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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Echo of the Divine

“Deep within the heart of everyone there is an eternal echo of the Divine.” (Out of the Ordinary: Awareness of God in the Everyday) Peter Verity Not long ago I had the chance to be alone in a deep basalt lined canyon in the southern Idaho desert. I remember being there as a child and wondering how resonant it was when I shouted my name. During this trip, I was alone and therefore somewhat uninhibited, so I shouted my name, and was struck…

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Seeing and Seeding

I’ve gotten a few calls recently where I pick up the phone and hear, “Do you think this is the Apocalypse?” It’s a jarring question that catches me by surprise every time. So let me start by saying, “no.” This is not the end of the world. This is not apocalyptic. At least, not in the pop-culture, Left Behind, sense of the word.Yet the word stuck with me this week. In the Greek, apocalypse means uncovering or revelation. In many ways, the current…

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Tales from the Treehouse

“But now ask the beasts to teach you,And the birds of the air to tell you;Or the reptiles on earth to instruct you,And the fish of the sea to inform you.Which of all these does not knowThat the hand of God has done this?In this hand is the soul of every living thing,And the life of all humankind.”Job 12:7-10I live in a treehouse. No, really, I do! It’s actually a third-floor apartment with a balcony overlooking a nice courtyard, but with a beautiful…

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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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From Grief to Fatigue to Spiritual Rest

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 Early into this pandemic and our sheltering-in-place I started talking to people about their feelings of grief. In March and April perhaps you were feeling sad, irritable or unsettled. A friend told me that she was feeling…

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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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Time for Questions

Acts 4:32-37: 32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35They…

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Feeling Smart?

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1 Corinthians 1:20I’ll be honest. I’ve been struggling with all of the hard things going on around the world lately. And "lately" feels a lot longer than what it used to mean to me. "Lately" can encompass a year or two, or feel like it at the very least. So many things seem confusing and…

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