Spring/Summer 2021

Volume XXXVI, Number 1

In this issue

Faithful to tell on ourselves by Jeff Hunter

Sermons live in a strange place. On the one hand, a sermon is a deep dive into the past. We dig deep into scripture because we need to know our family stories and to hear the good news about what God has done in Israel and Jesus to set the work of salvation in motion. On the other hand, a sermon is a participation in God’s invitation right now to an innovative, abundant life in Christ that is being birthed in the messy, painful, and exhilarating work of welcoming God’s kingdom. Every good sermon stands with one foot in the historic testimony of the people of God, and with the other foot standing in our present experience as God’s people.

The cool of the day by Mark Safstrom

As I write this I have been spending hours on the water of a lake in Northern Michigan, reading, thinking, swimming, kayaking. I’m no purist outdoorsman, but I am pretty sure that a tent and a Coleman stove are plenty of civilization to bring to a campground. The generator that starts up at 7 a.m. to make someone else’s breakfast in someone else’s camper doesn’t fit well in my morning ritual of hopping in the lake first thing. This is not solely an objection to the noise I hear, but because of the sounds I can’t. I hope someone else’s breakfast is amazing. When the machine sputters and finally turns off – oh, what a sound!

Julian: the Showings by Ann Boaden

In praise of truth and freedom by G. Timothy Johnson

During my college and seminary years, my favorite passage of scripture was found in the Gospel of John: You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. These words, of course, refer to “Jesus Truth” but lately I have been thinking about how that scriptural statement really applies as well to all aspects of our earthly life.

Bringing the lyrics of life to life by Greg Asimakoupoulos

I started spending time with Ruth Eckels shortly after I began working as a chaplain at Covenant Shores, a Christian retirement community in suburban Seattle. Wilson, Ruth’s husband of 72 years, had just passed away. As we met to plan Wilson’s memorial service, Ruth related to me how much the hymns of the church factored in their lives as pioneer missionaries in Alaska.

A French chemist, caramelization, and a summer galette by Bonnie Sparrman

A highly anticipated miracle appears every springtime outside our dining room window on the south side of our house. Mind you, we live in Minnesota, where the earth thaws much later than I think is reasonable…but that’s another story. I’m grateful that sometime in April or May when the ice breaks up on the lakes, we peer out our window to spy the wrinkly sprouts of rhubarb bravely poking up to grab all the sunshine they can find. Occasionally a late snow hinders their progress, but we know the rhubarb will prevail.

A Galileo moment: pastoral reflections on same-sex marriage by Stephen E. Pitts

“What happens when a gay person falls in love?”

Strength renewed by Steve Elde

A leader defines reality. A leader doesn’t always tell us what we want to hear. A leader doesn’t tell us lies. A leader defines reality. Such were the Hebrew prophets. Sometimes they spoke a direct word that felt like a punch to the guts. It knocked the wind out of you. Left you gasping for breath. They warned. They scolded. They pleaded. They shook Israel out of its complacency. But they also shook Israel out of its despair. A despair learned in exile.

Madrigal by Tomas Tranströmer and translated by Tom Tredway

Jacob’s prayer at Beersheba by Josh Reese

It was a few degrees below zero one morning back in late January, cold enough to freeze my nose hairs. It was my day off, and I was sitting by the glowing fire of the woodstove in our home. The Packers had lost the NFC Championship game the day before, and it made me ponder the letdown of these rural Wisconsin people I love and pastor...as a Bears fan.

A visit to the Nikolai Church, Berlin

As part of the filming for the documentary, “God’s Glory, Neighbor’s Good,” we interviewed Albrecht Henkys, curator of the Nikolai Church in Berlin, Germany, a historic church served by Philipp Jakob Spener, Paul Gerhardt, and Johann Crüger. Interview by Tim Frakes, translated by Dustin L. Smith. May 2015.

News and Notes

North Park scholarship to support study abroad in Sweden; Author spotlight: New book of sonnets by Gracia Grindal; Clifton-Soderstrom honored with Irving Lambert Award

Sport Prophecy by Eric Nelson

The Sports Prophecy has a thing for names. They aren’t any easier to forecast than game outcomes, but guessing what’s coming next happens pretty infrequently. And you have to admit nicknames are fun. Who didn’t want to learn more about the “Kraken” after reading the last installment of the prophecy?

Tribute to Bob Bach by Phil Johnson

Football can be a useful metaphor for where things are in one’s life, especially if it is someone you have played the game with — an easy way to communicate. For example, for the past three years or so, Bob Bach could easily report where he was in his physical struggles. Like: “How’s it going, Socko?” “Well, Whitey, I’m on my own 25. I haven’t punted yet.” Try as he might, he could not get much beyond the 25-yard line from then on.

Tribute to Robert Thompson by Phil Johnson

Loved and admired by many, Robert Thompson’s absence leaves an empty feeling. Who can replace his voice, his keen wit, international understanding, friendship, and humor as Pietisten’s international correspondent?

Tribute to Arvid Adell

Arv Adell embodied wisdom and playfulness. They were his mainstays and much of what made him a delight. When we met Arv, whether at a North Park homecoming football game or a Despair Club meeting, or on the golf course, we (and we bet you as well) began to smile before a word was spoken and smile now at the thought of it.

Tribute to Don Franklin by Sara Franklin Rollfinke and Christopher Franklin

A renowned Baroque musicologist, Don Franklin was Professor of Music, Emeritus, at the University of Pittsburgh, having taught there from 1970 until his retirement in 2009. His four decades in academia included visiting professorships at Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, Germany; University of Louisville; Indiana University, Bloomington; and University of Augsburg, Germany.