What Difference Does Easter Make Anyways?

Ah, Easter…what a glorious celebration we had here at St. Paul Lutheran with over 325 people singing Alleluias, giving God our greatest praise. But, did and do those Alleluias ring hollow? When we think of the world situation and our life circumstances, what difference does Easter make anyways? Do you have a renewed hope, energy, faith and excitement? Or, do you linger back at Good Friday captured by fear and despair because of your health, fractured relationships, the tenuous economy, threats of war, violence and terrorism in our world? Or, maybe you are somewhere in between where you have doubts but are hanging onto or even clinging to hope?

We are still in the Easter season and will be until Pentecost Sunday on June 4. In this season of Easter, a particularly powerful Easter song that I believe can speak to us is The Strife Is O’er, the Battle Done (Evangelical Lutheran Worship #366). The first verse is:

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The strife is o’er, the battle done;

now is the victor’s triumph won!

Now the song of praise begun.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

This song is not a warm and comforting song for both the text and the tune are bold and defiant. These words including the Alleluias are hurled against the gates of death as a claim of Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness. At St. Paul Lutheran, we are not letting the darkness win. The light of the risen Christ is shining brightly here. There is much on the precipice and planning phases – discussion and implementation of a three-pronged approach to the future have already begun. The first prong being answering the question of "Who in the St. Croix Valley would miss us if St. Paul Lutheran Church was not here?" It is a tough question, but our presence in the valley is often unknown by others, and leadership held a Congregational Conversation on April 23 to continue the conversation. The second prong is marketing – we budgeted $10,000 this year to revamp our website to include smart phone capability and a possible app, update the newsletter layout, develop a stronger footprint in The Valley and in the community. The last prong is that we are looking to strengthen the ways we care for our members – development of a Care Connection Team is in the process. In the meantime as these three prongs continue to come into focus more clearly and refined, we ask the question, "What difference does Easter make anyways?" It makes all the difference in the world. We are Easter people. Christ is Risen! The strife is o’er, the battle done. Light shines in the darkness…a renewed hope, energy, faith and excitement is bubbling here. In spite of us and because of us, love is on the move, mercy is on the move and God is on the move here at St. Paul Lutheran and in the world around us. Thanks be to God.

Easter Joy!

Pastor Janel

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1 NRSV

In October of 2013, I decided to run a half marathon. They have several spots along the way that ask you to smile for the camera and this was one of them. It was a beautiful day around 60 degrees and sunny, it is not always so wonderful there in October, it has been at times snowy and raining not so fun to run in.

Why am I telling you about something that happened four years ago? I think it is about the ultimate choice to make changes in our lives, to share the transformation that occurs. It was one of the best days of my life, as I set a goal, did the training, and was able to complete it. It is the season of change as we enter into full-blown springtime, and often we take up exercise walking or jogging as a way of getting outside again, losing those few pounds that crept in over the holidays, re-engaging ourselves to be physically fit and healthier.

It is not easy when we think about changes, and begin to undertake them. We often are tested and long to just kick back and take the easier path by watching a marathon or some other physical contest on TV rather than do the necessary steps to see something happen different in our lives. It was certainly like that for me four years ago; I was jogging but not seriously, had done a couple of 5k runs but nothing stellar in my results. I looked at the half marathon and thought, I am just not that person, I do not have what it takes, and I certainly do not see what benefit it might have for me. Isn’t that just like us, thinking about what’s in it for me…

Anyway, to make a long story short, God had other plans as God always does, and suddenly in late August, I found myself paying the money for this marathon first part of October. This was commitment time! Change had to happen and frankly, the entry fee was a motivator in some ways, I wanted to get my money’s worth! I was backed into a corner and began to get serious, do what was needed, also at the urging of my doctor I was eating very simple foods, wild rice, quinoa, wild fish and game, and no pasta, potatoes, sweets, or dairy. I spent a lot of time talking to God on those daily jogs, and asking for help and accountability partners to help me hang in there, as it was not easy day in and day out. It was a life defining moment for me as what I thought I would never be able to do, began to happen, one day at a time. I suddenly ran a seven miler, an eight miler, and finally a ten miler. I honestly was in awe of the fact that this was happening. By the time October rolled around, I had lost about 98 pounds from the beginning of 2013, and I was not dieting! I was just simply making different choices of what to do with my time, and what I put into my head and stomach. Interesting how we forget that what we put in, leads to what we put out and ultimately leads to transformation when we tune into what it is we are to be putting in on a regular basis.

