Monday, March 24, 2014


Hunter Alan-Love Steiber, son of Andrea Love-Steiber and Dexter Steiber was baptized at Our Savior's Lutheran Church on Sunday, March 23rd. His baptismal sponsors are Dusty and Kristen Steiber. Pictured left to right are Wyatt, Dusty and Kristen Steiber, Pastor Laura Gentry, Andrea Love-Steiber holding Hunter Steiber, Dexter Steiber, holding Lane Steiber, Dakota Steiber (front). We welcome little Hunter into the family of God!

Monday, March 10, 2014


This Lent, we have an exciting set of midweek services designed to move you into a deeper communion with God. Each service will also include the celebration of Holy Communion. Here is the schedule.

March 12: Prayer Around the Cross
This is a meaningful devotional service, which was developed at Holden Village.  It is filled with music, scripture and silence. During the service, people have the opportunity to come to a large cross on the floor, light a candle and pray.

March 19: Lectio Divina
This deliberate praying of the scriptures will move our hearts into quiet contemplation and peace. 

March 26: The Labyrinth
 This simple walking meditation is a spiritual tool for healing,  self-knowledge and finding our purpose in life. We will be setting up a labyrinth like the one pictured here. It is so large that it does not fit in our church building so we will meet that night in the Kerndt Brothers Community Center.

April 2: The Jesus Prayer 
Dating back to the sixth century, this short repetitive prayer, also known as the prayer of the heart allows us deep contact with the present moment. We descend with our minds into our hearts where we will reside.

April 9: Movement Meditations to the Songs from Taize
 These movements—gestures, bows and walking patterns—are easy to learn and are appropriate for all ages. They are set to beautiful songs and chants that allow us to meditate with graceful movements. They were developed by Carla DeSola, pictured above, director of Omega West, a liturgical dance company in Berkeley, California (and professor to Pastor Laura Gentry).

Each week, we will collect an offering at the Lenten service. All of these offerings will be sent to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign. Learn more at:

Sunday, March 9, 2014


On Sunday, March 9, 2014, Our Savior's held a first communion Sunday. The students who were welcomed to the table included Austin St. Mary, son of Amanda Romie and Tyler St. Mary; Jack Schweitzer, son of Kristie Kamm and Mike Schweitzer; and Curt Lewis Neuenkirk, Jr., son of Kari Neuenkirk and Curt Neuenkirk. A reception was held following the service.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


by Pastor Laura Gentry

It's Lent again. Yep, that's an ash cross selfie from our Ash Wednesday service last night. Since we we admit that we are dust at this worship, it's helpful to not take ourselves too seriously. So I share it with you to show that the joy of the Lord is our strength—even in Lent.

And, in fact, Lent is a deeply joyful season because it invites us to draw nearer to God, our true source of life and vitality. The tradition of Lenten disciplines center around prayer, fasting (read about fasting here) and almsgiving (expanding our generosity). Is it possible for you to take on some of these tried-and-true disciplines this Lenten season? 

To inspire you, here's a list of creative ideas. Read through them all and consider which ones might work for you then challenge yourself to do at least one thing each day for the next 40 days. Try 40 different ones or keep doing ones that work well. You don't just have to stick to this list, though. Come up with your own ideas.

1. Make a gratitude list.
Write down a list of things for which you are grateful and really experience the joy of each thing as you jot it downDid you know that gratitude is good for you—and that's been scientifically proven? Check out this article:

2. Pray for someone you don't like.
Spend 5 minutes praying for some you don’t like or get along with. Notice how it feels to do so.  Jesus instructed us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. If we do it persistently, we'll find we can't dislike them anymore. Read more about that here:

3. Give up a food or drink you love for a day. 
You can fast by not eating anything, but you can also fast from just one particular food. Choose something you eat or drink every day and give it up. Every time you miss it, pray and give thanks that you have it.

4. Connect with an old friend.
Think of a friend you haven't been in contact with recently. Call, email or send them a card.  Being generous also includes our time. Doing something simple like this shows others that they are important because they are worth of our time. What a gift!

5. Don’t turn on the radio in the car.
For a whole day, be silent when you're in the car. Use the silence to pray and contemplate. Fasting from distractions like radio may be difficult but the payout is great. It gives us time for quiet prayer. Try it.

