Legendary potluck

I consider the potlucks at the churches I serve (Salem and Belmont) to be legendary, but Sunday’s meal was one for the record books…and for a reason you might not expect.

This past Sunday, freezing rain slowed SW MN down to a crawl. Actually…it was way too slippery to even crawl.  Sidewalks, roadways, gravel, everything was covered in a very slippery coating of ice and I have a bruise on my leg and an achy arm to show for it.  My 8 mile drive from Belmont (my country congregation) to Salem was driven at 25 mph, which at times felt very fast for the conditions.  Call me a dare devil if you want, but I had another worship service to lead that morning.

As I inched down the slippery road, in town, going to Salem, I darn near slid right by the parking lot at a whopping 5 mph.  After managing to will my 4×4 Jeep to turn left, I slowly got to my garage.  I then gingerly crept over to the church with my arms full and hoping I didn’t fall again.  Upon entering the secure footing of the inside of the church building, I hurried to get ready.  You see…it was also annual meeting Sunday and I began to wonder if we were even going to have it.  I found my council president and walked to the sanctuary with him to access the situation.  Very quickly we decided to postpone the meeting for 2 weeks.  But what about the food those few people brought for the potluck?

We decided that since we were here and that there was food, why not eat it (following worship of course).  The hot portion of the potluck consisted of a crock pot of BBQ wienies and some corn hotdish thingy.  There were also a few relishes, some homemade bread, a couple salads and a bunch of desserts.  Not the healthiest meal in the world but very yummy.

The “legendary” status of this meal came in the fact that we all gathered together, at three tables, and ate.  Not one person minded the skimpiness of the selection.  There was laughter, conversations, fellowship and safety from the treacherous conditions.  And it was very clear to see that great potlucks are not measured by the quantity of food available for plate heaping but rather the quality of the time that is spent together with the Body of Christ.

Don’t get me wrong…I love those potlucks that force me to strategize my eating (so much food; so little plate and stomach room), but Sunday’s potluck will be one I will not soon forget.  Quantity or not, we had a great time.

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—


I know, I know…it has been a long time since I posted something.  I guess I just didn’t have much to say recently.

My year started out extremely busy with 3 funerals in the first couple weeks.  That kept me hopping.  It also didn’t help that we have been swamped by snow storms this year.  At the rate we are going the kids in Jackson will be going to school until the 4th of July.  So with all of that I have been a little preoccupied.  But that is still not a good excuse.

In any case I have much to tell you…and…I have some good news to tell all of you about.

More on that in my next post…


Another crazy week

More winter storm madness on the way…

Christmas week was a crazy week with that nasty winter storm that dumped 20+ inches of snow on us.  It changed plans, canceled/postponed worship services and basically shut down SW MN for a couple days.  Well…round 2 is on the way…but not has big this time (but maybe more dangerous).

Wednesday, Jan. 6 we are in a Winter Storm Warning until Wednesday night and then a Blizzard Watch until Thursday afternoon.  Normally I would be giddy with excitement but I have two funerals this week.  There is family traveling (or trying to travel)…so now my prayers are for safety…once again.  What is it with winter weather and bad timing this year?  I just want to enjoy a snow storm without worrying about stuff going on at church.

In any case…please pray for these families as they travel and I will pray for a snow storm that fits my church (and personal) calendar a little better (I can dream…can’t I).



There are many joys of serving in Minnesota but this morning…joy #124…

…it is 31 degrees BELOW zero…-31…COLD…stay inside.  In Nome, Alaska (right now at 8:15am) it is 1 ABOVE zero.  Got to love it 🙂

Stay warm my friends.


New Year’s Eve 2009

Well…2009 is coming to a close and part of me feels this slight, little tug to write something profound to wrap up 2009; a kind of year-in-review with some final words of wisdom before the onslaught on 2010…

[“Profound”…what in the world is this part of me thinking…”profound”?]

In any case…here is my last post of 2009 (profound or not):

As I write this I am sitting in my most favorite chair in the world (a chair my wife despises…but that story is for another time).  During this time of the year I am on vacation…recovering from a busy Christmas season.  My wife is still working so we generally do not go anywhere, but that is fine…sleeping in and doing absolutely nothing is still good for my soul as I refuel for the drive towards Lent and Easter…after which I will take another vacation (this time getting out of town with my wife).

