A weekly digital publication called FaithBit:

September 13, 2021



Immanuel Feeds Me

By Phil Weber

During a recent summer outdoor service at Immanuel Pastor Angela spoke about a Christian Lebanese couple who had found their way to our church one morning. Noticing how they were sitting enjoying the peaceful surroundings of the courtyard, Pastor Angela walked over to welcome them and struck up a conversation. At one point the Lebanese gentleman in his broken English said with great passion, “you give me bread!” Some moments passed and it became clear that the gentleman was asking for communion. So, together the three of them then proceeded to share the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper amid the trees, birds, and light summer breeze.

As I reflected on this profound experience of connection surrounded by the people of Immanuel amid a sea of blankets and lawn chairs - absorbing the music, collective prayer, singing, and Holy Sacrament of Communion - I was struck by the power of this gathering around me and in the collective sharing of this Bread of Life. It was at that moment I realized how Immanuel, feeds me. This past year of forced disconnectedness has interrupted our routines, rituals, and our quest for regeneration - all that is derived from our sharing together in the births, baptisms, confirmations, and in the blessing of the Lord’s Supper with our Immanuel community.

This particular day reminded me of how the Bread of Life - in all its sacramental parts, not only connects me to my Savior’s love and grace, but to the promise of God’s salvation that is reflected in the gathering spaces of Immanuel amid the smiles, warmth, and love shared together.


July 25, 2021




Welcoming Newcomers

By Betsy & Greg Hedding

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7

This past year has been a time of disconnectedness from our families, friends, and various communities, including our church families. It was during this time, that Greg and I decided to explore finding a new church community after being members of another Lutheran church for 38 years. We had heard about Immanuel Lutheran Church from a couple of people, and decided to “start attending” Immanuel online in March 2020. Along the way, we learned that Immanuel Lutheran Church has a long history of organizing outdoor adventures, particularly hiking trips in the Bighorn Mountains. Since Greg and I love the outdoors, particularly hiking, we decided to sign up for Immanuel’s 2021 Bighorn Mountains adventure. 

After we signed up, we got included in the initial planning for the trip including a couple of Zoom meetings where we began to “meet” some of the trip leaders and other participants. From the onset, we were so impressed with the thorough communication about the trip and the welcome we received when we showed up in our first Zoom meeting. As you can imagine, it is hard to move to a new church in the midst of a pandemic, particularly when you aren’t actually meeting anyone in person. However, both Martin and Pastor Paul were extremely welcoming letting us know they were glad we were going to be joining the summer trip. We also had the chance to participate in several “practice hikes” in the late spring where we got a chance to meet some other people who were traveling to Wyoming.

Once we arrived in Buffalo to join the week #1 group, there were other ways so many people extended a warm welcome to us. We got to hear stories about the long history of bringing all kinds of people to the Bighorn Mountains and giving many of them, their first experience of hiking in the mountains. Because so many of the people we met have been on this trip for multiple years, it would have been easy to feel like outsiders. But that was not the case at all - in fact, everyone went out of their way to be friendly and help us feel accepted. We experienced firsthand what Paul said in Romans about “welcoming one another just as Christ has welcomed us.”

Our experience on the Bighorns Mountain trip helped us feel both connected to our new church community as well as excited about how we might reciprocate the warm welcome we received! And for those of you who are long-time members of Immanuel and have never gone on the trip, we would highly encourage you to consider it in a coming year. The chance to participate in an “inter-generational” trip is so fun. There were options for all ages and experience levels with hiking. As each of us evaluates the value of community in our lives, there is a richness in an opportunity to gather with all ages. After our experience, we guarantee you will feel welcomed!


June 7, 2021



By Becky Carlson

I don’t need to tell you things have been different this past year. We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. It’s taken “normal, everyday” things like going to work or school, gathering with friends, running errands, and attending church- and turned them on their head. We’ve had to flex in ways that previously would have been inconceivable. 

My family’s normal practice of attending church during COVID has been a challenge. While I’ve been grateful for the streaming options available, the adjustment has been difficult. I found myself grieving the loss of connection to church family, feeling shame over not being more active with church, and being downright sad that, just like everything else, “doing church” felt foreign and unfeasible for us amidst COVID.

But then, during a text exchange, a Faith Group friend and I decided to “do church” by going for a Sunday morning walk together. We sent an e-mail to the other women in our Faith Group to see if anyone could join. To our delight, nearly everyone was able to come! That Sunday, during the time we might have otherwise tried to wrangle our kids to watch the church service, we spent time in fellowship walking around Staring Lake. Our time together was an incredible gift. We were able to catch up with one another, share joys and challenges, and simply be present together in God’s beautiful creation.

This year has been hard. There has been so much loss, and so much that’s needed to change. Our walk that morning was a beautiful reminder for me – and now hopefully for you – that even amidst the challenges we are facing there are beautiful ways to be together and get back to things we love.


April 19, 2021


9,000 meals and more!

By Brian Vik

I have had the privilege to represent Immanuel with our Cornerstone ministry.  The relationship between Immanuel and Cornerstone is approaching nearly 15 years and the time spent has been very rewarding for me and for many members of our Immanuel family. 

The Lord has indeed blessed us by providing us the chance to serve meals to the many families at Cornerstone through our monthly Taco Tuesday event.  To date, we have served approximately 9000 meals to the Cornerstone community.   Additionally, Immanuel has also been active around the holidays with gift donations, decorating the facility for the annual holiday event, as well as serving as elves to help children wrap gifts and on occasion even getting to play Santa for a few hours.

