Tag Archives: Christ Our Savior Lutheran

10-minute Church! Is that possible?

10W on Soundcloud

Anchorage pastors sometimes surprise me with insights of connecting to people spiritually. Pastor Dan Bollerud, retired Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, came up with one such idea over six-years ago.

When he was pastor at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church (COSLC), he was approached by a couple in search of worship materials to take and use on a summer trip for their private devotions.  This linked an observation he had that “20-somethings” missed church, but didn’t come often.  Through dialog involving the question, “What would church look like if you started from scratch?”, he developed a mini-church service to be recorded and distributed to members via CD. When deciding upon a name for this new program, wife Jan suggested calling it a 10-minute worship, the time it took her to drive to work.  So, the name 10W was born for the 10-minute worship service. Initially, it was copied onto CDs and placed in the church narthex for anyone to take. In fact, at my first visit to COSLC, Pastor Dan gave me such a set of those CDs. At that time, each CD contained services for all of the weeks of the month.

Lectionaries are used by many churches to cover the scriptural flow of the church year, including major events and celebrations. Last Sunday, for example, was Pentecost and has specific scriptural references to follow. This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday.  Initially Pastor Dan started using the Revised Common Lectionary for the 10W but about four-years ago, added the Narrative Lectionary. Both versions are still used.

Liturgical Format
Each 10W service follows the liturgical format of a Lutheran Service. Pastor Dan begins each 10W with a song which fades out partway through.  A variety of spiritual music is used, but only with the permission of the musicians presented. He released the Revised Common Lectionary version of June 11’s service yesterday. You may listen to it via this link.


Titled “How Do I Love Thee”, the introductory music by Dakota Road is “Dance with Me.”  After a brief introductory statement, he offers prayer before commencing the gospel reading.  After the gospel, he presents a brief homily distilling each Sunday’s theme.  This particular homily dealt with Trinity Sunday. Following the homily, a statement of faith (apostles creed or other) is recited.  Personal prayers come next, in true liturgical fashion, thanking God, praying for the world and nation, the community, the faith community, friends and family, and for help in specific ways.  The Lord’s Prayer immediately follows, along with a concluding blessing. The service ends after the second part of the introductory song is completed.

To receive the 10W, sign-up via the following link. (www.10worship.blogspot.com) You will then receive it by an email twice a week, Revised Common Lectionary and Narrative Lectionary.  When you received the emailed service click on the link provided and you’ll be taken to Soundcloud to hear the 10W. By using the search tool on Soundcloud, you can type “Bollerud” and find all of the 10W’s posted with them.  I just open the Soundcloud app on my mobile phone and listen directly.

Other Pastors Contribute
Several other area Lutheran pastors support Pastor Dan by doing occasional 10W service recordings. Pastor Julia Seymour, Lutheran Church of Hope and Pastor Martin Eldred, Joy Lutheran-Eagle River lend their talents to this wonderful spiritual vehicle from time to time.

10W’s have been a blessing to me and I highly recommend them to you as well. It’s not often we experience true innovation like this in Alaska.

Pastor Dan continues to explore new vehicles to encourage spiritual development in our media-driven culture. I wish him well, and to the other ELCA pastors who support this wonderful spiritual tool. If you are aware of unique spiritual practices and tools to share with a wider audience, please write me at churchvisits@gmail.com.



Six inspiring things from Anchorage faith organizations in 2015

During my forays into the local faith community in 2015 I experienced an intriguing mix of sights, sounds, venues and celebrations. This week I’ll briefly describe some that made lasting impressions. Next week I focus on my perennial quest regarding what I’d like to see churches tackle in 2016.

These impressions are mine alone, and omission isn’t intended as a slight to any faith-based organization in Anchorage.

Faith community support of social causes

As the years go by, I’m increasingly enthusiastic when local faith organizations and their members go out of their way supporting charitable causes such as Thanksgiving Blessing, Crop Hunger Walk, food banks and food distribution programs, kids programs, etc. There is sufficient need in our community, and these efforts show that, for the most part, Christian organizations walk the talk. When Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church periodically holds two-hour Beer and Hymns events, more than $5,000 is raised for Lutheran Social Services of Alaska. Church food drives are incredibly successful too, such as when St. Mary’s Episcopal Church collects donations of more than 4,000 jars of peanut butter plus other food items during the year.

