We’ve been past the sign pointing to a church two blocks away many times. But we’ve only gotten closer than that maybe half-a-dozen times between the two of us. First English Lutheran Church in Cannon Falls was way bigger than either my husband or I remembered. There are multifaceted additions on the other side, including what looks like an ample parking lot for their current Sunday morning outdoor worship and a cross with a second horizontal beam on the high point of the roof.

In addition to the outdoor worship on Sunday mornings, they also record a traditional service in the colorful sanctuary on Thursdays for viewing on the internet, or cable TV or via DVD.

Four women covered it all on August 6, with the confession, affirmations, a children’s sermon and three hymns including the Naval Anthem. The prayers included other nations, different creatures, basic needs and justice as a “path to peace.”

We got to see the “Flat Jesus” paper dolls that congregate by the camera as a focal point from the pulpit, hear about collecting number 2 pencils and sharpeners for donating, and learn that there is an opportunity to Zoom to Jerusalem.

Rev. Christine preached on the reading from Kings wherein Elijah was hiding out in a cave. She stated that she used to live by Crystal Cave in Spring Valley, Wis., recalling the cold and dark interior. She noted some similarities to pandemic isolation. Caves do offer protection, but a breath of fresh air while standing at the entrance, a glimpse of the stars above, and hearing God’s voice in the silence instead of the storms and devastation — contemplating, “What are you doing here?” can be good and godly moments. Perhaps they are even an “invitation” to self-care.

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Beyond dwelling on repeated doubts and complaints as in the scripture reading, she recommended putting the emphasis on different words of that question as you consider what to put emphasis on in your own life.

“Participating with Jesus” and speaking up as witnesses to others’ journeys as they step around obstacles might all be part of what you are being called to do.