On That Silent Night

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”–Luke 2:1-7

On a very silent night, over 2000 years ago, Christ was born into the world as the promised Messiah: the promised Messiah who comes as the light in the midst of the darkness to bring hope, peace, and love to all the world. This promised Messiah comes as the light of the world who was born to the most unlikely woman: Mary in the most unlikeliest of places–in a dirty cattle stall; a manger in Bethlehem.

The only cries heard that silent night where the cries of this infant; our King as he entered into the world. Those cries proclaimed the promise of this holy child who promises to never leave us or forsake us…even and most especially in our sorrows and our doubts. This King comes to bring hope and peace to a world in need of that very hope and peace. It is an extraordinary gift…a King born to bring God’s love to all the world.

That silent night, the shepherds stood on a hill watching over their flocks by night. They were simply doing their job and minding their own business when the angel appeared to them. The angel proclaimed, “Do not be afraid…for I bring you good news of great joy for all the people. For today is born in the city of David Christ the Lord.” The shepherds immediately ran to see this thing the angel told them about. When they arrived, they found Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus lying in the manger. They were overjoyed and left proclaiming and telling the news of this newborn king.

Now on our own silent nights, may we too listen and hear the cries of this infant born for each and every one of us. May we too be filled with comfort, peace, and hope shared together. May we know the promise of this one who always walks with us even in our darkest moments.

I am reminded of these words from the prophet Isaiah ” But now, this is what the Lord says—-he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Like God called Mary to give birth to the promised Messiah and like God called so many in the world, God calls each and every one of us by name too just like God called Jesus; Emmanuel “God with us!”

Merry Christmas my dear friends and readers! I am so thankful for each and every one of you who have joined me here in this space over this past year. May you have a blessed Advent, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I am linking up with my very fave women today: Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Angela and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story and Holley and Coffee for your Heart!


Beautifully In Over our Heads

I am a farm girl! We lived in town but my dad moved  our family from Nebraska to North Dakota when my sister and I were little so he could help his dad farm. My sister and I spent our fair share of time helping on the farm. My dad always recruited us to help move cattle from one field to another. It was a hard job. A lot of times the baby calves would not follow their mommas to the next space. They would stubbornly wonder off on their own which made life chaotic. I lost count of the  number of times I saw my dad chasing those cows and calves with a pickup truck; the truck door hanging half open.

Like those baby calves, sometimes we want to follow our own way. We think we know the way for us. But the truth is we often get lost. Like hiking in the mountains, we take the wrong turn and end up somewhere we didn’t expect or somewhere we shouldn’t be. The truth is that God always knows the way though. In fact, God calls us to get out of the boat and follow him.

The story of Jesus and his disciples in the boat is a great story. It is a story that reminds me; reminds all of us of the power of God. God calmed the storm. God called Peter to come out onto the water. God calls us to come out on that water too. But so often like Peter we don’t trust God and begin to sink. We need to trust fully and be beautifully in over our heads.

Because the truth is that when we trust and allow God to let us get beautifully in over our heads, amazing incredible things begin to happen. Like my friend KA and her family who have been called to start a new church…talk about being beautifully in over your head. Like my friends who have gone overseas to serve God…again beautifully in over their heads. And sometimes it is as simple as realizing that it is time to leave one place and start anew somewhere else. I tell you in those moments I realized that I was beautifully in over my head too.

The first summer I worked at camp, we took our staff picture standing on the island in the middle of the lake. The water was so high it looks like we are walking on water; like we truly followed Jesus onto the water. On our way back, our office secretary was getting into the pontoon when she fell in. I remember she laughed about it. What a great reminder that God calls us to always follow him and sometimes following him means getting beautifully in over our heads.

Moving Into the Neighborhood

It is Christmas Eve! I’m currently hanging out at my aunt and uncles. I had to run out to the farm to print my sermon for Christmas morning. The gravel roads to the farm where crummy. My car got caught up a little on a snowdrift. Yet none of this seems to matter to me today. What matters is this infant Emmanuel “God with us” who in the words of Eugene Peterson, “puts on flesh and blood and moves into the neighborhood.”