Catholic celebrations mark years of progress

The Archdiocese of Anchorage held several important celebrations this year. One marked the 100th anniversary of Holy Family Cathedral, and the 50th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Anchorage. Many artifacts of local church history were on display, accompanied by colorful presentations by many local Catholic leaders. The ceremonial Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe marking Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz’s 75th birthday (and 25th anniversary of his ordination as bishop) was full of music, co-celebrating archbishops and bishops, and many priests. The investiture ceremony of the Royal Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, presided over by a cardinal, was a spectacular peek into church history.

Orthodox visits impressed me deeply

The Eagle River Institute at St. John Orthodox Cathedral during August afforded opportunities to learn about orthodoxy, and its history, especially Syrian-born Rev. George Shaloub’s lectures on Middle Eastern Christianity. With the Syrian refugee crisis in the headlines at the moment, it’s too bad more local Christians did not hear his messages. Vespers, held after supper each day, provided music and liturgy harking back to apostolic times. A recent visit to St. Tikhon Orthodox Church delighted me. The hour and a half liturgy was supported by an all-male choir singing in four-part harmony. The Russian Christmas celebration at St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Cathedral was filled with music and liturgy, my first experience with starring, a beautiful Orthodox tradition brought from Ukraine.

Church worship experiences in middle schools

New churches (church plants) meeting in middle schools were a pleasant visit focus. Clark, Begich, Wendler, and Hanshew middle schools were the focus of those visits. They pay a standard Anchorage School District rental rate for use of the multi-purpose room for adult meetings and classrooms for the younger kids. Churches must bring everything needed and set up every Sunday, taking it all down after, but it works beautifully. Many of these locations provide better settings than some of our local churches. In each of these services, the proportion of millennials was greater than in an average church. I’ve been personally blessed by the number of these services I’ve attended, never feeling the absence of a dedicated brick-and-mortar church as a disadvantage.

AFACT support of Medicaid expansion

Earlier this year, Anchorage Faith and Action Congregations Together challenged the state Legislature with words and prayer at the Legislative Information Office to expand the Medicaid system on behalf of the working poor who slip through the cracks. AFACT, a local coalition of 14 local congregations, worked tirelessly on behalf of expansion. In the end, expansion of the health-care program did happen. When I attended the AFACT celebration at St. Anthony Catholic church in early fall, I was impressed with the passion this dedicated group expressed. I was especially taken with Pastor Julia Seymour’s remarks referring to “social junk.” She’s right. It’s so easy to criticize and ignore those among us we regard as not worthy of our consideration. However, everyone counts in our society, or it begins to rot from the center.

Longevity of senior pastors in our community

My interview with All Saints Episcopal’s Rev. Norman Elliott as he reached his 96th birthday was a true delight. His tireless devotion to his church, and the spiritual lives of those in our hospitals, should be an inspiration to us all. It’s not often we get to know a living church legend; Elliott certainly fits the bill. His stories of pastoring and teaching in the villages, coupled with flights of daring in the parish airplane, are fascinating. Whenever he digresses into the poetry of Geoffrey Anketell Studdert-Kennedy, which he manages to slip into most sermons, he becomes a different man. Elliott is devoted to God and to his church. Retired Archbishop Francis T. Hurley celebrated his 45th year as bishop this year. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing him several times, and like Elliott, he was a flying priest who ministered to a far-flung area. Both have interesting tales of serving God by airplane. The Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church celebration of Pastor Alonzo Patterson’s 45th anniversary as their pastor and 66th anniversary of being a pastor was a warm and effusive display of love for their pastor. Many guest pastors were on hand to add their congratulations and thanks to God for Patterson’s many years of service. The musical tributes were warm and from the heart. It was an exceptional event to have experienced.

Chris Thompson is a religion scholar who visits local churches and writes about his experiences and matters of faith on his blog, churchvisits.com.

