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The Pastor's Blog

Date: 2/19/2015 2:49 AM UTC




Not so long ago, we Harked the Herald Angels Sing.
In the celebration of light, the Son was born again.

Gifts were given, love was shared.
Around a table of Christmas fair.
And Jesus, upon this earth did cry.
A baby’s whimper, a mother’s sigh.

Just seven short weeks ago, it seems
We sat in the stable, and dreamed their dreams.

Mary and Joseph had had a boy

Reality, too soon, overshadowed this joy.

Wise ones, they traveled, and avoided the king.
The one who feared what this baby might bring.
The slaughter of children brought darkness in
the worlds true identity ~~ we are smothered in sin.

But Jesus grew quickly, A rabbi, a teacher
Calling us all to do what he preaches

To bring sight to the blind
Food to the poor
To the homeless and helpless,
Open our doors.

Break chains of injustice, free the oppressed
Stop blaming victims, end disease and distress.

Reconcile community, define our foundation
Jesus calls us ~ to proclaim to all nations.

Not to earn anything
To be good enough
But because we are loved
We must give us up

To give of our lives to serve our great king
The one who is willing to do the same thing

To give up his life in love for us all
To right what is wrong, and answer his call

See, Jesus was born on this earth to forgive
To offer salvation, so all of us live ->
A life we are freed to serve one another
To give what we have to sister and brother
To sibling, to stranger, to enemy and friend
He came to this earth so that hatred could end.

The carols and lessons again in the past,
A time of reflection, confession and fast.
We gather this night to turn to the cross
To humbly kneel, to admit   we   are   lost

Lost in the hoopla, society, greed
In sin we are broken, we are in great need

“Remember you are dust, and to dust you return”
This dust, at our end, is all we can earn


But Jesus, well Jesus, insisted on love
Came to this earth to give hatred a shove
To change who we are by taking on death
To revive our souls and give us new breath

Death is defeated, no longer has claim
In your life, in my life, we call on Christ’s name

This season of Lent, brings shadows to light
Makes us more honest about daily strife

Are we as willing to give as Christ gives?
To give up ourselves so that others may live?
To right what is wrong, with family and friends
To offer forgiveness ~~  again and again and again and again?

See, Jesus knew what would happen to him
That excruciating death that would wipe away sin

So, this Lent we reflect, confess, meditate
On our Savior who died, to change all our fate.

He brings light to our darkness and hope from within
So, we kneel at this cross, we confess our sin.



                                               ~ By Pr Brenda L Froisland.  All are free to use with appropriate credit given.

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 12/4/2014 9:47 PM UTC

I was asked by the Emmaus group to be a guest preacher at Luther Seminary on October 21, 2014 for a celebration of National Coming Out day.  It was a pleasure to share the Word with folks.  Here is the link.  You will need to go to the Youtube play list and click on the October 21 service.  Let me know what you think of the message.  Pr B

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 12/4/2014 9:03 PM UTC

After spending part of my morning standing in solidarity with transgender high school youth, I still find myself baffled by how out of reach justice and equality remain.  Or maybe, we are out of touch.  Out of touch with the realities of equality and justice that should be a part of this world in which Jesus lived, died, and lived again.  A world where God is ever present, yet somehow overlooked when what God has to say is counter to what one believes to be true.

Yes, the Minnesota State High School League created space for trans* youth to participate in sports based on their gender identity.  This is good news.  http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/12/04/transgender-athletes-policy-vote

And, and there is also this:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/03/religious-reactions-eric-garner_n_6264266.html?utm_hp_ref=religion 

I do not claim to know all the answers to all the questions related to equality and justice.  But I do know that our systems are broken and in desperate need of repair. 

God help us to stand in solidarity for justice and equality for all your creation ... especially against systems that are stacked against our fellow human beings of all ages, colors, creeds, gender identities, sexual orientations, abilities, ... ... and the list goes on and on and on, without exception.

Just a few thoughts,
Pr B

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 4/16/2014 8:52 PM UTC

This all started on Ash Wed, 2014.  So, as a not-so-gentle reminder of why we worship this Holy Week and take the time to remember and bring glory to God, I share this:

ASH WEDNESDAY, 2014 by Rev. Brenda L. Froisland

We gather this night to start a new season.
To look from God’s birth ~
to a story of treason.

A story of challenges, secrets, and lies.
A story of truth telling, betrayals and cries.

“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Said by Messiah,
who saves me
who saves you.


But first there are lessons to look at this Lent.
To explore and to ponder.
To learn what he meant. 
To love one another, to serve as I do.
To love one beyond the way I ~ love you.


