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Epic Scavenger Hunt

Our church and community recently held a great social-distancing activity. People arrived in teams and so were only riding in cars with people in their own households. We stood at a distance from one another outside the church as the rules were explained and any items handed from one person to another were done so wearing gloves. We had five teams participate and it was a very fun evening for all. I’m sharing the Scavenger Hunt list in case you would like to adapt for your own setting!

The list refers to a “mascot” which was a small item given to each team. They were various items: rubber duckies, magic 8 ball, small figurines, etc. that had been sanitized beforehand. Since we geared this activity to all ages I wanted to be sensitive to those who might find it hard to get in and out of cars for all the pictures that had to be taken. Using the mascots they were able to just hold it up and take the picture of the mascot without getting out of the car and then zip on to the next place.

We had a small prize for the winning team – $5 gift cards to Caribou for each member of the group.

The Epic Scavenger Hunt 2020


* Your group must stay together at all times.

* Your group must return to Saint Peter’s by 8:30 pm

*You most likely will not be able to find/complete all the items on the list in the allotted time.  Select your items wisely – the most points at the end WINS!

*if an item is a photograph, take the picture and save it on your phone/camera or text it to Pastor Ruth at 254-265-5349

*All other items must be brought back to church with you and shown to the judges.

* obey all traffic laws and keep in mind social distancing measures at all times. Masks are available at the church if you are in need of any. Call Pastor Ruth if any questions arise: 254-265-5349

The Epic Scavenger Hunt List

  1. A family pet of a group member (cannot be dead, stuffed, or vicious) (10 points)
  2. A Johnny Cash CD or record (5 points)
  3. A high school yearbook from the 1950’s (50 points)
  4. One Can of Spam (3 points)
  5. A high school letter jacket from the 80’s (8 points)
  6. One red baseball hat (2 points)
  7. One stuffed tiger (5 points)
  8. 5 small toy cars (2 points)
  9. DVD or VHS of the movie “Gone With the Wind” (2 points)
  10. The signature and photograph of anyone who is over eighty years of age. (10 points)_________________________________________________ (signature here)
  11. One box of girl scout cookies (2 points)
  12. What year was Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church established? (2 points)_________________
  13. What year was First Lutheran Church of Audubon established? (2 points)_______________
  14. A kindergarten picture of people in your group (40 points if you have photos of every group member – otherwise 5 points per picture)
  15. One jar of Cheez Whiz (3 points)
  16. Currency (paper or coin) from a country other than the United States (5 points per each country)
  17. A passport (10 points per passport)
  18.  A prom dress (10 points per prom dress; 20 points per each prom dress that is from 1990 or earlier)
  19. A picture of one of your teammates wearing one of those prom dresses. (10 points)
  20. The signature of someone not born in Minnesota:  ___________________________________ (10 points)
  21. Find out the answer to this question:  what determines the date of Easter each year? Put answer here: ______________________________________ (2 points)
  22. One chicken – (alive – 15 points; fresh or frozen – 5 points)
  23. A Cassette player (5 points)
  24. A black and white television set (not color) – 10 points
  25. A manual typewriter – 10 points
  26. Autoharp – 50 points
  27. Four items for the food shelf (20 points)
  28. A baby picture of people in your group (10 points per picture)
  29. Your Mom (if she isn’t already participating in the hunt) (10 points per mom – 20 points if she is a grandma, too)
  30. Your child (if the child isn’t already participating in the hunt)(10 points per child – 20 points if a grandchild)
  31. A cell phone video of someone from your group singing “Jesus Loves Me” in front of First Lutheran Church of Audubon (20 points)
  32. A photo of your entire team with your mascot and the Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church sign in the background (5 points)
  33.  A video of someone in your group ordering something at a drive-through using a British accent (5 points)
  34. A church cookbook (not from your own church) (5 points)
Riddle: Tranquil, calm, this place of sleeping
Your sighs and laments ever keeping
I hear the traffic go by
I see flowers and butterfly
I wait for you at your last breath
I am not afraid of death What am I?  

35. Solve the riddle above and get a picture of your mascot (given to you by Pr Ruth at the beginning of the hunt – you must have your mascot to complete this task) in that place. You will know you have found the right place if you see this wind decoration in that location: (25 points):

  • Locate the places the following pictures were taken.  Get a picture of your team mascot in each of the following locations.   (30 points per location)

Finally, tally up your total points and put it here to be checked by the game-master (10 points)_________________

Return to Saint Peter’s by 8:30 pm in order to find out the winner of the Epic Scavenger Hunt 2020!

The winning team:

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing, sky, cloud and outdoor
Congrats to our winning team!

Video Editing Software

We are having a lot of fun trying some new things with our worship videos now that the pandemic has made it so that my congregation can’t worship in person right now. We have been using some very simple video editing software but recently we received a grant to upgrade our software and equipment for our online ministry. This is a subscription I am looking into:

Adobe Premiere Pro CC | 1 Year Subscription (Download)

What Does God Think of Me?