The views expressed here are the writer’s own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, emailcommentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.

Beer and Hymns – November 22, 2015

Beer and Hymns, that fun fundraiser sponsored by Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, will be held again Sunday, November , 2015.  Mo’s O’Brady’s restaurant in the Huffman Business Park adjacent to Carrs Huffman store will see the music starting at 6 p.m., lasting until 8 p.m. The format is that you come with family and friends, order a meal and beverage of your choice, and sing hymns led by Pastor Dan Bollerud.  I guarantee you will find new friends at this fundraiser for Lutheran Social Services of Alaska (LSSA).  Credit cards are accepted and you will have not be sorry you came.

LSSA uses donations to fund food for those in need with weekly distributions in town.  I’m proud of what LSSA does in our community.  Find out more about their mission and objectives on their website http://www.lssalaska.org/.

See you there!

Beer and Hymns funds caring causes – 9/13/14

What could be a better way to raise funds for a great cause than to dine, drink and sing hymns, all in a friendly atmosphere in a local restaurant? For the past two years, Christ Our Saviour Lutheran Church has offered this delightful fundraiser for the entire community at Mo’s O’Brady’s in the Huffman Business Park. Immensely successful, each of the two events raised over $5,000 for Lutheran Social Services of Alaska, which distributes these and other funds on behalf of those in need in our community.

LSSA emphasizes four program areas: food pantry, direct assistance, Association for Stranded Rural Alaskans and emergency housing.

The food pantry is LSSA’s largest program, providing food assistance through their pantry and mobile pantry sites. Last year they distributed 528,000 pounds of food to 36,757 people. LSSA also partners with Food Bank of Alaska to leverage their donations to acquire items from the food bank, stretching the donation dollars. According to the food bank, LSSA is one of their largest partners.

The direct assistance program helps clients obtain state IDs, birth certificates, prescription medication and work-appropriate clothing.

The emergency housing program provides transitional living for homeless men, preparing them for sustainable employment and housing.

The Association for Stranded Rural Alaskans provides emergency shelter and transportation for people in financial hardship who are stranded in medical facilities outside their hometowns.

As you can see, Lutherans in Alaska have big hearts, hearts that reach out to those in need, directly caring for them. Beer and Hymns is one way that goal is achieved.

Martin Luther ignited a reformation in Europe that transformed religion. His belief in the proper use of beer was as strong as his Reformation theology. From this humble Catholic priest grew the roots of the Protestant Reformation and the Lutheran Church. Luther was a great writer of hymns, penning more than 35 of them, including “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” He was also a proponent of the consumption of beer and ale. My favorite Luther quotes are: “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long does not sin; whoever does not sin enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!” and “I’d rather my people were in the alehouse thinking of church than in church thinking of the alehouse.”

Dan Bollerud, pastor of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, commenting on the event, said, “Beer and Hymns is less about drinking beer than it is about being the public voice of church in the world. It is about having a good time and enjoying ourselves. It is about community and gathering together. It is about being the church in the world.”

This year’s Beer and Hymns starts 6 p.m. on Sept. 21 at Mo’s O’Brady’s, concluding at about 8 p.m. With no admission charge, those attending sit in groups at restaurant tables and order from the menu. The singing also starts at 6 p.m. with Jamie Berge playing piano and Pastor Dan leading the hymns, using special hymn sheets for the occasion. It’s a lively event ending with the ever-popular Reformation Polka, sung to the tune of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” LSSA staff are on hand to collect donations from attendees — cash, checks or credit cards. Attendees bring family, friends and neighbors. Jamie plays the piano in a lively manner, keeping things on track. Church member Nick Kittleson provides the sound system.

It’s well known in this community that I visit churches and blog my impressions of those visits on a regular basis. The people at this event and the churches they represent show warmth and graciousness I rarely see in our community. If more Christians acted in this manner, locking arms and confronting the social issues in the area, there would be more Christians. Clearly these people “walk the talk.”

