Pastor Harald’s Update

Contact Rev. Harald
Office: (608) 788-0450


Church Search

Important Links

Newsstand  >  Updates  >   Pastor Harald’s Update            

Updated December 23, 2016

As we enter into the New Year I invite us to ponder the following Scripture readings and reflect on what is behavior befitting our lives as Christians in a culture that appears to thrive on de-humanizing one another.

The apostle Paul writes to the Galatians: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

And to the Corinthians he writes: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends”   (1 Cor. 13:4-8a).

And James writes: “You must understand this, my beloved:  let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).

In a culture where we like to listen to and love those who agree with us and tend to demonize the others, I would encourage us all to think about a more expansive view of love. Imagine what could happen if our listening included those who are not in our immediate circle of friends, if we expanded it to those who are completely different from us in politics, religion, sexuality, age or ethnicity, or educationally, socially, and economically.

Imagine what could happen if we read and listened to points of view that we may not agree with for the sole purpose of seeking understanding and seeing that the other is also a human being, just like us.

Luke records Jesus as saying: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” Luke 6:32).

May we all be blessed and empowered to be a blessing in the New Year as we love, listen, and learn from one another, and especially from those who have differing views.

God’s blessings,

Pastor Harald


During worship October 2, 2016 members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church handed in these responses of the simple, sometimes mundane, every day acts of faithfulness they do.

I always hold doors open for all people.  I try to always smile and greet all people at work and at check outs in stores.    I try each day to be “Positive” – not  negative….  I’m 75 and still learning.

Go to work. Help with grandkids.  Checking with others how things are going. Be cheerful. Give close attention.  Plan family gathering.  Appreciate others.

Daily care of my husband from medicine check, keeping him interested and inspired with life’s activities as he is bombarded with pain.

I pick up after my family, (sometimes without grumbling)

I pay the bills and debts on time.

I reduce, re-use recycle and repair to try to minimize wasting God’s resources.

When I walk on my lunch break I stop to visit an elderly lady, 102 years old, that still lives in her own home on my walking route.  We met and have become friends.  She really enjoys talking to me as she gets lonely.  She is always outside waiting for me.  J

Offer to help family, approach people with a smile – Say thank you, donate food, help people in their home, help on Tuesdays with “come to supper” afternoon and evenings.

Help when I can at church Thursday cleaning – mailings – mobile meals

Help at Our Saviors’ “Come to Supper”, mobile meals, work through causeway, mow grass, Babysit Grandkids.

Helping thousands of cancer patients around the world via the internet with my website: .  Also personally meeting with cancer patients and leading oncologists.

Volunteering at Gunderson Health Center, and helping neighbors by picking up papers and mail.

On Tuesdays help at “Come to Supper for the homeless, on Thursday help cleaning at church, also take a lady grocery shopping.  This all makes me feel good about helping people.

Say prayers with kids every night.

Donate food for WAFER.

Organize the dress rehearsal and recital line up for LAX YMCA dance program.

I take care of my brother-in-law and sister-in-laws – bills, care, and needsa s they are in an assisted living.  Their children live far away.

Volunteering at the hospital every week.

Taking out children to church each week.  They don’t really realize (yet) to be developing their own ideas/faith.

I am so grateful to God that I am still able to help my good friend who no longer can drive – take her to  the store and bake for Lev.  Also, keep in touch with my neighbors who don’t get out anymore.  Visit shut-ins at the nursing home.

Work – household chores –  take care of kids.

Helping neighbors, running errands for someone unable, delivering meals, supporting a child in Haiti.

Take care of my daughters dog – Help at church funerals, help with church mailing, Go to lunch with my grandson and talk with my daughter every day.

As a nurse, I care for patients with various needs.  I help my mother – daily with food preparation, medications, various activities and I pray for those in need.

Staying true to my values even though the world seems to penalize integrity.  Placing my children’s well being above all else, and continuing to be a packer fan even when they flop.  J

Call a friend, wash dishes, wash clothes, clean, send birthday cards, make meals, visit.

Donating food/supplies to local charities at work, volunteer “bell ringing” for the Salvation Army, providing for my mother.

Watching my grandchildren, talking with the elderly, help someone if they need it, smilling and giving a hello to someone I don’t know, give out hugs, have a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.

Pray for those in need, and listen to someone who needs an ear.

