Messages, Meditations, and Musings on the Life of Faith by Rev. Dr. Scott E. Olson, Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, Mankato, MN

Sunday, September 8, 2019

"We’re Not Alone" - Sermon for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

We’re Not Alone
Pentecost 13 – Narrative Lectionary 3
September 8, 2019
Grace, Mankato, MN
Genesis 2.4b-25

A number of years ago, while I was in seminary, Jan was in a bad car accident. She was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from her car. Because my family had grown close to Jan, her husband Ned called me to be with them at the Baltimore trauma center where she was on life support. It was my first experience walking with a family through dying and death and it was someone I knew. Jan was taken off life support and died quickly. In her late mid-40s, her death devastated many people, especially her Ned.

Not long after the funeral, I was a bit shocked when Ned rather off-handedly said to me, “I’ll get remarried. I’m not meant to be alone.” Now, Ned meant no disrespect to Jan or her memory; if anything, it was just the opposite. He wanted to have again what he had with Jan. That day I learned a lot about how men and women cope with loss, but also about the strength of relationships.

 “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” God says. Today we begin anew our yearly trip through the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament and the creation story in Genesis. We’ll read the Bible as it is meant to be read, as the story of God, God’s world, and God’s people. At Christmas, we’ll pick up the Jesus story and follow it through the Gospel of Mark through Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection at Easter. Then after Easter, we’ll read about the story of the early church in Acts, 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians. It’s something of a mad dash, but through it all we’ll get the sense of God’s unwavering commitment to us and our world.

 “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” This verse and the seven following are among four passages I read with couples preparing for their wedding. In reading this passage, we discover that from the very beginning God put men and women in relationship on equal terms. Although you can’t see it in English, we know this because the word for “helper” is most often used in the Old Testament to refer to God. Clearly God, as our helper, is not subservient to us. It is only after the act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden that relationships are perverted. But here we see God’s original intent for humanity, that it live in cooperative partnerships with one another.

Before I explore that idea, a few caveats are in order. First, Ned’s experience aside, it would be misguided to assume that men and women are incomplete, that we need someone else to make us whole. It is true that couples bring different gifts into marriage. As I often observe, if Cindy and I were alike one of us would be unnecessary. Even so, each and every one of us are complete human beings. Similarly, it would be wrong to say that this text is just about marriage and that we should all be married. The “aha” moment that the man experiences when presented with the woman is the same beautiful moment that happens when God brings people together around God’s creative purposes. We are “bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh” of one another.

At the heart of the story is that God is intimately involved with creation, especially humanity. For God, creation is not a “one and done” affair. God’s creative activity continues. Not only does God continue creating, God does so cooperatively with humanity. We are, as Phil Hefner states, created co-creators. Even when humanity breaks the covenantal bond with God, God continues to hang in there with humanity. As we’ll see as the biblical story unfolds, humanity gets it wrong more than it gets it right. But the biblical story also demonstrates God’s faithfulness in the midst of our faithlessness.

God cares so deeply about and is so intimately involved with creation that God is “all in.” Just as God has built community, cooperation and collaboration into creation, in the person of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, “God with Us,” God wants us to know that we are never, ever alone. In Jesus’ death and resurrection, God heals the brokenness of the world and works to restore relationships to what God originally intended. In whatever kind of relationships you find yourself today, know that God is present and working there. For God is our helper and partner. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

"Deceptive Unity" - Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Deceptive Unity
Pentecost 8 – Summer Series: “Brushes with God”
August 4, 2018
Grace, Mankato, MN
Genesis 11.1-9

One day, during a gym class at East Jr. Hi in Richfield, the teacher set up a short race, 100 yards, I think. He wanted to see who the fastest runners were and picked those he thought would have a chance to win. I begged to have a chance to compete. I thought if I ran and worked hard I could win the race or if not, make a good showing. Grudgingly, he agreed to let me try and you know what happened: I got smoked, didn’t even come close to the others. You see, thinking you can do something, trying hard doesn’t always translate into winning. I learned a valuable, if not painful lesson that day about being a “legend in my own mind.”

