This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday! Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; and Vocation. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

For those of you preparing for worship or writing a sermon for this weekend, the Second Sunday of Easter, I have a few helpful links. If you are following the revised common lectionary check out Bishop Michael Rinehart’s thoughts on “Easter 2C,” as well as friend and professor, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis’ perspective on how “Resurrection is Relationship.” Karoline joins fellow friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson and Matt Skinner on the Sermon Brainwave for the “Second Sunday of Easter.”

If you are following the narrative lectionary, check out this “Commentary on Acts 1:1-14,” from O. Wesley Allen Jr. Also listen to the Narrative Podcast entitled, “You Shall Be My Witnesses,” featuring friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker.

Prior to the busyness of the Holy Week liturgies some synods had a renewal time or Chrism mass. Joelle Colville Hanson wrote about one such experience in “Day of Renewal Time to Reflect on Bold Service and Future Directions for ELCA.”

George C. Heider shared some “Reflections on Half a Century of Being Lutheran” in The Cresset

Last week in observance of Maundy Thursday, “Pope Francis Washed the Feet of Refugees” as detailed by The Millennial Journal.

The Millennial also shared about how the “Pope sent condolences following Belgium Terrorist Attacks.” In a related post Josephine McKenna wrote that “Pope Francis denounces modern day ‘Judases’ behind terror attacks.” This theme was continued in observing Good Friday last week as the “Pope on Good Friday Decried Terror Profaning God’s Name.”

It was announced last week that Archbishop Bernard Hebda has been named Archbishop of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese.

With Good Friday in mind, my wife Allison shared this “Invocation and Poem for Good Friday” that she found.

Allison also shared a few other great posts this week. Among them included this article by Emma Green pondering about religious disaffiliation and Millennials and asking, “How Will Young People Choose Their Religion?” Allison also shared this reflection by Gina Tonn, “From Theory to Imagination and Action.”

From my role as mission developer at Messiah Lutheran Church I wrote and reflected, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today… Now What?

In celebration of Easter, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Bishop Elizabeth Eaton shared her 2016 Easter Message.

In thinking about Youth Encounter, Todd Buegler wrote about, “Finishing Well.”

Brian Dodd shared his “Top 10 Leadership Posts” that he read over the past week, and most of them had to do particularly with church and ministry.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Friend Tim Schuster at Midtown shared about “How to Get 10,000 People to Support a Documentary.”

Tom Murphy at The Humanosphere detailed, “The misleading use of the term ‘foreign aid’ in two charts.”

Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland wrote and reflected about “Ideas Gone Wild: Creativity, Plagiarism, & Public Scholarship.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared a video and thoughts on her blog, “Imagining a future in learning.”

Friend, mentor, and professor Dr. Terri Elton shared this post by Laura McClure about “How educators can apply innovation methodology in everyday projects.”

Julian Stodd shared some more perspectives on “The Social Age of Learning,” in writing that, “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Damian Corbet writes that, “Being on Twitter Doesn’t Automatically Make You a ‘Social Leader,’ No.”

Dan Rockwell listed, “10 Ways to Disengage in an Engaging Way,” as well as insight about “One Essential to Building Great Organizations.”

Tanveer Naseer shared some thoughts about “What Leaders Need to Do to Help Their Employees Succeed.”

I highly recommend that you spend some time with this post by Ted Coine, “Explaining My Twitter Follow-Back Policy.” It’s a post with practical connection and social media tips related to Twitter, but also includes good leadership insights. Give this a read and some thought, and see what you think.

Adam Quinton unpacked “Your 3-Point Unconscious Bias Action Plan.”

Justin Irving wrote about “Easter, The Gospel, & Virtuous Leadership.”

Apparently more and more people are afraid of using their vacation time. Collette Stohler wrote about what she sees as an “Epidemic of Vacation Shaming Spreads Across America.”

Anne Loehr asked, “Want Engaged Employees? You Need Values First.”

Andrew Smart explained apparently about “How Overfocusing on Goals Can Hold Us Back.”

Peter Drucker
Peter Drucker

Somehow over the past week I ended up re-reading this great column (originally from 1993) by Peter Drucker on Management, “The Five Deadly Business Sins.” Like much of what Drucker wrote, it still sounds eerily poignant and appropriate given business, leadership, and societal needs, challenges, and focuses.

Seth Godin wrote about “Hacking reciprocity,” as well as putting “Big questions before little ones.”

Lead With Giants shared a post by Kemetia Foley who wrote about, “Visiting the Past – A Means to of Leading Forward.”

Last week Fortune unveiled its highly anticipated annual list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.” Interestingly, Jeff Bezos and Angela Merkel were ranked #1 and #2.

Thin Difference shared a guest post by Ritch K. Eich who explained “Why Handwritten Notes Still Matter in Business.”

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference wrote, “Shift Winning Well to Creating Well.”

Heidi Oran at Thin Difference asked and shared, “One Simple Question that will Save You From Burnout.” It’s a post that is equally valid for any leader, as well as any Millennial who might be working multiple projects and roles at the same time (like me). Heidi’s question is, “What are you willing to give up to move closer to your dream?”

Millennials

Thin Difference has featured a recent series of posts and thoughts all about community. As part of that discussion, Molly Page invited members of the “Thin Difference Community” to share some thoughts on recent experiences in community. I was honored and humbled to be invited and included among the community in this post alongside Ashley Maria, Anne Loehr, Danny Rubin, Kare Anderson, Tru Pettigrew, and Kathleen Kruse.

Aarti Shahani wrote about Millennials and home ownership writing, “Forget Generation Rent: More Younger Americans Aim to Buy.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller shared this look at “The vast divide between America and its military” with particular notes about perspectives among Millennials.

