Daily Devotional

March 2021, February 2021, Fall 2020

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Friday, March 26, 2021 - Jon Splichal Larson '06

What is your favorite course you took outside of your major at Augustana?

“Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent.” -Psalm 104:1-2

This past Christmas our 6-year-old son received the gift of a telescope.  A pretty nice and expensive gift for a young kid, if you ask me.  He loves it!  Our family loves it, too.  The first time we set up the telescope in our backyard and he looked at a star and then the moon, he breathed: “Wow!  It’s so beautiful.”  This usually very talkative kid could only muster: Wow!

Wonder is a gift.  And, children possess it well.

In my college days I majored in religion and philosophy.  One of my favorite courses I took outside my majors was Astronomy with Dr. Vander Lugt.  I loved it partially because it was a physics class without so many equations and numbers, and also because of the direct link to religion and philosophy.  Astronomy, religion, and philosophy…they help us stare into the unknown and beyond with amazement and faith.  They help us to ponder how small we are compared to the vastness of the cosmos.  The astronomy course helped me reclaim the wonder of a child, saying, “Wow!  It’s so beautiful,” from the roof of the (then called) Gilbert Science Center.

I’ve spent a lot more time out-of-doors during this pandemic, and much of the time I’ve been with our small children.  We’ve wandered in the woods and looked to the stars and wondered.  The astronomy course and my children have helped me to broaden my closed mind, to gaze into the amazing unknown, and to realize the expansiveness of God and the cosmos.

-Jon Splichal Larson, ‘06

 


March 2021

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 - Brenden Berquist '23

Tell us about a valuable course you took outside of your major at Augustana.

 

I have always been interested in the world of business and choose Augustana in hopes of
having an education that would push me in the field. Little did I know that my general
courses would also allow me to apply my dreams of a building a website in a class that
was outside my major. I always thought that the FSC was a place that I would dread
having class but instead I was surprised when I took Dr. Mallowa’s BIO 397 course this
past J–term. The course focused in about the topic of food insecurity through a global
perspective. Dr. Mallowa created a course in which we learned of ethical issues that are
happening not just continents away, but also households away in our own communities.
Because of the course having relevance to everyone, it challenged all of those in the class
to commit to an act of service by creating tools to be posted around our communities to
bring awareness to food insecurity.


I decided to accept Dr. Mallowa’s challenge and built a website for my food pantry back
in my hometown of Turtle Lake, North Dakota. Food insecurity was on the minds of
people from my home community, and I knew that it was something that my town and
surrounding areas had been focused on for some time. Dr. Mallowa did not create an
assignment for me in January, instead she created an opportunity for me to serve my
community back at home. This class is just one of the many classes outside of my major
courses that I will remember from my time at Augustana.


Serve with your whole heart as if serving the Lord, not the people. – Ephesians 6:7

 

- Brenden Berquist '23


Monday, March 22, 2021 - Pam Miller '94

Tell us about a valuable course you took outside of your major at Augustana.

I was inspired by politics in high school. Even while studying government and politics in college, I felt I had an inherent gift to understand deeply the politics behind who gets what, why and how? Studying the inner workings of our own government and those of other countries was so interesting to me, it never seemed like "work" to study. But then, Augustana required me to take a Music or an Art class. Recognizing my own limits in creativity, I chose Music. While I had learned to play piano as a child, and my mother is a gifted pianist, and growing up with music from the 70's and 80's, I still did not have a true appreciation for the gift of Music.

I dove head first into learning everything I could about how to appreciate music. One of my fondest memories from my college experience was inviting my mother to join me at a concert that I needed to attend for credit.  She still talks about how much she enjoyed that experience. Not only did that course give me greater appreciation for music, it provided an opportunity for a deeper connection with my mother. I wish I had her gift to play the piano like she does, but the gift I can give back to her is how much more I appreciate it now.  Augustana did that for me.

Collossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

- Pam Miller '94, Augustana Cheif of Staff


Friday, March 19, 2021 - Rev. Justin Kosec

How has scripture influenced your liberal arts education?

“When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon (fame due to the name of the LORD), she came to test him with hard questions.” (1 Kings 10:1)

As an English undergrad at Carthage College, I fell in love with Shakespeare’s plays and Yeats’s poetry.  I swallowed critical theory like strong medicine but decided it made me stronger. 

I imagined I’d become an English professor, but after college I found myself studying Hebrew Bible at Luther Seminary.  After Luther, I went back to study English--where I really belonged.

Each student in my literature program had a specialty.  Julie shared extra details about Victorian England; Natalie explained the continental philosophers we didn’t want to read.  I shared tidbits about British colonialism.  But just as often, my teachers asked me to explain biblical allusions--the oceanic vocabulary of metaphor and imagery writers drew from the Bible.

My liberal arts training taught me to identify these connections.  Like the queen of Sheba testing Solomon, this training also gave me challenging, portable questions I could take from one discipline to another so I could feast on the richness offered by both.

My faith taught me that the scriptural tradition I loved was no mere historical artifact.  It was my Sunday morning spiritual food--but it was also common ground I shared with the masters I studied.  It was the Living Word--an old, trustworthy vine yielding an astonishingly fecund crop in each new age.

Prayer: God, teach us through your Living Word and we will know the world through the taste of your wisdom.  Then use our education to teach us as much about you as we have learned about your world. Amen.

- Rev. Justin Kosec, Pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Chruch Sioux Falls


Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - Heidi Petersen '23

How has scripture influenced your liberal arts education at Augustana?

If you’re anything like me, growing up in a small town offered many opportunities to fill up, if not overfill, your schedule. These events can include, but are certainly not limited to, sports, drama, extracurricular organizations, work, the typical late night cruises that would last into the wee hours of the morning, trips to the local Dairy Queen minutes before it closes just to get your favorite blizzard, etc.

As a small-town girl who relates to everything stated above (which often leads to friends asking, “Do you ever get a night off?”), sometimes it is hard to not plan your life down to the hour, if not the minute. When I first came to college, I wanted to soak up any and all experiences I could be involved in just to get a taste of the true “college experience”. Elmen Extravaganza, Semester Shutdown, Late Night Haunted House, chapel staff, choir, the list goes on and on.. You name it, I was there.

For the folks who have any relation to Augustana, this time of year offers plenty of decisions that have to be made. Where do I live next year? How on Earth do we put the course schedule together? Should I stay in this relationship after graduation? What if I don’t get that dream job or internship? Will I ever get to take that ceramics class? What if I don’t get tenure? Am I doing enough? However, as calming as it may be to try and plan the next week, month, year, or decade of our lives out, I would advise you to live in the moment, and trust in God.

In James 4 13-17, it says: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

As enjoyable and joyful it may be to fill your schedule just to be the “busy bee,” remember that you came to Augustana in order to “enter to learn, leave to serve.” Although it has been tough, keeping education, as a student, first is sometimes hard, but God has our whole lives so perfectly planned out in ways that none of us could even imagine.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Heidi Petersen ‘23


Monday, March 15, 2021 - Pastor Ann Rosendale '04
How does Scripture Influence your Liberal Arts education?

“Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever else you get, get insight.” -Proverbs 4: 5-7

If you walk to the Commons for brunch after Chapel you’ll pass by a sculpture of four owls (yes, four, look closely and you’ll see the baby owl). The piece is titled “Hindsight, Insight, Foresight” and was created by former Augustana art professors Palmer Eide and Ogden Dalrymple. A verse from Proverbs is etched into the stone around the owls and reads, “Seek ye wisdom and gain understanding.”

Liberal Arts education begins and ends with wisdom. And wisdom comes from more than a textbook. It is the product of hindsight, insight, and foresight together. Without even one of these it is not wisdom, it is merely knowledge of fact, or nostalgia, or vague hypotheses about the future.

And wisdom comes not just from what’s inside of me. Wisdom comes from listening to outside voices from long ago and considering things to come in the future. This is why I believe holy scripture is so very helpful in gaining wisdom. The Bible tells us stories of people from ages ago; people who have nothing in common with us and everything in common with us. Their experience informs our learning. We see their celebrations and wonderings and mistakes and prayers echoed in our lives. And then we see the faithful pattern of God coming alongside them (and us) to heal brokenness and soothe grief and offer hope. Scripture gives us imagination for the future, God’s future, and reminds us that our lives and learning have impacts that will long outlast us.

The sacred story of God written in the Bible and on our hearts calls us to an education that begins and ends with wisdom. Hindsight, Insight, Foresight.

- Pastor Ann Rosendale '04, Campus Pastor


 

Friday, March 12, 2021 - Logan Hattervig '20

How did your experiences in music or the arts at Augustana enrich your time at Augie?

