We're thrilled this week to be able to share this post from our Choir Director, Joy Paffenroth. Joy is a choir teacher at Kaukauna High School who has been wading through the challenges of launching school for the 2020 school year. Here is a post she shared to her Facebook page a couple days after school started. We are sharing this here with her permission.
It’s been a LONG week. Although I am THRILLED to see my students again, the new reality of teaching is something like I’ve never experienced before. There are so many layers...so. many. I’m not going to lie...I’ve been letting my mind wander to other career paths. Legit. Seriously.
Today was our first “real” day of the year. No special schedules. Cohort B in person and some virtual students google meeting in while other virtual students did an asynchronous activity. (It’s a lot to manage...) 70 minutes in each class period. 4 classes. 1 prep time.
The in person activity today was a deep dive into the story that’s posted below at the end of this post. I did the same activity in all 4 classes...each with different tangents that emerged from the story thanks to open ended questions to the students. The crux of the activity was for students to reflect on 3 main ideas...what is your song? Who knows your song? Whose song do you know and how do you gently care for and safe guard that responsibility? The conversations were INCREDIBLE in every class...honestly, they were. A theme that emerged was that your song centers you and reminds you of who you really are when you need to remember it most.
"What is your song? Who knows your song? Whose song do you know and how do you gently care for and safe guard that responsibility?"
Between classes, I let my mind wander again to the difficult task at hand of teaching in this environment...is it sustainable for me mentally and emotionally? Am I really able to “be me” when teaching like this? Etc etc...
Then, after school a sophomore stopped in to chat and left me with a letter she wrote to me last night. I opened it after she left and the tears simply flowed. She so openly and honestly shared the impact I’ve had on her life...it was A LOT and I honestly had no idea. Not a single clue. I was just doing my job last year, being her choir teacher.
And then I realized, on the day I was sharing this story and discussion with my class, she was actually reminding me of my song...reminding me of my center and reminding of who I am and what I’m meant to do. Well played, universe, well played.
To all the teachers out there...you’re doing a good job. You are needed exactly where you are...even when you don’t feel like it.
Here’s the story I shared with my classes today for discussion-
When a woman in certain African tribes knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.
When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child's song. When the child passes through the initiation into adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song.
Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person's bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life.
In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.
You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn't. You may feel a little warble at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you'll find your way home.
Summer 2020. It was a bit different than any other summer I have ever experienced before. Okay, let’s be real…. It was A LOT different than any other summer I had experienced before. Ever. Summer vacations, traveling, beaches, and barbeques…. OH BBQS!!! The ones with hot dogs and brats, and potato salad and grape salad… ALL THE SALADS!!! I missed those most of all! And then add on top of all the salad disappointment, we weren’t able to be in our church building worshipping with each other and building our community of faith. This summer has felt like something out of the Twilight Zone for sure.
Roll back for a moment to the beginning of summer. Susie and I were trying to figure out how we could stay connected and still help form faith for our elementary, middle, and high school students – enter summer youth group. It was set up every other week on a Thursday afternoon to whomever could make it between the ages of 4th and 8th grade. Our intent was simple – build community. The one catch of course was that we still could not meet in person; we had to do the meetings via zoom. Susie and I were unsure about how this would go, but we wanted to give it a try.
I am here to tell you that the 6 sessions that we had throughout the summer were some of the best, most Spirit lead meetings I have ever experienced. We didn’t do anything fancy. We started with highs and lows, and then we played games like Scattergories and Hangman. We NEVER ran out of things to talk about.
In the last 2 weeks, we began a project – a puppet ministry – for our child friendly service that ran on August 30th. We asked the students to come to our youth group with supplies to make sock puppets. Can I just tell you all how much FUN making sock puppets via zoom can be!? These students had some of the most creative and hilarious sock puppets. They quickly came up with names and back stories for each of their puppets that would bring the word of God to the congregation. Once the puppets were done, it was time to record the various parts of worship. The kids did NOT let us down! They rose to the challenge of filling in the various liturgies and read each and every detail with pride and excitement. The Holy Spirit came to our meetings and facilitated some awesome conversation through the weeks of summer. But I saw God’s love truly come to life in the students as they worked diligently on their puppets and presenting worship to those in the community at CtK.
Through summer youth group, I have learned that some of us are lamenting all of the things we didn’t get to do this summer, or all of the salads we didn’t get to eat. But at the end of the day we can remember to focus on what is right in front of us; that God’s love is all around us and coming to life within us and in those around us – even in unexpected places like sock puppets!
