Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Romans 12:2 MSG

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


“Apprenticed to Jesus”

As it states in The Message written by Eugene Peterson, “you’re blessed when you have worked up a good appetite for God.”  This phrase speaks volumes, especially when it comes to us looking upon ourselves and this world as apprentices of Jesus. 

The disciples were those first apprentices.  Everyday of their life following Christ was marked by his ministry.  His teaching, healing, prayer, voice of power and praise of pointing to the Father, his compassion, forgiveness, clear words of redirection and purpose, sacrifice, peace, centeredness, footsteps on the way to the cross, his pouring out of body and blood, and his profound joy lived in light of the resurrection, all was gifted to the apprentices.

Imagine on this day being apprenticed by Christ himself.  Imagine the above elements being front and center in your daily life.  Imagine God giving God’s best to you. When the leader speaks the apprentice listens.  When the Savior shows how to live, the apprentice follows that same way of life. 

In the living of our days, we need a Savior to apprentice us.  We need the Word of God poured out into the very situations we find ourselves in.  We need to be showed how to live as the full people of God.  We need to witness the marks of discipleship in order to fully live as the Church.  What a gift to receive – for God’s own Son to be the One who apprentices us. 

Through the empty tomb God looks upon God’s creation and says, “You’re hired!”  “You are the Ones that I raise up for real life and love.”  “You are my people with whom I seek to shape the world into Gospel living.” 

Blessed are those who live as Christ lived, who model their apprenticeship and thus become a shaping force so that others may receive that same apprenticeship gift that we ourselves have received - for they will receive the kingdom of heaven, the comfort, the inheritance, the being filled up, the mercy, to see God, to be children of God, right here and right now. 

Our Savior’s, we have been blessed to be a blessing.  May we be apprenticed by Christ himself and may we pass that gift, that legacy, that Christ-like life onto future generations.

From one apprentice to another,

Rev. Dr. Chad Johnson

HOPE and REAL PRESENCE (4-20-17)

On the Emmaus road, the disciples were sharing their grief together and the words fell from their lips, “We had hoped.”  We had hoped Jesus was the one – we had hoped for a better outcome – we had hoped that life would be easier – we had hoped for more blessing - we had hoped! 

The same was true for those outside the tomb of Lazarus.  The same was true for the women on their journey to Jesus’ tomb.  The same was true for the Israelites in the wilderness.  The same was true for the disciples in the upper room.

The same is true for us as the body of Our Savior’s and the Anyuak Faith Community.  We were totally unprepared to lose our brother Nygare to death.  We are at a loss of what to say or do.  Everything that Nygare had given his life to over all of these years was bearing much fruit.  Relationships here and far and wide were established.  Lives were daily being impacted.  Faith was being grown.  A new born was soon on the way.  He had completed the Citizenship Ceremony.  His TEEM degree and ELCA Candidacy was finalized.  He was ready to walk across the stage at PLTS with his wife and daughter in receiving his M.Div. degree.  He was ready for the next step of Ordination.  His passion was to love and serve the Anyuak and Austin community.  Everything was in place to celebrate God’s work amongst us all.  We had hoped.

And God will not abandon us where we are.  When our hope seems faint God breathes yet again life into us.  The tomb cracks open and light and life emerges.  I have seen this hope through the words and actions of our Anyuak brothers and sisters.  I have seen hope in how they are carrying each other forward.  I have seen hope in their shared stories of pain, suffering, and joy.  Death has dealt a blow to us but God promises that death will not defeat us.

Next week we will gather to grieve and to celebrate his life.  We will gather to surround his family with our love and support.  The Viewing will take place at Our Savior’s on Friday, April 28th, from 12 to 8 pm.  On Saturday, April 29th, there will be a Prayer Service from 10 am to 11:15 am, Burial at Oakwood Cemetery at 11:30 am, and the Memorial Service starting at 1pm. 