If you have ever attended an Augustana Vespers performance, you likely know that we end each concert with the beloved song, Beautiful Savior. While I have never had the privilege of experiencing this beautiful choral rendition in the pews of Our Savior's Lutheran Church just across the street from Augustana's campus, I have had the delightful opportunity to study  and work alongside so many gifted singers and conductors as we prepared for these concerts for four unforgettable years. Sacrificing homework/study time for multiple hours each Sunday evening leading up to the weekend of our Vespers concerts was rarely anyone's favorite pastime; however, the diligent commitment to meshing together as one cohesive group is one aspect that I will forever be grateful to have experienced. Throughout my time at Augustana, I am so grateful for the ways in which the music department enabled students to use their gifts as a way to glorify God and testify to the truth of Christ's identity--our loving savior. The Augie advantage is something that is referenced by many graduates as they pursue new adventures in life which have developed due to their time at Augustana. I'm so grateful for the ways in which the Augustana music and arts departments have provided me with an education of enduring worth which helps me have a greater understanding of the depth, width, and breadth of God's grace for me each day; this is the Augie advantage that I hope for all students to experience as well.

- Logan Hattervig, '20


Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - Dr. Richard Swanson

How have your experiences in music or the arts at Augustana enriched your time at Augie?

 

I never use sermon titles.  

Except for one time.

Several years ago I was asked to talk about the value of an Augustana education.  Alums would be there.  The president would be there.  More important, students would be there, students who were in the midst of trying to build their own education.  

My title was, “How To Misunderstand the World.” 

The campus pastor laughed a little and asked if I was sure about that.  I was.

I talked about my own experience as an undergrad at a school similar to Augustana; similar because good people who were also dedicated students enrolled.  Similar because the faculty represented a wide variety of disciplines and viewpoints.  Similar, especially, because both schools have invested in strong choral music programs.  

On warm spring days, I’d leave the library and sit on the grass near the building where the vocalists practiced.  They would open the windows in their practice rooms and the warm-up exercises, scales, and arias-in-the-making would drift out in wonderful musical confusion.  I loved every minute of it.  I came to think of that experience as normal.  I also came to imagine that it was normal to live within easy walking distance of a world-class choir.  

Of course, none of this was normal  Life-giving choral ensembles are rare, and they take hard work over many years to develop and maintain.  I discovered this when I arrived in Door County, WI, where I was a pastor.  We had a choir.  So did every church around us.  One of the choirs was really quite remarkable.  Turns out it was directed by a graduate of another school like Augustana.  The choir director became a friend of ours, and once, over supper, she talked about how she had worked to create the choir she directed.  I realized as we talked that she had also learned to think that having access to such glorious music was normal, and that she had devoted herself to helping people misunderstand the world in the same beautiful way.  The world didn’t seem right without beautiful music, so she devoted herself to helping fix that problem.  

So when you hear your choir friends sing in chapel or at Vespers, remember that when in the future you hear a choir so warm and wonderful, you won’t know most of the members.  The next time you see your roommate onstage in a play, remember that in the future you may well have to drive miles and miles to see theatre so strong and lively.  And maybe reflect on what a gift the Augustana community is.  And maybe remember what an investment it takes to maintain a community that allows such creative and productive misunderstandings of the world.  

God of all life, of all beauty, and of all truth, we thank you for all those at Augustana who are committed to creating beauty in our midst.  Today we especially thank you for the singers and actors, and for their professors who have given their lives to creating an educational community in which the arts flourish.  Help us all to make beauty and truth normal in this world.  Amen.

 

- Rev. Dr. Richard Swanson, Professor of Religion


Monday, March 8, 2021 - Morgan Rothschadl '20

How did your experiences in music or the arts at Augustana enrich your time at Augie?

Have you ever seen the movie Yours, Mine & Ours? If you can’t remember it, or if you’ve never seen it, it is about the Coast Guard Admiral Frank Beardsley and the handbag designer Helen North who once married, have a total of 18 children between the two of them. Like many movies, other things happen as well and there is a beginning, middle, and end and they live happily ever after.

I love this movie for many reasons, with one of those reasons being that this movie reminds me a lot about myself. You see, I’ve always been more of a Frank Beardsley: I love when things are organized and clean and put together. I like having a schedule and making lists so I know everything that needs to get done gets done and gets done efficiently. Despite these somewhat OCD qualities that I have, I’ve also had this desire all my life to be more of a Helen North: to be a creative, messy person who doesn’t always have it put together (let’s be honest real quick, no one has it put together all the time, especially not me).

Now that we got all that out of the way, I can get to the point. Everybody has at least a little piece of Helen North in them (even Frank Beardsley as we see throughout the movie), and being involved in music and the arts at Augustana has helped me to find and strengthen that portion of my soul. Because of my involvement in these programs, I was able to not only meet new people, but also to see that creativity plays a role in everything, in every major and career, in every little task that we do and how we do it, and most importantly, in how we see and interact with the world around us.

I came to Augie as a piece of unmolded clay, and while everything that I did helped to shape me, my involvement in music and the arts helped to create a shape that I didn’t even know existed beforehand.

And, I pray that each of you sees the beauty and the necessity in letting your little piece of Helen North shine in all that you do.

- Morgan Rothschadl '20


Friday, March 5, 2021 - Hannah Strei '21

What are tangible ways you have used your liberal arts education?

2 Timothy 3.16-17: All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

Discussion-based classes were something that I was equally nervous and excited about during college. This idea for talking for a whole class period was something I did not experience in high school. Now I seem to look for classes with an opportunity to collaborate, discuss and question the information we are learning. The ability to have constructive conversations with peers and professors is the power of the liberal arts education at work. I am so thankful and grateful for the ways Augie encourages learning through dialogue in the classroom so that we use these skills once our time as an Augustana student has come to an end.

Dear Lord, today we are grateful for knowledge. Grant us patience in understanding and eyes, ears, and hands to serve God in our daily lives. Amen.

- Hannah Strei, '21


Wednesday, March 3, 2021 - Dr. Cory Conover
What are tangible ways you have used your Liberal Arts Education?

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6).

This verse promises us enlightenment about God’s truth, a truth that is already written in our hearts.  The passage specifically talks about spiritual revelation, but if we hold the world and its people as the work of God, then the Bible here affirms our study of the Liberal Arts.

My Liberal Arts education has given me a rigorous set of analytical tools to discern the truth and understand human society.  As a history professor, I use the Liberal Arts when I critically read material for my classes, when I write the results of my academic research, and when I visit with students and colleagues.  Importantly, too, the Liberal Arts gives me a healthy respect for other perspectives than my own and helps me understand the limits of my learning.  It is truly humbling to realize how little any one person can know of this complex existence.  For that reason, it is comforting to hear the verse above. 

“Lord, we pray for your strength and your guidance to follow your light out of the darkness of ignorance.  Lead us to you through reading, contemplation, and conversation.  Continue to give us knowledge so that we may grow to understand you, ourselves, and this world more fully.  Amen.”

- Cory Conover, Professor of History


Monday, March 1, 2021 - Tom King '24

What tangible ways do you use your Liberal Arts education?

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew so that I might win Jews; to those who are under [a]the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under [c]the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means, save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

Before he became Saint Paul, Saul came from Tarsus, a city renowned for its great thinkers. As he made tents, he would have heard great Neoplatonic thinkers and cynic philosophers, along with the rabbis who trained him. In short, he had a phenomenal, if informal, education in the liberal arts. 

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul meditates on the gifts his education gave him. Because of his understanding of both the pagans and Jews from other sects, Saint Paul could preach Christ to anyone, by becoming anyone.

That is fundamentally what a liberal arts education does; it provides the tools for us to build bridges with those different from us, and helps us to broaden our understanding of, and empathy for, people unlike ourselves.

Augustana has given me a similar gift. During my short time here, I have had the pleasure of living and growing alongside so many different kinds of people. Although I confess it has not been easy, my teachers have encouraged me to always assume my classmates have life-giving knowledge that I have yet to learn.

Gracious God, we thank You for the privilege of education and ask that You give us the flexibility to approach all people with kindness and curiosity.

- Tom King '24


February 2021

Friday, February 26, 2021 - Dan Antoine, '05

How do you use the season of Lent to deepen your faith?

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord...”  (Jeremiah 29:13-14)

Lent is a season of reflection, of seeking God in new ways. One spiritual discipline more commonly practiced during Lent than other seasons is fasting. In Scripture, fasting is depriving yourself of physical nourishment temporarily, in order to seek Spiritual nourishment. Fasting and praying often go hand in hand, and often it's through fasting and prayer that people in Scripture hear God's voice more clearly.

For me, Lent is a season of fasting. At times I've fasted in different ways, or given up certain pleasures, but lent has always been a season of seeking God in a new way. It's been an opportunity for more reflection on my life, and offering it up for God's glory. Following Jesus is a path of sacrifice and surrender for God and for others. Lent gives us the necessary space to ask, “Lord, what in this world am I still clinging on to? What are you wanting to transform in me?”

Camp is an experience much like fasting. Yes, we still have plenty of good food, but it's a whole experience of giving up many worldly pleasures for a week or a weekend (or a whole summer for our counselors), in order to seek God in a new way. Technology, busy schedules, work, school, hobbies, all are given up for a special time of seeking God. And God always shows up.

