This year, as we have done every year for the past several years, we will have a beginning of the year meeting for our council members and board members. That meeting was scheduled for Sunday, February 12, but was postponed until a later date. It will be a great day to celebrate a new year of ministry at St. James!
If you are not on council or serving on a board this year, I ask you to pray for these new leaders, pray for the meeting that day, and volunteer to help our boards and council
out when you are able. The ministry in this place isn’t just done by the boards, by the
pastor, by the council, or by the staff. It is all of us working together to do God’s work in this
place and out in the world. If you are serving on a board or on council, I ask you to join us for the meeting that day. This is a good time to brainstorm new ministry ideas, to get to know your board and other boards better, and to see how ministry works in this place. Please work to get as many of your board members here as possible. Brunch will be
served, and childcare will be provided. The great thing about not only this meeting, but a new year of ministry in general, is that it gives us a time to reflect.It gives us a time to think about the bigger picture. It gives us a time to plan new things. I hope this work will get started at our meeting, but it is really something everyone in this congregation can do.
Where do you see new ministry that can happen? Where would you like to serve? What ways can you imagine reaching out to our community and to the world? A new year is a good time to think about that...and then to put those thoughts into action! Talk to me, to a staff member, or to a board or council member if you want to get something started. Ask for support...and then make it happen!
The last couple of Sunday sermons have been about sharing the Gospel — being evangelists. And how we all have the gifts necessary to do that very thing. You don’t have to serve on a board or on council to be an evangelist. You don’t have to be a pastor to be
an evangelist. Everyone here can share the Gospel. Everyone here can invite someone to
church. Everyone here can use their hands and feet and hearts and voices to proclaim God’s love and God’s grace to a world that needs to hear it.
So join us and pray for us as we plan our new year of serving God and God’s people!
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18:20
I have been considering what makes St. James a unique place. What would make people come to St. James, find a church home here, and become members? What would keep bringing people to our doors and into our sanctuary?
Although we have some wonderful music, I’m not sure that’s it. Our newly installed Senior Pastor Jeni gives some beautiful sermons (and Heaven knows I try my best), but I don’t think that’s what brings people to us. We have a lovely facility, but I don’t feel that’s what does it either. The answer, I think, is that the community of St. James is what makes it unique. It’s not anything that we, the staff at St. James, can do. Instead, it’s what all of you do. Without you and your welcoming words to visitors, your presence in our space, and your role in our community, St. James changes.
I’m currently studying the New Testament letters for one of my classes and one thing that Paul writes about often, more often than worship or buildings or anything else, is community. I hope, like Paul does in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 “that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”
It’s easy to think that community is defined by a place, but I would suggest that community is an act. Community is experienced we experience life together, with all of its joys and pains, all of its grief and laughter, and it’s in those experiences that St. James becomes more than a building. It becomes a community – a community which serves its neighbors, prays for all humanity, and practices and proclaims Christ’s love to the world.
This year, we asked congregation members to participate in a Lent Photo a Day Challenge on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter. The first picture is some of the words we were asked to create pictures for. The rest of the pictures are just a few of the many submissions we had. Thanks to all who participated!
We will posting the Gospel and Sermon's on their own page from now on. If you look to the left, you can click on 'Sermons' and it will take you to the full list of available audio sermons. Thank you for listening!
A new exciting thing is happening at St. James! We now have the ability to post an audio file which you can click on to listen to the Gospel and the Sermon!
Please share and let others know!
3rd ANNUAL TRUNK OR TREAT…
An Event for the whole congregation!!
This year, on Halloween, we are celebrating with an outreach event for the whole congregation and neighborhood.
Younger, older, and everyone in-between is invited to join us on Wednesday, October 31 from 5-7 for our Third Annual Trunk or Treat event here at St. James.
Not a trick-or-treater? Bring your car to the St. James parking lot from 5-7 stocked with candy or goodies in the trunk. We will have everyone line up their cars around the parking lot, so trick-or-treaters can walk around the whole parking lot and get candy from everyone.
GET INTO THE SPIRIT OF THE DAY with a Trunk Decorating Contest! We will have a contest for the BEST DECORATIONS!
