Today's Top Stories:
Bishop Aitken's Reflections on Thanksgiving
The Middle school Gathering at Cragun’s this weekend was powerful. As many of you know, Catherine Anderson from your Synod staff intentionally crafts the theme each year around the Catechism. This year the theme was the Sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. The youth were a joy to me, as they are every year! I’m thankful for them.
“The Eucharist,” which is another name for Holy Communion, stems from the word thanksgiving. In the ancient Jewish tradition, leaders regularly gave thanks for all God’s powerful and loving deeds as the people gathered together for worship and for meals. Jesus “gave thanks” to God on the night he was betrayed and just before giving his disciples that Holy Meal we now call Communion. Knowing he was going to die, his words that night were particularly important just as all final words from a person who knows their time on earth is short tend to be. Jesus told them that while they would not see him again until that Final Kingdom of God’s perfect world was complete, he would be with them in the Sacred Meal of Communion. Really with them. Not in principal or symbol, but really present. “While they were eating Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples and said: Take eat, this is my body. Then he took the cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (emphasis mine, from Matthew 26:26-28) These very earthy terms, body and blood, would have been understood by those disciples as receiving the very life of Jesus into themselves because they knew that the “life” of any living creature, is found in its blood. Note that every disciple was welcome at that Table: the pious, the overly confident, the questioning, the half-believer, the doubters and the traitor. All of them, no exceptions.
I am thankful for Jesus, this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful that he loves the whole world – no exceptions and empowers us in the Lord’s Supper to do the same. I’m thankful that he is the Savior of the world, who gives us his very real presence, his very life, his courage, his love and his forgiveness to us wherever we are in the journey of the gift of faith. I’m thankful for my country and my family and for turkey for sure. But I’m more thankful, for Jesus, our brother and our Lord, and his holy mystery in Communion that overcomes all boundaries and ideologies.
+Bishop Tom Aitken
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream”
Bishop Aitken always has an abundance of good information to be shared. Now, instead of finding it at the bottom of the home page, he has an entire page dedicated to sharing these resources. it will be found under the home drop down list or by clicking this link.
One of Bishop Aitken's greatest joys as a Bishop, is the Bishop Visitations to Confirmation Students and parents in our Synod. He takes the Teaching Office of Bishop both seriously and joyfully and loves to be part of youth faith formation in this way and has been able to personally connect with so many across our Synod. If you would like, you may supply the names of those being Confirmed to the Synod Office and he will send a pastoral letter to each one, reminding them that they are joined to Christ forever, and encouraging them in their continued journey into the gift of faith.
You may send names and addresses to email@example.com
Bishop's Online Reflections : Veteran's Day
On This Veterans Day I remember the words of Jesus from the gospel of John: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) I’m thankful for our Veterans, and I honor their courage and love for others, even to the point of putting themselves in danger for another person’s sake, knowing they might die. Veterans of war live among us, twenty-five million in this country alone. Many of them find themselves unable to talk of the horrors of war. My own dad, like so veterans from WWII did not talk about his experience, it was too hard. To witness violence up close does damage to your soul. I understand now. I hope that each of us will share our respect and love for the Veterans in our congregations, in our community. I hope that we will learn from those among us who understand PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that so many of our Veterans live with. We can honor Veterans by thanking them personally, praying for them, and by encouraging our our leaders to provide for their care when then return. And we can honor them by working for peace.
Prayer: God of all Creation, lover of all people, we give you thanks for Veterans, and all who model the willingness to serve their neighbor, even to the point of losing their lives. Stir up your Holy Spirit among us, to work for an end to war, as the prophet Isaiah, and your Son Jesus taught us. Set free the gift of love and courage you’ve given us in our baptisms, through hearing the Word, and through Holy Communion that we might work to combat fear, hatred and violence in our world, and instead lift up the unconditional love that brings harmony and peace.
Bishop's Online Reflections for Sept 27, 2018
When you look at the big picture, we are all in it together. Last night, friends and guests of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) celebrated neighbors helping neighbors by giving a breathtaking total of $1,028,175 – and we could not have done it without you!
On behalf of the tens of thousands of individuals and families impacted by LSS every day of the year, thank you for taking part in our 2018 Celebration for Changing Lives. Your generosity really does make it possible for all Minnesotans to access the support they need to live full and abundant lives, and we are truly grateful.
We are particularly grateful to the exceptionally generous matching donors who inspired guests to give more generously; to our Premier Gala Sponsor, Thrivent; to all who sponsored tables and invited their friends and neighbors to attend; to our volunteers; and of course, to everyone, both far and near, who supported our work by giving.
Once again, from all of us, thank you for joining our Celebration.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Vice President and Chief Development Officer
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
Bishop's Online Reflections Sept 3 2018
Our Labor in the Lord
Bishops have the unique honor and responsibility to ordain pastors in this church. Summer has been the usual time for this Rite to take place as graduations from Seminary generally happen in spring and candidates are ready for a “call” to a congregation. These are powerful gospel moments for this bishop. Ordained in our synod this summer were: Rebecca Hinz serving Bethlehem Lutheran rural Aitkin, Sarah Fike serving First Lutheran in Hibbing, and Erin Coutts serving First Lutheran in International Falls and Bethany Lutheran in Loman. These three servants of God took vows of faithfulness and leadership in our church, synod, and congregations. Each of those solemn and joyful occasions of ordination centered on the ancient charges, vows, gestures and blessings that remind us that setting aside those who have proved qualified and ready to serve in this office are vital to our life together.
