First Lesson: Isaiah 2: 1-5
Responsive Reading: Psalm 122
Second Lesson: Romans 13: 11-14
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 24: 36-44
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”-Matthew 24:42
Let me begin this morning with a story told by Tim Zingale. There once was a school superintendent inspecting one of the district’s high school classrooms. The room was a mess! Desks were unorganized! Stray papers lay all over the room! The Superintendent was going to take action to remedy the situation. The Superintendent stands before the classroom with the following promise: “I want each of you to keep your desks clean throughout this school year. One day, I will come back to your classroom. When I do come back, the person with the neatest desk will receive this as he held up a hundred dollar bill. The kids all gasped. Here’s the thing the Superintendent said: “You will not know the day, your teacher will not know the day, nor will your principal know the day.”
The children hear the Superintendent’s promise and get excited. They immediately get to work cleaning out their desks. The Superintendent’s offer was the talk of the lunch room for the next week. When will he come back? The excitement of the Superintendent’s return did not last. Pretty soon, a few boys were getting frustrated. They had already spent the hundred dollars in their minds several times over. The Superintendent never came. These boys then figured the effort of keeping their desks clean wasn’t worth it. Week by week, student after student was gradually losing faith in the Superintendent’s return. Pretty soon, things in this classroom were pretty much back to the way they were before the Superintendent’s visit except for one girl that we’ll call Amanda.
Amanda day after day kept straightening her desk before going home for the night. If she had a few minutes before lunch, she would tidy up a bit. When Amanda’s classmates would make fun of her for her obsessive ways, she would just proclaim “He’s coming back.” Amanda’s classmates thought that if the Superintendent hadn’t come back by now that he was never coming back. He probably forgot about his promise they said. Amanda believed that the Superintendent would keep his word when no one else would.
The school year had eight days left; then there was a knock on the door. The Superintendent barges into the classroom. The kids are shocked. He starts inspecting the desks with seemingly each one just as messy as upon his previous visit. Finally, the Superintendent comes upon Amanda’s desk in spotless condition and into Amanda’s hand he places a hundred dollar bill.
Picture the story of Amanda and the Superintendent this morning. Now let’s talk about Today’s Gospel lesson from Matthew 24. Jesus was talking to his followers about his upcoming exit from this world before his eventual return. Here is why Jesus gives his followers a sermon about the end of the world.
Jesus knew the people would be fickle. Jesus knew that they would be like Amanda’s classmates in that they would quickly give up hope when he didn’t immediately return. People reacting this way was going to be easy as they were probably going to witness all kinds of nasty things in their lifetime: violence, sin, and ultimately death.
Here’s the point in our lesson that Jesus is seeking to remind his closest of followers. You have/will see me come through in the Resurrection, I do keep my promises. I will return at My Second Coming and it will change everything.
In 2011, The Chicago Cubs finished at 71-91. The Cubs were twenty-five games out of first place. The Cubs were in a 103-year drought without a World Series Championship. Cubs’ fans were like Amanda’s classmates and had every reason to doubt that the Cubs just like the Superintendent would ever come through. The Cubs hire a new Club President in Theo Epstein. Here’s the thing that you should know about Theo Epstein, Epstein’s previous job was the General Manager of the Boston Red Sox. Epstein had put together a Red Sox team that won a World Series after a mere 86-year drought. What does Theo Epstein first do as he takes over the Chicago Cubs? He decides the team needs to trade some of their better players, to get younger ones. Epstein knew that the Cubs needed to sacrifice short-term success to achieve victory in the long run. In Epstein’s first season in 2012, The Cubs lose 101 games, finishing 36 games out of first place. Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts kept preaching patience. You would think the fans would be irritated at Theo Epstein for losing so many games then demanding patience; only they weren’t.
Ricketts described Cubs fans as such “honestly, 19 out of like 20 people were just supportive…What I realized through the process was, those types of people that I talked to in the crowd, they were giving me support and helping me stick to the plan. …The fans staying with the team through some pretty lean years deserve all the credit.”
We know the rest of Theo Epstein’s story, 2016 Chicago Cubs win 101 games, the best team in baseball and after 108 years win the World Series.