I personally have been fortunate to be involved with all these activities.  All I did was read a blurb in the church bulletin over a decade ago and before you knew it I was mixing up tacos, rice, beans and quesadillas.  It has been a labor of love ever since and would not replace it for anything.  Besides, it never gets old doing God’s work and I like to think that our efforts make a difference in the lives of the folks we serve. The smiles and the thank yous we receive tell us everything we need to know.

The pandemic has changed things.  Over the past year we have not had the same opportunities to interact, but our meal program has continued.  Kim Rathjen has arranged for meals to be brought in for the families - - and I still find myself making my way to Cornerstone monthly to drop them off.   No one can be sure when we can return to normal – or even what that will look like, but I truly hope to be back serving tacos one day in person.

Brian Vik (Brian is pictured second from the left)

Interested in learning more about the work of Cornerstone?  Watch the video of Cornerstone’s Sr Director of Advancement, Courtney Poja, who spoke to a group of Immanuel members on Weds, April 14.   (video is at )

Are you or someone you know in an abusive relationship?  Contact Cornerstone 24/7 for resources and support. Call 866-223-1111 or text 612-399-9995

April 5, 2021


Easter Memories

By Cindy Paulson

At a recent staff meeting Pastor Paul asked what our favorite Holy Week memories from our childhoods were. My first thought was the many times we traveled to Minneapolis from wherever we were living to spend Easter with my grandparents. And then other memories came flooding… 

… comforting my sobbing mother when she was 68 because she missed Easter worship for the first time in her life because she was in the hospital, and the witness she was to us with her incredible faith.  

… taking my daughters to their godparents Greek Orthodox Church for Good Friday and Easter services. Orthodox services are rich with tradition: the priest carrying the Christ icon, leading the entire congregation in a procession outside to place it in a “tomb” on Good Friday; the Easter service, which starts at 10:30 Saturday night and culminates with the sanctuary lights being turned off with only the light from the eternal candle glowing. At these services it is impossible to not feel all the emotions, the tears and ultimate joy of Christ’s final days on earth.  

As we approach the second Easter of the pandemic, instead of the disappointment and sadness I felt last year, these memories will help guide me to “feel all the feels” of this holy weekend and the hope and the joy Easter. 

Thanks be to God! 


March 29, 2021





Calling me to care and sending me to serve

By Bev Osekowsky

As jury selection ends and the trial of Derek Chauvin begins, I think back to the scene of George Floyd on the ground under the knee of a policeman and the subsequent death of Mr. Floyd.  I was appalled by the video and thought someone should have done something to prevent this from happening.  My next thought was, “We can't let this happen again,” but how does this “we” start if it isn't by individuals working together on the problem.  Maybe this was the time that I could no longer be the complacent one but needed to be one of those individuals that did something.

At that time, Immanuel provided information, both in videos and in book studies, that were so helpful in educating me about racial issues.  I knew racism existed in our country, but I did not realize all the laws that were enacted to the disadvantage of black and brown people and to the advantage of white people.            

I also joined an Advocacy Group that Kim Rathjen, our Director of Outreach, had started.  Through that I found out about bills in the legislature that the ELCA synod supports and ways to connect with our representatives in the state and at the national level to advocate for those bills.

In Luke 10:29-37 Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan after a lawyer asks him who his neighbor is.  “A man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead,” Luke 10:30.  Jesus continues to tell the story of how a priest and Levite pass by the injured man and do not help but a Samaritan, who is hated by the Jewish people, binds the injured man's wounds, helps him to an inn and pays for his care.

Jesus not only told this parable to the lawyer, but he told it to me and others who read the Bible.  He is stating that where there is a need, that is where I should be.  I am to be his hands and feet on this earth.  He is “Calling me to Care and Sending me to Serve.”  The question is, “Am I listening?”


Learn more about Immanuel's justice initiatives

March 15, 2021





Your hand is leading us, your love supporting us.

By Cari Larsen

“Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us, your love supporting us.”

When I was in high school I joined “the adult choir” at our small church and this was a favorite piece of our director, Ellis, and we sang it a lot. He even included the lyrics in a card he gave me for graduation. It’s hard for me to just say the words – I feel compelled to sing them. It was a song that I thought about for quite a bit of college, but at some point it faded from my memory.

As we’ve dealt with the COVID 19 pandemic, I’ve heard Pastor Angela say this blessing via church on Zoom. Hearing those words I know in my heart so well has been an unexpected source of comfort each time I hear her say them.

This morning I walked through the Labyrinth at Immanuel and this hymn came to me again. One foot in front of the other. Head down just watching where I was going. Through the tight turns and longer expanses, even with an eye that could see exactly where I was heading and knowing that the path would lead directly there, these words came to mind: “your hand is leading us, your love supporting us”. A reminder, I think, that even when we feel in control or when we want to feel in control or when everything is absolutely out of our control, we can rely on God to provide a path.

March 8, 2021





Brokenness and Restoration

By Kelly Kautz

We humans get broken. Sometimes we are broken by life circumstances or societal inequities, and sometimes through our own sinful actions and choices. No matter how we become broken, God’s restorative love is at work putting us back together.

At times, in our brokenness, God’s restorative love works through others to provide healing and restoration. When I broke my wrist in January, the doctors and nurses put my wrist back together to allow it to heal. The hand therapists taught me exercises to restore its strength and flexibility. My husband braided my hair and tied my shoes. Our friends fed us. 

At other times my brokenness is the result of my own sin as I turn from God, breaking my relationship with God and with others. God’s restorative love is with me at these times, making me whole and enabling me to reflect on my behavior, repent and repair the damage I have done, and return to God. 

We humans get broken, and I am grateful for a God who is always with us, loving us and restoring us to wholeness.

"Yes; it’s out of his fullness that we have all received, grace indeed on top of grace." John 1:16 (New Testament for Everyone)




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