Two Vials of Ashes

It’s been 19 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center (September 11, 2001) and 40 years since Mount St. Helens erupted (May 18, 1980).  Pictured are two vials of ash—one from each event, along with a missing person flyer given to me by the family of Tonyell McDay, who perished in the explosion of World Trade Tower 1.  My life and career came close to both disasters.  I was preaching at Our Savior’s Lutheran in Sunnyside, WA that day in May 1980…

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My parents were intentional when they named me “Penelope.” They voiced the expectation that I would live up to the name’s various meanings. Many of you are familiar with the Greek myth about Penelope, the loyal wife of Odysseus. She stayed home for 20 years while he fought in the Trojan War and traveled the world. In his absence, suitors arrived and tried to convince her that Odysseus was dead – and that she should get remarried to one of them. She kept…

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The Waiting

“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” (Isaiah 8:17) Waiting is not something I’m very good at. I admit I’m impatient and it’s hard for me to watch the slow pace of change over the years. Yet that all changed this year, everything changed didn’t it? Almost overnight we went from being these incredible social beings to isolated, stuck at home, and separated - not just by walls,…

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When Hope Seems Fragile

In this long season after Pentecost, also called Ordinary Time, the New Testament lessons have been working their way through the book of Romans. About a month ago (July 19th) the reading was from the first part of chapter 8 ending with verses 24-25 “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” I was…

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What do you think of when you hear the word wilderness? For most people they probably think of a location or a place that they have been that may seem isolated or away from “civilization.” A place in the middle of a forest, up a mountain, or maybe even in the middle of the desert. In the United States we even have the National Wilderness Preservation System that helps preserve some of these places from our world of land development. But there is…

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Choose Something Like a Star

When I was in high school, I was a member of the Wauwatosa (Wisconsin) East High School Concert Choir. Every weekday at 11:05, we took our music, got into our assigned seats, and readied ourselves to practice for the next hour. Mr. Bilderback, the director, was a task master but he took great pride in the choir. As a second alto, I rarely got to sing any exciting parts.Sometimes we competed in the Wisconsin high school choir competition, but that depended on whether…

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The Traveler’s Psalm

Recently my dear friend's father died of COVID 19. Noble Dean was a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Caldwell, and a man whose life embodied, it seemed to me, Christ's promise of joy. It's hard to imagine a man who had a greater zest for life and for sharing it with everyone he met. You can read Noble's obituary here. As Noble was dying, his family gathered around him. His oldest grandson, an accomplished bass, led the family in some of Noble's favorite…

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The King’s Speech

One of my favorite movies is The King’s Speech. It tells the true story of King George VI (father of the present Queen Elizabeth). He had a stammer and was terrified of making speeches. He worked for many years with the speech therapist Lionel Logue and the movie covers their developing relationship. The movie won several Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, and Colin Firth won for Best Actor for his portrayal of George VI. The treatment of the King was not well…

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What’s the Story Here?

I miss church. If being a part of a Christian community of faith has been a part of your life before this pandemic, you probably are missing church too. Oh, we have our online worship, Zoom groups and meetings, phone calls, and texting as ways of trying to find some semblance of the togetherness we experienced when we could gather every week. Some of us have even met with a few friends and members every now and then while trying to be safe…

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A Cure for Heaviness

I feel heavy. My husband feels heavy, too. Not physically heavy, though there is some of that, but emotionally heavy. It feels a little like wearing one of those lead aprons they make you put on before you get your teeth x-rayed. I think I know where it comes from. A consequence of feeling anxious and fearful is that we become so focused on ourselves, we lose the ability to look beyond our own circumstances and see how we might help others. We—I—lose…

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Hope Wins

The world seems chaotic lately. Filled with problems that I have no solutions for. There is a lot of grief being held by our community: for lives lost, for justice denied, for the felt loss of agency and certainty, loss of income and stability, for the loss of physical gathering and fellowship. Yet we do not grieve as those without hope. So I invite you to join me in remembering the story of our hope: Before anything that humanity knows ever came to…

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All About Fences

As the weeks have gone by, many have taken the opportunity to do that long overdue home improvement project or develop a new skill or habit. We took the opportunity to build wire fences around our fruit trees in the back yard so that our sheep could eat more grass and not eat the branches. One unexpected side effect of the process is that it has revealed to us how much we care about our fruit trees! At first, we only fenced off…

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Soul Friends

I have been pondering all the kinds of relationships that we are part of and need. We are relational by nature, even those of us who are more introverted. I need relationships with communities of people who have similar interests or background and stories. I need people to confide in and people who will hold me accountable to growth.

