It’s Confirmation … NOT Graduation!

It’s Confirmation … NOT Graduation!

The following post was adapted from a message that Ryan Knipping, sophomore at Eagan High School and member of Easter shared at confirmation at Easter by the Lake in October. Ryan is involved with the youth summer mission trip program as well as TIM team and Yowies (Youth on Wednesday) high school youth group. Ryan is also involved in the boy’s swim team and other school acitivites.

Confirmation Class Selfie

Confirmation Class Selfie

So first off, I love microphones, so this should be fun. Hey, I’m Ryan Knipping, my story with this church goes back pretty far, I was baptized here, and grew up here. I always grew up going to Sunday school, and it wasn’t until the summer going into my 7th grade year that i truly started to get involved. It all started by signing up for a crazy thing called vacation bible school. Picture your biggest fear…spiders, heights, plane falling from the sky, just put that picture in your head. Now my definition of fear at that time was a huge group of elementary school children that are extraordinarily energetic, and just want to run and have fun. It was not my definition of fun, yet for some crazy reason I went back and did it next summer.

That same summer going into 7th grade, I went on my first mission trip to Milwaukee Wisconsin, despite it being in Wisconsin, it was the best week of my life. On that trip, it was the first time I found God. I say it’s when I found God because it’s when I realized that he’s always there.

Now skip to last summer, by last summer I had been on 5 mission trips to Milwaukee, Duluth, Cairo IL, West Virginia, and finally one of my favorite memories was my trip this summer to Alabama. This is where I was faced with that same agonizing fear that I have…large groups of elementary schoolers that just want to have fun and be kids!

I don’t know how many of you have been to Alabama in the middle of the summer, but let’s just say you never hear the words “I’m cold.” So we were at this community center that had “AC” that tried so hard to keep the heat out, somewhat unsuccessfully. It was in the gym of that community center that I met a little boy named Titus.

Titus was about as tall as my waist, so you can imagine the reaction I had when he ran up to me and gave me a bear hug, just wrapped his arms around me and shoved his head right where it hurts. Him and I soon got very close, and within 30 minutes we were sitting down listening to a story from the Bible about God’s love, shocker I know, story in the Bible about God’s love. He was sitting in my lap and he turns to me and says “I love you” and before I even knew what had happened, I had been kissed by a four-year-old on the lips.

I realized at that time that he might not have anyone to go home to after this and show love to, at the time and still today it almost brings tears to my eyes, all he wanted was to be loved, and to show his love for others.

Many of you know how involved I have become in the community of Easter Lutheran, I have been able to grow as a person and in my faith. The biggest thing that I have realized though this over 1000 day journey of confirmation is that it’s not a Sunday thing, we’re called to live it out each and every day.

Confirmation Friends

Confirmation Friends, Ryan is in the upper right corner of this photo!

The thing I hope that everyone realizes today is that this is not a graduation from the church, it’s not that we never have to come back. This is us confirming our faith, this is not the end of the book, but simply a new chapter. As cliche as it sounds, because it is, I’d like to say thank you to everyone that has brought me to where I am today, all of which are way too long to name, but trust me. You can’t begin to know the impact you have had on me. Lastly remember how much I love microphones, and how fun this experience has been, thanks.

Miriam: Faith, Joy, Love, Friendship

Miriam: Faith, Joy, Love, Friendship

Hello Easter community!  My name is Sarah Lardy and I am a current freshman at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. This past summer, I was fortunate enough to go on the Arecibo, Puerto Rico mission trip and thought I’d share a way I saw God throughout the week.

I have been on five mission trips total, all through YouthWorks, so you could say I’m pretty familiar with the typical daily schedule of a mission trip. In general, days consist of an early morning breakfast, and devotions, then work sites from 9-3 (including lunch), and showers, dinner, and evening activities to fill the rest of the day. On this particular trip, work sites were shortened to 10-2, to allow for more time to experience the culture and community in which we served.

Sarah, Emma, and Courtney

Sarah, Emma, and Courtney

My group was sent to the Salvation Army to work with kids, however we learned the morning of day 1 that no kids showed up for kids club. Instead, we would be cleaning and painting the building.  Normally, I expect to be working for the solid four hours we’re at the site, with a lunch break sometime in the middle. However, we soon learned that this place was not like that.  Miriam, the woman in charge of our projects, often gathered us inside the building and talked to us for hours. She constantly told us to take breaks and slow down. It was a little weird for me to experience this as I was planning on working hard to make a difference; it was odd to just sit.  What I didn’t know, is we weren’t just sitting around, we were being exposed to God’s work.  We came to learn that Miriam is a strong woman of faith, and she uses that to carry her through each day. She was so grateful we were there to help; it didn’t matter how much we worked, even the smallest amount made her so happy. She spoke to us about how God has a plan for each of us and that it’s important to put our faith in Him. She spoke of how she turned her life to God and followed where he led, and encouraged us to do the same. The people at the Salvation Army even took a morning to pray for us and hold a mini-worship through which they praised God and sang. It’s through Miriam, and others at the Salvation Army how I really saw God that hot week in July.

