Your Parson’s Post
‘Until I noticed’
As Ibram X. Kendi describes in his book “How to be an antiracist,” he was an attentive 7-year-old. His attentiveness especially surfaced when his parents brought him to a private Lutheran elementary school a 30-minute drive past the public schools in their neighborhood.
During the interview with the teacher and his parents, attentive Ibram asked why she was the only Black teacher in this private school of nearly all Black children. Kendi wrote:
The teacher soon overcame her surprise at a 7-year-old questioning her about the paucity of Black teachers. After searching my parents’ faces, she looked back at me. “Why are you asking that question?” she asked nicely.
“If you have so many Black kids, you should have more Black teachers,” I said.
“The school hasn’t hired more Black teachers.”
“I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you know?”
My parents could see my agitation growing. Dad changed the subject. I didn’t mind. My train of thought had taken me away, anyway. I was thinking about what Ma had just said. I am Black. I am Black.
I ended up attending a private Lutheran school closer to home, white third-grade teacher and all. I did not mind until I noticed. (Page 43)
Children often tell it like it is. Ibram did. So, perhaps, must we. During a coronavirus pandemic, other central challenges are present. Racism is one such reality. In July, during forums after worship, we took time to be attentive. Perhaps you were present. Whether you attended, you are invited anew to be attentive with others, in confidence. You are invited to attend to assumptions and perspectives, to take into account the economic and political power structures of the past and of our day. We expect the work to be difficult; we expect the value to be great.
A small group will gather to study Genesis 12–25 and the Doctrine of Discovery. The title of the study, which I will lead via Zoom, is “What can we learn from Abraham and Sarah: An invitation to be fellow pilgrims.” The invitation is to follow a new pathway to a more just world. The group format and meeting time will be tailored to those who express interest in attending. To indicate your interest, leave a message on the church office answering machine at 634-6575.
A different study and Zoom session will provide time to discuss Ibram X. Kendi’s book “How to be an antiracist.” That session will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 19. To receive a copy of the book and the Zoom link, leave a message on the church office answering machine at 634-6575.
In Christ, Pastor Rebecca Aardahl, inviting youto pray with me,
God of the nations, we praise you for the good that has been given us in this country, and we mourn that many people here are poor and dispossessed, that we have allowed racism to distort our society, that violence breaks out in our land. Lead us to form communities in which all people are equal and where disputes are settled without violence. Save us from preserving a past that has been harmful to many. Bring an end to warfare around the world, and mend the torn fabric of humankind with your truth and mercy. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sunday Adult Forum
August 9 • “Contemporary Music and the Church”
“Suggestions and Conversation re: Contemporary Music in the Church” will be the theme of an online forum led by Pastor Wes Aardahl, following the Sunday, August 9, service. Pastor Wes will comment on the wide variety of musical styles available and will make an argument for “mixing it up” versus restriction to one style. He will also lobby for inclusion of “roots music,” i.e. blues-based music, because of its congruence with a Lutheran “theology of the cross.” The presentation/discussion will be geared to prevention of the so-called “worship wars,” which have afflicted so many congregations (including our own) and will repeat themselves until we become somewhat savvy regarding the subject. Input from participants will be welcomed.
Starting in April, the First Communion class began meeting online by Zoom. The youngsters are only one of the groups who have joined the weekend worship schedule to meet in a virtual setting. Dozens and dozens of meetings have been scheduled in May alone on all days of the week.
Morning devotionals via Zoom are held three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It opens at 7 a.m. Devotion conversation is from 7:20–7:34 a.m.
The Women of the ELCA (WELCA) will conclude its three-part series titled “Just Love” on Tuesday, August 18, at 9:30 a.m. by Zoom. Session 3, “In the nation: Giving birth to justice” (Exodus 1: 8–22), challenges readers to examine what “just love” requires when injustice occurs at the highest levels of government. In the book of Exodus the midwives Shiphrah and Puah defy Pharaoh to save the lives of Hebrew babies. This session draws on understandings of formal and informal power and how we can use the power God has given us for change. For information, contact Shirley Toppenberg.
Wednesday Bible study
Bible study with Pastor Rebecca will be held from 11–11:45 a.m. each Wednesday via Zoom with a focus on the upcoming weekend’s Gospel. The schedule is as follows: August 5, Matthew 14: 22–33; August 12, Matthew 15: 10–28; August 19, Matthew 16: 13–20; and August 26, Matthew 16: 21–28.