Bible Study, Food for Wafer, Being caring – riding with a woman that didn’t feel as strong as usual on a bike tour, waiting with a friend so she didn’t have to wait alone, and give people care packages.

Volunteer activities, driving elderly friend to appointments, reading to children, entertaining folks at care center, visiting with ill relatives and friends, playing games and cards with shut-ins.

Washing dishes by hand because dishwasher broke while singing it’s a hard knock life from Annie,  Bring Macy the Beagle to our home to foster from shelter and help her find a home,  Everyone got up and went to work and school on time.

Do a special kindness, talk to people, compliments, a friendly Hi, call a friend who is down, cook a special meal, help someone in need, smile.

Being a caring teacher, being a good friend, shopping at thrift stores that benefit the community, helping build others self-esteem, giving offerings.

Being the person I can for my patients, being a good friend, always showing up for work with a positive attitude, thanking my son for bringing me to church.

Trying to learn the word of God through W5 book group in order to better my faith to help others and myself.

Showing up for Work, inflating family members bike tires, cleaning, helping co-workers, letting the dog out and in.

Take time to visit old friends at home or nursing homes like my dad did years ago.  Volunteer to go with grandkids on field trips.  Share my “out of body experience” with people who are dying, share children’s message.

I pray everyday, when I pray I give thanks and praise to Jesus for the ultimate sacrifice he made.  I   ( ? ) my wife everyday during the week because I work 3 hours away.  I ask her how her day went and how our son’s day was.  I talk to all employees at work showing the respect, concern and value.  I believe this honors God.

I teach kids to be good citizens. Say I love you. Be courteous to others.  Teach kids to drive.  Be to work on time.

Have patience in all things.  Bringing my son to church to help grow his faith in God.

Going to school and being nice to a special need person.

I buy groceries for 7 people.  I load and unload the dishwasher several times a day.  I mow the lawn. I pay all the bills and the mortgage.  I clean toilets, bathrooms, kitchens, vacuum, dust, pay for everyone’s vacations, I buy cars for my kids.  I donate to good will and food banks.

Help disabled and handicapped people around closed doorways and assist with packages.

Work, cooking, pet care, health care.

Offer a smile to everyone.

Giving a compliment to my significant other.

Pray with my children every night.

Telling my husband I love him every morning.  Speak sweetly and encouraging to my 4 year old dog.  Balancing the 9 committees, treasurer for both LCT and community theater.  Taking a call from my daughter at work even though I know she just wants to talk.  Making time for a friend even though I had work obligations.  Sending my son a picture of a Bible verse that spoke to me that day.

Going to school with enthusiasm for teaching.  Giving praises to all successes of students, encouraging youth who feel they are failures.  Working with at-rick students to provide the support they don’t get at home.

Pray for my family and friends.  Volunteer at the gift shop at Gunderson.  Making a donation to WAFER.  Taking care of Lyla.  Sharing our newspapers with our neighbor.  Taking care of our grandsons!   Listening to those who need an ear.  Grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry.

Praying for high school friends that have terminal cancer……    Pray for my children and grand children in college.  Pray for our country.

Acknowledging a family or friend each day through email, face book, telephoning or visiting with letting them know we are thinking about them.  Meeting and greeting new and old friends anytime.

Teach music and piano.  Listening to people who call with concerns.  Sing and play piano in nursing homes.

Volunteer at assisted living, Bingo, etc. during the week.

Treating people as they would like to be treated.

Taking son to school.  Getting books from the library for Mother.  Giving change away.  Doing dishes daily.  Mowing the grass.

What is important to me is making new friends and praying for someone.

Donate to a local shelter.  Visited a friend with cancer and made her lunch.

Helping people who need someone to talk to.

Water plants. Wash Eye glasses for kids. Wash hands.  Made pumpkin bars to share.

I work at G/H Clinic, when I see people in need I talk with them and ask what I can do to help them.  Cook and bake for people needing help.

Provide companionship to an elderly person.

Pray for friends and family who are suffering in illness or another way.

Knit and/or crochet and donate them to schools, hospitals, caring organizations.  Calling individuals who are ill, or can’t get our etc.

Inspiring son thru his issues.

Daily devotion readings.

All the wonderful members of this congregation that volunteer to help with the work of our church, I thank God for them.

Bring 2 friends to church.