Many churches across the U.S. and abroad have adopted Beer and Hymns as a collective action to invigorate congregations, staving off declines. An NPR piece last year quoted Leah Stanfield of Fort Worth, who comes to weekly gatherings such as these. “I find the love, I find the support, I find the non-judgmental eyes when I come here,” she says. “And I find friends that love God, love craft beer.” Sounds a little like Martin Luther, doesn’t it?

A Minnesota Public Radio story earlier this year talked about a Fargo-Moorhead Methodist church that meets monthly in a bar to attract younger people to Christ. “Every time I come away having gotten to know somebody better than I did before, whether it’s a new person or somebody I’ve known for a long time,” said the Rev. Cody Schuler, who got the idea from a Denver church. “It’s what church is really about and that’s community.”

This Beer and Hymns will be my third outing. I love this event and what it is doing for our community. If you come, come early. The seating is limited, but you’ll not regret you went.


Chris Thompson is a religion scholar who visits local churches and writes about his experiences and matters of faith. You can find his blog at churchvisits.com.

Great hymn singing is not dead in Anchorage

Many readers have written asking for names of churches offering music formats not harsh, overly loud, consistent with Scripture and based on spiritually uplifting hymn format singing.

Many evangelical churches used to offer hymn singing formats where a 10- to 15-minute period of congregational singing, called “song service,” commenced the worship service. This style is dying out for lack of gifted song leaders and musicians who can perform this music in a spirited, uplifting and inspired fashion. When done well, a song service can be the most member-active portion of a church service.

Liturgical churches Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist and similar congregations may offer some of this style of music interspersed throughout their services, but it is often performed in a doleful, draggy funereal manner. I recently received an email from a new Anchorage resident, transplanted from another Alaska city, looking for a good song service music format.

Who has the Best Song Service? 

“I have so enjoyed your running commentary on local churches. I’m new to Anchorage, and looking for the church with the best song service. Any “flavor” will do. I’m looking for a mighty Spirit here. Being a missionary kid, I’ve learned to keep my spirituality my own business. I can attend almost anywhere, realizing the kingdom of heaven is within. I do love traditional hymn singing, such as “Like a River Glorious,” “He Hideth My Soul,” “A Mighty Fortress,” etc. I grew up in an Alaskan church in another city. The only thing I miss is their hymns and Scripture songs. My former church plays their hymns at double speed now due to a new pianist since I grew up there. It would be nice if a search of “best church singing” would yield a result. God bless you for your continued service to Anchorage!”

Not many Anchorage churches offer what you are looking for. Many churches have dumped people-friendly song services for entertainment-format praise bands and choirs. I personally know several Anchorage churches that offer what this reader is looking for, and do it well.

A great song-service and a well-delivered sermon are what many people seek in a church service. Instead of offering a search of “best church singing” send an email request to ChurchVisits@gmail. com to obtain a list of churches offering great song services. One of those churches is Great Land Christian Church, which offers one of the best song services in town. It is led by a group of young singers who present an a capella group of hymns and songs that are theologically strong, not Bible camp-style music and so well done that virtually every person in the congregation can be heard following their lead and singing.

The two “Beer and Hymn” sings offered by Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in 2013 offered some of the best hymn singing I’ve heard in many years. More than a hundred people sang great hymns of the church for several hours with unrestrained joy in a restaurant setting while raising close to $10,000 to support the Lutheran Social Services food bank.

 Only a piano delivered the musical accompaniment, while the singing was led by a talented pastor who knew how to sing and lead the music. Occasions like these are infrequent but indicate many seek participative music, not theologically weak “music as entertainment” delivered at eardrum blasting levels. Seek and you will find!

Chris Thompson is a religion scholar who visits local churches and writes about his experiences and matters of faith on his blog, Church Visits, at adn.com/churchvisits. Email him at churchvisits@gmail.com.

