March 11

All his works are truth, and his ways are justice; and he is able to bring low those who walk in pride. Daniel 4:37

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

Humbleness is not the easiest thing for many of us to accomplish. After all, who wants to be humble when we could be proclaiming our wonderfulness? Some of the synonyms for humble sound pretty good: down-to-earth, meek, modest, unassuming, and unpretentious. There is of course the other connotation of humble – to chasten, discredit, dishonor, or shame. So now we look at a couple verses, one from Daniel and one from Matthew.

Who says the words in Daniel? It is not the prophet but rather Nebuchadnezzar who has had a dream interpreted by Daniel that has come true. He then praises the true God, exalting and glorifying the Lord that Daniel worships. It is easy for a great man, like this king, to be full of pride and attribute good things that happen to themselves rather than to God. After his experience he no longer walks in pride as he is humbled, or “brought low”.

Matthew records Jesus saying that we should take His yoke and learn from Him. Jesus calls himself humble and gentle. He is not full of pride and self-conceit, although He would have every right to be. We are reminded us that we too need to give all the glory to God. To not feel that we have accomplished all things, but that we do God’s plan with His assistance. Sometimes this may feel like a burden, like the yoke placed on oxen. It might even insult our pride. Luckily we have a reward in store as Jesus promises us rest from our burdens.

God of justice, your love and peace overcomes hatred and violence. We pray that we can live in the way you intended. As your children made in your image, soften our hearts so that we may be kind and gentle with each other. Lead us to rest in you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Chris Gabel



December 13

The Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage.  Psalm 94:14

Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Philippians 3:20

Who among us does not enjoy a good story?  Imagine the raft faces of small children as they gaze at the reader of a storybook and at the pictures.  Perhaps they are sitting on the floor in a kindergarten room or maybe they are cuddled in the arms of a parent, which makes it an even better experience.  But not just children, adults love stories too.  If you are a reader, you have probably read more than a share of good stories.  We see and hear stories everywhere, some good and some not so good.  And some which bring us to tears, such as last evening as Don and I watched TV and listened to a holocaust survivor who recounted his experience as a boy in a safe house and 70 years later searched for and found his friend’s family.

All of us have a story. Our lives are a story.  Frederick Buechner, an American writer, theologian and Presbyterian minister writes that we are all part of each other’s stories, some maybe just a footnote. Christ binds us all together and the binding element is His story.

Here is a quote from Mr. Buechner.  “The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”

Now it is the Christmas season, and we hear once again the greatest story on earth.  The old story becomes new again.  Thanks be to God.

“I love to tell the story, twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old old story of Jesus and his love.”

Joan Perlich
Quote from azquotes.com.


October 29

God does great things that we cannot comprehend.  Job 37:5

From him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever.  Amen.  Romans 11:36

I believe that God loves beauty, and that he has created beauty in this world for our viewing and awe and pleasure.  And not only beauty but power and majesty too.  As our scripture verse says, “to him be the glory“ for those things that cause us to “oh” and “ah” and marvel at the sights before our eyes.

Having just returned from a trip to the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, my thoughts are full of the beauty, the power and majesty of God’s creation.  I saw wondrous colors of red, orange and yellow on the autumn leaves. which were colored by his hand.  I stood in awe as I gazed at a river where the strength of high tide actually makes the water reverse direction. I watched as the rocky shore of the Atlantic Ocean was pounded by waves that sent sprays of water twenty feet high.  I was mesmerized by the sight of a finback whale as he appeared and disappeared in the water.  I felt blessed to experience all that I saw.

Of course we don’t need to travel thousands of miles.  Beauty, power and majesty are all around us.  Our Minneapolis lakes, the water pouring over the falls at Minnehaha Park, flower gardens, tall strong buildings, our state capital, our own church.  As someone has said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and so we each find our own ways to see the wonders of God’s creation.  May you today be blessed with beautiful, powerful and majestic sights to see.

