Posts by Natalie Rosin:
The spiritual practices of Jesus were broad. They certainly included solitude, regular communion with God in prayer and quiet moments of reflection. There were at least two other important components: First, engaging strangers in a way that recognizes both their value as human beings and their personal need; and second, being public about the values that Jesus claimed to be at the heart of the Jewish faith. The Sermon on the Mount is one public expression of those values.
Bryan Stevenson, an attorney who fights for death row inmates and the author of Just Mercy, often encourages people to “get proximate!” Allow yourself to get to know people who are different than you. Allow yourself to hear their pain and to recognize the common humanity you share with them. Professor Edward Antonio* in a series of addresses at the recent synod assembly urged the same thing: Allow yourself to get to know “the Other.”
Aristotle and Alexander the Great had different attitudes toward non-Greeks. Aristotle saw them largely as “barbarians,” fit primarily for servitude. Alexander not only engaged non-Greeks in battle but allowed himself to get to know them as human beings. In so doing he saw the talents, aspirations and struggles that are common to both Greeks and the Other. By allowing himself to get proximate to non-Greeks, he began to see them as potential allies and friends!**
It seems to me that getting proximate to the Other naturally leads to another step, namely going public. That can mean something as simple as publicly standing with a fellow human who is in pain. It can also mean becoming vocal in a public way.
The Sermon on the Mount is an example of Jesus persuasively engaging the polis (Greek for city or community); the sermon is political. There are many illustrations of Jesus engaging in public discussion and debate for the advancement of the “common advantage” (Aristotle) as well as for the good of the individual. I am deeply committed to going public, specifically being political as a means of addressing human pain and advancing the common good. Unfortunately, it can easily pit Christians against Christians as seen in America today.
Together Colorado is an unusual group. It is a faith-based community organizing association of religious organizations with a marvelously broad umbrella. It includes Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of other religions who hold to a common belief in the dignity of humanity and the conviction that God’s desire is for the health and well-being of all people. Together Colorado and other community organizing groups formulate and support legislation that, for example, could bring greater fairness to the tenant-landlord relationship (Colorado Legislature, SB21-173) or could improve the “show-up” method of identifying an alleged perpetrator of a crime (Colorado Legislature, HB21- 1142).
At the local level, I have seen faith-based community organizers experience success in getting ordinances passed that improved rental property standards, reduced reliance on cash bail in courts and strengthened the public oversight board of a large police department. It’s hard and sometimes frustrating work, but Jesus’ work with his closest friends proved to be hard and frustrating as well.
I invite you to consider these two components of a spirituality practiced by Jesus: “Get proximate”; allow yourself to hear the pain, particularly of the marginalized. Then “go public!” You don’t have to do it alone. Do it with a group that shares the core values that emerge from the faith. Go public in an effort to stand with the marginalized and advance the good both of humanity and of the earth.
*Dr. Edward Antonio is the Chief Diversity Officer and Professor of Humanities at Concordia College in Minnesota.
**Irina Frasin, “Greeks, Barbarians and Alexander the Great: The Formula for an Empire,” Athens Journal of History, Vol. 5, Issue 3 (July 2019), 209-224, available in PDF on the Internet. Within this article see particularly, “The Empire of Alexander the Great: The Other as Ally, as Co-citizen and as Friend”, 217f.
Romans 8:27 reminds us that the spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words to express. And we have felt that truth through the trauma of the past year and we feel it now as we prepare to be able to gather again in ways that were lost to us during the pandemic. We also know that each one of you and your families, friends, pods, schools, and neighbors have had your own experiences, your own losses and griefs, your own times of being overwhelmed and disoriented. We have heard some of your stories, and some we have yet to hear, and we want you to know this- that no matter the place you are coming from now or the places you have been we have held you in love and prayer and sent those sighs of the spirit deep in our hearts and swiftly and frequently to God for you.
When we heard the news of the CDC findings and that the vaccine is doing it’s work, we were at the same time thrilled and terrified! A sense of awe and what now questions running in our minds. So we want you to know we are with you and that we honor the place each person is at in this leg of the journey. As we are able to gather together again, it will be emotional and we welcome the emotions, the tears, the smiles and the processing together. Some will need more space and some will be ready to hug and as we have seen you care for and honor one another all along, we are confident that we will continue in this way as a church.