Many of us are spending more time on the internet and on computers than we ever have before just trying to stay in touch with each other and communicate differently for our work. When I was on a Zoom call earlier this week with some members of our congregation and I asked them what were some of the good things that had come for them out of this time of isolation, a few of them said that they had learned a lot more about how to use things they had never used before. The internet and many tools available through the internet were less scary to them now because they had come to realize how useful they could be.

Indeed, it’s a whole new world. I’m learning things every day – and it is both exhilarating and exhausting. I feel like I walk around saying to myself, “Why am I so tired?” a lot lately – and I know I am not the only one. These are strange times and they take a different kind of energy and a different way of thinking and doing than we are used to. There’s the tiring stuff of having to figure out how to order your groceries online or how to play a game online with friends instead of getting together in person – but then the cool realizations you can do all that and once you know how, it is kind of fun. We had our Saint Peters Trivia night this past week and not only did Saint Peters people play but so did some of my family from over in New York Mills. And because of technology we’ve had our readers for Sunday morning sharing readings not just from Audubon but from Alabama and Arizona. It’s a wonderful thing how connected we still are – just in new ways.

I was talking to a pastor friend about preaching in this time after Easter during Covid-19 and we expressed how strange it is and how it’s hard to even know what to talk about that might be helpful. You know that in our church and many churches we have a certain set of scriptures that are set up beforehand that we know we will be preaching on and those scriptures are often the same at different churches – so if you visit a church in California or even Australia, they could very well be preaching on the same text on the same Sunday as your home church.

But sometimes we go rogue and leave behind the prescribed scriptures for a while to do something else. And we are going to be doing that for a few weeks now. Instead, I am going to be talking about what people most want to know.

How in the world do I know what people are wondering about the most? Well, through the wonders of modern technology, of course. Have you ever noticed how when you type something into google, there will come up options below it for finishing your sentence? That’s Google trying to guess what you want to know more about – and google’s guesses come up in order of what they are most searched for.

So I typed into Google, “What does God think of…”

And below it there was a whole list of options – all coming from what people have typed in the most. Top of the list? “What does God think of me?”

That surprised me at first. Further down the list were topics you might expect – forgiveness, marriage, divorce, anxiety, fear – but at the very top of the list, “What does God think of me.”

But then I thought about things we type into search engines. A lot of times we are looking for answers to the things we think about – maybe even things not everyone is always talking about. Because there is something safer about typing a question into a search engine rather than asking even your best friend.

Sure, we care about what God thinks about the things we talk about a lot – like forgiveness, marriage, divorce, worry, fear, etc – but late at night, when I am scared or sad or feeling “less than” or defeated? Maybe all I care about is what the God who made me thinks of me. Or if God even thinks of me at all.

So, we turn to scripture for wisdom – and when we do, we find some reassuring words.

The first is that we are God’s children, God’s family. We hear that in I John – “Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!” And in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but members of the household of God!” And not only are we loved by God for now – but for always – as we read in Joshua, “Be strong and courageous, the Lord is with you wherever you God.”

What does God think of you? God thinks of you as God’s own. Loved. A member of God’s family. So whether during this time of physical distancing from others you have been in a house full of people or mostly by yourself, God is there with you. God is always with you wherever you go or don’t go.

What else does scripture say about what God thinks of you? God apparently thinks you are pretty unique and capable because in Jeremiah it reads that God has plans for you. Not just any old plans – plans to give you future and hope! It’s a beautiful verse – but if we look at it in its’ context, we realize this passage is written to a whole group of people—an entire nation. And if we read the verses around it, we realize that this promise God is giving to the nation of Israel is something that would be fulfilled in 70 years time. So the blessing is not individual and it is not immediate – it’s a blessing that is different than the kind of blessing we often would like.

But that is also important to remember. Yes, God sees you and loves you – but God sees and loves all God’s children. We are connected to one another. If one member of our community hurts, we all hurt. If one member rejoices, we all rejoice. We are connected to one another. I think we have learned lessons in that even moreso in recent weeks. We stay home and isolate so that the most vulnerable in our midst can stay well. We sacrifice activities and events that mean so much to us because the health and welfare of the whole matter more than our events schedule.

What does God think of you? God thinks of you as valuable and someone through whom there is future and hope – but not just you, you and your neighbor, and that stranger down the road, and that person you disagree with on the news, and all God’s children.

And I’ll highlight one more thing God thinks about you. In Galatians 2:20 it reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” And in I Corinthians it reads, “If anyone is in Christ there is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come.”

In case you haven’t noticed it yet, let me highlight that our God is a God of new beginnings. Our God isn’t a God of death, but of resurrection. God doesn’t give us a word of staying exactly the same but of growth and renewal. God doesn’t leave us buried in sin, but alive in grace and mercy. The old has gone, the new has come.

