Pastor Jeni's Thoughts...
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!
From the P.I.T.
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.
Mission Trip 2014
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!
From the P.I.T. (Pastor In Training)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Thanks, "Fare-well" and "Good Bye"
I have enjoyed getting to know you in my role as pastoral support staff. The Quilters have offered coffee, food, fellowship and laughter at the beginning of my work week. The Men’s Breakfast has been a wonderful time to fellowship together and learn from the text study on Wednesday mornings. It has been great to be with the Wednesday night supper crew that included young and old, Confirmation students and music people. Teaching the Healing Class was very rewarding for both Renee and me. Coming into the homes of those who needed in-home visits has been enjoyable. Thank you for your hospitality. And, of course, it has been wonderful to worship with the many who gather as the Body of Christ, the Church, on Sunday morning. Thank you to the staff who care so deeply for this congregation. I have fellowshipped, worshipped and worked with a wonderful group of people who love the Lord and share His love.
St. James is moving forward with the Transition Team and the Call Committee. May God bless them in their work so that St. James can continue to be strengthened in worship, Bible Study, prayer and the Holy Sacraments. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has a plan for good for those who trust Him: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (NIV). May you keep moving forward in God’s plan and hope!
Farewell! I pray that you will fare well in your continued work as the Body of Christ – the Church and in your time of meeting with each other and God in worship, Bible studies and fellowship. Fare well in your transition period in calling a Senior pastor. Fare well in your openness to new ideas and seeing God active in your lives, and in welcoming others. I celebrate that we have “fared well” in our walk of faith these last five months. My prayer is that you may continue to “fare well” in the years to come.
For me as support staff, it is time to say “good bye”. In England during the middle ages, people parted with a blessing, “May God be with you”. That was shortened to “God by you”. Today it has become “good bye”. Every time we part from one another and say good bye, we are wishing God’s blessings upon one another. So I say to you, St. James Lutheran congregation, good bye – “May God be with you”!
I will end with your Vision Statement: Living out our mission, our vision is to be a vibrant Christian community gathered in God’s Name where all are welcomed, fed, and nurtured. We envision our entire St. James family enthusiastically united in spirit-filled prayer, worship, music, Bible study, and fellowship. We see our congregation devoted to Christ-like service in our community and the world.
May this be your guide for calling a pastor and being a Christian influence in the community.
Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of St. James. May you continue to grow by proclaiming Christ’s love to the world.
Pastor Joel and Renee Dahlen
Pastor Jeni's Thoughts for May
“We envision our entire St. James family enthusiastically united in spirit-filled prayer, worship, music, Bible study, and fellowship…”
Last month, I talked about the beginning of our Vision Statement, and how we at St. James are living out our vision to be a “Vibrant Christian Community.” This month, I want to talk about another part of our Vision Statement—what it means for our community to be “enthusiastically united in spirit-filled…worship.”
We certainly have a lot of that going on here. Our Holy Week worship services were filled with spirit-filled worship. From the soloists and choir…to the readers…to the children singing and waving palms on Palm Sunday…to the gathered crowds singing, worshipping, and praising God.
We have that at other times as well. This year, we have welcomed children back into the 9:15 worship service, and their enthusiasm is contagious! The instruments that they play at the beginning and end of the service have added a fun new dimension to worship. Also, at that service, we have tried some new music, have a dedicated band leading us each week, and have tried some different styles of worship with Bob Follmuth leading us some weeks with a cd service.
Our traditional services also bring enthusiastic worship—a faithful group gathering each week, meaningful liturgy, and favorite hymns played on the beautiful organ bring a peaceful, spirit-filled worship environment.
And our spirit-filled worship continues as we move into spring and summer months! Though we know travel increases as the weather warms up, we hope you will take advantage of the special services we have offered in May, including kids singing on May 4 and our graduate recognition service on May 18 (both at 9:15), and our continuation of the celebration of Easter at all services each and every Sunday.
And we especially hope you will join us for our always spirit-filled, fun outdoor services beginning June 1 at 8 and 9:15 (our late service will be indoors with a special summer time of 10:30). These outdoor services are always a favorite. So invite a friend, grab your lawn chairs (or there will be chairs provided!), bring your coffee and join us!
And, as always, if there is any way you would like to help with our worship services (with music, reading, ushering, or greeting!), please talk to me!
April Newsletter Pastor's Article
“Living out our mission, our vision is to be a vibrant Christian Community…”
…so begins the St. James Vision Statement. Our vision, as we seek to live out our mission to proclaim and practice Christ’s love, is to be a community that is alive, excited, and centered in Jesus Christ.
As you look through the pages of this newsletter, you will see many examples of the ways we are trying to live out that vision. During the coming weeks and months, our calendar is packed full of worship, events, and activities. We have a fun talent show coming up, with hopes to raise money both for kids going to camp this summer and for new technology for our sound system. We have a Holy Week full of meaningful worship services, as well as other activities. We have the Spring Salad Luncheon, a Sunday School carnival, a Captive Free Team coming, the annual rummage sale, a brunch for moms, a Belgian Waffle fundraiser, a float in the Band Festival Parade, and Vacation Bible School in just a couple of months, as well as numerous other activities.
In addition, we have a lot of groups doing a lot of work to make more ministry happen. Our new Care Team has lots of ideas and is working to carry Christ’s love out to people. We have people brainstorming ideas on how to minister to the thousands who will be coming through our area during RAGBRAI. We have 11 youth getting ready to go on the summer mission trip. Our Women of the ELCA have packed kits, made quilts, and are getting ready for the annual Lutheran World Relief pick up of all of our donations.
