What Does God say about Love

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love. (I John 4:7-8)

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14)

34-35 “Jesus said, Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35)

16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.  (John 3:16-18)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.I Corinthians 13:4-8 

Love must be completely sincere. Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good. 10 Love one another warmly as Christians, and be eager to show respect for one another. 11 Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. 12 Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. 13 Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians, and open your homes to strangers. (Romans 12:9-12)

A message on Living a Life of Love

I Miss the Singing

Last night I was trying to remember the last song we sang on Christmas Day. Normally it’s nothing I would spend any time thinking about. Why would I? One season blends into another and one Sunday blends into another – and endless pattern of choosing hymns for the right church holiday, the rise and fall of the organ music always in the background. Music has always just kind of been there. Of course, there are songs I love and look forward to singing. Over the years I have so appreciated the skills and contributions of the musicians I have known. But I took music and singing together as a congregation for granted. It would always be there – like air, like the ground beneath me.

And then it was gone.

The last time I sang with my congregation was on Christmas Day 2019. I was supposed to lead worship on December 29th as well but there was a snowstorm that day and then I left for sabbatical on January 1st. By the time I returned from sabbatical, the world was already turned upside and our church had ceased in-person worship.

We are weathering the changes as well as any congregation. People check on each other, send cards, make phone calls, we create video worship services, hold zoom meetings, still participate in mission, and offerings are up. By most accounts, we are kicking butt at being the church in the pandemic.

But I miss the singing. It surprises me how deeply and truly and to my bones I miss the singing. I’m not a musician, I always had to rely on others to do song-leading – but if I could have anything back right now from life together as we knew it, it would be the singing. Hearing the voices beside me and behind me rising together. Some on key, some off. Singing the old hymns and the new. Singing the songs I used to sing when I would sit in church beside my mother and my grandmother. Singing the songs of faith I learned around a campfire by a Minnesota lake or surrounded by mountains in Montana. Singing ancient hymns I once sang and danced along to at a reggae beat on a New Year’s Eve service in Ghana. Rowdy Lutherans gathering at the Cormorant Pub to sing hymns and eat, drink, and be merry.

I miss the singing.

And to think we might not have that back for quite some time is hitting me hard. We church leaders keep getting reminders that experts say singing is a particularly dangerous activity because of the way it can spread particles in the air and spread illness. There’s no telling how long it might be before we can safely sing together again in our churches. And in quiet moments, especially for those of us with elderly congregations, it is sobering to consider that we may *never* again get to sing with some of our dear ones again. At least here on earth.

So I keep trying to remember the last song we sang together. I looked it up this morning and it was, “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice!” The final verse rings, “Good Christian Friends, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice; Now ye need not fear the grave, Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all, to gain his everlasting hall. Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!”

It’s a happy song – because everyone knows you end worship with an “up” song – a song that people might be glad to have in their memory the rest of the day. I didn’t know when we planned it six months ago that the closing notes of that hymn would be the ones that would need to echo in my memory for months and months, perhaps years. I didn’t know then that all the things I was looking forward to setting down briefly as I left for my time of rest on sabbatical would be literally scattered everywhere upon my return. Like puzzle pieces that no longer have a shape that really fits anywhere anymore. No more routine. No more greeting the same dear faces when they come by church for quilting or Bible study or worship. No more potlucks. No more confirmation kids roughousing in the youth room. No more little kiddos running about during the children’s message. Everything is different. Nothing the same. We are still a congregation but figuring out what that means now.

And like I said, we are doing great – all the zoom calls, all the video worships, all the staying connected with phone calls and cards and Facebook groups, oh my!

But oh, how I miss singing together.

Many rooms

May 7, 2020

Happy birthday, Mom. I remember you and see you in the peonies growing outside, the green grass, the coffee I sip, the sweets I will eat, and looking back at me in my mirror. Maybe I will make some waffles later today. I still miss you all the time. There would be a million things to tell you now – do you know any of them? Does the veil between us allow any information through? Can you see how tall your grandsons are? Can you see how silver my hair is becoming? Do you know we moved back home and I published a couple books? We went to Norway a few times and New Zealand and Australia. Every place I saw I thought about how you would have loved to see those places, too.

