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Saturday, October 01, 2016

In biblical terms Levi was not a pair of blue jeans. Levi was the third son of Jacob and Leah. Levi and his family became one of the twelve tribes of Israel and certain religious and political functions were reserved for them.

They were a priestly group and assigned to ministering in the sanctuary. They acted as musicians, handled animal sacrifices and assisted in the temple when needed.

They were God's peculiar property in place of the first born. They were cleansed for their office, they had no inheritance in Canaan. They did receive an offering of the people at feast times.

In Numbers 8: 23-25 God speaks to Moses…………….

Levites twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. They can volunteer but they can no longer do the work.

This is the only passage in the Bible that refers specifically to retirement. 

God created work and our work is God's divine calling but there is a point in our life when we stop doing regular full time work. We are not tied to the Old Testament laws regarding the Levites and their retirement age, but the wisdom of God's message to Moses about the cessation of regular work is still valuable and can be helpful in our lives today. To retire from regular work opens the door to new and different ways to serve God and others.

I am retiring at the end of the year. I am well beyond Levite years. I have been a pastor for 38 + years serving churches in Idaho, Washington, Nevada and Minnesota. In cities, suburbs, small towns and now in the country.

Currently I have no plans for 2017. (I am not even interested in applying for work at Paisley Park) I do hope to remain active, share and give and assist the church in some form or another. East Union has been a blessing to me. To finish here is remarkable. Still I am impelled to ask the question posed by Dr. Seuss: "How did it get so late so soon?

May my Levi retirement be a relaxed fit.

Pastor Tom

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Last week, it was brought to the public's attention via social media that Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville was hosting the 1st Annual Rods and Stones Car Show. The event is planned for a 7 acre-plus field that is used as a buffer zone between Larpenteur Ave and the nonprofit cemetery's gravesites. The cemetery superintendent who is also the director of the car show said people will not be driving through the cemetery or parking near the graves. The event would be 100 yards from the nearest grave. Those in favor of the show say the event is "at' the cemetery not "in" the cemetery.

The idea for the car show came last year after hot rods converged there for the memorial service of the founder of the Minnesota Street Rod Association. This year's event is intended to raise money for the association's college scholarship fund.

Those that take issue with this event question the appropriateness of having a car show at a place meant to memorialize the dead. They are calling the car show incredibly disgusting. Families against the car show say they were told there would be quiet plots and a serene setting. 

Those in favor of the car show take a different perspective. One man has visited his wife's grave for nine years. He comes every day in his 1950 custom Ford sedan. He feels people are way, way, way overreacting.

On August 17, after much pressure, the Roselawn Cemetery board met and voted unanimously to cancel the car show citing distress over the location by many people who have loved ones buried at Roselawn. The event was intended to do three things: 1. Raise funds for the MSRA college fund; 2. to help make cemeteries less intimidating and forbidding; and 3. to connect with local residents. The superintendent of the cemetery thought "It would be a way to invite people out to enjoy a beautiful Saturday in a charming out-of-the-way part of the campus".

The board plans to make a contribution to the college fund despite the cancellation. The first annual 'something' will have to wait.

This discussion got me to thinking about our semi-annual car show we used to have on the Opening of Sunday School. We would park our custom cars only steps away from the East Union graves. There was no buffer zone. In fact one Fall we had old tractors on display. And a cake walk and a kiddie fish pond too.

As far I as I can recall there never was a complaint about the cars and tractors. Everyone enjoyed walking up and down the rows of cars with their coffee cup in hand.

So what makes one cemetery have to face the calls and complaints about noise and appropriateness and another cemetery car show goes celebrated and enjoyed?

My opinion is that this event scheduled on one afternoon a year should be a reasonable compromise.  Why should the naysayers get all the afternoons?

I wonder what the reaction would be if Roselawn decided to have an Easter Egg hunt in their cemetery like we do.


Pastor Tom





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Tuesday, August 30, 2016


From Lois Scott

  • Beat Together: 3eggs, 3/4 c. oil, 3 tsp vanilla, 1 2/3 c. sugar
  • Mix Together: 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, 3 c. flour, 1 1/2 c. walnuts (optional)
  • 2 c. zucchini (grated)
  • Mix together: alternate flour and zucchini to egg mixture.
  • Bake at 350 degrees in a 12x18 greased & floured  pan for 30-35 minutes. Check for doneness with toothpick.
  • Frost with almond powder sugar icing

Icing: 3 c. powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. almond flour, 1 1 /2 tsp. butter, milk—add slowly to spreading consistency




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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pecan Orange Loaf 

from Lois Scott

  • 1/2 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 Cup Sugar, divided
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup Chopped Pecans
  • 1/3 Cup Orange Juice

In a large mixing bowl mix cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light & fluffy. Add eggs, Mix well.

