Monday Update

Desperate times call for desperate measures to be sure.  I am happy to report that for the most part you are all trying to comply with new health and safety measures.   Annette, our Community Health Nurse, and I are making phone calls each day to our “most vulnerable population ”  to assure they  are safe, have what they need, and know that the church is here for them.  I’ve been blessed to pray with folks over the phone, and sense God’s very present help in that way.  You can always call us too!

But desperate times also call for creative measures, and Brookdale is blessed with a host of creative minds.  We need to unleash them.  Here’s some creative measures I want to share:

First of all we have had two online services now.  This has taxed our dedicated tech crew to be sure, but Byron, Leanne and John have persevered.  We know there are still kinks to be worked out, and they are intent on continuous improvement!  But know this, the time this has required of them has been significant.  So, you might want to send a word of encouragement their way.   Tim and Patti and their daughter Emma have provided such encouragement to us.  I know that many of you sing along as they lead us in worship.  Someone wrote me a note asking,  “ can you hear everyone singing?”.  In my heart, yes, I can.

Brenda and Leanne have been creating connection with the kids even when we need to keep our distance.  Before the stay-at-home order went into effect, they were able to deliver 30 Easter bags to our children and youth.    Please take time to pray for our kids. 

Ruth Kazar made a wonderful list on the prayer sheet last week:  we can learn from her example! Denise sends it out each Monday.  Use the prayer sheet actively this week.

Finally, here is my favorite creative solution.  Julie Fick pulled into the church parking lot at 10:30 on Sunday morning to watch the service.  I suspect she won’t be alone next Sunday.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see some cars sporting  palm branches!   I imagine cars will  pull up and face the sanctuary, roll down their  windows,  join in the call to worship, sing the songs, pray some prayers.  There is a special benediction awaiting us all next Sunday.  But you’re just going to have to wait for that.

Remember our final Lent practice this week.  Fast from Despair…..Feast on Hope.  What an assignment! I suspect we are all doing some of both.  When it gets hard, remember that you belong to the beloved community, and there is someone who would love to pray with you, talk with you, connect with you.  So please don’t be shy.  No shame, no blame in the struggle; this is tough.  But let someone know you need some time, some encouragement, some laughter or love.  I want to know how you are!

Pastor Renee


Thursday  Update

There’s a message flashing on our Church sign. First the bad news: it says, “All Gatherings Postponed”.  The next message that scrolls on says: “Let’s Stay Connected” and it’s followed by our church phone number.  Let’s stay connected. I very much like that invitation. 

For at least the foreseeable future,  we won’t be having services together.  That is hard to fathom, isn’t it.  These last two weeks have brought changes that we didn’t see coming.  Our lives are disrupted in so many different ways.  So the sign outside carries a very important message. 

Let’s Stay Connected.  We are working very hard to get our “on-line presence” up and running, and we will let you know as soon as we can how that will work. The staff are all thinking creatively about staying connected with our children,  our youth, the families we care about so deeply, and of course our most vulnerable and precious seniors. 

 I would love to hear your suggestions about staying connected.   But I also want to know how you are.  I want to know how you are praying, or what you are learning, and yes, what is making your heart heavy.  Call the church office, send emails, text me. 

Can I ask you to also put this week’s  lent practice to work?  Remind yourself, that you are precious to God, you are one of the beloved. Listen to last Sunday’s message.   Read the Word.  Then you will be reminded of God’s amazing care for you.  God has called you by name, and you are his.  Feast on that, when times are hard, disappointing or downright dangerous.  God’s love for you will not fail.

So let’s stay connected.  The Lord is with us.

One more note: how are you feeding your soul? 
Here is a song that is speaking deep encouragement to me.  God is Sovereign over us, and we will actively put our trust in him. 

Click to Listen and Actively TRUST GOD DEEPER – Sovereign Over Us

Lets Stay Connected!

Pastor Renee



A Monday Morning check-in

Hello Brothers and Sisters!

