A little journey through this topsy-turvy journey of joys and sorrows and hopes and dreams with plenty of grace from God along the way.

All Earth Is Hopeful

For the next several weeks, I’ll be going through some of my favorite hymns in our Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) hymnal, which we predominantly use in selecting our music for worship. We all have our own reasons as to why specific songs connect with us, whether it be in church buildings or during rush-hour traffic in our cars or inside concert halls or wherever else. For some, it’s about the lyrics. For others, it’s about the rhythm. In certain instances, it’s about where we were and who we were with, when we first heard it or sung along. When it comes to worship, the music is meant to further reel us into God’s embrace while also giving us a holy nudge to go follow our Risen Lord out into the world.

Jerusalem

When I was in seminary, there was this in-between time between fall and spring semesters called a J-term (January term), where students could take a three-week crash course on Hebrew (which I begrudgingly went along with to fulfill that requirement for graduation) or learn more about rural ministry, for example. Every once in a while, though, they would offer an immersive experience in the “Holy Land.” Thankfully, my parents were more than supportive enough of me in this whole wanna-be-a-pastor trek that they financially backed me to go. But the long-term effects on me spiritually-speaking were not anything I expected.

Pope Francis

Today, the wider church celebrates St. Francis of Assisi, who also happens to be the inspiration for the name of the current pontiff, Pope Francis. Even though the relationship between the Roman Catholics and Lutherans has been…complicated, at best, over the 500+ years, more and more Protestants seem to like the one heading up Vatican-and-beyond operations. Granted, we still find our faults with him as we overly critical human beings tend to naturally do, but Pope Francis has certainly given all children of God plenty of spiritual food for thought, to say the least.

Chocolate Lab

It was my birthday. My mom invited Sarah and me to get in the car, as she started driving several miles west of the family farm. We pulled in a driveway of a home I had never been, and there was this litter of puppies (“The cutest ones ever!” as we humans automatically believe when approaching such a bundle of precious new life.). My mom pointed at this one English chocolate lab, and said, “She’s yours.” That was a bit of a shock for me. I had just graduated from seminary, about to start the first call with a congregation in Michigan, but I guess I didn’t know I was ready for that kind of adulting just yet, having to be directly responsible for any part of a bundle of new life. Regardless, there was always a dog around during my growing-up years, most of which I got a little more emotionally attached to being the youngest of four, as my older siblings grew up and had to move onto the adulting stage. So, my mom must have thought I needed one around for myself.

For many of us computer users, when we first turn on our device, we are met with a random image before we type in our password to go on about our work (or complete and utter waste of time for many instances). We are also given an option to click our approval or disapproval with the picture. In this day in age of needing to be aware of how much personal information we share with whomever on the other end, it may not be the best idea that I take time to share my opinion of the selected visual taking over the initial screen each time. Nevertheless, I do, and Microsoft (or whoever it is) has caught on: I like, I adore, I’m captivated by Creation.