We are thankful for all the ways you have supported one another and ministry and we remain confident that the same care and tending will continue. As we open back up, know that you may enter at your own pace. When we gather you are free to be masked or not and either is great. We ask those who are not vaccinated to continue to wear their masks for their protection and to communicate with us and one another if there are things that would make being in community easier. When we worship, if you would like to come forward for communion we welcome you and if you would prefer to have communion in your seat, we welcome you to that as well. Our musicians will be adjusting and taking steps towards live music and we will continue to stream the 10:30 online. Our office and building will be open from 9:00-3:00 Monday through Thursday and you are free to come and go with your key as before. What we ask of everyone as we walk together is to bring a spirit of gentleness and grace with you in your encounters with one another, staff, pastors, council and the community. We will aim to honor that spirit of love that dwells among us so that we can care for each person where they are in their emotional journey.
As you read the information below from the Covid Team made up of council and committee members know that they have done well, faithfully meeting and making tough decisions and recommendations for the past 15 months. If you have any questions or things that are not clear, please feel free to ask! You can email the office or contact one of the pastors or a council member and we will make sure that those with answers get the message.
As always, we are here for you and with you. We so look forward to seeing you and being amongst you once again.
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Michael and Pastor Leta
In the familiar Matthew judgment story of separating the sheep from the goats, in reference to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc., the king said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one the least of those who are members of my family, you did it to me.” We at Our Saviours choose to “clothe the naked” every fall in our annual drive for warm clothing for the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Our country has systematically thrown the Native Americans into poverty throughout our history together. Just one example most of us do not know about is that 60% of their “family land” is leased out by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to non-tribal members for far below market value, sometimes as little as 50 cents/acre. Without land to farm and few jobs on the reservation, how can they sustain their lives? Here are some statistics: Pine Ridge Reservation is the poorest county in the U.S.; TB rates are 800% higher than national average; almost 50% of adults suffer from diabetes; teen suicide is 150% higher than national average; schools are in the bottom 10% of funding in Dept. of Ed. and BIA; average of 17 people are living in each family home, sometimes up to 30, due to lack of heating in many homes; 33% of homes lack uncontaminated water, sewer and electrical service; life expectancy is 55; the reservation has no banks, discount stores, or public transportation, and only 1 large grocery store. Imagine yourself living there!
Because the Native Americans are largely hidden away on isolated reservations, we don’t see their plight. They certainly classify as “the least of these.” I am reminded of the story of the little boy on the beach throwing stranded starfish into the water. When a man told him he could never make a difference with so many starfish, the boy answered,” but I can make a difference to that one.” We can do the same. The gratitude of the people in response to our gifts of clothing is amazing.
God, give us the will and the means to help meet the desperate needs at Pine Ridge, and thus let them know that we as your people care about them.
Devotion by: Carol Bisbee
At a meeting of Fort Collins Interfaith Council, where I first learned about ISAAC as a coalition of local churches committed to walking with immigrants and refugees in our local community, the presentation ended with a reading of this poem. As a mother and a grandmother, I never forgot the feelings I experienced when I heard the despair in these words. Since then, Our Saviour’s has joined the ISAAC coalition. I pray that we will continue to grow in our understanding and action on behalf of immigrants and refugees: https://isaacnoco.
Reflection: La Ruta de las Mujeres (The Women’s Route)
Written by Rev. Delle McCormick
I walk the path that you took
hours or days ago.
Stones and slope and thorns
threaten each step with
I see where you slept
under the mesquite tree
home to spiders, snakes, ants –
familiar to coyotes, Gila monsters,
God knows what.
A piece of plastic,
grass woven into the branches
for shade against the merciless sun,
a tuna can, toothbrush,
tortilla cloth, used bus ticket –
all part of your story,
your life lost in this desert.
Nearby a tiny silver spoon
engraved, a love letter,
your bible, a pair of panties,
birth control pills,
breast cancer medicine,
a baby bottle, diapers,
one chancla, perfume bottle,
a pair of pants with
a name and number written in the inseam.
O, what you leave behind
I know you
Sister, mother, friend,
we will all be held
accountable for your
your suffering, your loss.
Some day, we will
celebrate your courage,
your story, your making
your way to the Promised Land.
Some day we will name this Exodus
and thank God that
some of you make it
Devotion by Beth DeHaven
Changes in our own faith journey can be dramatic, and that’s ok. I talked to one member who has been trying to reconstruct her faith by tearing down the foundation to discover and understand what is at its base. The base for her comes from an upbringing that centers on a God of judgement and anger. It is hard because some good things were a part of her faith, but its core left her empty.
