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Articles written by Linda Sollenberger


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  • Praying to Our Father: "Hallowed be your name"

    Linda Sollenberger|Jun 20, 2024

    Have you ever sat in church and not noticed the beautiful windows or the doors? You haven’t seen the rich wood or the altar area? Have you felt you didn’t need a pew because your eyes are fixed on God, your knees on the floor? I remember a pastor from when I was a young woman who always removed her shoes before giving her sermon because she felt she stood on hallowed ground. We all do. This phrase is a request. Hallowed be your name—we are praying that God do whatever it takes to be holy in our loves. Exalt yourself, magnify yourself. You b...

  • Graceful Aging

    Linda Sollenberger|Jun 6, 2024

    The moment we become conscious that we are no longer young, we become a valuable resource to others in our lives. We know that life is to be shaped, not merely endured. In our world where it seems that what a person produces is key to who they are, where function is central, there is a subtle but clear social stigma that comes with growing older. When physical strength declines in a society that prizes physical activity, the spiritual values that come with the passage of time are easily slighted as well. It can be a frantic time, maybe a little...

  • Shepherd, Lead Me

    Linda Sollenberger|May 23, 2024

    The Sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:3) Do you ever have days when you feel unimportant? Like no one cares? Bad news outpaces the good? It is easy to get lost in those kinds of thoughts when the ways of the world press in on us. The image of the Good Shepherd always helps me to banish those thoughts. God calls his sheep by name and leads them out. “He knows your name. In fact, your name is written on the hand of God.” (Isaiah 49:16) Your name is on God’s hand and on his l...

  • Walking on Water

    Linda Sollenberger|May 9, 2024

    Ahh, it is finally getting to be the time of year when I can take a daily walk. The weather this spring seemed to only want to tease many days. My walks were sporadic for a while. Now it is easier to plan to get out more frequently. Do you ever think when you are reading your Bible that you are reading a list of unforgettable walks? The first walk we read about is taken by God. We are told that He used to take a walk in the cool of the day. But in many of the walks that we read about there is an invitation for us to walk with God. There was...

  • Tell Me Your Name

    Linda Sollenberger|Apr 25, 2024

    This year of 2024 holds some special excitement for my husband and me as we wait to welcome two new great granddaughters. We know what one of the babies will be named and are excited to learn the name of the other sweet girl. Naming a child is an awesome task. Probably we could all share a name story. Maybe the story is how your parents determined what to name you. Perhaps it’s a nickname that you hold dear for yourself or for a loved one. Or maybe it’s how your name changed or evolved over the years evoking a change in you. As people of God, I...

  • What's Your Story

    Linda Sollenberger|Apr 11, 2024

    1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ere your story and the story of our savior intertwine? In this letter to the people at Corinth, Paul is nothing but honest. He sets before them the story of Jesus as it was handed down to him. He emphasizes his unworthiness as he mentions his background as a persecutor of the church. He knows how greatly he has been changed by the grace of God. What we read in these verses is a beautiful model of a life that has been transformed. It’s a human story intertwined with the grace of God: who he is by what God has done for h...

  • Lets Walk Together

    Linda Sollenberger|Mar 28, 2024

    John 1:43-51 As a child, I often called out “Come and See!” to my parents. Something would catch my attention, and I just had to share it. I still do that frequently when I look out the back windows of our home. The sunrise most mornings is so spectacular that I have to get my husband’s attention. Come and See. Probably all of us have invited others to celebrate the discoveries of life by uttering those words. Come and See! Come and Enjoy! In these scripture verses, it is clear that Jesus is not going to wait for people to find him. Jesus...

  • Living Our Daily Discipleship

    Linda Sollenberger|Mar 14, 2024

    Mark 1:29-39 In his three short years of ministry here on earth, Jesus healed many people. This tale in Mark is fairly easy to imagine. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick in bed with a fever. Jesus heals her and then takes her by the hand and lifts her up. It is a tender image. Even though she literally stood up, there is also a sense of being lifted up emotionally which so often comes with being healed. Imagine how she must have been feeling as she was lying in her bed sick while her son-in law brings Jesus into her home. This woman, more than l...

  • Into the Wilderness

    Linda Sollenberger|Feb 29, 2024

    Mark 1:9-15 My favorite gospel is Mark because Mark keeps things simple. With Mark, there are not a lot of adjectives and adverbs. He doesn’t add a lot of details. There is almost an urgency to his stories. For Mark, it is all about proclaiming the good news of Jesus, the Son of God. As Mark describes the baptism of Jesus in this scripture, we clearly hear the voice from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11). The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus, and all seems well as Jesus is launched into his minis...

