05/28/2020 The Truth about the Church – by Pastor Katie

We’ve long known that faith is an essential part of life and the work of the church is vital. 

For the record, the church doesn’t close, even when we lock the doors for the night at 800 Waconia Parkway. 

The church is US; you, me, all of us, we are the church, we are the Body of Christ gathered together by the Holy Spirit, and we happen to worship and have a building on Waconia Parkway.

As those who have been in small groups with me know, sooner or later we’re going to talk about how much I love the Gospel of Mark. At Jesus’ baptism and at the moment of his death on the cross we get the Greek verb meaning “torn open” – not like opening a door, but tearing a piece of paper in two—it cannot be undone.    

At Jesus’ baptism, the heavens are torn open, the dove descends and we hear God’s voice.     On the cross, the curtain in the Temple that separates the holiest place where God resides from the rest of the worship space, is torn in two. 

God will not be contained by clouds or curtains. God is on the loose in our world; here, there, everywhere, there is no where we can go where God is not present. 

The other reason I love the Gospel of Mark is the ending, the original ending. Jesus dies, he is buried, on Sunday the women go to the tomb and its empty, an angel tells them Jesus has been raised and to go tell the disciples. But instead…

“…they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (Mark 16:8)

End scene. Drop curtain. Lights out. That’s all folks. 

They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 

The Good News didn’t get preached, there were no resurrection appearances of Jesus. 

Nothing, nada, zilch. 

Later, this ending must have made people uncomfortable because a shorter ending and then a longer ending were both added to Mark’s original manuscript. 

Here is what I love about the original ending because obviously, the Word got out, Mark was writing to a community around 70ad and now we’re reading the gospel today. The Good News got out, it cannot be contained. 

A colleague shared a church sign they saw recently: The church may be empty, but so was the tomb. 

The church didn’t start in a building, but in a garden with an empty tomb and followers who were too afraid to tell anyone. 

God is on the loose, the heavens have been torn open, and the Word—that is Jesus himself—has gotten loose and cannot be contained, not even death could hold him!

God is bigger than walls and tombs, the Gospel reaches beyond the words on the page, and Holy Spirit unites the church—the Body of Christ—across time, distance, and physical distancing. 

Now, I know it isn’t that simple in reality. For many of us, relationships and ‘doing life together’ (aka fellowship) is integral and deeply connected to faith. For some, this time of physical distancing and virtual church might feel like there is a void in their spiritual connection. 

For those of you who are experiencing this, I see you. I am with you. 

My faith began at camp and on mission trips. My faith was nurtured in small groups and prayer groups. My call to pastoring was discerned through leading small groups. I am an extrovert, I am a people person, bottom line: my faith practice is rooted in community. 

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve cried over not worshipping together and preaching to my computer camera. 

My call to pastoring is a call to be in relationship with God’s people. It is a call to accompaniment, to walk alongside others in their journeys of faith. This current scenario was never on my radar while discerning my call. 

I miss gathering and worshipping together, and right now, scientists, healthcare leaders and public health experts say that we shouldn’t gather inside with singing and communion. 

So, out of deep love for our congregation, we will continue to worship virtually, connected by the Holy Spirit. Our faith, our God, our community is not contained by walls, clouds, or tombs – we are gathered together, wherever we are. 

My favorite gathering hymn is Gather Us In, I love it so much we sang it at my ordination. Here is the final verse: 

Not in the dark of buildings confining, not in some heaven light years away—
here in this place the new light is shining, now is the kingdom and now is the day.

Gather us in and hold us forever, gather us in and make us your own;
gather us in, all peoples together, fire of love in our flesh and our bone. (ELW 532)

Nothing can confine and contain our big, wild, wondrous God who gathers us in and ignites our hearts with the fire of love. 

Pastor Katie

4 Responses to “05/28/2020 The Truth about the Church – by Pastor Katie”

  1. Sharon Hermanson says:

    Pastor Katie, I just love all your blogs. Powerful words so wonderfully written. Promise of Gods love and grace. Thank you for your beautiful ministry.
    Keep the faith and stay strong my dear friend.
    I look forward to your next blog!!!

  2. Shirley Granlund says:

    Pastor Katie
    This piece hit home and was just perfect timing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and so well done!

  3. Joan K Peterson says:

    dear pastor katie
    I hear you in the things we did to gether in Guatamala, I go to my pictures and see you using a power tool and trying to pull off Steve’s boots after making the cement floor, leading us in the morning reflections, peeling your eggs for breakfast. and look at all the other workers on our trip. Gives me a bit of an active service, a form of worship. Then I here your voice and put us all in our service activities. You are a blessing to us all. Especially maybe those of us who need to be with people more than others. thank you for you words. I miss you all and your words and the choir and singing hymns we are learning so much in these weeks of pandemic and of watching all the marching and the stunning news on nightly Network TV
    So many needs and challenges coming up for Christisns everywhere.You and Paslors Dale and Jim have your hearts and minds full as you lead us all in the coming weeks. God bless you all

  4. Joan Peterson says:

    Pastor Jim says youve tried to call me. I’m so sorry I didn’t answer, I only answer when I see a name cause I get so many political calls wanting money I cannt handle It. my memory on phone numbers is non exsistent., right up there with remembering names. I blame it on age. I’ve been living with son Eric, wife Carrie and 2 grandsons Kyle 6th grade and Kerian 8th grade. It’s been wonderful being with family and getting feed well also. Get to weed gardens and help cook. But tomorrow ,sat. I’m moving back to West view. it’s time, I’ve got a garden planned and friends to keep up with
    Some therapy scheduled. to help my walking. Waiting on Dr. report from an MRI this past week. may have had a small stroke. Working at not worrying
    Pastor Jim has been so helpful through all these changes we ate faced with. This is way to long but I’ll try to memorize your phone number and answer. thanks for trying. good feeling.. sure miss every one. love Joan

Leave a Reply