The point Jesus is making to his earliest of followers today is much like the point that Theo Epstein was making to Cubs’ fans that no matter how many games that you’ve lost, I have a plan, and I have come through before and I will come through again.
Being able to see the world regarding God’s long-range vision for the world can ultimately change how you see even the seemingly most hopeless circumstances of your life.
John Zahl tells the following story. Zahl belonged to a Bible Study in New York. Every week the group would pray for each other. One of the members of the group was named Tom. Tom had the same prayer request every week. Tom hated his job and wanted prayers that God would give him a new one. So week after week for two years, the group would pray that Tom would find a new job. One day, everything would change for Tom as a new member Dan joined the group. Dan gets up to pray for Tom and prays the following.
“Dear Lord, we thank you for Tom’s current job. Help him to accept that this is the place You have currently chosen for him. Show him how he can be helpful there and, if it be Your will, provide him with a new opportunity when the time is right. Amen.”
The room was silent. Everyone in the Bible study knew that Dan’s words were what Tom needed to hear. A few weeks later, Tom’s life would change! Tom’s boss calls desperately needing his help with an emergency presentation. Tom helps, his boss is grateful for his assistance. Tom’s boss begins to open up to him about some concerns within his life; Tom is able to be a supportive listener. His boss then thanks Tom for his presence on that night. Tom through this encounter begins to feel for the first time in a long time that his current station in life might, in fact, be a part of God’s plan for him. A few months later, possessing a new spiritual perspective Tom receives an offer for a new job.
Here’s why situations like Tom’s are so difficult for us as people. We want clear answers every day of our life. To hear that our situations require faith isn’t easy. A man one day went to see Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Mother Theresa asked if she could do anything for him. The man requested that Mother Theresa pray for him just like the Bible Study group would pray for Tom. His prayer request wasn’t a new job but rather clarity or clear answers regarding God’s purpose and plan for his life. Mother Theresa said she couldn’t pray for clarity as she never had it, Mother Theresa could only pray for trust that no matter what storms surrounded this man that he had trust that his God would come through for him in the end.
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”- Romans 8:25
The Prayer of Mother Theresa is by no means an easy one to pray. Let me close by telling you the story of a person who knew this prayer like no one else in Martin Rinkert. Rinkert was raised in the German town of Eislenberg nearly four-hundred years ago as the son of a poor coopersmith. Young Martin though sought a different career path as a minister. In 1617, Rinkert received an appointment to be Minister in his hometown. But soon “All Hell broke loose around Him” as the Thirty Years War began. The Thirty Years War brought all sorts of bloodshed to Europe especially Germany. German cities would see 90% of their population die as a result of either war or plague. In the thirty years of Martin Rinkert’s Ministry, he would end up burying 8000 people including his wife. Everywhere Martin Rinkert looked he could see nothing but horror around him. How did Martin Rinkert respond to this destruction? Did he curse the Spanish every day? Did he lose his faith? No, Martin Rinkert became a hymn writer. Rinkert penned perhaps the most famous Thanksgiving hymn ever in “Now Thank We All Our God.” What exactly did Martin Rinkert have to be thankful? How could Martin Rinkert preserve in the face of such circumstances?
Martin Rinkert was able to be guided in life by a vision. Rinkert was able to distinguish from the present age of death from the age of resurrection that was to come. Martin Rinkert, like Amanda, was able to cling to the hope of return no matter what everyone else around them thought. Martin Rinkert, like Chicago Cubs fans, believed that the guy in charge had come through before and would soon come through again no matter how painful the present might be. Martin Rinkert, like Tom who hated his job, was able to see that his present circumstances would not define the future reality of the resurrection. Martin Rinkert, like Mother Theresa, would never receive total clarity in this life, but could go forth with trust in God’s plan in even the midst of despair. The key ingredient in all these stories is that patience does indeed pay off. Jesus’ point to his followers today is there will be times when it will be easy to lose faith. You might indeed wonder whether the apocalypse will ever come. What Jesus is telling his Disciples is that your now will not define your not yet. Christmas is four weeks from Today! Gifts will soon be opened! These gifts will include forgiveness, eternal life, and maybe even a hundred dollar bill! Amen
 Zingale, Tim. “Be Ready”. Sermon Central.com. November 2007. Web. 16.Nov.2016.
