Ponderings from Pastor Juli
One of the necessities of the pandemic days has left us with a “bad” habit that is a little hard to break. When we were limiting our contact with others in those early days, we turned to various types of devices and screens to maintain connections with our loved ones, with our classmates, and with our church community. Some of us even discovered knew ways of using screens on our phones or televisions or computers to stream, and zoom and whatever else we could do to stay in touch and communicate with others. Unfortunately, this created a habit of paying attention to our screens – and even though we have returned to more normal communications and ways to be in contact with one another – sometimes we are still lured by the appeal of those screens.
They continue to have some appeal to us from time to time – and I think that allure can be detrimental at times.
I know I am guilty of it too – whiling away time playing games on my computer, or mindlessly scanning through Facebook or Youtube when there are considerably more important things I could be doing. I don’t think I have quite gotten to the point of something I saw my children doing – sitting in the same room, within 10 feet of each other, and texting back and forth on their phones instead of talking to each other face to face. But I do know that the enticement of turning to a screen is not as daunting as it used to be – and because of that, the screen’s beckoning has become much louder.
All of this has me thinking about how easy it is to lose our focus – how easily we are lured away by things that, on the surface, can be helpful and good, but taken to extreme become things that divert our thinking, steal our purpose, and lull us into making something lesser more important.
I read an article recently in which the phrase “attention-economy” was used. This concept was identified by a theoretical physicist named Michael Goldhaber who defined it this way: “In an attention economy, one is never not on, at least when one is awake, since one is nearly always paying, getting or seeking attention.” Having spent the better part of the last 18 months connected to a device of some kind, I am keenly aware of this. There are times when I don’t want one more Zoom meeting or one more live stream. I am getting “screened out”.
And that brings me to the point of this Ponderings. With all of the options available, and with the constant lure to connect -- to what are we giving our attention these days? Where are we finding our neighbor? Where are we seeing a brother or sister in need? To what is our attention being drawn, and given and spent?
How do you re-focus your attention on God, when the demands for your attention come from so many places, not the least of which are the enticing screens? I like the advice of Katherine Pershey: “If we are to be worshipers of God, disciples of Christ, and members of the church, we are going to have to intentionally redirect our attention. We need to relearn a capacity to dwell in God’s presence…to cultivate the sort of resilient solitude immune to the temptation to check for notifications.”
An old hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus…look full in His wonderful face…and the things of earth will grow strangely dim…in the light of His glory and grace.”1
That seems like an excellent antidote to the current environment of the attention economy. Turn your eyes upon Jesus – immerse yourselves in his love and grace. Listen for the calming hush of his voice. Let the music of his presence wash over you in simple silence and be revived in spirit and blessed in peace. Rediscover the holiness of paying attention to that which nourishes your spirit and gives you life. See your neighbor, enjoy the sunrise, read the Bible, breathe deeply, turn off your phone – let the things of earth recede, as you ponder God’s grace. You’ll find that God is waiting to be “friended” and that your attention re-directed to Him will be well spent.
(Text: Helen H. Lemmel © 1922. Renewal 1950 by H.H. Lemmel, Assgned to Sinspiration, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission CCLI# 3010236)
Annual Meeting announcement
The Annual Meeting of Light of the Cross Lutheran Church will take place on Sunday, October 10, 2021 following the morning worship service. Business to be addressed at the meeting includes adoption of the 2022 budget, elections for various leadership positions, and a constitutional amendment allowing for future electronic meetings as well as any and all other business which properly comes before the congregation.
The text of the constitutional amendment follows:
C.10.08 “This congregation may hold meetings by remote communication, including electronically and by telephone conference, as long as there is an opportunity for simultaneous aural communication. To the extend permitted by state law, notice of all meetings may be provided electronically.”
Those who are eligible to vote are members are defined in our constitution as those people who are in good standing (having communed and contributed) and those who hold a “seasonal membership” status with the congregation. Those holding “associate membership” status are not eligible to vote. We encourage you to participate in this annual meeting and help to direct our church’s ongoing ministries.
