Same Old Story

A writing for Modern Metanoia, ADVENT 1, LUKE 21:25-36If you have eyes, ears, and/or any kind of awareness of your surroundings, you might be like me right now. Angry. Heartbroken. On the verge of hopelessness. What the heck is wrong with our country – the (not so) United States of America? What the heck is wrong with our world? How have we grown so far from simple acts of stewardship and care for our earth and neighbor? Why…

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Charles Brand Carlson (1946-2018)

Chuck Carlson A.K.A. “Dad,” “PaPa Chuck,” “PaPa Seal,” “Uncle Chuck,” “Pastor Chuck,” “Pasta Chuck,” “Pasta Ravioli” “Pasta Masta,” “the Walrus…”Charles Brand Carlson was born on May 6, 1946 to Kathryn Braithwaite and Anthony Scelza. The world was never the same. When Chuck was 4 years old, he was adopted by Kathryn’s new husband George Carlson, given a new name, and a new start. Chuck was never the same. He often shared how life-changing it was for him to…

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Call the Pebble Dare

I've had some things on my To Do list bearing down on me over the last few weeks. It's all stuff for my dad's memorial service. As I've procrastinated and procrastinated, I've had to admit to myself the nugget of denial that I am living with. The reality has hardened in this flood of grief I swim in. It keeps bumping up to my daily life like an annoying pebble in my shoe saying, "I'm still here. I'm…

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I Think They Call This Grief

"How are you?" When I was 13, my dad almost died right before my eyes. I always preface my reflections on this era with my age because it adds to the drama, but it really does matter. I turned 13 the day my dad was moved from CCU to a "regular" hospital room. And then the rest of my life happened. There was adolescence and there was teenager, young adult and now. There was my daddy and then…

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God's LOVE Changes Everything

A reflection from Colter Sprague, 10th grade.Thanks to Hope’s generosity, I was able to attend the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas. This was my first time to attend a youth gathering. During this week, I saw God’s love emerge in many different ways.  When we first arrived, we joined 31,000 Lutheran youth and I witnessed their compassion and support of each other even though we were complete strangers. One of the things we did in our…

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God’s HOPE Changes Everything

A reflection from Ben Miller, 10th grade.Hope. What a fascinating concept. Desmond Tutu said, "Hope is being able to see the light despite all the darkness." Being able to see the light in the dark. During the youth gathering I listened as half a dozen people stood in front of 30,000 high school students and told us about the most embarrassing mistakes and how they fought through them using hope. Even when they lost it for the longest…

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Gathering Roundup

Just over two years ago, I presented the dream of Hope sending youth to not one, but two youth gatherings – the 2017 Western States Youth Gathering with the theme of DREAM BIG and the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston with the theme of THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. Hope captured the dream and answered the call, supporting us through our various fundraisers and buoying us in our journey with prayer. Thank you! We will never forget the experiences…

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In God's Hands

May 13, 2018 Seventh Sunday of Easter Thought for the Week: John 17:6-19 I am asking on their behalf… those whom you gave me, because they are yours. (John 17:9) In this beautiful prayer from Jesus, we are reminded that all that we have is from God, especially the young lives we work with every day. We don’t always know the circumstances that bring these little ones into our schools, but we know that they are given to…

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Join the Movement

An essay for Modern Metanoia on Trinity Sunday, John 3:1-17. Every extraordinary experience sparks from the ordinary.  Full of curiosity, Nicodemus proactively seeks Jesus out at night. Jesus transforms what was an inconspicuous evening into a remarkable, life-changing event. What I love about the Gospel of John is the way we, readers thousands of years later, are turned into witnesses. We become witnesses to not just fact-based, hard-nosed, “real news,” but to God’s reality on earth. We become witnesses,…

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Be the Light: A Messy Church Preview

One of the things I am most excited about for this year is launching Messy Church into our local community life. I've been following Messy Church.UK for years, but it wasn't until I found myself in this specific congregation and community that I recognized the time to make it happen was now. One of the most difficult things about youth, children, and family ministry is that people want results and they want them now! But this is faith development we're talking…

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