6. Make a donation to Lutheran World Relief.
Their ministries are varied and it's a great way to ensure your gift will do something truly good. Learn more and donate online at their site:

7. Be quiet for 5 minutes.
Take a simple 5 minutes of silence in the middle of your day. Breathe mindfully and notice God’s gracious presence. You don't have to be an expert meditator, just start small with a period of silence. Set a timer so you don't have to distract yourself with watching the clock. Here's an inspirational post about silence:

8. Educate yourself about the crisis of human trafficking around the world. 
Pray for an end to it and learn how you can take action. The ELCA website is a great source of information about this:

9. Practice Lectio Divina.
This is an ancient technique of contemplative prayer called Lectio Divina, or divine reading. Learn more about how the process works here:

10. Offer a friend the gift of “15 Minutes of Listening.” 
If they’re willing to receive it, they get to tell you anything they want for 15 minutes while you listen deeply with your whole self asking questions only for clarification, not to add your own opinions or stories. Listening is a rare and precious gift these days. Learn how to be more generous with this gift by practicing it. Here's an Oprah with inspiration on being a better listener:

11. Be on the lookout for beauty.
Spend a whole day on the lookout for beautiful things—notice them, appreciate them, and be amazed. Tell someone or journal about your findings. God is everywhere if we only have the eyes to see wholeness. Ignatian spirituality has a lot to offer about this. Check out this fabulous article:

12. Clean a closet and donate all the things you aren’t using to a charity.
Clutter actually causes us stress and diminishes our health and happiness. We can simplify our lives, make more room for God, and help others all at once. Here are ideas for decluttering:

13. Declare it “No Complaining Day!” 
Every time you catch youself complaining, put a quarter in a jar, then give whatever you’ve collected to a ministry. A little complaining is part of life, but you might be complaining more than you realize. By "fasting" from it, you can catch yourself doing so and start to form better habits—like gratitude and joy. Here are some interesting thoughts about this:

14. Shovel somone else’s driveway without being asked or paid.
Yes, we are assuming there will still be snow in Lent.
This and other acts of service go a long way to communicate our care for others.

15. Fast from driving. 
No, I didn't say drive fast—I said fast from driving. You can do it for a day. Walk if you have to get somewhere and use the time to consider your driving habits and how you could reduce your carbon footprint.

16. Volunteer at a nursing home.
No matter what your skill set, they have something meaningful for you to do, just ask. Don't shy away from it. You'll be blessed beyond your expectations. Read more here:

17. Surprise a far-away friend by mailing a small gift.
These days, people are often too busy to send gifts. Taking time to do so communicates a great deal and expands your generosity.

18. Pray for the people and situations in the day’s news.
Praying for these people is a good remedy to "compassion fatigue." Even though we are overloaded with tragic news, we can still care about the people effected. It keeps us human and connected to our brothers and sisters everywhere.

19. Do Centering Prayer.
This fresh way of doing contemplative prayer is accessible for modern people. Explore it at: Watch an introduction by Father Thomas Keating:

20. Write a gratitude letter to a member of your family.
How often do you really tell your family members how often you appreciate them? Sometimes the ones we live with feel taken for granted. A gratitude letter can change all of that. Watch this powerful video for a bit of inspiration:

21. Let go of a grudge.
Admit it—you've got some grudges you're hanging onto. Choose one and decide to let it go. Spend the day praying about it and as for God's help. This Mayo Clinic article offers some guidance:

22. Don’t go on the internet for a whole day.
Plan a day to be unplugged. It's good for your soul. Here's more on that:

23. Declare it “Text Compliment Day!” 
Use your phone to text compliments to friends and family all day. Have fun. Be creative.

24. Go out of your way to meet someone new.
How easy it is to stay in our own little circle of like-minded people, but how hard it is to expand our love and generosity when we do that. Challenge yourself to go outside of your comfort zone and connect with someone new.

25. Learn about malaria and what you can do to help eliminate it.
Educate yourself about the world health crisis of malaria. Learn about it here: Our Savior's will be donating ALL of our 2014 Lenten service offerings to the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

26. Bake cookies or some other treat and give them to someone.
How fun it is to offer a totally out-of-the-blue gift!

27. Declare it a “Laughing Day!” 
The joy of the Lord is our strength so why not laugh more? Spend a few minutes at the start of the day laughing by yourself for no reason. Tell other people you encounter during the day about your laughing experiment and ask them to laugh with you just for the fun of it. Trust me, it will be fun. Learn about the benefits of laughing here:

28. Consider how to be a better steward of the environment.
The ELCA has a lot of resources for your consideration:

29. Use a touchstone as a prayer reminder.
Put a small cross or stone in your pocket and every time you find yourself touching it, remember to pray.

