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Connected to Christ in Advent

Advent is upon us! In this season, we look back on all Christ did when He came veiled in flesh. We also look forward to when He will come again in His resurrected body with nail-pierced hands. In this year of social-distancing and social unrest, we remember that regardless of circumstance we are connected because of Christ and the life He freely gave for us.

Ten Seats, Six Feet—Let’s Eat

As I prepare to serve as a host for a Thanksgiving celebration, I cannot help but stop and realize that this holiday season is going to be entirely different than any other. I don my mask as I enter the grocery store, staying at least six feet from my shopping counterparts. Inside, I see a little girl in a shield drop her doll in the aisle; I smile at her through my mask (you know, the eye smile) and pick up her doll. Her face lights up behind the shield as I move toward her with her toy.

Explaining Forgiveness: An Illustration Using Soap

This post is adapted from Flowing from the Cross: Six Facets of God’s Forgiveness by Dan Paavola.

An Advent Shift to Social Media

In the last scroll through your social media—Facebook and Twitter especially—did you feel happy? Were there an abundance of posts that made you laugh, smile, and feel giddy inside? I reckon there weren’t many. Today’s social media climate has become a toxic sludge pile of negative and emotionally draining posts, filled with arguments in the comments and finger-pointing to cast blame.

The (Hidden) Blessing of Quarantine

I am what my friends have deemed an ambivert: a perfect 50/50 split between an introvert and an extrovert. This was confirmed with a personality test, as my friends became obsessed with them during quarantine. Of course, given the results, it was almost a guarantee that quarantine would be easy for me. After all, this halfway introvert has more than enough books on her bookshelf to survive for quite a while. But in our society of go, go, go, being forced to stop, even for introverts, can give feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or unproductivity. Still, working seven days a week isn’t natural. Even God did not work seven days a week: after a long six days of laboring, He rested.

Standing Firm in Christ

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 

Nineties-era country music is a treasure chest of hidden gems. I was born in 1985 in the Midwest and spent a large amount of time on my grandparents’ dairy farm. When I hear people talking about standing for something, a song begins playing in my mind— “You’ve Got to Stand for Something,” sung by Aaron Tippin, written by Buddy Brock, and released in 1990. The song is a classic, and I can assure you the music video will take you right back to the nineties in a hurry. 

Four Bible Verses on the Gift of Forgiveness

Have you ever fully thought about God’s forgiveness? About what it means that He has forgiven us?

I’m not good at forgiveness. I hold grudges. I say I forgive but then I don’t forget. I am not slow to anger and quick to forgive. In my sinful nature, I don’t want to forgive someone easily. They need to earn my forgiveness. I am so thankful that God’s forgiveness isn’t like mine.

Forgiveness is at the heart of our relationship with Christ. Through the forgiveness won for us on the cross, we are a part of God’s family. It’s an amazing gift that we receive through the Sacraments. Here are four verses to consider when thinking about God’s forgiveness toward us.

Homeward Bound

There is a glossy sheet of paper adorned with the face of a young man, which I keep in my car at all times. I like to pull it out and look at it as I am driving home. It makes me feel at home. I have written a Bible verse in the bottom right corner that reads:

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:25 (NIV)

Engaging Authentically with One Another in Christian Community

This post is an excerpt adapted from Holding Up the Prophet's Hands: Supporting Church Workers by Bruce M. Hartung. 

What would happen if a congregation encouraged its members to develop significant relationships with one another? What if those relationships grew deep and the congregation became a place of authentic personal encounter, with God in Word and Sacrament and with one another, the members of the Body of Christ? Person-to-person relationships create a context in which words of appreciation can be spoken and received as meaningful and truthful. To show true caring for one another requires that members feel safe in making their needs known. It also requires that those who hear about an individual’s need have the desire and the capacity to respond in understanding, practical, and empathic ways.

5 Political-Season Reminders from the Book of Daniel

There’s no question that this has been one of the most contentious political seasons in memory. Since the primaries ended, the low favorability of both candidates has been a much-discussed topic. All across social media, you see people pouring more energy into lamenting a win from either candidate than championing one they believe in.