So as I sit here (refueling in my favorite chair drinking coffee) I find myself reflecting on the past year (funny how that happens when a year or anything comes to an end).  So listed below are my top ten highlights from the past year (in no particular order):

(10)Washington vacation – After Easter my wife and I enjoy heading out to the state of Washington (where I did my internship) and hanging out with friends and seeing the sights.  This year we did a lot of hiking and exploring new things.

(9) Losing 65 pounds – This took place from March through October in an effort to get into better running shape for 2010.  I have maintained my weight since then and am enjoying my new, healthier lifestyle.

(8) “The vote” – This is of course referring to the ELCA Churchwide assembly vote about homosexuality in August.  This is not a “highlight” but it sure is memorable.  It created a lot of discussion and soul-searching to say the least.

(7) Three weddings – Two of these were people from Salem and one couple is a friend of mine and Connie’s.  They were a lot of fun to do and be a part of.

(6) Release Time and confirmation classes – I have some really fun students this year.  They are active and willing to learn.  A highlight within this one is one of my Release Time students reading scripture at the Christmas Eve worship service.  It has been fun watching her grow up over the last few years.

(5) Christmas snow storm (“Winter Storm Eric”) – This was a little annoying but once again memorable.  I think this snow storm will be talked about for a long time.  The highlight here is that this snow storm caused us to slow down and therefore we got a chance to spend more quality time with family; celebrating.

(4) New patio and new bathroom – This was a long time in coming but we barely got these done before the church’s big 125th anniversary celebration (more on that coming later).

(3) Running – This is directly related to my weight lose.  I am training for 2 marathons in 2010, but the highlight here is breaking a 20 minute 5K and breaking 42 minutes for 6 miles…both very exciting for me.

(2) Salem’s 125th anniversary celebration – This was a fun weekend.  A lot of planning went into this and lots of people came out.  Many memories were shared.

(1) Five year anniversary – 2009 was the 5 year anniversary of my ordination and wedding.  The congregation planned a special recognition for me during worship (which I knew was happening but did not know details).  It was a very special time of affirmation for Connie and me.  After worship there was a reception and then after that Connie and I hosted a party for our wedding anniversary with our family; having a renewal of vows for all the couples.  A very fun and memorable day.

2009 was indeed an eventful year.  I made healthy changes in my life; had my call here affirmed; celebrated ministry milestones; and continued to enjoy people growing in their faith.  Many other items could have been added to this list…Praise be to God!

So as we close out 2009…blessings to you as you finish off the year and dive into a brand new year.  God has been and always will be faithful.  Hold on to that and enjoy the promises we have from God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let’s see what God will do in 2010…

Happy New Year!


Help…prayers needed

I normally go on vacation right after Christmas Day worship…but not this year.  This year my wife and I thought it was a wiser decision to stay through Sunday, Dec. 27 so I wouldn’t be doing sermon prep for Jan. 3 while on vacation. Makes sense but it does throw me off a little bit…hence the needed prayers.

Since our Christmas storm (a.k.a Winter Storm Eric) kept us home for a couple days my brain switched into vacation mode.  Now it is Sunday and I am trying to switch back into non-vacation mode and get ready for worship.  I have two worship services this morning; Christmas worship at Belmont and First Sunday of Christmas worship at Salem; which means two different services and two different sermons.  On a normal Sunday this would be challenging, but today…well…I need some prayers:
–Prayers that I stay focused and not look ahead to vacation starting this afternoon.  The people here deserve my best and complete attention and not just part of me.  I don’t want Satan to use this to distract me.

–I need prayers for energy.  Many pastors know that tons of energy is expended on Sunday and therefore many pastors I know (me included) take naps on Sunday afternoon.  This morning I will need some extra energy (more than my pot of coffee can give me).

So thank you, in advance, for your prayers.  I know I joke about needing my coffee in the morning to keep me going but I do know that my (and our) true source of energy and strength comes from God alone.  So I pray that YOU have a very blessed day and that you may continue to know and experience the love of God in Jesus Christ our Savior.

Take care and God bless!


P.S.  If Winter Storm Eric wasn’t enough this past week…we got another inch plus last night.  What a mess for a Sunday morning.

We’re free!

