Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

May your day be filled with joy and peace!

Kid Crossings will return on January 4th after a much needed holiday break.  Peace to you all in the holiday season!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
A more spiritual version of the famous Christmas story
by: Sister St. Thomas, B.N.D. de N


Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town,
Joseph was searching, walking up roads and down;
Mary was waiting, so meek and so mild,
While Joseph was seeking a place for the Child.

The children were nestled, each snug in their beds,
The grown-ups wouldn't bother, there's no room they said;
When even the innkeeper sent them away,
Joseph was wondering, where they would stay.

He thought of the caves in the side of the hills,
Lets go there said Mary, it's silent and still;
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Made pathways of light for their tired feet to go.

And there in a cave, in a cradle of hay,
Our Savior was born on that first Christmas Day!
The Father was watching in heaven above,
He sent for His angels, His couriers of love.

More rapid than eagles God's bright angels came;
Rejoicing and eager as each heard his name;
Come Power, Come Cherubs, Come Virtues, Come Raphael,
Come Thrones and Dominions, come Michael and Gabriel.

Now fly to the Earth, where My poor people live,
Announce the glad tiding My Son comes to give;
The Shepherds were watching their flocks on this night,
And saw in the heavens and unearthly light.

The Angels assured them, they'd nothing to fear,
It's Christmas they said, the Savior is here!
They hastened to find Him, and stood at the door,
Till Mary invited them in to adore.

He was swaddled in bands from His head to His feet,
Never did the Shepherds see a baby so sweet!
He spoke not a word, but the shepherds all knew,
He was telling them secrets and blessing them too.

Then softly they left Him, The Babe in the hay,
And rejoiced with great joy on that first Christmas Day;
Mary heard them exclaim as they walked up the hill,
Glory to God in the Highest, Peace to men of good will!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrate the birth of the Savior!

Christmas Worship 2009
St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Bloomington, MN
1701 W. Old Shakopee Rd.
Bloomington, MN 55431
952-881-5801
www.stlukes.ws

Christmas Eve
December 24, 2009

2:30pm - Festival Worship with Children's Choirs *

4:00pm - Blended Worship with Jubilee Worship Team *

10:30pm - Candelight Worship with St. Luke's Choir
Prelude begins at 10:00pm

* Nursery care available for children 3 years and younger

Christmas Day
December 25, 2009

10:00am - Festival Worship with Holy Communion


"And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth" ~ John 1:14

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - Spread the Word

Scripture Reading- Matthew 28:16-20

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Thought of the Day
We’ve already covered a lot of the gifts that God has given us, but in today’s reading Jesus asks something of us. We are called to go to tell other people about those gifts we’ve been given. Jesus calls us to spread the Word of God, to share the story of Jesus with the world. He calls us to baptize others and teach them about God and His love for us. If we take the good we’ve been given seriously, we have to take this call from God seriously as well. This Great Commission is given to us all, from the shortest to the tallest person. We all can share God’s Word in the world.


Discussion questions
1. What are some ways we can share God’s story with the world?

2. Who are some people that you could tell about God?

3. Why should we tell others about God’s Word?

Prayer
Dear Jesus,
You’ve called us to a big task, but we know that we can do it with your help. Give us the words to help spread your story across the world. Help us live as examples of your Word in the world. AMEN.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The "W" in Christmas

-borrowed from a email forward, shared because it was a beautiful message, author unknown.

Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.

I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending..

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old.

For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school"s Winter Pageant.

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production, unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his
Teacher, she assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.

Those in the front row- center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, as she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"C H R I S T W A S L O V E"

And, I believe, He still is.
Amazed in His presence....humbled by His love.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - Paul's Conversion

Scripture Reading - Acts 9:1-6

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.

"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

Thought of the Day
There are times when we think we know more than everyone else. We even think we know better than God sometimes. Sometimes when we are sure that we are right and everyone else is wrong, and we can’t imagine why anyone disagrees with us. This thinking can be dangerous. Before Paul (then known as Saul) knew Jesus and believed in him, he was one of the people searching for Christians to kill them because he believed that he was right. He was so sure of it that he was willing to kill to prove it. But we know that he was wrong, and Jesus did too. But instead of punishing Paul, Jesus appeared to him and showed him the right way. Jesus forgave Paul and Paul became one of the biggest spreaders of Christianity ever.

Discussion questions
1. It is important to remember sometimes we can be wrong even though we think we are right. Can you think of a time when that happened?

2. Jesus gave Paul another chance. What should we do when we know that someone else is doing something wrong?

3. It is nice to know that it is never too late to change your way and follow God. Name a time when you were going to do something wrong but didn’t instead.


Prayer
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for second chances. Thank you for helping to change our minds to what is right. Please continue to guide us and keep us on the correct path. AMEN.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brrr.

The snow has hit MN with a fury this week.  It is really winter now, and I think it is a shock to most of us since November was so mild.  But the return of winter emphasizes that Advent is here and Christmas is coming.  Whenever we get a snow storm in December I am also mindful of the level of humanity that Jesus was willing to take on.

Imagine what it truly must have been like to be born in a stable.

Can you think what Mary must have felt like, riding a donkey, 9 months pregnant, for miles and miles during winter?

Can you imagine the frustration of Joseph when inn after inn turned them away? The panic that set in as Mary declared that it was time to have the baby?

Can you imagine the gratitude of one innkeeper sharing a corner of space in the barn?

Can you smell the smells of the animals, the hay and the manure?

Can you know the pain that Mary endured to give birth to her son in a stable?

Can you imagine the cold?  the worry? the joy?

It is snowing outside now and it helps me leave this 21 century and imagine what it truly must have been like on that Christmas night.  This isn't a birth in a warm room with an epidural and a fetal monitor.  This is messy and immensely human.  And God choose THAT to enter the world.  Jesus didn't come as a pampered prince, he came among the animals.

But his humble beginnings didn't diminish who he was and is.  Even the stars and the heavens announced his birth. 

Take a moment tonight and gaze out into the darkness and the cold and imagine the reality of the Christmas story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - The Early Church and God's Word

Scripture Reading - Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Thought of the Day
In this passage, we are given a glimpse of how the early church lived. They had witnessed the Word of God firsthand in Jesus and Pentecost. It brought them together as a people. They lived together and shared with one another. (Imagine living with the whole church!) They learned together and ate together. Though all Christians cannot live in the same house, we can use God’s word and the disciples as an example for us. We should treat all Christians as our family and work with them to improve the world.

Discussion questions
1. What are some of the important things that the passage tells us the disciples did together?