I am thankful for the reminder that God is here with us in the struggles and in the laments. But I am encouraged to remember that God is with us always in the laughs, the celebrations, and in the every day tasks as well! Thanks be to God for puppets and for ministries that have come out of summer 2020.
Director of Faith Formation: Confirmation & High School
Please enjoy this short and fun blooper reel from our time recording together!
One of the silver linings of this pandemic has been the opportunity to worship with other faith communities and leaders. We're excited to share with you this week a worship opportunity brought to us by the staff of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin. Bishop Gerald Mansholt is preaching, with synod staff assisting with worship leadership in other ways.
As for us, we'll hear our final story from our Genesis sermon series this week...we look forward to seeing you on the worship feed on Sunday!
For now...enjoy how God's love is coming to life through word and song!
It's been a long, strange trip so far, this pandemic has.
So far we have worshiped online for 24 Sundays. I don't know how you're feeling, but I'm feeling like it's been a thousand years since we've seen each other. I think I can safely speak for Pastor Nate here in saying that both of us MISS YOU. We miss worshiping together, we miss seeing you on Sunday, we miss singing together, and we miss physically being together.
That being said, my oh my was it GOOD to see you on Sunday at Drive-Thru Communion!
Was it our ideal way to receive communion? No. But nonetheless we trust that the Holy Spirit was at work in the way she blew through here to feed God's people this sacred gift of grace. Your smiles, the joy that came with getting to just see one another in person...it was powerful. I think for me, it proved that God can indeed work in unexpected ways even if it's not the way we've always done it as the church over the last 2000 years.
Even as a dispersed community, were were still able to welcome some young ones to the table for the first time! With the sudden change in plans in late March, they were not able to gather together to celebrate their first communion in the traditional way. Even in these strange times however, families were still able to recognize this special milestone.
How did they celebrate?
One of our students came in his grandpa's mustang; another got dressed in a shirt and tie to ride to church followed by a special time with family at home; and another watched worship in the afternoon with his family and they took communion during their worship time. You can see a short video that features some of our first communion students below. What a joy it was to be able to share in this feast of God's love with our new dinner table guests!
I'll be honest with you, my dear siblings. There have been many times during this pandemic where I have struggled to find God's presence. But....no part of me questioned that this past Sunday. It was obvious. It was beyond clear that God was in your cars as you pulled up, as you drove away, and as I pictured you all sharing in the meal together in your homes. I hope you, along with the 175 others who received communion on Sunday, were all able to sense that presence as well.
I often say that food is one of God's love languages. This past Sunday, God gave us a taste of that love in the form of a wafer and a little plastic cup of juice that was shared in our homes. God is certainly good! All the time!
Peace be the journey,
This coming Sunday, the Lutheran Church of the Wilderness located in Bowler, Wisconsin has graciously offered to provide worship to the congregations of the East Central Synod of Wisconsin with Native American Elements. The Church of the Wilderness is a congregation made of the Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans.
We are excited to offer this worship service to you through our blog this week!
In our Lutheran understanding you have heard it said, “We are being made new each day.” By God’s love and by God’s grace, no matter what happened yesterday or the week or the year before, God is making us new today. Welcoming that freshness is a perspective that takes time to learn. When you can embrace it, there is a sense that nothing can keep you from God, although everything is trying hard to pull you away from God. It is in this ‘being made new’ that we have the opportunity to dream of how our staffing needs can meet the needs of our growing ministry. Even during a pandemic, it is amazing to see how God is at work within our congregation to embrace technology and in another week install the projection system (Aug 17-21). God’s newness, freely given to us, gives us space to dream, to reevaluate and to recast the positions for our changing ministry.
I am delighted to share with you the new hiring of one of our own, Sue Wendler, as our Visual Storyteller! Sue and her family have been long time members and are very active in the life of CtK. I am grateful for that, but I am also grateful for the what God has been doing in Sue’s life. A graphic designer, substitute teacher, and many other hats she wears have been shaping and molding her with skills and wisdom for such a time as this to be our Visual Storyteller. This position will be a work in progress as we embrace a new and enhanced way to worship at CtK. Thank you, Sue for answering the call and we look forward to your gifts and skills to help us see God’s love coming to life at CtK!
I am also delighted to share with you that we have hired Dane Casanova as our new Custodian. Dane much like Sue has had a rich work experience that has prepared him for the newly developed responsibilities to care for our building(s) and the many people we welcome to CtK. Dane is looking forward to retirement in the new year but knows he will need to keep active. This position will allow him to keep active, while serving the Lord. Thank you, Dane for answering the call to serve!