Neighbor Love

Last Tuesday was World Water Day. My friend Dr. Ryan Cumming observed it in part by writing about “Water: A life-giving gift,” a particularly poignant post given recent events and news out of Flint, Michigan among other places. Ryan also wrote out of his lens as program director for hunger education with ELCA World Hunger in reflecting about being “Called or Commanded?

Sarah Christian at The Millennial shared this great Holy Saturday reflection from Fr. James Martin, “We Are Holy Saturday People.”

Friend, blogger, college roommate, and soon to be married Tyler Scott wrote and shared some “Anticipation on this Joyous Saturday.”

In a message that only friend and blogger Julia Nelson could give so well this year Julia wrote deeply, honestly, and openly on Easter Sunday about “Create,” reflecting about very difficult recent experiences with death and yet holding onto the joy and promise of the resurrection.

"To Love to the End" by Vonda Drees
“To Love to the End” by Vonda Drees

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These posts included: “to love to the end“; “God breathes hope“; “no more thirst“; “rise up“; “Christ is risen, we are risen“; “until all are fed“; and “resurrection edges.”

Blogger and pastor Clint Schnekloth wrote and shared about “Raising Easter.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared his many different messages and sermons for Holy Week including for Maundy Thursday, “Not what I want, but what you want,” based on Mark 14:22-42; for Good Friday, “Doubt and the Cross,” based on Mark 15:16-39; and for Easter, “Saying nothing in the face of resurrection,” based on Mark 16:1-8.

Blogger and pastor Nancy Kraft wrote and reflected, “Moved by the Cross Yet Indifferent to the Crucified.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller shared a couple of his sermons he gave over Holy Week, including for Maundy Thursday, “Dining Among Friends,” based on Mark 14:22-42; and for Easter, “The gospel of Mark, silent women, & Christ among us today.”

With Maundy Thursday and Holy Week in mind, I took up the question inspired by the Maundy Thursday passage, “Do You Know What I Have Done to You?

Friend, pastor, and blogger Tyler Beane Kelly wrote on “Faith Matters: An empty tomb means God has moved here.”

In the opposite of neighbor love, there was news out of both Georgia and North Carolina last week which left me a bit less hopeful about our ability to use neighbor love and provide equality in society. David Graham shared horrible and appalling news about how “North Carolina Overturns LGBT-Discrimination Bans,” bans that had been put in place especially in cities like Charlotte. While Georgia passed a similar type of legislation, unlike in North Carolina, the governor of the state did not sign it into law, and rather vetoed it. I wonder if Disney’s threat (among others) to boycott the state if enacted had any impact? (As reported by Dominic Patten.)

Friend, blogger, and pastoral intern Matt Byrd wrote about “The Passion Story and the 24 hour news cycle.”

In response to the terrorist attacks last week in Brussels, On Scripture shared a number of reflections here.

Friend, blogger, and fellow deep-thinker Margaret Ellsworth reflected beautifully about “Good Friday and a God who Weeps.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth reflected about daily life, Easter, and recent events in writing about, “Bluebonnets, Easter, and Faith.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Stewardship

The COMPASS blog shared the resources from its most recent “Live Chat” as facilitated by Sandy Crozier on “Managing Debt.”

Vocation

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared her regular weekly dose of “Tuesday Tea Time,” with deep thoughts about life.

Brian Calvert reported on a story of some students at my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University, in writing and reporting that, “Summer break for these college students involves water, but it’s not what you think.”

Friend and professor Dr. Marit Trelstad is sharing updates from her sabbatical on her family’s blog. Check it out!

Mandy LeCompte wrote and shared about friend and professor Dr. Richard Nance writing and sharing that, “Choir of the West Director Richard Nance discusses his recent leadership award and the origins of ‘St. Matthew Passion.'”

On the first Saturday of each month, the city of Ridgefield, Washington hosts a major event. April’s event as outlined here celebrates Earth Day. If you are around the area, be sure to join the fun this Saturday, April 2nd.

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your week. -TS

Image Credits:  The Links; Peter Drucker; and “to love to the end.”

Do You Know What I Have Done to You?

At the heart of Maundy Thursday, is Jesus’ commandment, “That you love one another, just as I have loved you.” I have written about that before. As I think about this holy day today though, I am struck by the question Jesus asks right after washing his disciples’ feet.

Jesus asks, “Do you know what I have done to you?”

No answer is given.

It’s a profound question. Do the disciples know? We can’t say for sure, but in my reading of the gospels, I would venture a guess as no, at least not until being able to put the pieces together after the resurrection.

Then again, do we know? Even though we know the rest of the story, do we really know?

Jesus washing another's feet
Jesus washing another’s feet

As time goes on and I grow older, I think I actually know less and less each day. Maybe that is a part of life?

Why I am struck by this question today is that on this solemn and holy day, we are reminded that Jesus gets on his knees to serve. He washes the disciples’ feet, and tells us to do likewise. He doesn’t give us a perfect plan of do: A, B, C, and D… and the rest will be easy. No, rather, he gives us the example of a servant, as he humbles himself to serve us.

It takes a humble heart to serve.

It takes an equally humble heart to receive the one serving. We don’t do well with this, at least from my purview. Maybe it’s a human thing? Maybe it’s a cultural thing in the United States? We like to be in control, and not have to be helped by others. But you know, some times we need to remember that we can’t do it all alone.

With the foot washing we are reminded that some things need to do be done to us, that we ourselves cannot do for ourselves. As Jesus says, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” This could make for an interesting connection between the sacraments of baptism and communion if you want to go there.

“Do you know what I have done to you?”

As I sit with this question, as I think about the last supper, the sacrament of communion, the sacrament of baptism… these are gifts of God “for you.” These aren’t things we do for ourselves. We cannot do anything about them, but receive them humbly in community. The question then becomes, how do we respond to this?