2. How can we help make our church like the early church?

3. Extra credit: Invite another church family over for dinner to talk about what you’ve learned.

Prayer
Dear Jesus,
Help make our church more like the early church. Help us to recognize the family that our church can be. Lead us in making the church faithful to your Word. AMEN.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent

Sometimes it seems like Advent gets the short end of the stick when it comes to church seasons.  There are great Advent hymns that sing about the process of waiting and hoping for Christ, but we want Christmas songs!  We want our Silent Nights and our Hark the Herald Angels.  And who can blame us really?  These songs are filled with joy and love and faith for us.  Christmas is a time to slow down and truly celebrate with those around us that God loved us so much to send his son.

The problem of course is that to slow down for Christmas means that Advent speeds up to a near frantic pace.  There is shopping, cooking and cleaning to do, not to mention all the holiday parties, concerts and family activities to do.  It is no wonder that by the time we reach the Christmas season we are just tired.

It may be that there is no avoiding the hustle and bustle, but try to find a family activity that can center you during the season and remind you about the wonderful thing that we wait for in Advent - the birth of Jesus Christ.

Here are some ways to remember Advent as a family:

  • Consider investing in a family advent wreath and light it each night at dinner.  One candle is lit for each week of Advent.  So by Advent 4 all candles are lit.

  • Use an advent calendar to mark down the days until Christmas.  Everyday a box can be opened or an ornament can be hung in celebration of being one day closer to Jesus' birth.

  • If you don't have an advent calendar one can be made easily by making a paper chain and ripping off one link each day.
  • When shopping consider getting a gift for Toys for Tots or donating to a local food shelf like VEAP to remind yourself that giving is a greater joy than recieving.

  • Read the a portion of the Christmas story each day or use or Taking Faith Home inserts for daily Advent readings.

  • Place a new piece of a Nativity out each day counting down for Christmas.  Remember to save the baby Jesus for last!  If you don't have many pieces for your nativity consider having your children make sheep or other animals to have one to add each day.
What Advent Traditions help you slow down as a family before Christmas?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

Thank you to all who participated in this year's Operation Christmas Child mission project.  As you can see we had a wonderful turnout.  St. Luke's donated 226 boxes!  The children around the world will love the gifts that you shared with them!  Thank you St. Luke's!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - Word of Grace Continued

Scripture Reading -Romans 1:16-17


I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." 

Thought of the Day
God’s Word is the key, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news of God that we can bring to people who don’t know about Him. The Bible is how we learn about God and Jesus. It is their Word on earth. God saves us through our faith in Jesus, and it is in God’s Word that we learn about Jesus. And His Word can bring faith to those who listen to it. It is through the Word that we can understand the grace we’ve been given.

Discussion questions
1. What is your favorite story in the Bible?

2. What can that story tell you about God and Jesus?

3. How does that story strengthen your faith?

Prayer
Dear God,
Your Word guides us to you. In your word, we learn of our salvation and our faith is strengthened. Thank you for giving us the gospel to remind us of your gifts of grace and love. AMEN.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Don't forget to save some room for Christmas Cookie baking later this week!

FAMILY CHRISTMAS COOKIE BAKING
Friday and Saturday, November 27 & 28, 10am—4pm

Want to bake Christmas Cookies with your family but don’t want to buy the ingredients, make the mess and clean up too? Join Lou Dalton on Thanksgiving weekend to make your cookies together as a family.

Come when you can and stay as long as you want. Walk-ins are also welcome. A freewill donation will cover the cost of the cookie supplies. Lunch will be provided. For more information or to RSVP please call Elizabeth Paul at 952-881-5801 or elizabethp@stlukes.ws

P.S. More help is needed with the cookies. Even if you don't have time to bring your kids consider coming and helping out on Friday or Saturday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Contest!

In the spirit of being thankful for all the blessings in my life and the life of St.Luke's, Kids Crossing is having a little blog contest for Thanksgiving.

How do you enter? Simply leave a comment on this blog with something that you are thankful for this year!  Oh, and be sure to leave a working email address so I can contact you about your prize if you win!

What do I win? I will choose a winner by a random number draw and the winner will receive an additional lesson in Thankfulness in the form of Veggie Tales!  This fun video is enjoyable for kids and adults alike and is great to introduce the idea of thankfulness for what we have in a materialistic world!



Our Thanksgiving contest is open until Sunday December 6th and you do not need to be a church member to participate!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Playground!

Keep your eyes on the east end of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. A Rainbow play system was put in place TODAY!

The money that St. Luke’s CrossWoods Sunday School children collected several years ago during their January missions month and the offerings collected during confirmation classes last year helped make a playground for the St. Luke’s ministries become reality along with other preschool and church families’ donations. More good news is that it is very possible that a Boy Scout will do site preparation as his Eagle Scout project. Additional donations will be needed for site prep and other equipment, but we have a wonderful start and hope to be ready for more work in the Spring!

The support from both preschool and church staff, the Church Council (including Exec), the Preschool Board, and Pastor Phil are very much appreciated. The children at St. Luke’s are going to enjoy this new play set!

The staff was eager to try out the new playset!

















Tuesday Family Devotion - Word of Grace

Scripture Reading - Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Thought of the Day
Have you ever been given something even when you didn’t deserve it? Have you been forgiven when you’ve said something mean or when you didn’t obey your parents? We know that God has given us a LOT of gifts. He made us and loves us, just like our parents do. But sometimes we don’t act very nice to Him or to others. We do things wrong. If we were judged only by what we did, we would all be in trouble because we’ve all done things wrong. But one of God’s biggest gifts and most powerful Word’s is GRACE. Grace means that we are forgiven and loved even when we don’t deserve it. We have faith that we’ve been given grace since Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

Discussion questions
1. Imagine that you had to do the exact right thing your WHOLE life. Do you think you could do it? Would it be hard?

2. Would it be easier to try to be good knowing that you would be forgiven if you couldn’t?

Prayer
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins. We know that we couldn’t hope to be good enough to earn your forgiveness, so thank you for forgiving us when we sin. We all need your grace and we know we are blessed to have it. Help us try to be good, but when we aren’t, give us the faith to remember that you’ve already forgiven us because of your grace. AMEN.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Confirmation

On Sunday a class of students were confirmed here at St. Luke's. This is a time that never fails to move me, even more so as these are students that I have worked with in my own time here. It is a beautiful thing to see teens willing to take on their own responsibilities in the church and to confess their own faith in Jesus Christ.

These are good kids. They work with the Sunday School kids. Many volunteer through our Teens in Ministry (TIM)team. I am grateful to have seen these children and parents thrive through the process of confirmation and I am thrilled to have even a small part of it.

As a parent Confirmation is moving too. It often is presented like a graduation, but it is more than that. This is a declaration of faith that the children make, and likewise the parents promise to continue to walk with them on the path to faith - side by side now, together.

It is true, some of these students may drop away from the church - for a short time or for longer. But the church remains a part of their life and one day they will realize the impact that confirmation and their parents had on their faith.

