Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
Here is where you can find many of our past devotional pieces, written over the years by the Chapel’s pastoral staff, for our weekly newsletter. If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter, please sign up here.
Like all good humor, there was an element of truth in his joke.
When we consider all of the deprivations of the recent weeks, it’s hard to imagine a harsher Lenten discipline.
When our gifts become our prisons. A reflection based on Encanto.
Issues of privilege – who has it, who doesn’t and what to do about it – is a hot topic of conversation among us.
What are you hanging onto that is getting in the way of really living?
The beginning of the school year holds such promise!
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.“ Thoughts for Ash Wednesday 2021.
The togetherness of God really matters. Our togetherness matters, too.
As the 2021-22 school year ends, the pastors’ parting thoughts.
Happiness, of itself, won’t save you. But attentive development of the skills and attitudes that lead to happiness might make you a better witness to the resurrection that Christ has won for you.
Our attempts to fully understand the way the death of Jesus “works” inevitably fail with the limits of human language.
Days of wilderness and exile need not rob us of our vision.
We who sit slack jawed, sometimes not even fully believing the news we’re reading, are called again and again to the hope that violence and death will not have the last word.
When your shame threatens to dominate your life, the Chapel offers an opportunity for you to call out and name what burdens you and hear that God’s forgiveness is also for you.
Jesus never tells us to do stuff that he isn’t doing himself. He always walks his talk.
The place where God meets us with life is precisely the place where life has become impossible for us.
When we sink to our lowest point and it seems like we are all alone, we find that Jesus’ reputation is based on being lower than we are.
Christ comes into a world that is full of frustration and failure.
“April is a marathon,” said someone in my hearing just recently. It was an expression of resignation.
We are at the same time hopeful and incredulous. Messengers from another reality have broken into history with news that the power of creation is being made available to us through the life of a homeless infant…
Eternity defies human knowledge and description because we have no first-hand experience.
Cultivating an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude actually contributes to our own sense of wellbeing.
“How can I redeem this situation that’s gotten all messed up?”
The track record of skepticism is a great blessing to us who live so far in time from the day of Christ’s resurrection.
We are blessed in this time to have tools that allow us to make evident our spiritual connection to one another by gathering online.
No one wants to be a doormat, walked on by others and their bad behavior.
It’s the celebration of the history-making event from which the Chapel gets its name: the resurrection of Jesus on the first Easter.
The benefit of paying attention to the ways God shows up.
The story of the Wise Men (or Magi) who bring gifts to Jesus is both beloved and odd.
When we stand at the crossroads of major decisions.
Words can do more than merely describe reality.
We’re days away from spring break and while not everyone at Valpo leaves town, a large portion of our community gets on the road, inspiring thoughts of travel all around.
Hello, my name is Failure.
Lately, some of my conversations have had a common theme, that of dissatisfaction. Folks don’t like how things in their lives are going.
Success can be a ruthless idol, demanding that we surrender all.
Frequently we tie a strong sense of satisfaction to accomplishing our goals and imagine that accomplishment is at the root of a sense of well-being…
This morning we all awoke to learn that nothing has yet been decided in the presidential election. The closeness of the vote is, however, a revelation in its own right.
I listened as a group of new students expressed their sense of being overwhelmed by all that was ahead, all that needed to be done. “This is more than I expected,” said one.
Thoughts on the parable of the sower.
Does God worry? I don’t think Luther cares if God does or doesn’t. The point is, worry and anxiety aren’t our tasks.
The feeling in the pit of our stomach won’t be resolved with our good intentions for the future.
Nineteen photographs are on display around the baptismal font at the Chapel. There’s one photo for each member of the Valparaiso University faculty or staff who has died in this past year.
When we look at people who appear successful, we note how they are, what they say, what they have and the striving to imitate continues. “I want to be her.” It’s all fine until we achieve at such a level that our influencers become our competition.