I never know where, how or who God will provide, but I am delighted to introduce these two CtK members who look forward to serving you. We are being made new at CtK where God’s love comes to life!
Continue to be well and stay safe.
Christ’s Blessings & Peace,
A cheerful heart is good medicine
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Have you heard the latest legislation? Lawmakers want to make the racoon the official mascot for the year 2020! Why? Because racoons:
All kidding aside, the first full week of August is declared National Clown Week!
I give thanks for the clowning ministry that has been a part of CtK’s history for many years! I also give thanks for Denise Barnaal who continues to hone her craft by going to clown school and is willing to share her trade with anyone who is interested. Denise has a few different personalities, or I mean names that she goes by. The picture here is “Dr. Belle E. Button.” You have seen Dr. Belle E. Button, Chief of Navel Operations in worship and at events like our church picnic or places in our community like Rennes Health & Rehab Center. No matter where the doctor goes, she brings a smile to every face and cheer to every heart.
In all seriousness, legislation was passed, and President Nixon declared on August 2, 1971 National Clown Week to be held in the US. In fact, it has grown to be an international week for clowns! President Nixon said, “Today, as always, clowns and the spirit they represent are vital to the maintenance of our humanity.” Folklore says the heart of a clown is sad, and that all the gladness a clown provokes is simply a facade for the pain they cannot reveal to the world. Actually, a clown leaves happiness wherever they go and takes misery away with them.
Thank you, Dr. Belle E. Button, for taking away the difficulties and misery, even for just a few moments, so that we can laugh and smile and see God’s love come to the life!
Be safe & be well!
Christ's Blessings & Peace,
Christ the King is feeling the effects of a power surge! Extra current pulsed into our building last Saturday 7.18.20 after a car struck a utility pole at the intersection of Washington & Kennedy. In this case a power surge was bad. Many breakers were tripped to protect the building, one surge protector was fried but it saved our phone system and answering system electronics! However, our WiFi box was the most serious casualty! Fortunately, we have plans to upgrade the system when projection is installed in early to mid-August. All the components were ordered and are ready to be installed. We hope to have it up and running by August 2 if not earlier. The upside to this loss is a better connection to our WiFi. The downside is that we cannot livestream from church and staff have been working from home until the repairs are completed
I see the effects of other kinds of power surges happening at CtK. Don’t worry, these are the good kind! I am reminded of the great book written by Rev. Michael Foss Power Surge: 6 Marks of Discipleship. He lays out the benefits of church members who can be engaged in these six faithful practices:
Even in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, I see many people being engaged in these faithful surges of power! The CtK calling tree was established to reach out to other members to be sure they are okay physically and spiritual. Thank you to many of you who are reaching out and connecting with our siblings in Christ. I have also heard countless stories of how you have raised the spirits of someone through kindness, making a meal for another family, sharing a smile, helping a neighbor, or even putting signs in somebodies yard to celebrate the milestones of life. In addition, I see the power of Jesus Christ surging as people in worship share messages of peace and greetings to the CtK family. Life is not easy. Pandemic life is not easy. We all are in this together and together we will get through. God’s love comes to life everyday through the people of CtK and it is amazing to hear and see! Keep it up! Remain committed to these six practices of discipleship. Or if this is new to you commit yourself to a few of them and add another practice when you are ready. Either way we will continue to see a church surging in ways that shares love and gives life.
Miss you all! Be well and be safe!
Christ’s blessings and peace,
There's a buzz in the air within this synod, and you are part of that! Earlier this week Crossways shared this update on the $50,000 Challenge campaign that was started with your generosity.
Remember that big $50,000 tithe we used to issue a challenge to the churches and individuals of our synod to help Crossways raise a total of $100,000? So far, they have successfully raised $41,760, which means they have just a small way to go to reach $50,000! Once they hit that number and raise a total of $100,000, they will be able to bring their staff back from furlough to pick up where things left off, and to get prepped for the fall.
There's a saying I heard recently that says, "generosity begets generosity." This challenge has shown us how the Holy Spirit works within people's hearts to inspire giving and sharing of resources when they see others doing the same. I know I am amazed at how the churches and individuals have responded to be part of the generosity that was shared by you.
THAT is God's love coming to life not just here at Christ the King but throughout the synod and beyond!
This past Wednesday, July 8th we had our 3rd State of the Church webinar. Watch the replay below to get all the updates, here's some time stamps so you can see when we talk about each topic:
Faith Formation- 4:00
Building & Projection Updates- 12:04
CtK Calling Tree- 13:57
When will we gather in person? - 21:45