Your things are all scattered now. I have kept so many – your purse, your hairbrush, some dishes, your rings. I still wear your black jacket for the spring and the autumn. If you came back we would have to find you all new things. But I doubt you would want to come back. Norma is gone, your sister is gone – the world changing so much and half mad.

Sometimes I don’t know if I will see you again. I hope so. But I feel you near me less and less. Like a mist slipping away across the fields as the sun rises, so are you slipping away from me. Half the world tells me it’s all over at the last breath. My heart tells me there’s more and that the Father’s house has many rooms and there’s a place for me there, too…and I just hope my room is next to yours.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

The Prophet is a book of 26 poetic essays written in English. In this classic, Gibran, one of the greatest poets of all time, shares deep wisdom on life. Gibran was born January 6, 1883, in the village of Bsharri in the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, Ottoman Empire (modern-day Lebanon). His parents were Maronite Christians. Kamila was thirty when Gibran was born, and Gibran’s father, Khalil, was her third husband. Gibran had two younger sisters, Marianna and Sultana, and a half-brother, Boutros, from one of Kamila’s previous marriages. As a result of his family’s poverty, Gibran received no formal schooling during his youth in Lebanon. However, priests visited him regularly and taught him about the Bible and the Arabic language.While most of Gibran’s early writings had been in Arabic, most of his work published after 1918 was in English. Such was The Madman, Gibran’s first book published by Alfred A. Knopf, in 1918. The Processions (in Arabic) and Twenty Drawings were published the following year. In 1920, Gibran re-created the Arabic-language New York Pen League with its original founders Arida and Haddad; Rihani, Naimy, and other Mahjari writers such as Elia Abu Madi. The same year, The Tempests was published in Arabic in Cairo, and The Forerunner in New York. In a letter of 1921 to Naimy, Gibran reported that doctors had told him to “give up all kinds of work and exertion for six months, and do nothing but eat, drink and rest”; in 1922, Gibran was ordered to “stay away from cities and city life” and had rented a cottage near the sea, planning to move there with Marianna and to remain until “this heart [regained] its orderly course”; this three-month summer in Scituate, he later told Haskell, was a refreshing time, during which he wrote some of “the best Arabic poems” he had ever written.In 1923, The New and the Marvelous was published in Arabic in Cairo, whereas The Prophet was published in New York. The Prophet sold well despite a cool critical reception. At a reading of The Prophet organized by rector William Norman Guthrie in St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Gibran met Young, who would occasionally work as his secretary from 1925 until his death (no remuneration was paid). In 1924, Gibran told Haskell that he had been contracted to write ten pieces for Al-Hilal in Cairo. In 1925, Gibran participated in the founding of the periodical The New East.Although born and raised into a Maronite Christian family and having attended a Maronite school, Gibran was also influenced by Islam, and especially by the mysticism of the Sufis. His knowledge of Lebanon’s bloody history, with its destructive factional struggles, strengthened his belief in the fundamental unity of religions, which his parents exemplified by welcoming people of various religions in their home. Gibran’s mysticism was a convergence of several different influences.The popularity of The Prophet grew markedly during the 1960s with the American counterculture and then with the flowering of the New Age movements. It has remained popular with these and with the wider population to this day. Since it was first published in 1923, The Prophet has never been out of print. It has been translated into more than 100 languages, making it among the top ten most translated books in history. It was one of the best-selling books of the twentieth century in the United States. Kahlil Gibran died on April 10, 1931 from cirrhosis of the liver. (Find out more about Kahlil Gibran at the in-depth source of this author information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahlil_Gibran)

Check out this classic today at Amazon:

What Does God Say About Fear, Anxiety, and Worry?

It was January of 1993 – the lonesome stretch of winter when the novelty of the season has worn off and everyone knows there’s still a long way to go until spring.  I was between college and seminary and traveling around with a Lutheran Youth Encounter team. I’ve shared with you stories of those years before. We put on programs in churches sharing music and stories and puppet shows. The team I was on that year traveled mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, and North and South Dakota.