How do we “love one another?” How do we hear and respond when Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The way we live, serve, and love matters. The way we are in community and relationship matters. These are signs of being disciples. These are signs of the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. This is not always easy.

How do we love people with whom we don’t agree? How do we love people who also claim to hold the same faith we do, but radically disagree on what constitutes a faithful response to the gifts of faith?

“Do you know what I have done to you?”

I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand just how rich and all encompassing this love of God in Christ is. But maybe a start is to simply listen when we hear the words “for you.” Maybe a start is to listen to each and everyone person we meet. Maybe a start, is to get on our knees and wash each other’s feet?

Jesus did it. And then he says, “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”

I am not sure I have an answer to Jesus’ question today. But the question is enough to compel me to keep on learning, living, and being in relationship. It’s enough to remind me to not get so ingrained in my own beliefs and perspectives that I place them at odds with or over another’s. Maybe this is a useful reminder for what it really means to be the Body of Christ? Maybe even for what it means to be a part of society and strive to serve the common good?

“Do you know what I have done to you?”

What do you think? What does your response to this question look and sound like?

Image Credit: Jesus washing feet

This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday! Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; and Vocation. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Given that we are in the midst of Holy Week now, many posts in the church and ministry section as well as the neighbor love section below will involve Holy Week themes and topics. To start us off, keep in mind the importance of “Holy Week Grace” from friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis.

Martha Spong shared a “Holy Week prayer for pastors,” in writing, “Give us a sense.”

If you are putting on the final touches to your Maundy Thursday service or sermon, consider the “Maundy Thursday” Sermon Brainwave featuring friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Karoline Lewis, and Matt Skinner. For those following the narrative lectionary, consider the narrative podcast on the “Lord’s Supper and Prayer in Gethsemane” with friends and professors Rev. Dr. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker.

For some last minute ideas on Good Friday consider the “Good Friday” Sermon Brainwave with friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Karoline Lewis, and Matt Skinner. If following the narrative lectionary, listen to the narrative podcast with friends and professors Rev. Dr. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker thinking about the “Crucifixion.”

In thinking about Easter this coming weekend, I encourage you to listen the “Sermon Brainwave for the Resurrection of Our Lord,” based on the revised common lectionary including friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Karoline Lewis, and Matt Skinner. Karoline also shares some Easter ideas on her blog in thinking about “True Resurrection.” Bishop Michael Rinehart also shared some thoughts on his blog as well. If you are following the narrative lectionary, consider this “Commentary on Mark 16:1-8” from C. Clifton Black, as well as the narrative podcast on “Resurrection” with friends and professors Rev. Dr. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker.

messiah holy weekIf you are looking for a creative way to tell the Easter story, consider this story from “Godly Play” on “The Mystery of Easter,” as shared by my wife Allison and shared on Pinterest by Susanne Taylor.

My latest post as mission developer at Messiah Lutheran Church shares some thoughts at “The Start of Holy Week,” as well as an invitation to participate and join me at Messiah as part of Holy Week worship this week.

With Maundy Thursday on Thursday, it was announced that “Pope Francis will Wash the Feet of Refugees on Holy Thursday.”

In solidarity with interns elsewhere, I share and invite you to consider helping seminarian and intern pastor in Wenatchee, Washington, Bethany Grace, who is in the midst of a major recovery and could use some help with unexpected medical expenses.

My friends at LEAD shared some thoughts about “Reframing Team Work: Movement Making.”

Elizabeth Rawlings writes and reasons that, “If churches want to be more diverse – maybe we should start with worship.”

Speaking of worship, friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth shared some thoughts about worship and the hope that no one is simply a “Bystander.” Diane writes, “I don’t want the children, or anyone, for that matter, to be a bystander in worship.   I want all of us to know that we are a part of the story, a part of the body, a part of God’s mission in the world.” Amen!

Last week presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke at the ELCA institution of Lenoir-Rhyne University. In response to this, a number of “Lutherans protested for peace at Trump Rally” according to Susan Shinn. In a related post, pastor and blogger Nancy wrote about, “What I Learned at the Donald Trump rally.”

Neal Fischer moderated last week’s “Church and Social Media” (#ChSocM) chat which took up the questions, “What should our ministry talk about on our #ChSocM outlets?

Thom Rainer shared what I think are probably a helpful “Ten Commandments for Pastors, Politics, and Social Media.”

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Samuel Torvend shared this article by Laurie Goodstein about the, “Episcopal Church’s First Black Leader, a Gay Marriage Backer, Focuses on Race.”

Candace reflects that, “Maybe We’re Doing This Wrong” in a post inspired by the live production of “The Passion” that aired on FOX this past weekend, as well as the motivation behind it and the importance of telling the story. It’s an important message to consider.

President Thomas Krise wrote about the tension of identity of being a Lutheran school of higher education, and the school’s (PLU) middle name of “Lutheran,” in writing, that “The ‘L’ is not silent.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Seth Godin shared some good thoughts on things to keep in mind when creating or considering “Survey questions.”

Jack Ricchiuto shared some thoughts about “Why Events Don’t Build Communities & Networks.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Julian Stodd shared a number of posts related to social leadership. Julian shared some “Aspects of Social Leadership: Where Are We?” as well as “Aspects of Social Leadership: Community.” Julian wrote about, “WorkingOutLoud on the 2nd Edition of the Social Leadership Handbook: the Introduction,” as well as about “Bisecting the Elephant.

Regarding social leadership, Damian Corbett writes that, “Social Leadership is about Mindset Over Matter, in Reality.”

Brian Dodd asked and shared, “How Long is Your Leadership Important? The Answer Will Surprise You.”

