Food and Fellowship

“And let us consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:24-25


It’s Sunday morning and you are getting ready for church. You are rushing around the house, getting the kids ready to go, and it hits you. It is the Sunday of the church potluck. What will you bring?


The amazing church potluck. A time of fellowship and food; a time to bask in the glow that comes from breaking bread with people you love. I love church potlucks, my kids love church potlucks, and my husband loves church potlucks. My kids and husband love the food-our church, in particular, is home to many stupendous cooks.


I love the church potluck for the fact that you can touch base with people. Before church, there is not always time to visit as you would like. After church, people are intent on getting going to fill their belly. The solution is a potluck.

The Anatomy of a Church Potluck

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 17:17


What makes a perfect potluck? My goodness, let’s discuss this! There are 5 parts to the perfect potluck: vegetable, hotdish (in Minnesota), easy side dish, salads (non-vegetable), and dessert. No potluck is complete without these 5 parts.

The Vegetables

I personally love the vegetable dishes. The salad options are endless, the tastes are more diverse than any other dish, and the variety is amazing! People seem to think that this is not an important part of dinner. I disagree. The love of whoever brought the dish is spectacular! They care enough to want to bring a dish that will nourish your body as well as feed your soul. Love and care go into these dishes for sure.


The Hotdish

In Minnesota and the Midwest, there are too many hotdishes to list. The main components are meat, potato/rice of some sort, cream soup, and possibly a vegetable. If someone is really trying to impress, they will add cheese. The hotdish gets a bad rep, but it is the ultimate Northern comfort food. The individual that makes and brings this dish is a planner. They enjoy being on top of the game, and the dish is usually quite elaborate in its simplicity. I personally have never brought a hotdish. I am not a planner.

The Easy Side Dish

This is my area of expertise. I usually am the one who is running around like a mad person in the morning and trying to figure out what is going on. Or, more to the point, I forget that it is Potluck Sunday. Anyone else? Please tell me I am not alone! Anyhow, the easy side dish is something like a bag of chips, a jar of pickles, something in a store bought container of some sort. Don’t get me wrong. I do not hold anything against this sort of dish. Without it, how would our meal be well rounded?

The Non-Vegetable Salad

These are one of my favorites as well. The cool-whip salads, the cookie salads, the glorious mixture that someone concocted from ingredients in their kitchen. These are a mainstay at our church it seems. Out in Montana, at our other church, I do not recall having these in attendance. My other family out there do not know what they are missing!

The Dessert

My grandmother has told me that we often should be able to have dessert before the regular meal to make sure we have enough room. I say, yes, I agree. Of course, I do not do that, but once in a while, I let the kids know I am ok with it occasionally. The cookies and cakes, the bars and delicate desserts that shine out at church potlucks are amazing!


When picturing the church potluck, which is your favorite part?

The People

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:12-13


In addition to the standard food fare found at the potlucks, there are also the people who seem to be a mainstay. In each of those groups, you can almost guess who will sit where and with whom. It is almost comical when you think about the routine of our church lives. We get complacent and comfortable, enjoying time with friends. Sometimes, we should move out of our zone and try something different.

The Overachievers

These are the people who always go above and beyond the call of duty. They spearhead committees, community outreach, and everything in between. I love these people because I am nothing like them! I admire their get up and go attitude.

The Wallflowers

These are my kind of people. We sneak into church hoping to not be noticed because the attention makes us uncomfortable. This group likes to slide through life with as little attention as possible. A helpful hint: we need to get over this and branch out!

The New and Young Parents

Bless these young couples! The days of pulling through church and a church potluck with small ones in tow are behind me, but I remember those days. You race through the morning trying to make sure everyone looks nice and presentable only to get to your destination with juice down the front of a child’s shirt or some unrecognizable substance stuck in someone’s hair. If you see these young families, it’s always helpful to offer aid. After all, it takes a village!

The Mainstays

By far my favorite group of people are the mainstays. These are the people who you cannot remember the church existing without them. As I write this, so many of you come to my mind, and I thank God for knowing you! These people take new Christians under their wings and help them find their footing. Most times, many of them bring the same type of potluck food for each one!