We traveled in a beige paneled van from place to place and this was in the days before everyone had a cell phone with GPS. We used maps and directions given to us by people at the churches we were headed to. We learned in those days that most people are not very good at giving directions. We also learned that there are some roads in North Dakota that are not plowed all the way through during the winter. We figured this out one day as we were trying to take a short cut from one small town in North Dakota to another, cruising along on a wintery gravel road. We went over a small hill and as we came down the other side were stopped abruptly as we were buried up to our hood in snow.

So there we were. No cell phones to call for help, the winter wind swirling the snow all around us. The temperature hovering around zero. Miles from anywhere. The seven of us all responded differently. One stayed in the van eating snacks. Some tried to dig out the van. A couple more walked down the road for help. One put on headphones and waited and worried. And after briefly attempting to help dig out the van but feeling our efforts were futile, me and my friend Chris bundled up, took pictures, trudged to an abandoned house nearby to explore, pretended we were the Ingalls family in the Long Winter, and laughed until our sides hurt. I maybe should have been worried and afraid – and I’m sure if I had been alone, I would have been. But I wasn’t alone. I was confident that help would come and in the meantime, I had a ball goofing around with Chris. Sure enough, within a couple hours, the two who had gone for help returned with a tractor to tow us out of the snow bank. All was well.

But I have often thought about that day – how what I remember the most of it wasn’t being lost or stuck or cold or scared or how we were late for our program that night. No, what I remember is laughing with my friend and how a friend can make even the least favorable circumstances better just by being there.

The Bible contains many scriptures about fear, anxiety, and worry. God knew that part of every life is experiencing those emotions. And it seems to me there is plenty to feel anxious about. Pandemics, finances, the well-being of people we love, what might happen, what might not happen, aging, will I say something stupid, will I miss my chance, am I wasting my time, will he fall off the wagon again, how will that debt ever get paid off, will the business crumble, will I ever feel healthy and good again, will my loved ones be deported, why are there so many guns, will somebody take away my guns – you name it. Fear, anxiety, and worry are our daily companions.

But they aren’t our only companions. Something we talk about a lot is God’s promise that God is with us to help carry the burdens, shine a path along our way, give us wisdom we need step by step. God is our daily companion along the journey of life and knowing that brings us comfort as we face the fears, anxieties, and worries of life.

But God knew that sometimes we need God with skin on – so that is why God has also given us the companionship of friends. What a precious gift friends are. It’s our first friends who teach us important lessons about sharing and taking turns and forgiveness.  Friends we meet when we are young help us survive the growing pains of the pre-teen and teenage years. Whether playing on a sports team together or going to camp together, it’s never simply experiences that make life rich, it’s experiences shared, isn’t it?

Studies show that friendships not only make us happier but they help us live longer and better lives. People with friends recover more quickly from illness. Social ties reduce stress which helps to lower blood pressure. Getting together with friends helps lower depression. And this doesn’t mean one has to be a social butterfly – even having one or two real friends is all that one needs.

We experience the grace and love of God through our friendships – God works through them in our lives to remind us of important things – to laugh, to relax, that it’s okay to talk about things that matter, and that we aren’t alone as we journey through the seasons of this life. As the old saying goes, “Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil.”

And friendship is something we find in our community of faith as well. While the word of God gives us life and hope and grace, we come to understand what that means through our life together. Oh, congregations are far from perfect – there can be hard feelings or misunderstandings or brokenness in a congregation just the same as in any group of human beings – and yet, somehow God works through us to help dispel the darkness for each other.

I know many of you are missing the community we share here – it’s hard to not be together. And I know many of you carry worries of all different kinds, maybe things only you and God know about. And when you are feeling fear or worry or anxiety, remember you are not alone. God is with you.

And remember also that at any moment you can be God with skin on for someone else by sharing your word of kindness or compassion or grace. Your friendship to someone today will help make their burden easier to bear. You have the power to do that. Your words and actions are incredibly powerful – you can bring healing and hope and joy to someone today. Your phone call or letter can shatter the loneliness someone is feeling today.