All are invited to participate as you are able.  The gift of real presence in the community is what is most needed.  Being together as one united community is God’s vision for heaven and earth.  On those days, God’s Spirit will be with us in real and tangible ways.  As the Anyuak Worship Service is not packaged into a clear beginning and end, you are welcome to come and be a part of worship for minutes or hours.  This is perfectly appropriate. 

Many have asked how they can help?  There are many ways!  We have asked for donations of bottled water, soda, and juice.  As the community gathers this is a specific need.  There is not a need for food as the Anyuak community is preparing their cultural meals.  If you want to give a gift card to a grocery store, that is something that we could give and help in subsidizing the cost of the meal.  You can help with set up and take down needs at Our Savior’s on Saturday.  Evening clean-up will be a particular need at roughly 6 pm.

A way of blessing the future for his loved ones and community and in honor of the life and service of Nygare Gilo, Lay Pastor to the Anyuak Faith Community and Our Savior’s, we have set up a Memorial Fund in his name.  Financial Gifts can be directed to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Austin, MN.  The address is 1600 West Oakland Avenue, Austin, MN 55912.  Memorial Funds will be used for funeral expenses, family support for his wife Apiew Gilo and their seven children, and for the Anyuak ministry both here in Austin, MN and Gambela, Ethiopia.  May these gifts extend the blessings that Nygare has poured out into us and the world.  Questions can be directed to Rev. Dr. Chad Johnson at or (507) 437-4516.  In giving this gift to Our Savior’s, it will be recorded on your yearly giving record for charitable contributions.

We can all be praying for his family.  We can be praying for the elders of the Anyuak Faith Community.  We can be praying for the children impacted by his death.  We can pray for the peace and hope that only God can give.  We can pray for our heart, hands, and feet to engage as the loving and serving people of God that our world needs.  We can pray for our ministry partnership that what was begun in Nygare will be brought to fruition in the years ahead. 

I have prayed this prayer many times since Sunday morning and I invite you to pray as well.  Eternal God, you gave Nygare a new birth in Baptism and entrusted him to us for a time that seems to short.  As we thank you for the life we shared, help us now to release him to your mighty keeping.  Bring us all to that day when we shall stand in your presence with all your saints in light eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

In witness to the resurrection……He is Risen!

Pastor Chad

“End of Construction - Thank you for your patience.”  (4-12-17)

- Ruth Bell Graham’s tombstone etching.

Indeed, God will never be done with us in this world until our final breath has been exhaled.  We will always be under construction.  God’s church will always be in need of spiritual transformation.  Our world will always be in need of renewal.  Our God is in the midst of, and leading us, through the construction.  

The challenges of this world are great.  At this moment in time world leaders are wrestling with what to do in regards to chemical attacks and build ups of nuclear arsenals.  Others are leading the charge over what to do in regards to the epidemic of mass starvation throughout Africa.  Medical professionals and research scientists are working hard to find new pathways for health and healing in the myriad of medical problems we face.  Innocent children are in fear of their lives over the border violence and civil war clashes in Sudan and Syria.  Refugees languish for years in camps waiting for a breakthrough of new life.  Grassroots teams of local leaders in Austin are working together to tackle the problems of rampant drug use.  These stories are ones that make headlines and yet the stories of challenge and hardship are countless.  What are we to do as individuals?  What are we to give our lives to as community?  How then shall we live?

This week we are reminded through the story of Scripture that we are called to be an empty tomb people.  We do not live as a people that say, “He has been raised,” but rather, “He IS Risen!”  We do not live as though death, suffering, and pain will have the last word but rather that God’s life and love will win.  We are called to bring resurrection life into the now.  We are called to bring grace, hope, and mercy into every intersection of life.  We do not throw our hands up in despair but dig deeper into the rich soil of new life that God promises as we take on these challenges together.  He IS Risen and he lives in each of us.  

Where do you most want to experience resurrection in this world….in this community….in your life?  Remember, God is always at work.  That work is being accomplished in and through you!

Yes, pardon our dust, we are under construction as we bring new life to the world.

Peace and Hope,

Pastor Chad