Volume XXXVII, Number 2
In this issue
Jesus is not just for us by James Amadon
We may think Jesus is all about humanity. If we have eyes to see, the Bible has a lot to say about Jesus’s relationship with animals. Worship services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tell the story of Jesus’s birth from Luke and Matthew, the two gospels that include it. Churches reenact the story, and many children’s books conclude the telling by depicting the sleeping Savior surrounded by reverent people and curious animals.
Greater and lesser lights by Mark Safstrom
As I write this it is the end of one church year and the beginning of the next. The ecclesiastical calendar concludes with Christ the King Sunday and its reminder that Christ is the ultimate ruler and judge of heaven and earth. As Christ’s kingdom is both “now and not yet,” Christians can claim this reality now while also anticipating its full realization at the end of the age. Advent then begins the church year all over again with messages from the Hebrew prophets who similarly anticipated a coming Messiah, who will bring the kingdom of peace and justice.
The persistence of God’s providence by Eliza Stiles
Amanda Held Opelt recently wrote a book about rituals of grief called A Hole in the World. You might be more familiar with her sister, Rachel Held Evans, a beloved Christian author. Amanda wrote her book following the sudden death of Rachel in 2019. In the opening chapter Amanda introduces her readers to an ancient grief ritual in Ireland called “keening.”
A hymnody of honesty by Greg Asimakoupoulos
It was at Seattle Pacific University, while pursuing my undergraduate degree in biblical literature, that my call to full time ministry was affirmed. It was during those college years that I met the woman who would become my wife, as well. My Seattle Pacific years also introduced me to theological freedom.
Staying connected to Jesus amid transition, loss, and grief by Ryan Wendt
In my life, there are many times where I have had to rely on my connection to Jesus to get through loss, grief, and transition. In November 2016, my mentor, Curt Mortimer, died suddenly of a heart attack one Tuesday during his afternoon stroll. Losing him was hard, and after his death, I experienced loss and grief like never before.
Lot’s Wife by Ann Boaden
Wrapping our minds around the gospel by Ryan Eikenbary-Barber
I first visited Bethlehem Covenant Church in November of 1990. My friend David Palmquist brought me home with a few other stray North Park College freshmen for Thanksgiving break. We slept in the parsonage basement. Pastor Kent and Bonnie Palmquist generously included us in a family meal of barbecued turkey at the Bevis household. It was a fun trip!
Post: Readers Respond
Classic chocolate mousse by Bonnie Sparrman
The undulating rhythms of life are spelled out on the pages of our calendars and also by the expressions of nature in each season. In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon sketches seasons for every activity under heaven: “A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to uproot…a time to mourn and a time to dance…a time to keep and a time to throw away….”
Jeremiah buys a field by Mark Safstrom
We have in our texts for today three stories. A symbolic act by a Hebrew prophet who buys a field, despite an impending invasion by a foreign empire. A parable of Christ about a rich man, now deceased, who regrets actions he didn’t take during his life to help a beggar, and thereby gain eternal life in heaven. Finally we are given advice from an epistle about avoiding the pitfalls of the “love of money” and instead seeking contentment with the “life that really is life.”
Gratitude by Penrod
Most everybody knows that gratitude gives a person a lift. There are good formulas for creating the feeling of gratitude in which one can bask. For example, you smile, you give thanks for three good things in your life and the day goes better. Juices flow. People through the ages have understood how that orientation works and felt grateful long before the juices fueling gratitude—the neurotransmitters got names like dopamine and also before people saw diagrams of firing neurons. I laugh—another good thing—laughter. Fire away baby! Let those synapses chime. I laugh again. Let the gratitude flow for their good work.
Come into the Kitchen by Carol Elde
Thumbprint Cookies and Krumkake
You are the salt and light of the world by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Mark Safstrom
The Savior says here to his apostles: “You are the salt of the earth.” And what he says to them, applies to some degree to all Christians and in particular to all preachers of the gospel. He says this in regard to their work, their profession in this world. He had previously said to them: “Blessed are you, when human beings defame you and persecute you, saying all evil against you for my sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way they persecuted the prophets, who came before you.” The reason why they must be prepared to suffer such persecution is precisely because they are the salt of the world and the light of the world. If the prophets had simply remained silent and let everything they saw pass by without further comment, then they could have been left in peace…
Waldenström’s unlikely pupil by Les Olson
Many who have grown up in an environment cultivated by the Swedish free-church movement have heard of the preacher Paul Peter Waldenström (1838-1917). While many might even be able to recall his central question of “Where is it written?,” it is virtually impossible to find much discussion of the connection between Waldenström and his most famous pupil. And no, I do not mean David Nyvall or other religious leaders.