We rarely think of ourselves, our words as that powerful – and yet it is so true. Oprah tells a story about Dr. Maya Angelou. She said they were at a party at Dr. Angelou’s home and a guest told a “joke” that had foul language and ideas. And to everyone’s shock, Dr. Angelou quietly escorted that man out of her home: kind, firm, but unmistakeable. And she said to Oprah that she did that because words have power and weight especially in our homes. She said something like, “I will not allow you to paint my walls and my furniture with your filthy toxic words.”

Words matter. Your words matter. Words build or destroy, plant seeds of friendship and goodness or division and pain. How will you use your words today?

Immediately

Sermon – December 29, 2019

Beginning today and going through Easter, the Sunday morning readings are centered on the gospel of Mark. Mark is considered to be the oldest, the first of the four gospels written. It is very similar in nature to Matthew and Luke.

Each of the four gospels begin very differently. The gospel of John begins with beautiful poetry about the Word of God coming into the world. If you remember just last year at this time when we were beginning the Gospel of Matthew we saw how Matthew chose to begin his gospel with a long lineage of ancestry – reminding us of where and from whom Jesus was descended. And both Luke and Mark begin by sharing about John the Baptist.

John the Baptist is a well-known figure of the new testament. He is known for several reasons. Partly because of his unusual appearance and habits. It was said that he dressed and ate very differently than most everyone else. And he acted differently than others as well – everything he did and said pointed other people toward someone else. He baptized Jesus in the Jordan.  But this gospel doesn’t linger very long on John or on anything – it is the shortest gospel by far – in fact, it’s possible that this gospel was written so that it could be easily memorized and told aloud.

Mark was written for a wide audience. This gospel focuses on Jesus’ role as the suffering servant and son of God. While the other gospels contain long teachings and sermons of Jesus, Mark is all about action. This is where we see Jesus doing things, and then doing more things. Of the four gospels, Mark reads most like a story.

After eight verses about John the Baptist, chapter 1 of Mark takes us on a whirlwind – from Jesus’ time in the wilderness to the beginning of his ministry and then the calling of his disciples.

It’s very action-oriented – the word “immediately” shows up frequently – 44 times in the 16 short chapters of Mark. 

Immediately.
In some ways I love the gospel of Mark – it’s kind of like the Cliff’s Notes of the gospels. You can read it fast and get the bulk of the story. But in other ways it is my least favorite because I love the rich imagery that we get to linger over in John and getting to hear the inside stories and details found in the other gospels.

But I think that’s because in general I’m tired of so many things being immediate all the time, trying to cram too many things into a day. I’m tired of telling my kids to “hurry up” constantly. It’s become a joke in our house – but kind of a sad joke, I think – because apparently I am forever telling my kids to hustle, and “there’s no time”. Like many, many families, it feels like we cram so much into our days that we are constantly rushing around from one thing to the next – feeling like there is so much to do and rarely feeling like we are doing a good job at any of it.

Immediately. Fortunately, though – even though it is a quick gospel – there’s a lot packed in there – And lucky you – because over the next three months you will get to hear a different perspective on this gospel from all sorts of different preachers! Twelve different preachers! You are going to have so much fun and learn so much. I’m so happy for you – even though I’m going to miss you.

And me, I get to shove that word “immediately” out of my mind for a little while. Or at least I will do my best.

Someone asked me shortly after our congregation received the Lilly Grant what a sabbatical is. It comes from the word sabbath – which means to rest. The intention of a sabbatical sometimes is to produce something – like sometimes professors will use the time to write a book – but in its purest form, a sabbatical is a time apart to rest with the intention that when you return, your mind and body will have had a chance to be renewed.

I hope that’s true. Even though I am only a couple days away from the beginning of my sabbatical, I still can’t imagine how it is going to feel to intentionally step away from work, but I know it will be good for me and for my family. I feel guilty because I know not everyone gets a gift like this – and I think everyone absolutely should. Rest is so important, time with family is so important. One of my main goals for these next weeks is to not rush. Unless we are about to miss a plane or something. Otherwise, I just want us to be. No ‘immediately’ for me. I know that is what I need. Down to my bones, I am certain that is what my life, my ministry, my family needs. And so I promise not to take a minute for granted of this time of rest. Pray for me that it will be a time for the Spirit to speak afresh into my heart so I can return to you energized for all that is yet ahead.