But whether they stay or go, it is always a lovely thing to watch them proclaim that they believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

St. Luke’s Family Christmas Cookie Baking


  • Want to bake Christmas Cookies with your family but don’t want to buy the ingredients, make the mess and clean up too?  Join Lou Dalton on Thanksgiving weekend to make your cookies together as a family. 

  • Are your Grandparents in town?  Take them to church for some quality time in someone else's kitchen!

  • Do you not want to hit the mall on the busiest shopping weekend of the year?  Get your baking done as a family without the mess.  All the prep and clean up is on us! 

Come when you can and stay as long as you want.  Sign up in the Great Hall or with Elizabeth Paul. Sign ups are encouraged but walk-ins are also welcome.  A freewill donation will cover the cost of the cookie supplies.  Lunch will be provided. For more information or to RSVP and indicate the day you plan to attend please call Elizabeth Paul at 952-881-5801 or elizabethp@stlukes.ws

Friday and Saturday
November 27 & 28
Fellowship Hall
10am—4pm

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - The Armor of God

Scripture Reading - Ephesians 6:10-17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Thought of the Day
Sometimes life can be dangerous. We have seatbelts and airbags in cars to protect us if we get into an accident. We have life preservers when we go on a boat. We have lifeguards to protect us at the pool. Sometimes things can be dangerous and we don’t realize it. Lying can be dangerous, or stealing or cheating. What Ephesians reminds us is that if we put on what we have learned from God’s Word as armor, we can be protected from the dangerous things we can be tempted to do. The more we know about God and His Word the more we are protected from those dangerous things.

Discussion questions
1. What are some things that God can protect us from?

2. If we don’t know if something is wrong or right where can we look to find out?

3. How does knowing the Bible protect us from sinning?


Prayer
Loving God,
We know that you want us to be safe and protected in the world. Thank you for giving us your Word to use as armor against sin and temptation. Give us the strength to remember to keep our armor on and follow your Word. AMEN.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meet the Trailguide: Matt Roberts!

Welcome to the first Meet the Trailguide postOur Trailguides are critical parts to our Sunday School program.  They act as guides, advisors, friends and leaders for each Sunday School class and we are blessed to have them participate each week in CrossWoods.  Matt, today's Trailguide being spotlighted, also serves as the Children's Ministry representative on our church council and works with our Wednesday night programs as well.  So, please say hi to Matt! 

Trailguide Interview - Matt Roberts
 

Who are you?
My name is Matt Roberts. My wife, Kim, and I have 3 boys, and we live in Savage. I grew up in Bloomington, and have been a member of St. Luke's all my life.

What do you do outside of church?
I work for the family business fabricating ornamental iron work. When I'm not working, I'm usually kind of a homebody, at least until fall comes around. Then I really enjoy getting out hunting with at least one of my boys and the dog. I also love watching baseball, baking, and reading.

How many years have you been a Trailguide?
I'm going into my 5th year as a Trailguide.

What is the main reason that you volunteer in CrossWoods?
I enjoy being part of passing on a faith and traditions that were passed down to me. Growing up I can recall so many people that were part of shaping me, and many of those people were here at St. Luke's. I am grateful to have the opportunity to stand in and serve where others before me have served.

Who were your faith mentors in growing up?
My parents, Howard Rasmussen, and Tim Krieg, just to name a few. The thing all of these people have in common is that I don't believe they ever were necessarily aware they were teaching me anything about life, and faith. Most of what they passed on to me was by the examples they set, and the time they spent developing a sincere relationship with a boy that looked up to them very much. I still have (and need!) faith mentors in my adult life.

How has being a CrossWoods volunteer deepened your own faith?
I have become more familiar with the Bible stories we have studied. I believe the Bible gives glimpses of other peoples relationships with God over thousands of years. We are God's people, and knowing these stories helps me better understand what that means to me. The other thing that has deepened my faith is all the questions the kids ask. When the kids ask questions (and many of them are tough!), it really forces me to think more about what I believe- things I might not otherwise have thought of.

Would you share one story about your time in CrossWoods?
Not completely a Crosswoods moment, but without a relationship that developed in Crosswoods, this moment might have passed by unnoticed by me. Over the years I had gotten to somewhat know a student that was in another grade then the class I was trailguiding.

One day while I sat in worship, I noticed this then 5th grader going up for communion with their family. Having not yet gone through 1st communion class, there was an interaction between the child, parent, and pastor; some may be familiar with this. Child approaches pastor, pastor gets ready to give a communion wafer, child eagerly begins to hold out hand only to be foiled by parent who reaches out and gently pulls the childs hand back down to their side. I was amused to see we were not the only ones that did this little dance of sorts. There is a brief wordless exchange where I believe the child says "I am ready for this", and the parent says, "be patient- almost".

A month or so later, its Maundy Thursday, and I see this same student going up for communion, this time ready for their First Communion. The look on this young person's face after receiving communion was that of true joy, and I could tell the parents could see and feel it as well by the expression on their faces. I can't explain how moved I was at that moment; I have never before experienced a more meaningful communion, and I think of it often when I take communion now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Movie Review: Disney's A Christmas Carol

Deb, a church member, mother and Trailguide at St. Luke's attended the new movie version of A Christmas Carol from Walt Disney this weekend.  Here are her thoughts:

This movie is the retelling of the classic Dicken's story but updated in Disney's animated 3D.  The movie follows Ebenezer Scrooge in his discontentment and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and That is Yet to Come.  The movie presents the story as written by Charles Dicken's, so the characters recite/speak as they do in the book, which at times had my 12 and 10 year old confused as to what was being said.  The scenes with the ghosts, particularly when Bob Marley arrives, were also more intense/suspenseful than what we had expected, and my kids got a little scared.  

The movie has wonderful 3D special effects and the characters look more realistic than "cartoonish".  It is a good "classic" version of the story, I caution parents with young children that the movie is not as "holly and jolly" (as my son Luke commented), meaning that this isn't your typical "Disney" lighthearted version.  It's worth seeing- has a good message about how we treat others in life- I would just prepare your child if under the age of 9.   

To watch the movie trailer click here.
To read another movie review click here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - Our Identity Continued

Scripture Reading - 1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Thought of the Day
Last time we talked about how God had chosen each and everyone of us to be his child. These verses in 1 Peter remind us that while we have been chosen as individuals, we have also all be chosen together. Not only are we God’s child, but we are God’s people. Our identity is wrapped up with everyone else’s identity as well. I have been chosen but so have you and so has your neighbor or the kid down the street, or the cashier at the grocery store. The gifts that we receive from God: His grace, His mercy and His love are meant for all of his people. And as a part of God’s people, we are called to share that with them.

Discussion questions
1. Has there ever been a person that you didn’t like?