The Spirit I give you to help you to love.
My Spirit, my story, to give you a shove.
A shove to be truth tellers, prophets, a voice.
To tell of a Savior who loves all,
by choice.


No fighting. No fleeing ~ when officials, they came.
Jesus,

gave up his freedom
to glory God’s name.

To show us how power is not about might.
Not about war, and not about strife.

No,
power is different than what people claim.
Power,
is love.

Stated simple and plain.

To love one another so much as to give up one’s own life, so that others, may live.
Jesus intended to do just that thing.
To go to Jerusalem, and die by our sin.

Yes,
we are the sinners
we commit dia-side.

Killing God’s son, caught up in our pride.

Lucky for us, the story moves on.
From life, into death,
and life ~ with our God.


So we gather - this night to start a new season.
To be humble, to pray, to con-fess our treason.

To be marked by a cross.
To listen. 
To learn.
Remember ~ you are dust.  And to dust, we return.


We are but creatures created by God.
Gathering dust, she breathed life into sod.

God gave us new life we learn of this Lent
So we take our place
humble servants,
repent.


We reflect and we pray.
We take time to ponder.
Sent to go out to share as we wander.

Love God,
love another,
Remember what’s given.
Our Savior,
this love,
makes our life
worth living.


Yes, we are dust, and to dust we return.
Created by breath ... God’s Word which we yearn for
in our humility, we are forgiven.
Our sins wiped clean, our lives become leaven.


So rise up, go forth, feed hungry and poor
Share power in love, invite others indoors for
we are God’s children, the ones who will praise.
The one’s who go out and serve God all our days.


To worship, to love, to praise and to nourish
To share a new power, that evil may perish.
Power is love.  Stated simple and plain.
Let us be that love ... and glory God’s name.

Posted by Pastor Brenda | 1 Comment

Date: 8/20/2013 9:41 PM UTC

Friends, this past week has been intriguing and inspiring, challenging and cherishing, filled with awe and touched with fear.  I do not think I am alone when I say that I met the most interesting people at our picnic on Sunday and throughout the week at Vacation Bible School. 
• Ten year olds were asking deep and theological questions during the story rotation, while teenagers, not directly affiliated with our church, waited patiently to help us tear down and clean up after our very well attended and wonderful community picnic and concert.
• Conversations happened between the members of Casa de Orecion and Bethel, invitations were offered and accepted, and relationships were built.  Not to mention the great start Casa Minnesota had last week as they gather to worship down the hall, right now, as we worship here.
• And in Pittsburgh, the 2013 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA made history by, after 5 ecclesiastical-Holy-Spirit-led-ballots, electing the first woman to become the Presiding Bishop of the entirety of the ELCA, beginning this November. 
• AND, and the same group, who did not re-elect Bishop Mark Hanson, who  (as you know) has served our church grace-fully and faithfully for the past 12 years, that same group of people cannot thank Bishop Hanson enough for his service and his leadership.  And honestly, neither can we.


It seems, that in the midst of this past week, we have been given a glimpse of things that are changing.  As we, here at Bethel, have consciously and intentionally amplified God’s grace and reached out further and further into our surrounding communities, our ministry is being noticed.  People are beginning, again, to know our name and recognize our logo.  And, and they are starting to believe that when we say all are welcome, we really do mean it!  Thanks be to God!

And on a national level, 1000+ ELCA Lutherans met in Pittsburgh this week to discern and pray together about some incredible things.  Meeting and worshiping under the banner of “Always being made new” our national church in assembly passed and approved things like
• A new social statement on criminal justice
• An immigration reform memorial
• Supported employment protection for people of all sexual orientation and gender identities.
• Elected a new Presiding Bishop and a new Secretary
• Recognized Mary, the mother of Jesus, in new and honorable ways, calling her “God-bearer” and recognizing the change she proclaimed in singing and sharing her faith in the words of the Magnificat, which we will hear later in the service.