Holy God, you have done amazing and marvelous things.  Thank you for eyes and ears with which to see and experience what you have made.  Help us to see beauty in the faces of those people we encounter today.  Give us the power to love with your kind of love.  Amen

Joan Perlich



September 9

O my people, what have I done to you?  In what have I worried you?  Answer me!  Micah 6:3

The father said to the older son,”Son you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.  But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found.”  Luke 15:31

The father’s words to his older son were caring words. What might we say to this boy today?  “Get over it!”  “Don’t be so selfish”.  “Count your blessings.”  Oops. Wrong things to say.   The father’s words were better and yet the son did not receive them well as he certainly would not like ours or take them to heart. But the point of the story is not about words but about love and transformation even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Henri Nouwen wrote a book entitled THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON. He was so taken with a painting of the same name by Rembrandt that he traveled to Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) to see it up close.  After meditating, he decided to write the book in which he describes unconditional love and forgiveness as necessary to the soul.

Why did Luke include this well loved story in his writing?  What can we learn from it? We can learn that if we turn away from God, He will welcome us back with open and loving arms. We can learn that a human response to perceived unfairness might be jealousy and resentment even after a reasonable explanation. We can learn that this father did it God’s way with total and unconditional forgiveness and love.

Dear Lord,  we continue to be amazed by what you have done for us.  Help us to learn anew each day and give us ever grateful hearts.  Amen

Joan Perlich



September 4

Things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us . . . we will not hide them from their children.  Psalm 78:3-4

No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. Matthew 5:15

Here it is the first week of September already and children, teens and others are heading back to school. People of all ages go to schools of various types, from elementary on through college and trade schools. We place great importance on education so that the next generations will learn reading, and writing and arithmetic. We want to pass along the knowledge we have gained to our children and all those that follow us. After all, how would we know what we know if those that came before us did not teach us?

In the Psalm we see that this is important to the people of God in Israel too. Among the things to be taught are the “praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” The children need to know all that the Lord did for their ancestors as they fled Egypt and were established in their own land. Certainly their parents and teachers will not hide this knowledge from them.

Now we move to the newer Testament with the stories of Jesus and His love for us and the salvation that comes from Him. Those that listen and believe have a bit more to do. As they are filled with the light of God they need to let others see this transformation. As someone who lights a lamp doesn’t put it under a bowl, but rather on a stand so all can see it, so too those filled with the light of God through Jesus must proclaim and let their light shine. The story needs to be told in word and deed in order for it to continue. We need to shine so that others may see God at work in our lives and want Him in their lives too.

Lord, thank you for all you have done for us. Help us to live our lives, so that others may see the reflection of your light and love through us. May we demonstrate your love in our homes, our churches, and our communities each day. Amen.

Chris Gabel



July 24

I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my
God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Hope does not disappoint us. Romans 5:5

Hope, what is it? Maybe just some wishful thinking like we hope for a weekend with nice weather. We hope our team will win the game. These may or may not occur, but are not quite the kind of hope our verses refer to. Think about immigrant families, traveling far from their homes, with hope for a better life, safety for their children, and a chance to live without fear.  Think about times of illness, or job loss, or arguments with those we used to count as friends and family. We then, with Micah, can look to the Lord with hope, trusting in His promises.

Micah is writing at a time of great trouble in Israel. Apparently within families there was discord, a note on verse 6 says the family was disintegrating. This section of chapter 7 is all about Israel’s misery. And it ends with our verse for today; Micah looks to God for salvation, knowing that God will hear him even though it might seem like there is some waiting involved. Keep reading. In chapter 7 as Micah writes about the future rise of Israel and concludes with words of prayer and praise. Although it may take a lot of waiting, or sometimes just a little time, God does hear us.

Similarly in Romans Paul tells us that God will bring peace and joy as our trust and hope in Him is not wasted. The rest of verse 5 states that we will not be disappointed “because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  We can truly have hope as we put our trust in God knowing that His plan for salvation includes all of us.

There are many hymns written about this wonderful hope, From “Wishing you Hope” by Bill and Gloria Gaither: Verse Three

“Wonderful hope!  Powerful hope!
Who could go on, who could live without hope?
Hope, then, in God who will not disappoint –
As the sun rises; so will your hope!”

Loving God, thank you for scripture that reminds us of who you are and for speaking great promises to our souls. You are faithful, loving, providing, accepting, and so much more. We thank you today for holding your arms open and wanting us to be held by them. Help us to look beyond our restless needs and listen to you as you listen to us. Continue to guide us on your path. Amen.

