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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Held in love

Her head was pressing close to my chest. Her warmth and pulsing body brought a tear to my shuttered eyes. “Life doesn’t get any better than this,” I thought. “How could it?”

If you haven’t had the joy of rocking a granddaughter to sleep, it’s one of life’s greatest joys. Cora Joy’s 14 months in the world have brought an abundance of opportunities to marvel in the goodness of life and the majesty of God.

I never would have imagined this joy in my younger years even when I rocked my daughter to sleep so many decades ago. Life was full as a fledgling pastor—there was a mark to be made in life, a living to make, a profession to establish, even learning what it meant to be a decent husband and father. So much to do, so little time. “I wonder if she is asleep yet so I can get back to work?” I used to think—back to the computer, back to preparing for the next sermon, the next meeting, the next ....

Now, on the backside of fatherhood and into the glory of being a grandparent, I simply sit, gently rock, feel the radiant warmth of a trusting soul and sigh a prayer of thanksgiving for living long enough to experience this awesome wonder of God. I’m no longer eager to move on to the computer, back to the movie, on to some never-ending chore of everyday living. I sit quietly before the warmth of the corn stove and thank God that I survived war, clogged arteries and church battles too numerous to mention to bring me to this amazing moment with my “little buddy.”

As I wipe a tear from my cheek with a finger, I realize that nothing in life has prepared me for such a serene moment of peace and joy—not any lessons in manliness, not seminary courses, not being an athlete, carpenter’s flunkie, soldier, pastor ... nothing that we men pursue in the right-sidedness of our brain with such diligence and effort. It’s only by taking the time to pick up this tired little one with outstretched arms that plead “hold me” that I find this amazing moment.

As I sit and rock, I wonder deep in the recesses of my soul (previously reserved only for manly things) if God, my heavenly Father, doesn’t feel the same way, rocking in his arms his beloved children, stroking soothingly their backs as they fight sleep with cries of unconvincing protest, taking that last deep sigh before giving in to the warmth and peace of security and being loved.

I wonder if day by day God the Father of our Lord Jesus doesn’t pick us up in our need and then rock his beloved children gently, but with strength, stroke soothingly our backs as we fight the sleeplessness of fear, of loneliness even when surrounded by thousands, of the gnawing anxieties that cripple our peace, our joy, our gratitude.

Is this what it means to be created in the image of God? To experience this kind of joy and to realize that I, too, am being held in love even as tears of anguish and uncertaintly flow from my soul?

It must be, for only a loving God would give an aging grandpa such a glimpse into the heart of a loving heavenly Father and God rising through radiant warmth of a granddaughter’s cuddling body.

This week's front page features:

Jellobration breaks the coffee-hour mold. (Photo at right.)

On the right track: Racetrack chaplain shares message with 2,000 daily.

Youth with a cause: Teen raises awareness and funds for Sudan.

American compassion: Air Force chaplains sponsor Iraqi aid.

Also: Jesus' tomb?

Also: Combat stress.

Also: LWF: A new vision after 60 years.

Read these articles at our front page > > >

Discuss how Jellobration broke the mold:

Discuss with James Bash (right) how Jellobration broke the mold.

Bash is the originator of Jellobration, inspired by a Garrison Keillor Lutheran potluck monologue and his quest for a new fundraising event. “Fortunately my fellow members at First Immanuel have a good sense of humor,” he said.

Join Bash to talk about Jellobration and share your tips for successful (and creative) congregational fundraisers.

Consider reading "Jellobration" and "Jellobration details" before joining in.

Join the discussion > > >

This week on our blog:


Liz Hunter (right) blogs about a partnership between the ELCA and Angelina Jolie.

Amber Leberman writes about what's on her summer reading list.

Sonia Solomonson blogs about the gifts of ecumenism.

Andrea Pohlmann asks whether female clergy face different expectations than male pastors.

Check out our blog > > >


Introducing The Little Lutheran:


We at The Lutheran think it’s important to nurture the faith of the little ones in our midst. We developed The Little Lutheran for toddlers age 6 and younger to help them learn about God’s love for them and the world in which they live. We want them to know Jesus as friend and savior too.

Meet The Little Lutheran > > >

Use our Web site? Take our survey:

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We'd like to know more about who you are, how you use our site and how we can improve the experience for you.

You can also tell us about your other favorite religion Web sites and let us know what other features you'd like to see at www.thelutheran.org.

Take our survey > > >


Share your evangelism tips:

Reader George C. Weirick challenged the staff of The Lutheran: "Tell us about programs that work or unusual or new evangelism methods."

Send us your tips via email, with a brief description (two or three paragraphs), along with contact information for those wanting more background.

The staff reviews submissions and publishes the best as a regular item on the “Currents” pages.

Members: Respond online > > >

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Send your 300- to 600-word submissions to Amber Leberman, who edits the e-newsletter.

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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.

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November issue

NOVEMBER issue:

The ELCA's aging clergy wave

More...