Again, immersed in the theme “Always being made new” our church in assembly also
• Called us, all of us, to engage in voting rights reform to ensure equity and access for all eligible voters in our country
• Our national church will be intentional about writing and providing resources for pastors to minister to same-gender couples and their families


And, believe it or not, these are just the highlights of our church in assembly this past week!  God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit has once again burst into our world to make all things new!  I look forward to sharing Bishop Svennungsen’s report from Churchwide and I encourage you to check out the news releases and minutes of the Assembly on line and in our newspapers!    http://www.elca.org/Who-We-Are/Our-Three-Expressions/Churchwide-Organization/Communication-Services/News/Releases.aspx

With you, for Christ,

Pastor Brenda

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 8/1/2013 8:06 PM UTC

     These past two Sundays, our community has been blessed to engage in very respectful conversations about the possibility of offering same-gender weddings here at Bethel, in response to the change in Minnesota State Law.  Pastor John Hulden (who grew up here at Bethel) came from the Minneapolis Area Synod office on July 14th and on the 21st we had our own conversation.  In the midst of these conversations, we came to some realization that certain members who respectfully disagree with the idea of offering same-gender weddings were less likely to come to such meetings to voice their opinion.  However, I am thankful that one person did come to represent some dear friends who are not quite ready for such a move at Bethel.  Upon hearing the conversation that took place in a respectful, genuine and heartfelt manner, I first want to thank everyone for being willing to engage and listen and share honestly and without judgment.  Secondly, I would like to share what Pr John and I offered at the meeting as a foundation on which we are all invited to stand. 
     If we were to be truly honest and open with one another, I believe we would find few (if any) social issues that all members of Bethel completely agree upon.  There may be issues we generally agree about (i.e. poverty), however the ways by which we each go about responding to a particular social issue will likely look different and may sometimes even work against one another.  Having said that, as the Board of Administrators votes on the same-gender marriage issue tonight, I would ask that we all stop for a moment, pray for a moment and exist with one another in a moment of mission and ministry.  Whether you agree or disagree with the decision made tonight, it is important for us to look beyond any social issue and find ways to be the body of Christ TOGETHER, with and without our differences. 
     With this in mind, I would like to remind you of part of the Social Statement on Sexuality that was passed at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August of 2009.  In summary it states (italics mine):

This church recognizes that, with conviction and integrity:
• On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law. They believe same-gender sexual behavior carries the grave danger of unrepentant sin. They therefore conclude that the neighbor and the community are best served by calling people in same-gender sexual relationships to repentance for that behavior and to a celibate lifestyle. Such decisions are intended to be accompanied by pastoral response and community support.
• On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that homosexuality and even lifelong, monogamous, homosexual relationships reflect a broken world in which some relationships do not pattern themselves after the creation God intended. While they acknowledge that such relationships may be lived out with mutuality and care, they do not believe that the neighbor or community are best served by publicly recognizing such relationships as traditional marriage.
• On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and lifelong loving and committed relationships that we experience today. They believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are honored and held to high standards and public accountability, but they do not equate these relationships with marriage. They do, however, affirm the need for community support and the role of pastoral care and may wish to surround lifelong, monogamous relationships or covenant unions with prayer.
• On the basis of conscience-bound belief, some are convinced that the scriptural witness does not address the context of sexual orientation and committed relationships that we experience today. They believe that the neighbor and community are best served when same-gender relationships are lived out with lifelong and monogamous commitments that are held to the same rigorous standards, sexual ethics, and status as heterosexual marriage. They surround such couples and their lifelong commitments with prayer to live in ways that glorify God, find strength for the challenges that will be faced, and serve others. They believe same-gender couples should avail themselves of social and legal support for themselves, their children, and other dependents and seek the highest legal accountability available for their relationships.

Although at this time this church lacks consensus on this matter, it encourages all people to live out their faith in the local and global community of the baptized with profound respect for the conscience-bound belief of the neighbor. This church calls for mutual respect in relationships and for guidance that seeks the good of each individual and of the community. Regarding our life together as we live with disagreement, the people in this church will continue to accompany one another in study, prayer, discernment, pastoral care, and mutual respect. http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements/JTF-Human-Sexuality.aspx

     Friends, I honestly hope and pray that we can all respectfully claim our convictions and beliefs on the social issue of same-gender marriage, and honor one another as we move forward as the Body of Christ, together.  It hurts my heart to think we cannot honestly and openly engage with one another simply because we might disagree on a particular social issue.  This may come as a surprise to some, but part of my own mission and ministry is to honestly engage with those with whom I may disagree about this and other social issues.  And sometimes, we may only find a place to agree to disagree.  But most times I have learned something new, had the opportunity to deepen a relationship, and/or adjusted my own stance on an issue of life and faith.
 
     So I ask that we move forward, together, as we make important decisions.  I invite honest and respectful conversations around this and any other concern you may have.  And I ask that we each take the time to breathe, pray and be the Body of Christ alongside one another.  I believe this is our call and invite anyone to stop by Bethel, invite me over, or meet someplace for coffee, ice cream, or a beverage of choice should you like to talk further about this or any other social issue, question or concern.
 
