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Patterns of faith

By Kristine A. Luber— Raised by devout parents who sent me to Lutheran schools, I soaked up the words of faith at an ear­ly age. I can still recite the first hymn I memorized and my confirmation verse, as well as the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed. I also...

The power of the Spirit

by Elizabeth Hunter— Confession time: I’m one of those folks who appreciate groan-worthy puns and thought-provoking riddles. Here are some for your enjoyment. (Answers appear at the bottom of this page.) How does Moses make coffee? What is a dentist’s favorite hymn?...

A temple of the Holy Spirit

by Jane E. Vennard When I was a child I didn’t think about my body; I simply lived in it. Running and jumping and skipping, mountain hikes with my family and playing in the ocean’s waves were simply glorious. What was there to think about? I didn’t express gratitude...

I love you. What were you thinking?

by Anna Madsen— I’m not saying that I’ve had a lot of “aha” moments in life, but here’s one that happened for sure: My late mentor and professor, Walter Bouman, taught us that the key for some sort of understanding of “Holy Spirit” might be less “Spirit” and more...

May our songs be true

by Susan Palo Cherwien— I have been writing hymn texts for 30 years now, and over these years I have refined a list of seven questions that I ask when I have finished a hymn text—a sort of sieve through which each text must pass. The very first question is: Is it...

Mostly pretty great

by Amy White— I stared into my coffee cup, not really wanting to look back at my computer screen. A mentor had challenged me to sit with my shame, so I sat there and fidgeted, imagining I had pulled up a chair and invited my feelings to the table. A place card seemed...

Living creatures of every kind

by Julie Kanarr— It’s 2 p.m. on the first Sunday in October. There are 11 dogs, three cats and a dozen people in the church parking lot. Some people are holding leashes attached to dogs who range in size from toy poodle to St. Bernard. One cat is content to be held in...

Soon and very soon

 by Angela Khabeb— When I was eight, my father took my older sister, Chrystal, and me to an Andraé Crouch concert. Often called “the father of mod­ern Gospel music,” Crouch was playing at the historic Orpheum Theater in my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. The experience...

Thomas and me

by Cara Strickland— “Jesus said to her, Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the...

A God who lives and dies

by Sarah Carson — When I went in for my check-up at 31 weeks pregnant, I had no idea anything was wrong inside my body. The nurse said my blood pressure was high, and I was sure it was a fluke. When the doctor announced, “You’ve just won yourself a trip to the...

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...