You are a trick-or-treater? While you are walking through the neighborhood, come on over to the St. James parking lot between 5-7 to collect goodies from all the cars! And invite your friends and neighbors to come as well!
OKTOBERFEST: Check out the article in this month’s newsletter about the OKtoberfest event going on October 26. In addition to great music, food, and a pumpkin patch, there will be a haunted house in the Youth Room led by our youth group. This will be a great event for the WHOLE congregation!
There are many great activities going on in October. Hope you will join us—and remember, invite a friend!
There’s a modern proverb that says, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” A quick web search for “life is a marathon” brings up over 14 million search results. As a runner, I can easily connect with this phrase, but I believe everybody can. Most people seem to know that everyday things, the day-to-day activities of life, such as work, school, relationship, and even recreation, are marathons. To do it well, one must have persistence and endurance to see it to the end. The Bible echos this sentiment and contains many such passages, as well. Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
One running story, though, that I love is in 1 Kings 19:1-18. Go ahead and give is a quick read. I’ll wait.
Elijah, surely one of the first ultramarathon runners, travels about 100 miles to escape death at the hands of Jezebel. On the journey he is fed by an angel and finds himself at a cave in Mt. Horeb. After this little jog through the Judean wilderness, Elijah has a chance to see God. But God comes not in the earthquake, wind, and fire; instead, he comes in the “sheer silence.” Imagine how good that must have felt for Elijah after his journey. God doesn’t require pomp and circumstance to be known and heard. Instead, God chose to be revealed in a way that Elijah needed most. He was in sheer silence, in rest, in the quiet places. And I’m convinced that God still longs to be heard in this way.
So my challenge for you this month is this; find a way to give God some silence in your life. Whether it’s an activity, (like running), a place, or a state of mind, I hope you can find some time of silence. God offers us rest from the weariness of everyday life. So come, be fed like Elijah, and find rest in the presence of God.
What a week we had at SonRise Camp in Anderson, Indiana! Check out our St. James Facebook page for more pictures of this awesome week. It is amazing to see how God works in each of us through this week, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of this trip every year. Our youth and I are thankful for the continued support of the congregation for our annual Mission Trip! Please feel free to ask any one of the participants about the experience. I know they will love to share with you all about their week.
The mission trip also reminds me of the many ways we can serve in our own community. We are called as a congregation to proclaim and practice Christ's love and there are countless opportunities for us to do that. Not just for our youth, and not just in far off places...but each and every day for all of us.
Where is somewhere you can serve? Who can you touch with the love of Christ? Who needs to hear God's Word? I encourage you to seek out those places and people. Not only is it good for them, it will also change you!
And please pray that the work God did in the lives of our youth in Indiana will continue to grow in them as they return to their daily lives!
Greetings to you, my new friends at St. James. I have had several people introduce themselves to me and I wanted to take some time to introduce myself. My name is Bryan Odeen, the new guy at St. James. I am a seminary student at Wartburg Seminary through their distance learning program where I'm seeking training to be a pastor. A big advantage of that process is that I am able to get the academic work done while I serve at a church!
Before coming to St. James, I worked at Nazareth Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls; and, previous to that, I was a music therapist for Iowa Hospice. I appreciated my time at both places and learned a lot of skills and practices. Now, I begin my time at St. James as a pastoral associate until the ordained pastoral positions are filled. Essentially, I will fill in as many pastoral roles as possible without being ordained. So, you may see me visiting, preaching, leading worship, doing music, working with the youth group, and whatever else needs to be done!
I have a beautiful family consisting of my wife, Lisamarie, and two daughters, Maren (2.5 years old) and Hattie (7 months old). Lisamarie and I met in the Castle Singers at Wartburg College and, after college, moved to North Carolina for about a year and a half. Eventually, work brought us back to Iowa and we have lived in Mason City for about 4 years now. We have enjoyed getting to know this area and continuing to meet the wonderful people here.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or give the church office a call. I have loved getting to know people the last few weeks and I look forward to serving in any capacity needed to help St. James!
~ Bryan Odeen
St. James Blog
Periodic notes and updates from the staff of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mason City, Iowa