The inhabitants of Shinar, what was known as Babylon, were legend-makers in process, or so they thought. On a basic level, the Babel story is an origin story. It tells how the variety of languages developed in the ancient world. But the story is more complicated than that. You would think that being unified, working together for a common cause would be something to be applauded. The problem is that they were unified by the wrong thing, something counter to God’s mission for them. They decided who they were going to be and what they’d be doing without a thought towards God.

Today we look at the Babel story through the eyes of 16th century Dutch painter Pieter Bruegel, the Elder. There are actually two paintings of the Tower each slightly different. This one hangs in Vienna and the other, smaller one hangs in Rotterdam. Now, it’s helpful to know that Bruegel painted in the heat of the Protestant Reformation and its resistance to the authority and abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. During this time many referred to Rome (the Papacy) as Babylon and it is no coincidence that Bruegel’s Tower of Babel looks like a Roman Coliseum.

Bruegel, like many of his day, painted ancient stories in contemporary images. Thus there ships in the harbor, a landscape that looks European, and nobility and workers clothed in typical garb of the day. We don’t know who the nobleman is, but the tower itself is telling: it is crumbling even as it is being built. Rome, called the Eternal City, was collapsing, a sign of the futility of prideful human effort. For Bruegel, the painting symbolized the struggle between a church worshiping in Latin and Protestants from many languages and cultures.

The warning in both the Babel story and painting is this: unity for the wrong reason is dangerous and even possibly evil. We ask ourselves, “Why is it that people most often get unified when they are unified against other people?” The Babel story tells us that a better shot at unity comes when we ask who we are as God’s people and what God intends for us. We always need to ask what God is calling us to be and do, something our Transition Task Force and the church council has been doing the last year. Furthermore, we’ve been careful to make sure our own building project is mission based, not human based, and I think we will succeed.

Like many of you, I’m concerned about the destructive unity in our country and world with groups attacking one another. A week ago, Bill Anderson brought me a copy of an article by Jim Wallis that appeared in Sojourner’s online magazine (https://sojo.net/articles/who-will-call-out-presidents-racism). He and the other members of his Friday morning discussion group agreed to bring this article to their pastors and implore them to call out racism, especially that of our current president. Now, I appreciate Bill’s passion and concern, but my first thought was, “Do we really need to say that telling someone to go back where they came from is racist, not to mention illegal in the workplace?”

“Do we really need to say all immigrants are criminals who come from s-hole countries is wrong? Do we really need to say that calling white nationalists ‘fine people’ gives them credibility they don’t warrant or deserve?” Unfortunately, we do need to say it, and more, because this is not who God is calling us to be and do. I know that this is a heavy message this morning, and I wish it could be sunshine and unicorns, but it’s not.

The reality is that the grace, mercy and unconditional love of God has for us has no meaning unless we name the sin and brokenness that make that grace necessary. We need to acknowledge that no matter how hard we try, we can’t do anything on our own. It’s true that we can’t fix the hurts of this world on our own, but God calls us to faithfulness, not success.

I’m proud of our work in the world combating racism. I’m proud that we have worked to settle immigrant families. I’m proud that we have housed and cared for the homeless. I’m proud that we travel to other communities to stand with them in the fight against poverty. I’m proud that we truly welcome all people to the Lord’s Supper without any qualifications or restrictions. The work is ongoing and we are strengthened to do so when we remember that our unity comes in, with and through Jesus Christ who died for all so that all may live. Will you join with me in spreading that message of love? Thanks be to God. Amen.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

"Outside In" - Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Outside In
Pentecost 7 – Summer Series, “Brushes with God”
July 28, 2019
Grace, Mankato, MN
Luke 15.1-3, 11-32

A number of years ago—a long time ago and far, far away—a colleague told me of an experience he had as an associate pastor. He noticed that the senior pastor frequently and publicly praised the other associate pastor. Now, although the other associate was worthy of praise, this never happened for him. Even more curious, my colleague noticed that the senior pastor would praise him during his annual review, but never publicly. He was praised once a year, in private. One day, my colleague-friend screwed up his courage and bared his soul to the senior pastor, telling him how awful that felt. The next Sunday the senior pastor publicly praised him in worship, but it seemed to my friend an insincere and hollow gesture.