 
With you, for Christ,

Pastor Brenda

651.270.4960(cell), 612.724.3693 (office), pastor@bethel-mpls.org and on facebook


On Tueday, July 23, 2013, the Bethel Board of Directors (with the support of the Bethel Mission Council and the feedback from two congregational open forums) approved that Pastor Brenda conduct same-gender weddings and that Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church provide for both opposite-gender and same-gender wedding on our property and/or in our sanctuary.  (Fees and arrangements remain as stated in our wedding policy handbook.)

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 7/30/2013 8:44 PM UTC

An update from Caleb, one of our Step-Up interns:

Caleb’s Blog

With only a mere two weeks left of working as an intern here at Bethel, I think looking back and reflecting is quite appropriate. I think it has been a very fun place to work at. I’ve found it very accepting and all the people I worked with were kind, funny, or both! They showed incredible flexibility and always knew how to put me to work, even when there wasn't much to do. Jim was a funny guy with a good grasp of his view on things. Aimee always showed that she knew what she was doing. And Pastor Brenda is a good, focused, but considerate boss. I couldn't have asked for a better jobsite this summer.

Thanks

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 6/20/2013 6:29 PM UTC

Introducing Our STEP-UP Interns!

The City of Minneapolis runs a program called STEP-UP, which is a summer job program for Minneapolis youth ages 14-21.  The city pays youth their wages, and the youth get job experience at different companies and organizations around the city.  Bethel has two STEP-UP interns working for us this summer: Caleb and Brooklynn.  They will help out in the office, around the grounds, with custodial, with kids, and tons of other things. Welcome!

Here is Caleb's introduction of himself:

Hi, my name is Caleb Lingel-Macias. I’m 15 and I live in south Minneapolis with my mom and brother. During the school year, I go to South High. This summer I will be working as an intern, through the STEP-UP program, at the Bethel Church. I’m looking forward to working here, it seems like a fun filled place (not to mention huge) with lots to do and plenty of people to help out. I’m especially looking forward to tasks like gardening and other outdoor activities. This is my first job ever so I’m excited I can have a job I enjoy.


Caleb will also be reporting regularly about his experience at Bethel. Here is his first blog entry!
To be honest, the first impression I got was “this place is huge!” I’ve never seen a church this big, let alone one that takes up a whole city block. But after my amazement at Bethel’s size, I noticed how interestingly the building is set up. It has lots of classrooms, all with clever names (Thou Art! Studio, HolyWord theater, the list goes on). I was especially surprised that the church was built on a swamp. So while the first impression was about the size, the final impression is about the quality of what they do here which is help out the community. The people working here seem friendly, and they’re all easy to get along with. Overall, Bethel seems like a fun place to be AND a fun place to work.

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 6/4/2013 5:17 PM UTC

THE SURPRISING AND THE UNEXPECTED

This past Friday and Saturday, Sheila, Della, Bailey, Gavin and I were blessed to spend time at the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly in Prior Lake, participating in the business of the church.  While we were there

• we learned about newly formed congregations in Minneapolis, as well as the history of our 25 year old ELCA,
• we voted on resolutions regarding relations between our Palistinian and Israeli siblings in the middle east, as well as preventing job discrimination for our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender siblings in Minnesota and the United States,
• we listened to speakers explore our relationship with a relational God, as well as our relationship with one another and how pointing fingers of blame is counter to the will of our loving and ever present God.

In past synod assemblies, about every two hours, those gathered would “Dwell in the Word” ... that is, engage in small group Biblical conversations and large group devotions, in order to remind us who we are and whose we are as we go about doing the business of the church. 

This year, instead of Dwelling in the Word ... we  dwelled in song ... that is, about every two hours, we stopped to praise God in song ... but we did not sing hymns, instead, we experienced a vast plethora of song, including, but not limited to ~ 
• a hip hop soloist,
• a Swahili choir,
• a scene from Footloose (the musical)
• an American Sign Language Interpreting choir, and
• (I kid you not) ... and three person 2-octave bell choir! (thats 16 bells, three people and six hands to play them ... it was not only a bell choir, but it was a choreographed dance as these three women played those 16 bells)

What a blessing to experience the WORD of God in song, in music and the talents and gifts of the people of God.  And be surprised by the unexpected.

One of the things I really loved about this synod assembly, was our initial celebration of the theme and the first 25 years as the ELCA.  The theme for our synod assembly and the churchwide assembly this summer is “Always being made new!”   That is, God is always making us, as individuals, as the church, as a part of creation, God is always making us NEW.

As we celebrated from where we have come, we could not help but wonder, to where will we go in the next 25 years ... as the church!
 