The work of pastors is first and foremost to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ centered on God’s love. It includes announcing God’s forgiveness, teaching theology and a Lutheran understanding of Scripture, Presiding at the Holy Sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, where the mystery and power of the Spirit and Christ’s presence strengthen faith in us. Pastors also listen to the joys and pains of their flock and lead in missional planning. Their labor is one of servant leadership; it is gentle and strong, spoken and modeled, done with humility and confidence both.
I am proud of our newly ordained: Proud of their education, their unique gifts, their faithful work to prepare themselves and their acceptance of calls to congregations to do the good work of a pastor. When they were installed in their respective congregations, congregational members where asked if they would regard these new pastors as servants of Christ, pray for them, honor their work, and live in the peace and unity in Christ that pastors regularly preach and teach.
Their response? “We will and we ask God to help us.”
Our world needs to hear and see from each one of us in the church, the Christ-way of living, the way of life that loves others, includes all people, works for peace, sees the good in others, stands up boldly against evil (and not merely personal evil, but corporate evil) and sees Christ in others, especially those who are sick, in jail, hungry and homeless. This kind of life is the “way of the cross” which seeks not to lord power over others, but empowers others to a life of good deeds that will bless the whole world. It is our labor, our good labor in the Lord as Scripture says.
As we begin our fall programming in each congregation, may we think on these things in our congregational life together and bless our communities
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH OUR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
March 5, 2018
As part of our work together , the bishops of the ELCA , this past week at the Conference of Bishops, discussed our precious young people, and the relentless violence that happens to them in this country, and the peaceful Kingdom God has called us to create in our personal and corporate lives together. Please read our Statement and share it widely, for we are called to be light to the world.
-Bishop Thomas Aitken, Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA
CLICK HERE FOR FULL STATEMENT
My Neighbor is Not for Sale
We are pleased to present our sixth congregational discussion guide, “My Neighbor is Not for Sale.”Joining our previous studies – “My Neighbor is Muslim”, “My Neighbor is on Medicaid”, etc. – “My Neighbor is Not for Sale” brings congregations the facts, figures, and stories of the insidious world of sex trafficking of children and youth in our country. It also represents our first collaboration with Cherish All Children, a 10-year-old Lutheran social ministry, which has recently become a service of LSS of Minnesota.
It has been a shock to so many of us to learn that, what we used to call prostitution, has been quietly and quite creepily replaced by an Internet-driven industry of luring kids into phony relationships, controlling them, and selling them in the sex trade right under our noses in communities everywhere.
The images we grew up with of adult women on the corners of the “red light district” soliciting men has been replaced with an invisible web of adults preying on children and youth. Our new awareness has also made us question whether those women in the “red light district” ever really had many choices in life themselves.
Over the past couple of years, the State of Minnesota has contracted with LSS and others to offer “Safe Harbor” services in several communities that reach out to youth trapped in trafficking, help them escape the life, and support them in getting back into strong and healthy lives, utilizing our years of experience working with homeless youth.
Our new affiliation with Cherish All Children adds a rich dimension of congregational outreach and education and a focus on helping our children and youth protect themselves from trafficking by teaching them to beware of the signals that they are being lured into the danger zone.
I wish you blessings on your journey of awareness and enlightenment.
Jodi Harpstead, CEO
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
MY NEIGHBOR IS NOT FOR SALE download pdf
+Bishop’s Visitation to Confirmation Students
Bishop’s Visitation to Confirmation Students and their parents
Bishop Aitken invites you to request him for a Bishop’s Visitation to your Confirmation Class. What works best for his schedule is to schedule so these visitations are to clusters of congregations. He encourages parents to come that night as well so he can meet them and include them in the teaching time. He will teach the gospel, talk about Christian Vocation, the role of the Christian in our world, our call in Christ and end with Communion and Commissioning for service with Anointing oil from Palestine.
Bible and Brew Study Retreats
Believing and Having Faith
Bishop Aitken is open to leading a Bible and Faith Study for men’s, women’s or mixed men and women’s Retreats around the theme Belief and Faith. He uses the Gospels as well as other Biblical texts around the meanings of trust, fidelity, faith and believing. You could arrange with one of our Camps (where he has done these already) or at a location of your choosing. He presents a Biblical understanding of what faith and belief really are, and in particular, as a Lutheran Christian.
You may contact the synod office to make arrangements with him.
Minnesota Council of Churches Response to Executive Order on Refugees ..click here
"Evangelicals join Letter denouncing President Trumps order on Refugees" click HERE
ELCA on Gender Identity Discrimination
Star Tribune feature: Crosslake Lutheran!
Click here to read the article!
Just what are Your Congregation's Intentions?
Lutheran Disaster Relief:
How you can help! click HERE
East Jerusalem Hospital Advocacy Update
The Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem has faced periodic financial challenges due to lack of payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the treatment of patients referred to the hospital by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. To learn more about the background of the issues facing this Lutheran World Federation (LWF) run hospital see this Peace Not Walls blog.Earlier this year, the situation reached a critical level when the hospital had to turn patients away because it was running out of vital medication to treat those who were critically ill. While the PA at that time made promises to resolve the situation, in effect it has failed to do so. For further details see the latest LWF Advocacy Update.
Having been alerted to this crisis situation, on October 13 ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote a letter to the PLO Ambassador in Washington, Dr. Husam Zomlot, appealing to him to bring the situation “to an immediate, positive conclusion.” You can read her letter here.
Contact your elected officials today at the ELCA Action Center, and ask them to convey these concerns to Ambassador Zomlot as well.
Ever wonder where your gifts to the church go?