Dear Beloved in Christ of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod,
The seemingly endless winter, followed by the cold wet spring, weighed heavily on all of us, but the toll it is taking on our famers and all who draw their living from agriculture is enormous. I write to ask for your prayers, your vigilance and where possible, your help.
Prayers: Water is a gift from God which has the power to wield both refreshment and destruction. The flood waters that over centuries enrich the soil with generous deposits of sediment, also, when they persist, render the land useless. Even our understanding of baptism reflects this reality. The waters of baptism promise renewal of life and the cleansing of forgiveness (Titus 3:5-6), and they also bring about our death to sin (Romans 6:4). Our farmers understand this dynamic better than most of us. It’s why, when it comes to praying about the weather, they might say, “watch out what you ask for!” And so that is why I’ve asked the farmer on our staff, SAM Kathy Levenhagen, to offer a prayer at this moment when our farmers are anxiously awaiting an opportunity to get in the field and plant before it’s too late. I invite you to use this or a similar prayer in your own daily devotions and in your congregation’s prayers of the church.
O Lord, we come to you in this season of wind, rain, sun and flood. God of Creation, water is the basic gift of life. As water spreads out and covers land and roads, may the rich, nutritious mud give food for your people. Lord in your mercy… God of Creation, You have made us care-takers of livestock and wildlife. Even the animals feel the panic of the floodwaters. Please provide shelter for the creatures who share our planet. Lord in your mercy… God of Creation, Your people are weary of the weather over the last six months. Give us strength to see the shoreline once again. May the devastation of property be small. So many people have experienced lost in varying degrees and we look to You for comfort. Lord in your mercy… God of Creation, may we be the voice of hope in a time of despair. May we lament prayers for those who have none. May we be quick to respond with help, whether sandbags or rebuilding. Lord in your mercy… Lord, we lift these prayers to You on behalf of Your people. We know there is not one place on the planet where we can go where You are not already present. We pray in confidence because Jesus rose from the grave to give us hope. In Jesus' holy name. Amen
Vigilance The stress of these times can be overwhelming, and we can’t predict who will be most affected. Please pay attention to the people in your community. Offer a word of encouragement, the promise of prayer and the offer of care in whatever way God makes you able.
Help While we are powerless over the weather, real help can come in many forms. The simple heartfelt expression of care is probably the most impactful. This is part of what it means to be the body of Christ together – we love each other through the toughest of times. Tangible help can be a lifesaver, too. Consider a monetary gift to local agencies that offer aid to people in distress. I encourage you to give to our synod’s Easter Appeal: half of the money goes for direct grants to congregations for food and housing programs to assist people in their local community and the other half is for Lutheran Disaster Response’s relief efforts in Ukraine.
Dear one, let’s not let crisis-fatigue hold us back from being there for one another through these difficult times. “For you are the body of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 12:27). The church was built for times like these. Thank you for your good care of one another, and for your prayers.
Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor Bill Tesch Bishop of the Northwestern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA
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