OSL Responds to COVID-19
Pastoral Letter #22
Week of 9 September 2020

Dear OSL Family,
Family. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Mercy. These are all themes this week as we gather for worship on Launch! Weekend here at Our Savior’s. We pray that you will know in the deepest parts of your heart the grace that is yours through Jesus so that you may in turn be an agent of grace in the world.

“The Beginning Is Near”
The Beginning Is Near logoAs noted above, this weekend is Launch! Weekend at OSL, the beginning of our new programming year. In worship for the first six weeks, we will be gathering under the theme “The Beginning Is Near.” This theme will help us reflect on how, in the kingdom of heaven, there are things that are brought to an end and there are things—the things of God—that are beginning. Through parables that offend our sense of fairness, challenge our tendency toward rejection, and address human systems like money and economics, we will hear Jesus challenging us to anticipate a godly way of life that ends earthly business as usual.

Even though we are beginning a new programming year, our worship schedule is not changing. Saturday worship is at 5:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. On Sunday morning, Celebrate worship is at 8:45 in the Celebrate Center and Festive worship is at 10:15 in the Sanctuary. All services include contactless Holy Communion.

If you are not ready to join us for in-person worship, catch us on KTTW (FOX) at 9:00 on Sunday morning and on KSCB (cable) at 1:00 Sunday afternoon. Sunday worship will also be streamed on Facebook Live at 8:45 and 10:15 a.m. and recordings of the Sunday services are posted on our website each Monday.

Listen Learn Love Lead
By now, we hope you are aware that OSL and Augustana University have partnered to bring the Rev. Lenny Duncan to Sioux Falls September 27–29. He will serve as our preacher on September 27 at both worship services and be featured at a Book Reading and Q & A event at 2:00 in the Celebrate Center, all of which will be streamed on Facebook Live. We encourage you to read his book, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S. as a way to prepare for his visit. We also recommend that you review some of the materials referenced in last week’s pastoral letter, which are available on our website, oslchurch.com.

From the time of its founding, the ELCA has set goals to include greater diversity but it has never met its own objectives. Pr. Duncan will lovingly challenge us to both reflect on our denomination’s record and renew our role as agents of change in our society.

Guiding us through this conversation on racial injustice will be the mission statement, “Listen Learn Love Lead.” This simple statement lays out our strategy for engaging what can be a difficult thing to talk about.

    • • First and foremost, we will Listen. If there is any hope of reconciliation and healing in our society, we who live within the dominant culture must quiet our voices. We must cultivate a willingness to listen to the stories, experiences of suffering, and day-to-day challenges faced by our siblings of color. By hearing the truth of their pain, we can discover a new commitment to act with compassion and justice.
      • Secondly, we will Learn. There is so much we don’t know, and most of us don’t know what we don’t know. Therefore, we must commit ourselves to learn constantly. We can acknowledge here that racism is a complex social force that affects every dimension of our society. Because it is so complex, it is at first very hard to recognize how racial dynamics affect us beyond the personal decisions we make.
      • Third, we will engage this conversation in Love. This is the way of the cross. This is the way of our Lord and Savior. We love all people, even those with whom we disagree because God has first loved us, even when we were not very lovable.
      • Finally, as a church, we will strive to Lead. We know this topic is emotionally and politically charged. Even so, our annual vision for ministry as well as the mission God has entrusted to us compel us to be a church that rises above partisan loyalties in order to care for our neighbor in need. Indeed, these guiding statements call us forth to lives that emulate the life and death of our crucified Lord Jesus for the sake of the least, the last, and the lost so that God may be glorified and the kingdom of heaven flourishes here on earth.

    We pray for God’s guidance and grace in all of this. We pray for patience, compassion, and healing. We pray for God’s blessing as we strive together to live as God’s people in this time and place. And we trust we will find Jesus in the midst of it all.

    Prayers of the People
    This week as you pray, please intercede for: (baptized) Leila Anne Griffin and Blake Leigh Mouw; (healing) Stacey Rothenberger, Shireen Levsen, Uydene Amdahl, Viola Ross, Bill Rossing, David Lehmann, and Doug DeGroot; and (grieving) Neil and Deb Graff on the death of Deb’s mother.

    Be well and press on,

    Your pastors at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church,
    Rev. Randy Gehring,
    Rev. Tim Lemme,
    Rev. Justin Kosec