So what might God be asking you to pause during this season? Video games, Netflix, desserts? What might God be nudging you to include more in your day-to-day routine? Reading the Bible, prayer, attending worship? Take some time. Listen to God. Let Lent be a season of practicing this new way of seeking God. He will show up.

Father, reveal yourself to us. We don't need more of ourselves, we need more of you. Show us where we are missing the fullness of life you have for us. Lead us to a path headed straight for you. Meet us in a new way during this Lent season. In Jesus name, Amen.

Dan Antoine, '05
Director of Programs
Ingham Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camps


Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - Fr. Tyler Mattson

How do you use the season of Lent to deepen your faith?

"If you pour yourself out for the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday" (Isaiah 58:10).

Lent is a season for broken hearts. It is a yearly reminder that I can easily get stuck in my own little world. I can become convinced that my comfort is more important than real sufferings of others. But Lent wakes me up like a bucket of cold water. It puts the image of Jesus Christ, alone in the wilderness of the desert, fasting and being tempted. It shows me the same Jesus taking up his Cross not for his sins but for mine. The compassion of Jesus breaks my heart open.

Once my heart is broken, I am able to look at those who are afflicted around me. I can see those in my family, my parish, my city who are the “least”, that is those who are the loneliest, most neglected and most suffering from injustice. With a broken heart I can pour myself out in love for my neighbor the as Jesus commanded me. I need to pour myself out for my neighbor because I need my neighbor to love me with the same measure. We need each other as brothers and sisters. I come to realize that as the Italian laywomen Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, once said, “My ‘I’ is humanity”. In other words, none of us can survive in our own little world, we are deeply dependent and interconnected. Living as a family of God starts with this recognition.

With a broken heart, the light of Christ can shine though all the cracks and broken pieces. If your heart is broken the same light is magnified. If all of our hearts are broken for each other then suddenly our world's gloom becomes like noonday. Lent is capable of bringing a new sun into the world and everything gets a warmer and brighter.

Jesus, I give you permission to break my heart open. Help me to be moved to action by the needs of my brothers and sisters around me, and help me to realize that I need their love for me as well. May our collective light shine so brightly that all people will know your goodness and compassion which led you to the Cross. Amen.

- Fr. Tyler Mattson, Christ the King Campus Ministry Chaplain


Monday, February 22, 2021
How do you use the season of Lent to deepen your faith?

"All of Christianity, what it is to be a follower of Jesus, comes down to one question: does God have your permission to truly see you as you are? Does God have your permission to truly know you as you are? And the one question that everyone is asked ... does the Father have permission to love you tonight, as you are?" - Father Mike Schmitz

Lent calls us to answer the above questions. Oftentimes, I find that deepening my faith requires giving God permission to see me as I am. Not as I want Him to see me, not as I want the world to know me, not as my social media portrays me, or not the version I wish for those to love. But to simply allow the Father to see the insecurities, know the everyday nuances, and love me through the hopes, joys, dreams, and failures I walk with daily. Lent was a time where Jesus looked only to His Father for forty days and nights in the desert and gave Him permission to see, know, and love Him, fully human and fully divine.

I see lent as the time that "sets the tone," if you will, for the other 325 days of the year. It serves as an annual way to transform your life by taking forty days to say "hey God, I really want to work on this, and I am going to do that by inviting you into this journey with me and begin by allowing you to see, know, and love me."

- Audrey Cope, '21


Friday, February 19, 2021 - McKenna Bauer, ‘20

How did your chance to study abroad expand your understanding of the world around you?

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:2)

My professors tried to prepare us for many things before heading on our study abroad experience to London, England. One major point they emphasised was to let go of any preconceived notions from home and to learn to love and embrace the new culture we were about to live in. Sometimes this took some patience, but soon enough I learned to love the culture.

Most importantly, I loved the people. Strangers we met along the way would welcome us with open arms. One night we had a lovely dinner in Henley-on-Thames with some of Dr. Harris’s good friends. I instantly formed a connection with Melodie, a sweet, blonde-haired woman, dressed to the nines with a gravitating personality. We became fast friends through hours of conversation. Our differences in accents and traditions were apparent but made getting to know each other even more interesting. While I had just met her, she embraced me with love and kindness. Two years later, we have maintained a connection.

We are called to bear one another in love. And we are to do so with humility, gentleness, and patience with the goal of peace and unity among our neighbors. Needless to say, this doesn’t happen by accident. The idea of loving one another, however, doesn't seem so insurmountable when we see each other as one body in Christ. People around the world will be different from us, but our differences are what make life interesting. Studying abroad showed me the importance of open-mindedness and loving intentionally.

Dear Lord, thank you for your overflowing love for all people. We ask for your help in being a light in the lives of all those around us, similar and different. Fill us with your spirit of love. We pray for unity, that in spite of our differences, we would be willing to stand together and live out our days with compassion and grace. Help us to embrace others' differences, as every person was fearfully and wonderfully made. In all that we do, all that we say, help us do so in love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

- McKenna Bauer, ‘20


Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - Dr. Mike Nitz

How did your chance to study abroad expand your understanding of the world around you?

"13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”' (Romans 10:13-15).

One of the greatest joys in my teaching career has been the opportunity to lead students abroad. Whether it is figuring out how the faucets work, how to order bread at a German bakery, or bigger learning experiences such as how the Vikings lived, study abroad provides the intersections between classroom learning and the sites where history takes place. This is particularly the case for sites of faith. Even at Lutheran universities, it is possible to graduate without any knowledge of Luther, the Reformation or its influences. A student could read the entire works of Luther or, even better, travel with me to the famous Luther locales such as Wartburg, Erfurt, Worms, and Wittenberg. Visiting the actual places he spoke and wrote gives new insight and nuances. As Paul says in Romans, how will one know unless they hear. Well if the Word is not coming to the community here in the USA, then we can bring the community to the sites where the Reformation occurred, where Bonhoeffer resisted the Nazis and where the Vikings were converted to Christianity. These are real places that live still with a spirit that is full of learning-if we only will listen. Come and See! Come and Hear!

- Dr. Mike Nitz, Professor of Communication Studies


Monday, February 15, 2021 - Hailey Nold, ’21

How did your chance to study abroad expand your understanding of the world around you?

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." -Ephesians 4:2, NIV

While leaving the comfortableness of home (wherever that may be for you) can be a daunting aspect of studying abroad, it is a blessing to face the unfamiliar and grow because of it. Perhaps the most beautiful moment of studying abroad is when we return to our roots, not necessarily physically, but within ourselves, with a new understanding of life and willingness to respect the earth as a community. 

When one studies abroad, it is not merely the act of moving locations from one place to another, but leaving the familiar and the known; leaving behind yourself, your sense of the world, and your definition of “home”. It is in this way that we can stir up learning, faith, and love for those we have been traveling with and the places we have decided to declare as our second homes. Wherever you go, make sure to be intentional in the way you set aside your preconceived notions from your roots and learn to love all aspects of your new home.

"Today, I pray that those of us who have or will study abroad can return home with the remembrance to walk slowly and keep perspective not only of our own visions but of others as well. Help us also to remember that we have been provided the strength to walk into the unknown with good courage and a vulnerable heart, ready to plant ourselves in the unfamiliar and offer the gifts of our homes while receiving others’ as well. Amen."

- Hailey Nold, ’21


Friday, February 12, 2021 - Austin Krohnke, '18

How does your Liberal Arts Education influence your faith?

A liberal arts education can feel threatening to the life of faith. It claims many ways of knowing truth, some of which clash with a literal reading of the Bible. I discovered this quickly at Augustana, as my biology classes taught an evolutionary theory of human origins that is not altogether obvious in the stories of Genesis 1.

The truth of that biblical creation story though is that God blesses us and says, “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen 1:28). Care for all life on earth? That’s a big task! How can we be faithful in it?

Well, taking seriously those biology classes in the FSC (formerly GSC!) which seek to understand life is a start. From there, philosophy classes in the Humanities help us ask good questions about our relationships with living and nonliving things. And business classes in the Madsen give us options for what to do about it all.

A liberal arts education allowed me to engage each of these ways of knowing all in the same week, equipping me to respond to God’s call. And all the while I was surrounded by the Augie community, which helped me to trust God’s presence in different ways of knowing, and forgiveness when my response didn’t live up to the call.

Jesus the Truth, help us trust that you are working in all things, through your Word, and through your world, in every time and place creating new life out of death. Amen.

- Austin Krohnke, '18


Wednesday, February 10, 2021 -  Mitch Kinsinger

How does your Liberal Arts Education influence your faith?

I have been immersed in the Christian faith my entire life and with the liberal arts my entire adult life, so there is no surprise that I have thought about the connections between the two. Both the Christian faith and the liberal arts speak to what it means to be a human being and how human beings engage, ponder, and wonder about the physical and the metaphysical, the earthly and spiritual dimensions of reality. Obviously, there is no shortage of possible connections from the sublime—what is the meaning of life?— to the more mundane.

