Give thanks for the generous support of Lutheran Disaster Response by ELCA members and congregations, support that makes possible immediate aid to those in need when disasters strike or political violence takes its toll.
God's Spirit comes on Mary In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
The first job-hunting assistance class I took was a profound step in helping me deal with the loss of not just my most recent job, but numerous paid and unpaid jobs throughout my life. The course dealt with identity and loss. We all discussed how our jobs had become not just the work that we did, but who we were. We became “boss” or “nurse” or “officer” and so on. When I lost my position, I became disoriented. I had to not only find meaningful work but also reclaim and recover my way and my identity. God had created me with a particular purpose. No job or title, no money, no friends, living in a new city with no car and no place to call my own—a scary place to be, but it was just that, a place along the journey of life. My identity was, and is, about whose I was—God’s child. When I considered that I had not lost my core identity, I was strengthened to go forth bravely and act boldly.This message is adapted from Living from the Heart of God: A journal for life's stages, published by Women of the ELCA in 2007.
Fear is a mysterious life companion. When we let our anxieties run the show, the world quickly becomes a very hostile, energy-draining place. If we’re looking to feel afraid, there is no shortage of material to work with. But if we’re looking for another option, we can begin to see life as an opportunity instead of a trap. Here are some ways to confront fear: <b>Name it</b>: Many of our greatest fears lose their power over us when we name them. <b>Breathe</b>: When fear starts to consume, hit pause. Take five deep breaths. <b>Pray</b>: Have a conversation with God that can take any form. Prayer calms fears. <b>Persevere</b>: Exposing and confronting our fears is a lifelong process. Remember that you are never alone on the journey. May fear never deprive you of life, may life always lead you to hope and may hope eternally fill your spirit. Amen. This message was adapted from “Fear: Opportunity or challenge?” written by Emily Carson that first appeared in the June 2011 issue of Café (boldcafe.org). Today we remember Helena, mother of Constantine, who died around 330.
Almost twenty years ago, I left my teaching job in Wisconsin and headed off to Africa. Far away from family, I struggled during my first year as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia. The Liberians would say, “It isn’t easy-Oh!” Letters and support from my family provided daily strength for me to live, work and learn in that new place. A few years later I again left home, this time to serve as an ELCA missionary in Papau New Guinea. Another new culture, more new challenges. Again my family cared for me as I entered a new world, just as Miriam cared for Moses in the book of Exodus. Family visits, letters and prayers sustained and strengthened me for the demanding work. Certainly, not everyone is called to serve far away from home. However, each of us is called to serve in community and to encounter the many challenges of our time and society. Strong companionship from family, friends and community provides us with strength and courage so we can answer God’s call. This message is adapted from a Women of the ELCA stewardship devotion, written by Kevin Jacobson, an ELCA missionary currently serving in Suriname.