These humorous and engaging stories follow former teacher, Elaine Knudtson and her stuffed animals and lego friends as they learn life lessons from familiar Bible Stories. The bulk of the series focuses on the retelling of the call of Abraham out of the Ur of the Chaldees to the promised land. It continues through the lives of Joseph, Moses, and Joshua as Abraham’s Descendants become a nation taking their place in the promised land.
The Journey is a series of meditations on lenten scripture passages reflected on by members and friends of St.Peter Luthan Church in Cochrane. The short devotionals reflect the many and diverse ways God has lead each of them along their faith walk. It features many paths and walkways found locally and a final commentary by Dr.Paul Knudtson.
Follow members and friends of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church as they reflect on their faith through Christmas memories. These short devotionals are followed by an advent scripture and commentary by Dr.Paul Knudtson, former New Testament professor at Rocky Mountain College.
The Wilderness Journey. This is a series of lenten devotionals that follow the exodus of the Children of Israel from captivity in Egypt through the desert to the promised land. Featuring Pastor Bart Eriksson, each day is represented by a different symbol that reinforces the meaning of Lent. The final week is a series of lectures by Dr. Paul Knudtson on the link between the Old Testament’s emphasis on the 40 years in the wilderness to the 40 days of Lent leading to Good Friday.
“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”(Ruth 1:16)
Sons and husbands laid to rest
Three widows turn towards Canaan.
One chooses home in her mother’s land,
The other forfeits her freedom.
Bound by love they journey through,
Uncertain of life over Jordan.
Tragedy’s victim, Ruth labours in grain
Gleaning wheat in the fields of a kinsman.
Ruth’s virtue shines through, her loyalty’s praised,
Naomi seizes the moment.
Casting their fate at Boaz’s feet,
They are saved by the kinsman-redeemer.
Tears of the past are wiped clean by the birth
Of hope and the promise of ages.
The foreigner’s love embraces a king
Her lineage smiles in a manger.
“Our Gracious God, we know the importance of love and loyalty in families. We are part of a lineage that extends from Adam, including all who have been redeemed. May our branches flourish, rooted in the soil of faith.” Amen
“This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down.” . . .“Agreed,” [Rahab] replied. “Let is be as you say.” So she sent [the spies] away and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window. (2:17, 21)
Joshua led the Israelites through the Jordan into the promised land. As long as they followed the counsel of the Commander of the Lord, they were successful, defeating their enemies and establishing themselves in the promised land. Their enemies trembled before them; those who feared the Lord made covenants and were spared. Rahab, a Gentile prostitute living in Jericho, was protected by the red cord tied to her window as a pledge of deliverance given to her and her family by the two spies she had hidden from death. When all the nations had been subdued, Joshua had the people swear an oath to serve only the Lord, leaving behind the gods of the nations around them.
“The Scarlet Cord”
A thin red cord dangles between heaven and earth,
Binding the prostitute to God’s people.
Trumpets blast, fears rise, walls crumble,
But the oath holds fast.
Led by the Commander of the Lord, through the baptism of the Jordan,
Victory follows those who trust.
Armies scatter, kings tremble, adversaries are destroyed.
Who can stand against the arm of the Lord?
Choose this day who you will serve.
Bind your heart with the holy cord of redemption.
Build an altar with the stones of remembrance and sacrifice
To the one who fulfills his promises.
The painting is from Mindi Oaten’s “Garden of Grace Collection.” The writing is by Elaine Knudtson
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
From the garden to the cross he remains with us. In 2020, the year that will define a generation, he remains faithful. The miracle of Christmas is that God became flesh and dwelt among us. So vulnerable, so innocent. We needed to care for him. The way to power is through humility; to path to resurrection is through the cross.
We have all journeyed on the way of the cross during this advent. Ironic—usually we’re preparing for the excitement of getting together with families. We see December 25th as the endpoint of weeks or preparation and anticipation. But in many of our homes, it will be very silent, particularly for seniors and singles. We will need to invite the Christ child to sit with us by the fire, near the tree, and comfort us, as he always has, with “I will never leave you or forsake you. . . Come unto me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He weeps with us. He rejoices with us, and he promises us a new day, when there will be “no more tears, no more dying, no more parting.”
From our family to yours: “Merry Christmas”
“Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay;
Close by me forever, and love me always.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there.” Amen
Mindi Oaten’s painting “Messiah the King: Promise Fulfilled” is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.
