When we asked readers what Scriptures they remembered giving or receiving, here's what they said. It's not too late for you to contribute a response, too, in the comments area at the end of this article.
|Margaret A Friend|
Margaret A. Friend
Our Savior Lutheran Church, Norse, Texas
Joshua 1:7-8 and John 15:16
I'm called to be strong and courageous. For more than 20 years, these two passages have had deep meaning for me. Following Christ takes courage and conviction, but it comes with a promise: the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go. The Creator of the universe has chosen me, a flawed me. No matter what happens in my life, I have been chosen and for a reason: I must go and bring others into the kingdom.
Tree of Life Lutheran Church, Conroe, Texas
My husband died six years ago. During the 10 years of his illness, we lived on the words in Romans 8. Nothing separated us from the love of God.
Now other things threaten my family (Tree of Life and the ELCA). After decisions made at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, Tree of Life lost members and nearly 50 percent of its income. Some members lost were those who stood by me at my husband's funeral and supported me so lovingly in the difficult time following his death. I grieve at their passing from my life. But I love my church and the ELCA and cling to the promise that nothing "in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Trinity Lutheran Church, Moorhead, Minn.
Last year, as a Luther Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.) student heading out on internship, I was afraid of the unknowns, taking on a new role in a new place. Up late one night, I was needlessly stressing myself out and turned to Scripture. I read Mark 8:35 and it hit me like a ton of bricks. If I was willing to take that leap of faith and follow God's calling, God would be faithful, present and provide all I needed and more in the year to come.
All Saints Lutheran Church, Worthington, Ohio
God sees me. God knows the real me — the me that is fearful, angry and compassionate. God knows what I'm up to. God knows me so well because he knit me together in my mother's womb. No matter what I do or where I am, God is there to lead and guide me, around me on every side. Even when I close my eyes in death, when I wake, God will be there with me. Better yet, I'll be there with God.
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me." I'm a teacher, a church educator in fact. By reciting or reflecting or praying through this verse, I am inside the process of becoming ready to teach again. These words remind me that I can be clean if I remember the one who cleanses, and I can be renewed as I reach out to the right source of renewal.
Kimberly A. Rapczak
Pastor of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Beaver Falls, Pa.
Three years after I became a believer, I was baptized at age 18 at West Virginia University's Roman Catholic chaplaincy. Since childhood, I had felt drawn by something mysterious and wonderful, which I later recognized as God. The morning after my baptism I opened the Bible to John 15. Verse 16 jumped out: "You did not choose me but I chose you."
Twenty-five years later, when I was ordained as an ELCA pastor, I chose this verse for my ordination invitation. Now the verse's second part was poignant: "And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last...." Whenever I've felt discouraged in ordained ministry, I've turned to that verse for renewal and strength.
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