 Zingale, Tim. “Be Ready”.
 Zingale, Tim. “Be Ready”.
 Matthew 24:36-44.
 Allen, Ron. “Commentary on Matthew 24:36-44.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 27. Nov.2016. Web. Nov.16.2016..
 CBS 2 Chicago. “Tom Ricketts Recalls Why He Hired Theo Epstein Originally: ‘Living Year To Year Wasn’t Going To Change The Prospects.” Taken from interview on Mully and Hanley show airing on 670 The Score out of Chicago. 29.Sept.2016. Web. Nov.18.2016.
 Zahl, John. “Brand New Book and an Advent Sermon by John Zahl.” MBIRD (Mockingbird Ministries).02.Dec.2015. Web. Nov.18.2016.
 Zahl, John. “Brand New Book and an Advent Sermon by John Zahl.”
 Zahl, John. “Brand New Book and an Advent Sermon by John Zahl.”
 Davis, Kevin. “#692 Behind the Song With Kevin Davis:’ Trust in You’ by Lauren Daigle.” New Release Today. Web. Nov.22.2016.
First Lesson: Isaiah 65: 17-25
Responsive Reading: Psalm 98
Second Lesson: 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-13
Gospel Lesson: Luke 21: 5-19
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
In 1912, a ship named the RMS Titanic began its maiden voyage. The Titanic was the largest ship of its day. The Titanic was nearly three football field long, one-hundred feet tall and ninety feet wide. The Titanic was capable of carrying over thirty-five hundred people. It possessed a staircase that ascended four stories. The Titanic was able to sail faster than any other ship in its day. The Titanic cost $7.5 million dollars to build which Today would cost nearly half a billion dollars. When the Titanic set out for sail, passengers, crew members, and the ship’s designers believed the Titanic to be unsinkable. The maiden voyage set off with some of the wealthiest people in the world in its day as passengers. We know how the maiden voyage turned out.
11:40 PM on April 14, 1912, the Titanic strikes an iceberg, by 2:20 AM the world’s most indestructible ship plunges to into the ocean and over fifteen-hundred people perish along with the ship. The unthinkable had happened. People were left searching for answers in the aftermath.
The story of the Titanic leads us to a similar event that took place in the life of some of Jesus’ earliest followers. 70 AD: The greatest structure that Jesus’ followers had ever seen in their life would fall to the ground. The destruction was so thorough that the marvelous structure transforms into merely a pile of rubber. Today’s Gospel Lesson from Luke 21 begins to tell this story.
Jesus’ disciples had been bragging up in his presence what they thought to be the most impressive structure they had even seen in The Second Temple or Herod’s Temple. Here are three things to know about Herod’s Temple.
So what does Jesus say in the wake of the Disciples bragging up the Temple.
“As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”- Luke 21:6.
Our Gospel lesson has Jesus predicting the most inconceivable of outcomes with the Temple collapsing. Jesus’ prediction throws the Disciples for a loop. They ask Jesus “So this must mean the world is ending when the mighty Temple collapses?”
Jesus instead is making another point here today rather than predicting the end of the world; Jesus is instead imploring believers how they should respond to the most challenge circumstances within their lives.
Two major events have occurred in the past two weeks. Last week, The Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a one-hundred and eight-year drought.
You see many people believed the Cubs to be cursed because, in 1945, a Cubs fan named William Sianis was bringing his pet goat to the World Series. Sianis’ goat’s smell was bothering other people and was asked to leave. Sianis got so mad at the Cubs he supposedly placed a curse upon them that they would never play in the World Series ever again. While a billy goat curse would seem crazy at a time, it would take 71 years to disprove the curse. What this story highlights is something important that natural human instinct is to rush to judgment. It’s easy to assign the Cubs blame to a fictional curse rather than mismanagement or bad luck. When you believe something to be cursed, you’re unable to see in disappointing situations any sort of hope.
The second big event took place on Tuesday during our election. People were claiming the world to be ending or the world in the process of being made whole once again.