We finally got a path out of the church parking lot and I got my car dug out.  I was starting to get cabin fever being stuck at the house for a couple days.  The only bummer part of this whole thing is that even though we are free they are still not advising travel to Sioux Falls.  My wife and I were hoping to make it to Sioux Falls today to celebrate Christmas with her side of the family.  Everyone is there except for Connie and I.  We are holding out hope now that we will make it there tomorrow after worship.

So even though this snow storm (which I have named “Winter Storm Eric”…I have always wanted a storm named after me) has changed our plans significantly… I am looking at the bright side of things.  Instead of celebrating Christmas over the course of a couple days, running around like a chicken with its head cut off, we get to have a few little celebrations over the course of a week…taking our time to savor the moments.  And isn’t that what we are supposed to do anyway?

So I have one more day to be kind of stuck and then we are off…to celebrate some more…and remember again and again why we have a season such as this.  God sent love to earth in Jesus Christ…the best Christmas gift of all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Christmas snow storm pictures

Ramp to Salem's education wing

Standing in front of garage looking at church parking lot

Entrance to church parking lot...snowed in

Looking out the door of the parsonage

These pictures don’t do this storm justice, but believe me…this is a dozie of a storm.  And now that Christmas services are done I can sit back and enjoy this.


Christmas Storm

Wow…it is Christmas afternoon and it is still snowing.  We did have Christmas Eve worship last night at Salem Lutheran Church.  Attendance was down a bit (not surprising) but I was still pleasantly surprised with the turnout.  Christmas Day worship at Belmont was postponed until Sunday.  Hopefully they can dig out in time to have worship then.

So now my wife and I are enjoying the storm.  This morning Connie was shoveling and I was going to go to the fitness center.  I walked outside and looked into the church parking lot (also my driveway) and noticed that the plows have completely blocked the two entrances…we are going nowhere.  Not even our Jeeps will make it through the snow.  Our snow removal guy should be here tomorrow to clear the lot…so in the time being we are snowed in.  Luckily we have plenty of goodies left over from our Christmas open house.

We did get to talk and see Connie’s family this morning via Skype (got to love technology).  Our 4-year-old nephew was having a great time talking with us and seeing us on their computer.  It was really cute.  Hopefully we will get to Sioux Falls on Saturday or whenever South Dakota reopens.

In any case, I hope you all had and are having a very merry and blessed Christmas.  Jesus was born to us and that is an awesome reason to celebrate.  Take care and God bless.


Christmas snow storm 2009

Many of you reading this blog are not here in the upper Midwest part of the United States.  Even if you are not living here you no doubt have heard something about the major snow storm that is here.  Right now we are in a lull but conditions will be deteriorating fast throughout the day (Christmas Eve); creating near blizzard conditions through Saturday (Wow…I almost sound like a meteorologist…I guess it is too much Weather Channel the past few days).  When all is said and done, we should have (here in Jackson) around 15 to 20 inches of snow (maybe more).  Four inches fell last night.  Needless to say Christmas plans have been altered around here.  Many churches have already canceled/postponed Christmas worship services and many family plans have changed.  For me personally…I feel conflicted and a little annoyed.  I love snow storms but this one is bad timing; so therefore I want to enjoy this storm but it is hard too when I know there are people trying to get places and many who can not get to family destinations.

With all that being said I ask you to pray.  I mentioned yesterday that “It WILL happen”…meaning the birth of Jesus WILL be celebrated.  My prayer is that people can still worship and celebrate even though things have changed for them.  I am also praying that people are safe.  Right now the roads are open but no travel is advised.  Those venturing out; please be careful (I am kind of hoping roads close so people are forced to stay off them).

Part of me also wonders why God would allow such a major snow storm to strike…at Christmas.  I know other people may be wondering the same thing.  Even though I can not explain this I know that God will be glorified no matter what.  So pray that people (including me) do not lose focus.  This storm is annoying…it is canceling some worship services…it is throwing a wretch in the works…but God will be glorified.  I believe (even through my concerns and questions) that God will do something amazing through and despite this storm.  Mother Nature can not stop God.

And…I will be praying that all of you have a very blessed Christmas.  I pray you bask in the hope and joy of the Christ child with wonder and love.  Worship doesn’t have to happen in a certain room, in a certain building at a certain time.  Worship is how we live our lives.  Worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus…no matter where you are or who you are with.  Give praise, honor and glory to God, always and forever, Amen.

Merry Christmas!