So, what does God think of you? Well, precious enough to sacrifice God’s son for – but also always on the cusp of a new beginning – no matter what age we are. God can’t wait to see what is yet to be born in us and through us. What we might yet do to bring joy to a neighbor or how we might use our God-given talents to surprise and bless the world. I picture God chuckling with delight at the new things we create or think of or say. In the same way that we are delighted as we see our own children growing and becoming and evolving – God looks at us with love and pride and joy our whole lives long.

If you have ever wondered what God thinks of you, you aren’t alone. But rest assured that God sees you and loves you just as you are. God covers you with grace and mercy – you are forgiven. And God can’t wait to see what you will yet do with the life and breath you are given.

Listen to an abbreviated audio version of this sermon here:

A Love Letter to a Church When We are Worshiping Apart (Yet Together) on a Fresh Day in a New World

Last night I dreamed I was giving birth to a baby girl. It was a strange dream because it has been a long time now since we were in the stage of adding members to our little family. It was also strange because the obstetrician was an old friend from the Twin Cities who has been a full-time artist his whole career and not a deliverer of babies. The coolest part was that my mom was there. I love when she visits me in my dreams and I get to see her dear face again and hear her voice.

It has been said that our dreams always mean something. They are the way that our minds communicate with us in vivid, sometimes nonsensical-seeming ways. I used to like reading dream interpretation books but I have come to realize over time that if I stop and think, I usually can tell what my dreams are trying to say to me.

And this one isn’t hard to interpret. Something new is being born – not a baby – but a new way of being and doing things. This is true for so many of us in these times we are living in. Like having a baby, we don’t know exactly how things are going to be. The process is scary and exhilarating at the same time. A new way of life is coming about even as an old way of life dies. We can’t picture exactly what life on the other side of this birth is going to look like and yet once the birth pangs begin, we know the only way to go is forward. It’s time to go through the pain of childbirth and welcome that baby.

We are all in childbirth right now. There is pain as I look up the hill and I see our church building empty on a Sunday morning. There is shock as I realize that the season we are going through will change us in ways we can’t even begin to understand yet. There are more things unknown than known – and yet, the only way to go is forward. Forward is the way of new life, new challenges, and joy. There is no going back.

I’ve told you stories before about how when our first son was born I didn’t get to hold him right away. He was whisked off to the NICU because of some breathing issues so it wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning that they brought him to me. I held him and listened to the sounds of the city below beginning to stir. I looked at his face and thought of how scared I had been to become a mom, how the countless unknowns had kept me awake many nights – but now here he was and I looked at his perfect little nose and eyes and lips and I whispered, “you don’t look so scary.”

And as the sun dawned this morning on a day when we don’t get to be together in our church, yet we are still connected and blessed in so many ways – kindred hearts, worshipping from our own warm homes, the love of family near and far, the grace of God who made us, music, health, life, good food – I don’t feel afraid now in this time of new birth either.

I pray for you today, dear church, that even though everything feels so different these days, you also feel the warmth and peace of God surrounding you and filling you. I miss you and love you and can’t wait to see you again when the time is right. Stay safe and well.

“The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, they are fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

What Does God Say About Fear?

In these strange times of Covid-19 I have been thinking more about fear and anxiety and how to think about it in terms of faith. There have been so many times when I am feeling anxious that turning to the Bible has been the only thing that has brought me comfort. So, if you are needing some peace, here are some of my favorite verses about fear from the Holy Bible.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” ~ Psalm 94:19

 “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” ~ John 14:27

 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”  ~ Psalm 56:3

 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ 1 John 4:18

 “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” ~ Isaiah 43:1

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6:34

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that God will lift you up in God’s own good time.  Leave all your worries with God, because God cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-7

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue…” ~ Isaiah 35:4

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ~ Luke 12:22-26

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” ~ Psalm 27:1

“Cast your cares on the Lord and the Lord will sustain you; the Lord will never let the righteous fall.” ~ Psalm 55:22

“Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’” ~ Mark 6:50

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

“’For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” ~ Isaiah 41:13-14

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1

“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can humans do to me?  The Lord is with me and is my helper.” ~ Psalm 118:6-7

“Fear of humans will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” ~ Proverbs 29:25

“Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” ~ Mark 4:39-40

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear the Lord, and the Lord delivers them.” Psalm 34:7

“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” ~ 1 Peter 3:14

“I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me.  The Lord freed me from all my fears.” ~ Psalm 34:4

“Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God will fight for you.” ~ Deuteronomy 3:22

“Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.’” ~ Revelation 1:17

“Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’” ~ Mark 5:36

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.  A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” from Psalm 91:1-16

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” ~ Romans 8:38-39

In anxious time, I pray you can find comfort in God’s word and God’s love that surrounds you.