Combine flour, baking powder & salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Fold in pecans.

Transfer to greased 9in x 5in loaf pan (or 4 mini loaf pans).

Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

In a small saucepan, combine orange juice and remaining sugar (1/2 cup). Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Pour over warm bread. Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from pan.



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Friday, July 01, 2016

A pastor friend of mine from Spokane visited us last week and he told us of his son, Troy, who is gay, and who wrote this essay after the mass shooting in Orlando. Troy's thoughts offered up a side of the story I would not have considered. His words are moving and personal. With his permission I wanted to share them with you.

As an openly gay man living in a markedly uncosmopolitan and highly conservative city, with NO gay community whatsoever, it's hardly surprising that the most common questions I've been asked in the days following the massacre in Orlando is "did you know anyone who died?"

At first, I said no. Buy after I thought about it, I realized that in a way, I DID know them. Maybe not personally, but I knew them.

Because I used to go to clubs just like Pulse, where it was safe and okay to be who I was, and not be afraid.

I used to dance in those clubs, where the music was so loud and throbbing that I didn't have to talk to anyone if I didn't want to, because I couldn't hear them. Where it was so dark, and the flashing lights were so brilliant and mesmerizing, that couldn't really see anything, except for a solid mass of flesh moving in time to the beat, on the dance floor.

I used to dance on that floor, surrounded by dozens, sometimes hundreds, a few times thousands, of other guys like me, so incredibly and joyfully unconcerned with how drunk or high we were, because here, at least, surrounded by friends, we were safe.


It turns out we're not safer than the 32 innocents murdered at Virginia Tech, or the 12 in Aurora at a movie theatre, or the 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or Columbine, or San Bernadino, or Fort Hood… the list goes on and on…

While I've been horrified and saddened by every mass killing that's occurred, none of them affected me like the latest one.


Because this one hit me in MY safe place, in MY sanctuary, where I went to play, and love, and laugh, and celebrate how amazing it is to be alive!

So in answer to your question,

YES, I knew them. I knew them all. And today, I mourn the loss of 49 wonderful, awesome, beautiful friends who I'll never get to know.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Emma Died. She had cancer. Her first grade classmates watched her go through chemo, miss school and get sicker. That was back in 2014. Following her death, his brother was moved to raise money for cancer and did. He had pledged to shave his head if he met his financial goal. He shaved his head.

One of Emma's classmates was Connor Schueren, a member of East Union. He and Emma were friends and he too watched her slowly get sick, miss school and lose her hair from chemo.

A year and a half after she died Connor was moved to raise money for cancer too in memory of his friend Emma.

He got permission from his parents to proceed although the head shaving pledge was a painful resignation on his mother's part.

Connor's goal was $750. He was raising money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, a fund for childhood cancer research.

All the soliciting was done to friends and family online. Connor got help from his mom with the computer work and his dad pledged $1000 from his plumbing business. Another company also pledged $1000.

Connor officially raised $3160. It was easily enough to pass his goal and enough to have his head shaved. To make it official Emma's mom came and shaved Connor's head in a significant, emotional, ceremony.

Paul wrote: For they gave according to their means as much as they could and even beyond their means, entirely on their own, begging earnestly for the favor of sharing in this service to the Lord' people. 2 Corinthians 8: 2-4

In the cancer world, a shaved head is a badge of honor.

See you in church.

Pastor Tom

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Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Three score and five. It gets me to thinking about the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's brief but powerful words at the dedication of a post war cemetery the Thursday afternoon of November 19th, 1863. Lincoln's "four score and seven years ago" is a classic.

Three score and five is a tad smaller and means 65. Sixty-five is a number associated with the Israeli tribe of Ephraim that according to Isaiah's prophecy (chapter 8 verse 7) will, in 65 years, be in ruble.

Terbium is a chemical element Tb with an atomic number of 65.

65 is a common speed limit, in miles per hour, primarily in the Eastern and Central United States.

65 is the code for international direct dial calls to Singapore. 

The M-65 field jacket was commonly worn by American troops during the Vietnam War. 

Chicken 65 is a tasty menu item in restaurants in South India.

65 is the length of the hypotenuse of 4 different Pythagorean triangles. It is the lowest number to have more than 2.

East Union was 65 in 1923. 

When March comes along I will be turning 65. I don't plan to be in ruble like the city of Ephraim. I do remember tuning 40 and thinking about getting 40 winks.