Original ADN Article

Beer & Hymns for LSSA – Sunday@6:30 pm

Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church (COSLC) Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church (COSLC) is hosting its 2nd Beer & Hymns session at Mo’s O’Brady’s, 1501 Huffman Rd., Sunday, November 10, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

A most fitting date, Sunday is also the 530th anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth. From this humble Catholic priest grew the roots of the Protestant Reformation and the Lutheran Church. Martin was a great writer of hymns, penning over 35 of them, including “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. He was also a proponent of the consumption of beer and ale. My favorite Luther quotes are “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!” and “I’d rather my people were in the alehouse thinking of church, than in church thinking of the alehouse.”

It’s simple. You come, admission is free, buy food from O’Brady’s tasty menu, along with your favorite beverage, including adult beverages. Eat, drink, and sing during a this two-hour hymnfest. Freewill donations to LSSA’s food bank can be made during the hymn sing (no pressure). Last year just under $5,000 was raised. LSSA is well known for making a sizable dent in meeting the needs of those in our community who cannot feed themselves and/or their families in these trying times.

COSLC members are among some of the most personable and friendly church members in town. Pastor Dan Bollerud shares that “God is not confined to our churches. Worship comes in many forms. Come join us for food, fellowship, and fun, knowing that with Christ and your brothers and sisters, all are one”. I’ve come to know Pastor Dan as a marvelous connector, has a great voice, and leads the music during the singing. He can also direct you to some great brews. I guarantee you’ll make some new friends at this event. I’ll also be there enjoying this wonderful time, and recording my impressions for the Church Visits blog.

You can download this illustration in a larger format below.

Foodstock V: Frosty Nights This Friday – Great Music & Help the Less Fortunate

Another fabulous Foodstock concert is coming to Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church this Friday at 7 p.m. The purpose behind these concerts is to raise donations of money or food for those less fortunate in our community. All donations go to Lutheran Social Services of Alaska (LSSA) to help them acquire and distribute food. LSSA’s food distribution program serves over 25,000 individuals annually.

Performers at Foodstock donate their services in support of LSSA. Featured artists for Foodstock V are:

7:00 p.m. Ken Baehr, original songs, singer/guitarist

7:30 p.m. Nikki and Fingers, Country

8:00 p.m. Mike Lane, classic blues guitar

8:30 p.m. Bayou Glacee, Cajun dance band

I attended Foodstock IV in May and found it to be a wonderful event. Click here to read my blog post about it. Although there is no fee, you are encouraged to bring a food donation, especially canned goods or other non-perishable food items. Or better yet, a freewill donation for LSSA provides them even greater flexibility to acquire commodities wholesale.

To download a poster of the event see below.

Foodstock IV: An Under-Attended Anchorage Treat!

Almost Missed This One
Pastor Dan Bollerud invited me to attend their Foodstock IV: The Greening folk concert fundraiser at his church, Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church (COSLC), on May 11. Without this invitation I’d have had no awareness of this concert.

Somehow word of it was missing from the media that keeps me and others informed of Anchorage events like this. [img_assist|nid=161178|title=Pastor Dan Bollerud Explaining Foodstock|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=242|height=490]

What a treat I’d have missed if Pastor Bollerud had not invited me. This illustrates the “Power of One” principle I sometimes refer to in these posts. It only takes one, but I wonder why COSLC’s parishioners seemed to be silent on this great event? I saw few, if any, of them at this one so…? Nonetheless this concert had the feeling of January’s Anchorage Folk Festival. (See poster pdf at bottom of page)

What’s Foodstock?
The purpose of Foodstock IV, and all local Foodstock quarterly concerts at COSLC, is to raise funds and provide food donations for the Lutheran Social Services Agency (LSSA). LSSA provides weekly food distribution to the needy in concert with our local food bank. Area folk performers donate their time and talent to provide a program of merit. Foodstock IV lasted about two hours and featured five performers or groups. Pastor Dan Bollerud shared that about 250 lbs. of food and $350 cash were contributed that night. Although no admission was charged, they suggested a food or cash donation in lieu of. The concert was also live-streamed over the Internet by COSLC. In the future I’ll be “tweeting” my friends to invite them to at least listen to the live stream.

