Focusing on Blessings and Gratitude

During this time of uncertainty, if you really look, there are still many reminders around us of all the blessings we have received throughout our lives. As families and loved ones gather online or with masks, we are given the opportunity to express our gratitude for their presence in our lives, for their love and their support. But gratitude isn’t just a practice for stressful times, it is a gift for everyday. There are studies that show that those who regularly perform intentional acts of gratitude experience more positive emotions. They relish more in good experiences, improve their sleeping habits, and are able to deal better with adversity and with creating new and stronger relationships.Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to be difficult or grandiose. It’s often the little things that create the most positive impacts. To express more gratitude in your life consider keeping a gratitude journal, setting aside a few minutes each day to say a prayer of thanks or simply saying thank yo…

What Does It Mean to be Blessed

By Bishop Brian Maas“…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”       --Matthew 11:5-6
“Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”That’s a pretty low bar, isn’t it? That if the idea of being blessed—being holy, happy, content, pleased—appeals to us, all we need to do is take no offense at Jesus. How can one take offense at Jesus? What could possibly be offensive about the Good Shepherd of easy yoke and light burden?
Well…maybe that’s not the part that Jesus thought would be offensive.Jesus’ words in Matthew are intended for John the Baptist, who wants to know if Jesus is the Real Deal, or if the long-awaited Messiah is someone else. Jesus invites John to consider the evidence: all kinds of slaves are being set free. Slaves to sightlessness, to injury, to illness, to the despair of poverty, to death itself are set free! This …

We Are Called-- We Are Connected

April 2018 Devotion
Rev. Paula Lawhead
1 Corinthians 12:12-21

 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21 The eye …

Women in Ministry

God’s Greatness (Lectionary 29 B--Mark 10:35-45)
Sermon by Rev. Kristen Van Stee
Preached October 21, 2018

If I asked you to describe what great leadership looks like, what would you say?  Perhaps you would describe a great leader as someone who takes charge in any given situation, who makes decisions and convinces other people to follow along, someone with a forceful personality who can manipulate a situation so that he and his people come out on top.  A great leader might inspire other people to work for greatness as well. 
Well if you take that definition of great leadership to heart, I can name many individuals throughout history who embodied this greatness.  Leaders like Alexander the Great, the 4th century BC king of Macedonia.  By the time he was thirty years old Alexander led his armies on the largest military campaign ever, conquering everything from North Africa to India.  And under his leadership, his army never lost a battle. 
Or how about another great leader of history, Cathe…

So, what has God gifted you for?

By Rev. Megan Morrow, Assistant to the Bishop

Seeds. Lots of people planted and nurtured the seeds of faith in my life – men, women, family, Sunday School teachers, youth ministry, campus ministry, pastors, friends, music teachers, and worship musicians.
“I’ll pray a line and then you pray it. Our Father, who art in heaven…” – my grandmother, Lillian, before I was 5.
“Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.” – a favorite hymn growing up.
“So, what has God gifted you for? To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:7, 27 – An ah-ha moment during middle school confirmation.
“So, have you ever thought about becoming a pastor? I watch how you pay attention to people, others overlook, and you watch for God’s presence and point it out.” – one of my pastors during high school in the late 70s, not long after the decision to ordain women.
“God, you’re the only one I know here. Hel…

Recognizing Women in Ministry

The Nebraska Synod would like to continue to recognize women in ministry during the month of July. In honor of this celebration we would like to share the following sermon written by Rev. Juliet Focken, Assistant to the Bishop.

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father, the creator and the redeemer.

I thank God for you and the mission and ministry that we are able to do because of you and the work of the Gospel that you do.  Thank you for being the church that struggles with the difficult work of the ministry.  Thank you for the work you do.
It seems odd to write a sermon in advance these days, everything changes so quickly day by day that it is difficult to know where to best put my voice. In a time when we could step forward in peace and hope, we are wrenched with pain and grief at the inequality that strikes our land.  In a time of worry and pain we look to God in a hope of what could be, when change can come and when we can be part of the new life of hope.
I wonder if that is also wh…

We are Church, We are Called

The ELCA gives thanks to God for the ministry of women. To learn more about 50-40-10 visit the ELCA website.