This experience reminded me of the older son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke chapter 15. Today we look at the story through the eyes of Rembrandt, the 17th century Dutch master. In some ways, this is the painting that gave birth to the idea for this summer’s sermon series. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a book by Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming and it transformed my understanding of both art and this story. Nouwen was a Roman Catholic priest and prolific writer on spirituality.

Over the period of decades, Nouwen would make trips to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia and just sit with the painting. He would spend as much time as possible simply meditating on the painting and the story. Interestingly, over a period of time he found himself relating to each character at various points in his life.  Through Nouwen, I realized paintings are meant to be savored like fine wine, not guzzled like cheap beer. I learned that each brush stroke had a purpose in the painting and to try to receive what the artist was trying to give me. I began to ask myself what a particular artist was trying to convey in the paintings I was viewing.

I don’t think that there is another of Jesus’ parables that elicits as strong a response from us as the Prodigal Son. So, what do you see in Rembrandt’s painting that brings home the story to you?

This is arguably Rembrandt’s greatest painting—perhaps the greatest of all time—and like all great art it is often discussed. Many take note the difference in father’s hands as both masculine and feminine, showing both characteristics of mothering and fathering. On the other hand, the older son’s hands are crossed, perhaps in judgment, and he clearly stands outside looking in. The identity of the characters in the shadows is debated, but most likely they are the servants, watching the action. The younger son is dressed in tatters as compared to the luxurious garments of the father and older son. And notice the lighting: the soft glow around the father and younger son. Yet, what struck me this week is the dark gulf between the father and older son, not to mention the latter’s wistfulness. He stands above the father and his younger brother, but desires to belong.

It’s not hard to read ourselves into both the story and painting. For me this week it’s been the older son. I’ve long realized he is as lost as his younger brother, but the memory of my colleague’s experience amplifies that sense of lost-ness. He yearns for the same kind of love and acceptance as his younger brother, not realizing they’re already his. Jesus wants us to know that both brothers are being welcomed home by the extravagant love of the father.

Many of you remember the comic, “Dennis the Menace.” In one episode, Dennis and Joey are walking away from Mrs. Wilson’s house with arms full of cookies. Joey wonders how that can be, what they’ve done to deserve such a generous treat. Dennis responds, “Mrs. Wilson doesn’t give us cookies because we’re nice; she gives us cookies because she’s nice.” The same is true for God the Father. We receive God’s generous love because God loves, not because we are lovable.

We don’t know if the older son is reconciled to his younger brother and father, but we don’t need to know, Through Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection, all of us have been brought home to God. Some of you are feeling that you are on the outside looking in today, not worthy of God’s love, but please know that the gulf between God and us and between us and each other has been closed for good. We don’t have to do anything because it has already been done for us; accept the fact that you are accepted. As my colleague knows, our world doesn’t always operate that way, but thank God that God always does. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

"Who’s Your Moses?" - Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Who’s Your Moses?
Pentecost 6 – “Brushes with God” Summer Series
July 21, 2019
Grace, Mankato, MN
Exodus 14.5-7, 10-14, 21-31

Today’s artwork, “Moses Parting the Red Sea,” by twins Alan and Aaron Hicks, depicts the central event of arguably the most important story of the Old Testament: the deliverance of the Israelites. After 400 years of agonizing slavery and oppression in Egypt, it appears God answers their cries. They have been sent a savior in Moses and now they are on their way back to the Promised Land, the land promised to their ancestor Abraham. All is good; except that Pharaoh changes his mind and hunts them down with everything he’s got.

Although the Israelites have seen God work miracles through Moses with the plagues, they panic. All they see is death: in front of them in the perilous sea and behind them in Pharaoh’s army. But Moses assures them God will fight for them. The pillar of cloud and angel that have been leading the way now move behind them to protect them. And then Moses uses the staff to part the Red Sea. The Israelites are able to cross the sea and Pharaoh’s army is drowned. Death is swallowed up by death.