Steve Keating wrote about, “The First Test of Leadership.”

Lesley Symons sheds some light on the long ways ahead to go towards equality in the workplace in nothing that “Only 11% of Top Business School Case Studies Have a Female Protagonist.”

Ted Coine wrote and asked, “Start with the Customer. What do they need from you?

Here’s a question for you from the Harvard Business Review, “Are Leaders Getting Too Emotional?” What do you think?

Andrew Smart wrote about “How Overfocusing on Goals can Hold Us Back.”

"Seeds of Healing and Hope" by Vonda Drees
“Seeds of Healing and Hope” by Vonda Drees

I could have placed this next link under church and ministry, neighbor love, or even stewardship. But, instead I have decided to place this in the leadership section. Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes wrote about “A Life Built on Service and Saving.” Within this beautiful post, Ron tells the story of one man’s gift and about some of the good that will come because of it. May we all be such good servants and leaders with our gifts and resources.

Jenna Kagel shared this look at “Why Brainstorming Rarely Works.”

Ted Bauer wrote about “The true test of successful organizational development.”

Tanveer Naseer asked, “Are You Helping Your Employees to Reach Their Potential?

Dan Rockwell wrote about “One of the Biggest Shifts in Leadership,” which involves kindness and influence, as well as sharing, “15 Proven Behaviors that Elevate Leaders.”

Anne Loehr wrote and shared, “Dear Generational Guru: The Frustrated Team Manager.”

Melissa Daimler explains “Why Leadership Development Has to Happen on the Job.”

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference wrote about “Nature’s Leadership Ways.”

Millennials

Scott Savage at Thin Difference unpacked “5 Mistakes of a Young Leader” that he believes he made while he was a younger leader. The mistakes he pointed to include: underestimating the gap between taste and talent; misunderstood the difference between getting things done and leading a team to getting things done; valuing short-term gains over long-term potential; missed opportunities to build relationships; and miscalculating how much you can learn from bad leaders.

Also at Thin Difference, Megan Dougherty wrote that, “Community Starts With One.”

Chelsea Krost spoke about “Marketing to Millennials” recently at a Sacramento summit.

Young Adult Money highlighted “6 Tax Advantage Savings for Millennials.”

Neighbor Love

Friend, blogger, and pastor-in-waiting Emmy Kegler shared a recent sermon entitled, “‘Woman, you are set free’: a sermon for Minneola Lutheran Church.”

With the start of Holy Week over the weekend, I shared some reflections and observations in writing about, “Passion, Heartbreak, and Hope – The Start of Holy Week.”

"Stones Would Shout Out" by Vonda Drees
“Stones Would Shout Out” by Vonda Drees

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These included: “seeds of healing and hope“; “a mealtime prayer“; “in a new light“; “taste and see“; “stones would shout out“; “are we ready?“; and “siempre en fe.”

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth shared news that the “US House is considering a bill to severely restrict refugee resettlement.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for this past weekend on “Palm Sunday & Our Bloodlust for Greatness.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson also shared his sermon for this past weekend, “To stand against the mob.”

David Brooks wrote, “No, Not Trump, Not Ever.” There are some neighbor love implications and observations in this worth important consideration. In a related post, “This New York Celebrity’s Facebook Post about Donald Trump is now the most shared post in history.” In apparent further proof that this candidacy is leading to violence, “Man charged with allegedly punching and kicking anti-Trump protester at rally.”

“Faithful America” has started a petition calling for “No more Trump Rallies at Lutheran Colleges.”

About all of this, friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes writes that “This is Not Reality T.V.

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner shared this piece by Eric Fair, “Owning Up to Torture.”

My wife Allison shared this post from First Lady Michelle Obama explaining “Why Global Girls’ Education is So Personal for Me.”

Much has been written about President Obama’s trip to Cuba this week. The most fascinating piece I have seen written about it though has to do with “How Obama set a trap for Raul Castro,” according to Edward-Isaac Dovere, which forced President Castro to answer some questions, especially about political prisoners. Perhaps this was part of President Obama’s strategy for the trip?

Friend, pastor, and blogger Eric Worringer shared this post by Kelly Ladd Bishop who writes that, “Male Headship Theology Enables Abusers.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Ted Coine writes that, “It’s Much More About Social, and Much Less about Media.”

Stewardship

Friend and mentor Chick Lane wrote and reflected about “Embracing Stewardship.” This post was shared by friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland who last week unveiled the new stewardship site at Luther Seminary. It’s wonderful, and I hope you check it out and all of its resources.

Adam also wrote and shared about the usefulness and possibilities of “Electronic Giving in Congregations.”

Friend and blogger Grace Duddy Pomroy recently wrote about “Stewardship 2.0.”

Ernie Weatherholtz reflected about “The Joy of Giving.”

Friend, blogger, and communications strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this video with a creative way for people to donate. See what you think.

Vocation

Tyler and me
Tyler and me

Last week my roommate and best friend from college, Tyler Scott finished his last day of work as the sports information director at PLU. In tribute, some friends there made this great video about Tyler, the “Intramural Broadcaster Legend.”

Lute Bryanna Plog wrote and shared exciting news in “More Stories to Tell: Announcing New Book.”

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a beautiful and very moving tribute to her daughter Kaia Gene in her “Tuesday Tea Time.”

If you like traveling and being out doors and exploring history, culture, and nature, then plan to take advantage of how the “National Park Service is offering a fee free week” in April, between April 16-24.

“Secretly Important” recently shared a profile of my friend Meagan Grandall in “Lemolo.”

Justin Irving shared a post from last year about “How to Understand Your Vocational Call.”

Friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared this podcast from Dawn Trautman on “Big Picture Big Purpose.”

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your Holy Week. -TS

Image Credits:  The Links; “seeds of healing and hope“; and “stones would shout out.”