“I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. . . I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:13)
Our God is the God of the living, not the dead. He brought back the Jews from exile and established them in Canaan after the destruction of Jerusalem. They were reborn as a nation. Even more recently, in 1948, the nation of Israel was created in one day by the United Nations, and Jews from around the world adopted it as their homeland.
Prophets were not honored in the Old Testament, but they lit the way to Jesus. John the Baptist was the last prophet, and even he lost his life for speaking the truth. Hebrews 11 describes prophets as those. . .”of whom the world was not worthy.” We are encouraged to learn from their example: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12 1-2)
During our Advent journey, we have discovered how God planned a way to reestablish a relationship with all peoples from the very beginning. He is hidden to those who choose not to seek him, but as the “hound of Heaven,” he chases us. Through times of joy and sorrow, he waits to be invited into the conversation. His grace permeates scripture. He is the good shepherd, seeking the lost.
Christmas is the time to see the Christ child with new eyes. Draw near to the manger. Let your senses lure you into the scene. As a child, listen to the angels and be amazed as the sky explodes with light. Quiet yourself to hear the still small voice that whispers, “This is most certainly true.” Merry Christmas.
“LORD, you have not left us without first-hand witnesses who proclaimed the message of good news from the very beginning. Thank you for those who remained faithful to the great “I AM:, preserving the covenant for all generations. Most of all, thank you for keeping your promise to send us a Savior to restore all people in the Kingdom of our God. You are the King of King and Lord of Lords. We come to the manager and humble ourselves before you. Accept our praise.” Amen
Mindi Oaten’s painting “Our Revelation” is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.
“They shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them. . . Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Jeremiah 33:38; 33:11)
Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. He had the unenviable task of chronicling the fall of Jerusalem and marching with the exiles into Babylonian captivity. Even before it happened, he warned the people of what was coming and chastised them for their apostasy and pride. For his reward he was thrown into a cistern and left to die. That’s no way to treat a prophet!
No one wants to hear bad news. Particularly if it reflects on our character or judgement. So, we ignore it and focus on the positive. But, in the dark of the night, those memories haunt us: “From on high he sent fire; it went deep into my bones; he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back; he has left me stunned, faint all day long.” (Lamentations 1:13)
But God does not remain silent. One of the most encouraging verses in the Bible is found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Fire not only destroys, it purifies.
On a long flight back from Europe my husband closed his eyes and reviewed pivotal events in his life. Although there many points of suffering and pain, he was reminded that the bad did not overcome the good, and his heart was filled with praise. He came to the end of the journey with hope rather than disappointment. Some see suffering and pain as an indictment against God: either he is powerless to do anything about it, or he enjoys seeing people suffer. Neither is true. Pain sharpens our focus and either draws us closer to God or pushes us away. For those who trust him in the darkness, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Or as Job said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25)
“LORD, light our darkness and assure us that we are not alone. Give us strength to endure hurts, but remind us of your goodness as well. We remember that you came to participate in our suffering.” Amen
Mindi Oaten’s painting “God of Faithfulness” is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.
“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. . . With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his intention toward me was love. . . I am my beloveds, and he is mine” (Song of Solomon)
The Song of Solomon was a favorite amongst monks and mystics. The description of a passionate love affair was spiritualized to represent the love of Christ for the church. It can also be viewed as a celebration of the love between a man and a woman. The body is a beautiful creation that allows us to experience the world in all its beauty: Colours and patterns for the eyes; music and rhythm for the ears; texture to touch; sweetness to taste; perfume to smell.
C. S. Lewis put it this way: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Jesus came in the flesh. He experienced the beauty of the sunrise, the warmth of a summer breeze, the fragrance of flowers in the spring, and the love of companions. We don’t want to shed our bodies, but to have them clothed in immortality. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory. . . the glory as of the only begotten of God the Father” (John 1:14). Rather than denying the flesh, we are to embrace it and give thanks for life. My father recently said, “The day I got married was the happiest day of my life.” God’s love for us is as passionate as the love of a bridegroom on his wedding day.
Christmas heightens our senses. It is the gift of love from the Creator to us. “For God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son.” (John 3:16)
“LORD, give us eyes to see and ears to hear during this Christmas season. You fill us with a passion for life. Thank you for coming to us in the flesh. Embrace us with your love.” Amen
Mindi Oaten’s painting “God of Passion” is from God’s Garden of Grace collection.