And I will pray for you, too. That these next months hold whatever you are needing, too. Is it healing you are needing?  Is it more of peace? More of health?  Less of worry? Whatever it is you are needing, please know I pray for that refreshment and renewal for you as well.

If there is anything I know, it is that our God is faithful and near. I think sometimes we get so busy or brokenhearted or hardened that maybe we forget or can’t see it – but that doesn’t make it any less true. God is faithful. God is near.

And I pray you feel that. Feel God’s Holy Spirit granting you the peace and wholeness you need, the unburdening you are craving, the grace and forgiveness God has promised. God is faithful. God is near. Remember that, dear friends.

Let us pray…

What Does God Think of Me?

Many of us are spending more time on the internet and on computers than we ever have before just trying to stay in touch with each other and communicate differently for our work. When I was on a Zoom call earlier this week with some members of our congregation and I asked them what were some of the good things that had come for them out of this time of isolation, a few of them said that they had learned a lot more about how to use things they had never used before. The internet and many tools available through the internet were less scary to them now because they had come to realize how useful they could be.

Indeed, it’s a whole new world. I’m learning things every day – and it is both exhilarating and exhausting. I feel like I walk around saying to myself, “Why am I so tired?” a lot lately – and I know I am not the only one. These are strange times and they take a different kind of energy and a different way of thinking and doing than we are used to. There’s the tiring stuff of having to figure out how to order your groceries online or how to play a game online with friends instead of getting together in person – but then the cool realizations you can do all that and once you know how, it is kind of fun. We had our Saint Peters Trivia night this past week and not only did Saint Peters people play but so did some of my family from over in New York Mills. And because of technology we’ve had our readers for Sunday morning sharing readings not just from Audubon but from Alabama and Arizona. It’s a wonderful thing how connected we still are – just in new ways.

I was talking to a pastor friend about preaching in this time after Easter during Covid-19 and we expressed how strange it is and how it’s hard to even know what to talk about that might be helpful. You know that in our church and many churches we have a certain set of scriptures that are set up beforehand that we know we will be preaching on and those scriptures are often the same at different churches – so if you visit a church in California or even Australia, they could very well be preaching on the same text on the same Sunday as your home church.

But sometimes we go rogue and leave behind the prescribed scriptures for a while to do something else. And we are going to be doing that for a few weeks now. Instead, I am going to be talking about what people most want to know.

How in the world do I know what people are wondering about the most? Well, through the wonders of modern technology, of course. Have you ever noticed how when you type something into google, there will come up options below it for finishing your sentence? That’s Google trying to guess what you want to know more about – and google’s guesses come up in order of what they are most searched for.

So I typed into Google, “What does God think of…”

And below it there was a whole list of options – all coming from what people have typed in the most. Top of the list? “What does God think of me?”

That surprised me at first. Further down the list were topics you might expect – forgiveness, marriage, divorce, anxiety, fear – but at the very top of the list, “What does God think of me.”

But then I thought about things we type into search engines. A lot of times we are looking for answers to the things we think about – maybe even things not everyone is always talking about. Because there is something safer about typing a question into a search engine rather than asking even your best friend.

Sure, we care about what God thinks about the things we talk about a lot – like forgiveness, marriage, divorce, worry, fear, etc – but late at night, when I am scared or sad or feeling “less than” or defeated? Maybe all I care about is what the God who made me thinks of me. Or if God even thinks of me at all.

So, we turn to scripture for wisdom – and when we do, we find some reassuring words.

The first is that we are God’s children, God’s family. We hear that in I John – “Behold what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!” And in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but members of the household of God!” And not only are we loved by God for now – but for always – as we read in Joshua, “Be strong and courageous, the Lord is with you wherever you God.”

What does God think of you? God thinks of you as God’s own. Loved. A member of God’s family. So whether during this time of physical distancing from others you have been in a house full of people or mostly by yourself, God is there with you. God is always with you wherever you go or don’t go.