Pray for everybody.

Mowing lawn for daughter who can’t.  Planting flowers for others to enjoy God’s beauty.   Crocheting articles for others to use and enjoy.  Volunteer in kindergarten class to help our teacher and children.

Setting up medications for mother-in-law.

I pick up garbage off the street everywhere I see it to keep our earth cleaner and looking beautiful.   I walk with the band in the Octoberfest parade to keep the students safe and hydrated.

Listening to those who need someone to hear them.

Treating each patient with love and respect.

Talk to an alcoholic about the higher power.  We all have good in us.  Don’t dwell on the past but for tomorrow.

Being dependable.

Talking to my daughters and telling them, I love them!!


Debt Elimination Update

At the special meeting this past Sunday, we voted and committed to increase our financial gifts above our offerings to the general fund to eliminate the mortgage debt on the church building. The entire process that led up to this meeting has been nothing short of astonishing for me.

From 2013 until now, we have reduced our mortgage from about $500,000.00 to $270,000.00 (as of last month). As you learned from the motion, we have received a substantial and generous gift from the Evelyn and Connie Lee estate, and we have chosen to use a portion of it, up to $100,000.00, toward debt elimination.  We voted on Sunday, September 18, 2016, to begin the campaign to eliminate Good Shepherd’s mortgage debt.

Five families have joyfully pledged  $20,000.00 each to be used as 2:1 matching funds for this purpose. The first $14,075.00 of the $50,000.00  needed to receive the matching funds has been personally pledged by the members of the church council. So we are well on our way to achieving our goal of raising a total of at least  $250,000.00. The generosity is amazing. In the coming weeks, a display in the church entry will track our process towards our goal.

Thank you to all who have pledged and/or given so generously to Good Shepherd with regular gifts and especially to help eliminate the mortgage debt in the next 3-9 months.  If you haven’t done so yet, please consider using the enclosed envelope to give a one-time gift by the end of this year. It may be mailed, or even better, dropped in the offering plate on Sunday. Please remember that we continue to need your regular offerings to pay for monthly operating expenses, so simply to allocate your sustaining gifts to mortgage elimination would not be as helpful. Even though Good Shepherd’s membership has increased, the amount given to the general fund has decreased in the last couple of years.

As we all know, many interests and organizations compete for our time and resources. A heartfelt thank you for including Good Shepherd in your faithful giving and for considering Good Shepherd in your Will and Estate Planning. There are benefits of income tax deductions and capital gains savings when giving to church, but most of all there is a joy in knowing that we are supporting God’s work in the world through the ministry of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Thank you and God bless you all,

Pastor Harald

What’s on Good Shepherd’s Website?

I trust if you are reading this article you are somewhat familiar with our church website “”. Here are a few things you might enjoy looking at now that you are on this site already. For instance, in the “About” section, there is a “Welcome,” “What We Believe,” “Take a Tour” and “Learn More” tab. There are sections on Worship and Music. There is a “Discover” section highlighting Good Shepherd’s ministries to children, youth, college age adults and older adults, as well as information about Sugar Creek Bible Camp. There is a “24/7 Faith” section which gives everyone ways to participate through an online process. There is also information about daily, weekly and monthly events taking place here at Good Shepherd. There are opportunities to give through the website, there is a section called “Newsstand,” which includes current and previous “Shepherd’s Voice” newsletters, updates from the parish nurse, Sunday School, confirmation, youth leaders and me.

I will end with a sample of the updated website. Here is a section on radical hospitality under the tab “About”/ “What We Believe,”/ “Core Values.”

Radical Hospitality

In the book “Radical Hospitality,” Daniel Homan and Lonni Collins Pratt emphasize that the human instinct is to be suspicious and fearful of those who are different, especially when we are anxious in our own lives.  Radical hospitality, however, calls us to welcome the stranger into our churches, into our homes, and into our hearts.  When a lawyer asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”, Jesus responds by telling the story of the Good Samaritan, to let him and all the world know that the neighbor is the person in need (Lk 10:25-37).  Radical hospitality is a willingness to become vulnerable for the sake of those in need.  At Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, we hold this as our model.  The apostle Paul writes in 1 Cor. 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  In that connectedness we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. We strive to welcome guests as though they are Christ’s presence in our midst.

