Finding Peace in the Chaos

We recently marked one year since everything shut down initially here in Idaho. This past year has brought many moments of chaos and uncertainty as we have navigated life through a global pandemic. I often refer to riding the rollercoaster of pandemic life, riding the ups and downs that this year has brought. There are times when the chaos of it all can feel overwhelming and it is hard to see a light at the end of this tunnel. When we are in…

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Lenten Presence

Usually, Lent is my favorite season of the church calendar. I enjoy the weight of it. It’s a time where we embrace the sweeping grandeur of the Christian story. Lent feels like we are trying to embrace both the beginning and the end while holding space for all the messiness of the in between and you never quite know if your arms will stretch that far. It’s a time where we speak hard truths and tell long stories. We remind each other that…

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Nothing Left to Give.

We are quickly closing in on a year since the world as we knew it changed out from under us due to a global pandemic. Throughout this year we have ridden the ups and downs of ever changing recommendations and restrictions to how we live our daily lives and how we interact with others. We have lived the ups and downs of mental and emotional exhaustion brought by living through a pandemic. Finding many moments when we feel like we have nothing left…

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Allowing Time in Lent

The season of Lent began yesterday, did you make it to one of our local Lutheran churches who did “Ashes on the Go” for your Ash Wednesday? Or did you find a time in your home or workspace to remember the day? Or did the day move past you in the usual fashion, and perhaps now you are feeling a twinge of regret for missing it, as I mention it? I always will remember one Ash Wednesday when I was living and working…

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Called to Community

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In our Lenten services and readings we are going to be hearing about community—how we are called not only to be in communion with God, but to live in community with each other and with all of creation.When I was in graduate school I took a course on political theory. I remember studying two opposing schools of thought. One, called communitarianism, held that the well-being of a community should be a higher priority than the…

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Migration and Movement

What would it mean for Christians to rediscover their faith not as a system of beliefs, but as a just and generous way of life, rooted in contemplation and expressed in compassion, that makes amends for its mistakes, and is dedicated to community for all? Could Christians migrate from defining their faith as a system of beliefs to expressing it as a loving way of life? Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration The word migration has deep meaning for me. In a sense,…

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Simple Serving

I am thinking about my Grandma today. And I am thinking about Communion. I miss Communion in our churches, all of us coming together at the Lord’s Table for the Holy Supper with our hands and hearts open to receive. I miss the regular connecting with Jesus, in/with the bread and the wine, and feeling the presence of all the saints also with us in the meal as I rub shoulders with others next to me. I miss kneeling and expressing my heart’s…

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The Path Behind and Ahead

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)Sunday was Faith Lutheran Church’s annual meeting. We held it…

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All Creatures Great and Small
Mini Lop Rabbit Breed

All Creatures Great and Small

Did you grow up learning children’s songs at church? One of the earliest hymns I learned was “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” whose words were written by Mrs. Cecil Alexander around 1848 in a collection of hymns for children. The tune I learned is often paired with the words she wrote, a melody coming from a century earlier than that. You can find it in our blue “With One Voice” hymnal #767, and the final verse is “God gave us eyes to see…

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Promising Innovation: Reimagining Church Together

This article was written about TVPrays.org and posted on the FAITH+LEAD website of Luther Seminary. It can be found on FAITH+LEAD on October 29, 2000 where you may also read more about the authors: Terri Elton and Tessa Pinkstaff.  Following this article are some personal notes written by some of our readers. You are invited to share your own thoughts and encouragements in the comments below. Promising innovation is collaborative with shared leadership. Reimagining Church Together Friday, March 13, 2020, marked the start…

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All Shall Be Well

During my college career I sang with a variety of choral groups. During my senior year I had the opportunity to sing with a small group of 16 men. I recall one short piece which included the words “…and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” These hopeful words came from the writings of the 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich, who evidently was the first woman to write a book in English, a book she rewrote twenty…

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Epiphany Blessings

Since the pandemic I have officiated at three baptisms. These baptisms didn't look like any other ones that I’ve presided over before. They weren't held during a regular Sunday morning service. Instead, they were smaller gatherings with mostly just family members present. Two of them were held outside in the Immanuel courtyard and one inside the sanctuary. All of them were with masks and social distancing. What I missed about them, was having the congregation present to be able to offer their promise…

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“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (God with Us!)