What else does scripture say about what God thinks of you? God apparently thinks you are pretty unique and capable because in Jeremiah it reads that God has plans for you. Not just any old plans – plans to give you future and hope! It’s a beautiful verse – but if we look at it in its’ context, we realize this passage is written to a whole group of people—an entire nation. And if we read the verses around it, we realize that this promise God is giving to the nation of Israel is something that would be fulfilled in 70 years time. So the blessing is not individual and it is not immediate – it’s a blessing that is different than the kind of blessing we often would like.

But that is also important to remember. Yes, God sees you and loves you – but God sees and loves all God’s children. We are connected to one another. If one member of our community hurts, we all hurt. If one member rejoices, we all rejoice. We are connected to one another. I think we have learned lessons in that even moreso in recent weeks. We stay home and isolate so that the most vulnerable in our midst can stay well. We sacrifice activities and events that mean so much to us because the health and welfare of the whole matter more than our events schedule.

What does God think of you? God thinks of you as valuable and someone through whom there is future and hope – but not just you, you and your neighbor, and that stranger down the road, and that person you disagree with on the news, and all God’s children.

And I’ll highlight one more thing God thinks about you. In Galatians 2:20 it reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” And in I Corinthians it reads, “If anyone is in Christ there is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come.”

In case you haven’t noticed it yet, let me highlight that our God is a God of new beginnings. Our God isn’t a God of death, but of resurrection. God doesn’t give us a word of staying exactly the same but of growth and renewal. God doesn’t leave us buried in sin, but alive in grace and mercy. The old has gone, the new has come.

So, what does God think of you? Well, precious enough to sacrifice God’s son for – but also always on the cusp of a new beginning – no matter what age we are. God can’t wait to see what is yet to be born in us and through us. What we might yet do to bring joy to a neighbor or how we might use our God-given talents to surprise and bless the world. I picture God chuckling with delight at the new things we create or think of or say. In the same way that we are delighted as we see our own children growing and becoming and evolving – God looks at us with love and pride and joy our whole lives long.

If you have ever wondered what God thinks of you, you aren’t alone. But rest assured that God sees you and loves you just as you are. God covers you with grace and mercy – you are forgiven. And God can’t wait to see what you will yet do with the life and breath you are given.

Listen to an abbreviated audio version of this sermon here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1041448/3504592-saint-peter-s-sermon-highlights-april-26-2020

What Does the Bible Say about Anxiety and Worry?

Anxiety and Worry…What does the Bible say?
“An anxious heart weighs a person down, but a kind word cheers” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV).
“I sought the LORD, and the Lord heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you
by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’” (Luke 12:22-26, NIV). (Matthew 6:25-34)
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge the Lord, and the Lord will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8).
“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And the One who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28).
“And my God will meet all your needs according to God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
“I can do everything through God who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).
“…put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:1)

There are many different causes of anxiety and fear. The reasons are as various and unique as each individual person. These are human emotions and completely normal. If you are in need of help, please talk to a counselor, spiritual director, a pastor, or a good friend. Don’t stay silent or isolated – especially in these times of Covid-19 that are so stressful for so many. Help is always just a phone call away. Never forget – you are not alone and you are loved. If you are struggling, text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that God may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on God because God cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Thor and Loki: Children of Odin

Before they were cartoons, before they were part of the Marvel Universe they were part of Norse Mythology for centuries. Thor and Loki: Children of Odin is a lyrical introduction to the myths and epic legends of the ancient Scandinavians. Fusing the different mythic accounts of his medieval sources, Irish-American poet Padraic Colum fashions a powerful tale of the divine adventures of gods and humans, locked in an inexorable march of fate. Written in a style accessible to both children and adults, Colum’s work offers a haunting and evocative portrait of the mythic world of the Viking Age.Before time as we know it began, gods and goddesses lived in the city of Asgard. Odin crossed the Rainbow Bridge to walk among men in Midgard. Thor defended Asgard with his mighty hammer. Mischievous Loki was constantly getting into trouble with the other gods, and dragons and giants walked free. This collection of Norse sagas retold by author Padraic Colum gives us a sense of that magical time when the world was filled with powers and wonders we can hardly imagine.