Performers Featured
The performers played and sang folk and spiritual music in a listenable, comfortable, and toe tapping fashion. The two-hour timeframe for the concert was just right, especially considering there were no refreshments to break the long sitting time with minor breaks between performers. A wide variety of talented local performers contributing their talents included:

• Tony Elder
• Melissa Beck
• Mary Oudean
• Paddle Boat Jam
• Just Old Hims
• Robin Hopper

Although all performances were excellent, I particularly enjoyed Mary Odean’s and Robin Hopper’s individual performances. I was especially taken with Robin’s rendering of an acapella number, If I Were A Firefly, she’d recently written. She prefaced the song with a playful and loving tribute to her husband Bruce. The lyrics are below.

Robin Hopper 2012

If I were a firefly, tell you what I’d do
If I were a firefly, I’d shine for you
That’s what I’d do – I’d shine just for you.

If I could, I surely would
Dance around your face.
I’d shake and shimmy like a girl
Until you gave me chase
That’s what I’d do, I’d dance just for you.

I’d flit and flitter, pirouette;
I’d paint the evening sky.
A trail of light, a silhouette
Designed to catch your eye.
That’s what I’d do, I’d dance just for you
Well, I am not a firefly, but you can make me shine.
I’ll never be a firefly, but I dance real fine.
It’s what I do – and it’s all just for you,
It’s all just for you.[img_assist|nid=161173|title=Robin Hopper Singing (check out the feet)|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=314|height=490]

Good Church Use
Too many churches everywhere sit vacant except for a few active usage hours weekly. What a treat to see a church being occupied to share listenable music, fellowship, and offering an opportunity help out with a worth social cause in line with Biblical commands. This is religion at its best. I suspect the low turnout had something to do the Anchorage sectarian penchant for churches not sharing information about events in other churches. It may be the “not invented here, not going to support it there” attitude I’ve witnessed over and over again. Or it may be with declining attendance all over Anchorage, Pastors are scared to death to risk one of their members showing up at another church than their own. Pastors should be thrilled anyone would want to attend church, regardless of whose church it is.

Congratulations to local folk performers supporting Foodstock IV, Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, and Lutheran Social Services for putting on a class event. I can’t wait until the next one, which Pastor Bollerud suggests will be in the September/October timeframe. I learning to expect the unexpected from this South Anchorage church. Next time, I’ll use the Church Visits blog to get the word out on Foodstock V.[img_assist|nid=161174|title=Mary Oudean Performing|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=280|height=490]

[img_assist|nid=161175|title=Melissa Beck|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=303|height=490]

[img_assist|nid=161177|title=Tony Elder|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=396]

[img_assist|nid=161176|title=Just Old Hims|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=175]

Interesting Super Bowl Service: Christ Our Savior Lutheran

The day before Super Bowl, I noticed a posting on the Faith Matters page in the Anchorage Daily News. It said that Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church was having a Super Bowl inspired/formatted service. I couldn’t resist seeing this so I went. This church, located in my previous neighborhood of Oceanview, is easy to locate on Old Seward Highway close to where it rejoins the Seward Highway.

Super Bowl Sunday is problematic for many pastors as many of their flock prefer to worship their televisions and pre-game coverage, over their God and King. In fact, I Googled Anchorage churches for Super Bowl-inspired services and found only this one listed.

Arriving before the posted 10:30 a.m. service start I received neither a greeting or a bulletin, despite the six or so people gabbing in the church lobby. Finding a seat in the fifth-row of this beautiful, almost empty church, I was offered a noisemaker after a few minutes by a cheerful woman who passed by. Ultimately I counted no more than 35 who attended this service. The A-frame style church is quite lovely, graced by a huge stylistic stained glass cross on the wall behind the altar.[img_assist|nid=159821|title=Stained Glass Cross at Christ Our Savior Lutheran|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=467]

The service commenced on time with the ‘opening rally song’ led by athletically-attired youth waving pom-poms. In each “quarter” of the service there was a period of a ‘Word from Our Sponsors’, which were announcements of coming activities. Had I received a bulletin, it would have been significantly easier for me to follow the service. However, no guest should have to do the work of the church members, finding bulletins, seeking greetings, and locating restrooms. These first impressions add up to the decision guests make about making a return visit. Those decisions are made 5-8 minutes after arriving.