We are already a vibrant Christian Community. And we have much more we want to get done! What are ways you can help St. James live out our mission? What are ways you can be more a part of this Christian Community? First of all, you can be involved by attending worship and coming to other activities as you are able. Holy Week is a good time to get back to worship if you haven’t been in awhile, as we hear the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection—his victory over sin and death. We have many opportunities to hear that story during the week. You will find that schedule in the newsletter.
You can also get involved by helping when called upon. We are stronger as a community when we work together! Whether it is donating a bag of candy for an Easter Egg Hunt or coordinating RAGBRAI efforts…helping with the salad luncheon or building a float…reading or ushering at a worship service or praying for someone in need—we need YOU to help make St. James that vibrant Christian Community! Please prayerfully consider the ways you can be a part of the ministry here.
Thank you for the work you already do. Together, may we come together to proclaim and practice Christ’s love.
Join Pastor Jeni, Pastor Joel, and Pastor Sid Bohls from St. Paul as we explore the Small Catechism this year during Lent. Each Wednesday, we will look at a different part of the Catechism and its meaning for our life. The schedule is as follows (all services are at 11 AM and 6:30 PM):
March 12: “The Sacrament of Holy Communion”
March 19: “The 10 Commandments”
March 26: “The Sacrament of Holy Baptism”
April 2: “The Lord’s Prayer”
April 9: “The Apostles’ Creed”
In addition to our worship services, we encourage you to study the Small Catechism both in small groups and at home. Each Wednesday, after both the morning and evening worship services, you are invited to the Fireside Room for a discussion, using questions provided during worship. There will also be discussion guides for you to take home each week.
Small Catechisms will be available for each family to take home. There will be a free-will offering envelope if you would like to donate toward the cost of the Catechisms (they cost about $1 per book). Looking at the Catechism and reading portions each morning and evening would be a great addition to your Lenten Devotion Time. There will be suggestions on the discussion guides each week for how to incorporate the Catechism into your devotions. You may also consider a “Memory Work Challenge” as a family or with friends, memorizing the portions of the Catechism we are discussing each week.
Join us each Wednesday as we get BACK TO THE BASICS in our discussion of Luther’s Small Catechism.
In my May newsletter article, I wrote about some changes we are considering for Sunday morning worship and Sunday School. I am re-posting that article, and inviting you to discuss the article here.
There are some new ideas bubbling up around here! Both our Education and Worship& Music Boards have been thinking about our Sunday morning schedule, and both feel like this fall might be the right time for a change.
This isn’t a decision that has been made yet. It is simply something for the congregation to consider. We want your opinions and input!
Statistics indicate that children who worship with parents have a much greater likelihood of continuing to worship when they become adults. Our Sunday School Worship is a lot of fun and has loads of energy. It has also been convenient for many families to have worship and Sunday School at the same time. We realize, however, that both children and adults are missing out on a key component of worship life when we separate the two services—the importance of worship together as a family. So we are considering changing worship times so that Sunday School and our Contemporary Service would be held at different times. One benefit of this change would be the possibility of a Sunday School hour that includes all ages—Sunday School classes for every age group! Another benefit is that adding the children into our Sunday Contemporary Worship Service would also bring their energy and enthusiasm and we could create a worship service that appeals to ALL ages! Some ideas to help that along include: inviting children up to play rhythm instruments during opening and closing songs, children’s sermons each week, more songs that appeal to children and teenagers, and teenagers involved more in our worship band (many of whom are now teaching Sunday School).
In order to do this, we would have to consider some changes to our Sunday morning worship schedule. We also have ideas for that (but maybe there are possibilities we haven’t thought of yet that you would consider). Ideas so far include:
1. Keeping things the same.
2. Traditional Worship at 8; Sunday School at 9; Contemporary Worship at 10; Traditional Worship at 11.
3. Traditional Worship at 8; Contemporary Worship at 9:15; Sunday School and Traditional Worship at 10:15 or 10:30.
4. Two Services on Sunday Morning with Traditional Worship at 8 and Contemporary Worship at 10:15/10:30. We would have Sunday School between services at 9:15.
Again, these are just some of the ideas. If you have other options, we would love to hear from you!
In order to discuss these things further, and gain your input, the Education and Worship & Music Boards will be hosting an Open Forum on Wednesday, May 29. All are invited to attend. We will begin at 5:30 with
a potluck meal. The meeting will begin at 6:30. If you cannot attend the meeting, you are encouraged to contact a member of either of these Boards, one of the pastors, or our worship and music director, Cynthia Tompkins to share your opinions.
THANK YOU for helping us consider some changes on Sunday mornings. We value your input and hope you will talk to us about your ideas and opinions and/or come to the Open Forum on Wednesday, May 29.
Response to the Word
Each week, during our Mid-Week Lenten Services,
everyone will be given a "Response to the Word" sheet which lists the readings for the week and asks
questions related to the theme. In case you can't be here, or in case you would like to look at those readings and questions during the week, we will post them on our blog. Here is the sheet for Week 2:
Read Acts 3:1-10 and Luke 10:25-37.
Then answer the following questions:
1. Do you think the Good Samaritan thought of himself as a healer?
2. In our reading from Acts, what was it that Peter had to give?
3. What gifts for help and healing do you bring to the world?
4. What pain, trouble, or brokenness do you see by the side of the road that needs to be healed?
5. How can you use the gifts God has given you to do something about it?
St. James Blog
Periodic notes and updates from the staff of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mason City, Iowa
St. James Lutheran Church
1148 4th Street SE
Mason City, IA 50401