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Welcome and thanks for visiting! Please take a few minutes to explore the site and get a sense of what the LHUMC community has to offer. We also hope you’ll come visit us for worship or an upcoming event. We look forward to connecting with you and going deeper in our faith together. You are welcome here!

Rev. Karen Bruins

Lead Pastor
C H U R C H   M E D I A

Recent Sermons

October 2019

Fear of Failure

Let Go Sermon Series: Fear of Failure

September 2019

The Age of High Anxiety

Let Go Sermon Series: The Age of High Anxiety

F R O M   T H E   B L O G

Recent Blog Posts

Running with Mark 50


Day Fifty – February 16, 2020  



Mark 7:1-23 New Revised Standard Version


Check out this video clip.  Address the Mess


I’m sure there are lots of us who have garages that are so full of stuff there is no room for a car.  The thought of cleaning out all of the junk can be so overwhelming that we just close the door. 

Do you have a junk drawer?  Do you know everything that is in it?


The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus.  They observed that some of his disciples did not wash their hands and were eating with “unclean” hands.  This isn’t a story about hygiene.  There was no understanding of germs back then.  The handwashing they are talking about was a ceremonial one.  It involved just a small bit of water poured onto the hands. 


Jesus receives their criticism and responds by quoting Isaiah, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  His critique is that they are doing what looks “right” on the outside, but not paying attention to what is going on inside.  They are like the stuffed-to-the-rafters-garage or the overflowing junk drawer.  From the outside everything looks neat and clean, but inside it’s a mess.


Jesus tells them that have let go of the commands of God and are holding onto the traditions of people instead.  That can sure happen in people and in churches.  We can hang on so tightly to our traditions, that we forget why we do them or what the meaning behind them originally was. An older friend of mine grew up in a family where she was not allowed to dance, but she was allowed to do square dancing, which they referred to as “social games”.  Did you grow up with religious rules and traditions? 


Lots of religions have traditions about alcohol, or eating pork, or gambling, etc. 

  • Why do you think those traditions were begun?
  • What is the meaning behind them?
  • How do we know when a tradition has become an idol?
  • How do we know when to let go of a religious tradition?
  • Are there any traditions at Lake Harriet UMC that have become idols?
  • Do a gut check. What kind of junk is going on inside of you?


Prayer of Confession

God of Sarah and Abraham, God of Rebecca and Isaac,

God of Rachel and Jacob, Heavenly Parent of Jesus the Christ,

we come before you to confess that our world and our lives are like that special night long ago when there was no room.

We have rejected your life because our home space is full of unnecessary furnishings, and so we are cluttered and confused.

We have rejected your love by filling our heart space with thoughts and feelings that have no room in your inn.

We have rejected your Son by living in church space that is confined and shortsighted.

We have rejected each other because we had no room in our lives for anyone else but ourselves.

Hear us, we ask, and fill us full of room for you, your Son, your Spirit and all the world’s people.
Words of Assurance

Do not be afraid, God says, for I am sending you to do my work.

Do not be afraid, God says, go forth and serve. Feed the hungry, house the homeless, heal the sick, and visit the lonely.

Do not be afraid, God says, for I am always with you.



Lord, I Need You

Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy


Prayer Focus:


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running with Mark 49


Day Forty-Nine – February 15, 2020  



Mark 7:31-37 New Revised Standard Version


Ephphatha – be opened

Our son Michael is 25, almost 26 now.  When he was in kindergarten we discovered he was having hearing difficulties.  At first we chalked it up to ear infections and hoped it would resolve, but it did not.  So we began a journey that many of you have taken, of working with an audiologist and an ENT doctor.  Michael’s hearing loss is caused by both a conductive issue (bone problem) and a neurological problem. He has had some surgery on his “bad” ear.  When he was in elementary school the audiologist discovered that he had a hole in his “good” ear drum.  It was surgically repaired, and sadly a hole remained.  Michael needed yet another surgery.


Michael has always had a good sense of humor about his hearing loss.  We would joke that he was the only teenager who could truthfully say, “Mom, I didn’t hear you tell me to take out the trash!”.  He was always given a choice of what color his ear mold would be for his hearing aid.  When he was young he always chose wild colors, or school colors and proudly showed them off. 

Technology changed with each new set of hearing aids he received.  This photo was taken on the day he received new hearing aids.  I remember him making sounds “ssss”, “ffff”,  “ppppp”.  He would say to me, “Can you heart that?” He was hearing those sounds for the first time.  I hadn’t understood what he was missing.  He also received a wireless FM unit that allowed him to  hear his ipod through his hearing aid, and also hear phone calls.  He was talking to his dad on the way home from the audiologist.  He kept saying, “Dad, I can hear you on the phone for the first time in my bad ear.”  Ephphatha – be opened. Technology allowed Michael’s ears to be opened and it was miraculous for us. 

