The Year of SEND = 2017

(2017) Last month, my husband and daughter took a weekend trip to the family lake place, just the two of them. The weather wasn’t going to be great, but they had plans to fish and enjoy the lake anyway.

About a day into their trip, I got this text: “Look what we found!” It was a monarch caterpillar. Together, father and daughter located a jar and some extra milkweed, and made a home for “Ralphie.” Ralphie traveled to Eagan, where he ate some more milkweed in his home-sweet-jar, until he spun himself into a chrysalis.

Just last Sunday, I got another text: “Ralphie’s all grown up!!” We set Ralphie free, and he flew only a very short distance before he stopped to rest on the chimney of our house. He flapped his wings, but he just wasn’t flying anywhere. He was still getting used to having wings, I suppose. My daughter and I watched him until we got bored, but eventually we went inside. About an hour later, I just had to check on Ralphie again – he was gone! Maybe he was off to find his monarch buddies, or to start making plans for his fall migration to Mexico. But mostly, he was unleashed into the world, to share his beauty with the rest of God’s creation.

Like Ralphie, each one of us has beauty to share with the world. God created each of us for a purpose, and God has created wonderful ways for us to love and serve our neighbor. When we worship. learn, and find connections here at Shepherd of the Valley, it is a beautiful, life-giving thing. Each of us is strengthened for our life’s journey by experiencing God’s love through Jesus Christ. But ultimately, we are strengthened for a purpose. Like Ralphie, each of us is sent into the world to share something beautiful with others. And like Ralphie, we might flap our wings for a while, thinking we aren’t headed anywhere. But God has given you strong and mighty wings. You are sent to be God’s love, light, and beauty for the world.

This year at Shepherd of the Valley, we are beginning the Year of Send and focusing on the theme “Putting Feet to our Faith.” As a congregation, we share God’s love through our many ministries, as well as through the numerous things each of us do individually to serve Christ in our daily lives. During the Year of Send (see below), we will highlight those things we are already doing, and we will also add some new ministries to help unleash even more of Christ’s love into the world.

Join us for for our fall sermon series, “Putting Feet to Our Faith,” and our new fall adult education option called FaithConnect, which will explore spiritual gifts and the topic, “God’s Purpose, My Purpose” (see p. 10). You are also invited to join us for a community forum on August 10 from 6:30 to 8:00 PM to address the next steps toward establishing an emergency homeless shelter in Dakota County (see p. 7).

One other important way we are sent to share God’s love is by inviting others into supportive Christian community. So, I encourage you to invite your friends, neighbors, and family to our new Sunday evening casual, family-friendly worship service called Breaking Bread (see p. 11), as well as our annual Block Party on September 16. (see p. 5)

Each of us is uniquely blessed with particular gifts for serving Christ and sharing God’s love with the world. Just like Ralphie was transformed from caterpillar to butterfly, each of us is transformed by Christ. And like Ralphie, we each have been given wings to fly; we are sent into the world to share God’s amazing love.

Wendy Steger
Connect Pastor

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