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God bless you, Mom.

God bless you, Mom.

by Lindsay Hardin Freeman MY MOTHER-IN-LAW, GERTRUDE, was one of the kindest people I’ve known. When she stayed with us, she swept the patio every morning. She wiped down the counters and sink every night after dinner. She said she couldn’t do a lot, but she could do...

Tell me…

Tell me…

by Sarah Carson— As an "elder Millennial" (that is, a Millennial born between 1980 and 1985), I have mixed feelings about the wave of ’90s nostalgia that is currently hitting popular culture. As I’m sure was also true for children who grew up in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s...

The meaning of “Hosanna!”

The meaning of “Hosanna!”

by Julie Seymour— When I see a painting of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the colt, sometimes it looks to me as if he has indigestion. It’s a strange look for someone who is receiving a parade in his honor. Or maybe it’s not so strange, if we think about the message...

Kingdom calm

Kingdom calm

by Lindsay Hardin Freeman— What does God's kingdom mean? We hear this phrase often: in the Bible, at church, in the Lord’s Prayer and all around us. I’ll be the first to admit: I take the reign of God for granted, like an old, cozy sweater. I refer to it without...

Changing your focus

Changing your focus

by Sonia C. Solomonson— The past two years have been so unusual. We faced fear and anxiety. We dipped our toes, bit by bit, into returning to more normal existence. Then surges of the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID- 19 hit. Add in more extreme weather—tornadoes...

Help us believe

Help us believe

by Catherine Malotky Gracious God, human voices have been calling to you since you first breathed into our nostrils the breath of life. I believe that, as my creator, you have also animated me with your holy breath, and that I spring from your imagination. I believe...

Here and now

Here and now

by Elizabeth Hunter— For me the words "Here and Now" are forever connected with a 30-year-old song by the late Luther Vandross. He won a Grammy for soulfully singing: “Here and now, I promise to love faithfully. …Your love is all I need.” His song is also known as an...

The seed power on our doorsteps

The seed power on our doorsteps

by Venice Williams— I find mustard seeds annoying. Now I may be wrong in assuming this, but I would guess that the average gardener who has planted mustard greens from seed (and not seedlings) probably shares my irritation. No matter the variety, the seeds are so...

Into the wilderness for Lent

Into the wilderness for Lent

by Sarah Carson— It's 4:30 in the morning, and I am Googling, “What does it mean that Jesus was led into the Spirit by the wilderness?” Oops. I take a sip of coffee and hit the “back” button on my browser. “What does it mean that Jesus was led into the wilderness by...

Signs of the kingdom: In Jesus’ stories we recognize our own

Signs of the kingdom: In Jesus’ stories we recognize our own

by Jennifer Ginn— Teresa's eyes sparkle from her little Zoom square, as she describes finding her new home. After 30 years in New York working in banking, she’d been ready to move closer to family. She’d downsized several times previously but did so once again—this...

Wrapped in prayer

Wrapped in prayer

by Linda Post Bushkofsky— Lutheran women might not have originally conceived of the prayer shawl, but we were early adopters. Across the church, for at least two decades, women have been knitting and crocheting prayer shawls, working their prayers into the stitches,...

Sticky stories

Sticky stories

by Elizabeth Hunter— I used to write my favorite funny or encouraging quotes on sticky notes. I’d clip cartoons and inspiring images from newspapers and magazines. Magnets, tape and pins were corralled in a drawer so that I could daily see—and share—food for thought...

“This was not on my list.”

“This was not on my list.”

by Susan Sparks— Growing up in the south, I learned many important lessons: The word “hey” has a minimum of 19 syllables. Okra can be a side dish, an entree or a dessert. And you must always, always write a thank-you note. No matter what the gift. My first year out of...

Our vocation: It’s about learning to sing

Our vocation: It’s about learning to sing

by Mihee Kim-Kort— When my kids were a little younger they said all kinds of things in response to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Today my sons will still say things like play for the Steelers or the Golden State Warriors or be an engineer....

The road to Bethlehem

The road to Bethlehem

by Audrey Novak Riley— There are likely thousands of pieces of art—from greeting cards to Renaissance masterpieces— depicting the holy family on the way to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth. Gentle Joseph leads a sweet little donkey with meditative Mary on its back. A...

Advent ache

Advent ache

by Julia Seymour— Christmas—the stretch of holy days, not the holiday—is the shortest church season we have. The twelve days of Christmas make for a season shorter than even the briefest time after Epiphany, no matter how early Lent begins. Lent itself is 40 days. The...

For all the saints

For all the saints

by Lisa A. Smith— "Mommy, why did God make it so we die?" my 5-year-oldson suddenly asked. We were sitting together on the sofa. The question pierced me. I reached over to hold him before responding. He has been asking a lot of questions about death lately. It can be...

Expand the table

Expand the table

by Linda Post Bushkofsky— Women of the ELCA leaders were thinking about new models for ministry—models that could best serve the mission and purpose of Women of the ELCA in a changing world. Based on recommendations from an exploratory committee, the churchwide...