30. Perform a random act of kindness.
There are so many great ideas here:

31. Donate time or money to a local environmental group.
Here in Lansing, Iowa, we have the Friends of Pool 9 that helps keep the Mississippi River beautiful:

32. Give up your bed for a night.
Sleep on the floor and whenever you wake up in discomfort, use it as a reminder to pray for the estimated 610,000 homeless people in America. An alternate way is to give up just your pillow. Learn more about ending homelessness here:

33. Provide a ride for a community member.
In rural communities like ours, it is difficult to get transportation. You could provide a much needed ride to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment.

34. Smile at yourself. Start a smile revolution.
Spend 5 minutes smiling at yourself in the mirror. Try to let go of any feelings of negative self-judgement and see yourself as God sees you (you can laugh a little bit, too). Then commit to a smile revolution day. Offers smiles to everyone you meet. Watch this TED talk on this hidden power of smiling:

35. Fast from workday lunch.
Don’t eat lunch and spend your lunch break praying. After lunch, pray every time you notice hunger.

36. Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Generosity should extend to animals, too! Volunteers are greatly needed just about everywhere and it's fun. Crawford Area Shelter near Lansing:

37. Declare it “Body Temple Day!” 
Treat your body like the temple of the Holy Spirit that it is. Eat healthy foods. Drink a lot of water. Get plenty of sleep. Treat yourself to some exercise. And be sure to thank God for the gift of your temple.

38. Invite an unchurched person to worship with you.
Share the joy of your faith with someone by offering them a personal invitation to church.

39. Fast from Facebook.
Give up all of your social media for a day and, instead, connect with people face-to-face. Notice how good it feels.

40. Apologize.
If there is someone who is upset with you, to whom you have not yet apologized, go to them and offer a sincere apology.

41. Walk a labyrinth.
The labyrinth is an ancient tool for deepening spirituality. Learn more and walk one virtually at:

42. Write a gratitude letter to a teacher.
Teachers change our lives. Have you thanked yours? Track down your favorite teacher and write him or her a letter explaining how their good work has effected you positively.

43. Say the Jesus Prayer.
Learn the beautiful Jesus Prayer, which is simply: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Pray it for 15 minutes or more, connecting it with the breath.

44. Write a letter of encouragement to yourself.
You probably offer a lot of encouragement to others, but do you offer it to yourself? Use this as an opportunity to remind yourself of your strengths and gifts—and your value to God.

45. Declare it “Hug Day!” 
Proceed to hug everyone who will let you all day long. Hugs are healing.

46. Do devotions.
Take time for daily bible reading. You can receive an email of daily devotions free by signing up at:

47. Give up playing video games for a day.
For the avid gamer, this will be difficult, but fasting from them demonstrates to yourself that you can live without them. Spend the time you would have been gaming in prayer.

48. Remember the dead.
Write a gratitude letter to a friend or loved one who has died. Recall all the things you love about them and remind them in your letter that they are not forgotten—they are with you always—and you look forward to seeing them again in the life to come.

49. Learn about a saint.
There are so many inspirational stories of the lives of saints. Pick one. Read about him or her and consider how their story can guide your own journey.

50. Attend Lenten worship services.
Oh yeah, don't forget the wonderful opportunity right under your nose. Take the time to attend the mid-week services. Ours are at 6:30 p.m.

51. Fast from people.
As Christians, our mission is to love people so it sounds counterintuitive to give them up. But even Jesus needed time alone. Try it for yourself. If possible, get away for an entire day. It not, just a few hours. Use the time to connect with God.

52. Go for a hike.
Okay, in our neck of the woods that would require snowshoes but hey, it's worth it. Spending time in nature connects us to God in a marvelous way. Don't forget to go outside at night and check out the moon, too. The next full one will be March 30th. Here's a moon phase calendar for your reference:

53. Don't shop.
Spend an entire day without buying anything. Use the experiment to consider how much money is a part of your life. What can you do to make sure God is more important and that you use your financial resources wisely and generously?

54. Be an advocate.
Learn more about how faith and public life are connected and sign up for the ELCA Advocacy Network where you can take action in easy ways, like signing on-line petitions.

55. Visit a shut in member of the church.
Chances are, they don't get enough visitors. Your presence could brighten their day!

56. Double your tip.
Next time you're dining out, double the tip you would normally give your waiter or waitress. This random generosity will be greatly appreciated.

57. Do a visual meditation.
Spend some time looking at art works based on the the bible and allow them to expand your thinking about the text.  A great source is:

Thanks for reading this blog post. I encourage you to post comments about how these practices have worked for you. Do you have other ideas? Please share them.