Passion, Heartbreak, and Hope – The Start of Holy Week

holy weekWith the procession of palms, Christians around the globe start the celebration of Holy Week. For the western church, Palm Sunday (or Sunday of the Passion) is tomorrow, marking the beginning of the week that ends with the resurrection on Easter.

We remember Christ’s passion, beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We remember and join with the chorus of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!”

On Facebook this week I have seen the excitement of a great number of friends. Some are anxiously awaiting the birth of a child. Others, are just leaping for joy as their underdog alma mater has won a game in the midst of the craziness of March Madness.

We journey to the upper room with Jesus and his disciples. We join in the feast, and remember that the body and blood is for us. We let the king serve us, washing our feet, just as we are called to serve others.

In the news this week, I have seen stories of politicians and leaders. I have seen examples of people picking up and serving for the common good. I have also seen others who instead of an opportunity to get on their knees and listen, choose to speak. I think we’re probably all guilty of this.

We pray in the garden with Jesus. We fight to stay awake like the disciples. We want to save Jesus, we want to save ourselves. Yet, Jesus is betrayed and stops the human desire for violence and heals an injured man who is one of his captors.

Through the wonders of social media, I have learned of the heart breaking news of the death of a newborn to dear friends. My heart breaks, yet knowing my friends, I know that they deeply believe and understand the promise and hope of the resurrection. This gives me great solace as I lift them in prayer. 

We witness Christ before the high priests and Pilate. We hear, and perhaps even join in the chorus of “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”

I see the stories of protests and politics. I hear the chants of “Build that wall,” and other such remarks. I wonder, maybe, we’re all no better than the crowd in the square chanting, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”

We go to the cross on Golgotha. And are stunned by the love and promise that are on display when even at the point of death, Jesus asks God to forgive us, and promises another person, on a cross beside him, paradise.

As my heart breaks for dear friends at the loss of their newborn, I also lift up another dear friend who lost a good friend who served as a bridesmaid in her wedding. Holy Week seems to be starting awfully heavy this year for many dear ones. 

We mourn in the darkness as Jesus’ body lays in the tomb. We await the hope of the resurrection, knowing the rest of the story to unfold. But still, we go to the garden that morning with Mary, mourning, yet soon to be dancing.

We hope

"The Empty Tomb" as depicted at Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church in Columbus, OH
“The Empty Tomb” as depicted at Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church in Columbus, OH

In the midst of all of these things, the deepest of human emotions, and experiences, we come to our knees and are reminded that God in Christ, is “for you.”

For all of you who are grieving this week, know that I hold you in prayer. I pray that the hope of the resurrection and the promise of God’s peace enfold and surround you this day and every day. 

For all of those of you who are leaders, pastors, musicians, and others preparing for the busyness of Holy Week, please remember that you are worshiping too. Take the time to let the emotions come. Ponder anew questions of the passion. And rest assured of the promise we hold because of it. 

How is Holy Week starting for you this year? What is on your heart, mind, and soul?

 

Image Credits: Holy Week and Empty Tomb.

This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday! Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

For those of you preparing for worship for Palm Sunday or writing a sermon, I have a number of helpful links for you. First of all, if you are following the revised common lectionary friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis wrote about “Holy Week Grace.” Karoline also joined friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Matt Skinner and Rolf Jacobson on the “Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday)” Sermon Brainwave Podcast to discuss the day and its readings. Also spend some time with Bishop Michael Rinehart’s thoughts on “Passion/Palm Sunday.”

If you are following the narrative lectionary, consider this “Commentary on Mark 11:1-11 or Mark 14:3-9” from C. Clifton Black. Also be sure and listen to friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker on the Narrative Podcast discussing the “Triumphal Entry (or Anointing at Bethany).”

Thinking about Palm Sunday, friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth writes about “Palm Sunday now.”

If you are looking for a great Maundy Thursday litany and following the Narrative Lectionary, Martha Spong put together this one.

Luther Seminary put together this good and helpful resource for congregations, worship and music ministers, and other musicians on “Public Domain Hymns.”

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis also shared her thoughts from this past weekend on “Simultaneous Smells.”

My latest post as mission developer at Messiah Lutheran Church is all about what’s new at Messiah North County.

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared a transcript of its weekly chat which was moderated by Meredith Gould. The topic which the chat focused on was, “Engaging with Negative (and Good) Online Behavior. How we define what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behavior and how we might develop a more nuanced understanding of it.”

Blogger and pastor Clint Schnekloth wrote about how “Holy Week Dilates and Contracts Time.”

Brian Dodd highlighted what he sees are “4 Things Every Church Planter Should Know.” The things that Brian highlights are: focus on self-leadership; from the very start put systems into place, not silver bullets; speak to business leaders; and some thoughts about how to pick elders.

Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson wrote that, “ELCA World Hunger Grants help Synod Congregations fight hunger in our own communities.”

Friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared exciting news about the “Fortress Spring Book Sale,” featuring 50% sales on nearly 2,000 books.

Even though the group Lost and Found has “retired,” they are still checking-in from time to time, recently sharing these “Couple of Things, FYI.”

Todd Buegler and the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Team dug in a bit to these “Extravaganza Demographics.”

My wife Allison shared this look by Neil Ellis Orts, “Restarting at Zero: Introducing the Pastor at Kindred Montrose.”

I’m excited to share about the Academy of Religious Leadership (ARL) and its publication, the Journal of Religious Leadership. All articles written in the journal through the Spring of 2015 are now available both by volume and author at the ARL website. The Annual Meeting of ARL is next month, and you can find out more and register here to attend and participate.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

KPLU shared a “Save KPLU Update” last week including exciting news about upcoming events as part of the campaign including April 28th in Poulsbo.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes sums up many people’s thoughts when it comes to surveys writing about “Survey Scourge.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Social leadership theorist Julian Stodd wrote and shared, “#WorkingOutLoud on ‘The Social Leadership Handbook’, Second Edition,”  “Aspects of Social Leadership #1,” and “Aspects of Social Leadership #2 Curation.”

