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May our hearts be homes where Christ lives every day

by Helen Hollingsworth—It has been rightly said that everyone must be someplace because there really is no such thing as no place. There are all kinds of wonderful places to be. Maybe you aspire to be in some of them. Or some of you may be in those places...

Keeping the struggling flame lit

by Julie A. Kanarr—It was Sunday morning, and I was preparing to lead worship. This Sunday marked the festival of the Baptism of Our Lord, the first Sunday after Epiphany. During the service, we would be affirming the promises God makes to us in baptism....

When a vocation knocks

by Sarah Carson—I've had more jobs in my life than you will probably believe.I’ve been a dishwasher, a nanny, a stable-cleaner/horse-sitter. I’ve arranged flowers, delivered newspapers, waited tables and built towering displays of pop cans in grocery...

Winter boundaries, winter wonder

by Venice R. Williams—"That's why gardening season is over!”These are the words my teenage children, Josiah and Sojourner, used to toss my way whenever I would get on their nerves during the cold winter months. In playful- yet-truth-filled moments of...

One will be left: There is space for grief at Christmas

by Kristen Glass Perez— I love Christmas. My husband, Javier, didn’t. Or perhaps more accurately, he didn’t love decorating for Christmas. In the six years that we were married before his sudden and unexpected death, we negotiated Christmas very carefully....

How to read the Scripture of Advent without missing the point

by Gwen Sayler—Have you ever seen a “Where’s Waldo” puzzle? Hidden in an illustration of a large group of people is a figure called “Waldo,” identifiable by his distinctive red and white striped shirt, hat and glasses.Although as a child I had never heard...

There are gifts in the waiting and not knowing

by Jordan Miller-Stubbendick— In Dr. Suess' Oh, The Places You’ll Go! an explorer journeys through the twists and turns of life. This little book is an engaging read, often given as a graduation gift. It’s known for its inspirational message—until the page where...

Waiting in joyful hope

by Audrey Novak Riley— There's an ancient lilttle prayer that some Christians insert into the Lord’s Prayer right before the doxology (which explains that awkward pause whenever an ecumenical group recites the Lord’s Prayer together). There are many variations and...

The aroma of faith

by Ann Milliken Pederson— For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over animals; for all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 3:19). But thanks be to God, who in Christ...

It’s something you live: An interview with Marilyn Nelson

Since the release of her first book in 1978, Marilyn Nelson has given voice to history. A three-time finalist for the National Book Award, she is an accomplished poet and children’s author, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut and a former...

The joy that is found in God’s presence does not fade away

by Angela T. Khabeb— According to Merriam-Webster, joy is “the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune.” Happiness, the dictionary attests, means “to be favored by luck or fortune." At first glance, it might appear that happiness and joy are synonymous,...

Soft, snuggly, fearless joy

by Sarah Carson— I am the proud parent of two rescue dogs. I adopted Amos, a hound mix, when he was 6 months old. He’d been abandoned in the former home of his original family, and despite all of the snuggles and walks and yummy treats he’s had in the past 13 years,...

How we grieve varies from person to person. There is no right way.

by Bev Stratton— I remember reading Grandma’s letters when I was a child. I wondered how she could go to so many funerals. Now my mother is the one who attends many funerals, and soon it will be me. ORDINARY DEATH Death and grieving are ordinary parts of life. If we...

Loss takes many forms. Grieve them all.

by Sonia C. Solomonson— Several years ago I facilitated a five-session class on grief and loss in my congregation. The turnout was lower than the pastors had hoped. Why? Several members told the pastors that they didn’t want to talk about that depressing subject....

Good poetry and good music take us where we need to go

by Liv Larson Andrews-- Grief knows us before we know grief. Our bodies usually know it first. Deep in our bodies, we long for a community to share—and sing—our grief with us. On Ash Wednesday in 2018, my younger son was ill. For about 24 hours, he hadn’t been able to...

Sorrow comes when we least expect it

by Elizabeth Hunter— Like a speed trap for an unwary traveler, sorrow catches me when I least expect it: while driving down a familiar road, singing a favorite hymn in church or sharing a simple childhood memory with my kids. It can lurk just around the bend, in the...

Caring for our emotional, spiritual and physical health

by Linda Post Bushkofsky— I'll be the first to admit I’ve not always made self-care a priority, so the topic of stewardship of emotions (and all that we are) in this issue really intrigues me. When I was in my 20s and 30s, self-care seemed unnecessary. I thought I...