I tell you my story today because it is all of our stories, and even we might see it in our church story. The church itself is currently in a time of figuring out how to run the race ahead, not just the local church, but I would say from my point of view the greater church as well is in a deep state of sorting out what needs to be done to run and finish the race well. It is time to get off the couch people of God, we can no longer simply be observers anymore or we will die from health complications! It might seem harsh to say that, but I am speaking the truth in love here; talking about change, thinking about change, that time has now passed us by over the last decade. In addition, we are showing the signs of fatigue and sluggishness. We are now able to see with clarity the writing on the wall—the test results are in, and it is time to write that commitment out and get into the race for keeps. It is amazing what can happen as one begins to take those first steps, and I now encourage the continued commitment to stay the course, because all are cautiously stepping out in faith to make big changes happen. It will not be easy, but I know this community of 145 years has it in their souls! Continue to dialogue, think about who and what is and has been inspiring, empowering, and brings life to this community, what makes community happen—even if only one or two are gathered together. If community begins somewhere, it will continue to grow. It is exciting to feel that invigorating energy returning to St Paul as it uses its muscles in ways in has not in a long time, and take it from someone who knows you won’t feel that soreness and resistance for long! Moreover, you will be blessed in the reaping of what you have poured out onto the highways and avenues of this local community, in the blessings that God pours out into you repeatedly.

"And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8 NRSV

God’s Peace be with you all, Pastor Suzy


May Health Minute!

Hepatitis C

Lately, you may have seen TV commercials advertising Hepatitis C medications such as "Harvoni" or "Solvadi". These ads are targeting "Baby Boomers".

People born from 1945–1965, sometimes referred to as baby boomers, are 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults. Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Most people with hepatitis C do not know they are infected. Since many people can live with hepatitis C for decades without symptoms or feeling sick, testing is critical so those who are infected can get treated and cured.

Why do people born from 1945–1965 have higher rates of hepatitis C? Most baby boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1960s through the 1980s when transmission of hepatitis C was highest. Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. Baby boomers could have gotten infected from medical equipment or procedures before universal precautions and infection control procedures were adopted. Others could have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening virtually eliminated the virus from the blood supply by 1992. Sharing needles or equipment used to prepare or inject drugs, even if only once in the past, could spread hepatitis C. Many people do not know how or when they were infected.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. Most people who get infected develop a chronic, or long-term, infection. Over time, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems. Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants.

Why the recent TV advertising? New medications can cure more than 90% of hepatitis C cases! They are very expensive at $1125 per pill – an 8 to 12 week course of treatment the cost can range from $63,000 to $189,000. There have been some concerns about the profits the drug companies are making –but that is another discussion. Medicare Drug programs, Rx insurance companies may cover the cost and there are other programs out there to help.

A blood test is the only way to know if you have hepatitis C. Talk to your doctor – get tested –this disease can be cured!

"Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth." Jeremiah 33:6 KJV

Linda Peterson, Parish Nurse Church
Office hours; Tuesdays 9am -2pm
First Sunday of the Month: Blood Pressure clinic – visits with health questions welcome.
Church phone 651.439.5970; leave voice mail or staff can relay a message immediately
Email: linda.k.peterson@lakeview.org




SPLC Fitness Challenge!
Here We Walk: A Journey with Martin Luther

In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, transport yourself on a virtual journey to Germany and learn about the significant places in the life of Martin Luther.

Make a donation and pick up a map to begin your journey. Donation box and maps located in the office.

Starting whenever you want to start, fill in one square on the map for every 15 minutes of physical activity. For example: walking, yoga, swimming, aerobics, biking - anything that gets you moving COUNTS! If you exercise 30 minutes every day, you will complete the journey in 6 weeks. You may begin a new map for another donation and prize entry if you wish.

Donation of $10/ person. Or $25/ family. Turn in completed maps by Sept. 24 to be entered in GRAND PRIZE drawing of the *pot* on October 1. You may keep the prize or donate it in your name to a church project, mission or fund of your choice.

Fitness challenge created and sponsored by the SPLC Health & Wellness Committee


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