders for “loving to give their tithes and offerings but not having a heart of justice and compassion and love.”   (Luke 11:42) 

So, giving financially is:   

  • Primarily a spiritual issue: We give as a response to God’s generous love.  
  • Secondarily, it’s a formation issue: We give habitually so that we become generous people, over time.  
  • Then, it’s an attitude issue: We regard money like we do our whole life with God-so generosity and compassion and love are all outgrowths of a maturing faith. 
  • Finally, it’s an amount issue: 10% is the tithe, and offerings are given above and beyond.  

How can we become more generousExcellent question. The process begins with the encouragement of God’s grace and loveThen, it is shaped and growby our intentional practice.  

If we want to become generous in our giving, we: 

  • Start Giving: Give something. Give anything. Just start. 
  • Give consistently: We become what we habitually do. So, a consistent habit of giving starts to shape our minds and our sense of who we are.  
  • Given until you notice: Sometimes we give and it doesn’t make a dent in our pocketbook or our spirit. To give until you notice makes you choose between options, sometimes two good options. The process of choosing where you will give starts to shape your vision for your life. 
  • Give to the tithe (10%): It’s the biblical floor not ceiling. It may take you some time to get there, but goals are good! 
  • Give sacrificially: When you become a generous person, you rarely even ask yourself, “Should I give?” You just find ways to give.  

In the end, it’s not about the $ amount you give but the person you are becoming.   

Why give? We have been made in the image of a generous God! So, we give.


Connecting from California

By Christianna Shortridge 

Sunday morning. 8:30 a.m. – time for church. Pour a cup of coffee, grab a blanket to ward off the early morning Sierra chill, find my aging Cairn Terrier and head outside onto the deck into the brisk mountain air. I’m not in Shoreview, Minnesota. I’m in Truckee, California, 6,000 feet up in the Sierra Nevada mountains. A view of Mt. Rose in Nevada lies to the east with the rising sun. Donner Summit, Castle Peak and Squaw Valley lie to the west still blanketed in snow. Incarnation Lutheran Church lies 1,800 miles northeast and another lifetime away. 

Pop my air pods into my ears, turn on my iPhone, find last Sunday’s sermon on SoundCloud, hit the play arrow, and I’m transported back to my pew, worshiping at Incarnation’s 8:45 a.m. service. Yes, I am one of those people who actually listen in to the Sunday sermons from faraway places. A far cry from a worship service, but a comforting way to connect, worship and continue on my spiritual journey. Podcasts are not meant to substitute the community found in worship, but are way to connect in a place where Lutheran churches are few and far between.  

SoundCloud sermons are but one way to identify with Incarnation, which offers so many ways to connect from afar. Subscribe to Lifetimes or Incarnation’s Facebook pageGive. Since I cannot physically volunteer to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children, drop off donations for the Ralph Reader food shelf, or teach a Sunday School class, I choose to give. The many programs Incarnation supports need financial assistance throughout the year. Lifetimes sometimes needs a writer. I am blessed to give of my gifts remotely. Be the light. In a place where skiing, hiking and mountain biking are practiced religiously, I try to reflect the love and generosity of Christ. 

I take what I can garner from the Sunday sermons through the voices, guidance, and wisdom of Pastors Jeanne, Janet, Joel and Kai. Incarnation taught me to serve, grow, connect and give; I’ve carried these values with me to California and attempt to share that light and love in my new community.  

However, worship in a spirit-led and faith-based community is essential. SoundCloud cannot ever replace gathering together in the name of God. I do seek out churches to worship with others, but Incarnation remains my church home. Today’s technology is truly a gift that allows me to keep in touch, continue to worship, occasionally catch a few notes from the organ and connect from California. 

Incarnation makes it easy to connect from afar with sermons on SoundCloud, e-blasts with the latest updates, monthly e-newsletters and impromptu Facebook posts. A lifeline when you need it, but not a replacement for worship, a visit to the chapel, or fellowship in Grace Hall. Even though Incarnation is nearly two thousand miles away, I still constantly connect with this place that reflects God’s compassion, justice, and love in a world that desperately needs hope, grace and love. 

Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow

2019 Offering of Letters

All children deserve the opportunity to live a healthy life and reach their full potential. Good nutrition during the 1,000 day period from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday is critical to a child’s health and future well-being. Bread for the World’s theme for the Offering of Letters in 2019, “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow”, urges our U.S. government to accelerate progress toward ending hunger by increasing funding for global child nutrition programs.   

While global hunger and poverty have been cut nearly in half during the past 30 years, hunger has been increasing in the past three years. Today, nearly 821 million people in the world (11% of the population) remain hungry. One in four of the world’s children are affected by stunting, resulting in irreversible life consequences. Almost half of all child deaths worldwide are linked to malnutrition. Children in Central America, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are those most affected. 

The Hunger Advocacy and Awareness Group will be staffing a table on Sunday morning October 13 for Incarnation’s 2019 Offering of Letters. Information and materials will be available to aid you in contacting your federal officials asking them to support a global initiative to accelerate progress on nutrition, as well as to protect and increase funding for global nutrition. This is a bipartisan issue that will draw support from people of good will in churches and leaders from both political parties in Washington, D.C.  Stop by and be a part of advocacy for “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow”. 

Apostles Library Book Review

Little Faith    

by Nickolas Butler

           You may have read about Nickolas Butler in the July issue of Living Lutheran where he was the “I’m a Lutheran” interviewee. He’ s a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI and a novelist and short story writer.

