I Will Be With You

I Will Be With You

Exodus 3:12

‘I will be with you,‘ said God before the Exodus.

These words fill the ‘be still and know that I am God’ kind of moments.

They are our spiritual mantra, a gift from the great I AM who says, ‘I will be with you’ and means it.

Before Moses turned towards Egypt to liberate the people, ‘I will be with you’ was the game plan.

Before the disciples scattered to liberate the world, ‘I will be with you’ was the game plan.

I will be with you is God’s plan in a nutshell. Read the pages and hear the stories, I will be with you is the point of the game.

I will be with you in all the seasons of your life.

I will be with you in your fear and your doubt.

I will be with you in the planting of the new and the harvesting of old.

I will be with you in your darkness and in the desert of your existence.

I will be with you in your joys, all the weddings and births that reveal new life.

I will be with you when you are alone, whether you perceive me or not.

I will be with you before you know you need me, and when you are certain that you do not.

I will be with you as the Creator of the universe and know you within in it.

I will be with you as Jesus Christ who liberates your soul and transforms your life.

I will be with you as Holy Spirit putting ‘words in your mouth and teaching you what to speak.’

Be still and know that I am God…and you are not.

That is why I will be with you.

Searching for a Resurrection

“This is the church. Here she is. Lovely, irregular, sometimes sick and sometimes well. This is the body-like-no-other that God has shaped and placed in the world. Jesus lives here; this is his soul’s address. There is a lot to be thankful for, all things considered. She has taken a beating.   The church. Every day she meets the gates of hell and she prevails. Every day she serves, stumbles, injures and repairs. That she has healed is an underrated miracle. That she gives birth is beyond reckoning. Maybe it’s time to make peace with her. Maybe it’s time to embrace her, flawed as she is. Maybe it’s time to smile back. “–Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday  
There is a shift these days, from organized religion to personal spirituality. Gone is the mid-century era when church membership was a requirement to be a good person.  Our young people saw through that.
Embrace it. Welcome it.
The tomb of yesterday is the resurrection of tomorrow. The Church is transforming. Like a woman in labor, she is giving birth. She is prevailing.
She follows her groom, Jesus Christ, who is returning us to our roots, building upon a resurrection of broken people seeking a spiritual center with others just like them. Outside of the church, they find it in micro-breweries, meetup groups, and gyms.  
Inside the church, they turn to Holy Communion to heal and resurrect.  Through Communion, the soul of Christ meets the soul of the broken, in bread and wine.  
Yes, the Church has the one commodity that others do not— the presence of Christ found through the Mystery of Holy Communion. From the first Sunday when Christians met at dawn to remember Jesus, they celebrated Communion.   This is why we gather–to hear the word and share communion.
 Remember me…as often as you gather. 
Remember me when you break the bread.
Remember me when you sip the wine.  
Remember me through these means of grace.  
People searching for Sunday, search for Christ’s presence in Holy Communion.   
So don’t be stingy! Break the bread!  

The Antidote

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…

The Antidote   Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven… Read the fine print. Our Lord’s prayer delivers a punch.
It begs God to bring about a new world order–out with hate and division; in with love and unity.  This is the antidote to save our world. It is not a prayer for those who treasure the status quo. Pray only if you dare for change to come!
Our country feels the weight of division. A veil of heaviness and depression smothers our sense of peace and stability. We are tense, irritable, unsettled, and looking for relief.
However, there is something easy and familiar in the status quo. Do we dare pray the prayer that Jesus gave his disciples…and mean it?
Because if we do, expect the Kingdom to come, expect heaven to break through and upset the norms of hate, racism, and apathy for the plight of others. In other words, expect the Lord’s prayer to change us, too.
Jesus gave these words to his disciples. They prayed 3 times per day. God changed the world. Yes, we hold the antidote to the world’s problems. Can we ethically only recite it once on a Sunday? 
We hold the power of Christ between our folded hands every time we utter the words of the Lord’s Prayer.
The Lord’s prayer is a potent antidote for what afflicts our world.
Just one question: do you have tennis shoes?
Prayer Walk
 There are families in our communities waiting for a slice of Heaven to change their lives, for the fruits of Heaven to fill their homes with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control(Galatians 5:22-23). All it takes is prayer and a walk:
  • Walk through your neighborhood.
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer for people in the homes and business along your path.
  • Repeat daily.
The Lord’s Prayer packs a punch. Pray it freely and pray it often.