I don’t know about you but I love that image. Jesus being my next door neighbor. But also Jesus being the one who is finding bodily nourishment at the church in my neighborhood at a soup kitchen

Jesus is born to the unlikeliest people in the unlikeliest of places; in a stinky smell stable surrounded by all sorts of animals. (I smile as I type this looking out the big picture window which overlooks a cattle stall.) Jesus indeed comes on this holy night to remind us of Gods immeasurable love for all people.

I know that this holiday brings about emotions of all kinds including sadness. But, my friends, even in your sadness, no especially in your sadness, Jesus comes as Emmanuel “God with us.” Jesus indeed is the greatest gift; a gift that isn’t returnable by us but rather is a gift that is continually offered and given to us.

This holy story reminds us that we shouldn’t be afraid; “Do not be afraid.”Rather we need to cling to the promise of this one who comes to bring us hope, peace, joy and so much more.

I’m reminded of these words from the Grinch, “It isn’t about boxes, presents and bows. Perhaps Christmas is a little bit more.” Yes my friends Christmas indeed is much more than we could ever imagine!!

And as these words ring in my ears, I hear Linus proudly reciting the words to Luke 2 which we all will hear soon. This version of the holy story is one of my faves because through Linus, I remember and am reminded what this story is all about. It is through this silent holy night that Jesus was born, came in flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood. And my friends this holy child isn’t going to move out of our neighborhoods any time soon. This precious infant promises to never leave or forsake you. This infant will carry you through your sadness, your joy and all the seasons of your life.

Christmas blessings to you all my dear readers and friends! Merry Christmas to you and yours. May peace be yours on this holy night.

Why Won't The Tears Fall?

This afternoon I had the privilege of hanging out at church while the SS kids practiced for the SS Christmas program! As they sang the words “Peace to all the Earth,” I wanted to cry as I thought of the families in CT who won’t hear their babies voices again! Such a senseless act! I want to cry yet the tears simply won’t come! Why?!? Why won’t the tears fall from my face? Is it because I’ve cried too many tears over violent acts like this in my thirty years on this Earth? Is it because I’m numb and cannot understand why 20 innocent lives were taken way too soon from this Earth?

Yesterday and today I found myself thinking about and remembering all my friends who are parents! I can understand why you needed to hug and hold them last night and today! I found myself telling them to give their children an extra hug or cuddle just for me! I’m not a parent myself yet I yearn to be so deeply! And then I wonder do I really want to be? Of course I do!
But what world will my future child enter into? A world strewn with sinful people…a sinful world! Yet what I do know is that love….God’s love…always wins!

I understand that is hard to grasp in light of yesterday’s events! But what I do know and believe with every fiber of my being is that God was there yesterday! God didn’t allow the events to unfold but as they unfolded God was there…holding and embracing each precious victim. God sent Jesus into the world and Jesus proclaims “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these!”

As I write this blog post, I find myself typing as my fingers dance across the keyboard yet I still find that these words are inadequate! Why can I not find the words? Why won’t the tears fall? How do we know that God’s love always wins?

God sent God’s Son as this precious gift who is born in a manger in Bethlehem and then later dies the ultimate death for us and our sins! This child comes as the light in the midst of the darkness and now more than ever we need this light to come!

So even when my words are inadequate I find myself turning to Scripture and letting the sighs rise up to God. “With sighs too deep for words to express….”

Or in these words, Lord listen to your children praying, bring us love, bring us power, bring us peace!”

And finally, maybe, the tears I so deeply want to cry will fall from my face knowing we live in a sinful and sin-filled world but that God in Gods love for us all ALWAYS wins!! Perhaps that is a place for us to begin and cling to in the coming days!

Jesus Was All About Love!

We are all sinful beings…that is part of our human nature.

However my hope and prayer is that we can choose love over hate, life over death, etc! I understand that not all of us agree about what the President said today about gay marriage! The truth is that we aren’t all going to agree on a lot of things! (I am one who definetely agrees with the President!) However I understand where those of you who don’t agree with him are coming from!

But what makes me sad is that some people choose to call us “Bible-thumpers” etc because of what the President said. Boy that is not the case at all! I don’t know what God will say when we get to heaven and he declares his thoughts…but what I do know is that God is all about GRACE! God is about forgiveness! God is about love! Jesus tells us “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus was the one who reached out to outcasts and sinners. Jesus wasn’t afraid to go away from what the norm was.