Let me give you one example of a connection. In his opening words of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says the kingdom is at hand and that to prepare for that kingdom, we should repent and believe (Mark 1:16-20). Repenting is used in a continuous sense as in, “always be repenting.” Perhaps in a Psychology class, you have come across B.F. Skinner’s behavioral psychology, and more specifically, cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change inaccurate or negative thinking, so they respond to challenging situations in a more effective way. It relies on behavioral techniques with a cognitive element, focusing on the problematic thinking behind behaviors.

And isn’t this what Jesus is calling his followers to do: think differently, and keep doing the work to think and act differently? Of course, the work isn’t and won’t be easy. It’s challenging to confront our own brokenness, to confront our own shortcomings and limitations. Likewise, it’s also difficult to confront the ways that we miss the mark at the corporate level, the ways we consciously and unconsciously participate in and perpetuate broken and oppressive social systems, like racism, sexism, white supremacy. But we have a better chance of changing our behavior to align with truth and justice if we think carefully about how to do it.

May our understanding of the substance and value of the liberals arts, which after all are part of the world God created, enable us to better love and serve the creator, even as we love and serve our neighbor.

Amen

- Mitch Kinsinger, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs


Monday, February 8, 2021 - Sheldon Jensen, '22

How does your Liberal Arts Education influence your faith?

“Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” (1 Corinthians 12:14-18)

Understanding vocation and our place in this world is not easy. Often, we struggle to appreciate the gifts that others around us bring to the table. Studying the Liberal Arts is a way to better understand our gifts and the value provided by those different from us. Struggling to understand how Biology works while taking an introductory lab course has given me a glance at careers and passions that are not for me, but still incredibly important to this world. When we learn about philosophy, music, and wellness we appreciate the role others play in the body of Christ. Without gaining this understanding, we cannot fulfill the function that we provide for the body. The Liberal Arts rejuvenates and energizes my need to learn more about the world around me rooted in the knowledge that God has created everyone for a unique purpose.

Dear Heavenly Father, May we never take our place here on Earth for granted. May we gain appreciation for our gifts and of those around us. May we seek to use our gifts to glorify your holy name. Amen.

- Sheldon Jensen, '22

 Fall 2020

November 2020October 2020September 2020

Friday, December 4 - Meaghan Murphy ‘23
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during the holidays?

This year hasn’t been easy on any of us. Many of us have not spent much time with loved ones in order to keep them safe. For a lot of us, this year has been really lonely.

It’s been over a week since Thanksgiving, which looked a lot different this year than it has in years past. For example, instead of having 25+ people in my house, eating turkey together, and playing football, my Thanksgiving dinner consisted of just me and my mom. We had canceled our usual holiday traditions, and my parents and I were stuck in quarantine for the week.

So what does it mean to be a good neighbor this year? I think it means stepping outside of yourself and taking a look around. I think we have to answer the question, is it safe to have our normal family holidays? If it isn’t safe, what else can you do?

Maybe instead of spending a ton of money on things you may not need this year, you could donate to a local charity. Many Americans are still struggling from the effects of COVID, and have experienced job loss, are now homeless, and no longer have the means to afford things like they could in previous years. If you have the means, I think that this year would be a great one to make someone’s holiday season a little bit brighter.

In addition to being selfless this year, I hope that you also look out for yourself, and look out for your loved ones as well. Since this year is one that is so difficult, many of us are struggling with mental illness. Check-in with your friends and family, as well as with yourself to make sure that everyone is doing alright. Take a friend out for coffee, schedule a Zoom call with your grandma, let’s make sure that everyone is okay this holiday season.

Happy Holidays everyone.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
Remember that you are loved.

- Meaghan Murphy '23


Wednesday, December 2 - Wendy Mamer
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during the holidays?

Christmas was my favorite holiday.  It was a time of happiness, togetherness, and thoughtfulness. Smiles between strangers always seemed a little bigger, time with loved ones seemed more magical, and the level of thought that went into our interactions was seemingly extra intentional. Christmas season always meant that a new chapter was right around the corner.

It wasn't until I lost my dad, two days after Christmas, a few years ago that I truly realized the holiday season isn't always cheerful for everyone. Being a good neighbor during the holidays means showing grace to those who are not showing happiness, who are hurting in a way that may be difficult to understand. Being a good neighbor during the holiday season means celebrating one another and remembering those who will not be with us. Being a good neighbor during the holiday season means looking outward to those next to us and loving them through their happiness and hardships, that's the ultimate gift.

Loving God, Please wrap your arms around those who are hurting this holiday season, while celebrating the life that is being lived. Help us to show grace not only to others but also to ourselves, as that will lead to us being better neighbors.

- Wendy Mamer, Assistant Director of Admissions


November 2020

Monday, November 30 - Jay Kahl
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during the holidays?


The holidays can be a hard time for a number of reasons. I expect this year to be especially hard for those folks who have lost loved ones during this pandemic, simply cannot be with loved ones due to cautionary measures, or those craving some level of normalcy in their lives. I personally fall into categories number two and three this year.

It may surprise a few of you that this practicing Buddhist absolutely loves the holidays - and most especially - the feeling in the air where folks are generally more nice to each other. I appreciate that we kick-off the 'holiday season' with Thanksgiving. It is truly a time to reflect on those things that we should give thanks for.

One of the parts of my daily meditation includes focusing on health, happiness, and contentment of myself and those around me. During the holidays, the feeling of contentment can be difficult to come by. 

As you take time to relax over the next few weeks, I would humbly suggest that you focus on any of the keywords above or any other term that centers you. This will help you be the best version of yourself for you, your neighbors, and your loved ones.

- Jay Kahl, Assistant Vice Provost for Assessment and Academic Excellence


Friday, November 27 - Hannah Strei ‘21
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to your family members?

As the holidays are quickly approaching, we highly anticipate getting together with family members or close friends over a large meal. While things may look different in light of the pandemic, some of the common dinner table family discussions may now happen over Zoom. Looking at the year in review, 2020 has been filled with multiple challenges and controversial issues. How will you respond to loved ones when conversations turn tense?

1 Peter 3:8-9
“8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.”

These scripture verses demonstrate a love that Jesus has for us his children and thus we should have that same love for one another. People may often joke about family and that you have no choice but to love them, even if you don't always get along. Being a good neighbor to your family members requires patience, laughter, prayers, and hugs (socially distanced).

Lord, being able to gather together in person or online with loved ones is a blessing. Help us to love one another and have patience in understanding. Show us how to love others, just as you love us unconditionally. Amen.

- Hannah Strei '21


Wednesday, November 25 - Dr. Beth Boyens
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to your family members?

“We love because God first loved us.” –I John 4:19

Family doesn’t always bring out the best in me. A few weeks ago, my husband tested positive for COVID-19, which meant that he was isolated in one part of our house, and I was quarantined with our three teenage children in another. While we had our moments of fun (playing ping pong and bursting into spontaneous kitchen dance-alongs), we also discovered that too much time together under stressful conditions does not always foster familial “neighborliness.” We were easy targets for one anothers’ frustration, boredom, and general anxiety. Truth be told, in moments like these, I don’t necessarily like my family. But I do always love them. I love them because they are beautiful people with kind hearts and delightful personality quirks. I love them because they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I love them
because they keep hanging around even when—out of exhaustion or fear—I speak an unkind word toward them or put my needs above theirs. I love them for all these reasons and more. Mostly, though, I love them because they are mine. And in those times when I find it difficult to act out of that love, I consider how God loves me, even when I am thoroughly unlikable. The God who calls a bunch of tired, cranky, quirky sinners into family loves us fiercely—and not
because we are smart or good looking or funny or delightful. God loves us because we are God’s. Thanks be to God for that.

God of love, you welcome each one of us into your great family. None of us deserves your
gracious welcome, yet you love us still. Help us to love one another as you have first loved us.
Amen.

- Dr. Beth Boyens, Professor of English


Monday, November 23 - Pamela Miller ‘94
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to your family members?

Many Christians talk about the importance of loving God and loving others, and rightly so. Jesus declared these to be the greatest commandments (Mark 12:28–34; see Deuteronomy 6:4–5 and Leviticus 19:18). The idea that we are to love others is sometimes more specifically stated as the call to love one’s neighbor as oneself. “Who is my neighbor?” becomes a natural question to ask.

Certainly, family may be close to you geographically – in essence, your neighbors – but in reality, family can be miles apart in many other ways – spiritually, intellectually, politically, etc. So what DOES it mean to be a good neighbor to family, when in reality you may be miles apart?

While family is a foundation for our society, family can also be the source of tension, turmoil, resentment and sadness. We feel family relationships so closely so when those relationships don’t meet our expectations, families are strained and can become broken.

