Tag Archives: Faith

DITTO By Chris Lee, Final Year M. Div.

“I could just say ‘ditto’ and sit down, I guess. But what’s the fun in that?

Dr. Frambach gave me a time limit so please don’t mind my phone sitting here keeping me accountable. Nate asked me to speak today and I wasn’t sure quite what to say… so, by way of introduction:

Hi. My name is Chris and I am a multi-racial, multi ethnic, ELCA Lutheran with Baptist roots, and I was baptized in a Wisconsin Synod congregation.

We, as the ELCA, have been working on diversity as a church for 25 plus years. Look around; things have not changed much.  Well, things have changed, but not as much as anyone expected or hoped for. I’m a non-White Lutheran and I can tell you that it can be pretty lonely out here.

So we talk about inclusivity, and that includes our language.  And it matters! Inclusive language is an invitation to the conversation.  When we use and talk about language, here’s what we confess. Our language, any language we try to use, is ultimately insufficient.  Our language is incapable of describing God.  That is simply true. God is bigger than any definition, attribute, or revelation we hope to have.  God is God, and we are not.

So, yes, inclusive and expansive language matters. It is our faithful attempt to get as close as possible to accurately describing God.  It is a matter of our call to proclaim the gospel – our calling to the ministry of word, service and sacrament. What we say counts. It is a matter of our faithful, inclusive confession of who God is, a God for all people, regardless of whatever barrier we might try to erect between God and another.

NOTED! Book Review by Wendy Daiker, Final-Year MDiv Spouse

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Jacobson, Kathy J. Noted! First edition. (Mineral Point, WI: Little Creek Press. A Division of Kristin Mitchell Design, Inc., 2015), 220pp.

NOTED!  By Kathy J. Jacobson is a Christian fiction novel that brings out real life events in her characters in an intriguing way that makes it hard to set the book down. Jillian, the main character is a Christian woman who wants a personal new start, with a job, in a new location across the country. She has her strong faith in God to help her through it. The job she takes pulls her into a world where she has to trust God and be patient. The job makes her evaluate her own failed relationships and how she will let go and move forward.

I love how Jacobson made me think about famous people and how their lives are hard in ways we may not think about and how they have the same hurts we have. They are not immune to the pain we have. They turn to the same God we turn to.

This book came at a perfect time in my life as I am beginning a new adventure into a new land and will be making new friends. I learned so much from Jillian in this novel about putting yourself out there and getting involved, and about taking a leap of faith to start new friendships.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an easy read Christian novel. It is beautifully written and hits many topics with God at the center of life.

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Kathy J. Jacobson

is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa. She has worked counseling troubled youth, has been an at-home Mom, a church youth worker and Christian education coordinator, worked in campus ministry, and for the last twelve years, has served in rural parish ministry. In addition to her work in the church, she volunteers as a hospice chaplain. Kathy resides with her husband in the beautiful “Driftless Area” of southwestern Wisconsin. They are parents of three children, all “twenty-something.” Kathy is an avid traveler, having visited forty-nine states and five continents, with most memorable trips to Papua New Guinea, the Holy Land, and Tanzania, East Africa. She enjoys music, theater, reading, biking, walking and hiking, but writing is her passion. NOTED! is her debut novel.

HOPING FOR MORE Book Review By Barbara Daiker, WTS Alum Spouse

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Thompson, Deanna A. Hoping for More: Having Cancer, Talking Faith, and Accepting Grace. (Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2012), 166 pp.

Deanna Thompson called her life a “near perfect life” at age 42, as she had a caring and loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a career teaching religion at a Minnesota university. She also had opportunities to travel and observe the beauty of God’s creation, plus the blessing of family and friends who lived in close proximity and served as a great support group for her.  Along with all of this, she enjoyed the blessing of excellent health, so excellent that she rarely needed a doctor.  In fact, at age 42 she did not have a primary-care doctor of her own.