Three years ago the church body of which I belong made a huge decision and it has not been an easy road since that decision was made(But I am so happy they made that decision!) I have several friends who are living in committeed relationships and who am I to say that they shouldnt be allowed to marry etc!They are some of the most loving and caring people I know!

What does the church look like to those outside the church who aren’t welcomed? Do you think they feel love or hate, life or death? I’m pretty sure they have a hard time coming because they don’t see love, they see hate and they don’t see life, they see death! That makes me so utterly terribly SAD!

I’m sad that we can’t agree to disagree and respect each other. What I do know though is that…


“Jesus Loves Me This I Know, For the Bible Tells Me So!”

“Jesus with Flesh On”

Have you ever thought about how sometimes we just need “Jesus with flesh on” in our lives? As many of you know, last week I posted an entry about a dear friend from seminary who was diagnosed with cancer. However when they did the biopsy the doctor gave her some hopeful and hope-filled news; the tumor didnt look cancerous. But now its time to wait; time to wait until the results come back. How hard it is to be patient when we have to wait. My friend has a website where she has been posting updates etc. Last night she talked about how she loves Jesus but sometimes she needs to have “Jesus with flesh on” and for her, that has been the hundreds, no thousands who have been praying for her from miles near and far away from her. She is so right though. Sometimes we just need “Jesus with flesh on” We need to see Jesus through the eyes, ears, smiles, hugs, etc of those who love, care, and pray for us! What an awesome image that is! This friend has reminded of how awesome it is to have brothers and sisters in Christ who hold you up when you dont think you can do it yourself; who love you for who you are and will pray for you no matter what. What a blessing and a gift that is! Last week my youth at church were “Jesus with flesh on” when they collected 1,383 pounds of food for our local food pantry. So my friends, I challenge you to be “Jesus with flesh on” not just today but every day!

Jesus Dared…..

During one of the growth group sessions that I attended at synod assembly today was about being creative. I was so hope-filled after hearing Bishop Mark speak that I found myself moved to write. Bishop Mark talked about how many times we have line drawn in the sand or perhaps not even in sand but concrete but then he reminded us that Jesus dared to stand on both sides of that line. This is what the Holy Spirit inspired me to write!

Jesus Dared
By T

A line has been drawn
drawn in the sand

Yet for all the needy,
Jesus dared;
dared to stand on both sides of the line

For the goodwill of all the people,
Jesus dared;
dared to stand on both sides of the line

For the sake of community,
Jesus dared;
dared to stand on both sides of the line

For justice and peace,
Jesus dared;
dared to stand on both sides of the line

For the love of all,
Jesus dared;
dared to stand on both sides of the line

For hope and transformation,
Jesus dared;
dared to stand on both sides of the line

And in daring to the cross the line,
Jesus continues to remind us
that we are awe-filled people
who cling to the promise of the Resurrection
who might just perhaps
dare to cross that line too!

The Greatest Story Ever Told (Sermon for 12-24-10)

Hi ya’ll. I haven’t been posting any of my writings on this blog because I started a blog just for that but I know I have more readers on this site, so I thought I would share. For some reason, Im really liking where this sermon went so here it goes…my sermon for 12-24-10!

We all know this all familiar story.// Some of us can recite it by memory.// Tonight we listen attentively as the story is read once again too us. But do we see ourselves there?// Do we see ourselves as a character gathered at the manger?//

Now do me a favor; imagine for a moment that you are a part of the story TODAY!//Perhaps Joseph and Mary are emailing each other.// Perhaps Joseph is Map Questing directions for how to travel to Bethlehem.// Maybe Joseph even is buying his donkey from Enterprise Rent-A-Car (or Donkey).// Perhaps Joseph is Twittering and updating his Facebook status as he awaits the birth of his son. Then the minute this precious boy is born; he uploads a picture.// The three wise men are buying their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh off of Amazon.com.// Now the story definitely looks different in these terms, but the beauty of the story is that the story still evokes all the same emotions and feelings in us!//

