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March 18

Fifth Sunday

of LENT 

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The Pastor's Blog

Date: 7/8/2016 3:28 PM CDT

Friends, going to a vigil or march around the idea that #blacklivesmatter in no way precludes the truth that #bluelivesmatter too.  These are not mutually exclusive issues.  There are times when our time, prayer and lives are focused in one area, not to exclusion of the other ... but simply focused differently.

In the last few days we have responded to the killing of two black men at the hands of the police AND we have responded to the killing of five Dallas police and DART officers, as well as the wounding of seven other officers and two civilian at the hands of an upset sniper.  

Our hearts break regarding all of these human beings.  But our hearts cannot shatter.  Instead, our hearts must love.  Parker Palmer says it this way: "When the heart is supple, it can be “broken open” into a greater capacity to hold our own and the world's pain: it happens every day. When we hold our suffering in a way that opens us to greater compassion, heartbreak becomes a source of healing, deepening our empathy for others who suffer and extending our ability to reach out to them.” 1

Our hopes and our prayers continue this day for the loved ones of those shot and killed, as well as those shot and are recovering in TX, LA, and MN these past few days.  

The God of Love is sure to give us the heart and the will to change things in a way that ONLY LOVE can accomplish.  Let us love, not hate.  Work for peace, not war. Demand justice, not revenge.   Find joy, not sorrow.  Give support, not accusations.  Listen to hearts, not walk away.  Gather together to find answers, not run in fear.  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.  Amen.

With you, for peace, understanding, and justice.
Pr Brenda

And a song of hope that change has come and will come again.

1 ― Parker J. PalmerHealing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 7/7/2016 4:05 PM CDT

My heart breaks over and over again these last few weeks.  Yet, in the midst of ministry, I must find ways to move forward and keep teaching our children (of all ages) about peace, justice, and love. 
I have not had time to process all that we were exposed to during the Civil Rights Tour we took in June – yet I know in my very being that what is happening all over the world – concerning the death of so many people of color – is directly connected to the lessons offered and the anger and disgust I felt while on said tour.  (Which was also amplified by the shooting at The Pulse in Orlando, FL.)
When will we learn from our history?  When will we understand the atrocities of our past?  When will we break the cycles of injustice and begin to understand one another, listen deeply with one another, and recognize one another as human beings with full rights to life?  When will we stop the hate, ignorance, and bias that plagues our communities, our country, our world?
  • I realize we do not know the whole story of Philando Castile dying by the hands of police in Falcon Heights, MN, or the death of Alston Sterling at the hands of police in Baton Rouge, LA. 
    • I know that the lives of our siblings of color matter. 
  • I realize there are still questions in both incidents. 
    • I know that the hearts of many are broken by these deaths. 
  • I realize that there will be actions taken by #blacklivesmatter and some folks will not understand their purpose. 
    • I know that actions like this are the only things that changed reality during the Civil Rights Movement of our past.
  • I realize that police officers put their lives on the line every day and most have very good intentions. 
    • I know that something *something* went terribly wrong in both of these incidents because two black men are dead – and have been shot by the police.
  • I realize that many people are in need to support, prayer, and justice in both of these situations.
    • I know that my prayers include black lives, blue lives, and all lives directly and indirectly connected to these incidents.
  • I realize these two incidents are just that, specific incidents in which more facts are being collected so that we can all learn more of the truth.
    • I know that these incidents are a part of a larger problem in our society in which our systems are broken, biased, and need to be repaired, replaced, and repealed.
  • I realize that some folks are going to make assumptions from one side or another about what happened and how the actions of some are or are not justified and should or should not be punished in a court of law.
    • I know I will never understand what it is like to fear for my life simply because of the color of my skin, nor do I know what my siblings of color are feeling right now. I hope and I pray that I (we) can learn more, be present, and help someone find hope, as well as empower people to stand up and make a difference that will save lives.

With you, for justice,

Pr Brenda L. Froisland
Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church
Minneapolis, MN

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 4/27/2016 12:07 PM CDT

Flashback to three years and three months ago
Can you believe that it was over three years ago that we, as a community, created these focus areas for Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church?  These were intended to guide us for 3-5 years.  Thus, it seems the appropriate time to take a closer look at how we have done and what we have left to do. 
Along with our vision statement, “In gratitude, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran church amplifies God’s grace, nourishes all creation, reaches out, and builds community,” we also agreed to work in the following areas:
Increased and diverse membership:  New faces more diversity, A more diverse membership, Bigger “garden”, Welcoming atmosphere for all to belong, Age diversity, More people in church
Dynamic, inspired, well-attended worship:  Increase number in rich, Meaningful, Energetic worship, Increased participation in worship, Everyone feels nourished, Inspiring worship and music, Energized / living worship
Resources and leadership for growth:  Balanced budget, Pastor Brenda = lead pastor, More members, Larger staff, Shared and growing leadership, More active participation of Bethel members, Initial planning of the next BIG thing
Intergenerationally-friendly and exciting: Excited conversations and laughter, Kids playing loudly, “Older” members valued and engaged, Intergenerational events, Visitors curious about Bethel’s “buzz”, More teens and young adults active and engaged
Community outreach and resource sharing:  Opportunities for people to connect (within and outside of the community), Diverse regular community volunteer opportunities, Vibrant neighborhood, Many events for every need and all people (social, physical, religious), Bethel Community Center, Daily community resource for joint activities / ministries, People use Bethel’s block freely knowing they are welcome, Economic justice issues in practice
Developing and deepening relationships:  Freely, openly sharing and talking to each other, Announcing/displaying pride/joy in members’ accomplishments, Small groups and participation, Love of Christ showing
Over the next couple of months, you are invited to share feedback about these focus areas. 
What have you seen happen well in these areas? 
What other ideas do you have to contribute to them? 
Which ones are we best accomplishing? 
Where do we need to be more intentional?
Are there other areas we need to add?
What is the next BIG thing for Bethel?
Are you on board with the next BIG thing?
What say you????
Feel free to share your feedback with any of our leaders.  Sharing in writing is best, then we are able to discuss with other leaders in the most effective way.  Don’t wait to be asked in person, just let us know what you think!
I look forward to the conversations that will be sparked about our future, together!
With you, for Jesus,
Pr. Brenda

Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

Date: 2/18/2015 8:49 PM CST

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 3:47 PM CST

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 3:03 PM CST

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.

And, and there is also this: 

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 3:52 PM CDT

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.

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.

power is different than what people claim.
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.

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,

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 4:41 PM CDT

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!

With you, for Christ,

Pastor Brenda

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Date: 8/1/2013 3:06 PM CDT

     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.

     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), 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 3:44 PM CDT

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.


Posted by Pastor Brenda | Post a Comment

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