The Incarnation library has a copy of Butler’s most recent novel, Little Faith. You will feel those Wisconsin roots in his carefully crafted, gentle and thoughtful writing.  Here are descriptive excerpts from the book jacket:

Lyle and Peg Hovde, now 65 and retired, live a quiet and contented life in rural Wisconsin. After a troubled adolescence and a period of estrangement, their adopted daughter, Shiloh, has returned home, bringing her five-year-old son, Isaac, with her. Shiloh has changed in her time away from home; she’s now a deeply involved member of an extremist church, and commits herself to its strict religious rules. The church’s pastor is smitten with Shiloh, and is even more captivated by Isaac, who he believes has the God-given ability to heal the sick.

Lyle, whose own faith was severely shaken after his only son dies before age one, now finds himself torn. The practices of the church make him increasingly uneasy—but if he rebuffs Shiloh’s newfound community, his daughter and grandson may disappear from his life for good. And when the church’s radical belief system threatens Isaac’s safety, Lyle is forced to make a decision that may fracture the family beyond repair.

Set over the course of one year and evoking the change of seasons, Little Faith is a profoundly moving novel about friendship and community, the ways in which belief is both forged and dismantled, and the lengths we go to protect our own.

Among the Congregation

Hospitalized: Bob Lange

Sympathy to: Mary Schlichting and family on the death of her mother; the family of Fran Mason on her death; the family of June Allen on her death

Recently Baptized: Declan James, son of Nicole and Ryan O’Donnell; Evelyn Mary, daughter of Kelsy and Patrick Haltvick

Recently Married: Libby Magnuson and Alex Sederberg


You’re Invited to Serve Communion
As the pool of communion servers has grown this fall, new servers are sharing stories about how moving it is to serve in this way. Contact Becky Benson if you also wish to serve communion during worship. Orientation is provided.  

Ralph Reeder Food Shelf Tours
Thursday, October 17 from 12  12:30 p.m. or Tuesday, October 22 from 6:30  7:00 p.m. 
Take a 30 minute tour of the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf, meet the Ralph Reeder staff, see exactly what the food shelf is, how it operates and the good that it does in the community! Pre-registration is required. Sign up for a tour spot. 

October 24 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Gather in Grace Hall.
This month we will be listening to the music of Toll Free, a quartet of bell players that will be playing non-traditional pieces you wouldn’t typically expect to hear during worship on Sunday. They come highly recommended by Amy Maakestad, the Bell Choir Director at Incarnation. Come and enjoy this wonderful concert of talented performers. Sign up in the Incarnation Office by Monday, October 21. 

Pancakes for Preschool
Sunday, November 10 from 9:00 a.m 12:00 p.m.
Join us before or after worship for a delicious pancake breakfast to support the Incarnation Preschool. Come for pancakes with toppings, sausages, coffee and juice. Glutenfree pancakes and sausages will also be available. Cost: $8/person and children under 2 are FREE. Tickets will be available October 27, November 3 and at the door on November 10.    

Meet with Pastor Kai
November 4 from 7  8:30 p.m.
You are invited to an informal gathering with Pastor Kai in the Fireside Room. Don and Claudia Wiebold will host the discussion with a series of questions about Incarnation. Attendees will have the opportunity to share insights about our community. Space at this event is limited to 40 people, please reserve your spot with Emily Schwieters.

Siblings: From Bickering To Bonding
Wednesday, November 13 from 9:30  11:00 a.m.
Learn to prepare your kids with the skills and values they’ll need to become great spouses, parents, friends or coworkers someday. For now, help them to be better siblings and stop the bickering! Co-hosted by Children, Youth and Family Ministry and the Incarnation Preschool. Presented by Connected Families.Free to attend. Childcare: $5/child. Scholarships available upon request. Register at 651-484-7213 by Wednesday, November 6. 

Thanksgiving For All Concert Benefitting the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf
Friday, November 22 from 7 – 9:00 p.m.
Join the community for a concert with Beatles tribute band “Rubber Soul” and words from Lisa Baker, program director of the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf on Friday, November 22 atPeace Methodist Church. There is no admission to attend but a free will offering will be taken to benefit the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf. The concert is being made possible by the Thrivent Action Team, Rice Creek Group. Would you like to volunteer to help at the event? Sign up here. 

Holy Envy Small Group
Once a month on Mondays from 1 11:30 a.m., starting in October 
Connect with others to talk about the book, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others, by Barbara Brown Taylor, in a Small Group setting. In Holy Envy, Barbara Brown Taylor, recounts her journey teaching the world’s religions to undergraduates and how her own spiritual journey was complicated and renewed by connecting with people of other faith traditions. Leader: Georgia Schultz. Cost: $15. To register, contact Denise Floe. 

Sunday Morning Small Group
Once a month on Sunday from 9:45  10:45 a.m.
Connect with others in a Small Group setting, before or after attending worship. Explore how to walk alongside others in times of joy and difficulty through short videos and the faith study, Caring for One Another, written at Incarnation. This ongoing group is eager to welcome new people. It’s a great starting place for those new to Small Groups.To register, contact Denise Floe. 

Sewing Clothing Protectors
Would you like to sew clothing protectors for adult men and women residents of Shoreview Senior Living? The pattern is easy and available for you to pick up in the Incarnation Office so you can sew at home. For questions, contact Deb Rykken. 

Online Giving
Electronic giving options make it easy to contribute remotely. You can donate online or make a contribution with a textFor more information about electronic giving, click here. Thank you for your faithful generosity!