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An Act of Hope

We lived in Connecticut and our apartment complex was surrounded by oak and maple trees. The red and orange colors of the leaves were spectacular in the fall. Our home in Maryland had oak, sycamore, and maple trees. We also had an apple tree with pretty white blossoms in the spring. My favorite bushes in our yard in Maryland were the lilac bushes. Their fragrance in the spring filled the yard and surrounding area. I loved to cut bunches of lilacs and bring…

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A Journey of Hope!

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 We’ve come to a new spot it seems. A place that we’ve never been before and it invokes in us so many emotions, fear, grief, a sense of the unknown dominating our feelings as we move ahead. We are in effect living in a new land unlike the one that came before. Like…

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How Do You Water Your Garden?

When we moved to our current home, we were informed that the previous owners did not install irrigation in any portion of the property. They relied on dragging a hose around. We tried this as well for our first year, but it gets pretty wasteful, tedious, and surprisingly annoying to just carry around the hose to different parts of a property depending on the different days of the week. So we took a bold step: we installed irrigation. There were several learning curves…

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By Our Love

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor. 13:12-13). One could make a pretty good argument right now that hope is the greatest, but I know that love has been the strongest guidepost and will remain so for me…

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Read more about the article Your Own Doo Dah Parade?
The Brief Case Drill Team

Your Own Doo Dah Parade?

Teach us delight in simple things, And mirth that has not bitter springs. Rudyard Kipling, The Children’s Song Every year on or around May 1, an unruly group of citizens in Pasadena, California march in a mini extravaganza they call the Doo Dah Parade. Perennial favorites of the occasion are the Marching Precision Brief Case Drill Team (bankers from the area who swing their brief cases in unison), the Newport Beach Dull Men’s Club (businessmen who march in time to the cacophony of…

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Keep the Faith

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3This verse is from the second reading scheduled for this week you would have heard in church. The full reading scheduled is 1 Peter 1:3-9 (NRSV). The reading continues:...and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being…

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Living our Lives in Saturday’s Length

One of my favorite authors, Phillip Yancey jolted my thinking about Easter several years ago. He wrote: Two days, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, are perhaps the most significant days on the entire church calendar, and yet, in a real sense, we live our lives on Saturday, the day in between…Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment. Its Saturday on plant Earth; will Sunday ever come? (“Unwrapping Jesus: My Top Ten Surprises,” Christianity Today, June, 1996 Its Holy Saturday…

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Read more about the article Milestone Moments
© Paul Oman/Drawn to the Word 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Milestone Moments

We are all missing special events in our lives, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, and funerals. They are still happening, but in very different ways. These are memory making events, ones that we may be able to re-create in our minds. These milestones create many stories, ones that we tell over and over again as we recall what happened and who was there and details and layers that stay with us long after the events have ended. We attended my cousin’s son’s wedding on…

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Crying Out

Philippians 4:4-91 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. 2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the…

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Read more about the article These Bones Shall Live Again
Mortal, Can These Bones Live? Ezekiel 37:1-14

These Bones Shall Live Again

Here’s a God question for you,a question God puts to you:“Mortal,” God calls you, “can these bones live?” I’ve been thinking about the prophet Ezekiel,prophesying to that valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37.And I’ve been thinking about these dry, anxious, fearful timeswe’re living in. We are all anxious right now,whether you feel it or not—because I’m not talking about a feelingbut something more like a state of being.We’ve been threatened by something we can’t see,a virus, a danger we don’t know...

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Waiting for Morning

Psalm 130 1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. 2   Lord, hear my voice!Let your ears be attentive   to the voice of my supplications!  3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,   Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with you,   so that you may be revered.  5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,   and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord   more than those who watch for the morning,   more than those who watch for the morning.  7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!   For with the Lord there is steadfast love,   and with…

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