Let’s take a closer look at Hicks’ painting. I want you to take a few minutes to study it. Talk with a neighbor or two about what you see in the painting and how it interprets the text.

…Okay, let’s come back together and I’d like to hear a few comments…

What stands out for me right away is that Moses is dark skinned, which on the one hand makes sense because Alan and Aaron Hicks are African American and their artwork depicts black people. Yet, we also have to remember that the Israelites are Middle Eastern and are dark skinned. Moses was not like Charlton Heston from Cecil B. DeMille film “The Ten Commandments.” It is also striking that Moses is white-haired, something that actually happens to him later in the story when he encounters God. But I think his white hair shows both the experience and authority that Moses has. More to the point, I think it depicts the burden of leadership. I’m always astounded by how much presidents age in office. This was particularly true for President Barak Obama, who went from black hair to gray in eight years.

Speaking of striking, did you notice that the Hicks brothers show Moses striking the ground with his staff? He almost looks like a superhero, such as the Marvel character Thor with his mighty hammer. Though it contradicts the text, I wonder if they wanted to vividly show the power exerted by God through Moses. The bright and almost fiery light behind Moses probably shows the pillar of cloud and you can almost see the power going from God through Moses to pile up the waters. These dangerous waters now show protection instead of death. One more thing: though I don’t have an answer, I wonder if the color red of Moses robe has any meaning.

As I thought about Hicks’ painting, I wondered about the things that oppress and enslave us. I wondered about the Pharaoh’s armies that pursue us and threaten to overwhelm us. I wondered who the Moses will be that God will send us to show God’s power and lead us onto dry land. Who is the Moses who will help the young woman recently and suddenly widowed, left with kids and step kids? Where will God’s power be evident to the young person struggling with their gender identity? Will there be a Moses that can lead us from divisiveness, hateful and rampant racism in our country?

We may not know the answers to this question, but we are assured that the same God who delivered the Israelites in the Hicks painting is the same God who has delivered us in the New Moses, Jesus Christ. It is in the cross of Jesus that God swallowed up death for good. If you are feeling overwhelmed today, know that God will send a Moses, though he might be a she and may not look or work the same way as you would expect. If you don’t need a Moses now, you might be that Moses to someone else. Either way, God’s power will be made manifest in our lives. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Can You Hear Me Now?" - Sermon for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Can You Hear Me Now?
Pentecost 5 – Narrative Lectionary Summer Series
July 14, 2019
Redeemer, Good Thunder, MN
Hebrews 1.1-4

The Christian denomination, the United Church of Christ has a campaign, also a tag line, “God is still speaking.”  The campaign is to remind people that “God still has a lot more to say.” That’s helpful, because we tend to think that the Word, our Bible, is this fixed communication. In one way that’s true. Although theoretically the Bible is not closed and could have additions, practically speaking, it would be very difficult for the worldwide Christian community to agree on what those would be. Even so, we also agree that the Bible is a dynamic document. Hebrews reminds us of that: “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son….” Hebrews tells us that the Bible is a living Word.

Today we begin our five part sermon series on the book of Hebrews, often called a letter. However, it has very few features of a biblical letter. There is no salutation, no thanksgiving and no sender. We’re not sure who wrote it, what situation it addresses or when it was written. Of course, that hasn’t stopped scholars from speculating. The only feature consistent with biblical epistles is that it ends like a letter. However, if you read through it, it reads more like a theological treatise interspersed with exhortations. In other words, it’s more like a sermon with encouragement to do better, only with better language than you hear in most sermons.

That’s an important message for us to hear, because we need to know God is still speaking to us and that God still has a lot more to say. But, how does God speak to us today and what does it mean to listen to what God is saying? First, like the author of Hebrews, we recognize that God always uses relational means to speak. In other words, God uses other people to speak to us and, if we thought about it, usually does so in images and pictures rather than articles of faith. Even when the Ten Commandments were given, they were mediated by Moses in the context of an overall story of liberation and new beginnings.

