140 Years of Faith

As we mark 140 years of serving southern Isanti County, we celebrate with a festival worship service on October 21 (more on that at the end).

140 years have passed since Swedish immigrants established Athens Lutheran Church in Athens township, Isanti County. These brave, hopeful folks who had journeyed across the sea to America, then deep into the US interior by rail and riverboat, and who’d finally arrived in Anoka to purchase homesteads at the state land office, were seeking better lives. They were also seeking land on which they could build homes for their families and raise crops and livestock. They had, each of them, risked and sacrificed much in this pursuit.

Most of them had little at the start of their journey. Yet, driven by their desire to carve out a better existence, and carried forth by their faith in the God who they knew would not leave nor forsake them, they built good lives in this place.

Initially, those immigrants were members of Cambridge Lutheran Church. Winters, though, were difficult, and making the 16-mile journey (a long way in those days) to services was not always possible. These were people of deep faith, though, and they wanted to see their children raised in that faith, to bury their dead in the hope of that faith, and to live together in the fellowship of that faith. So, the Lutherans of Athens township organized their own congregation. After just over 50 years in that place, the little church moved into Isanti and changed its name from Athens Lutheran to Faith Lutheran. And here we are.

140 years is a long time (though, not too long, we should remind ourselves, lest we overestimate our importance, which would be rather unbecoming for Scandinavians). The world has changed immensely in that time. Our community has changed immensely in that time. Our congregation has changed, too. Jesus Christ, however, has remained the same, still with a word of forgiveness and hope, always faithful to his promise. It’s remarkable to me that the seed of faith in that promise, planted 140 years ago by a few humble farming families, has grown into the congregation I serve today. Remarkable as it might be, I shouldn’t be surprised; Christ has always carried his people, holding us in his word. So, as we celebrate 140 years, we give thanks for the journey of faith on which we’ve been taken, and we look forward with hope to whatever future Christ has in store.

The whole community is invited to a Festival Worship Service on Sunday, October 21 at 9:30 a.m. The bishop will be in town to preach and we’ll use the liturgy from the 1925 Swedish Augustana Lutheran Hymnal. We’ll also hear personal stories from the history of Faith Lutheran. Brunch will follow the service. So, come join us, and be part of the history.

Pastor Cliff Hanson

Where their Worm Never Dies – Sermon on Mark 9:38-50

Sermon preached 9-30-18

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. 42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 44 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. , 46 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. 49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

What God Can Do – Sermon on 2 Kings 4

Preached Sunday, July 29, 2018

Elisha Feeds One Hundred Men -2 Kings 4:42-44

42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” 44 He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

Bad Shepherds – Sermon on Jeremiah 23 & Mark 6

Preached Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jeremiah 23:1-6

1 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord. 5 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

 

Restored – Sermon on Mark 5.21-43

Preached July 1, 2018

Mark 5:21-43

21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Sit Down a Minute – Sermon on Deuteronomy 5

Sermon preached June 3, 2018

Deuteronomy 5:12-15

12 Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 14 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.

Old Predictable Death – Easter Sermon on Mark 16

“And they went out and fled from the tomb, for fear and amazement had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
~ Mark 16:8

“Visiting graves, for us, is mostly about looking back – remembering, telling stories of the past. The one thing it isn’t about is the future.”
~ excerpt from the sermon

Repentance – Ash Wednesday Sermon on Mark 2

Mark 2:1-12 – Jesus Heals a Paralytic

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people[a] came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” 12 And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”