Seth Godin shared about “The difference between confidence and arrogance.”

What if advice like this, "Follow your passion..." is really bad advice after all?
What if advice like this, “Follow your passion…” is really bad advice after all?

You hear a lot about passion in vocation, life, and leadership. Recently Ted Bauer brought up a good question though, “What If ‘Follow Your Passion’ is Actually Bad Advice?” What do you think? Ted also pondered and shared in writing, “Leadership and Judger Questions vs. Learner Questions.”

Skip Prichard writes, “Don’t Let Leadership Go To Your Head.”

Terri Klass shared, “Five Coaching Tips for Leaders.”

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great leadership posts over the past week. These posts included thoughts about how “Authenticity is at Least Four Things“; “The Question No One Asks Leaders“; thoughts about “The 13 Toughest Challenges of Leadership“; and “The Secrets of Compassion for Leaders.”

Brian Dodd shared a look at the “Top 10 Leadership Posts” he read last week.

I am always impressed when a leader shows that they are human enough to apologize. Honesty and integrity are important to me in leadership, and being willing and able to admit when you’re wrong is also important. That’s why I was impressed and glad to see former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton write and apologize in, “On the Fight Against HIV and AIDS — and on the People Who Really Started the Conversation.”

Lolly Daskal wrote about “The Dilemma of the Servant Leader.”

Anne Loehr continued her series of looks at “Five Women Shaping the Future of Work,” including this profile of “Jessica DeGroot, Third Path Institute,” and a summary of the whole series about how “These Five Women are the Future of Work.”

Lesley Symons writes that “Only 11% of Top Business School Case Studies Have a Female Protagonist.”

Steve Keating unpacked, “Two Possibilities of Leadership.”

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference shared good perspectives on leadership which also are useful for Millennials from the expert “Ken Blanchard: Conversations for New Managers.”

Millennials

Thin Difference shared a guest post by Daniel Weinzveg about how to “Spark Engagement Through Cultural Values.”

Jon Mertz wrote about “Emboldening Millennials for Social Good.”

Ken Fang at Awful Announcing notes an interesting observation that “Urban millennials (are) not necessarily cutting the cord, but watching Netflix in addition to Live TV.”

The Guardian shared a whole set of resources and perspectives about “Millennials: The Trials of Generation Y.” The topic heading sums up many of the challenges facing Millennials, “Millennials: The perfect storm of debt, housing and joblessness facing a generation of young adults – and what is to be done.” Check out this series and the different perspectives within.

Neighbor Love

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller shared his sermon from this past weekend based on Mark 13 and entitled, “Life among Signs of the Apocalypse.”

In horrible news from Hood River, Oregon, here’s a story of racism and religious bigotry displayed recently about how a “Buddhist monk, apparently mistaken as Muslim, attacked in Hood River.”

"Extravagant Love" by Vonda Drees.
“Extravagant Love” by Vonda Drees.

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These included: “bread of life“; “God…Is…With…In…Us“; “200 million displaced sacred encounters“; “concrete promise“; “extravagant love“; “life-giving water“; and “beyond our walls.”

Rachel Held Evans wrote and shared about, “The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles, Exhibit D: ‘Biblical’ Manipulation.”

Friend Kandice Boettcher shared this piece by Lindy West who wrote that, “The macabre truth of gun control in the US is that toddlers kill more people than terrorists do.”

The editors of The Christian Century wrote that, “Jesus trumps tribalism.”

Parker Palmer asked, “Will Fascism Trump Democracy?” This is both a neighbor love and leadership question.

John Pavlovitz wrote about “Why An Apolitical Christian Faith Doesn’t Exist (If You Listen to Jesus).”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared his sermon from this past weekend based on Mark 13. Frank wrote that, “The end of the world isn’t just coming; it’s here.”

Caitlin Zimmerman wrote and reflected about, “Gospel Across Boundaries.”

Friend and blogger Rozella White wrote about “Intersectionality.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Vocation

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth shared some life and vocational reflections in writing about “Saturday Night With Scout.”

Miscellaneous

Ed Ronco and Matthew Brumley shared something helpful to travelers everywhere, “3 Steps To Finding Elusive Good Deals On Ever-Changing Airfare.”

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your week-TS

Image Credits:  The Links; “follow your passion” and “extravagant love.”

This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy Tuesday! Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope that you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are preparing for worship, or writing a sermon for this coming weekend I have a few helpful links for you. First of all, if you are following the revised common lectionary, Bishop Michael Rinehart shared these thoughts on “Lent 5C.” Also, be sure and consider this perspective from friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis on “Simultaneous Smells.” For a good listen, check out the “Sermon Brainwave” podcast with friends and professors, Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Karoline Lewis, and Matt Skinner.

If you are following the narrative lectionary, consider this “Commentary on Mark 13:1-8, 24-37” from Micah D. Kiel. For a good listen, also check out the “Narrative Podcast” with friends and professors Rev. Dr.’s Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker.

What are you doing next Tuesday? If you are in the Vancouver or Portland area you should consider “Theology Uncorked.”

In thinking about the Prodigal Son, as well as my role as a mission developer this year, I shared this blog post at Messiah Lutheran on how “Perspective Matters.” (I have to admit, I was heavily influenced by friend and professor Karoline Lewis‘ take on “Perspective Matters” as well.)

Erik Parker wrote about, “Why Pastors Shouldn’t Work More than 40 Hours a Week – and why most do.”