The reality of the election though was best summed up by Karoline Lewis who said: “The World will still be broken regardless of the outcome of any election.”
I think events like elections while important shouldn’t lead us to apocalypticism. We shouldn’t go around proclaiming the sky is going to fall at any moment as people of faith.
People of faith have been interpreting their circumstances to predict the end is near for 2000 years. Everyone of these predictions has been wrong. What people often claim to be the end, merely points people to God’s role in human history.
Jesus knew that his followers were going to witness history changing moments in their lifetime. One of these moments was going to be The Temple collapsing at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD. Jesus uses the Temple, as an illustration, to drive home the point that such events were not the end but rather merely a struggle of human life that all of his followers would experience.
Let me tell a story this morning that serves as a mini-confession. One time, when I was living in Fargo after college, I got a speeding ticket in Moorhead. I hardly had a cent to my name at the time. So I did what any irresponsible young adult would do and didn’t pay the ticket. A couple of months had passed when I get a letter from the Minnesota DMV saying my failure to pay was going to get my license taken away for 30 days. The following was a situation that required immediate action in a trip down to the DMV office in Saint Paul with a check immediately in hand then needing to beg for mercy from the official on duty. There’s a difference in life though between situations like this that require immediate action and the world ending. If I had lost my driver’s license, it would have been a problem, yet life would have eventually gone on.
Now let’s look at the most extreme situations of life. In our lesson for today, Jesus paints a scary picture for the lives of believers. The picture he paints is more terrifying that anyone we know is likely to experience. His followers would be arrested, they would be persecuted, and some would even be executed. They would be left searching for answers in these trials of life.
Hillary Scott is the lead singer of a very popular Country music band Lady Antebellum. Hillary Scott awhile back had received what she thought was the best news in the world “She was soon going to give birth to her second child.”
Fall of 2015, Scott finds out that she had suffered a miscarriage. She is heartbroken. Thoughts of the loss overwhelm her day after day. She wonders like anyone would “Why God Why?”. As Scott kept reflecting upon the loss, she kept hearing, again and again, the famous passage in the Lord’s Prayer “Thy Will be done.” Scott’s reflection eventually found meaning in the loss in that it caused her to become a different mom to her other daughter to ultimately hug her tighter.
As you hear stories like Hillary Scott’s, you can’t help but think of the words from Romans 8.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”- Romans 8:28
What Jesus is seeking to proclaim to the Disciples today is that meaning can be found in even the darkest moments of one’s life.
Let me close with the following story from the Titanic. John Harper became a preacher at the age of 17. Harper soon starts a mission church, gets married, has a daughter named “Nana,” and becomes a widow. John Harper and Nana board the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Harper immediately after striking the “iceberg” recognizes that the ship is going down. Harper rushes Nana to a lifeboat. While Harper could have easily gotten on with Nana, he merely kisses her and says “I will see you again someday.”
Harper begins trying to gather other woman and children to safety upon lifeboats. Due to a shortage of lifeboats, many people including John Harper were thrown overboard as the ship began plunging into the ocean. Harper doesn’t seek out safety, though; Harper keeps swimming to person after person preaching salvation to everyone that he encountered.
John Harper encountered one man who didn’t possess a life jacket; Harper tosses him his jacket hoping to give him a few more minutes of life. Harper swims away only to come back later and preach the Gospel. Finally, a lifeboat comes and saves this young man. John Harper kept swimming and swimming that night preaching and preaching, his body though finally gave out in the frigid Atlantic waters and his last recorded words were “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”
Four years later, The following young man to whom Harper gave his life jacket would stand before a Titanic survivors meeting proclaiming that on the night the mighty ship went under that John Harper gave him life not only in this world, but also the world that is to come.
Here’s something really interesting though about John Harper’s story. Nearly three times prior in his life had he almost drowned, each and every one of these times though he survived. John Harper nearly saw his world end on numerous occasions, yet he kept preserving and kept clinging to hope.