Life is a Sandbox

How do we live in times of uncertainty, when division is the norm?

Life is a sandbox these days, like it was when I was little.  
In a sandbox, we brought ourselves and our toys and created glorious castles, roads… even rivers of flowing water. No one knew what that sand would become until together we created something new. When we helped each other, an entire ecosystem was carved out in the sand connecting us.  
It was my first spiritual experience within a group. There was nothing that could not be created with the Spirit’s playfulness and creativity. We even shared our Tonka toys to help each other. That’s when the light and love of the Kingdom broke through, when we helped each other succeed in the sandbox for a purpose greater than ourselves.  
But now, heaven is struggling to break through. Sand is flying and words are breaking the very roads we built together. How does one live within the ambiguity of the sandbox?

I once applied for a position in a company with rapidly shifting sands that created uncertainty almost every day. It was their sandbox and I was an employee within it helping them achieve their goals. Change was both their strength and the core of their chaos.     My interviewer asked me how I felt about ambiguity. It was a strange question. How do I feel about ambiguity?   “Ambiguity just is,” I said. “It is not good or bad, right or wrong, awful or joyful. It just is. Life is full of ambiguity.”   I got the job.   That’s how I’m surviving the sandbox these days–embracing the uncertainty of change. This is both the strength and the chaos of the church. Sometimes it is a struggle and I desperately want to fix the sandbox—my way. I want to control the sandbox, but am I forgetting who really owns it?     God owns the sandbox, not me. It is God’s sandbox and I am there as a disciple who believes in Christ’s mission to redeem the world through love.   Love one another as I have loved you. That is what I do to help God in the sandbox. It is what makes me a disciple, transforming the world and identifies me as one of Christ’s disciple, working together with other disciples in God’s sandbox.   I don’t get to pick and choose who enters the sandbox. God does. Nor do I get to judge them. God does that as well. My job is to love them. Period.   Maybe we need to go back to the sandbox; remember who owns it, the mission, and what we are supposed to do in it. And, if we are really in sync with God, maybe we can stretch the water hose for life-giving waters and connects us to one another in the sandbox.    When we love one another, then everyone will know that we are Christ’s disciples— by watching us play in the sandbox.  

The Resurrection of Le Sueur United Methodist

We are the church of Jesus Christ.
We believe in Jesus when the world tells us it’s nonsense.
We hold the faith when the world tells us faith is no longer relevant.
We hold that precious commodity of belief so others will know the story of Jesus Christ, the one who outshines the smoldering ashes of a church in ruins and folds the burial cloth in an empty tomb declaring the end of death.
We believe that God transforms the crucifixions of our lives into a new beginning. Out of our darkness, God delivers a resurrection. 
We believe in hope when others lose hope, because hope grabbed on to us.  We believe in the resurrection. I am a witness. I have seen the resurrection.
I have seen death turn into life.  I have seen God transform the past into something new. I have seen the church in action, holding faith until others could see a resurrection, too.
I am a witness to a resurrection in a church with dwindling Sunday school numbers who faced death, let go of the crucifixion, and witnessed a resurrection.
I am a witness to a resurrection in a church full of tradition, who now gives birth to a new generation of the body, the building, and the mission. 
We are a Christ-centered community, called to serve, where you can come as you are, share who you are, and experience the power of God’s love.
We are the body of Christ and we promise to hold the belief of the resurrection for others to experience it themselves.
That is why we worship together. That is why we gather every Sunday to remember Jesus, who rose from the dead, so that you and I can grab hold of a resurrection. We are the believers of Christ.
And we believe that everyone deserves an Easter— because everyone deserves the Joy of a resurrection.
  • He is Risen
  • He is Risen Indeed.