Yes, we know the story but the reality is that we don’t always hear the story.// It seems to me that we forget that this story took place and continues to take place for each and every one of us.// God sent God’s son to remind us that the story didn’t just take place for us in a stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, but is a story that continues to shape who and whose we are today and always.// In other words, God calls us to be a part of God’s story now and always!//

So tonight I ask you to imagine yourselves as one of the characters gathered around the manger, seeing the one who will bring light, hope, and peace for all the world.// What are you feeling?// What do you see?// Are you surprised by what you are seeing and feeling?// How will you share this amazing good news with the rest of the world?//

Perhaps you are Mary awaiting the birth of this holy child you have been carrying.// Maybe you are Joseph trying to do the right thing after realizing that Mary truly is pregnant by the Holy Spirit after you have been visited by the angel// Perhaps you are a shepherd keeping watch over your flock by night when the angel comes to you and proclaims, “Do not be afraid.// I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:// to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is the Messiah, the Lord.”// Maybe you are the angel bringing this good news to all!// Possibly you are the wise men bringing holy gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to this precious child.// Or maybe you are one of the animals gathered around the manger, not making a noise but simply taking in this precious holy night as God’s Son enters into the world.//

And as God’s Son enters into the world this night, I am reminded of the words of Bismarck Tribune reporter Karen Herzog. Her words remind us that everyone is invited to be a part of this holy story.// She writes, “With the animal body, we are bonded to this world, rather than floating invisibly through it as disembodied vapors. Through the body, the animals of creation-us among them-experience warm and cold and stars and straw, blood and birth.// Christmas carols sense this, and speak to it in their lyrics.// They try to convey that if the Christ Child’s birth was in a place where animals sheltered, that means something. Something important.// It says that living beings, from little barn mice to night-flying owls, nursing ewes and long-eared donkeys, have a place at all the pivotal moments of the earth’s story, from the creation to the incarnation and beyond.// That the one who made us also made them and loves that creation, too.// That no one is too small or too mute to witness miracles or be included in the love that runs the universe.”

No matter what character you are, you are an important essential part of this story.// Without Mary and Joseph, who would be Jesus’ parents?// Without the angels, who would proclaim the good news that the Messiah has been born?// Without the shepherds and wise men, who would come to meet this holy child and bring gifts to him?// And without you and I, how would God’s story continue to be retold again and again?//

The beauty of this Christmas story is that God invites us to share it again and again.// God summons us to really truly hear this story; the one told to us to remind us that it is only the beginning of God’s story unfolding right before our very eyes.// God wants us to move beyond just the words and to truly hear, feel, and experience God’s story taking place as God’s son enters into the world on this peaceful holy night.//

Interim President of Wartburg Seminary David Tiede on his commentary on Luke’s Gospel writes, “Luke’s Christmas Gospel invites treasuring the
words, awe at the splendor of God’s faithfulness and wonder about where it
will lead for ‘all the world.’// The gentle truth invites all who see and hear to return for Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost.// God’s drama is just beginning to unfold.”// In other words, the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth is only just the beginning of the greatest story ever told.// In fact, it seems to me that the best parts of the story are yet to come!//

The Christmas story also reminds all of us who God is and always will be!//
God continues to call and claim us as God’s children. Through the waters of Baptism, God promises that God will never leave us or forsake us.// God will come again and God’s power will have the final victory.//

And because God will have the final victory, it is important for us to remember that this story; this familiar story that we hear tonight is not just the beginning of God’s story, but the beginning of our stories as well.// God will always bring light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of fear and will be the one who always walks with us.// In the words of Luther Seminary Professor David Lose, “Perhaps it should be that this story of long ago is not only about angels and shepherds, a mother and her newborn.// It is also about us, all of us gathered amid the candles and readings, carols and prayers.// God came at Christmas for us, that we might have hope and courage amid the dark and dangerous times of our lives.// This, in the end, is why we gather, so that as God entered into time and history so long through the Word made flesh, God might also enter our lives even now through the word proclaimed in Scripture, song and sermon.”//

God’s story is offered for all to hear this night.// Go out proclaiming that the Messiah has come for all God’s people.// Go out and share this all familiar story with your friends and neighbors!// Go out, not just hearing the story but proclaiming and living the story as if you are one of the characters gathered around the manger this night proclaiming loudly, “Glory to God in the highest and peace to God’s people on earth.”