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Serve Your Neighbors in the Continuation of a Pandemic

We live in a weird time—not only are we still in the midst of a global pandemic, but we also are living in an in-between time.

Some churches are open, others are not. Some people are back at work, others are not. Living in the in-between means everyone is at a different point, making it hard to serve one another. Your elderly parents might be vaccinated, but you might still not be able to see them. Your church might be open, but you might not feel comfortable attending services in person yet.

No matter what point you’re at, you can still serve your neighbor! Here are some situations where you can serve your neighbor in the current in-between time.

April 2021 Everyday Faith Calendar

Last year, our church celebrated Easter with a drive-in Easter service. In-person gatherings were not an option, but not gathering at all was not an option either. After weeks of planning—which felt generous in some ways, since most of our planning was on the fly while we adjusted to shifting health and safety guidelines last spring—we made it to Easter morning.

Teaching the Faith to Children With Down Syndrome

Starting in 2006 and marking its fifteenth anniversary this year, World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, is the day we celebrate the unique and precious blessing of individuals in our lives with Down syndrome. Down syndrome, or trisomy 21, means there is an extra (third) chromosome in the twenty-first chromosomal pair of a person’s genetic makeup. 

How to Love and Welcome the Stranger

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16)

4 Ways to Find Joy in Winter

I hate winter.

I live in Michigan, which is probably one of the worst states to live in if you hate the cold and snow like me. Winter starts in November, and it doesn’t end until late March. I hate trudging through snow to take my dog out, driving on icy roads, and putting on a million layers just to walk to my mailbox.

March 2021 Everyday Faith Calendar

Recently, on social media, I have engaged in a weekly conversation about worshipping with little people. On Sundays I share what my family and I are up to as we go throughout our morning. Every time I do this, mom after mom will reach out to share a struggle their family is having with worshipping together, ask a question, vent, to say “we do that too!” or to ask for prayers. One disclaimer I always give when I share about our family’s time preparing for and in worship is that our successes are not magic. Tips or tactics that are working for our family come from lots of trial and error and many, many years of practicing and learning together.

Why Lutherans Should Celebrate Black History Month

I had a great conversation with a brother in Christ about Black History Month. He asked me two sincerely heartfelt questions: Why and how should a Lutheran church celebrate Black History Month?

I Love You Even When I Don’t Like You

When my husband eats chips, you likely can hear it in the outback of Australia. We live in Nebraska. And I have that fun condition called misophonia. The sound of chip-chewing is my worst enemy.

Sharing the Gospel with Someone Battling Depression

This post is adapted from Faith That Engages the Culture by Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa

Sin, the world, and the devil throw many curve balls when it comes to trying to get a grip on a basic and right view about depression. Two basic problems arise:

  1. Depression is just fashionable, and it’s getting easier for people in the culture to isolate themselves anyway. For this reason, just live and let live. Here, the Christian is tempted to pretend nothing is really wrong and that there really isn’t a good time to engage people who are depressed. Here the Gospel is indefinitely put off.
  2. Depression is an ultimate scarlet letter and a frightening monster. The intricacies are so beyond us that one will feel instantaneously overwhelmed if engagement is permitted. The culture says, “Off limits!” and the demeanor of the depressed person says, “Stay away!” Here the Gospel is flippantly cut off.

These cultural inferences, however, are deceptions. There is nothing normal about the disorder of depression. While we should accept its reality and show compassion, we should resist the temptation to pretend that either nothing should be done, or that nothing can be done to help. Christ our Lord came for the sick, which includes all people. He did not hold back. He didn’t allow us to drown in sin, nor did He [stay at a safe distance from lepers].

Isolation Is Not the Answer

If you recall, we have been warning about the big three problems perpetuated in the culture: (1) individualism; (2) relativism; and (3) skepticism. We must be mindful that as Christians these things try to invade our minds and hearts toward those with depression. That is, these problems occur as a two-way street in relationship not only within people who are depressed, but also in the Christian suddenly tempted to avoid all engagement. 

Individualism is the tendency for isolation (including detachment from the life-giving Word of Christ), and isolationism marks the one with depression. Here, a kind of individualism and preoccupation with the self is practically inevitable within the sufferer. However, individualism also strikes the Christian who reasons that engagement should be avoided. “It is just too much work to extend myself this way,” so the sinful flesh says, and in this way, we permit our individualism to join the bandwagon of the end-times sign: “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).

Depression and Distortion

Relativism is also an inherent problem with depression. Again, in the effort to desperately cope with the onslaught of something that is beyond the control of the one with depression, distorted perceptions become the norm. Inherently, therefore, depression produces a kind of relativism. But relativism also confronts the Christian who could engage with the Gospel. “Yes, God calls us to love our neighbor and to share the life-giving Gospel of Christ, but perhaps depression is somehow the exception to the rule. Maybe the chemical imbalance will render the Gospel ineffective, and maybe the loving thing to do is to honor the person who is trying to avoid overstimulation.” This is when the Christian gives in to relativism. We can never predict when the Holy Spirit will choose to work through the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation. We should not be the ones to limit His work. Stick with what is true, trust in God, and treat the person with depression as a real person for whom the real Savior came.

Depression, of course, is also a breeding ground for skepticism. Tremendous self-blame and shame fill the mind and soul of the person living with depression. In such a condition, it is easy to feel skeptical toward any potential help. This is to be expected. What is less excusable is when the Christian permits skepticism to cut off the life-giving Gospel. “Can people entrenched in depression really be receptive to the Gospel? Did God really say, ‘all nations’ [all people] should hear it?” When these thoughts come, the sinful flesh must be crucified, the world’s influence must be rejected, and Satan must be resisted so that he would flee from us (James 4:7).

Post adapted from Faith That Engages the Culture, copyright © 2021 Alfonso Espinosa. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.


Learn how to engage with those suffering from depression, along with other important cultural and societal issues, in Faith that Engages the Culture

Reach out and engage

The Foundation of Our Hope

Why the Book of Malachi for this time? Malachi offers a peek into the souls and moods of Israelite men and women. In fact, Malachi’s words are perfectly timed to provide encouragement at a time when God’s people doubted His love for them. The Israelites were centered on their lamentable plight and denied owning up to any displeasing conduct. Hope is a fitting finale to a very trying season in 2020. Many people are troubled, some dealing with loss and grief, and all of us could use a bit of hope. There is a better day coming. And that better day is not based on the outcome of the election, the return of income, or even better health.