2. Does your opinion of them change if you remember that they are a member of God’s family too?

3. What are some ways that we should treat God’s people in the world?

Prayer
Dear God,
We know that we have been given a very special identity as your child. Help us to remember that other people have been given this gift as well. Even people we don’t like are your people. Give us the strength to see everyone as your child and part of your people, just as we are. AMEN.

Monday, November 9, 2009

H1N1

As more people I know get the H1N1 flu I am wondering about the fear that comes with an unknown illness.  No one I know who has gotten sick has suffered visibly more than an ordinary flu and no one has had serious complications out of the folks I know.  Still there is the fear associated with this illness.  Is it because it does seem to be worse for the young, because the vaccine is untested, or just the fear of the unknown in the first place.

St. Luke's has gone to a verbal passing of the peace in lieu of handshaking due to the threat of the flu.  Observing people this Sunday I noticed some sticking with idea, others presumably ignoring or forgetting and some blatantly doing the opposite.  I had at least one person hug me on Sunday saying, "I'm a hugger, some little germ doesn't scare me."  That may be, but does it scare me?  Or the thought of my young son getting it?  What is the response to an unknown and unseen threat like the flu can be?

I try not to live in fear but it can be difficult.  It is easy for precaution and responsibility to be reduced to neurotic fears and extremes and many are struggling with that balance this year. 

What are you doing differently (if anything) because of the threat of H1N1 this year? Why?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Family Faith Practices – Keeping It Simple!

Today's blog post is written by church member Kelly Meyers.  Kelly is married and has three girls ages 18, 14 and 3.  Kelly also works in the church office as our Media and Communications expert.

Often, when we hear phrases like ‘rituals and traditions’ or ‘faith practices’ we imagine grand events that take a lot of time and effort. In our family, we have found that the simpler we make it, the better. All of us suffer from the ‘busies.’ When someone asks you how you are, how do you respond? “Good, but we’re all so busy.” So how do we add one more thing to our ever-growing ‘to-do’ lists? I have good news for you: we don’t have to!

Have you ever watched your child open a gift at Christmas that you were really excited to give them, and then they spent all of Christmas Day playing with the giant box it came in? When you think back to Christmases as a child, what do you remember? Is it a specific gift or is it time with family and friends? What about other memories of growing up? Do you remember and cherish what you did or who you did it with?
Research tells us that children are profoundly affected by things we do as a family that offer them feelings of consistency, safety, trust and respect. So how do we create that in the midst of our busy schedules? Here are two of the things our family does to create simple rituals, discuss/share our faith, and give our children those feelings of security.

Make family meals a priority.
Because we have a blended family, and now have 1 child in college, this sometimes means only once a week! But we make it a priority to eat together as a family as often as we can. Be sure to turn off the TV and sit at the table. This time together allows us time to cover so many rituals and traditions!

1. Prayer – a simple prayer of thanksgiving prior to a meal reminds us that we are thankful for the food and family we have been blessed with. This doesn’t need to be an elaborate, long soliloquy. We always say the “Come, Lord Jesus” prayer. And we always hold hands. This simple gesture often breaks down walls between those who are angry or frustrated with each other.

2. Highs and Lows – as often as we can, we go around the table to give our ‘highs and lows’ for the day. Even our 3 year old has something to offer. Sometimes these conversations can take up our entire meal time. What a marvelous way to ‘check in’ with each other, celebrate joys & successes, and support each other in difficulties!

3. Clean up together – this isn’t always possible and is a new one for us. But a family that works together knows how to play together. Work done together goes faster, is easier, and gives everyone a feeling of being a part of the family ‘team.’

Windshield time.
Sometimes I think I spend more time in my car than I do sleeping. Can you relate? And how often do you have a child (or children) with you? I challenge you to turn off the radio (and the phones!) and engage in a conversation. Avoid ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions. Not sure what to ask? Try asking specific questions about school, sports, etc. (i.e. “Tell me something good/bad that happened today.” “What class was your favorite today and why?” “What was the best part of practice today?” “What did you talk about in Confirmation today”). I have also kept all sorts of cards in my car throughout the years – even trivia cards (which the kids LOVE to play!). Anything to start conversation and remind your child that what is happening in their life is important to you.

I highly recommend getting a set of the Faith Talk cards from the Youth & Family Institute. Just keep them in the car. Ask your child to pick a question and you’re off and running. We have samples of these cards at St. Luke’s if you would like to preview them.

If some of these activities or ideas sound awkward, that is perfectly OK! Most of us did not grow up in an environment where we talked about our faith openly. We need to give ourselves time to figure out what works best for us and our families. Be patient with yourself and do not feel like you need to have all of the answers (or that the answers even have to be correct). Simply enjoy listening and learning together.


What do you think?  (Don't forget to comment and give Kelly some internet love!)
1. What are some other ways to bring faith discussions into our everyday activities?

2. What are some of the ways we share our faith with our children non-verbally? Do those actions really speak louder than words?

3. Does anyone have some simple prayers (meals, bedtime, etc.) that work for your family?

God bless your family time and traditions!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mainstream Media

Have you seen this piece that WCCO did this week?  It is about teaching religion to children and whether parents should "force" their kids to attend church or let them decide on their own terms.

Their answer: neither.

Really it comes down to what we say all the time - parents should lead by example, pass on that which they think is important and give children the basis to make the decision for themselves when the time comes.  That is all we can really do.  Forcing church upon kids, particularly when parents aren't involved is counterproductive, so is never exposing your children to the community and traditions of worship, Christian education and church in general.

As a parent I don't always like all the pressure to give our kids the right balance of everything they need: academics, extracurricular activities, food groups, socialization, vaccinations whatever.  The fact of the matter is that we are main source for our children to see how all of these things apply to life as a productive, happy, faithful adult.  And it can be overwhelming to figure out how it works, but as this report points out it can sometimes be as simple as leading by example.  Do you want your kids to go to church when they are adults?  Then take them to church and go as a family.  Do you want your children to follow along in the service ?  Show them how, open to the hymns, sing along, and model the behavior.

These things aren't hard, they just take the time and dedication to do them.  And we as a church need to accept that children will occasionally be loud and disruptive and know that it is a blessing that they are there to be able to make noise!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - Our Identity

Scripture Reading - Psalm 8

O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!
       You have set your glory
       above the heavens.


From the lips of children and infants
       you have ordained praise

       because of your enemies,
       to silence the foe and the avenger.


When I consider your heavens,
       the work of your fingers,
       the moon and the stars,
       which you have set in place,


what is man that you are mindful of him,
       the son of man that you care for him?


You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
       and crowned him with glory and honor.


You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
       you put everything under his feet:


all flocks and herds,
       and the beasts of the field,


the birds of the air,
       and the fish of the sea,
       all that swim the paths of the seas.


O LORD, our Lord,
       how majestic is your name in all the earth!