Charlie Stevens debuts bluegrass album
Ascension’s Saturday night music leader, Charlie Stevens, has just released his first album called “Success.” This album draws from the instrumentation and the storytelling traditions of bluegrass and presents these elements with a modern spin. The album takes the listener on a journey through some of the subgenres, and influential genres, of bluegrass. It features a Celtic-inspired fiddle tune, a progressive jam with shifting time signatures, folk-ballad inspired love songs, an instrumental waltz as well as straight-ahead, driving bluegrass. Go to his website at charliestevensmusic.com for information about purchasing the album.
Although we were not together on Palm Sunday, we awoke to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle front page picture and story about the work led by Denise Martin and her volunteers to make palm crosses from frond leaves. The crosses were then mailed to Ascension members.
Drive-by benefits Free Little Pantry
A drive-by food drop July 18 to benefit Ascension’s Free Little Pantry attracted 16 vehicles delivering not only food donations but also monetary gifts and gift cards for food purchases. If you missed donating, you may call the church office, and we will pick up your donation, or you may leave them at the church Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Ring the doorbell, and someone will accept your gifts, or you may always place your donations directly inside the pantry.
Two outdoor services set in August
Following the success of Ascension Lutheran Church’s first outdoor service during the pandemic, two more are planned for August. On July 12 at an outdoor worship service, special communion packets were distributed to 73. With masks and social distancing, the congregation sat on their own lawn chairs or in their cars in the west parking lot. Via Zoom, 27 more watched the service. Weather permitting, two more outdoor services are scheduled for August 2 and 16.
In other worship news, the Worship Committee has canceled the prerecorded services; instead, Zoom services will be recorded and posted on the church’s website the following Monday.
Next Town Hall scheduled for August 20
Rick Moler, Ascension Lutheran Church Council president, is hosting another Town Hall for the congregation to ask questions or provide feedback. It will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 20, by Zoom.
Please watch this video about our Faith Builds work which we share with area volunteers, beside the Stephenson family, as we build their home in Cheyenne.
Sign up for Habitat Faith Build project
Several months ago, Ascension committed to working on the Faith Build home project for Habitat for Humanity. We are responsible for both the morning and afternoon shifts on Saturday, August 22, as well as for lunch that day. The project is on schedule, so we should be working on interior projects. You do not need to be a construction expert as you will be assigned tasks to match your skill level, and training will be provided.
We have openings for four–six people to work either the morning shift, 8–noon, or the afternoon shift, 1–5. Both shifts are welcome to eat the noon lunch provided by the Church Life Committee. To work on the project, you must be 18 or older. If you are under 18, you may help with the lunch.
You will need to wear closed-toe shoes or boots, long pants and a mask. You may wear a short-sleeved T-shirt or a long-sleeved shirt. Gloves are highly recommended. Hard hats and any other required safety gear will be provided. You will be contacted to verify your slot on the crew and be forwarded a waiver to sign. Call or email the church office with your name and contact information to be put on the work list.
‘Let us make and break bread together’
During worship April 26, Pastor Rebecca preached on the Road to Emmaus story from Luke in which two disciples saddened by the death of Jesus do not recognize Him on the road but invite the man to dinner. It is when Jesus becomes the host that their eyes are opened. “At that ordinary table they catch a glimpse of His kingdom,” she said, “and everything is made new.” Pastor noted that this “story sets the pattern of our worship each Lord’s day.”
For many years at Ascension, Shirley Kaetzer has baked communion bread and had planned to demonstrate the process to the First Communion class. With physical distancing preventing that, Shirley created a video to show us all how to “make the bread” until we can “break bread together on our knees,” as the old spiritual says.
Now we have a “church yarn that knits us together” not only during this pandemic but also for many years to come. Watch it here:
Written ideas sought for $70,000 gift
While you are social distancing at home, the Church Council wants you to put on your thinking caps and provide input on what to do with the $70,000 gift from Christ Lutheran Church upon its Holy Closure. The first step in the process is to gather ideas and thoughts on how to utilize part or all of the money by submitting them in writing to Council member Rick Flohr or any other Council member. Make sure each idea is on a separate sheet of paper; be specific about your idea(s); include any necessary details, and explain the importance to Ascension. After the ideas are gathered, the next step will be a town hall-style meeting. For information, email Rick at [email protected]