God’s peace,

Pastor Harald

A New Liturgy–And The Story Behind It

Pastor April Ulrich Larson was Bishop of the La Crosse Area Synod from 1992 to 2008. From 1993 – 1997, her husband Judd Larson served as Associate Pastor here at Good Shepherd and the family attended worship here. Ben, the youngest of their three children attended Central High School. Later, Ben attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa (one of 27 ELCA colleges and universities). He then enrolled at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa (one of eight ELCA seminaries), for his Master of Divinity degree.

For the January interim term during his senior year at Wartburg, Ben along with two other Wartburg seminary seniors went to Haiti. Their mission was to teach Lutheran theology to members and pastors of the Lutheran Church there.

But on January 12, 2010, everything changed, when a severe earthquake hit Haiti. The death toll was staggering – over 200,000 people lost their lives.

Ben’s wife, Renee, as well as Jonathan, Ben’s cousin, were able to escape from the collapsed St. Joseph Home for Boys and attempted to rescue Ben. Renee tells, “We were all together on the same floor, when the building began to shake. We all kind of panicked and started running. Jonathan and I were together. Ben was hugging a pillar in the middle of the floor. I turned and I saw him, and I saw concrete starting to fall on him. I called for him and started running toward him.”

At that moment the two floors above collapsed on them. Jonathan and Renee were trapped for a short time, but managed to squeeze out onto the roof of the building and called for Ben. The collapsed building continued to shift as the aftershocks continued.

The two went back to the place from where they had crawled out and called again for Ben. Renee tells that she heard Ben’s voice. Covered by debris, injured and dying, Ben was singing! Renee says, “I told him I loved him, and that Jon and I were OK, and to keep singing. But the singing stopped after he sang the words ‘God’s peace to us we pray.’ “Ben spent his last breath singing.” He was 25 years old when he died.

Many of you have certainly noticed that on Sunday mornings we have begun using the order of service for worship (the liturgy) written by Ben Splichal Larson. However, Ben was not able to put it in the form as we are using it today. It was completed by his wife and a group of musicians after his death. I feel we are blessed to have this musical gift from Ben, and as we use it throughout the Pentecost Season, I am convinced you will treasure it as well. As we remember Ben and the love of Christ and this church that he showed through his life and through his music, may we continue to feel the nudge to support ELCA Disaster Relief and other ministries throughout La Crosse and the world. On the website there is an opportunity to donate to ELCA Capital Campaign for New Congregations.
Portions of this article including the quotes were found on their website.

God’s peace be with you all.

Pastor Harald

Hearty and Healthy Roles Recipe

Here is my updated recipe for bread rolls that were made at the New Member Welcome Event on October 7, 2015. The original recipe was from my cousin Ruth Diesen, in Norway. Pastor Harald Bringsjord

3 c. Oatmeal
¼ c. Sesame seeds
½ c Sunflower Seeds
½ c. Pumpkin kernels
½ c. Flax seeds
½ c. Wheat bran
1 Tbsp Salt
3 Tbsp Brown sugar
4 c. Water, boiling
In a large bowl add 4 c. boiling water to all ingredients above and stir to moisten then let stand for 30 minutes.

½ c. Water
1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
½ Tbsp White sugar
In the meantime, in a medium size bowl pour in ½ c water and heat in microwave to 125-130 degrees. Remove from microwave and add 1 tbsp dry yeast and ½ tbsp white sugar and stir gently til lumps are gone then let stand.

¼ c. Butter, softened
¾ c. Apple sauce, organic or homemade
1/8 c. Olive oil
2 c. Whole Wheat Flour, stone ground
After the 30 minutes are up on bowl mixture add ¼ c softened butter and ¾ c applesauce and 1/8 c olive oil and blend all into oatmeal and seeds mixture. Add 2 c. whole wheat stone ground flour to top of mixture and mix in thoroughly.

5½ c. All Purpose Flour
Then to this mixture add 3 c. All purpose flour until blended then add 2 1/2c gradually mixing well with hands until it is all well incorporated and dough no longer sticks to your hands Butter bottom and sides of large bowl and place dough into it to rise for one hour, covered with a damp towel.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut risen dough into palm sized chunks and roll in hands to smooth. Place onto greased baking sheet and pat slightly flat. Bake at 400 until golden brown, 20-25 minutes approx.

Yields about 35 rolls.