This refrain came to my mind, over and over again these last few days ... to where will be go, as church, in the next 25 years.
 

It is my hope and my prayer that, in the next 25, 50, and 75 years, we, as the church, go into the surprising and the unexpected.
 

• That is, we open our hearts and our minds in ways that we can scarcely imagine right now. 
• That we claim our place as created co-creators in this universe that continues to be made new.
• That we recognize the ministry opportunities, challenges, and invitations that we have somehow missed in our first 25 years ... and we do something about them!
 
Recently, our brother in Christ, Pope Francis came under scrutiny when he shared in a homily that people are redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice and then, the Pope invited his hearers to meet ALL people, whether they believe or not, to meet ALL people at the place of doing good works.  

The world seemed surprised by the Pope’s inclusion of the atheist in the work of God, in the good works of the people. 

I have two reactions to this issue.  The first ... Way to go Pope Francis!  Sharing the unexpected in ways that challenge us, the church to look beyond ourselves and see where God is at work beyond us and without us is an incredible and surprising vision from Pope Francis!  God is at work, beyond us and without us in this world.  This world being made new!

My second reaction to this scrutiny of Pope Francis is this ... seriously???  Have we as a faithful people become so full of ourselves that we refuse to consider that God is at work in the atheist? 

If we believe in an ever-present, faithful and loving God, how on earth can we sit in our pews and stand in this pulpit without considering, proclaiming and celebrating that God is bigger than the church! And that is a really good thing!     

Friends in Christ, as I explore our two readings for this day, what I read, taste, see and celebrate, is the surprising and the unexpected!

In our reading from 1 Kings, we find King Solomon standing before the altar of the Lord, in the Temple that he built for the Lord, praying for the foreigner.  King Solomon had every reason to claim the Temple for the Chosen People of God ... every reason to exclude those who are not Israeli.  But instead, King Solomon surprises us when he says ... “O Lord, ... when the foreigner comes and prays toward this house, then hear  ... and do according to all the foreigner calls to you, so that all people may know your name and fear you.”
 
Even in the midst of completing the most magnificent Temple on earth, built to praise and glorify God, King Solomon understands that God is bigger than the church!  God intends to live within and outside the church.  God intends to be noticed by those we fail to notice ourselves.

And in our Gospel reading, Jesus is surprised by the unexpected faith of a Roman Centurion.  In effort to wrap our minds around this story ...

• The Centurion is a member of the occupying nation (Rome) in Capernaum, that is he is a leader of the army that prevents the freedom of God’s chosen people in their own land. 
• Likely, he is an unbeliever, a Gentile, because he is Roman.
• But, evidently, he is a gentle and empathic leader of the occupying nation ... because he has supported the Jews to the point of allowing them to build a synagogue. 
• So, he is not your typical Roman occupyer. 

AND, and he has listened to God’s story in such a way that he has come to believe that Jesus is someone important.  And not only important, but that Jesus is powerful.  Powerful enough to say the word, and heal his dying servant.  We have no idea if this Centurion becomes a follower of Jesus.  What is known is that the Centruion had faith that Jesus in important and powerful.
 
Friends, this was unheard of, and certainly a surprise in the time Jesus lived on this earth.  So much so that even Jesus proclaimed the unexpected when Jesus said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 

As King Solomon and Jesus here proclaim, it is my hope is that the church begins to understand how God is at work in this world, beyond us and without us, making things new! 

And in so understanding this truth, I pray that the next 25 years of the church includes and demands to be an active part of the surprising and the unexpected of God! 

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 4/3/2013 10:20 PM UTC

The JOY of Easter Sunday

I have been active in ministry for 12+ years ... and, as you may know, ordained for the last 10 months.  I have been a part of many Easter Sunday breakfasts and worship services. 

AND, I have never humbly enjoyed any prior Easter Sunday like I humbly enjoyed Easter Sunday, 2013. 

What a complete blessing to lead God's people in the celebration of the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus the Christ! 

This is a joy that made my heart dance. 
This is a joy that inspired several "happy dances."
This is a joy that is pure gift and light.
This is a joy that will forever be a part of this child of God.

And I thank God for being so persistent with my call to ordained ministry.

I thank Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church for calling me into such ministry.

I thank my family and friends who encouraged me, cried with me, prayed with me, stood along side me, screamed with me, loved me, and celebrated with me. 

It is for such a time as this ~ the truth that resurrection is real ~ that I find myself reflective, prayerful, blessed, and humbled.

God is so very good!

With you, for Christ,

Pastor Brenda L. Froisland




Posted by Pastor Brenda | 1 Comment

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