Maybe it’s eager anticipation of spring green-up that had me particularly enjoying the sight of pretty light green organ pipes on the recent worship videos for Vang Lutheran Church in rural Goodhue County.
On Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, Pastor Paul talked about hunger: food insecurity for sure, but also for less tangible things like hope and peace and companionship. He mentioned how what might originally seem like a “sensible plan” can lead to “startling insights” — in a good way. Something to “ponder anew.” He told how a local woman started writing a few notes to shut-ins during the winter and ended up getting all these great letters back. Reminding us that “it is in giving that you receive.”
For the second Wednesday in Lent we heard more about incorporating scripture to feed the spirit so we can “absorb nutrients” into our “spiritual DNA.”
Pastor explained how to interpret the Bible in accordance with their church’s constitution. Their central path is to avoid pitfalls both of fundamentalism and secularism. (That sounded palatable to me.) The process is to enter into a relationship with Christ as the living word. Living out the gospel promise can be as small yet significant as sending a quick text to a friend. He said once an entire congregation got out their phones to do just that right there from the pews.
He also advocated for the personal discipline of memorization. Offering up the impactful verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” first he recited the whole verse. Then he systematically dropped the last word so that his final recitation was simply the word “Be.”
It was after one of these midweek Lenten services years ago that I helped myself to the big Bible up front at church and happened upon one of my very favorite verses. It’s about how “suffering produces endurance, endurance character, character hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (That one wouldn’t work as well for a pleasant meditation on the first word.) After a little perusing of a soft old Bible by a sunny window, this year I might go with, “... hold fast that which is good.”
And I got to hear the Holden songs again, this time in two-part harmony, complete with the round.
I was just thinking about how a few years ago I went to Chicago to seek out this music with my nieces. We had to take more than one bus to get to the particular location. When during the message at Vang, pastor actually talked about Chicago — where his dad engaged in his own Good Samaritan activities.
Whether it’s Zacchaeus up in a tree looking for a glimpse of Christ, or us making our own way down the road, there may well be goodness to behold.
Kate Josephson grew up in rural southwestern Minnesota — going to a small town church every Sunday — worked as a church secretary in Red Wing for seven years. She continues to seek out religious experiences wherever she goes.