Here’s the point that Jesus was making to the Disciples and John Harper’s story tells us. There will be times when you feel the world around you might be ending. There will be times when you feel yourself cursed and feel tempted to abandon all hope. There will be times when you might struggle with finding God’s will in the trying circumstances. The world will not end on other people’s terms. The world will not end through destruction at the hands of any government. The world will only end when Christ Jesus stands before us. When Christ Jesus declares in the face of your adversaries “But not a hair of your head will perish.” Our world will not end with horror and destruction, but our world will only end with hope and resurrection. Amen
 Pratte, David. E. “Lessons from the Titanic”. Gospel Way. 1999. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 Luke 21:5-19.
 Sommerville, Jim. “ Twenty Six-Sunday After Pentecost.” A Sermon for Every Sunday. 13.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 “The Curse of the Billy Goat.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.8.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.8.2016.
 Lewis, Karoline. “Saying What We See.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 6.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 Ruiz, Gilbert. “Commentary on Luke 21:5-19.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. Saint Paul, MN. 6.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.7.2016.
 Whitaker, Sterling. “Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott Reveals Miscarriage Heartbreak Inspired ‘Thy Will’. “ Taste of Country. 20.Jun.2016. Web. Nov.8.2016.
 Whitaker, Sterling. “Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott Reveals Miscarriage Heartbreak Inspired ‘Thy Will’
 Romans 8:28.
 Young, Tina H.. “A True Story of the Titanic.” Stanford University NCBC College Ministry. 2000. Web. Nov.7.2016. Young bases her article on a 1997 article from Moody Press titled “The Titanic’s Last Action Hero.”
 Acts 16:31
 Young, Tina. H. “A True Story of the Titanic.”
 Luke 21:18.
First Lesson: Daniel 7: 1-3, 15-18
Responsive Reading: Psalm 149
Second Lesson: Ephesians 1: 11-23
Gospel Lesson: Luke 6: 20-31
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
For anyone that’s watched T.V. over the last few months, one thing that you’ve probably noticed is the huge number of political ads. As you’ve probably noticed a majority of these ads, have been negative. For example in the 2012 Presidential election- 79% of challenger Mitt Romney’s ads were negative according to the Wesleyan Media Project. While this number seems quite high, 86% of President Barack Obama’s ads were negative when you factor in super PACs. So no political party has a monopoly on clean, positive campaigns. The same Wesleyan Media Project did a study of 2016 races (President, Governor, Senate, Congress, or even local office whatever else took to the airways at all levels that found that 53% of all political advertising was negative.
Now you talk to people they say to stop with the negative political ads. In 2000, Gallup took a poll whereby 57% of Americans are dissatisfied with the tone and tenor of political campaigns.
So why are there so many negative political ads? Simple, negative ads work regardless of what people tell anonymous strangers on the phone.
Ruth Ann Lariscy gives a good explanation of why such ads work. Consider the following scenario. Imagine this afternoon; two random strangers walk up to you. One pays you a compliment, the other an insult. Which one do you remember longer? You might remember the compliment for an hour, but the insult might stick with you for weeks.
This explains why negative ads are tough to dismiss. For example, if a political candidate has an ad that says “Vote for me because I’m the world’s greatest person.” You would probably just dismiss this ad as self-interest when a politician claims to be a “phony” saint. We’ve been burned by politician’s false promises before. We’ve met plenty of sinners within our life; we often associate politicians with being sinners, so this is why attack ads perk up our ears.
Let me give a spiritual reason why negative ads work. “It’s a lot easier to prove someone is a sinner; then it is to prove someone to be a saint.”
So how should we make sense of all these negative ads as we consider going to the polls on Tuesday?
Let me tell you another story as told by Charles Duhigg. A few years ago, Disney employees were gathering for a screening of a new animated film. The film’s plot goes as follows. A younger sister is about to marry a handsome prince before she can become queen. The older sister is jealous of the marriage and being passed over for the throne, so she plots out her revenge. The bitter sister soon enlists the aid of vicious, snow creatures that turn on everyone including the bitter sister. So the two sisters are forced to join forces before eventually becoming friends. The first test screening of the movie ends and the theater is silent. The movie appears to be a massive bomb.