Thought of the Day
Psalm 8 reminds us that we have been an extraordinary gift from God. Our identity is because of God and God chose to make us in his image. He chose for us to be children of God. We are not like the animals or the plants around us. Each one of us is unique and special because God has made us who we are. We have done nothing to deserve it; instead it is a free gift to us! The same God that made the stars in the sky and the mountains and the trees made us just as we are.

Discussion questions
1. What makes you exactly who you are?

2. What are some gifts that God has given you?

3. Why do you think God gave us all these gifts?

Prayer
Great God,
Thank you for making us exactly who we are. Each one of us is different but each one of us is special in your eyes. You have given us great gifts, but the best gift of all is that we are one of your children. We know that you love us just as we are. AMEN.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Saints Day

The day after Halloween is All Saints day in the church.  I look forward to this day each year.   It is a time to remember those whom we've lost, this year in particular.   Now most years I have enjoyed this day in the church as a time to reflect on the promise of eternal life that God gives us and all of the saints who have gone ahead of us in a way, as it has been a while since I lost anyone I knew well.  This year was different however.  This year I lost two people who re-focused this church holiday and moved it from the general to the specific.  So this Sunday I had two people on my mind:  My friend Emilie and my husband's Aunt Barbara.

I didn't know my husband's Aunt well but when we traveled down to her funeral I got to hear and know more of the extended family than I had known before and it was clear to me that I am blessed to be a part of this family.   It made me said that I hadn't had more time to get to know her before she passed.  She never got to meet baby goat either, but in a way because of her funeral baby goat got to meet much more of his family more quickly than he otherwise would have.   I admire her tenacity though, her commitment to her community, and her love of books. 

The other loss this year is even closer to me.  On Christmas Eve last year my dear friend Emilie lost her battle with cancer leaving behind a husband, two small sons and a cathedral full of friends and family who miss her.  I think about Emilie a lot.  I've dreamt about her.  I wonder what it would have been like to raise our sons together.  I wonder about her family and how they are doing, not just in general but in the everyday reality of missing her.  She has given me a picture of how to live a life of generosity, courage and grace and I miss her.

The beauty of our faith in Jesus Christ however, which we celebrate on All Saints Day is that these people are not gone.  They are living life eternal and live both in our memories and in Christ.  We can take All Saints Day to celebrate the lives that we have lost, but while grief is a part of this there is also joy in celebrating God's gift to them and to us.  Death is not the final end and that means that our loved ones are not lost to us.

These are my saints who I remember.  They join the ranks of my grandmother, grandfather and countless others who have shaped my life and my faith.  Who do you remember?   Think about those people we've lost.  Have you share stories of them recently?  Share stories with your children, particularly if they don't remember these saints in our lives.  Tell their stories and remember them and God's promise to us all.

As you think of these saints in your life listen to one of our well known hymns sung on  All Saint's Day:



Here is the text of the hymn as it appears in our hymnal:

1. For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
2. Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
3. O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
4. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
5. The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
6. But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
7. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Prayer

Halloween is a fun holiday to celebrate with your family.  This week when you are carving pumpkins consider using this prayer with your family.  Consider making one of these pumpkins to go along with your traditional Jack O' Lanterns this year!  (I'm unable to find a copyright source of this due to its prevalence on the internet).

The Pumpkin Carving Prayer
Dear God,
As I carve my pumpkin help me say this prayer:

Open my mind so I can learn about You;
(Cut the top of the pumpkin)

Take away all my sin and forgive me for the wrong things I do.
(Clean out the inside)

Open my eyes so Your love I will see;
(Cut the eyes out in heart shapes)

I'm so sorry for turning up my nose to all you've given me.
(Cut a nose in the shape of a cross)

Open my ears so your word I will hear.
(Cut the ears shaped like the Bible)

Open my mouth so I can tell others You're near
(cut the mouth in the shape of a fish)

Let Your light shine in all I say and do! Amen.
(Place a candle inside and light it)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - Faith

Scripture Reading - Hebrews 11:1-3
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Thought of the Day
It can be hard to follow God all the time. It can be hard to believe all the things we are told in the Bible. Sometimes God’s miracles seem too outrageous and sometimes He asks too much of us. It can be hard to stay faithful when life gets hard and busy. But God has given us many examples of how He keeps His promises in the world. The Bible is full of God’s miracles to His people. When we have trouble being faithful and trusting God, we can look to His Word to guide us. And when we are faithful and trust in God, He will care for us. He will watch over us, we just have to have a little faith.

Discussion questions
1. What are some times when you find it hard to have faith in God?

2. What are some ways that you can remind yourself to have faith when those times come?

3. How can we remind others when they are having trouble being faithful?

Prayer
Dear God,
It can take faith to trust in you sometimes. It can be hard to see your work in the world. Help us remember to look to your Word, the Bible, when we feel our faith slipping away. Help us stay strong in our faith in you, because we know that you will always care for us. AMEN.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trunk or Treat 2009

Sunday was our 5th annual Trunk or Treat event and it was a wonderful time again this year.  I'm always floored by the willingness for the congregation to throw themselves creatively into this community event.  Our church is blessed to have so many dedicated volunteers willing to help out for the church and the community.

Trunk or Treat is always one of my favorite events because it reiterates the idea that Church can be something beyond Bible Studies and Catechisms.  We know that by offering this event we build the standing of St. Luke's in the city and tell people that we are a vibrant church who cares about its families.

So to all who came to Trunk or Treat this year and participated:  Thank you!  This is evangelism and service in its simplest and most enjoyable form!

Here are some of the highlights of this year's Trunk or Treat:

Prince Charming Surveys his kingdom


Duck-apolooza

Beastly Fun

Living Art - The Golden Troll

Warming up with S'mores

The Princess Contingent

The Winner of the best Trunk (again).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Town Hall Meetings Sunday!

There is a unique opportunity for adults this week as we meet to discuss the possible to move to two services.  From Children's Ministry's point of view it is vital to have families actively participate in this processs to come to the best solution for the families of St. Luke's.  Please plan on attending one of these town hall meetings this coming Sunday.  More information on the event is below.

Let Your Voice be Heard!


In an effort to be better stewards of our financial, staff, and volunteer resources, the staff and council at St. Luke’s is considering adjusting the Sunday morning worship schedule to 2 services and adjusting what time adult education is offered. We ask all members to share their feedback on these possible changes! One town hall meeting was held on Wednesday, October 21st, and two additional meetings are scheduled for:
Sunday, October 25th—9:30am

Sunday, October 25th—11:00am

Both gatherings will be in the Great Room and will last approximately 1 hour. Nursery care (for children 3 and younger) will be provided. Older children are invited to attend Sunday morning programming during the 9:30am service. In addition to the meetings, a survey will be available in both print and on the St. Luke’s website beginning October 25th.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Family Service Project: Operation Christmas Child

St. Luke's is partnering with Operation Christmas Child to help bring joy to children around the world again this year. Every year we ask members of our congregation to put together a shoe box of goodies to give to a child abroad who would not be given any gifts.

