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?

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


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? 

    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.

    You shall have no other gods.

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

    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,

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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.

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

    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?”

    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.