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Sacred objects

by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller In our dining room sits a purple, crystal vase. Most days it’s empty of flowers. It’s there for decoration but also so much more. The vase, like many objects, has a story—a beautiful story of hope, of love beyond death and of the connections...

Defined by hope

by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni  Three friends sat together one day, reflecting on their lives and imagining their legacies. “At my funeral,” the first said, “I hope people say that I worked hard all my life and that I never let people down.” The second friend replied,...

When faith doesn’t come easy

by Kathryn Kleinhans “I believe; help my unbelief!” These words, spoken to Jesus by the father of a child suffering from convulsions (Mark 9:24), have been my own prayer longer than I can remember. I was raised in a loving Christian home. My parents brought me to be...

Out of the darkness

by Anne Basye Sherry Bryant had already been a social worker for 10 years when her son, Todd, took his life in 1993. Her graduate and professional education had prepared her to face many human struggles, but not this one. In a survivor’s group, she heard the word...

As God sees us

by Audrey West In the house where I grew up, there is a large plastic bin filled with glittery scarves, 40-year-old prom dresses, baseball caps, a broken stethoscope, gardener’s gloves and a pile of fabric scraps. One day I encountered my niece digging through the...

Finding our voices

by Amy Reumann The pastor of a small-town congregation came to my office door with a plea. He wanted to know why the regional food bank that supplied his church’s pantry had suddenly cut back on the food staples they relied on. Demand in the community was up, he said....

Confronting our comfort

by Judith Roberts Our identities shape our stories and experiences of the wider world. As a racial justice trainer/facilitator, I often facilitate an activity called “What’s in your bowl?” designed to help individuals share how their community, identity and culture...

Seeing Jesus at night

by Elizabeth Hunter One night at bedtime, my youngest child surprises me by asking God to bless the people who will be awake while he sleeps. His firefighter uncle, putting in a 24-hour shift. The bakers, making fresh bread for the morning. The police, charged with...

Singing our faith

by Scott C. Weidler Worship is powerful—more powerful than we realize. As we gather around Jesus Christ, present in God’s word and the sacraments, to be sent out into the world, are we fully cognizant of our words, actions and songs—especially our songs? I can’t help...

Wrestling with a giant

by Jane Oppermann It was just bronchitis. After having been down that road many times, I knew I needed an antibiotic. That was all. Until it wasn’t. Now, 28 years later, I am left with the aftermath of that innocuous cough. My prescription in hand, I mentioned...

Katie Luther’s legacy

by Audrey Riley. On January 29, 1499, a little girl was born in Saxony, not far from the city of Leipzig, Germany. No one could have foreseen that she would live on in the hearts of her sisters in faith for centuries to come—but that’s what happened. Little Katharina...

Speaking the truth

by Sonia C. Solomonson “Why do we have to read about these awful things in our church magazine?” “Why are you beating up on our clergy?” “She certainly can’t be blameless in all this.” “We want to be inspired by our magazine, not fed trash like this.” These were some...

Jesus the shepherd

by Karen Craigo There is a huge, illuminated print of Jesus on the wall of the guest room where my family of four sleeps at my mother-in-law’s house. My mother-in-law is Catholic, and depictions of Jesus hang or stand in every room. They often show the Savior in his...

Messenger of God’s love

by Laura Jane Gifford Imagine committing to live in a room perhaps 10 feet long and 11 feet wide—for the rest of your life. You’ll speak frequently with outsiders who seek your prayers and advice, but a curtain will hide their faces. Your everyday life will be one of...

Celebrate abundance

by Elizabeth McBride Imagine throwing a party and inviting only people who wear green hats. You spend weeks focused on attracting green hat-wearing people to the party. When the day of the party comes, a couple of green hat-wearers come through the door, and you’re...

The gift of generations

by Sarah Carson Lately I’ve been thinking about what my future might look like. Will I get married? Have children? Will I always be happy living the single life with my two dogs? I’m blessed to have great people in my life to go to for advice.  For instance, a few...

Just notice

by Cara Strickland When I’m overwhelmed by my feelings, my schedule or my circumstances, my therapist often tells me to “just notice.” As I begin to slow down and focus, I see things more clearly. Often, this motivates me to action, but perhaps more often, I am...

Meditating in color

by Ann Hafften Vonda Drees often describes her life and work as a journey. She encourages spiritual growth and enrichment with groups, in person and online in an artistic process she calls “a journey with a community.” As artist-in-residence for the Women of the ELCA...