First Things First

The initial capital campaign is winding down with pledges totally over $550,000 and more still coming.
That means that we can make our church facility more handicap accessible, offering hospitality to anyone who enters our doors or sanctuary.  We can perform major capital improvements to aging furnaces, air conditioners and a host of other fixes beyond our yearly updates.  All this is to refresh a building that is now worth over $5-7 million to rebuild with the same size and dimensions.  Turns out, buildings are a great investment.  
But, isn’t investing in people more important?  In fact, that is our job as a church.  Our building serves the people, our ministries and our mission.  We are called to help people build a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is our mission. People. That is putting things first. Let us keep that in mind as we pick out the paint colors, open walls and update, the chancel area for young families, strollers, and wheelchairs.
Who are we trying to reach?  Who will we keep out? 
On Palm Sunday, April 14, we will have another charge conference to vote on next steps:
– Authorize capital improvements within a set budget, based on the responses from the feasibility study we did last July which said people supported accessibility and capital improvements. 
 Hire an architect to produce a detailed plan. Currently, we only have a preliminary design proposal, something to edit and further develop.
– Secure contractor bids for the proposal.
 -Authorize a Building Team to handle the details But, there’s more.  
We will host another charge conference later this summer to vote on the final design plan before proceeding.  At that point, we will need a vote to approve the final go ahead for construction based on a financial plan.
It’s a long process. But so is building people. While we wait, let’s put first things first.
Get to know your neighbors of all ages. Most families do not have a church home.  Many are just waiting for a reason to come. Why not give them one?  Invite them to church with you and tell them we are building a church for people like them. 
Give them an Easter.  

Focus on The Family

In the 1959, First United Methodist commissioned a new building. They were bursting at the seams as Baby Boomers added an average of 4 children per family. They came to church every week and attendance soared to 250-300 per Sunday morning. Times change and so do the numbers:  Families have fewer babies and worship less often.  

Family Size:  In 1960, the average family size (with or without kids) was 3.67. In 2018 that dropped to 3.1 per family. What does that mean for LeSueur UMC? What took 68 families in 1960 now takes 80 families to average 250 people in worship—that is, if everyone worshipped every week.
Attendance: Regular attendance dropped from weekly to just 2 times per month.  That means we need to take those 80 families above and at least double them just to equal the average attendance of the 1960’s.  That’s a whopping 160 families with children attending twice per month! Wowzah!
So, do we promote a baby boom? Let’s not go there!
Shame families? Again, Jesus didn’t offer people shame. Jesus offered love, forgiveness, and encouragement.  Let go there instead.
This is what Jesus would do: Focus on the families and not the numbers. Wow them with your Jesus.
Wow them with your passion for mission and a heart for Jesus.
Wow them with worship that speaks to families, in church, or online.
Wow them with groups that support parenting and life issues. 
Wow them with a facility that welcomes their presence and all abilities.
Wow them with consistence no matter what day, month, or season it is.
Wow them with Jesus’ love, forgiveness, and encouragement.
Wow people with Jesus.  People matter to Jesus, not the numbers. That’s what Jesus would do.   
 (OK math nerds:  1960: 68 families x3.67 average size = 249.56. But in 2018:  80 families x 3. 1 average size = 248)  

Power of One

An abandoned bear cub clung to a tree after a fierce forest fire. He was scorched, scared, and an orphan.  Rescuers found him, restored him to health, and named him Smokey the Bear.  He symbolized the devastating effects of careless human activity.  From this came the slogan ‘Only YOU can prevent forest fires.’ 

It stuck. People listened. Just one person had the power to make a difference in the world. This is the power of one.    One person makes a choice. One person prevents a disaster. One person saves another.    It is the power of one.  What difference will you make as a disciple of Jesus today?  Will the world be safer, kinder, and more loving? Will the hungry be fed, the lonely visited, or someone lifted up in prayer?  How will you use your unique God given power of one?  Most importantly:  who will know Jesus because of you?     Only you can grow another disciple.     Only you can live so others see Jesus.    Only you can share what faith means. Only you can share Jesus.      Only you can greet a new comer.    Only you can  introduce yourself and ask their name.    Only you can take them to coffee and turn a stranger into a friend. Only you can make a difference. When you embrace what you can do as ONE individual with the Spirit’s help,  one becomes many. The church body grows. And more people become one together. We are in a cultural shift away from Jesus. Only you can change that.  How will you use your power of one to make a difference? “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Matthew 28:19

You Are Free to Go

Suitcases and clothes were strewn across the cabin floor, some lying open in their haste to be out of the way. The girls huddled on the top bunk, watching a corner of the cabin with fear.