It is worth remembering that God asks us to love others as yourself. It is worth remembering that we are all broken as human beings, and that none of us has lived a life where we haven’t hurt others, said unkind things, and not been a neighbor to our brothers and sisters. We, as individuals, can only control how WE act, react, and offer love to our neighbor. If someone hurts you, love them anyway. If someone says unkind things to you, love them anyway.  It is hard, but as believers in Christ, we have the capacity to love others as Jesus loves us.

Lord our hearts desire is to live in harmony and unity with each other. Bind your love to our hearts so we can live in perfect unity together. Teach us to care for our family members and forgive others for their mistakes. Amen.

- Pam Miller '94, Chief of Staff


Friday, November 20 - Bishop Constanze Hagmaier
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those that challenge you?

Who comes to mind when you think of a challenging neighbor? I think of Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson when I think about challenging neighborly relations. Indeed, challenging for each other, but surely entertaining for those of us who need a good clean occasional laugh. As much as they rubbed each other the wrong way they also shaped each other into more complete human beings. When Mr. Wilson lacked some lightheadedness, because he was set in his ways, Dennis teased it right out of him. And when Dennis fell short on maintaining healthy boundaries. Mr. Wilson gave him a nudge. Essential to their relationship is their fundamental understanding that they both are created in God’s image.  I challenge you today to look at the person that seems to always challenges you the way Proverbs 27:17 describes it: “As iron sharpens iron, so one human being sharpens another.” Where do you need sharpening and where does God call you to sharpen others?

- Bishop Constanze Hagmaier, SD ELCA Synod Bishop


Wednesday, November 18 - Adam Weber ‘04
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those that challenge you?

This question, now more than ever, is so important for us to wrestle with and ask ourselves. It’s not just a good question for others—it’s a good question for you and I!

At one point in the Bible (Mark 12), Jesus is talking with a bunch of religious people about which commandment is the most important. He tells them this: that loving God with all your heart, mind, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself is a lot more important than any burnt offerings or sacrifices. These guys were trying to challenge Jesus and trip him up, but Jesus responded to their challenge with one thing: love.

What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those who challenge you? I have a few thoughts:

First, focus on your relationship with that person, not your differences. If at all possible, work on building trust and friendship, rather than engaging in a divisive conversation. Agree to disagree. Where do you have common ground? Focus on those areas.

When you do find yourself disagreeing with your neighbor, look to serve them, rather than debate them. How can you serve that person today? How can you make their day better? Do that rather than choosing to argue. This isn’t easy. It goes against our natural tendencies as human beings, but over time this response will speak volumes to the other person.

Finally, let’s remember this: if we’re not friends with anyone who is different from us, that says a lot more about us than it does about others. Are we unapproachable? Arrogant? Combative? Are we the hard neighbor to love? If the people who disagree with us don’t like being around us, then we don’t really look like Jesus when it comes to loving our neighbor.

Dear Lord, I ask that you would give us the grace to love those who challenge us. Help us to treat everyone like the child of God they are, and to love them accordingly. Would our goal be to build bridges rather than win arguments. In your name we pray, Amen.

- Adam Weber '04, Lead Pastor of Embrace Church


Monday, November 16 - Mitch Kinsinger
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those that challenge you?

In Mark 12 we read about Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees and Herodians who seek to entrap him—a “challenge” for sure. Their mutual animosity toward Jesus brought the two groups together. Like the Hatfields and the McCoys, they didn’t like each other very much, but they despised Jesus more, and wanted to entrap him. Their malintent was obvious to Jesus in their question about paying taxes, and he asks for a coin, noting the “image” on it. For any 1st c. Jewish hearer or reader, “image” language would call to mind Genesis 1:27, which states that humankind was made in the “image of God.” When Jesus exhorts them to give to Caesar the things with Ceasar’s image on them (which would quite literally be every coin in the realm!) and to God the things with God’s image on them (quite literally every human being, even these seeking to entrap him), Jesus practices what he preaches by “loving his enemies.” He doesn’t condemn or decry them or their motives. Instead, he invites them, generously and compassionately, into the radical self-sacrifical way of God. May we strive to do the same.

Gracious God, grant us the courage and grace to love our enemies, to care for  them, and to invite them into your way of unity, reconciliation, and justice. Amen.

- Mitch Kinsinger, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs


Friday, November 13 - Jason Becker ‘22
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those who are of a different faith than you?

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”  1 John 3:18

In life it is easy to get caught up in labeling ourselves and one another: Vikings fan vs. Packers fan, Republican vs Democrat, Lutheran vs Catholic. While these labels do group us together with some, they also divide us from more. Jesus did not bind himself to labels, but rather he bound himself to love. When you encounter those of a different faith from your own, let love bind you together. Love is something that is difficult to place in words, but much easier to show with our actions. Walk everyday knowing that love is the tether that binds the human race. Love is the gift we must make a conscious effort to give to each person we encounter. Despite all the labels we carry and the things that divide us as individuals, make the choice to love your neighbor today.

Loving God, Let us choose to love others today, just as you continuously choose to love us. Amen.

- Jason Becker '22


Wednesday, November 11 - Max Boyum ‘18
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those who are of a different faith than you?

From Rooted and Open The Common Calling of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities
"To be a neighbor means to seek to understand and serve people, communities and their needs. In the global and local communities in which our students move, they care for the people, space and ecology of a neighborhood; they work toward a common good."

The breakdown of religious affiliation in the Augustana Community is as follows:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): 29%
Other Lutheran: 11%
Catholic: 23%
Methodist: 5%
Reformed: 3%
Other: 29%

It is our responsibility as an institution rooted in a robust theological tradition to intentionally seek constructive dialogue surrounding both religious and secular questions. When I see the numbers above I see a beautiful canvas of opportunities to learn. This calls for an incredible disposition of humility to your fellow peers. Strive for this humility and ask God for the ability and grace to see and pursue these opportunities to learn.

I have recently fallen into the habit of asking people how they pray. A simple but incredibly complex question. Because of this I have gotten a variety of different answers every time. How would you answer this question? Ask someone around you this question and take what you learn to prayer yourself.

Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten our minds and soften our hearts so that we may render you more perfect praise and be open to our neighbors. We thank you for the gift of the Augustana Community and ask that its differences become our greatest strengths. Give us the grace to always seek to do everything through you, with you and in you.

- Max Boyum '18, Admissions Counselor


Monday, November 9 - Dr. Richard Swanson
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those who are of a different faith than you?

Muslims confess that God is One.
So do Christians.
And observant Jews confess twice a day: Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.  Hear, O Israel, the LORD our G-d, the LORD is One. 

That is not to say that we are the same, or that we understand each other.  We are not and we do not.  Sometimes we misunderstand each other on purpose.

Some monotheists insist that they ALONE have access to that one God.  If all of God can be held in the palm of my ideological hand, that is one tiny god. 

But what if God is not merely single, but instead, a Singularity?

Such a God must necessarily be at the center of all things. 

Such a God must attract all things, all human thought and action.

And in that case, our disagreements may lead us to deeper and truer understandings of our own different faiths.  Jews understand things about God, and faithfulness, and messiah that Christians often do not.  And Muslims understand things about how the Singularity of God shapes all of life. Especially prayer.  And if you have friends who are Hindus, ask them about the Unity of deity in the face of infinite multiplicity.

The Unity of God allows us to learn from each other BECAUSE we differ from each other, because we disagree. Barbara Brown Taylor calls this “holy envy.” 

That may be the heart of being good neighbors to each other.

God of all life,
Show us how small our hands are.  Show us that while our hands (and minds) do indeed hold You, they do not ever hold all of You.  Thank you for those around us whose hands and minds are different. 
We pray in your Name.
Amen. 

- Dr. Richard Swanson, Professor of Religion


Friday, November 6 - Willette A. Capers
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during an election year?

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

These verses have weighed quite heavy on me the past few weeks leading up to and now in the midst of the election. While I know not to worry, so much of my life depends on the presidential race outcome. Will I lose my job being that Federal Contractors can't hold diversity training? If this happens, how will I pay my bills, buy food, pay rent, afford to pack up and move? What about my physical safety? This election has brought out the ugly in so many people. Can I walk my dog safely at night? What about the students that look like me? Will they be safe in a community where not everyone believes their life matters?

I am scared. There I said it. And while I know some may think I am overreacting, until you have had to live every day in my shoes, you will never understand the weight of being a Black Woman not only at Augie but in the world. While I know this devotional is for everyone, selfishly, it is really for me. I have to believe there is a community of folks who are okay with me feeling anxious sometimes. I have to believe I have accomplices who are okay with creating spaces for folks like me to be vulnerable and not judge us. So, while we wait on the inevitable, I pray this prayer.

Our Father, I come requesting that you calm our hearts and prepare a safe and brave space in which we can empty our cups as You and others lovingly refill them.

- Willette A. Capers, Chief Diversity Officer 


Wednesday, November 4 - Christ Hallenbeck Ask ‘06
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during an election year?

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:1-9

The fall of 2004 was pretty tense on my floor of Granskou Hall. It was a heated election season. My best Augie friend and I sat on different sides of the political spectrum. We both hoped for different outcomes in November.