The “I stayed For the Food”

My oldest daughter has admitted this is her! As I said, the kids love the food! These people are not necessarily only there for the food, but they stay for the food. This is an important group to reach. The individuals who belong to this crew need outreach. Trying to nurture this relationship with a person here is a great opportunity to serve those who aren’t really involved elsewhere. Welcome them with open arms and show them Christ.


“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17


While there are people who don’t fall into any of these categories, the ones mentioned above are the main people you will meet at any church potluck. The opportunity brought on by a gathering to break bread is also an opportunity to learn more about those in the congregation.


Tell me, what is your favorite potluck dish? Which group do you belong to? How can we improve upon our monthly potlucks? Let us know your thoughts! I look forward to hearing from you!


“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

2 Corinthians 13:14


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Serving Our Church

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”

Romans 7:6


On Sunday, Pastor Bert delivered an impactful sermon entitled “Look at me!” How many of you have felt that way? I know I have. Growing up, it always felt like I did not get the attention that I needed, so I would go after the attention that was negative. I did rebellious acts just to be noticed. In school, in order to make friends, I would do out of character things that would attract the wrong friends. At some point in our lives, we all have felt the need to shout “Look at me!”


“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:11


Putting into perspective what Pastor Bert was talking about, all around our community, there are people who are screaming for someone to notice them. All they want is to be noticed and shown compassion and mercy. They need someone to let them know that they matter. What better way to shine for Christ then by letting someone know that He loves them? How do we do it? Simple. We serve the person but instead of taking credit for ourselves, we need to give the glory to God.


Nick, my husband, and I were out in Montana for around five years. We grew emotionally and spiritually while out there. Our journey together out there was phenomenal. Neither of us had any family out there. It was rough for a while, but it was worth it. The first week we were out there, we found ourselves in need. I went to the Community Church to ask for help. That day changed my life. This church is dedicated to showing love to the community. They love God, and they love God’s people-even the unlovable.


It took me a while to settle into the community and the church. I remember feeling isolated and alone. Nick worked long hours while I was home alone with three small children. One woman in the congregation asked to bring us dinner on Wednesday night, and then she would take the kids to Awana. She sat with me that evening, having dinner with me and the kids, and she listened to what I was feeling. I cried and laughed, that night, but I remember her telling me that she had been a young wife too. She had traveled from Alabama to live with her husband in Montana. She struggled in the same way that I was struggling. When we moved home, she was at the good-bye dinner for our family. The people of this church became my family. I truly believe that God sent these people into my life, and those same people showed me God. They never took credit for acts of kindness. They never boasted with pride over their good works. That is how we need to serve our community.


Why would I tell you this story when we are talking about serving others with compassion, mercy, and love? If I had not met these people, I would be in a different place right now. They showed me the love of Christ through their acts of service. Due to that, I continued to return, even when we lived an hour away. I was drawn to the people there, but more importantly, I was drawn to love I felt. Going from a misfit to someone special is what every person deserves. We just need to make sure that the person seeks the “special” from God. Seeking anywhere else leaves you open to never feeling fulfilled. There will always be an empty spot until you invite Christ in, and allow Him to love you.


“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in sinful nature, rather serve one another in love.”

Galatians 5:13

How can I serve others?

The opportunities are endless regarding ways to serve others. As Pastor Bert said, we need to notice and listen to the people of our community so that we can serve them. What needs do you see? Who in our community needs to feel the love of Christ?


When these questions were asked this morning, I felt my mind reeling. Day in and day out, I serve youth who need a home, love, and guidance. Honestly though? This does not feel like the sort of service Pastor was talking about. I felt like it would be too easy to say that I was listening and noticing those in our community by taking care of these children. It is a ministry for sure, but not the type of serving Pastor spoke about.


We all have our talents and gifts, and this makes a huge impact on how we serve others. Getting your hands dirty, as Pastor said this morning, is important. Of course, this could be taken figuratively rather than literally if dirt isn’t your thing. Getting into the trenches for Christ is an honor, and there are various ways to go about this.


I can’t tell you how or where you should volunteer. What I can tell you is that whatever you choose to do, pray and listen to God. Listen to where He is calling you. Look at what you do well, and look at what you enjoy doing. Where is your heart?