The chocolate-filled heart-shaped boxes are everywhere, signs of our affection for the beloved ones in our lives.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? — Micah 6:8
The way the weather has been in the last days, we might wish that we could get Jesus to stand in our driveway and command the winds to cease…
It’s easy. We walk over, we sit down and the praying and singing start happening around us. For a few minutes in the middle of the morning, there’s nothing else going on.
Do believers have to have everything sorted out before they start talking about their faith?
“I just need to make it to next Friday then I’ll be fine.”
Forgiveness is funny, isn’t it?
What does it mean that God is love?
When faith and learning intersect.
This account of Jesus and a woman who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, reminds me of a story I heard a few years back of the musician Daryl Davis.
“If I’d known then what I know now…” is our lament when we look back on past actions with regretful awareness. But 20/20 hindsight can also provide us with the lens through which to recognize God’s care for us.
Every day, life teaches us that the things we value are fundamentally unreliable.
The claim of that first Easter Sunday is not a claim of resuscitation – a reviving of life back to what it was before. Jesus’ resurrection is different.
For me, this notion of the disciples’ reunion, accompanied by my anticipation of our collective return to campus, recalls a line from that 1980 movie classic, The Blues Brothers.
Our appreciation of the 23rd Psalm is hampered by our familiarity.
Elon Musk, The Matrix, and the rebooting of the world through Jesus.
We use our voice (and all of our other assets) in the service of our neighbor.
It’s the day after one of the most talked-about midterm elections in US history. It’s likely that some of the candidates for whom you voted won, while others you selected lost.
Things we thought we could count on, the unity of a nation, the stability of the American Empire, our confidence in national or cultural righteousness, all of these are illusions.
During suicide awareness week, we were encouraged to “Seize the awkward” and use those times of awkward silence to ask a companion who seems down if they are okay.
The past two years have taught us that we are not independent.
“Do I spend all of my time preparing for finals and polishing the last papers to a glorious shine or do I leave well enough alone, contenting myself with what is good enough in order to take that time and spend it with the friends from whom I will soon be separated?”
Thoughts on Reformation Day.
How does Jesus call you? How can your vocations – the things you know from doing – provide you with a way to describe the rule and reign of God?
There is so much going on inside us, more than even we pay attention to.
We remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Thoughts on Ash Wednesday 2022.
A lesson about faith and fear.
God has already made a way for us through the resurrection of Christ into new life.
Maybe there is a darkness that is a place of safety and retreat. A place we need to go sometimes to rest and to heal.
Hope isn’t only for the future – it’s also for right now. Hope is what gets us through the days when everything seems wrong.
Go ahead — expect God to turn your lonely borderlands into the site of new community.
It’s throughout the Bible. Fearing God sounds like the opposite of so many of the other messages we get in Church – and in the Bible.
Friday’s fire brings us all the painful reminder: in one mysterious instant, everything we know can be stolen from us.
Good news for times when you’re feeling fear, guilt, etc.
Give yourself time to grieve, if you need it.
When we’re desperate — when all we can think about is survival or getting out of the pain we’re in — our priorities change.
As we begin this season of remembering stories of the resurrected Christ appearing, let’s take a moment to remember the ways that Jesus has promised to appear among us.
Lessons from Coventry, England.
Theological thoughts on the importance of rest.
We may not associate the season of Lent with rest. Instead, we think of repentance and taking on new disciplines. But remember: Lent also calls us to prayer and to simplicity. These spiritual practices make room for holy rest.
It is only the beginning of the semester, and already anxiety is in the air.
So many of the powers around us and within us preach the bad news of scarcity.
If God can use Jesus’ torture and excruciating death for the good of the world, we can trust that God will find a way to use even our worst experiences to create something good and life-giving.
Maybe Jesus has been right next to you, and you didn’t even realize it.
The Christian tradition is filled with the promise of a miraculous inner peace that comforts us even when we are in a difficult situation.
We are not saviors of the world, but God has given us our own vocations, our own gifts for comfort and healing.
Where a Roman leader would have chosen to display the power of war, Jesus chose humility, service, healing – the power of love.
Deaconess Kristin Lewis served as Interim Campus Minister until 2021.