In the summer of 2008, however, this excellent health record took a major turn-about when Deanna began suffering major lower back pain accompanied by a burning sensation in her back.  This led her to appointments with chiropractors, doctors, and specialists. Finally, with the help of an MRI, Deanna was diagnosed as having a fractured spine and needing the expertise of a spine specialist.

The MRI revealed a mysterious fluid surrounding two fractured vertebrae – a fluid which was biopsied and revealed that she had breast cancer, a cancer that had spread to her spine.  The diagnosis was Stage IV breast cancer.  Thus began months of doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations, tests, medications, and total emotional drain.

This is a powerful book which connects the fearful and painful recognition of our own mortality with the grace of God and the comforting assertion of the Apostle Paul that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.”

Deanna Thompson is now living in remission, knowing that each day is a gift of grace.  She is awed by the way her family and her community have rallied around her.  She looks upon her cancer as a gift because, “the experiences of grace  that I’ve been privileged to have would not have happened had I not had cancer.”

 

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Deanna A. Thompson

is a Professor of Religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota,
and the author of Crossing the Divide: Luther, Feminism, and the Cross. She lives with her husband and two daughters in St. Paul.

 

A VOICE KEPT SAYING … a poem and photo by Tammy Barthels, Final Year M.Div. Student

A Voice Kept Saying….Lake Superior

It took many years to find my voice.

Years of digging through the rubble that was dumped upon me.

A  Voice kept saying “You cannot be silent.”

So I dug.

My fingers bruised and scraped, bloody from pulling and tugging.

A Voice kept saying “This is not right, do something!”

A spark of light was revealed through the cracks of rubble.

I grasped toward the light.

A Voice kept saying “You must speak your truth.”

The light shone brightly as I stood upon the pile of rubble,

wearing a coat of courage given to me by my Beloved.

The Voice said “You are a beloved Child of God.

You have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

You must speak your truth!”

And the Voice kept saying “Expose the darkness, so that the Light may be seen.”

RISE ~ SPEAK

“Do not be afraid for I am with you”

So I found my voice, and began to speak of the injustices being done.

~Tammy K. Barthels

FOUR WARTBURG SEMINARY GRADUATES PUBLISH BOOKS

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Steward of Stories: Reflecting on Tensions in Daily Discipleship by JoAnn A. Post

JoAnn Post has been a Lutheran pastor and writer for three decades. She attended Wartburg College and Wartburg Theological Seminary before serving diverse congregations and settings. Her ministry has been committed to strong preaching and worship leadership, pastoral care, and community outreach. (See more about JoAnn and Steward of Stories at http://wipfandstock.com/author/view/detail/id/57509/)

As shared in her introduction JoAnn was dubbed “Steward of Stories” by her husband in recognition of how both strangers and friends entrusted her with their stories. The stories, many written while JoAnn underwent cancer treatments, presents meaningful reflection and insights into the rich and paradoxical world of a pastor. The thoughtful discussion questions at the end of each chapter encourage dialogue on the important topics brought to life in the stories shared in the book.

 


 

 Cover-_LauraNotes on the Journey: Living with Sarcoma & Hope by Laura A. Koppenhoefer

This book is a compellation of Laura’s “posts” from the Carepage.com journaling               she has done through the first years of her illness, a rare cancer diagnosis – “sarcoma”– changed   a lot in her life. Originally thinking that she was writing to inform the congregation she co-pastored of her treatment,          she found that she learned through writing as well. Insights are found in everyday things – gardens and baking and re-discovering knitting and quilting –        and the extreme circumstances of her medical care, the challenges of facing disability, and severe pain starting at age 49. However, all are instances for discovering the Spirit at work in her life whether in times of lament or joy. The proceeds of this book are all going to fund sarcoma  research at the University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more about Laura and the Living in Hope foundation, see http://www.livinginhopefoundation.org/

A reflection from Tammy Barthels, Final Year M.Div. Student:

As I finish reading Laura’s book, two entries stick with me. 1) “Be strong and of good courage, be neither afraid or dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (p 332). And 2) “With thanks to …God – For your presence. Though I may feel lonely from time to time, I am never alone. For the gift of incredible people in my life – They are your hands and feet in the world” (p 333). Laura assures me, God assures me that God’s presence is always with us. God allows us to be lonely at times, but God never leaves as alone. God provides wonderful people in our lives to walk this journey with us.

