Last Friday, as I harvested some of the bounty from our little garden, I was surrounded by dozens of butterflies. The pollinator garden in the opposite corner of the yard, with phlox, butterfly bush, and milkweed all in bloom, was a nectar smorgasbord for the beautiful creatures. Spicebush Swallowtails in black and blue. Bright yellow Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and the orange of the regal Monarch and delicate American Lady wowed me. The beauty of creation, manifest in these creatures, was a sign of grace, pointing to God’s goodness.
This past Monday evening, our community learned how the Ankeny Schools will handle education during a pandemic. The “Return to Learn Plan” is a hybrid plan, holding together elements of a physical return and on-line, physically distanced approaches. Not everyone is happy for lots of reasons. That is probably not a surprise.
Hello and God’s Peace! My name is Matthew Milbrodt. I am originally from the rural Toledo suburb of Genoa, Ohio, and I am coming to this internship via Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. I am a 2007 graduate of Bowling Green State University with a bachelor’s degree in adolescent education for English language arts (I had intended to teach high school literature). My home congregation is St. John Lutheran Church in Williston, Ohio. The area of Northwestern Ohio that I’m from hosts a delightful mix of experience and culture from rural, urban, and Lake Erie island life (and when I say I lived near Cedar Point, people recognize the area). The majority of my family have lived and worked in this same part of Ohio for generations.
Through this window, I have watched the seasons change around our church building over the course of the past year. Through this window, I have watched the colors of fall give way to the bitter cold of winter. Through this window, I saw tangible signs of the resurrection in the fragrance of spring, which gave way to sunshine and summer heat.
This week’s GraceNotes is from Asta Twedt, a member of the congregation with deep roots in her faith and the cause of justice. She testifies that we can, no matter our age or experience, grow in our understanding of others in the midst of unrest and struggle. Resurrection happens when struggle is embraced. – Pastor Tim
After months of social distancing and refraining from “normal” levels of social interaction and activity, I have grown restless. I have been tempted, more than once, to throw caution to the wind and begin to restart some of the activities that had been common parts of my life before the COVID-19 pandemic. A side effect of this restlessness (and my attempts to avoid giving into temptation) is that my ability to focus, something that usually comes quite naturally, has all but disappeared. A couple of nights ago, for example, I watched several episodes of a Netflix show before realizing that I couldn’t recall a single thing that had happened. Upon further reflection, the show had effectively been nothing more than background noise while my mind raced from thought to thought, covering a wide range of topics simple and complex.
Sorry for the inconvenience. I really can get annoyed at inconveniences. A road detour that takes me three blocks out of my way is annoying. But worse than physical annoyances of inconvenience are the thoughts of inconveniencing others. I hate it as much as the next person. Other people have enough going on in their lives that they don’t need me asking for their time. I don’t want to be an inconvenience and that’s what I feel like!
The violent death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis followed closely on the heels of the deaths, under similar circumstances, of Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. That’s just three of the legion of names that could be added to the lynchings of our past and present. The outrage, anger, frustration, and just plain exhaustion felt by people of color and those who stand with them have resulted in protests.