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Our next of kin

by Cindy Novak— Jews and Christians have a unique bond—and are even described as being “siblings” and “next of kin” in Evangelical Lutheran Church in America resources. Since the 1960s, the ELCA and its predecessor church bod­ies have striven to nurture that bond by...

Getting to know Katharina von Bora

by Mary Helene Rasmussen Jackson— During my years researching the Reformation, I quickly learned that most people know three things about the event: Martin Luther had something to do with it; he pounded the 95 Theses (whatever they are!) on a church door; he married a...

Variety, the spice of life

by Elizabeth Hunter— Our local store has an entire aisle just for soap and deodorant. We see this kind of thing as normal, but when my husband’s college friend, new to the U.S. from Zaire, needed to replace his dwindling bar of soap, the grocery aisle with dozens of...

Studying Scripture

by Karen G. Bockelman— Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn and inward­ly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold...

‘Tis the season…for hospitality

By Anne Basye— Make a list of twenty things that matter deeply to you: your children, your parents, your congregation…your great grandmother’s tea set... Are you up to 20 yet? Now cross off five of them. Cross off five more. And then another five. “When you’re a...

When wolves come to dinner

by Liv Larson Andrews— A wolf killed my uncle’s favorite llama. She was old and weak, with dark brown hair and kind eyes that would follow his truck up the dirt driveway. For many years my uncle has kept eight or nine llamas on his plot of Montana hill­side. One...

Maybe you’re not feeling Advent-y

By Michelle Derusha— I’m not feeling very Advent-y this Advent. I don’t have that sense of anticipation—the expectation that is often present in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’m not feeling all close and cozy with Jesus or particularly prayerful or joyous or...

The songs of Advent

by Kathryn A. Kleinhans— Advent is a season of waiting, but not just waiting. Advent is also a season of anticipation and preparation. Anticipation reminds us that we are waiting for something that is worth waiting for. Preparation reminds us that waiting is not idle...

An “Oh yeah” Advent

by Sarah Carson— Recently I needed to clean out my medicine cabinet. On one shelf were prescriptions from ailments past—pain medications, antibiotics, several jars of cranberry cap­sules (there must have been some sale at the pharmacy when I needed those!). On another...

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...