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Hello to Luverne and the Luverne area!

Built on a Rock
Pastor Sarah Zender, Grace Lutheran Church, Luverne

My name is Pastor Sarah Zender and I’m the new pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Luverne. It is an honor to have space in a local newspaper to share thoughts about life and faith.

I would like to share a little about myself first. I’m a big believer that knowing a little something about the person who is writing can help create greater understanding amidst the words which I’ll share.

I was born in Marshall, Minnesota, and grew up in Waconia, Minnesota, where I attended Catholic school until the eighth grade. I went to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and later transferred to Arizona State University where I graduated summa cum laude with degrees in anthropology and religious studies. I worked for quite some time at Starbucks and have an unhealthy reverence for coffee to this day.

To be quite frank, I spent a lot of years wrestling with God and institutional religion.

At some point in my life, I moved back to Minnesota where I married, joined a Lutheran Church, and answered an important call upon my life as “mom.” I started to get a sense that I should go to seminary in midlife, in the midst of a divorce and while still having pretty young children. I said “yes,” but I assure you, it required a lot of faith during each step of the journey.

I’ve been “called,” which to anyone not “fluent” in “Christian-ese” means that I perceived a sense from God, which was shared and confirmed by others, to accept the position of pastor at Grace Lutheran here in Luverne.

It has been a really wonderful transition to this new place I now call home. I have felt so welcome, and it is a privilege that I know that is not available to everyone. 

That was a 30-second tour of my life. It is probably not enough for anyone who is a stranger to trust me and my words, but I hope as I have continued opportunities to share a word of hope, grace, and faith throughout this platform, that you will learn that my heart is always to share love, welcome and hope with you, my neighbors.

Jesus modeled what love looks like in his time on earth. Jesus was always reaching out to people who weren’t seen in the society or were judged. Jesus told them that they were enough and welcome in his company.

Jesus made a point to go to Zaccheaus’ house to have dinner, even though Zaccheaus was scorned as a tax collector who skimmed money off the top for himself.

Jesus shared a drink of water with a woman who had lived with five different men, and He offered her words of grace and mercy.

Jesus even offered his whole self to humanity to remind us of God’s everlasting, unbreakable love and promise to have life and to have it abundantly.

That’s the kind of love that I try to embody. That’s the kind of love that I hope to direct people to live when I preach and teach. That is the kind of love I hope for every single person to experience. That’s the kind of love that can create wholeness for all. 

I welcome you to this truth. You are loved and beloved by our Creator. You are blessed with mercy and grace. You are welcome into God’s church with all of your doubts, failings, resentments, hurts. You are welcome into God’s church with your joys, laughter, loves, and life. 


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