Allison, me, our friend Brigitte, and Dr. Fretheim in the chapel at Luther Seminary
Allison, me, our friend Brigitte, and Dr. Fretheim in the chapel at Luther Seminary

The annual Fretheim Lecture at Luther Seminary will be held on April 19th, and be given by Dennis Olson, and will will focus on the topic, “My God, Why? The Variety of Biblical Responses to Human Suffering.”

Joseph Yoo wrote that, “Maybe Church Buildings aren’t as big a deal as we Thought.” What do you think?

Ray Waddle wrote about one of the preeminent scholars and thinkers about the church and Bible of our time in writing that, “Justo Gonzalez ’58 S.T.M. no longer alone.”

If you are looking for ways to think about faith and politics, consider this new initiative, “ELCAvotes!”

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared a transcript of its weekly chat from last week which focused on the topic, “Worship and Social Media: Let’s Lent Out Loud & Worship (via Social Media).” The chat was moderated by Alan Rudnick.

In The LutheranErin Strybis wrote, “Women clergy thankful for gains, frustrated by leadership gap.”

David Gibson shared interesting news about how “Vatican newspaper essays say women should preach at Mass.”

Friend, professor, and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared this update from “The Confirmation Project” by Bryan Miller offering “Two New Portraits,” from two congregations in the mountain west region.

The E-Team, the team of leaders of the ELCA Youth Ministry Extravaganza has gone over the evaluations of the recent Extravaganza and collectively shared these “Thoughts on #Ext16 Evaluations.” The feedback will be useful in shaping next year’s Extravaganza as well as future ones beyond that as well.

Friend, pastor, and blogger Sue Lang reflected about “The Changing Face of Pastoral Visitations.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

NWB took up the question, “Dude, what’s with this notion that nonprofits don’t have clear outcomes?

Tom Murphy at Humanosphere writes that the “U.N.’s immunity from Haiti cholera responsibility comes under challenge.”

Julian Stodd wrote and shared about, “Words About Learning: Quest(ions).”

Leadership Thought and Practice

Julian Stodd wrote and shared, “The Change Leader: Framing Change.”

Brian Dodd shared his “Top 10 Leadership Posts” from the past week as well as “5 Words a Leader Never Wants to Hear.” The 5 words are, “I Didn’t See that Coming,” as well as some other leadership teams that can blindside.

Achim Nowak asked, “What Do You Do When You Hit a Mental Wall?”

Jessica Stillman shared “6 Things Exceptionally Productive People Know (that you don’t).” The things productive people know are: who they are; where they’re going; they focus on service; they don’t ask for permission; they learn by doing; and they can laugh at themselves.

Back in December, Cameron Morrissey wrote about “Why Great Leaders Laugh.”

Dan Lee shared this perspective from David Brooks on “The Governing Cancer of Our Time.”

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Matt Tenney about “How Leaders Can Develop Their Skills With One Simple Habit.”

storytellingFriend, blogger, and communications strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this piece by Patti Sanchez about, “The Ancient Storytelling Secret that Every Leader Needs to Know.”

Seth Godin wrote about “The front row culture.”

Ron Carucci highlighted, “Four Radical Leadership Practices that will dramatically increase engagement.” The leadership practices are: invest deeply; connect personally; hire for heart; and love well.

Steve Keating wrote and shared about “The Gift of Listen.”

Anne Loehr continued sharing profiles about “Five Women Shaping the Future of Work,” including profiles focusing on “Kate Kendall, CloudPeeps” and “Maria Simon, Geller Law Group.”

Dan Rockwell wrote about “Breaking the Wall that Arrogance Built.”

Marc Smith Sacks wrote about “The Importance of Care in Leadership.”

Thin Difference shared this perspective on “Why Your Superstars Cannot Stay.”

Millennials

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference took up the question, “What Spaces Empower People to Collaborate?

Jon Mertz shared this post from Jon Simmons who shared, “3 smart reasons why millennials should move for a new job.” The reasons offered, include: move for money and culture; move to a city that can support your business; and move for the sense of adventure.

Jeremy Chandler at Thin Difference shared about “Why Your Community Matters More than you think.”

Jeannie Walters writes that “Obsessing over CX for Millennials Ruins It for Everyone!

My friend Brie Marie shared this post by Hillary Crosley Coker who writes that, “Millennials are Well-Educated and Paid Like ____.

Neighbor Love

My wife Allison shared her sermon, “Eye to Eye with a Prodigal Son: Where are You?” from this past weekend based on “The Prodigal Son” in Luke 15. I was particularly struck when Allison preached, “When you stumble, try and forget God, and leave home, son, you are seen. When you keep tally of wrongs, and bitterness almost eats your heart, daughter, you are seen. When you forget that you are dust, and to dust you return, child, you are seen. The giver of new life, the savior, makes beautiful things out of dust, and makes beautiful things out of us. When our eyes are closed, when our hearing is drowned out by “what ifs” and “if I only I was better”—God takes us by the face and says “You are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” I see you. You are a beautiful thing made out of dust, and everything that I make is good.” Check out the whole sermon and see what you think.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes, given current events, news, and politics, writes, “I’m an idiot.” If Ron’s an idiot, chances are, I am too.

Michael Miller wrote and shared heart-breaking and horrifying news, “‘They stood over him and watched him die’: Outrage in Alabama after white officer kills black man.”

In response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Rev. Jack Eggleston writes about “When water becomes no longer safe.”

"Water, a Fundamental Right" by Vonda Drees.
“Water, a Fundamental Right” by Vonda Drees.

Sara Sidner, Mallory Simon, and Sarah Jorgensen wrote about how emails indicate that “Michigan governor’s aides pushed for ‘urgent’ fix to Flint water crisis.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Sue Leibnitz wrote about, “The Threads of Alzheimer’s.”

