Christmas Advent HERO

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.

“Some Lent!”

When we consider all of the deprivations of the recent weeks, it’s hard to imagine a harsher Lenten discipline.

A Charming Tale for Over-Achievers

When our gifts become our prisons. A reflection based on Encanto.

A Point of Privilege

Issues of privilege – who has it, who doesn’t and what to do about it – is a hot topic of conversation among us.

A Lesson on Beans…and Being

What are you hanging onto that is getting in the way of really living?

All Will Be Well

The beginning of the school year holds such promise!

As If We Needed a Reminder

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.“ Thoughts for Ash Wednesday 2021.

Better Together

The togetherness of God really matters. Our togetherness matters, too.

Blessings As You Go

As the 2021-22 school year ends, the pastors’ parting thoughts.

Can We Learn to Be Happy?

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.

Did Jesus Really Suffer?

Our attempts to fully understand the way the death of Jesus “works” inevitably fail with the limits of human language.

Exiles with Vision

Days of wilderness and exile need not rob us of our vision.

Finding Words for Times like These

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.

Forgiving Others — and Ourselves

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.

Getting Ahead with Jesus: Humility

Jesus never tells us to do stuff that he isn’t doing himself. He always walks his talk.

Good Friday: When Jesus Meets Us Where We Are

The place where God meets us with life is precisely the place where life has become impossible for us.

Getting Down on Jesus’ Level

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.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas — Somehow

Christ comes into a world that is full of frustration and failure.

Holy Week: The Aid Station Late in the Semester

“April is a marathon,” said someone in my hearing just recently. It was an expression of resignation.

How Glad We’ll Be If It’s So: Christmas

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…

Imagining Eternity

Eternity defies human knowledge and description because we have no first-hand experience.

In Everything, Grateful

Cultivating an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude actually contributes to our own sense of wellbeing.

In Praise of Plans B — C — D

“How can I redeem this situation that’s gotten all messed up?”

In Praise of Skeptical Disciples

The track record of skepticism is a great blessing to us who live so far in time from the day of Christ’s resurrection.

In Times of Uncertainty, There Things are Certain

We are blessed in this time to have tools that allow us to make evident our spiritual connection to one another by gathering online.

Is There Such a Thing as being TOO Forgiving?

No one wants to be a doormat, walked on by others and their bad behavior.

It’s a Three-Day Weekend! (Getting ready for Holy Week)

It’s the celebration of the history-making event from which the Chapel gets its name: the resurrection of Jesus on the first Easter.

Knowing a Good Thing When We See It

The benefit of paying attention to the ways God shows up.

It’s What’s Happening

The story of the Wise Men (or Magi) who bring gifts to Jesus is both beloved and odd.

Killing Off Our Future Selves

When we stand at the crossroads of major decisions.

Let There Be Ligh!

Words can do more than merely describe reality.

Life is a Highway

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.

Naming Our Demons

Hello, my name is Failure.

O Lord, You Know I Hate Buttermilk

Lately, some of my conversations have had a common theme, that of dissatisfaction. Folks don’t like how things in their lives are going.

Of Fear and Failure

Success can be a ruthless idol, demanding that we surrender all.

On the Bucket List: Joy in the Mundane

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…

On the Day After the Night Before

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.

Persistent and Extravagant

Thoughts on the parable of the sower.

Pray and Let God Worry

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.

Recovering from an Epic Fail

The feeling in the pit of our stomach won’t be resolved with our good intentions for the future.

Remembering Among the Forgetful

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.

Right Where We Are

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.

Signs of Love

The chocolate-filled heart-shaped boxes are everywhere, signs of our affection for the beloved ones in our lives.

Starting Small

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

Still in the Storm

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…

Taking a Break from the Relentless

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.

Talking Ourselves into It: Encounters with Divine Grace

Do believers have to have everything sorted out before they start talking about their faith?

Thankfulness Leads to Joyfulness

“I just need to make it to next Friday then I’ll be fine.”

