On Wednesday, October 3, Todd Biewen, Director of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and current Shepherd of the Hills Church Council President, gave a great presentation on climate change in Minnesota.
If you were in worship on Sunday, August 18, you heard during the offering a varied version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Unbeknownst to even the staff, the heart-breaking words were penned by our own Johanna Olson. We give thanks for her prayer and proclamation of God's Hallelujah to us every day.
You can listen again to the song here and read Johanna's words below.
Whew! First intensive week is over. It was amazing! Today we looked at the entire book of Hosea with Dr. Ellen Davis. We looked at the challenging metaphor that Hosea uses, an unfaithful wife as the image of Israel. The first thing that is important to say about Hosea is that the metaphor is difficult, in some ways very hurtful, and violent. We need to treat this story as the shocking sermon and allegory that it is. One of the reasons that the story persisted in Israel’s memory was that it was both startling but also impactful. So impactful that it is picked up in the New Testament. In addition to the difficulty in the story, it also contains some of the most beautiful intimate poetry of God’s heartacheand love for God’s people….
My second day of class has come to an end and I’m back in my little home away from home. I’ve got all my readings done for the next couple days so I’m taking a little time to rest. It’s been a great few days. Friday through Sunday was orientation. I have an amazing cohort of 21 students. Wonderful people from all over the country; from Boston to Sacramento, Seattle and Miami. And they are really amazing people. There are Methodists and African Methodist Episcopal, a Seventh Day Adventist, some UCC folks and a smattering of different Baptist and congregational churches. I’m the only Lutheran! It’s actually quite nice to be completely out of my regular Lutheran, Midwest element. It’s good to have the experience of being an outsider, and feeling a bit like a fish out of water. It’s humbling and helpful.
I’m taking two classes: Violence and Leadership in the Old Testament. A course that is focused on working through violence in light of religious violence in the world currently and Introduction to Christian Leadership where we are focusing on our own individual assessments of our wellness, leadership, strengths and weakness. The readings have been terrific. I believe Brian posted my syllabus for you if you like to check it out.
First, I am so grateful to be given the opportunity to go back to school. Thank you to the church council, members of SOTH and our staff for the encouragement and support. Thank you for your prayers, words of support and your financial support. I could not do this without your help in all of these ways. Thank you!
Second, I am also exceptionally anxious. Like many adults I have a deep-seated fear of looking stupid! In many ways I pray for the open, vulnerable, unassuming freedom of my niece and nephew who have no fear of not knowing. In part, being a learner means that you first must admit your ignorance. You must admit there are things you don’t know. It is a vulnerable position. It is a humbling position; especially for someone like me (and maybe you too) who likes to be in control and create the illusion that I know what I’m doing! I am asking to be kept in your prayers, and I’m asking for your kindness as I strive to be vulnerable in the learning process. I’m sure I will quickly learn how much I don’t know!