This mission is a wonderful opportunity to do a service project together as a family. The items in the boxes do not need to be expensive but they can teach your children the joy of giving. It is our hope that every family at St. Luke's would put together a shoe box to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and the joy of the holiday season around the world.

So how do you help? Take a shoe box or plastic tub, fill it with fun items, toys, clothes, candy, toiletries, etc. and bring it to church our Thanksgiving Service on Nov 25th at 7pm. They will be blessed and sent around the world with love from our community.

For more information on how to pack a box, please visit the Operation Christmas Child website here.

Finally, OCC has collaborated with Veggie Tales this year and here is a brief video to watch as a family to learn more about Operation Christmas Child:

Contest Winner!

Our contest is officially closed now. Our random number generator chose comment 6 which is Deb! Congratulations Deb. I'll be in touch to get your Kids Faith Talk cards. Thanks to all who entered!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday Family Devotion - Creation Continues

Scripture Reading - Psalm 33:6-9

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.

For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm. 


Thought of the Day
Let’s do an experiment. Think for a moment of a food that you’d really like to be eating right now. Got it? Ok, now hold out your hand and say the name of that food out loud. Did it appear? What?! You mean that you can’t make the food appear just by saying its name out loud? We know that that is impossible for us, but God’s Words are powerful. God created us simply by saying that He wanted us to exist. God spoke our name and we came to be. He talked about the world and world appeared. God’s Word is a powerful thing and we can see God’s words in everything around us, including you and me! Everything we see is because of God’s Word.


Discussion questions
1. How does it make you feel to know that God has called your name?

2. If God created everything by his Word, how should we treat other people, animals and the whole world? 

    Prayer
    Heavenly Father,
    Thank you for saying our name out loud. We know that you created us and everything that we see by your Word. Help us to honor your creation and work to help keep your creation safe. AMEN.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Trunk or Treat!

    Free Halloween Fun at St. Luke's Annual Trunk or Treat!

    Join us on October 25th from 4:30—6:00pm for a safe and fun trick-or-treating event. Come in your costumes and trick-or-treat from trunk to trunk in our church parking lot.  Come enjoy some hot cider, hot chocolate, caramel and apples, and S’mores by the campfire too! All are welcome!

    If you are interested in decorating your own trunk and participating in Trunk or Treat please call Liz Paul at 952-881-5801. The best decorated trunk will be the recipient of the St. Luke’s Trunk or Treat Traveling Trophy—The Golden Troll!*

    Enjoy a few pictures from past Trunk or Treats:








    * While ALL are welcome to attend trunk or treat, you must be a member of St. Luke's to have a trunk in the event.

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    CrossWoods Rotation 2 - The Ten Commandments

    Our Sunday School (CrossWoods) moved onto its second rotation this week.  The kids of CrossWoods will now be studying the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments are both helpful and problematic for our lives.  They are helpful because a world without rules is one that is filled with sin and the things that the 10 Commandments tell us to do (or not do) are important things.

    But they are problematic because in learning them we can be tempted to dwell on the Law that God gives us.  As Lutherans we believe that we have been freed from the law due to the sacrifice of God's son, Jesus Christ.  This doesn't mean we can do whatever we want, instead it means that God's grace is sufficient to fill us when we have failed at the Law, and all of us fail at the Law.

    It is important to teach both Law and Gospel as we examine our faith.  We cannot by our own works earn our own salvation, whether we follow the Commandments and other laws of God exactly or not.  Instead we need the Gospel to ensure our salvation.  But the joy of receiving this salvation also asks us to live as God would have us live, thus bringing us back to the Commandments.

    And so we teach the Commandments so that we may know what God asks of us, but they aren't always easy to understand, even in their simplicity.  No where have I found a better explanation of them however, than in Martin Luther's small catechism which I've reproduced below for your own assistance.

    Take time this month as your children learn the 10 Commandments in Sunday School to ask "What does this mean?" for you individually and as a family.  For it is in the application of faith that we live it even more deeply.

    Excerpts from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism:
    The Ten Commandments - Exodus 20: 1-17

    I am the Lord your God.

    THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
    You shall have no other gods.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear, love, and trust God above anything else.

    THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
    You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not use his name superstitiously, or use it to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, but call on him in prayer, praise and thanksgiving,

    THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not neglect his Word and the preaching of it, but regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it.

    THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
    Honor your father and your mother.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and others in authority, but respect, obey, love, and serve them.

    THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
    You shall not kill.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not hurt our neighbor in any way, but help him in all his physical needs.

    THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT
    You shall not commit adultery.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that in matters of sex our words and conduct are pure and honorable, and husband and wife love and respect each other.

    THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT
    You shall not steal.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or property, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his property and means of making a living.

    THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT
    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or lie about our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him and explain his actions in the kindest way.

    THE NINTH COMMANDMENT
    You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not desire to get our neighbor’s possessions by scheming or by pretending to have a right to them, but always help him keep what is his.

    THE TENTH COMMANDMENT
    You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his cattle, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

    What does this mean for us?
    We are to fear and love God so that we do not tempt or coax away from our neighbor his wife or his workers, but encourage them to remain loyal.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Tuesday Family Devotion - Creation

    Scripture Reading - Genesis 2:4-7

    This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.

    Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

    Thought of the Day
    Imagine: God created us out of dirt, out of dust, out of nothing. God made us who we are. He created each one of us unique and special and he started with nothing. God breathed and we became alive. We need to breath to live, but before that we needed God’s breath to become alive. God’s creation is the first of many, many gifts that God gives us. We are created in God’s image and filled with God’s breath. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Take another deep breath. Each breath we take is a gift from God to His creation.

    Discussion questions
    1. Go outside and pick us some dirt from the ground. How does it make you feel to know that God created us from dirt? Good or Bad?

    2. What is your favorite thing that God created?

    3. Would you change anything about God’s creation? If yes, what would you want to change and why?

    Prayer
    Dear God,
    Thank you for everything you created: the plants and animals and the sun and the rain. But thank you most of all for creating us, for giving us your breath. It is a beautiful gift to be given. Help us to be worthy of your gift of life. AMEN.

    These initial devotions were written for the Feeding Faithful Families classes in 2006-2007The over all theme was The Word.

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Milestone Ministry: Third Grade Bibles

    Every child in Children’s Ministry has a yearly opportunity to come with their parents to church and have a milestone class especially for them. These Milestone classes are meant to feed both the parent and child and establish new ways to talk about faith at home as well.*

    On Saturday morning, our third graders and their parents joined us here at church for our annual 3rd grade Bible class. It is always a challenge to schedule these classes but they are always the highlight of my week when I have the opportunity to teach them.  Why?  It is simple, I love to give parents and children an hour or two of focused time to talk about God.  It is an opportunity to educate both kids and parents alike and open the door for further discussion.