 


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Faraway: A Suburban Boy’s Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking by R.K. Kline and Daniel D. Maurer

Daniel D. Maurer was an ELCA pastor for 11 years, serving parishes in western North Dakota. He is now a freelance writer and writes under the “Dan the Story Man,” his non-fiction brand.  R.Kevin Kline is an ELCA pastor who has served in Kansas and Hawaii. Having recently moved back to the mainland and received approval as a mission developer, he plans to foster relationships with other organizations to raise awareness about the ongoing issues of justice in the LGBTQ community. Maurer and Kline collaborated on the book after realizing that Kevin’s story had the power to help others.

Faraway: A Suburban Boy’s Story as a Victim of Sex Trafficking breaks new ground in the problem of sex trafficking in that it also affects boys. Set in 1975, Kevin’s true story shows how a young boy can find himself in a difficult and unsustainable life. Yet even in darkness, there is a light of grace —Kevin found two friends during that summer of ’75. With them, he would come to see a loving God in ways that the world would only begin to see in more recent years. For more, see http://www.faraway-book.com/

A reflection from Tami Groth, Final Year Diaconal Ministry Student:

I first heard Rev. Kevin Kline speak in the Spring of 2013 when he spoke to students at Wartburg Seminary, and shared his story with us. I encourage others to both read the book, and if possible hear Kevin speak. His story is powerful and an important one for us to hear. I am thankful for Kevin’s courage and the authentic telling of his story.


 

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Sobriety A graphic novel by Daniel D Maurer. Illustrated by Spencer Amundson

Through rich illustration and narrative, Sobriety: A Graphic Novel offers an inside look into recovery from the perspectives of five Twelve Step group members, each with a unique set of additions, philosophies, struggles, and successes while working the Steps. Readers gain an intimate look at the challenges faced by those in recovery–and at the boundless power of working the Steps in helping people find strength in one another as they reach for a clean-and-sober life. For more, see http://www.danthestoryman.com/

UNCONQUERABLE LOVE, a poem By Roger Fears, First Year M.Div. Student

Starving for life,
Unbeating heart encased in stone.
Dying of thirst,
Afraid of pain yet suffering alone.

New pouring out,
Rock gives way to writhing flesh.
The curtain torn,
Dust and holy breath renewed afresh.

Horizon breaks,
Morning overcomes the grip of night.
Love rising,
Darkness unable to contain the light.

Restored to rights,
Hope arrives; fluttering on the dove.
Fully enthroned,
Victory realized; unconquerable love.

LENTEN SERMON by Jon Brudvig, M.Div. Intern, Ellis, KS

Gospel Text, Mark 1:9-15

Our Lenten journey begins where Jesus began his march to the cross.

In the wilderness where the Spirit drove him immediately after his baptism, a place of isolation, loneliness and danger.

A season when we descend into the valley of the shadow of death to walk with Jesus to Golgotha, the place where he will be crucified.

A time when the Spirit also drives us into the wilderness areas of our lives to encounter “wild beasts” and the demonic powers of this world that seek to separate us from the love of God and one another.

A time when we reclaim the promises of our baptismal covenant by renouncing the forces of this world that oppose God,
when we lay our hearts bare before God.

When we cry out, “Create in me a clean heart O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10)

The wilderness can be a very scary place.
It’s a place busy and preoccupied people try to avoid.

Yet, perhaps each of us can recall a time when we found ourselves in the wilderness — alone, helpless, and frightened.

