Dear People on the Way,

One of the best things about the Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS) Assembly was the presence of the Rev. Kevin Strickland, ELCA Director of Worship. Pastor Strickland brought a message from Church-wide, led several workshop sessions, and preached at the closing worship. The theme of this year’s Assembly was “Worship,” so it was especially meaningful that he was with us.

In Bishop Skrennes’ sermon during opening worship, he talked about the importance of worship from the time God’s Church began. Citing worshipping communities throughout the NGLS, he talked about the amazing ministry that is going on in Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula, and then made it very clear that, without worship, those ministries would not happen. It is as we come together as a worshipping community that we deepen our relationship with God and with one another. We worship God in a variety of places and in a variety of ways, but the bottom line is that we are gathered, and through the Holy Spirit, the living Christ is with us, calling us, strengthening us, encouraging us; healing, redeeming and loving us. You will find an article about the NGLS Assembly written by Alice and Chris from their perspective inside this newsletter. So let me move on from the Assembly and continue discussing worship.

Whether or not it snows again, this is the time of year we all start to think of vacations, camping, traveling, backyard gatherings, and sometimes worship gets lost. The old mantra, “God doesn’t vacation from us, so we shouldn’t vacation from God,” isn’t especially encouraging or helpful to us as we think about our lives on Sundays this summer. I’ve lived through three winters now and I know how much the outdoors pulls at us in the few non-winter months we have. We even say – “it’s the only way we survive the winters; by spending as much time as possible outdoors.” We will offer some outdoor activities (VBS, S’more Worship, etc.) so you can enjoy both fellowship with God and God’s people, as well as God’s creativity in the outdoors. Yet, worship on Sunday mornings remains important. The only way we survive as Christians is by meeting together, hearing the Word together, praying and singing together, and being sent out into the world together.

Please include Sunday worship in your plans this summer. If you want an earlier start, join us at First in Dollar Bay at 9:00 a.m. If sleeping in is important, get up in time to make our 11 a.m. service. There is also a 5pm worship at Winona on Saturday nights. If those times and places don’t work for you, find another place of worship that you might be encouraged and strengthened by gathering with other people of God and worship with them. You are welcome to arrive at the last minute and to race out the minute the dismissal is given. God will be just fine whether you participate in worship or not. But will you? You don’t owe this to God. You owe it to yourself.

With God’s love,

Pastor Sally