    This Sunday the parents also participated in a blessing for them and their third graders and gave their own children the Bible.  It is so important to us here at St. Luke's that this be a gift from the church but also from the parents.  We take seriously the idea that in baptism parents are called to "place into their child's hands the Holy Scriptures."

    I hope that these classes are enjoyable for both parents and kids.  We try to make them interactive and enjoyable as well as teaching real knowledge of God and God's Word. 

    In the interest of encouraging all families to open the Bible I'm including one of our take home activities here: Bible Bars.  These yummy treats are to help you child practice looking things up in the Bible all while making a yummy treat.  Try them out and let me know how the turned out!  (I've place the key in the comments for you in case there are Bible translations variations).

    Bible Bars Recipe
    COOK 1 Cup 1 Samuel 30:12 in Amos 4:8. Drain. Save ¾ Cup of the liquid to use later.

    MIX TOGETHER:
    ½ Cup Leviticus 3:9
    1 Cup Jeremiah 6:20
    1 Isaiah 10:14

    COMBINE AND ADD THE FOLLOWING:
    2 Cups Exodus 29:2
    1 Teaspoon Exodus 13:7
    1 Teaspoon 2 Chronicles 9:9
    1 Teaspoon 1 Kings 10:10
    1 Teaspoon Luke 23:56
    ½ Teaspoon Exodus 13:3
    ½ Teaspoon Leviticus 2:13
    1 Cup Numbers 17:8

    ADD the 1 Samuel 30:12 you cooked earlier and the ¾ Cup liquid you saved.
    FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS in Jeremiah 7:18
    BAKE 20 minutes in greased jelly roll pan at 350 Degrees.
    FROST, if desired

    * If you are curious about your child's milestone class please check the church calendar for details about the upcoming class for your family.

    Contest Extended

    The first contest on Kid Crossings has been extended to Monday October 19.  Please head to this post and leave a comment to enter!

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    The Big Game

    This week has been a week of BIG games for the State Sports teams:  The Viking/Packer game, the Wild home opener, the Twins run to the playoffs, etc.  There have been numerous people glued to the TV or down at the Dome or Xcel watching the action and cheering their team on.  No doubt some aspects of our life have been on hold as we cheer our teams on.

    This is no stranger to me as I am an avid sports fan myself.  In fact in my home congregation it was expected that during football season the Pastor would not have long sermons so that we could get home from the 10:30am service in time for the noon kickoff.  This was considered normal.

    Now there is nothing wrong with enjoying sports and participating actively or passively in them, but we must be careful because sports can be one example of a flaw in our priority system.  If you asked your kids today if sports or God were more important to their lives what would they answer?  They might even know that the right answer should be God but deep down they may give the priority of their time and thoughts to sports.

    When I first arrived at St. Luke's I was blown away but the communities dedication to hockey.  I routinely had 3 yr olds who were unable to attend Sunday School because of their 8am Sunday ice time.  3 year olds?!  Obviously it is something I didn't fully understand and I've had to work in partnership and tandem with the sports in order to reach as many kids as possible.  On any given Sunday, Wednesday or Saturday class or event inevitablely I have at least one family missing because of a sports requirement.

    The pull away from church only gets worse when kids get to confirmation.  Wednesday nights no longer have any authority as "church night" and between sports, extracurriculars and homework it is a small miracle that most families find time for confirmation at all.  Too often church activities are the first to go if our lives are too busy and everyone's lives seem too busy these days.

    I don't want to see sports go away.  I enjoy watching them.  I enjoy playing them and I am certain that my son will too based on his early fascination with baseball.  Despite these things we need to be intentional with our lives.  That doesn't have to mean putting church first each and every time, but maybe it involves setting aside time for family faith discussions and education.

    If we believe that the home can be church do, and I do, then we have to acknowledge that participating in sports does not mean that we cannot have an active life of faith.  And maybe if we place faith as a priority for our lives our happiness won't be based on our team winning or losing but in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    After all, we don't all grow up to be hockey stars, but we are always a child of God.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Tuesday Family Devotion - The Word

    These initial devotions were written for the Feeding Faithful Families classes in 2006-2007The over all theme was The Word.

    God’s Word

    Scripture Reading - Psalm 119:105
    Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

    Thought of the Day
    When I spend the night at someone’s house I am always grateful when they choose to leave a light on in the bathroom down the hall. It is difficult to wake up and not know where I am or to be able to see my path before me. Life can be like this sometimes as well. Sometimes when things seem dark and we don’t know where we are going it can be scary and unnerving. Psalm 119 reminds us that God’s Word acts as a lamp showing us where to go. When we don’t know what to do, we can turn to the Bible to find direction. God gave us his Word to light our way.

    Discussion questions
    1. Turn out the lights in your room. What would it be like if the room were always dark? What would it be hard to do in this room when it is dark?

    2. Light a candle (Or turn the lights back on). How is the room different now? What could you do in this room now?

    3. Since the Bible is God’s Word, how can we use it to “light our way?”

    Prayer
    Dear God,
    Thank you for lighting our way and making it easier to see the paths we are walking down. When things become dark in our lives help us turn to your Word to bring light to the situation. We know that we can do more in the world when we are in the light rather than the dark. AMEN.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    First Children's Minstry Blog Contest

    Edited to Add: The first contest on Kid Crossings has been extended to Monday October 19.  

    To kickoff our Children's Ministry Blog properly we are having a contest.  In order to have this blog be a useful ministry tool it is necessary for people to read and comment so consider this contest your ice breaker!

    It is simple to enter:  Simply leave a comment with your name, email and the answer to this question:

    Who was influential in your own faith development and why?

    The contest will be open until 9pm Sunday Oct 11 and a winner will be announced on Monday Oct 12.

    And what do you win?


    A set of Faith Talk with children cards from the Youth and Family Institute.  These cards are a great way to spark faith discussions with your children.  Use them on car trips or meals or family events.  They are a great way to open the door to a larger faith life with your children.

    So welcome to the Children's Ministry Blog.  Thank you for entering and Thank those who helped shape your own faith.

    * Please note: You do not have to be a member of St. Luke's to win.  Anyone reading this blog is encouraged to enter.

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Tuesday Family Devotion

    These initial devotions were written for the Feeding Faithful Families classes in 2006-2007The over all theme was The Word.