Chris Gabel



July 5

“ I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.”  Jeremiah 30:19

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Matthew 13:33

Leavening is a process that ferments and modifies.  Yeast is the product that modifies dough by expanding from within just as the kingdom of heaven has expanded from within by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew records in chapter 13 that Jesus told six parables.  When the disciples asked him why he chose to speak to the multitudes in that way, he said “because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

It was given to the disciples to understand but the truth was concealed from the unbelievers.  Thanks be to God that we have his words in our bibles which help us in our understanding and thanks be to God that we have eyes that see and ears that hear.

Holy God, like the disciples, may we be fishers of men and women. Reign in us so that your kingdom continues to be increased.  Thank you that the kingdom is now as well as in the future. Amen

Joan Perlich



May 16

“’From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations,’ … says the Lord.”  Malachi 1:11

“And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Philippians 2:11

“God’s country” is bigger than any one nation.  We are indeed glocal.  In our little corner of the world we are connected with other nations everyday as we get dressed, drive our cars, and purchase goods, many – if not most –containing at least some parts made in other nations.  We are connected by land, seas and sky; the same sun and moon warm and light all nations.  We conceive and bear children in the same way, laugh and cry.   Though by different means, we all meet the same last breath.  And other nations have moved into our neighborhoods bringing ethnic foods and traditions to appreciate; and hope for work; and needs with opportunities for us to assist. 

Recently on the radio I heard a builder/remodeler excitedly talk about recycling and using leftover materials that others, seeing no purpose, left to be discarded.  He saw value, and kept them.  He added this is the same way he sees humanity.  Rambling on with building projects, that little aside stayed with me … how we categorize peoples into unworthy “piles”, those people – unsavory neighborhoods and “wha-cha-ma-call-it” countries – all criminals and terrorists, lazy and unmotivated.

The theme of this year’s ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly is “In this Together … What the World Needs Takes All of Us.”  What am I called to do?  Our response is … glocal.  We have various gifts and strengths, emotionally and physically – to preach, heal, teach, or to support and encourage others in their vocations, near and far away; called to hospitality, kindness and generosity; to see value and worth and assist to the best of our abilities.  There is no calling to indifference. 

“America, America …. God shed his grace on thee” … and on those tilling fields by hand, and walking miles for water; and on those sleeping in tents, and under bridges; and on those feeling lonely and afraid.  Help us to honor your name and example, to serve and take/send your grace to all the ends of the earth, for your glory.  Amen

Verla Olson

 



March 13

My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5 

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. James 5:13 

Prayer is an important part of our life. How do you think of prayer? Do we always take much time to think about it?  We often don’t think about praying until things are a mess, and then we remember that we can ask God for help. He does promise to always listen to our prayers, but some days all we manage is to pray our requests for help and then forget about our source of help and salvation. It seems that God might expect a bit more of us. After all, He is with us all the time, in good times and in bad and everything in between. 

Psalm 13 is a song of praise at deliverance from enemies. In the first few verses David is, as he often is, worried about his enemies overtaking him. But, he knows that God will not let that happen, and has in fact saved him. He rejoices at this salvation and composes Psalms of praise. For example, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1) Always on my lips? Can we praise God all the time? 

James tells us that there are many occasions where we can and should pray. If someone is suffering they should pray and we should pray with them. If we are cheerful, whether from one big happy event or just plain cheerful we should be singing songs of praise to God.  In I Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read:  “Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” We can do this – we might begin with gratitude, thanking God for all He has done for us. We can incorporate prayers into our daily chores and activities. We can admit our failures to God, after all He already knows all about them, and then accept that He forgives us.  We can sing praises; there are lots of songs for us to do that whether we sing well or not. And we can remember to listen, just be quiet for a while and let God speak to us. He has promised to listen, to forgive us, and to take our worries away. 

Lord, our hearts rejoice in the gifts of your gospel! May we praise you in times of joy and in times of sadness. Help us to lift our hands in worship to you both when we cry and when we laugh, because your salvation is steadfast. Let our lives become a never-ending prayer to You.  In Jesus’ name we pray Amen. 

Chris Gabel