Emma Wingad, Karina Johnson, Courtney , Miriam, Sarah Barber, Sarah Lardy in front of the Salvation Army building

Emma Wingad, Karina Johnson, Courtney Wolfe, Miriam, Sarah Barber, Sarah Lardy in front of the Salvation Army building

One of the biggest things I learned on the trip was not that hard work makes a difference.  Work certainly helps, but the connections you can make to others, the conversations and shared laughter, are what really make a difference.  One other way I saw God on the trip was simply in the majesty of the ocean.  We were able to visit the beach four times during the week, twice to swim and twice to have devotions and hang out.  Often, I found myself on the edge of the water, right where the waves lapped at the shoreline.  Looking out into the vast expanse of the sea, unable to see any land across the horizon, really made me feel miniscule in this huge world.  More importantly, I could feel God’s power over the waves, and it was simply incredible. Overall, mission trips were an integral part of my high school experience, and I’ll never forget the memories made and lessons learned during my weeks away.

Jesus is the Light of the World

Jesus is the Light of the World

Thank you and God Bless!

God’s Great Dance Floor

Today’s post is written by Vision Board member, Chris Cairo:

IMG_3904Recently my wife and I went to the Chris Tomlin / Tenth Avenue North / Rend Collective concert: it was awesome. I’m posting some pictures, but you will have to go to my Facebook page to see/hear the videos (there are 12, as I got carried away).

This was our second concert within a week, as we had gone to Maroon 5 on the previous Monday. Maroon 5 had a lot of energy, but this energy was different.

I cannot begin to explain the feeling of being at a concert with over 10,000 other Christians:

Everyone singing.
Hands raised to God.
Praying.
Worshipping God.

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God created us to be in community, with Him, and with each other.

My favorite song of the evening? “God’s great dance floor”:

“I feel alive, I come alive
I am alive on God’s great dance floor”

The Target Center was alive!

The energy last night? In Matthew 18:20 it says; “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them”

The Holy Spirit maybe? Yeah, I think so.

IMG_3963

“I feel alive, I come alive
I am alive on God’s great dance floor!!”

Where or when do you feel alive with God??

For your journey: don’t forget the map

Today’s post is written by Chris Cairo, member of Easter Lutheran’s Vision Board:

I think many of you have seen the movies or read the books of The Chronicles of Narnia, written by C.S. Lewis.

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis--book cover from AmazonLewis also wrote many other books, including Mere Christianity, which I received as a Christmas book this year (great read—I highly recommend). In it he talks about Christianity as a map. I will try to do his analogy justice.

If you spent the day up in Duluth, on the shore of Lake Superior, you could admire its majestic beauty, and imagine its size. But if you needed to find a friend’s cabin somewhere on the coast, you would want Google maps or your phone’s GPS. The map is valuable because others have explored this area before you and their collective wisdom and data guides you to your destination, and helps you from getting lost on your journey. Religion (such as Christianity) is our map to God.

When my wife and I travel in Europe (and I know a number of you studied abroad, so you can probably relate), we always have an actual map with us, along with our phones GPS, but sometimes that’s not enough. Paris and Rome can still be confusing when everything is foreign and in a foreign language. We have found that asking for help and directions is not only practical, but enhances our trip. People add context and color that a map can’t; not only can they tell us the best way to get where we want to go, but point out great sites along the way, they give us history of where we are going, and facts we would have never known left to our own exploring. And we meet some very interesting people! (Google can’t compare to the intoxicated man I talked to in Florence who helped us find the David!)

I am sure you could see Europe by yourself. But when we travel as a family, or with friends, we experience more, we enjoy more …the journey itself becomes a part of the trip…and God designed us to be in community with each other as we seek Him…and when we “journey” with other Christians we experience God more fully (think of your mission trips).

FriendshipIf ‘religion’ is a like a map, then church activities (such as attending worship, bible study groups, Christian campus groups, small faith groups, etc.) and even just spending time with other Christians provides the color commentary that makes our journey towards God come alive.

 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another… (Hebrews 10:24-25)

So, who are you traveling with?