    Jesus is the Way
    Scripture Reading - John 14:1-7

     1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going." 
    5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
     6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

    Thought of the Day

    There is a lot in the world that we don’t know. We can try to answer all sorts of questions about the world and about God, but it can be hard to know what is true or right. But this Bible passage answers all those questions for us. Jesus tells us not to worry or let our hearts be troubled. We have been given the way for all things: Jesus is our Way. Jesus is our Truth. Jesus is our Life. With him all things are possible and we can know the Father. Even when we don’t know something we can always rest assured in the faith that Jesus is the Way and has gone before us. We even get a room of our own!

    Family Discussion Questions
    1. What does it mean to you that Jesus is the Way? The Way to what?

    2. Jesus says that God's house has many rooms. What would your room look like in God’s house?(If time, draw a picture of what you’d like your room to look like.)

    Prayer
    Dear Jesus, 
    When life seems hard and we have more questions than we can answer help us to remember that you are the Way and the Truth and the Life.  When we remember this it is easier t feel safe and loved.  Thank y ou for coming to Earth ad showing us the way to God the Father.  Amen. 

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Call for community!

    Martin Luther wrote in The Estate of Marriage in 1522:

    Most certainly father and mother are apostles, bishops, and priests to their children, for it is they who make them acquainted with the gospel. In short, there is no greater or nobler authority on earth than that of parents over their children, for this authority is both spiritual and temporal.

    Martin Luther recognized that it was parents who held the most vital role in passing on faith to children.  We have a unique opportunity in the world today.  Thanks to a wide array of technology we have resources and connections all over the world to help shape our children, but the key educator remains parents.

    I don't know about you but this strikes some fear in me.  I am a Christian Educator and yet the thought that I am my son's first hope for a living faith is daunting.  I know the Bible stories and teach them on a regular basis and still there is a big difference between a Sunday School class and instilling a life of faith in my own child.

    Still with all of my own reading on the matter I realize that I cannot give into the fear of not succeeding.  The fear is paralyzing, it speaks to your own doubts of God and the world.  Anyone with a living faith will know that there are days when it is shaken to the point where it hardly seems to be there.  Other days are full of the bright colors of certainty.  Most days fall somewhere in the middle however.

    The benefit of the world today is that we don't have to rest in our doubts and fears alone.  We have a community of faith at St. Luke's and all over the world.  We can share our joys and successes and our fears and doubts.  It is my hope that the blog can truly become a community to share our ideas and plans with one another.  But it cannot be a community of one.  Comments and conversation give us the ability to engage one another and partner church and home to the benefit of our kids.

    My son turned 7 months old Saturday.  Already I see the community of people who love him surrounding him and see all of the wonderful gifts he is given because of that.  I want nothing less for each of your children.  We can surround each other and our children.

    Martin Luther was right.  It is us who aquaints our children with the Gospel.  But we don't have to do it alone.  We have help.

    Question of the day:

    What is one parenting doubt or success you've experienced last week?  What is one piece of advice you'd give to a parent based on your own experiences last week?

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    New Early Childhod Opportunities!

    Stepping Stones
    The First Steps on the way to Family Faith

    Baby Stepping Stones: Saturday, October 3 - 9:00am - 9:45am
    Toddler Stepping Stones: Saturday, October 3 - 10:00am - 10:45am

    Baby Stepping Stones is offered for children ages 0-12 months, and their parents.  Toddler Stepping Stones is for children 12-36 months and their parents.  In each class we will explore the beginning foundations of faith through exercises in development, growth, music, movement and play.  There will also be a time of parent support and sharing.

    Classes will meet the first Saturday of the month.  Baby Stepping Stones will meet at 9:00am and Toddler Stepping Stones will meet at 9:45am.  Both classes begin on October 3rd.  Please fill out registration form (found online or in the church office) by October 1st to reserve your spot in these classes.*

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    The Expert Effect

    In our world we routinely differ to experts in all areas of our lives.  If you are sick you go to the doctor.  If you have legal trouble, you see a lawyer.  We seek out those who will help us accomplish our goals: interior designer, plumber, dentist, realtor, etc.  And there are advantages to this.  Wellness is easier to achieve with the assistance of a personal trainer, dietitian, doctor, chiropractor and whoever else is on your team!

    Unfortunately this turn towards experts has come to the church as well.  Too often we rely on a Pastor or church professional to tell us what to think about God.  We look to them to pray for us, or to lead us in worship, or to teach us about the Bible.  This is especially the case when it comes to the Christian education of children.  Is it fulfilling your baptismal promises to your children simply by bringing them to Sunday School? 

    The book of Deuteronomy says this:

    Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  - Deuteronomy 6:4-9

    These key verses do not say "Bring your children to Sunday School to talk about [God's commandments] at church."  Instead it is parents who are called to share faith with your children in your home.  This does not mean we should abandon Sunday School or church as being unhelpful, rather we should look at it for what it is: an opportunity to partner with those called to pass on faith and work in tandem together bringing Christ to children.

    I am no *expert* in the sense that a doctor is.  I have an education in Christian education but my time is limited with your children.  It takes the willingness of parents to talk about God at home to cement what they learn at church.  Otherwise church and faith will be nothing more than a Sunday morning diversion and not a real vibrant living faith.

    I want a vibrant faith for my child.  I hope that you want it for yours as well.  Please join me in this partnership.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Family Question: What are you thankful for today?

    Sometimes passing on faith is simply requires stopping in the midst of your daily lives and asking an important question to remind us of the gifts and grace that we are given by God.  Ask a question and answer it and pray about it together as a family.

    This can be a simple addition to saying grace at mealtimes.  Choose one question and everyone answer it and the be sure to include those answers in your prayer before dinner.  Two minutes adds a connection for your family and for your relationships with the Lord.

    Today I was reminded to ask: What are you thankful for today?  When I thought about this question my mindset for the day shifted.  It was no longer about my to-do lists or laundry piles, but instead about the gifts I've been given.

    What am I thankful for today?

    * For cooler weather.
    * For a cold that is starting to improve.
    * For our Tuesday staff lunches together.
    * For my son and his smile that lights up the room.
    * For the time to tackle my cleaning list tonight.
    * For the volunteers who serve St. Luke's.

    This is just a handful of what makes me thankful today.  What about you:
     
    What makes you thankful today?

    Feel free to answer here for yourself in the comments and then take it to your family.  You may be surprised at what you hear.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Poll!

    This blog is meant to be a resource for the families of St. Luke's as well as others in the world wide web searching for Children's and Family faith resources to use at home.  In order to make this blog more fully serve the needs of the community please take a minute to answer the poll question on your left to help guide the growth of this blog.  Thanks!

    Parents Meeting Sunday!

    To all Parents with kids in our CrossWoods Sunday School program (ages 3-5th grades), please join us immediately following the 9:30 am worship service for our annual parent meeting. Come and get the necessary information about the programs and changes in Children's Ministry this year!  Kids will remain in Sunday School until the meeting is over!

    St. Luke's Parent Meeting
    10:30 am - 10:45 am
    Great Room