The studio executives decide that the movie has some good scenes and good stories but the characters fail to connect with the audience in any way. The scene of a good Disney film is tears rather than indifference. The writers realized something about the sisters. One evil sister and one good sister was cliché. Finally one of the screenwriters named Jennifer Lee made the following observation.
“My sister and I fought a lot as kids.” “Pretty soon, we moved to different places and drifted apart”. Then Lee loses her boyfriend in a boating accident. It was at the time of Lee’s greatest need that she finally began to see her sister as a reflection of herself
Lee then makes the following observation:
“If you have two sisters and one of them is the villain and one is a hero, it doesn’t feel real. That doesn’t happen in real life. Siblings don’t grow apart because one is good and one is bad. They grow apart because they’re both messes and then they come together when they realize they need each other.” Sometimes you need to let it go to truly find the road the redemption.
They rewrite the film with the two sisters with very different personality types with their unique pasts working together to bring an end to the perpetual winter afflicting their homeland and to keep the evil prince from claiming the throne. The film was called Frozen. Frozen won an Academy Award for the Best Animated Feature of 2014. Frozen would go on to make more money at the box office than any animated movie ever.
What made Frozen so successful was what it picked up about human nature. How people are both saint and sinner at both the same time. How this applies to politicians with whom you can always find skeletons in the closet along with real life siblings like Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.
Today, we gather to celebrate an important day in the life of our congregation on All Saints Sunday. We consider the meaning of the term “sainthood.”
Mark Tranvik describes working with a pastor who upon completing baptisms within his congregation would introduce the infant as the world’s newest saint. This pastor was on to the true meaning of sainthood.
What proclaiming someone a saint at Baptism reminds us is that we don’t become saints, God rather makes us into saints. Sainthood is not an accomplishment; rather it is an inheritance. The question isn’t whether we deserve to be called “saints,”? The question is rather “How far does God’s mercy extend?” The scriptures answer this question by referring to saints, not as extraordinary individuals who build cathedrals or bring salvation to nations; rather saints are ordinary believers “forgiven sinners” who fight with siblings, who fight over politics, and who cling to their faith for a lifetime without ever really figuring it all out.
As I meditate on the upcoming election, people will claim that certain candidates will either destroy the world or save the world. Every election becomes the most important one ever. As people of faith, no matter what circumstances come before us, we cling to the hope that one day this world will be made whole again by the one who defeated death.
On this day, we come face to face with a power greater than any voting booth or politician. We come face to face with death. We encounter the pain left by the void of those who have left us not only in the past year but also those whose loss still touches us on this day. These people touch our lives in all kinds of different ways. As you picture your stories of grief, Let me talk briefly about each of the saints of Sychar that have left us within the last year.
Yesterday, we remembered the life of Lloyd Houle. Lloyd’s greatest legacy for this community was his work with Governor Perpich on helping to bring the Veterans’ Home to Silver Bay. Lloyd also contributed to the lobbying of getting Cyprus Mining to re-open the plant, the building of Forest Highway 11, along with keeping the North Shore Scenic Railroad Tracks active. We will remember Lloyd finally as a long-time usher at Sychar.
Harold Koepp: Harold was nearly always the first one here every Sunday. As Harold’s wife, Mona was dying; she made him promise to keep going to church. Harold had it as a point of pride that he would be the first one here regardless of the weather because of that promise. Harold was a man of few words. Harold’s silence didn’t mean that Harold didn’t care about people quite deeply. The first thing, Harold did every morning and the last thing he did before going to bed every night was read his Bible (three chapters) and pray. One time, Harold’s grandson walked on him when Harold was praying only to be amazed to hear Harold pray for family, friends, and church family all by their name.
Guss Krake: Guss’s greatest contribution to Sychar was that when Sychar needed a treasurer, Guss stepped up on an interim basis and ended up serving in the position for more than four years. Guss helped this church fulfill one of its most thankless tasks. Guss should especially be commended for this because his background was not in finance, but as a very gifted engineer. Guss and Kathi’s faith background was as Baptists. When Jenalda Ranum invited Kathi and Guss to come worship at Sychar, Kathi was open to the idea. But Kathi told Jenalda that you would never get Guss to go to a Lutheran Church. Guss and Kathi came to Sychar as skeptical visitors, but both served as executive officers of this congregation. Because of this, we will be grateful for the time that they spent in our presence.