In the story from Mark the man is unable to hear and his speech is difficult to understand, which makes sense because it’s hard to know how to make the word “sounds” when you cannot hear them.  After Jesus heals him, the people can’t help but tell the story of the miracle, even after Jesus tells them not to tell.


Ephphata – be opened.

Our hard-of-hearing-ness isn’t always a physical issue.  Sometimes we are hard of hearing because we are just too busy.  We may be caught up in our own lives and miss the opportunity to really listen to another.  There are so many people who are lonely and aching for someone to spend time with them and listen to their stories. 


Ephphata – be opened.

Sometimes our ears are closed to the message God has for us.  Some are so bound up in shame, that they cannot hear God’s message of love and grace.  Some are so prideful that they miss the call to repentance and humility.  There could be a sin, usually an unconfessed sin, that we want to cling to, a sin we want to keep committing.  When this happens, we plug our ears with our fingers like a little child trying to ignore their parents.


Ephphata – be opened.

This could be a powerful prayer.  Ephphata – be opened.  Open my ears to hear your voice O God. Open my heart to feel your love.  Open my mind to the new things you would teach me.  Open my hands to the ways you are calling me to serve.  Open my feet to walk the road of discipleship.


This week, challenge yourself to be more of a listener than a talker.  Allow others to speak first.  Don’t jump in quickly when there is a moment of silence.  Allow those who are more introverted to speak without being rushed or talked over.  Consider going out of your way to spend time with someone who may be lonely and need a friend.  Pray that you would be opened!



Word of God Speak

Speak to Me (from the Color Purple) sung by the Argentina Gospel Choir


Prayer Focus:

Ephphatha – be opened.


Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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Running With Mark 48


Day Forty-Eight – February 14, 2020  



Mark 7:24-30 New Revised Standard Version

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free,

there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”.

Galatians 3:28



Here’s some background to give context to the passage.
  • Tyre was a major city. In this city God answered Elijah’s prayer to heal a woman’s child (1 Kings 17:9-24).  Jesus is in this Gentile city, trying to go unnoticed, but of course he is spotted right away.  There was no time off for Jesus.
  • This story is really more about politics than it is about healing. Pay attention to the descriptors used about the woman.
  • Syrophoenician woman – Mark calls her a Syrophoenician. Matthew calls her a Canaanite.  It refers to her political background.  She was Greek.  The Greeks were the ruling class in the republics of Tyre and Sidon.
  • Children’s Food/Children’s Bread – The Greeks of Tyre and Sidon did well economically, even as those who lived outside of the city suffered. 
  • Some scholars suggest that, in a sense, she belonged to a class that had been taking bread that Jews and Gentiles in the outlying region could have used to feed their children.
  • Dogs – is a reference to Gentiles. It was a harsh insult, but keep in mind that Gentiles had equally harsh and uncomplimentary slang names for the Jews. 
  • Jesus however, was not degrading the woman when he used this term. His is trying to explain to her God’s plan to present God’s message first to the Jews.  Jesus wants the Jewish people to see that their long-awaited deliverer, their messiah has come.  This was his primary task.
  • Jesus had just been teaching about cleanness and uncleanness. The old ideas about who was “clean” or “unclean” were no longer important.
  • In healing the woman’s daughter, Jesus is living out that he is the Messiah, not just for the Jews, but for the whole world.
  • Her differing faith, her differing politics, her differing identity do not keep her from approaching Jesus in faith. She presses on, willing to kneel at the feet of Jesus, even if others from her “group” would disapprove. 
  • This is another miracle where Jesus does not have to touch, or even be physically present with the ill person.

Imagine that this scene took place today.  Who might the Syrophoenician woman be?  Might she be a Muslim? A person of another race or culture?  The people of Jesus’ own faith tradition did not recognize him as Messiah, yet she did.  How do you suppose that is?

What does it mean to you that Jesus’ message is for all people, not just those who are like you?  Do you think Jesus already understood that his mission was for more than just the Jewish people? Or did this event change his thinking?  Does it make a difference to you either way?


What does Galatians 3:28 mean to you?  What would the world be like without the divisions of Jew/Greek, Slave/Free, Male/Female?  For we are all one in Christ Jesus.  How would you re-write this verse for today?



We Are One in the Spirit

Christ Has Broken Every Wall

Draw the Circle Wide


Prayer Focus:




Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins


Read more

W H A T ‘ S   N E W

Lake Harriet News: February

Lake Harriet United Methodist Church is a vibrant, active, inclusive congregation whose mission is to welcome, inspire, and nourish its members and community to be the hands and feet of God in the world.

Lake Harriet News is our monthly print newsletter for sharing the church’s programs, services, and abundant opportunities to participate in community ministries. We invite you to click on the image, read the document, and explore the opportunities to live out our mission in your daily life in and through the church.


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Address: 4901 Chowen Ave S.,
Minneapolis, MN 55410
Phone: 612-926-7645