O come, O come, O Lord of might, as to your tribes on Sinai’s height in ancient times you gave the law in cloud, and majesty, and awe. Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel. You may recognize this verse as one from the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” a hymn that is beloved by many of us. The words of the hymn come from the “O Antiphons” that have been sung in the church since at least the…

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Unexpected Blessings

Have you ever been traveling and found that you did not have the money you needed to get where you needed to go? When I was in seminary years ago, I had the good fortune to travel abroad for a cross-cultural class. Pastor Jerry Schmalenberger had been teaching at the seminary in Hong Kong and led a class for us there during the month of January. Part of our experiences included meeting several Lutheran missionaries who were assigned to Hong Kong and facilitated…

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Hope Springs Eternal

It was the first time in months that I saw a medical doctor smiling on TV while talking about the corona virus. The news had just broken that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective. In a world desperate to bring the deadly outbreak under control, this was "hope in a bottle," as the doctor put it. And then today, just as I was about to write this devotion, another company, Moderna, reported that their vaccine, at 94%, had been tested as even…

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Love Your Neighbors

Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31 “…the justice/righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:22 This devotion is being written ten days before the US election and is intended to be posted the day before the election, November 2. However, because it will serve as a backup, it is possible that it could be…

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God Bless You With Foolishness

Last weekend I attended (virtually) the consecration of Deaconess Sara Manning, youth director and member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. It has been a privilege to get to know and serve with Sara on the board of Luther Heights Bible Camp for several years. As I listened to Sara take her deaconess vows and sang along to hymns with more than 70 people watching the service on Zoom from around the world, I felt uplifted by the ceremony and renewed. Watching…

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Holiday Havoc in Pandemic Times

My heart is a bit heavy these days in anticipation of the next few months and all the holidays that will also likely be disrupted by the continued COVID-19 pandemic. We simply have missed so many events and traditions already, from graduations to summer vacations to back-to-school activities. It is a lot to take in, process, and move beyond. In the coming weeks, my family will engage in conversations about the holiday traditions we love most. My crew is likely to roll their…

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A Place for Everything

There are so many things I love about this time of year – the weather, the trees, the crisp days and scarves. I just love it all. One of the things I have been embracing this fall is my deep-rooted desire to organize. This organizing, structured side to myself is always around, but I don’t think I usually let it step up as much as it has lately. I am sure one big reason for this is that I realize it is a…

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Pandemic’s Lesson

https://youtu.be/xmIHqbO6_Ig Matthew 20 21, 22 Well, this week in Lutheran churches, Jesus gets into politics again. Seems like Jesus was always breaking that social rule about avoiding religion and politics in polite company. Of course, the company was anything but polite in the gospel story we will hear on Sunday— or rather, it was polite to the point of saccharine, as the religious and politic leaders of the day try to trip Jesus up with a tough question: Is it lawful to pay…

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Evergreen Stories

We are now well into fall, and as the name of this season rightly describes, the leaves have begun falling from the trees. I always get a wistful feeling at this time of year. The hopefulness of spring when green buds emerged and grew, has now given way to colorful displays of yellow, orange, and red, which will soon die and fall to the ground leaving bare branches behind. Winter is on the horizon and with it will come colder, darker days. Yet…

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“Do the Right Thing, And…”

Jesus (speaking to the chief priests and elders of the people) said, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” Matthew 21:31 There’s this one little (unspoken, but certainly implied) message in this story of Jesus’ encounter with the chief priests and elders of the people during his last days before his crucifixion that teachers and preachers commenting on this story often don't tell you: the chief priests and elders get into…

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Time for Change

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” ~Anne Lamott Tweet I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters…that I am addicted to being plugged in. What? You may ask. Isn’t this the lady who goes off to a hermitage twice a year and wanders around in silence watching grasshoppers? You are right, ‘tis I. But let me tell you what I am fleeing FROM when I go to the hermitage.Picture it:…

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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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Rituals

On September 1, I will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Amazon Prime delivery truck because in it will be my copy of Louise Penney’s next book, “All the Devils are Here.” This is, I believe, the 16th book in Penney’s series of mysteries that focus on Armand Gamache, the Inspector General of the Quebec provincial police. Over the course of these books, Inspector Gamache has become an ever more interesting and nuanced character, always striving to do the right thing but…

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Grace, Grief and Voices of Hope

We are 5 months into this pandemic and we still don’t seem to know what is happening to us. The evidence is right before our eyes. There is the ominous daily (steady or rising) count of new cases and deaths from COVID-19. Our public health experts have given us a fairly specific set of practices to follow that could lessen the severity of our suffering significantly, but we as a society are divided as to whether to follow them. We are also conflicted…

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Surprises

I vividly remember the party for my 40th birthday. That was over 20 years ago but that night is very clear in my mind. My husband Glenn and I went out for a lovely dinner; and returned home to a house full of people. Glenn had arranged a surprise party; I had no idea people were coming over. Our house was filled with friends eager to share in my special milestone. The best surprise of all – my brother and sister in law…

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Wilderness

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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Small Gestures

Summer is here and, as some have suggested, we are in for a summer like no other in the lifetimes of most of us living today. We have a continuing pandemic due to the corona virus that does not seem to be subsiding in the number of cases and deaths. We also have continuing protests and demonstrations in the streets and public places for justice and better lives particularly for black and brown people (but ultimately for all races and peoples) and they…

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