Padraic Colum (8 December 1881 – 11 January 1972) was an Irish poet, novelist, dramatist, biographer, playwright, children’s author and collector of folklore. He was one of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival.

This collection of Norse Myths includes: Part I. The Dwellers in Asgard 1. Far Away and Long Ago 2. The Building of the Wall 3. Iduna and Her Apples: How Loki Put the Gods in Danger 4. Sif’s Golden Hair: How Loki Wrought Mischief in Asgard 5. How Brock Brought Judgment on Loki6. How Freya Gained Her Necklace and How Her Loved One was Lost to Her 7. How Frey Won Gerda, the Giant Maiden, and How He Lost His Magic Sword 8. Heimdall and Little Hnossa: How All Things Came to Be 9. The All-Father’s Forebodings: How He Leaves AsgardPart II. Odin the Wanderer 1. Odin Goes to Mimir’s Well: His Sacrifice for Wisdom 2. Odin Faces an Evil Man 3. Odin Wins for Men the Magic Mead 4. Odin Tells to Vidar, His Silent Son, the Secret of His Doings 5. Thor and Loki in the Giants’ City 6. How Thor and Loki Befooled Thrym the Giant 7. Aegir’s Feast: How Thor Triumphed 8. The Dwarfs Hoard, and the Curse that it Brought Part III: The Witch’s Heart 1. Foreboding in Asgard 2. Loki the Betrayer3. Loki Against the Aesir 4. The Valkyrie 5. The Children of Loki 6. Baldur’s Doom 7. Loki’s Punishment Part IV. The Sword of the Volsungs and the Twilight of the Gods 1. Sigurd’s Youth 2. The Sword Gram and the Dragon Fafnir 3. The Dragon’s Blood 3. The Story of Sigmund and Signy 4. The Story of Sigmund and Sinfiotli 5. The Story of the Vengeance of the Volsungs and of the Death of Sinfiotli 6. Brynhild in the House of Flame 7. Sigurd at the House of the Nibelungs 8. How Brynhild was Won for Gunnar 9. The Death of Sigurd 10. The Twilight of the Gods

Check out this phenomenal book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086G4JQ7L

Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

Main Street is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis, and published in 1920. Satirizing small town life, Main Street is perhaps Sinclair Lewis’s most famous book, and led in part to his eventual 1930 Nobel Prize for Literature.You’ll meet Carol Milford, the daughter of a judge, grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, and became an orphan in her teens. In college, she reads a book on village improvement in a sociology class and begins to dream of redesigning villages and towns. After college, she attends a library school in Chicago and is exposed to many radical ideas and lifestyles. She becomes a librarian in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the state capital, but finds the work unrewarding. She marries Will Kennicott, a doctor, who is a small-town boy at heart.When they marry, Will convinces her to live in his home-town of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota, a town modeled on Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the author’s birthplace. Carol immediately sets about her plans to remake Gopher Prairie, but she is filled with disdain for the town’s physical ugliness and smug conservatism.She speaks with its members about progressive changes, joins women’s clubs, distributes literature, and holds a party to liven up Gopher Prairie’s inhabitants. Despite her efforts, she is ineffective and constantly derided by the leading cliques.Main Street initially was awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, but was rejected by the Board of Trustees, who overturned the jury’s decision. The prize instead went to Edith Wharton for The Age of Innocence. In 1926, Lewis refused the Pulitzer when he was awarded it for Arrowsmith.In 1930, Lewis was the first American ever awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. While a Nobel Prize is awarded to the author, not the work, and itself does not cite a particular work for which he was chosen, Main Street was Lewis’ best-known work and enormously popular at the time. In the Nobel committee’s presentation speech, both Main Street and Arrowsmith were cited. The prize was awarded “… for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters.”In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Main Street #68 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist, short-story writer and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States (and the first from the Americas) to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.” His works are known for their critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H. L. Mencken wrote of him, “[If] there was ever a novelist among us with an authentic call to the trade … it is this red-haired tornado from the Minnesota wilds.” He has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a postage stamp in the Great Americans series.In 1930 Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first writer from the United States to receive the award, after he had been nominated by Henrik Schück, member of the Swedish Academy.

Check out Main Street on Amazon!