The Beach Boys sang in their hit song Heroes and Villains, "At 60 and 5/ I'm very much alive. I've still got the jive/ to survive with the Heroes and the Villains." Thank you Brian Wilson.

LXV Pastor Tom

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Every Tuesday from 10am-1pm for the past six years Bonnie Wigfield from East Union has joined other Lutheran women at the Blessed Bee Thrift Store in Chaska. 2450 Chaska Blvd 952-448-7794.

This dedicated group is made up of members from Crown of Glory, St. John's and Bonnie from East Union. They stock the shelves, sort through donated items, and help customers. But a closer look reveals that this group also shares among themselves family stories, health issues, prayers, kids and grandkids and life histories. They are a life support group. They are a fun group. They are a serving group.

When Bonnie's husband Larry died, the group was there for hugs, shoulders to cry on and voices to talk to. The care giving happened even while they sorted clothes, toys, books, household dishes and pots & pans and furniture. The entire group was at East Union for Larry's funeral.

Another group member has been through cataract surgery, while her husband has had cancer treatments and knee surgery missing several Tuesday's of volunteer work. The group keeps in touch with this couple calling to check in and offer support.

There is always room for more volunteers.

Blessed Bee Thrift Store is a non-profit organization selling only donated items. They also distribute food cards and gas cards when their budget allows. All proceeds benefit our neighbors in need.

Pastor Tom

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Friday, December 18, 2015


On December 8th, Pope Francis pushed open the huge bronze Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome to launch the Catholic Church's "Year of Mercy". The door had been bricked shut since 2000 after the Great Jubilee called for by Pope John Paul II to mark the millennium. This year tens of thousands of pilgrims ironically witnessed the 'revolution of tenderness' in St. Peter's Square among tight security including extra police, soldiers, a no fly zone and metal detectors for bags and body checks. This high alert followed the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Under the theme of mercy, Pope Francis opened the basilica's Holy Door for the first time in 15 years and said that passing through it one would take on the role of the Good Samaritan, and experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.

Pope Francis has long signaled his wish to change the Church's approach from condemnation of wrongdoing to a Church that is more forgiving and understanding of its members.

At East Union we don't have bronze doors and to my knowledge our wooden doors have never been bricked shut, but we do have a Swedish scriptural message in stained glass over the entrance. They are our Holy Doors and as we come and go through them we too are commissioned to 'go in peace and serve the Lord'. The posture of a Good Samaritan.

This year I commend to you the Year of Mercy. A year of grace, agape, kindness, tenderness, respect and absolution. A year of hope.

See you in church!
Pastor Tom

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015


As I write this in mid November, I still have three pumpkins on my front porch. Down the street a house still glows at night with orange lights, plastic skeletons, and Styrofoam tombstones. There are a few stray pieces of Halloween candy left in the church kitchen along with a bowl of candy corn from the pot-luck last week. We have made plans to have Thanksgiving dinner with family. I have been looking in the basement for the box with our Advent wreath in it and Happy Holidays is up and ablaze on the neighbor's roof. What holiday comes next anyway?

The big story in the news is whether retail stores will open on Thanksgiving Day or open early or at all on Black Friday. REI, the camping and hiking store, just announced that it will be closed on Thanksgiving Day AND Black Friday taking the high, politically correct road. Their announcement cajoled us to go outside and play instead of shop.
Is it just me or does the expectancy in the air get earlier and earlier each year? Retailers depend on Christmas for a major part of their annual income. Inventory gets piled to the ceiling in the box stores and impulse buying becomes a way of life.

As Lutherans we know we are not perfect. We remind ourselves of this fact each week when we confess our sins in thought, word, and deed. The fantasy we have is that certainly there must be something perfect we can give to our children, our spouse or partner. Maybe we could give them a perfect day. And so we invest in Christmas what we would like to invest in the entire year. Consequently our expectations are as high as our pocketbooks are empty. We fill our homes with presents, baked goods, decorations and relatives and then wait for perfection in return.

Instead, by the end of Christmas Day, there are tears, arguments, let downs and disappointments. The perfect holiday we anticipated includes its own imperfections. And yet next year we'll try again because the human heart continues to long for the perfect day.
This year my hope for all of us it that we try and put aside the attempts at artificial perfection and work at keeping Advent simple and Christmas a time of sharing, peace, justice, community and acceptance.

On behalf of myself and Andra, thank you for letting us into your lives this past year; sharing deep pain, sorrow and loss, and great joy and surprises. Thanks for chauffeuring me around for six months, for your patience while my heart came back from hiatus, and for your continued love and support for me and for East Union.
How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.

Pastor Tom

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