Still, as I thought about God speaking, I wondered about how we listen for God’s voice today. It occurred to me that God often speaks to me through the most unlikely people who challenge me. They come from someplace very different from me and tell me things I don’t want to hear. For example, I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook and I certainly don’t get into arguments with people, because it is so hard to have meaningful conversations in that media. But quite often someone will say something that I have to think deeply about. Whether it is a friend, family member, parishioner or colleague, those statements that challenge my world view prod me to reconsider or, at the very least, make sure I can justify my beliefs. Even so, there are times when my mind is changed.

Yet, in addition to the “hard listening” when God is trying to challenge our strongly held beliefs, Hebrews reminds us that God is also trying to get through the fog of despair and apathy. The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews had lost their passion for the faith and were just going through the motions. The writer seeks to encourage them to rekindle that fire. He also reminds us when we do the same or when we want to give up that through the Word made flesh, God is still speaking words of love, forgiveness and new life to us. So, through whom is God speaking to you today and what Word do you need to hear? I invite you to ponder deeply how God is speaking, practice humility in listening, and ask God for the grace to hear how you can live the life intended for you, both now and forever. Amen.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

"Drawn into the Triune Life" - Sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Drawn into the Triune Life
Pentecost 4 – Summer Series “Brushes with God”
July 7, 2019
Grace, Mankato, MN
Genesis 18.1-15

The Lord visits Abraham and Sarah at their tent during the heat of the day. (Or is it three men that visit Abraham and Sarah?) After having “a little something to eat”—code phrase for a Lutheran feast—he (or they) make an announcement to them. Abraham and Sarah are to have a son, a son that has been long-awaited since the promise was first made in chapter 12, one they had quite frankly given up on. Having been drawn into a life with the Lord through that promise, they’ve retreated from it in the face of old age. Believing the Lord, following his promises, and claiming the life offered by the Lord has become a functional impossibility. So, who can criticize Sarah for laughing? Surely she cannot be blamed for dismissing the Lord’s claims.

It may seem odd that we look at this story through the eyes of “The Trinity Icon” by Andrei Rublev. However, like much interpretive work, we are going to let the story interpret the painting as well as the painting interpret the story. Icons, or iconography, are a particular variety of painting, mostly found in the Eastern Orthodox religious tradition. They are highly symbolic, yet contain consistent elements even when the subjects vary. They were used as teaching tools to tell the biblical story for those who couldn’t read. In essence, they are “words in painting.” Icons are also signs, but they not only point to a mysterious reality, they participate in them as well. That’s why icons are so venerated.

“The Trinity Icon” was originally called the “Hospitality of Abraham,” when the subject was first painted by an unknown artist in the 5th century. It was also called the “Old Testament Trinity” because the Early Church Fathers saw this story (and painting) as the earliest revealing of the One God in Three Persons. When Rublev arrived 1,000 years later, he deleted Abraham, Sarah and the preparation of the meal from the icon, and the remaining elements took on different meanings. For example,  the angels represent the three persons of the trinity; the building symbolizes the One who laid the foundations of the world; the oak of Mamre now came to mean the tree on which the Son dies or symbolizes eternal life; and the mountain denoted the spiritual heights given to the faithful.

But the more interesting elements involve the three angels who are representing the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. However, please note that the icon does not depict God; for in iconography only Jesus can be a symbol of the divine. Rather, the icon shows the mystery of revelation that is described by the Trinity. Notice the colors in the icon: a red robe stands for the Father’s burning love for the Son; the Son’s purple robe signifies kingly majesty; the green robe of the Spirit symbolizes life and growth in the Christian life. And not the gestures: the Father blesses the Son’s mission to the world; the Son’s two fingers hover over the chalice, signifying his dual nature; and the Spirit’s hand is shaped like a descending dove.

Notice how the faces, shoulders and the outer part of the robes form a circle. Here Rublev tries to express the almost inexpressible: the unity of one God in three distinct but unified persons. The oneness is also expressed through two other elements: the color blue in each garment and the co-equality in the length of each staff. Furthermore, they also look toward a chalice, which contains a calf or lamb’s head, symbolizing the sacrifice they will make for humanity. This is further high-lighted by their bodies, which also form the shape of the chalice. This is the life of the triune God offered to the world.

