Newsletter Article

Hospitality Harvest

This summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to host my step-mom for a couple of days. I so looked forward to her coming. I made sure the guest room was ready with clean sheets, a new pillow and space in the closet in case she needed to hang anything up. I loved getting the room ready in anticipation of her coming. We had a wonderful time together and not long after her return home, I received a thank you note from her. Because of my preparation we had a great time together, she felt welcomed and loved.

High School Update for October 2018

High School Update for October 2018

The last two Sundays, First has gathered 10-15 high schoolers for a youth group time to eat (5:30–6pm) and meet (6–7:30pm). The desire to meet where they can “have a safe place to talk, like our confirmation small groups were… where all are welcome” came from the high schoolers themselves. It’s pretty fantastic! Teesha Willinger, who helped teach many of them Peer Ministry is their adult leader, but the kids aren’t afraid to take the lead either. I just wanted you to know, in case you didn’t, that this ministry is blooming at First.

Hospitality Families

The greatest joy I receive on a Sunday is seeing families serving together in a ministry. I love seeing families help with coffee together, little and not so little ones getting the the cups, napkins, creamers and sugar packets out on the table. It’s wonderful to see older children going around filling coffee cups and talking to the adults at the tables. I love seeing families usher together, welcoming people into the sanctuary and gathering the offering. When families serve together, it brings joy not only to me but to others seeing it and to the children participating. I love to see young ones’ faces light up when they can help out in church. Their attitude changes, and they walk a little taller taking pride in what they can do.


Clothes Closet Update for September 2018

First Teen Clothes Closet has a new home!

Thank you to the many volunteers who have helped in the relocation of the First Teen Clothes Closet to its new home, sharing a building with the Children’s Clothes Closet at Trinity Lutheran Church in La Crosse. We are excited about the opportunity to serve more teens in a location that is more accessible to the area of our community with the greatest concentration of need.

Message From Pastor Karyn for July 2018

My calendar tells me there are 38 days until I start my sabbatical. I am both excited and terrified. Excited because this is such an incredible gift to be given and the Lilly Grant makes it feel like a once in a lifetime experience. Terrified because there is still much to do before those 38 days are up and because I have never really done anything like this before. Here’s what I hold on to: I am still Karyn and still a child of God so I know there will be joy and grace all along the way sprinkled generously with wonder and gratitude as I explore our world.


Promoting Hospitality

I have a friend who, when she knows I be over, leaves her front door wide open for me. I knock on the screen door and walk in calling her name and she welcomes me into her home with a welcoming hug. My friend promotes hospitality as she welcomes me into her home. She is a wonderful hostess to all who visit her.


Message from Pastor Stanton for July 2018

I remember learning in high school about John D. Rockefeller and how he created a monopoly in the oil business through “vertical integration.” Vertical integration is one of those phrases you have to learn for a vocabulary test and then never have to know again, but I think it’s worth knowing about as we think about where our church has been and where we’re trying to go.

Hospitality Minglers

I have a wonderful friend who loves connecting people to one another. Whenever she gathers people, she will introduce everyone to everyone. I come into her house and she asks me right away “do you know everyone?” I usually say yes, because I usually do, but she still goes around introducing me to her family and friends. She wants us to feel connected with one another. It would be wonderful if we had people like my friend, here at church who wanted everyone to feel connected.


Message From Pastor Stanton for March 2018

On Friday, March 23, our Young Youth group: Kindergartners—2nd grade from 5–7pm and our 3rd-5th graders from 6:30–8pm—will eat together and “take a walk through Holy Week”. I love how this event will help these kids and their families anticipate the amazing story of Jesus being celebrated on Palm Sunday all the way to dying on Good Friday and rising on Easter Sunday. I hope our Young Youth Director, Beth Miller, is overwhelmed with the great number of families who choose to make this evening a part of their Holy Week celebration. (You could ease her overwhelming feelings by ‘signing up’ ahead of time, but that isn’t necessary, either.)

Message from Pastor Karyn for March 2018

It was the morning after Christmas before the sun rose, and, as is my habit, I had been reading. Nothing of note as I was giving my brain a rest after a full week. As the sun rose over the bluffs, I found myself in a pondering mood. It isn’t unusual for me after Christmas to turn my thoughts toward reflection and planning. This particular morning I was thankful for this early-morning routine that opened a door to watching the sun rise because it gave pause to consider where light and life is in my world and maybe where I wanted to see more. I found my mind turning toward companionship and love.

Message from Paston Stanton for February 2018

Lent begins Ash Wednesday, February 14. That’s the perfect amount of time to come up with an idea for what you may fast from / or what you may add to your life as a spiritual discipline. First Lutheran enjoys a membership with many Christian backgrounds who participated in a variety of spiritual practices. Some of our brothers and sisters who grew up Roman Catholic have asked me over the years whether Lutherans eat fish on Fridays during Lent. My answer is something like, “it depends whether the chef of the house feels like cooking, or going out for fish that Friday, I guess.” Although some churches enter into a communal fast—like fasting from all meat but fish on Fridays—other churches leave it to the individuals. I was serving a congregation in Columbia, SC during seminary that had the whole church fast from ‘sweets’ during Lent (that one was tough!)

Sunday School Update for December 2017

December is a busy month for us all! Why choose to be a part of all of the events here?... Build more friendships and connection through our community. Along with having memories that last a lifetime! The biggest game-changer for me is that when I see children interact here, they have sought out those relationships in other areas (school, dance, sporting event, etc.). Looking forward to growing together, serving others and knowing God!

Gratefully,

Beth Miller

Upcoming Events...

  • January: Sledding!
  • February: Movie Night!

Message From Pastor Stanton for December 2017

Since October 15, First Lutheran has been in an ‘every-member-visit’ mode. Thirty visitors have made their way to almost 150 families thus far. The conversations our visitors are having are priceless.

Last week I talked with a longtime member who is far less engaged with First than he used to be, “for no good reason”, he said. Through the course of our 45-minute conversation, I heard about the challenges his family has faced over the last year including a retirement, two elder deaths and three imminent graduations. What is so incredible to me is that most of my visits are like this. So much is happening in the lives of each and every family at First as parents age, kids grow, jobs change and life goes from one stage to another. Every time I leave one of these visits, I feel so much better about the health of our church as I know a little bit more about what my prayers should include and I understand how interconnected we already are. The ways I preach and the programs we offer take shape from these conversations. The vitality of our fellowship comes from knowing each other.

No Room in the Inn

Most of us are very familiar with the Christmas story and Jesus being born in a stable because there was no room for them. It’s one of the worst feelings to go into a place and find out there is no room for you. Whether that is a hotel after traveling for hours and hours, a restaurant that has a long wait list, or a church that is filled only on the aisle side leaving the middle open. Having to crawl over people can be uncomfortable and a bit awkward or having to go all the way to the front to find a seat can feel intimidating, especially if you are a visitor.