Lenten Study: Week 3

“And the book says, ‘We might be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us.’”

So says the character Jimmy Gator in the 1999 film Magnolia. At its best, the past can evoke nostalgic memories of years gone by. At its worst, the past can seem like a burden, weighing down our prospects for the future. By faith, we look forward to God's promise of “a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). The sin that separates us from trust in the promise of God, though, needles the soul with the stark reminder: “the past ain’t through with us.”

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ELCA presiding bishop responds to Christchurch mosque shootings

ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has released a pastoral message addressing the mass shootings that occurred Friday at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“Together with our ecumenical and inter-religious partners, we stand shoulder to shoulder in condemning hatred, bigotry, racism and violence whenever and wherever it occurs. We do so because all people are made in the image of God,” the statement read in part. Read the full message here.

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YouTube Tuesday: Missionary Kirsten Fryer

“There is a safety and refuge in that is in this place that is so, so very holy,” proclaims Rev. Kirsten Fryer in this video. Fryer is an ELCA missionary serving as the pastor of an English-speaking congregation, St. Andrew’s United Church of Cairo. St. Andrew’s houses several ministries including St. Andrew’s Refugee Services, which serves 25,000 refugees annually. You can support Kirsten and the over 240 ELCA missionaries serving around the world by visiting ELCA.org/missionaries.

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Bishop's Letter: Come With Me

One of my favorite Lenten memories is as a little girl growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota. My congregation, Arlington Hills, hosted a weekly 6:30 a.m. breakfast and bible study to nourish body and soul. On Friday mornings, I would walk to my friends homes to pick them up.   

Looking back on these memories has caused me to ponder the different ways that we invite others to come to Christ’s community.

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Lenten Study: Week 2

In the previous session, we learned how Martin Luther wrote that repentance consists in two things: contrition for sins and “taking hold of the promise.”

The “promise” here is the gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the promise of new life in the fullness of God’s reign. It is the promise of the gospels and the prophets, the promise our ancestors in the faith clung to, and the promise that carries the people of God today into communities around the world, accompanying neighbors amid staggering challenges of poverty, hunger and injustice.

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Monthly Stewardship Toolkit available

The Rev. Robert C. Blezard continues to provide a “Stewardship Toolkit” for congregations. It consists of an original newsletter article and RCL-based “stewardship snippets” that they can cut and paste into their publications. It also has resources to explore the theme set out in the newsletter article. This month’s theme is “Stewardship of God’s ‘very good’ creation.”

You can use this permanent URL, https://bit.ly/2EHozvX, for the toolkit. Rob will keep the URL the same but refresh it with the new content every month.

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No Refugee Left Behind Postcard campaign

We are facing the world’s worst refugee crisis in recorded history with over 25 million refugees, over half of whom are children. In response, last year the Administration agreed to welcome 45,000 refugees to the U.S. But only 22,491 refugees were accepted in, leaving 22,509 refugees behind.

Help Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest send a total of 1,018 postcards to all Arizona members of Congress. One postcard for every refugee who never made it to Arizona last year. One postcard for every reason refugees are important to our communities.

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Lenten Stories: Dare to Love More

DLM Food and Resources at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Akron, Ohio, is a place where families find nourishing food, warm clothes and an equally warm welcome.

“At first glance, it’s not much different from any well-run, client-choice food pantry,” said Deacon Marla Wood Kay, director of congregational ministries at Holy Trinity.

But, Wood Kay said, “the idea for this ministry was born in a hospice room,” where Holy Trinity member Debra Manteghi was dying of cancer.

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This Lent, consider ELCA World Hunger’s 40 Days of Giving

Prayfast and give during ELCA World Hunger’s 40 Days of Giving – for the good of our families, our neighbors and communities around the world.

This Lent, you’re invited to join together with fellow members and supporters of ELCA World Hunger to study, reflect and give during ELCA World Hunger’s 40 Days of Giving. Experience how the grace of Christ moves us to engage in transformative works of love around the world as God calls us into the ministry of hope, liberation and restoration for our world.

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Where is Christianity headed? The view from 2019

As 2019 begins, the world is becoming more religious, not less. Faith from diverse traditions grows as population expands throughout most of the Global South. Last year, nearly 50 million more Christians were added in Africa, making it the continent with the most adherents to Christianity in the world, 631 million.

In the U.S., a narrative of religious decline and growing secularism is now culturally popular. The percentage of “nones” — those claiming no religious affiliation — is growing, particularly among millennials. But what are the deeper trends and challenges, beneath the headlines, that are likely to shape the future of faith?

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Lenten Study: Week 1

Lent is a story of the journey of the people of God. It is the story of us, or more appropriately “God with us.”

During the season, we remember the ancient Hebrews’ journey from slavery in Egypt and a generation spent wandering in the wilderness. We also re-enact, in our own small ways, Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil. The fast that many Christians commit to during Lent is a reflection of the 40- day fast Jesus undertook during this time.

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