Friday, July 8, 2016

Only Love

Friends, going to a vigil or march around the idea that #blacklivesmatter in no way precludes the truth that #bluelivesmatter too.  These are not mutually exclusive issues.  There are times when our time, prayer and lives are focused in one area, not to exclusion of the other ... but simply focused differently.

In the last few days we have responded to the killing of two black men at the hands of the police AND we have responded to the killing of five Dallas police and DART officers, as well as the wounding of seven other officers and two civilian at the hands of an upset sniper.  

Our hearts break regarding all of these human beings.  But our hearts cannot shatter.  Instead, our hearts must love.  Parker Palmer says it this way: "When the heart is supple, it can be “broken open” into a greater capacity to hold our own and the world's pain: it happens every day. When we hold our suffering in a way that opens us to greater compassion, heartbreak becomes a source of healing, deepening our empathy for others who suffer and extending our ability to reach out to them.” 1

Our hopes and our prayers continue this day for the loved ones of those shot and killed, as well as those shot and are recovering in TX, LA, and MN these past few days.  

The God of Love is sure to give us the heart and the will to change things in a way that ONLY LOVE can accomplish.  Let us love, not hate.  Work for peace, not war. Demand justice, not revenge.   Find joy, not sorrow.  Give support, not accusations.  Listen to hearts, not walk away.  Gather together to find answers, not run in fear.  Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.  Amen.

With you, for peace, understanding, and justice.
Pr Brenda

And a song of hope that change has come and will come again.

1 ― 
Parker J. PalmerHealing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Broken hearts here and abroad

My heart breaks over and over again these last few weeks.  Yet, in the midst of ministry, I must find ways to move forward and keep teaching our children (of all ages) about peace, justice, and love. 
I have not had time to process all that we were exposed to during the Civil Rights Tour we took in June – yet I know in my very being that what is happening all over the world – concerning the death of so many people of color – is directly connected to the lessons offered and the anger and disgust I felt while on said tour.  (Which was also amplified by the shooting at The Pulse in Orlando, FL.)
When will we learn from our history?  When will we understand the atrocities of our past?  When will we break the cycles of injustice and begin to understand one another, listen deeply with one another, and recognize one another as human beings with full rights to life?  When will we stop the hate, ignorance, and bias that plagues our communities, our country, our world?
  • I realize we do not know the whole story of Philando Castile dying by the hands of police in Falcon Heights, MN, or the death of Alston Sterling at the hands of police in Baton Rouge, LA. 
    • I know that the lives of our siblings of color matter. 
  • I realize there are still questions in both incidents. 
    • I know that the hearts of many are broken by these deaths. 
  • I realize that there will be actions taken by #blacklivesmatter and some folks will not understand their purpose. 
    • I know that actions like this are the only things that changed reality during the Civil Rights Movement of our past.
  • I realize that police officers put their lives on the line every day and most have very good intentions. 
    • I know that something *something* went terribly wrong in both of these incidents because two black men are dead – and have been shot by the police.
  • I realize that many people are in need to support, prayer, and justice in both of these situations.
    • I know that my prayers include black lives, blue lives, and all lives directly and indirectly connected to these incidents.
  • I realize these two incidents are just that, specific incidents in which more facts are being collected so that we can all learn more of the truth.
    • I know that these incidents are a part of a larger problem in our society in which our systems are broken, biased, and need to be repaired, replaced, and repealed.
  • I realize that some folks are going to make assumptions from one side or another about what happened and how the actions of some are or are not justified and should or should not be punished in a court of law.
    • I know I will never understand what it is like to fear for my life simply because of the color of my skin, nor do I know what my siblings of color are feeling right now. I hope and I pray that I (we) can learn more, be present, and help someone find hope, as well as empower people to stand up and make a difference that will save lives.

With you, for justice,

Pr Brenda L. Froisland
Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church
Minneapolis, MN

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flashback to three years and three months ago
Can you believe that it was over three years ago that we, as a community, created these focus areas for Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church?  These were intended to guide us for 3-5 years.  Thus, it seems the appropriate time to take a closer look at how we have done and what we have left to do. 
Along with our vision statement, “In gratitude, Bethel Evangelical Lutheran church amplifies God’s grace, nourishes all creation, reaches out, and builds community,” we also agreed to work in the following areas:
Increased and diverse membership:  New faces more diversity, A more diverse membership, Bigger “garden”, Welcoming atmosphere for all to belong, Age diversity, More people in church
Dynamic, inspired, well-attended worship:  Increase number in rich, Meaningful, Energetic worship, Increased participation in worship, Everyone feels nourished, Inspiring worship and music, Energized / living worship
Resources and leadership for growth:  Balanced budget, Pastor Brenda = lead pastor, More members, Larger staff, Shared and growing leadership, More active participation of Bethel members, Initial planning of the next BIG thing
Intergenerationally-friendly and exciting: Excited conversations and laughter, Kids playing loudly, “Older” members valued and engaged, Intergenerational events, Visitors curious about Bethel’s “buzz”, More teens and young adults active and engaged
Community outreach and resource sharing:  Opportunities for people to connect (within and outside of the community), Diverse regular community volunteer opportunities, Vibrant neighborhood, Many events for every need and all people (social, physical, religious), Bethel Community Center, Daily community resource for joint activities / ministries, People use Bethel’s block freely knowing they are welcome, Economic justice issues in practice
Developing and deepening relationships:  Freely, openly sharing and talking to each other, Announcing/displaying pride/joy in members’ accomplishments, Small groups and participation, Love of Christ showing
Over the next couple of months, you are invited to share feedback about these focus areas. 
What have you seen happen well in these areas? 
What other ideas do you have to contribute to them? 
Which ones are we best accomplishing? 
Where do we need to be more intentional?
Are there other areas we need to add?
What is the next BIG thing for Bethel?
Are you on board with the next BIG thing?
What say you????
Feel free to share your feedback with any of our leaders.  Sharing in writing is best, then we are able to discuss with other leaders in the most effective way.  Don’t wait to be asked in person, just let us know what you think!
I look forward to the conversations that will be sparked about our future, together!
With you, for Jesus,
Pr. Brenda