Sixteen years later, this aforementioned political opponent is still my best Augie friend. We still sit on different sides of the political spectrum. And the political tension of Fall 2020 makes Fall 2004 look like a game of Candy Land.

Truth be told, now at age 36 if I were to take a full inventory of my current social sphere, my Augie best friend is my only friend with different political opinions than mine. Apart from her, I’ve pretty well managed to create a comfortable echo chamber around myself. That’s a gift of organic (nay, sometimes forced) community like Augustana: the Holy Spirit places you in and amongst people who may not otherwise choose to meet or to share life.

If my friend and I were to meet today, she might be repelled by my political lawn signs, and I hers. We might assume we had nothing in common. But years of laughter and tears, of hopping on planes to pay each other surprise visits, of standing with one another in our respective weddings, and of watching the other journey into parenthood, has taught us otherwise.

I’m not sure what it looks like to be a good neighbor during an election year. I’ve just got this story, and this abiding love for my lifelong friend.

Holy Spirit, come among us. Awaken in us love for our neighbors near and far, those whose opinions and beliefs we’re tempted to assume by political branding. Help us rise above flat assumptions. Enrich our conversations. Deepen our love. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

- Christy Hallenbeck Ask ‘06, Associate Pastor at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls


Monday, November 2 - Dan Antoine ‘05
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during an election year?

Psalm 103:19
“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”

Something about elections brings out the worst in all of us. Condemning labels are thrown around casually, slander gushes out freely like a geyser, and people’s characters are assassinated just to get the edge in a contest.

To be sure, being a good neighbor in an election year is about taking action to vote and speak about the candidates and platforms you believe most lift up the God-given value, life, and liberty of each person, while respecting each person’s dignity and right to do the same.

However, being a good neighbor is about rising above political differences. Jesus showed grace to “sinners”. He included himself with outsiders. He even healed and forgave the Roman soldiers who crucified him.

Each summer at camp, we hire an incredible team of young adults who come together on staff to love, serve, encourage, teach, and impact youth and families. With about 70 staff, there are about 70 different political views. Yet somehow, those don’t matter as we unify around the mission of making disciples and loving others.

Jesus’ teaching and example challenges every one of us love God, love ourselves, love our neighbor, and love our enemy. Paul reminds us in Colossians to “make the most of every opportunity” and to “let our conversation be always full of grace.” This “set apart” way of living will contrast the world so greatly, we truly can be the light of the world.

Sovereign God, Help us to see others through your eyes, not with earthly labels, but as your beautiful creation. Help us to love and even defend our neighbor, yes, even those with VERY different worldviews. Remind us that no political figure or human leader will rescue us from our sin. Jesus, you alone are Savior and Lord. You are sovereign over all the nations. Give us peace as we invest our vote and our voice for your glory, and trust you to provide for our needs, and those of the whole world.

In Jesus name,
Amen.

- Dan Antoine '05, Director of Programs Incham Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camps


 October 2020

Friday, October 30 - Dr. Jenny Gubbels
What does it look like to be a good neighbor when you are tired?

“Prayer might not always change my circumstances, but it always holds the possibility of changing me.”  Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Keeping in Balance

I’m in bed, just drifting off to sleep after a fulfilling yet tiring day of teaching fabulous Augustana students when I hear a soft, “Mom?. . .  Mom?  I can’t sleep, because my sister was talking about clowns again”.  I pull myself up from my almost slumber, open my eyes and sigh, “Again?” 
Every parent knows this moment, and even if you are not a parent, there are moments when you are tired, exhausted, ready to be finished, and yet, right at that moment, someone needs you.  They need you to listen, to help, to comfort them, or to turn on their nightlight.  These can be tough moments when it’s tempting to pray to make the circumstance go away.  “Please Lord, let her think I’m sleeping and make her go wake up her Dad instead!”  Unfortunately, I know from experience this doesn’t always work.  And although I can mostly find the energy to get up and help, I’m not usually happy about it.  I would definitely rather be sleeping, and sometimes it’s difficult to find a 6-year-old (or anyone who has just woken you up) charming at that time of night.  I am sure that MY need for sleep must certainly be more important than HER need for comfort.  So, I must pray for my grumpy heart to soften.  I try to remember in those moments that there have certainly been times when I have been the one asking for help—from my family, coworkers, friends, students--and they may have been tired too.  I may have asked for help at a moment when they were feeling overwhelmed with their own to-do lists and problems.  Yet, they put my needs before theirs.  God put them there to help me, and so now I must repay the favor. 

Dear Lord, I know that you may not change this circumstance or make me feel less tired in this moment, but you can change my crabby, hard heart into a giving heart full of love for this person who needs me.  Help me to see this person as You see them.  Remind me of all the times I have needed help and You have provided it to me in the form of others. Amen.

- Dr. Jenny Gubbels, Professor of Biology


Wednesday, October 28 - Mara Stillson ‘01
What does it look like to be a good neighbor when you are tired?

God makes me lie down
In green pastures.

God prepares a table for me
In the presence of darkness.
From Psalm 23

While I try to think I graduated from Augie just a short time ago, the calendar reminds me of a different reality. And, while I am coming up on 20 years(gulp) since graduation, I still have vivid memories of campus life.

These vivid memories include my friends and I going, and going, and going until the brink of exhaustion. My friends would study until the middle of the night and rise early to reach their goals of grad school and beyond. I spent time studying, but also spent a lot of late nights focusing more on activities and socializing. One could say my FOMO level in college was pretty high, and my sleep habits suffered.

Because of my mindset that sleep was unnecessary, I recall a time or two during work-study in which I drifted off while standing, not a shining moment in my student life.

Was I being a good neighbor when I was falling asleep at work (and likely elsewhere)? Of course not, I needed rest.

Sometimes being a good neighbor means taking needed rest. It means taking a nap, putting down your phone, sabbath time, or even missing fun.

When you are tired, you need rest. Your neighbor needs you to rest. And God is with you, abiding with you, in your rest.

This holy rest will uplift the ways you encounter your neighbor and the world.

Lord, you make us lie down. You provide rest for the weary. Remind us of your presence in our rest, so that we might awake restored. Be with our neighbors as we rest, and provide holy rest for all who are weary. In your name, we pray. - Amen

- Mara Stillson '01, Marketing Director, Lutherans Outdoors in SD

Monday, October 26 - Eric Ohrtman ‘03
What does it look like to be a good neighbor when you are tired?

“With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.” -Matthew 14:23

“The Sabbath rest of God is the acknowledgment that God and God’s people in the world are not commodities to be dispatched for endless production and so dispatched, as we used to say, as “hands” in the service of a command economy. Rather they are subjects situated in an economy of neighborliness. All of that is implicit in the reality and exhibit of divine rest.” ― Walter Brueggemann, “Sabbath as Resistance”


How do you love your neighbor when you are tired? Not well. We simply weren’t designed to function without rest. We weren’t created as an economic tool of production. No. We’re far more valuable than that. We were created for relationship with God and one another. Having the energy to maintain those relationships to their fullest means two things. First, being able to admit when we need a break. And second, taking that break. Like any other addiction, the addiction to self-importance, maintaining our anxiety, and reaping societal approval is broken by first admitting our addiction and second creating a plan to break ourselves of it. If you’re like me, it’s the latter that you fail at, over and over! So, please, if you want to love your neighbor the best when you are tired, admit that you can’t, then make a plan, go up your proverbial “mountain”, and rest. God gave you permission.    


God of sabbath, thank you for building permission to rest into creation . Teach me to claim that permission for myself and to hear it as grace upon grace, because you don’t need me, you want me, the best me. Amen. 

- Eric Ohrtman '03, Pastor of Messiah New Hope Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls


Friday, October 23 - Jenna Spellerberg ‘21 “Offer Them Jesus”
What does it look like to be a good neighbor in your field of study?

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.” - 1 Corinthians 2:9

God. The mind cannot conceive. The heart cannot fathom. Words do not describe. This God, his ways are perfect. Do you trust him today? Do you trust that he holds the world? Your life? Major? Job? Future? Do you trust that God is placing you exactly where He wants you? In His field. Being a good neighbor acknowledges that this life is not our own. We are created by God and for God. A good neighbor not only sees, hears, and affirms the needs of others, but offers them Jesus. A good neighbor offers the message of hope– Christ has the victory. The end of the story is written. There is hope of a renewed world and life with God forever. There is a love that no man can offer. The infinite Creator of the world, the one who sits on  the throne, gave us a purpose– to offer them Jesus.

May our focus ever be on the coming King and His eternal throne. May we plant seeds and offer Jesus whatever chance we get. May we trust Him with everything we have. No mind can conceive the things God has prepared for those who love him. Let's choose to love Him and His children.