Please allow me to share where I feel I am called to serve. I have a heart for the elderly. More specifically, the elderly that suffer from dementia. Let me tell you, the crankier the better! I enjoy the people that society has forgotten and cast aside for whatever reason. Valley Home has a great volunteer program. When I was a medication tech out there, I loved being in memory care. It baffles me how some people are put out by the elderly and often forget them.


I also have a strong pull towards youth with special needs. More specifically, I have great love and compassion for young people suffering from Autism and Down Syndrome. Spending time with these individuals is rewarding.


Serving does not always have to be a hardship. Serving can be enjoyable. Life as a Christian should be enjoyable! Loving our neighbors? This should be enjoyable. We should love the thought of showing the love of Christ to everyone we encounter.


Serving does not have to be a long, drawn-out affair either. It can be just simply helping someone with their groceries. Mowing the lawn of someone is something we can do as well, or in our neck of the woods, shoveling someone’s driveway or sidewalks.


Pastor Bert told us this morning: we need to serve our community. If we do not do this, how are we following the directive of serving others? Christ did not come to Earth to have others serve Him. He came to serve others. If we are in Christ, we ought to try our best to live like Him.


“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:26-28


But what if I have physical challenges that keep me from being able to leave my house or physically help others? I hear you with this one. We are one and the same. I am looking, currently, for ways to serve. I have a pain disorder as well as an autoimmune disorder. Many times, it is impossible for me to physically help someone. You know what I could do? Buy someone groceries or even coffee. You could visit with someone who is a shut-in. A prayer is always an option for someone who does not leave home. Everyone needs prayer. Serving from home is not getting in the trenches, but I believe God wants everyone involved, even if it is behind the scenes. How can we support our brothers and sisters in Christ? What can we do to show His love to those who do not yet know Him?


Will you take up the challenge? How can we serve our community individually and as a church? We may be a small congregation, but the love in the hearts of our people is mighty and great. I look forward to serving with you in Christ.







Welcome!


“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness”

Titus 2-7


Hello! Welcome to the new blog for the Evangelical Covenant Church of Thief River Falls! I am excited to share ideas and thoughts with all of you. Our purpose for this blog is to join together in fellowship by sharing in the development of the blog.


When most people think “fellowship,” you are probably like me and assume it is the church potluck or the ice cream social. A fellowship is much more than that, however. The definition of fellowship is gathering with people who share common values. We do that at our church, right? But, do we necessarily need to be physically together to share in the fellowship as well, or is it acceptable to fellowship over the phone, email, etc.?


“Commit yourself in the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make righteousness shine like dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Psalm 37:5-6


My hope for this blog is to encourage the exchange of God’s ideas with fellow Christians and non-Christians as well. I encourage everyone to take a chance and write something. Perhaps you don’t write, but you draw. I would love to include everyone’s artwork and writing-both young and old. We are all God’s children with talents and strengths, gifts, etc. We are called to use these gifts for His glory. Will you share with us yours?


We hope that this blog will give you things to think about, help you as you walk your Christian path, and join us together in a wonderful discussion as we trade ideas. New posts will be posted on Monday of each week. I urge you to comment your thoughts, opinions, etc. so that we may truly share in an exchange that will challenge the way we think and lead us closer to God.


Some things to keep in mind:


  • In November, I will be writing an article about church potluck favorites. Help me choose! Comment on what your favorite is, please.

  • The first week of every month is guest post day. Contact me for your chance!

  • Email me or contact me to have your child’s artwork featured! We love kid’s work!

  • It would be fantastic to include your testimonial on our blog. How did you come to Christ? What have you struggled with? Share your story!

  • Youth: I encourage you to take part in this as well. Write a story or a poem, sketch a picture, create a graphic, make a video. The ideas are endless! I would love the chance to work with you!

  • While we welcome your blog submissions, we may not post everything submitted. We want our blog to honor God and God’s values.  If a submission does not reflect Christian, biblical values or beliefs it will not be posted.


This church is important to me. I have been a part of ECC since I was 4 years old. Some years I have been absent, but my heart has always been with you folks. Our church is great, and I love each and every person who makes up the congregation.


We hope that you join us on this new journey. Contribute ideas please, and let us know what you would like to see written. You can reach me by phone, email, or text. I look forward to hearing from you!


Angela Larson

alarson1983@hotmail.com

218-686-1289


“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.”

Romans 8:6


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