The Funny Business of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is funny, isn’t it?

The Greatest of These is Love

What does it mean that God is love?

The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning

When faith and learning intersect.

The Power of Small Conversations

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.

The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight

“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.

The Trouble with Mammon

Every day, life teaches us that the things we value are fundamentally unreliable.

Walking in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection

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.

We’re On a Mission from God: Putting the Band Back Together

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.

What Good Is a Shepherd?

Our appreciation of the 23rd Psalm is hampered by our familiarity.

What is Your Base Reality?

Elon Musk, The Matrix, and the rebooting of the world through Jesus.

What to Do after You’ve Found Your Voice: Thoughts on MLK Day

We use our voice (and all of our other assets) in the service of our neighbor.

What to Do on the Day After (the Election)

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.

What We Know and What We Don’t Know

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.

When Bad Things Happen

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.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The past two years have taught us that we are not independent.

Year-End Time Management: Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

“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?”

You Might Be a Lutheran If…

Thoughts on Reformation Day.

(Your Vocation Here) of People

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?

A New Place

There is so much going on inside us, more than even we pay attention to.

A Time of Dust

We remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Thoughts on Ash Wednesday 2022.

Acquiring a Peaceful Spirit

A lesson about faith and fear.

Anastatis: The Greatest Story of God’s Saving Power!

God has already made a way for us through the resurrection of Christ into new life.

Another Kind of Darkness

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.

Beacons of Hope

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.

Fear of the Lord

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.

Getting Through This Together

Friday’s fire brings us all the painful reminder: in one mysterious instant, everything we know can be stolen from us.

God Is Not Overwhelmed

Good news for times when you’re feeling fear, guilt, etc.

Grief & Graduation

Give yourself time to grieve, if you need it.

How Do You Keep from Giving Up Hope?

When we’re desperate — when all we can think about is survival or getting out of the pain we’re in — our priorities change.

Jesus Among Us

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.

Praying for Reconciliation

Lessons from Coventry, England.


Theological thoughts on the importance of rest.

Rest Is Holy

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.

Surprisingly Simple: Breathe!

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.

When God Uses Something Terrible for Good

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.

When Heaven and Earth Click

Maybe Jesus has been right next to you, and you didn’t even realize it.

When Stress Overwhelms

The Christian tradition is filled with the promise of a miraculous inner peace that comforts us even when we are in a difficult situation.

When We Are Moved

We are not saviors of the world, but God has given us our own vocations, our own gifts for comfort and healing.

W.W.J.D.? We Already Know

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.
Advent = Hope

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.”

Are We Willing to Cross the Road for One Another?

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.

Come and See

In our searching and in our looking, many of us might pray to God to show us, tell us, make the path clear.

Fear Not!

Over the past few months fear of “the other” and hatred for that which is not like us has continued to brutally take lives.

Feeling at Home

This is Homecoming Week at Valparaiso University, a time that invites the Valpo community to reflect on what makes this place home.

Finding Purpose in the Journey

To “coddiwomple” is to travel purposefully toward an as-yet-unknown destination.

Hopes and Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness

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.

In the Midst of Grief, God will Bring Life

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.

Lessons in Fire Building

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.

Let Us Work for Real Wellness in our Communities

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.

Living in the Present

Why is it harder for adults to appreciate the present moment and the gift of those who fill it?

On Christian Unity: When We’re Not One Big Happy Church Family

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.

Reformation Calls for Examination

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.

Seeing Beauty in Brokenness

What gives us the most strength is when we are honest and vulnerable about our lives, including the cracks.

The Power of Taking a Sabbath

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.

To Be Known

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.

We Had Hoped

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.

When Joy and Sadness Live Together

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.”

When You Offer Up Your Broken Cup

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?”…

Wilderness Journeys

In the wilderness moments of our lives, we wonder who we are.

Your Valpo Roots Will Help You Grow Into Your Future

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.