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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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

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