Epistle #5 – Encouragement from Mom

As we have been queuing up our series of EPISTLES TO ST PAUL I reached out to my mother to ask if she would be willing to offer up a letter to us all. (An honorary member of the St. Paul community, if you will!) Some of you have met mom, as she was with us last fall for Thanksgiving and delighted in attending worship with us at St. Paul.

By way of introduction, I want you to know that while the church, Sunday School, etc. were all certainly formative in the lives of my brothers, sisters and I (six of us total, three boys and three girls…”Here’s a story… ) I would have to say that it is probably mom, who most specifically helped all six of us to know and love Jesus during the earliest stages of our lives. In fact, the single thing that I am most grateful for in all of life, is the legacy of the Christian faith that she and dad instilled within us, to pass on to our children and grandchildren.

Though I am now far beyond the stage of needing mom to kiss my knee when I fall down in order to make it better, I still find that she has words and wisdom that I occasionally count on and am blessed with at this stage in life, in the midst of pandemonium or otherwise.  Thus I am grateful that she was happy to send this note our way.

Oh, and by the way, today is her 87th birthday. 

Pastor Brian Mortenson



Dear people of God, St.Paulites in Winterset, Iowa,

Grace to you and peace!
I write to you from Maple Grove, Minnesota where we too find ourselves in the indescribable situation of dealing with the coronavirus. It’s a wake-up call to be sure. We are challenged to make sense of it and adjust not only our way of life… but our way of thinking as well.  What are our needs and what are our priorities? What should we do and not do?  How might we as Christians act and interact?

A 7 AM trip to Target last week was interesting. I was out of milk, short on eggs and hoped to get a thermometer as I discovered the battery in my rarely used one had died.  The store had just opened but a fair number of customers were milling around.  I was startled to see entire aisles void of their usual offerings. I found that one lone digital thermometer had survived – $20. No thanks! (Should have kept the cheap glass/mercury one that I turned in years ago when they were deemed too dangerous.)

OK … might as well pick up a package of toilet tissue if available, but I was  met by an empty-handed fellow who shook his head, smiled and said, “No   luck.” As I continued past the empty shelves, I looked up and lo and behold!!! Top shelf, at the very end and pushed back was a six mega roll pack of Charmin ultra soft. My brand even!!! Sadly way, way out of reach for my vertically challenged self.

A gentleman had just turned the corner so I caught his attention and asked, “Sir, would you be able to reach that for me?” There was an audible gasp, knowing he had missed his opportunity but without hesitation, handed the “treasure“ to me with the comment, “Lucky you!” Another man nearby observed this and stated that he too had not seen the solitary package.

Like my Texas daughter texted me lately, “Who knew that toilet paper would become the gold standard?” And a local cartoonist showed a Brinks armored truck with one guard standing by while another was wheeling a cart of Charmin toward its purchaser.

Next I opted for a dozen Eggland’s best cage free brown eggs as no white ones were in sight. Hoping for a bag of salad mix, I found my “reacher” man pondering over the lettuce and spinach, his cart blocking my path. I waited patiently and when he finally realized I was there he exclaimed, “Oh, why didn’t you yell at me?”  I replied, “No, there’s way too much of that these days.” “You’re right”, he agreed.

One final encounter. We were both headed to the checkout lanes. He was slightly ahead and paused at the first one that looked promising. He gestured me in and proceeded to another that was further down the line.  Now … this nice man could have grabbed the Charmin and run.  He could have remained silent or ignored my presence at the salad display. This stranger could rightly have taken the first open checkout lane.

I may never see or recognize this person again, but he gave me some happy moments during these unhappy times.

May God bless you with such moments today and in the days to come.

Juliette Mortenson

Church office phone:  515-462-4270
Church office email:  StPaulLutheranChurch@hotmail.com
Pastor Brian Mortenson email: StPaulPastor1941@gmail.com
Pastoral Emergencies:  605-351-0867