It’s no wonder that Advent can be missed; it just doesn’t fit in the way the world tells us to “prepare for Christmas.”
The challenge with a silo way of life is that we miss out on much of the world that God created and calls us to be a part of.
In our searching and in our looking, many of us might pray to God to show us, tell us, make the path clear.
Over the past few months fear of “the other” and hatred for that which is not like us has continued to brutally take lives.
This is Homecoming Week at Valparaiso University, a time that invites the Valpo community to reflect on what makes this place home.
To “coddiwomple” is to travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination.
At the start of new experiences there is often a collision of what we had hoped for, what we knew, and the reality that seems to be around us.
Grief and death are hard things for us to engage and sit in. We much prefer our churches on Easter morning filled with lots of people, lots of great music, and lots of celebration.
How can we keep our fire burning, to get us through these long nights and short days? Many of us have the approach that I did, just pile it all on and as tight as possible, and yet burn out always seems to approach.
We are called to work for a new wellness program in our country and in our communities, a wellness program that truly strives to improve the quality of life for all people.
Why is it harder for adults to appreciate the present moment and the gift of those who fill it?
Over the years my thoughts around “unity” have shifted. I no longer see it as a call for those who are being brought together to be morphed into one thing with no differences.
The first step towards reformation in the face of fear is to begin with listening deeply to one another, especially those who are different from us and those in pain.
What gives us the most strength is when we are honest and vulnerable about our lives, including the cracks.
God doesn’t need your sabbath, but you need sabbath and God knew that. Sabbath is a time of rest. You see, when you take sabbath the world keeps spinning. It is a reminder that God is still at work in this world; it isn’t all about you.
Deep down there is a part of each of us that just wants to be seen, heard, and known. That is what can make being a freshman, moving into a new community, or starting a new job so difficult.
Faith isn’t about feeling happy and presenting that to the world at all times. Faith is believing in a God that can handle our joy but who can also handle our lament — that we trust God enough to be able to hear our cries, our anger, and our grief and meet us in that place on our journey.
Sometimes we try to put a timeline on grief, as if “you have these bereavement days to be sad and then it’s time to pack that away.”
In my office sits a broken chalice. It’s always interesting when people see it. The most frequent response is, “Oh no, what happened?!” I get to respond with a big smile on my face, “It’s a broken chalice. Isn’t it awesome?!” There is typically a pause and a confused look. I then say something like, “Can I share why?”…
In the wilderness moments of our lives, we wonder who we are.
This year feels even more complicated as COVID-19 has robbed us from our normal goodbye hugs, celebrations, and milestones as we end an academic year. This is especially true as Valpo sends out our seniors from this place.
- Our Pastors
- James Wetzstein
- Katherine Museus
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A call to courage for 2021
- A charming tale for over-achievers
- A Lesson On Beans … and Being
- A New Place
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- A Time of Dust
- Acquiring a peaceful spirit
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Anastasis: the Greatest Story of God’s Saving Power
- Another kind of darkness
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- As if we needed a reminder
- Beacons of hope
- Better Together
- Blessings As You Go
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Fear of the Lord
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Getting through this together
- God is not overwhelmed
- Good Friday
- Grief & Graduation
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How do you keep from giving up hope?
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- Imagining Eternity
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In everything, grateful
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Jesus among us
- Killing off our future selves
- Knowing a Good Thing When We See It
- Lessons in fire building
- Let there be light!
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- Naming our demons
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- On the day after the night before
- Persistent and Extravagant
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Praying for Reconciliation
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Rest is Holy
- Right where we are
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Surprisingly Simple: Breathe!
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Trouble with Mammon
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You might be a Lutheran if…
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- WWJD? We already know
- Walking in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection
- We had hoped
- We’re on a mission from God
- What do you do with your anger?
- What good is a shepherd?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When God uses something terrible for good
- When heaven & earth click
- When joy and sadness live together
- When stress overwhelms
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- When we are moved
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Won’t you be my neighbor?
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future