The service being broken into “quarters” worked for me, with each quarter having a lesson and music of some sort. The pastoral message was quite good and inspired by the biblical reading of John the Baptist and Herod. My “take away” from the sermon was the pastor’s assertion “The calling of a Christian is that whatever happens, God is with you. If this is the only place you come to worship God, you’re missing it.”[img_assist|nid=159822|title=Game Poster #1|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=196]

I definitely liked the youth being involved. The church choir, composed of many of those present, was quite good with their upbeat musical selection. My eyebrow was definitely raised with the rendering of Bobby Bare’s old chestnut, “Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life”. The prayers of the people also represented the many missing snow machiners, those out and about, the tragically missing Ms. Koenig, plus individual petitions, etc. I’m always deeply impressed with prayers which link with individual members, as it should be. The taking of the offering did not give guests a break, a visitor-friendly gesture.

The 4th quarter was a sending out into the world accompanied by an upbeat sending hymn. All were invited to the after-church potluck. I counted no more than 6 youth/young adults. In tune with my recent posts with why youth and young adults are leaving the church, I’m more aware of their presence/absence. Congregants blew their noisemakers at the close of the service.[img_assist|nid=159823|title=Game Poster #2|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=180]

I applaud Christ Our Savior’s attempt to reshape Super Bowl Sunday into something members might come out for. With all the build-up, I do not think they achieved their goal, but I’m glad they tried. I talked with Pastor Bollerud after the service, something I rarely do with any pastor of churches I visit. Too many pastor’s get defensive and try to explain away every detail of what didn’t work. From that discussion, I understand he’s tried to cultivate guest-friendly skills and abilities with his flock, something many pastors do not even attempt.

Had I received a bulletin before the service, I would have found it very guest-friendly. There was even a wonderful note about cell phones! “Leave them on, just turn off the ringer…We are in the year of Mark, where everything happens Right Now. Feel free to text, tweet, facebook or blog during the service to let your friends know what is happening in worship and inviting them to join you next Sunday.” Their Communion practice and policy was described in the bulletin, leaving no doubt as to it’s openness. I applaud them for being so detailed and open. Pastor Bollerud is an articulate, enlightened pastor who knows what it takes. But like Moses, during the Israelites battle with the Amalekites, who needed his arms supported so the Israelites could prevail, good pastors also need their arms supported by their parishioners so they can similarly prevail.

Well-known and respected theologian Walter Brueggemann, penned a poem about Super Bowl Sunday in his book, Prayers for a Privileged People. Although it may offend some Christian football worshipers, I find it appropriate for this occasion.

Super Bowl Sunday
“The world of fast money,
And loud talk,
And much hype
Is upon us.
We praise huge men whose names will linger only briefly.

We will eat and drink,
And gamble and laugh,
And cheer and hiss,
And marvel and then yawn.

We show up, most of us, for such a circus,
And such an indulgence.
Loud clashing bodies,
Violence within rules,
And money and merchandise and music.

And you — today like every day –
You govern and watch and summon:
You are glad when there is joy in the earth,
But you notice our liturgies of disregard and
Our litanies of selves made too big,
Our fascination with machismo power,
And lust for bodies and for big bucks.

And around you gather today, as every day,
Elsewhere uninvited, but noticed acutely by you,
Those disabled and gone feeble,
Those alone and failed,
Those uninvited and shamed.
And you whose gift is more than “super,”
Overflowing, abundant, adequate, all sufficient.
The day of preoccupation with creature comforts writ large.
We pause to be mindful of our creatureliness,
Our commonality with all that is small and vulnerable exposed,
Your creatures called to obedience and praise.

Give us some distance from the noise,
Some reserve about the loud success of the day,
That we may remember that our life consists
Not in things we consume
But in neighbors we embrace.

Be our good neighbor that we may practice
Your neighborly generosity all through our needy neighborhood.”

Taken from by Walter Brueggemann’s Prayers for a Privileged People.[img_assist|nid=159820|title=Prayers for a Privileged People|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=307|height=490]