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Pine Tree Letters

September 2016

Last Sunday morning, the world before me was shinning in a silver glow.  Every blade, every leaf, every up-turned surface sparkled in delight as I drove east of Emily into the morning.  There were all shades of green from tree and bush. Wild flowers shown red, yellow, blue, purple.  The small lake ahead reflected the blue of a rain washed sky.  It was the same road I had traveled a few days earlier, but a strange quantum leap different.

August 2016

I started Sunday’s sermon with the words: “These are dark times”.  In a sanctuary with no lights because of the night’s storm, I preached about the “Powers of Darkness”.  I would like to expand on that theme and deal with an irony of those remarks.  The “darkness” of our times is seen in the killing of the young African-American man in Falcon Heights, the killing of 5 policemen and wounding of several more in Dallas, the death of two children in North Minneapolis, and the violent demonstrations on I94 in Minneapolis.  A major component of these troubled times is racism.  The irony is that m

July 2016

Last Thursday Art Elling and Dennis Holsman took me, Kermit Wiederholt   , Rick Boden, and Dan Kingsley, fishing on Red Lake.  We caught 36 walleyes and 19 fresh water drum (sheeps head) and kept 21 walleyes and 8 drum.  The day started slowly.  The fish didn’t start to hit until the sun came out in the afternoon.   I caught the first keeper in our boat, an 18 ½ inch walleye.  I say that with some pride, but the reality is that I was fishing out of Art’s boat.  He knew the spot to go to, the lure to use, and how to fish it.  I never would have found the spot on my own nor known how to catch

June 2016

I had an interesting thought in a dream the other night.  The evening before, we had watched the movie, “Ghost”.  In it the good guy, Patrick Swayze, dies and hangs around as a ghost because his murderer is a threat to his girlfriend, Demi Moore.  After he dispatches the bad guy, he is filled with a beatific vision and is swept up in the light.  When the bad guys die, they are immediately surrounded by black shapes that carry them kicking and screaming “down below”.              There was a lot about the movie I thought made sense, but it has this polarity between ultimate light and ultimat

May 2016

“We are living on a blue pearl of a planet,” spoke an astronaut after looking at the earth from outer space.  I’ve just looked at some maps of what our region will look like in the future.  We are living in a jewel of a region on this “blue pearl of a planet”.  The rest of the U.S.

April 2016

I rode home last night into a beautiful sunset that lit the sky with a rosy golden glow.  The woods and fields seemed suddenly open and waking; water was flowing in the streams and ditches; and the smell of earth was in the air.  It was amazing almost shocking.  It seemed that only last week I rode home into a cold dark night swallowing me and the road as I drove into the darkness.  There was serenity in the enfolding darkness, threatening and yet calming, turning me inward, cocooned into the quiet of my car moving through the night comforted in the knowledge that Remer, Outing or Emily lay

March 2016

Two more of our Saints have died.  First Floyd, then a few days later, Herb.  The Dropps brothers lived long and full lives, Floyd to 93 and Herb, 88.  Those of you that knew them well may be saying to yourselves, “Well they were good men but they had their faults.  They were no saints.”  Well the truth is, in those terms, the Saints were no saints.  All were humans with human failings.  The things that made them saints was the contributions they made to their church communities and to the broader building of God’s Beloved Community (to use Martin Luther King’s modern words for the Kingdom

February 2016

What am I doing here?  It’s a question I often asked myself when I was the pastor of the Money Creek three point charge, my first appointment out of seminary.  It was a panicky feeling, and I never did come up with a satisfactory answer.  I finally left the parish ministry eight years later after a year of pastoral counseling education at the Mayo Clinic hospitals in Rochester and four years as Minister of Education at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.  I tried my hand at street ministry finding homes for the homeless, working with the drug addicted and mentally ill.  Then seeing a n

January 2016

A new year is dawning with all of its opportunities and challenges, and I’m in the midst of my midwinter darkness.  The historically strong El Nino is bringing us strange weather, the impending presidential election is bringing us even stranger politics, and although the economy is said to be improving, layoffs and shut downs on the Range are causing hardships in the Northland.

December 2015

Memories of Reverend Elsie Hartman…I wish I were there with you. My name is Beverly Richmond Allin.  I grew up in Hill City.  When I was nearly six years of age, smack dab in the middle of the depression, my family moved to Hill City, and shortly after we arrived, the Reverend Elsie Hartman came to call on us.  Only my mother and I were home.  She introduced herself.  Welcomed us to Hill City.  Inquired about our family, and then she told us about the Hill City Church, the Sunday School, emphasizing the importance of Christian education for children.