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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Do you believe this?

When we say that final goodbye to those we love, we’re met not only with deep sadness but with our own mortality—and, frequently, matters of faith.

So it was for Catherine Bergstrom, a member of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Fairfax, Va., who responded to The Lutheran’s “Tell us” question about a meaningful funeral experience. It was the funeral for her son David, an aviator whose Navy jet crashed at an air show on Father’s Day 2000.

The family drove to Oceana Base Chapel, Virginia Beach, Va., for the service, presided over by two chaplains. All the usual funeral elements, some of them specific to the military, were there: eulogies, beautiful flowers, photos of David, music, a bagpiper, a missing-man formation flyover, a reception at the officers’ club. But one moment remains etched in Bergstrom’s mind—the chaplain’s reading of John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

In her book, The Great Divide Visited: Claiming God’s Grace (Xulon Press, 2005), Bergstrom writes: “How often have I heard those verses from John. How often have they seemed like passing words. But the chaplain read them firmly and deliberately, and paused after he read ‘Do you believe this?’ The words were for everyone, but the question seemed directed at me. Indeed it was. It is so vivid in my mind .... And his question hung in the air. He did not say, ‘Can you believe this?’ or ‘Will you believe this?’ or ‘You do believe this, don’t you?’...

“No. His question was direct, requiring a ‘yes’ or ‘no’... not ‘Maybe’ or ‘I’ll think about it’ or ‘If I see him again, I will’ or ‘How can that be?’ ”

In John 11:27, Martha replied to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God ....”

May it be so for us too. That our "maybes" are replaced with "yes!" as we muddle through ordinary days — and confidently face the end of our days.

(See the January issue of The Lutheran for “The final goodbye: Death and taxes are constant, but funerals are changing.”)

This week's front page features:

Praying for strength: Contact and Resource Center helps people with disabilities after war in Lebanon. (Photo at right.)

Racing for hunger: Athlete/musician raises awareness.

Greeters replace weeds at a California congregation.

'We're your daughters': Lutherans learn about sexual exploitation.

Also: Reaching deep, day by day.

Also: Evolution and intelligent design.

Also: Rest in peace, Old Mariah.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann (right) blogs about needless cruelty.

Cindy Novak asks how the church can stand up for those who are isolated, bullied or unjustly treated.

Kathleen Kastilahn blogs about this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Sonia Solomonson asks: "Whose side are you on anyway?"

Check out our blog > > >

Tell us! Putting your faith on the line:

What kind of courage does it take for you to live out your faith in your workplace?

If you have a story to tell about living your faith — gasp, even sharing your faith — in a setting where it’s out of the ordinary, share it with readers of The Lutheran.

Send 300-500 words by March 31 to Julie Sevig, The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631-4101.

Members: Respond online > > >

Subscribe to The Lutheran magazine:

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For only $15.95 you'll receive 12 issues of The Lutheran magazine in your mailbox. You'll also receive access to back issues' articles since 1996 and unlimited study guide downloads (regularly $3.50 each) at www.thelutheran.org.

(Congregational subscriptions begin at $7.95 and include Web Standard memberships. Call Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, for details about our congregational plans. 1-800-328-4648.)





This is an Associated Church Press award-winning e-newsletter.


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August issue

AUGUST issue:

Advice for evangelism

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