Right now I’m sitting in my office at church.  Denise is down the hall in her office, doing all the things she normally does on Mondays.  But as I sit here, and as you read this wherever you are, we all know very little feels normal.

Yesterday we had what will likely be our last service together for several weeks.   Many, if not most churches were cancelled, and I was glad to see that many of our folks opted to stay home. But I was happy to be with you as well.   We have cancelled our Sunday and Wednesday night programs until further notice.  Our tech team is working to get online or streaming connections made.  The staff and leadership will be meeting to make specific plans for how we stay connected when we cannot meet.  We will be using every form of communication we can think of to stay in touch and to keep you updated.

But remember: This week our lent practice is  to feast on the knowledge that we are the beloved.  You can listen to the sermon on line for an explanation of that.  Truth is, it feels like everything has changed!  But this is what the Lord reminded me of this morning: it’s found on page 751 of your pew Bible.
Lamentations 3:22-23 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,[a]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

You know what I am going to be singing to myself now, don’t you.  That’s right: from the Blue hymnal, #78, Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  Hum it, sing it, listen to it on YouTube.  It was written by Christians going through extremely hard and uncertain times.  Like us.

I want to hear from you!  How are you feeling, how are you doing, what are you thinking about?  Call, email, or text.  Remember: The Lord is with you!

Talk to you soon,

Pastor Renee



New Decade, Old Things

As the Brookdale church family we now have the privilege of entering our 120th year of ministry.  On November 28, 1899, in a private home on 41st and Dupont Avenue North, a group of 20 or so Swedish immigrants covenanted together to form what would become Camden Covenant church. And then when they outgrew that building, they relocated in 1956 to our current location in Brooklyn Center. 


So altogether we have 120 years of history in North Minneapolis and in Brooklyn Center.  Our church home since 1956, at the intersection of Highway 100 and Brooklyn Boulevard, is about a mile and a half from the home where 20 immigrants first met, sang, read scripture, and prayed together.  This apple didn’t fall far from that tree.


I’ve been thinking about this long history a lot lately.  I have been thinking of that small group of people, probably all non-English speakers, and wondering what they would make of us–indeed of the world today!  Our two worlds, though only separated by one mile, seem light years apart.  There is no way they could have predicted much of life as we know it in 2020.  Could they advise us?  Would they have wisdom to share? Would they just shake their heads in total confusion?

I often find myself looking at the wonderful pictures that Diana Lundquist hung on the hallway across from the Prayer Chapel.  Every time I come out of that chapel there is a trio of black and white photos from 1927, 1939, and 1949.  Some of us long-timers can still name some of those faces in the 1949 photo.

If you enter church through the handicap entrance, you see the brass plaque on the wall dedicated to those charter members who sat in a house on 41st and Dupont and felt the call to begin a church.  At the bottom of the plaque is this verse: “I have a goodly heritage”. It comes from Psalm 16:6.

Psalm 16:6 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    I have a goodly heritage.

I think it’s interesting that this verse uses geographic language.  I read it in several different translations, and they use words like: lot lines, boundary lines, and houses and neighborhoods.  Location, location, location.  I think we are exactly where God wants us to be.

It’s a serious thing to be entrusted with a building, a lot, or a history.  But we do have a good heritage!  Our founders may be flabbergasted by the world we inhabit, but I know we could find some common ground!  We could sing that new hymn they were learning, our #78,  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”.   (It wasn’t written until 1923 after all).   We might not be able to sing it all in the same language; they would be singing in Swedish, and we might have a mishmash of English, Lao and Spanish, but we could all agree on the truth of it.  Only because of God’s faithfulness are we still here.

Great is thy Faithfulness, O God my Father!

There is no shadow of turning with thee

Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not

As thou hast been, thou forever wilt be


So as January unwinds we will begin with prayer.  We will renew our commitments. We will ground ourselves once again in the Word and the work.  And with God’s help, we will be faithful.  Not perfect.  But faithful.