Thank you for your generous giving of time, talents, and tithes:
(Lots of other activities take place, often without notice. If you see something that we should acknowledge with a word of gratitude – let me know!)
Christmas Décor and Bake Sale, Saturday October 23
- “Thank you for your continuing support for the Garrison Food Shelf. It is very much appreciated.” (recent Food Shelf donation 61#) Dorothy’s Rainbow – Garrison Area Caregivers.
- Thank you to lawn mowers and garden tenders for your attention to our landscaping that adds to our “inviting” appeal!
- Thank you to the money counters who volunteer to help Bobbie with this task each week! Thanks to Bobbie too!
- Thank you to Larry Rhuby and all of the “road walkers” who helped with the Fall Roadside Clean-up. We are called to be good stewards of the environment, and your attention to this project not only shines a good light on LOC, but also cares for the earth.
- Thank you for your generous gifts for school children. Thanks to Judi Sebeck, your gifts were delivered to Garfield and Harrison Schools in Brainerd, and the school in Crosby as well!
If you like to decorate for Christmas, this is the place to come to find a new piece to add to your Christmas décor. These “once-loved” items are available to a new home – maybe yours! Come check out the sale on Saturday, October 23 from 10-2.
Although this event is fairly new, it is gaining in popularity! This year along with the Christmas items for sale, we are adding a Bake Sale! Pastor Juli will also be making fresh Krumkake from 10-11. Pass the word and bring a friend!
New Topic for Friday Bible Study: Reading Biblical Literature
- contact Judi Sebeck regarding the Bake Sale (please include a note whether the item contains nuts as many people ask about this)
- contact Nancy Campion regarding Publicity
- contact Lori Crotty regarding anything else not covered above.
On September 17, we launched a new Bible Study for the Friday Morning Bible Study at 9:30 a.m. Professor Craig Koester from Luther Seminary leads the sessions on Reading Biblical Literature
where he brings together the best in academic research with an engaging style of presentation. He is known for interweaving the study of biblical texts with their impact on art, literature, and music.
This course ranges over 36 sessions and is presented utilizing a 30-minute video with time for reflection and conversation following each presentation. Even though these sessions have already begun, don’t let that stop you from attending. You are always welcome. Printout summaries of each session are available in case you have to miss a session. Sessions will run approximately 1 hour. This is a wonderful way to engage with the scriptures – and the fellowship, coffee and treats make this an enriching weekly experience. Everyone is welcome!
New Procedure for Offering Envelopes
Each year our congregation orders offering envelopes to be used by the membership for their offerings. The cost to order envelope boxes has exceeded $500 each year in the past. For 2022, the council decided not to place an order and this will save the church this large amount of money. Typically, we ended up with less than half of our order actually being used. We are able to recycle some of the unused boxes from previous years, so you will notice a bit of a change in how they are labeled. Offering boxes will be placed in the church mailboxes. If you did not receive a box, please contact Bobbie Germanson. She can provide additional information or answer your questions.
Trunk and Treat, Sunday October 31 from 4-7 p.m.
Our Annual Trunk and Treat took a hiatus last year because of covid, but we are planning to be back this year…scarier than ever! We will be setting up inside, so we don’t have to worry about the weather. You can claim a table/area and set up your “display” there. Hot dogs will still be prepared and served out at the campfire. As a new incentive to participate this year – a prize will be given to the best costume among those who participate. Church will be open at 3 for setting up your display! C’mon, you know you want to be a part of this!
Veteran’s Recognition, Sunday, November 7
On November 7, we want to honor our congregation’s veterans. A special recognition will take place during the service, and a prayer for all veterans will be included in the intercessory prayers. We will also celebrate our veterans at the coffee hour that day, and have a brief program about the meaning of folding the flag. Also, we would like to display of some items that belong to our veterans. We would love to see a picture of you in uniform or some other memorabilia you have saved from your time in the service.
Just bring it with you on November 7th
and we’ll include it in the display.