The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Hope also rises on spring mornings in Blacksburg, Va.

In my part of the country the mornings are resplendent during spring. The sky announces the break of day with soft yellows and pinks that filter through the tender leaves. The air is filled with the first hint of humidity and the sound of birds calling from housetops to feeders fills the airways. Often the ground is covered with the slightest skim of misty fog.

Monday through Friday, I send my newly minted teenage daughter off into the world to meet her school bus, confident that I will hear from her in the afternoon when she returns home. I have little concern when I say goodbye to her in the morning, trusting she will have a good day.

Goodbyes are an ordinary part of our human experience. They are as expected as the sunrise.

On Monday, April 16, no one expected that saying goodbye would have such a profound impact on the Virginia Tech campus that is protected by the mountains of Virginia. By the end of the day, families found themselves faced with staggering grief because they had not expected to say goodbye to their loved ones.

At day’s end students and faculty members could never have anticipated the loss of roommates, friends, students or colleagues. When the first responders in our community left the security of home to barrel up the road to the campus in Blacksburg they had no idea what waited for them. They became unwitting participants in a series of excruciating goodbyes.

As you might expect, life in our ordinarily quiet community has been torn like the temple curtain by the cries of profound and unimaginable grief. The community is wrestling with survivor’s guilt. Unanswerable questions and pain will endure for the foreseeable future. No one expected to say goodbye to 33 people or to the sense of tranquility on our beautiful campus.

Even as our voices are raised in lament and our hands are lifted in supplication, they are filled by the Spirit of hope. The Gospel lesson from John 16:12-33 speaks of the departure of Jesus. The disciples could not comprehend the meaning of the crucifixion, the resurrection and the subsequent departure of Jesus. In that moment Jesus had much to say and so little time in which to say it. This is the universal problem when goodbyes are exchanged. But he promised the presence of the Spirit to comfort, guide and sustain the early Christian community.

That same Spirit is present in our community and in yours. The Spirit has united us so we might tenderly care for one another, encouraging one another to offer our best gifts as we seek healing. The work of the Spirit is evident in your community by the cards, banners and prayer shawls that have been sent to us from across the nation. These are tangible reminders that when the community of faith suffers, all brothers and sisters in Christ feel the pain.

Our gracious God knows our suffering and grief. Our wise God lights our path to restoration. Our loving God upholds us with hope. Although these weeks of Easter have been bleak in our community, we are still lifting our voices to shout: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! Alleluia!”

This week's front page features:

School for peace: Climber combats extremism with education. (Photo at right.)

The story behind the book: It's the story of a remarkable mission.

Quiet volunteers: Programs produce leaders for the church and world.

Mission on their minds: Two girls raise funds for Tanzania.

Also: Shootings' fallout likely long term.

Also: Church Council backs Bible plan.

Also: Augsburg Fortress reports 2006 surplus.

Discuss building schools for peace:

Don't miss this opportunity! Join Greg Mortenson (right), adventurer, humanitarian and author, to discuss building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mortenson is co-author of The New York Times best-seller Three Cups of Tea, which chronicles his failed attempt to reach the summit of K2, his recuperation in a Pakistani village and his subsequent promise to build the village a school. Mortenson kept his promise, raising money while living out of his car, and has since built 55 additional schools through the Central Asia Institute.

In the process, Mortenson has been kidnapped by the Taliban, had fatwahs issued against him and has received death threats from Americans who interpreted his mission as “aiding the enemy.”

The conversation begins today and runs through June 12.

Join the discussion > > >

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann poses a question about crosses in honor of Memorial Day.

Amber Leberman writes about her Memorial Day backpacking trip and
Pakistani villagers who carried a school on their backs.

Julie Sevig writes about her visit to the Southwest Washington Synod.

Sonia Solomoson (right) blogs about the importance of rest and replenishment.

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 > > >

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 > > >

Want to write for this e-newsletter?

Do you like what you read in this e-newsletter? Do you have something you'd like to share with your fellow e-newsletter readers?

E-newsletters are usually planned a month in advance and loosely follow the church year lectionary.

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

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.

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March issue

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