Almighty Father,
Thank you for your Son. Thank you for his coming return. Give us strength and endurance to bring the message of hope to those around us. Thank you for loving us so intricately and deeply. Help us to trust you with every detail of our lives. We are eternally amazed by you, the only Worthy Lamb. To you be all praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever.
In Jesus Holy and Precious Name, Amen.

- Jenna Spellerberg '21


Wednesday, October 21 - Alexa Lammers ‘22
What does it look like to be a good neighbor in your field of study?

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

For most, there is some factor, concept, or dream perhaps that has influenced you to the point in which you have dedicated your life’s understanding towards it: a field of study. Whether it is realized or not, this field of study often associates with what we consider to be our purpose in life.

Being a good neighbor in your field of study means to lean into this purpose with the wholeness of your being - which can sometime be easier said than done. Leaning into your field of study means doing that extra bit of work, digging just a little deeper, going just a stretch farther.

Being a good neighbor in your field of study can be done through being truly attentive to the things that you are studying - not only for your own good, but for the good of those you share your knowledge with.

Being a good neighbor in your field of study can look like helping someone else who is struggling to find their purpose, encouraging someone pursing a similar purpose, listening to the perspectives of others, and sharing your own perspective. You never know who you just may impact in your field of study through your eagerness, example, and encouragement.

More than anything, being a good neighbor in your field of study looks like trust - in purpose, in yourself, in others, and in the Lord.

My gracious God,
Thank you for giving us purpose in this life through the learning experiences we pursue. Help us to commit ourselves to our purpose so that we may lend influence to those leaning into their own pursuits. More than anything, Lord, allow us to trust in the plans you have laid out for us to follow.
Amen.

- Alexa Lammers '22


Monday, October 19 - Sister Vicky Larson
What does it look like to be a good neighbor in your field of study?

In Luke 10:25-37 we read that Jesus was questioned about “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan—a man is left beaten by robbers and half dead on the side of the road. Many pass by the man or find excuses for ignoring his plight. A Good Samaritan goes the extra mile to take care of him.

It’s easy to see how compassionate nurses are good neighbors when they go the extra mile to care for patients every day and save lives through care of body, mind and spirit.  I think what most people don’t realize is that nurses also go the extra mile to collaborate with and care for interprofessional team members (nurses, doctors, social workers, pharmacists, lab technicians, housekeepers, etc.). As care coordinators and communicators, nurses are positioned with a bird’s eye view of all the members of the interprofessional healthcare team. Sometimes nurses offer help with the tasks and work when their colleagues are overloaded. Often nurses support each other and the whole team on a spiritual level to cope with the stress and emotional intensity of healing patients.  At other times, holistic nurses recognize their own needs for self-care and the support of their co-workers.  Naming, rather than ignoring, and caring for the interior vulnerable parts of ourselves and our coworkers is often the most impactful aspect of being a good neighbor because this kindness blesses us with grace to heal patients.

O God, you know the ways we sometimes feel beaten and half dead inside when faced with the stress of unfortunate circumstances such as we face during the COVID19 pandemic. Help us be good neighbors by being gentle with ourselves and kind to the people around us. Give us the grace to be open to the healing you send to us and through us to others. Amen.
- Sister Vicky Larson, Professor of Nursing


Friday, October 16 - Father Tyler Mattson
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those you do not know?

“For your Heavenly Father makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

“The desire to imitate God’s own way of acting gradually replaced the tendency to think only of those nearest us.” - Pope Francis

I can often assume that if I do not know someone, then I am free to say or think whatever I want about that person, no matter how unloving.  This trap is ready for me to fall in whenever I watch the news or scroll through social media, as I hear about people and events from all over the world.

Jesus tells us that His Father loves every single person in the world, without distinction or calculation.  This means God loves that politician I might hate.  He loves that person in the Church that I think is giving Christians a bad name.  He loves that celebrity who is raising awareness for a cause that I might disagree with or not understand.  He loves them all.

So, instead of lacking in love for those I do not know, I can imitate our Heavenly Father and choose to love.  I can pray for them.  I can seek to understand why they believe the things they believe.  I can try to honestly name the prejudices in my own heart that might be clouding my ability to see clearly. These are all examples of choosing to love.  It might be painful, but it is always worth it.

Heavenly Father, help me to imitate your way of loving.  You love without distinction, without calculation and without measure.  I pray today, Father, for those who I do not know but have already judged in my heart.  Help me to have a merciful heart instead of a judgmental heart. Give me the grace to choose to love this day.
Amen.

- Father Tyler Mattson, Priest at Christ the King Catholic Church


Wednesday, October 14 - Hailey Nold ‘21
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those you do not know?

Romans 12:13 - “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Matthew 25:40 - “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

When we think of loving those we do not know, perhaps we immediately think of hospitality. The word “hospitality” may bring up images or memories of inviting someone into your home, sharing a meal, or making sure that a new guest is comfortable. Interestingly enough, in the original language of the New Testament (Greek), the word hospitality (Philoxenia) translates directly to the “love of strangers.”

In biblical terms, hospitality means offering an environment where both you and a stranger can form a relationship and partake in fellowship with one another. God calls us to share our lives and reach out to strangers. We are meant to befriend people we do not know and love them as dearly as God does.

In the Old Testament, it was common for people to offer food, shelter, or a place to rest for strangers. Just as we see in Matthew, God often appears in the form of a traveling stranger and when we provide for those we don’t know, we are acting as the hands and feet of God.

As followers, we are called to reach out to and take care of strangers because they are equally as loved by the same God who loves and cares for us. This week, try to find one way you can be hospitable and a good neighbor to those you do not know. Whether it’s a quick conversation, elbow bump, praying for those you walk by, or another form of compassion, use this time to focus on carrying the community around you.

Dear God,
We pray that You make us aware of the moments in which we can be a good neighbor to those we do not know. We pray for courage to take a risk, a heart to connect with people and intentionality in our hospitable actions. Please help us this week to create a space where we can grow in fellowship with others and expand our community. We love You and are so thankful that we are all equally as loved by You, even those who are strangers to us.
Amen.


Monday, October 12 - Carly Rahn ‘21
What does it look like to be a good neighbor to those you do not know?

“And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).  A “scholar of the law” asks Jesus this question, and it’s a good one. How would we respond to this question if we were asked? Like this Jewish scholar, most of us perhaps consider our neighbors as people we live next to. Maybe we take it a step further and consider our acquaintances, roommates, friends, and co-workers also as our neighbors. But I’ll bet our answer to who we consider our “neighbor” to be is kept comfortably within our social circle.

Jesus knows this about us, and so, He calls us to love more. Through the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus breaks through our exclusivity and broadens our understanding of who our “neighbor” is by extending this word to include everyone, even those we do not know  (Luke 10: 29-37). It would be more comfortable for us to keep strangers, as well, strangers. But God convicts us to act otherwise. He commands, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

Maybe being a Good Samaritan to those we don’t know can be as simple as giving someone a warm smile (or the friendly crinkling of our eyes underneath our masks), authentically engaging in a conversation with someone who seems lonely or uncomfortable, stopping to help the person who is stuck on the side of a snowy road, or lending some money to someone who is living in poverty (regardless of where they might spend it). These serendipitous moments are endless and continuous, and they can easily pass us by if we aren’t paying attention. But perhaps, if we start considering even strangers as our neighbors, then these moments become gloriously abundant and will reap one hundredfold.

- Carly Rahn '21


Friday, October 9 - Audrey Cope ‘21
What does it look like to be a good neighbor in the classroom?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” — CS Lewis

To love another often seems daunting. As human beings, we like to know action steps on how to live out Christ’s commands. CS Lewis provides us with this actionable task: to obtain the loved person’s ultimate good.

To be a neighbor in the classroom means to want the ultimate good for the person sitting next to you. The ultimate good does not just mean wanting the person sitting next to you to get an A in the class, so you let them cheat off of you and hope no one notices. Yes, grades are important, but we have to ask ourselves what will be best for their eternal good. Wanting the ultimate good for your neighbor means standing up for them if their voice is silenced during class discussion. Wanting the ultimate good for your neighbor means reaching out to the student who you noticed missed class and seeing if they would like a copy of your notes, organizing a group study session before a big exam, or befriending the student you see walking to lunch alone class after class. It is these small actions of radical love that will help one another obtain eternal good beyond the classroom.

- Audrey Cope '21


Wednesday, October 7 - Lauren Ostlie ‘22
What does it look like to be a good neighbor in the classroom?

Proverbs 3:25-26: “Have no fear of sudden disaster. . .
for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.”

Have you ever walked up a hill, such as the huge hill on Cliff Avenue, and wondered why that task was so difficult? Similar to climbing a hill, the worries of everyday life can be difficult to climb. This semester, we not only worry about our normal responsibilities—COVID-19 has placed new stressors on us all.

When the worries of your life seem impossible, a valuable reminder is that you are not alone. Most importantly, God is by your side, helping you climb the “mountains” in your life. Sure, God might not fully get rid of the hardship, but the nervousness subsides, and gratitude takes its place. Further, the ability to see gratitude amidst fear allows us to look outwardly and love the people around us, including the ones we see every day in class.