Karl Jevning: There are a few different things that I will remember about the Karl Jevning. 1. He loved the farm. Karl loved the saying: “ If you can’t eat it, Don’t grow it.” Karl’s loyalties from his farming days rested with one brand John Deere. Karl refused to cut his lawn with anything else. 2. Karl would always boast of his Norwegian heritage. As I would sit back remembering Jesus’s words “not to judge.” 3. People will remember Karl for the Bible study that He and Fran started that became a gathering spot for believers from every church in Silver Bay.
Bob Kind: Bob’s daughter Gail said it best “Dad loved this town and its people.” As I think of Bob’s greatest legacy as a man, I will think of how Bob helped shepherd this community through some of its most difficult times with the closing of Reserve Mining in 1986.
Bob’s work during these times will inevitability shape us as a people long after not only he is gone, but we are all gone. Bob’s most important legacy to this congregation is that upon the loss of his wife Lois, Bob wanted to see to it that any memorials that were received for Lois’ funeral or eventually his own would go to support our Little Fishes’ Children’s Ministry. Bob wanted to keep giving back to this community and this congregation even in his absence.
Luther Valberg: The son of a Lutheran preacher. The lover of model airplanes. One of the great struggles of the last few years of Luther’s life was never getting to say a proper “goodbye” to Mary Ann. This is a struggle that many people face upon the death of their loved ones. What I would seek to assure Luther is that relationships are not defined by “perfect moments” which are going to be few and far between. Relationships are defined in imperfect moments of human struggle the type of moments that make up the majority of our sinner/saint existences.
Tim Bjella: We will remember Tim for all the music that he helped bring to this community: long-time choral director at William Kelley, founder, and director of the North Shore Men’s Barbershop Chorus and founder of the North Shore Voices. We will remember Tim most at Sychar for the joy that he brought our former Pastor Robin in their eight years together as they served as a tremendous source of comfort in each other’s various ailments.
Elmer “Smoke” Benson: Smoke was an active guy. A boxer and a golfer that people would complain about not being able to beat even into his 90’s. My greatest memory of Smoke is whenever I would visit him at his place on Edison; he would take me into his basement to show me all that he had collected during the war. Smoke would always wear his World War II hat as a point of pride for his service. One of the great memories of the last few years of Smoke’s life was his trip to Washington D.C. on the honor flight to see the memorial dedicated to his fellow soldiers. Smoke’s time in the service forever shaped his life. Your life changes inevitability when you stare the valley of the shadow of death in the eye.
And as we gather to remember the Saints of Sychar on this day, we are comforted by the words of the Apostle Paul.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”-1 Thessalonians 4:13.
For as we leave this place today, we are guided by the greatest of Christian hopes that we do not believe death to be anyone’s final verdict. We are a people of resurrection. We gather today to remember those who raised us in the faith; we remember those who hands we grabbed at the altar, and we remember those with whom we shared laughter and tears. We cling though on this day to the greatest reality of sainthood. Our Savior left this world, to go to his father’s house, and a prepare a place for us. Prepare a place for Harold, Guss, Karl, Bob, Luther, Tim, Smoke, and Lloyd along with all those who have gathered at death’s darkest valley. All sinners from God’s own flock, but saints from Christ’s own redeeming. Amen
 Slack, Donovan. “Rip positive ads in 2012.” Politico. 04. Nov.2012. Web. Oct.30.2016.
 Slack, Donovan. “Rip positive ads in 2012.”
 The following stat is from a research roundup conducted by Harvard Kennedy School: Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy in partnership with Carnegie-Knight Initiative. The following report accessed on October 30,2016 comes from jouranlistresource.org.
 Jordan Brooks, Deborah. “Negative Campaigning Disliked by Most Americans.” Gallup Poll. 17.July.2000. Web. Oct.30.2016.
 Lariscy, Ruthann. “Why negative political ads work.” CNN. 02.Jan.2012. Web. Oct.30.2016.
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 Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business. Random House. New York.2016. Print. P.205-209, 221-228, 231-235.
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