So what? How does this help us see the story of Abraham and Sarah any differently or get us closer to understanding the Trinity? Commentators on the Abraham and Sarah story sternly warn us not to read the Trinity into this narrative. However, I think Rublev was onto something that both the story and the icon try to portray. God continually tries to draw us into the divine, mysterious life that is a dancing circle of love, constituted by God’s very being. Abraham and Sarah couldn’t see the possibility of that life for them, but God drew them in anyway. As you contemplate and study Rublev’s icon on the Trinity, where is God trying to draw you into the divine life? What impossible thing in your life is God working on right now? Whatever it may be, welcome to the circle of love. Amen.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Let Your Heart Take Courage" - Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

Let Your Heart Take Courage
Pentecost 3 – Narrative Lectionary Summer Series
June 30, 2019
Redeemer, Good Thunder, MN
Psalm 27

In March of 2000, after serving in Central Illinois for four years, I began a call to Central Lutheran Church in Winona, Minnesota. We were excited to be closer to our families and for the opportunities Winona would provide us. Even so, it was a time of disorientation for us. The housing market was very tight, so it took a while to buy a house. Furthermore, we agreed that Cindy and the girls would finish out the school year in Illinois, meaning we were apart for several months. With the separation, our family dynamics shifted and the house buying process created even more anxiety. Sometime during this period, Psalm 27 became very important to me, especially verses 13-14:
“I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 
Wait for the Lord; be strong, let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”

This is the third installment in a four-part sermon series on the Psalms. At the beginning of the series two weeks ago I mentioned Walter Bruggemann’s typology for classifying Psalms: psalms of orientation, psalms of disorientation, and psalms of reorientation. That first week we had a psalm of orientation, or praise and thanksgiving. Last we week you heard a psalm of disorientation, also called a lament or psalm of need. Today’s psalm can be seen as either “disorientation part 2” or “reorientation part 1.” It’s disorienting because, on the one hand, the psalm is spoken in a crisis. But it’s reorienting because it speaks more a “note of trust than terror.”

One thing I appreciate about the Bible is that it is honest about our human condition, often brutally so. The psalms are no exception. They are very clear that life in our world is not safe at all. The old film actress, Bette Davis, famously said: “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” The psalmist might add that “Life in general ain’t no place for sissies. There’s a lot to be afraid of in this world: hunger, cancer, Alzheimer’s, climate change, crime, drugs, the sudden death of a loved one, etc. Added to all of these and more is a government that seems incapable of putting aside partisanship to address the problems of our day and media that ramps up the vitriol at the drop of a Facebook or Twitter post.

Not much has changed since the psalmist’s days, especially fear of humiliation and disgrace. As a child, we experienced bullying, though it wasn’t called that. In some ways, it was given that someone would call you names and try to push you around. But, in response to the name-calling we’d chant, “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will never hurt us.” Of course, it was a brave, if not futile attempt to deflect the shame we felt; being called a name really did hurt. Several years ago we took a trip to Orlando that included attending a mystery dinner theater. We were very excited because we love mysteries, theater and eating. But my experience was crushed when, in response to some of my queries one of the actors looked at me and placed on “L” on his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. This, of course, was the sign for “Loser.” He was trying to be funny, but I left shamed and humiliated, something I still feel to this day.

In the midst of this kind of shameful experience, how can the psalmist sing songs of trust? The psalmist can do so because this isn’t the first time s/he has called to the Lord for help. The psalmist has weathered previous crises by calling to the Lord and having been answered by the Lord. When we go through crises we learn to trust that God will answer our call for help. In the midst of our move almost twenty years ago, I was able to hang in there because I knew God was going to hang in there with me. And as I reflect on the name-calling, I remember that I am a baptized child of God; I know I am not a “Loser.”

What are you afraid of today? What is causing you disorientation in your life right now? Can you remember a time when something similar happened and how God got you through it? If so, draw on the strength of that experience that God will get you through this again. If not, know that you are surrounded by people who are living testimonies to God’s faithfulness to us. For all of us, let us remember these words and commit them to our hearts:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? …
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 
Wait for the Lord; be strong, let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”
Amen.