As she attempts to create a foundation built upon love, I remind you that deconstructing your faith is not a bad thing, but it can feel and be hard. The difficult part is that the structure of faith has had significant investment. It can leave one feeling defeated and apart from God. Scripturally you have some pretty good company in the Apostle Paul and others who invested significantly, but eventually found something new.
I hope this time in the wilderness of COVID (perhaps other things) has allowed you to reflect on your faith. Set up an appointment to talk with one of us pastors about your faith, or ask for a Stephen’s Minister to walk with you through a trying time.
Ella Bajcsi is graduating from Loveland High School. In the fall she will attend the University of Colorado – Boulder where she will pursue degrees in Music and Biological Sciences. Ella is very grateful for the kindness and support of the OSLC congregation.
Cara Butler is planning to attend the honors college at Montana State University for environmental engineering. She is graduating with an associates of science from CEC.
Will Loecke is graduating as valedictorian from Roosevelt High School and will be attending Colorado School of Mines or Brown University in the fall, majoring in economics/engineering. He was a four year letter winner in golf and wrestling and was recently named high school scholar athlete of the year and received the 2021 Heroes for Homeless Award from Family Housing Network.
Our Rocky Mountain Synod assembly begins this afternoon. It is online for the second year in a row and this can be a blessing and a let down at the same time. We are a big synod, 5 states are part of this synod and so you can imagine that traveling in order to be together can become cumbersome and there may even be ‘discussions’ about whose turn it is to go where. The gift of the online assembly is that people who would not normally be able to be a part of it are there. They are present and represented in the part of the body of Christ that we call the Rocky Mountain Synod. This assembly brings together clergy and congregation and other ministry voting members and allows us to know more about the expanse of ministry we do together and to celebrate that with one another. I always learn something new at assembly. The theme this year is “The Stories we Tell” and many different aspects of local and global ministries will come into play. I love this title because I love stories. I love to read them, to hear them, to tell them and retell them. The story of the good shepherd that we have focused on this week is a story that continues to remind us of our connection together and to God in that we are known even when we do not know. Like the story of the good shepherd was passed on from Jesus to the disciples to the apostles and spread on to moms and dads and grandparents and kids, the stories we tell today of the ministry together will be passed on as part of our history in being modern day apostles. We will gather around digital tables and campfires and small groups spaces and be blessed by one another’s stories. If you would like to watch any of the synod assembly and hear any stories for yourself you can do so at this link: Facebook Livestream: www.facebook.com/rmselca and the schedule of events is here: https://www.rmselca.org/synod/assembly-schedule
Even if you cannot join this story event, tell or retell a story this week of where your love or faith or church mattered. Write it down, call a friend, make it a part of the stories your children know, whatever fits you best. And thank you for the blessing of being gathered as Jesus’ sheep in a story of faith together.
I remember going through the candidacy process to become a pastor. In that time we were/are called as candidates for pastoral ministry to go through a deep discernment process that asks tough questions, and has a large group of people listening and walking with us. Ideally this process not only helps the candidate grow, but also provides awareness of our own rough edges, as well as a clarity of our direction for ministry.
I’ve often thought that it would be nice to develop the same level of discernment for every member in our own community. I mean after all why does the outcome have to be pastoral ministry to have a group of people surround you in love and help you become more aware of how Jesus is calling you to be an active child of God?
In many ways this is really what the church is all about. We are called to shepherd our community. Is this the pastors job? At times yes, pastors are a gift for this process, but to be truly effective we need everyone. As we awaken from our COVID pandemic slumber and begin to come together again my wish is this: that each of us can pray/discern/discuss our own hopes, dreams and direction, and find a few people within our faith community to help us on this journey. The good shepherd is Jesus, but collectively the Holy Spirit is at work in all of us. I think we would be doing well if we could help each other too, just at our own journeys.
Who can you be a gift to in their journey of faith? Who can be a gift to you?
2021 Summer Camps Registration is Open!
This registration form is for all ‘camp’ like events: VBS, High School Trips, Middle School, Elementary, and Summerfest Family Camp! Please use this form to sign up for which camps you would like to attend. You can simply fill out for only the ones you are interested in. Deadline for responses is April 1st so that we can get numbers to the camps. (Covid precautions will be taken as needed per CDC and county guidelines at the time. If you should need to cancel your registration later on please give as much notice as possible) Questions? Contact Pastor Leta (firstname.lastname@example.org or 979-893-2890) or Pastor Jon (email@example.com or 970-484-3133)
Link to Register: https://forms.gle/