Meet Pastor Dan
Pastor Dan Forsgren and his family arrived in North Idaho October, 2014. Dan and Sarah have been married for 17 years, and have three children: Donny (15), Karis (11), and William (9).
Leading this Coeur d'Alene congregation includes Sunday morning messages to our children, and all manner of faith formation, including the occasional stint as a Christmas extra!
I was thinking about letting my last letter to the congregation about the Covid 19 update stand alone as my newsletter article this month. The more I thought about it though, the less satisfied I was with myself for thinking that.
Those letters, those updates are important. As a congregation, we need to keep up-to-date about what we as a church are doing, how we are responding, how we are trying to stay connected while we cannot physically gather together. But, those letters are not a newsletter article. I am habitually late getting my newsletter articles in. I am sure that I have frustrated more than one of the people who work hard to bring you our monthly newsletter in my time so far here as pastor. You all know who you are! My intent is not to frustrate anyone, but rather, my intent is to have our newsletter lead off with a good word, hopefully relevant to what is going on in our community and in our world. The truth is I love writing newsletter articles; but I know that I am my own worst critic, so I tend to overthink what I am writing and end up finding the deadline, either on top of me or perhaps a day or two behind me!
It’s difficult to look at our current situation and try to write something that isn’t influenced by the current pandemic.
So, I figured I would offer a few of my own thoughts about what is going on, and what I see our role is in the midst of a global pandemic.
I often joke that I must have missed miracle day at Seminary. I have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to turn water into wine…or so I tell people. Now wait a minute, I have never turned water to wine, the unsuccessful part isn’t what I was referring to, I haven’t tried many times… not sure if I’ve ever tried. There is nothing wrong with a little levity! I really don’t think there was a miracle day at Seminary, though I did miss a day or two for one reason or another. What they never offered was a pandemic day. They never prepared us for how to deal with what we, as a faith community, as a nation are going through. I am learning just as the rest of you are. I miss gathering for worship. I’m sure you are as well. Those are some of the comments I have been hearing that people miss gathering together as church. I miss gathering around the Sacraments. Being a part of the mystery of faith that exists in and around Holy Communion. We normally celebrate the Eucharist every week, gathering together for that foretaste of the feast to come. Saying and hearing those words, “This is the body of Christ, given for you.” “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.” Those words unite us together as one people. It is the great leveling bar where we all find ourselves with the same need, the same want, the same desire. To experience the means of Grace.
The means of Grace are another term for the Sacraments. It means those physical ways which we partake of the Grace of God, feeling the water, tasting the bread and the wine, the body and blood. Knowing that it is some of the best stuff that we have to offer, that we have to receive. I have shared communion with people of all ages, with people from varying denominational backgrounds, with people hungry and thirsty for Christ, for mercy, for Grace. It is important to remember though, that while the Sacraments are of utmost importance to us as Lutherans, as Christians, as people of faith, they are a means of Grace. They are not Grace themselves. God’s Grace still is at work in the world. God’s Grace is still at work in our lives; we still live under that same Grace with which we were named, claimed, chosen, and sent as baptized children of God. We are still ambassadors of God’s Grace into a world that, maybe, especially right now needs that Grace all the more!
One of the best ways we can serve God by serving others is to make sure we are following those best practices that have been set before us. With the current statewide stay-home order from Governor Little, that means taking it seriously; only venturing out as needed, not as wanted.
We have a responsibility to and for our neighbors, especially those most vulnerable to this strain of the coronavirus.
A part of our being church together is to not physically be together. We are still, as a church, trying to figure out what some of that means, and it is difficult. It is difficult to feel like we are sitting idly by while all this stuff is going on. Perhaps sitting idly by is the wrong way to look at it though. I think a better way to look at it is to sit actively by. Actively doing our part to help stop the spread of this illness. And it doesn’t stop there; prayer is active, and our community, our world needs your prayers. Pray for the victims, those suffering from the effects of this illness. Pray for doctors, nurses, and all medical staff who are working to care for those who are sick, that God might continue to uplift, support and bless them with His knowledge, wisdom and care. Pray that this spread slows down, that the national and global communities have the strength to weather this pandemic. Pray for the health and safety of our brothers and sisters, for our neighbors whoever they might be. And when you have no words left know that the Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
Thank you for your faithfulness,
thank you for your prayers, thank you for being who God has called you to be.
Pastor Dan Forsgren