My own wilderness adventure happened some 15 years ago as I was making a cross-country trip across a beautiful stretch of interstate running through West Virginia.

As dusk approached I realized that I would not make it through the Appalachian Mountains before nightfall.  I needed to find a place to stay for the night.

To make matters worse, I set out on my cross-country trip without advance reservations. Not a wise move during Memorial Day weekend.

As you might imagine, the state park that I had hoped to spend the night in was full. Sensing my frustration, or perhaps realizing that the naïve “city-slicker” with a tent wasn’t going to find any place to stay for the night, the park ranger stopped me as I headed for the door and pointed at a dirt road at the far end of the campground and said:

“See that road over there. That’s the access road to Daniel Boone National Forest.  It’s federal land and I can’t stop you from camping there for the night.  Just drive in a ways, pull over, and pitch your tent for the night.  It’ll be okay.” I was out of options.

Heading into an unknown wilderness and pitching my tent for the night wouldn’t be so bad.  Would it?

Honestly, the wilderness can be a scary place.
Alone with my thoughts and my fears, the darkened and mysterious forest
came alive that night in a way I could not have imagined.

Every cracked twig, every sound of rustling leaves, and every distant howl
conjured up images of wild beasts making a beeline to my tent.

Hungry beasts that I imagined wanted to claim me as their nighttime snack.

And, as imaginations tend to do, mine ran wild that night visualizing one horrific
scenario after another that could happen to me in such an isolated and
desolate place.

The wilderness is a place many of us fear.

To be alone with only our thoughts, fears, and personal demons is terrifying.

Yet, like it or not, each one of us gathered here today has entered into the
wilderness of Lent. Answering Jesus’ invitation to “Follow me.”

Mark’s gospel tells us that Jesus’ wilderness journey is a time of testing.
He is tempted by Satan.
He encounters wild beasts.
And he is ministered to by Angels.

We, too, are tested during the Wilderness of Lent.
A time of soul-searching, prayer, and confronting demons we try to avoid.
The “wild beasts” that we pretend don’t exist.
The inner demons we wish would just leave us alone.

On Ash Wednesday the Spirit drove us into the valley of death.
To dwell there, like Jesus before us, for 40 days in prayer and conversation
with God. Where Jesus beckons:

Deny yourself,

Take up your cross,

and follow me (MT 16:24).

An invitation to discipleship.

To journey with Jesus into the wilderness areas of our lives.
To confront the “wild beasts” and inner demons that lurk within.
To name and claim the pain of loneliness, self-loathing, broken
relationships and sin that afflicts us.

Demons of addiction, greed, jealousy.

Inflated egos, finger-pointing, and me-first thinking that belittles,
criticizes, and judges others instead of doing the hard work of naming and claiming the sin in our own lives.

Although we hesitate to follow Jesus into the wilderness areas of our lives,
the good news is that God is gracious and merciful.

It is precisely because Jesus became human, was baptized, and was tested in the wilderness, that God understands our sin, our brokenness, and the inner demons that deceive and torment us.

Jesus loves you enough to meet you in the wilderness areas of your life.

To leave the safety and security of the river bank and to wade out into the watery chaos of the Jordan to be baptized.
To claim you as God’s beloved child.
To be in relationship with you.
To enter into your reality so that you may be united with
Christ’s death in a baptism like his.

To suffer and die for you.
Abandoned, mocked, and executed on a tree of shame.

For the forgiveness of your sins.

The One who loves you enough to die for you, comes to you now in     the wilderness areas of your life.

In the Word of promise proclaimed.

At the table where sinners and saints alike gather to receive the body of Christ given for you and the blood of Christ shed for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.

Where the personal demons and wild beasts that torment you are
rendered powerless before God.

Where the crucified God embraces you with outstretched arms from the cross,in the midst of your pain, suffering, and brokenness,
enfolding you in his loving embrace, whispering:

“I tell you now, your sins are forgiven.”

Deny yourself.
Take up your cross.
And follow me… to the cross.