“It was a Mouse!” they whispered loudly. “We don’t know where he went.  He came from under your bed.”

“Ugh! Now, I have to be an adult,”  I thought.

“I’m sure he’s gone. We’ll be fine.” I helped them put the suitcases back while watching for the intruder, but no luck. Time to just go to bed. 

Weary, I peeled back my blankets, ready to be done for the day. Staring back at me, in the middle of MY bed, were two big brown eyes, wider than mine. “Mouse!” I screamed. No time to be an adult. Bedding flew everywhere as I ripped out the sheets and blankets.

We chased it behind a mini-fridge. Locating my inner adult, I unplugged it so the girls would not electrocute themselves or Herbie, the mouse they endearingly wanted to name and be rid of at the same time. Of course, there he was…..hiding behind the coil. 

“Oh, he’s so cute!” the girls exclaimed, their fear suddenly dissipated.

After a few rattles of nearby objects, Herbie decided he had enough and ran into an empty trash can. Again, they all took a moment to admire him and declare his innocence. 

“Outside!” I decided.  One girl proudly grabbed the trash and marched out the door into the wilderness of the cold, dark woods. She gently laid the can down. Herbie froze. He was safer inside his new prison than alone in the wilderness, and he knew it. Three tries later, she dumped him upside down and Herbie was forced into freedom. Free To Go.


It’s hard to run to freedom when the shelter of a hard exile feels safer than the unknown. Sometimes, freedom comes with a push. 

Jesus pushed. The Son of God forced the hand of evil to hang him on a cross. Suddenly, generations of suffering pounced upon Jesus, a lifetime of darkness and pain drawn to die on a cross. Then, our Messiah took that suffering to the depth of despair, crushing death with a resurrection.  The exile from God’s presence was broken. 


God so loved the world that God’s presence returned to the people, first as Jesus and then as the Holy Spirit forcing us into a life of freedom through Christ. Enough suffering.

You are free to go.   


The Watch

Something prophetic happened before I was born: Detective Dick Tracy, cartoon extraordinaire, donned the watch of the  future, a two-way talking device. I coveted that watch! Imagine talking to people through a hand-held, portable device and be “in the know” at a push of the button. It was ingenious! It was the future!
The adults were quick to remind me, “It is just pretend!” Bubble blown.
Yet quietly, the bubble of progress re-inflated. Industrial engineer, Jony Ive, designed a detachable, portable device intended to work with the already popular cell phone. He strapped it to his wrist and the Apple watch was born!
Yup, the Dick Tracy watch of the past made a come back!
It’s hard to imagine the future and impossible to stop it. We can deny it or be ready to embrace it. Fortunately, for millions of people, John Ive embraced it. The mission was communication. The method was a watch. John Ive blended both to
embraced the future.
So did Jesus. God sent Jesus to shout out to the whole world that God was here! Jesus passed that message on to the Church and sent us on a mission to tell everyone. Yes–a Mission! 
The Church is Dick Tracy’s watch on steroids. 
The message is the same as it was since the resurrection: Jesus Christ is Lord! Which means the Kingdom really is breaking through our world. Can I hear an AMEN?!
That message is unchanging but the culture is not. How we communicate, worship, and structure the business of the church is dynamic. Those who embrace the communication own the culture.
Jesus did not set up committees, boards, or a hierarchy. Seriously…he did not. Jesus prepared people through planned discipleship to share the message with just one mission: Multiply. 
The message and mission are timeless. The methods are not.
To complete our mission, we must communicate within a culture that keeps shifting. Technology is constantly inventing the next thing. Changing our structure to a single board, adding a band-led service, and communicating online are methods meant to embrace our changing culture.
The church is God’s tool that communicates to new disciples this simple message: Jesus Christ is Lord. How we do that is the work of the church.
Thank you to everyone who came to hear, discuss, challenge, and embrace the noble past of this congregation at the Town Hall on January 28th. What began as a building over 50 years ago was anchored in the witness of people just like you preparing for the future.
Yes, Dick Tracy, the people of LeSueur UMC are strapping the future on their wrists. May the Holy Spirit guide our imaginations and give us courage to follow our mission. 
The message is relevant: Jesus Christ is Lord.
Our mission is simple: Go and make new disciples-Multiply.
Go boldly into the future, my friends.
Pastor Terri