Are We There Yet?

This Is Thanksgiving Week: that week that kicks the holiday season into high gear. The fact that Thanksgiving is a little late this year only increases the pace of everything Christmas and everything Advent.

 We concluded our Fall Road Trip with Jesus last Sunday.  I hope you enjoyed these parables as much as I did.  Thank you for coming along.  Special thanks to Julie Fick for dressing up the stage with all the travel props each week!  I liked coming into the sanctuary and wondering what she’s been up to this week!

The question that always gets asked by kids and impatient adults on any road trip I have ever been on is, “are we there yet?” It fits with last week’s review of the Kingdom that Jesus inaugurated.  Is the Kingdom here yet?  I remind you of the words from Kline Snodgrass, and his commentary that served as one of our guidebooks: Stories With Intent.  He writes that when Jesus was proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was at hand, or was present, he did not mean that the end of the world was present.  “It means that all the promises of the Old Testament scriptures, especially the prophets, had begun with Jesus’ actions and words”. 

So that’s where we’re headed next: back to the beautiful Advent promises from the book of Isaiah.  If there is one thing I have come to realize in these weeks, it is that we followers of Jesus straddle the two Kingdoms: the kingdom of this world and the Kingdom of heaven.  Christmas: with all of its wonderful and terrible cultural traditions and Advent: the Churches’ Holy season of Waiting co-exist.  But while we are in the House of the Lord, we will seek first his Kingdom.  Because that is at least in part, what we are waiting for. 


Where Do We Go from Here?

I always get a little sad about saying goodbye to summer.  I so appreciate the calmer pace, the longer days, the beauty of creation all around.  For me, summer is best spent on, in, or near “the lake,” and I get renewed with every trip there.  Already though, the northland is experiencing the earliest hints of fall.  Our Beautiful and Blessed study is winding down too.  All summer we explored the beautiful nature of our God, and the invitation to draw near was ever before us.  My prayer throughout was that you experienced God in some new or important way. 

“Where do we go from here?” someone asked recently.   It was a bigger question than it may appear…it was said with that worried look you get as you watch the news or read the paper.  It was an anxious response to unwelcome and uncomfortable events – a guarded way of asking if things were spinning out of control – a good grounding question, one I’ve been praying often lately.

Sometimes –  when you ask the right question, in just the right way, it starts providing a good answer: Where do we go from here?  We get going.  What better way to get going than with our Rally Weekend Car Show.  We’ve got a band new parking lot and a brand new entrance….let’s fill it up with classic cars, and Tov garden produce, crafts, music,  food and fun.  We want to let the neighborhood know our doors are wide open, and we’ve got places to go, and we would love to invite them along for the ride.

This fall we will be taking a road trip.  It starts with the All Church Retreat on Sept 6-8.  If anyone knows about traveling, it’s our recent immigrants!  They will start our fall by talking about their spiritual and physical journeys from Ghana and Nigeria.  See the website for more information.  Then, we will spend our Sundays with the “travel narratives of Jesus” as found in the Gospel of Luke.

Luke 9-19 are some of the most unique chapters in the gospels.  They document the final time Jesus traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem; they conclude with the final week of Jesus’ life.  The narrative begins like this:  As the time approached for him to be taken to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (Luke 9: 51).  We are going on that road trip with Jesus, even though it requires going through hostile territory.  The end game will be his arrest and crucifixion.  Along the way Jesus speaks constantly  in Parables, many of which are recorded nowhere else. Why tell so many stories when the time is so short and the stakes are so high?  Each week we will use this context to look at the parables and locate our own faith journey along the road that Jesus walks. The stories Jesus tells are remarkably ordinary, but somehow they get under our skin and invite participation in kingdom life. As Eugene Peterson writes, this road trip is preparing them (and us) to “live in a world that neither knows nor wants to know Jesus.”  

So that’s where we go from here.  I’m packed and ready.  How about you?