Some people you sit next to or teach are fearful of “mountains” in their life. With an outlook of gratitude, you have the opportunity to provide love, which gives others hope: Take time to smile. Be kind. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry.” Whatever the act of service is, we are reminded that love can conquer fear, and that God is at our side.

Dear God- Thank you for helping us climb the mountains we face in life. Please be with our campus and the worries that all face each day. Help us to live with an outlook of gratitude so we can bless the people around us who also worry. Amen

- Lauren Ostlie '22


Monday, October 5 - Claire Eiswirth ‘21
What does it look like to be a good neighbor in the classroom?

Paul’s letter to the Philippians in chapter 2 says the following.

“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross.”

In the spring of 2020, our Augustana faculty, staff, and administration reminded me what it looks like to be neighbors collectively working together for the good of the students they teach. The faculty listened to the call in this passage because instead of looking to their own interests, they looked to the  interests of the graduating seniors. The setting for their grand gesture in celebration of our seniors was the Elman center parking lot-- a space large enough to allow faculty to park their cars in a physically distant manner. Then the seniors arrived in their own vehicles, then drove through rows and rows of faculty shouting and cheering for them, and ended by receiving their cap and gown from President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin herself. I believe the smiles from faculty and staff were a reflection of God’s enduring love. Participants walked away feeling cherished, and grateful. So, today I encourage you to thank a member of the Augie faculty and staff who has supported and advocated for you. It will definitely brighten their day!

Merciful God,
Please grow us academically and spiritually this semester.  Challenge us to notice your beautiful creation, even when we feel stressed. Hold us when we are exhausted, comfort us when we are lost, and make us a vessel for your Holy Spirit. In your holy and precious name we pray.
Amen.

- Claire Eiswirth '21


Friday, October 2 - Randy Gehring ‘85
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during a pandemic?

1 John 4:7-12
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

For us at Our Savior’s in Sioux Falls, our entire response to the pandemic has been rooted in our call to care for our neighbor. This call, we believe, arises out of new/old command we read in 1 John to love one another in response to the love God has shown us through Jesus. It is what we do if we follow Jesus: we stay home when we are sick or have been exposed; we wear a mask in public; we wash our hands frequently; and we keep our distance – to keep our neighbor safe.

Several weeks ago, one of our parishioners forwarded me a prayer that captures the spirit of our calling during these challenging times. (Author unknown)

A prayer as I put on my mask:

Creator,
as I prepare to go into the world,
help me to see the sacrament
in the wearing of this cloth -
let it be “an outward sign
of an inward grace”
a tangible and visible way of living
love for my neighbors,
as I love myself.
Christ,
since my lips will be covered,
uncover my heart,
that people would see my smile
in the crinkles around my eyes.
Since my voice may be muffled,
help me to speak clearly,
not only with my words,
but with my actions.

Holy Spirit,
As the elastic touches my ears,
remind me to listen carefully -
and full of care -
to all those I meet.
May this simple piece of cloth be
shield and banner,
and each breath that it holds,
be filled with your love.

In your Name and
in that love,
I pray.

May it be so.
May it be so.

- Pastor Randy Gehring '84, Lead Pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls


September 2020

Wednesday, September 30 - Pastor Elizabeth Pagnotta ‘04
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during a pandemic?

Galatians 5:13-14
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

Last month, my family moved to a new neighborhood in a new town. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s a strange thing to attempt to be a good neighbor in a new neighborhood. We look suspiciously at the neighbors that appear on the doorstep in masks with a plate of brownies. We wave from across the street, at a safe distance. When we are so accustomed to hospitality that comes in the form of hugs, hand shakes, and food- how does one act as a good neighbor in a pandemic?

Galatians is one of many places in Scripture that we find the instruction to “love your neighbor as yourself”.

The truth is, in a pandemic, it is so simple to love your neighbor. Loving your neighbor looks like wearing a mask. It means I’ll stay home when there is potential I am carrying sickness. It looks like checking in with those friends and family for which being isolated is extra difficult. Notes in the mail and gifts on the doorstep are pandemic-friendly gestures of love!

The writer of Galatians says that being a good neighbor means giving up some freedom and comfort. It is truly that simple. And, that challenging.

Servant God, while the world changes so fast, You remain constant. Turn us, with masked faces toward our neighbor in need. Help us to love our neighbor more than we love our convenience. Amen.

- Pastor Elizabeth Pagnotta '04, Senior Pastor of Brandon-Spilt Rock Lutheran Church


Monday, September 28 - Dr. Paul Egland
What does it look like to be a good neighbor during a pandemic?

Luke 10:29 “...he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

It was a bit of a challenge to Jesus when this question was posed. Who is our neighbor?  During a pandemic, who do we want to claim as our neighbor?  The world is such a small place.  In a time of pandemic, the virus connects all of us as neighbors in ways we did not expect. The virus, like the rest of the natural world, belongs to all of us now. It doesn’t matter where it originated, who had it first, or who had it last. We are all in this together, as neighbors.

Of course we use masks and physical distance out of love for our neighbors. That is essential, but just a start. We need to remember that the pandemic has brought tough emotions. Historically, fear of contagion has led to suspicion and the desire to place blame. It is to be expected. That is where important care for our neighbor is needed. Our neighbors need empathy and reassurance. By acknowledging and normalizing their feelings, we may be able to bring some comfort, dispel some of the suspicion, and help them feel like neighbors again themselves.

Comforting God,
Help us to care for our neighbors. Give us wisdom to evaluate information, recognize facts and find ways to use them to keep our neighbors safe and comforted. Help us all extend grace, as it has been so freely given to us. Amen.

- Dr. Paul Egland, Professor of Biology


Friday, September 25 - Patty Grinsell
What does it look like to be a good neighbor as a part of the Augustana community?

This morning I parked my car in the library lot, walked through the Mikkelsen Library/Center for Western Studies “link”, and joined in the students walking to their first class. They were each six feet apart and all were wearing masks. During this semester, that is just one example of being a good neighbor - caring for the wellbeing and health of others - putting others first. The pandemic has turned our world upside down in every way imaginable. What remains unchanged, though, is that God is God - during a pandemic and not. And here at Augustana, caring for each other and being good neighbors is a way of life - during a pandemic and not.

O Holy One - in You I live and breathe and have my being. Thank you for the gift of breath. When I am tired and weary, remind me that You are in my very breath. Help me to recognize the neighbors in my life here at Augustana. Bless our reading and learning and studying. O Holy One - enter into my life and abide. Amen.

- Patty Grinsell, Chapel Office Administrator


Wednesday, September 23 - Grace Valen Gatrost
What does it look like to be a good neighbor as a part of the Augustana community?

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 29-31)

While the metaphor of loving your neighbor beautifully invites us to love everyone we encounter in every opportunity we have, I think it is important not to forget our literal neighbors as well. I think Christians have a tendency to overcomplicate things. Jesus said to love your neighbor, so how might the world look if we all did just that? Bob Goff wrote in his book Everybody Always, “What often keeps us from loving our neighbors is the fear of what will happen if we do. Frankly, what scares me more is thinking about what will happen if we don’t.” Today, show your appreciation for your literal neighbors in the campus community whether a neighboring office, dorm room, apartment, or house. Go ahead. Overdo it. Bring them flowers, a plate of baked goods, a nice card. Tell them something you love about them, ask them what you can do to help them have a great day. Allow them to have no doubt that you love them and you are there for them. Think about the radical change that might occur in the Augustana community and beyond if we all start showing blatant and obvious love.

Hey Jesus, help me to love the people that immediately surround me here at Augustana. Encourage me to spread the infectious love that you have first shown me. Thank you for my neighbors. AMEN.


Monday, September 21 - Sheldon Jensen
What does it look like to be a good neighbor as a part of the Augustana community?

Many ponder what makes Augustana a special place. The answer: our ability to pick our fellow Vikings and act as a good neighbor for those around us. As the Augustana Alma Mater says, “As thy banners we bear, we willingly share the gift that was given from above.”  The gift that was given from above is God’s undeserved and unending grace. When we use this gift of grace, we can act freely to help those around us. We know that we are not tied to the grades we receive in class. Instead, what matters at Augie is how well you help your friends through a hard time. That might mean you skip studying to get coffee or take a walk. That might mean staying in the ODH past closing time to hear someone’s hilarious story from that morning. This year that might mean bringing your friend in Isolation a meal or ice cream treat to brighten their day. To be a good neighbor at Augustana is simple: share the gift that was given from above. Act graciously towards others: show patience, gratitude, and humility in all of your actions. Remember, “As we march on through life, we'll let love o'ercome strife, thanking God, Augustana, for you.”

Gracious God, please be with the entire Augustana Community as we continue to learn what it means to be a Good Neighbor and share your grace to those around us in this ever-changing world. Your presence is constant and for that, we are forever grateful.

-Sheldon Jensen ‘22