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These posts included: “water, a fundamental right“; “ahhh… little ship“; “Christ in them“; “lift every voice“; “while we’re still far off“; “new life now“; and “grace-oriented.”

I have gotten about a week behind on the Lent Photo a Day journey through Lent, but did share a couple posts inspired by it over the past week, including thoughts about a “Ruler” as well as a “Wall.”

Friend and pastor Kent Shane shared this powerful and insightful piece by Maria-Jose Soerens at Christ & Cascadia on “Why Helping Should Hurt.” Maria writes and explains that, “When it comes to assisting our neighbors, vulnerability is better than ’empowerment.'”

Hannah Mornement at Lutheran World Federation asked, “Can we talk about climate change?

Friend, blogger, and communications strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this piece from Adam Hays inviting us all to “Make a pledge to ban the ‘R-word.'” Relatedly, John Franklin Stephens writes that, “When You Choose Words, You Can Do Better Than the R-Word.”

Luz Maria Frias shares this powerful and stinging commentary on our society and institutional and systemic racism within it in writing about a thought experiment which their daughter participated in. Luz wrote, “So ‘Kristin’ gets the job, while ‘Ebony’ gets zilch.” Give this a read, it sheds an important light which we should all ponder.

Friend, blogger, and seminarian Jessica Young wrote and shared, “not a morning pray-er: reflection.”

Blogger and pastor Clint Schnekloth took up the notion that some might hold that, “Salvation Doesn’t Matter Much.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared a couple sermons and reflections over the past week, including, “Scarcity, Abundance, and the Broken Pieces,” as well as “The Widow Shows the Way” based on Mark 12:28-44.

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller also shared his sermon from this past weekend based on Mark 12:28-44, “Save or Savor?

Horrifying and sad news broke out of Honduras late last week as “Indigenous Leader Berta Caceres Assassinated, won Goldman Environmental Prize.”

Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland reflected about “How to Market God.”

Social Media and Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

John R. Bell highlighted, “Two Undervalued Ways at Having a Better Social Media Brand.” The two undervalued factors which John highlights are clear brand positioning and strategic driven content.

Stewardship

During March the COMPASS blog is taking up the conversation about debt and how to manage it. I wrote the introduction post to the series, and I hope you check it out and join the conversation. This month COMPASS will host it’s first ever live video conversation on the month’s topic, so check out the post for that information as well.

I came across this post from last summer by Samuel Ramos who pondered, “You can lead a volunteer to giving, but can you make them give?

Vocation

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared her weekly dose of life and vocational insights with her “Tuesday Tea Time” last week, as well as her dose for today and this week, in which she reflects on youth ministry, the announced closure of Youth Encounter and more.

Tom Kornblit shared “5 Things I Learned in SE Asia,” which I think makes for an interesting read about vocation, self-discovery, and even travel.

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth reflected about the idea of being a “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

My wife and I on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University in the Fall of 2012 (where we met, graduated from, later got engaged...etc.)
My wife Allison and I on the campus of Pacific Lutheran University, the home of the Lutes.

On Friday, Dr. Darrell Jodock will speak to “Lutes about inspiring racial justice through the Lutheran tradition.”

Friend and fellow Lute, Emily Barker was quoted in this story from the Twin Cities by Frank Jossi, “Sustainable: Recycling mandatory at commercial properties.”

Friend and fellow religion major and Lute, Kate Fontana was recently profiled by PLU. Check out this inspiring profile.

Miscellaneous

Friend and fellow Lute, Emily Shane shared this look at “15 Unique Coffee Shops in Washington.” For the few of these places I have been to before, they serve great hot chocolate as well.

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation! Blessings on your week-TS

Image Credits:  The Links; “We all have a story to tell“; and “water a fundamental right.”

Wall

As I have done in previous Lents I am sharing a daily reflection as part of my Lenten discipline. This year I am using the “Wilderness Wanderings” theme compiled by the “Lent Photo a Day” group. The word appointed for February 28th was  “Wall.”

Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China

Today, I am thinking about walls. Walls are barriers. They are built for safety or in response to fear. Lately, the idea of a wall that has been in the news has been one talked about by Donald Trump (and other politicians) that would divide the United States and Mexico. To be fair, there is already a border that exists obviously between the countries. But this idea of a wall that Donald Trump has would be to build a modern “Great Wall of China.” Except, I doubt it would one day become one of the great wonders of the world.

It would be one thing if the United States or Mexico were under attack. Then a wall might be justified. Just as was the rationale for the Great Wall in China. But the fact of the matter is, there is no such attack happening. But there is certainly the fear of the other that is at work in this country.

Why are we so afraid? Who are we so afraid of? 

Honestly, if I am afraid of anyone, it’s of ourselves. I am afraid of our collective ignorance, hatred, racism, and bigotry which have certainly reared their ugly heads this political season. We have a long ways to go in the United States. What I fear is like Abraham Lincoln said, fear itself. I am afraid that we are giving into fear, and we’re seeing this fear-mongering sweep many up.

I believe as a Christian and Lutheran we are called not to build walls, but to tear them down. We are called not to create barriers, but to break them. We are called to connect, unite, equip, and empower. Not to divide and separate. I believe this as part of my faith.

I also believe that this principle holds within my understanding of what it means to be an American and part of this society built on the great ideas of a “Melting Pot,” and a land of freedom. But, perhaps I have climbed onto my soap box a little much in this post. I cannot stand quietly by and watch this insanity. And therefore, I will not.

I will do all that I can to continue to tear down the walls that we have created so that we can continue to build communities and connections. Who’s with me? What walls are you working to tear down in your life and community?

Image Credit: Great Wall of China