  • Joyful Noise

    Linda Sollenberger|Feb 15, 2024

    Psalm 100 There was a period of time through the “season of Covid” when the church I attend was on-line only. Then we began to meet in our parking lot with the message broadcast through the radio. What an amazing time when we finally reentered the sanctuary! We did wear masks for awhile, and we sat in every other pew. Through much of this time we did not sing as some reports said that droplets could spread more easily that way. I am such a music lover, so I was overjoyed when once again our service returned to what we had always done. The onl...

  • Pressing On

    Linda Sollenberger|Feb 1, 2024

    Paul’s letters to the churches which make up a significant portion of the New Testament have always been engaging to me. Paul had impressive credentials. He was born of the tribe of Benjamin of the House of Israel. He was a Pharisee. His zeal led him to persecute Christians until he had his conversion from Saul to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). He was transformed from a persecutor to a missionary. Once he had been transformed those credentials meant nothing to Paul compared to knowing Christ. And we all know there is quite a d...

  • Sometimes I Just Can't

    Linda Sollenberger|Jan 18, 2024

    There was an exercise I did with my first graders each year as we were getting to know each other. I would take some cans and write on the front of them Can’t. Those little ones were quick to tell me things they couldn’t do: “I can’t read. I can’t wait until lunch. I can’t do this math.” We would do some talking and then take those cans, remove the ‘t and bury it, showing the kiddos that they can. Have you ever had one of those days, one of those weeks, when you say to yourself, “I just can’t”? Maybe you have been trying to trust God while yo...

  • Hide and Seek

    Linda Sollenberger|Jan 4, 2024

    I loved playing the game of Hide and Seek with my cousins when I was young. I remember especially loving to play in our grandmom’s attic where there were wonderful nooks and crannies. I was the cousin who showed righteous indignation when anyone tried to peek or didn’t count high enough when we were finding our hiding places. I was a stickler for following the rules. When my boys were young and my work days were spent with first graders, I loved reading the book Runaway Bunny. It told of the steadfast love the mother bunny had for her you...

  • An Ordinary Day

    Linda Sollenberger|Dec 21, 2023

    “For unto you is born this day…” (Luke 2 verse 11) It happened on a day. A day in history. It was a day that had been planned in eternity before the creation of the world. It happened on a day. The perfect day appointed by God before the foundation of the world. “…in the city of David.” It happened in a city. The city still exists today. The city of Bethlehem. (Luke 2:4, “Joseph also went up from Galilee…to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem.”) Bethlehem was about six miles from Jerusalem. It happened in a city. “…a savior…” “For...

  • Faded Photographs

    Linda Sollenberger|Dec 7, 2023

    Don’t you love looking at old photographs? They are precious reflections of close familial connections. They record events and gatherings that give our memories glimpses into the past. In today’s world, we can quickly send photographs to each other via our phones of experiences, a new grandchild, a simple piece of gorgeous nature. Photographs pull us close: they spring forth from our universal experiences — the challenges and the joys. The welcoming family of God encompasses humanity. And I feel sure that many of you honor the concept of your...

  • Lord of the Wind and Storm

    Linda Sollenberger|Nov 22, 2023

    Matthew 14: 22-33 As I look at the stories in the gospels, so very much happens in Jesus life and his ministry. He continues to preach and to teach using his parables. He had returned to Nazareth where he had been rejected by people who knew him as only the son of Mary, or the carpenter’s son. His dear friend, John the Baptist, had been beheaded. He had fed 5,000. Perhaps Jesus was weary from all these circumstances. Maybe he felt disheartened when people did not receive his message in the way he intended it to be heard. Maybe there were t...

  • Letting Go

    Linda Sollenberger|Nov 9, 2023

    1 Peter 1:17-23 For me, fall is a bittersweet time of year. I love the majesty of the season. The crisp days, the beauty of the foliage delight me. Yet when I watch the trees shed those leaves, my heart feels challenged. I have never been good at letting go and yet I see that played out by creation as I gaze out my windows. Jesus addresses letting go, telling the disciples not to be afraid to give up their very lives. Matthew 16:25 quotes Jesus saying, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my s...

  • Postcards From God

    Linda Sollenberger|Oct 26, 2023

    When I was growing up my parents had some close friends who loved to travel. Those friends would send back delightful postcards no matter where they went, and they always ended their message with this scripture notation. It is 3 John: 13,14 — “I had many things to write, but I did not wish to write to you with pen and ink, but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.” When I read gospel scriptures memories of those postcards come flooding back to me because I feel as though I am reading a postcard from Jesus when he says,...

  • Amazing Faith

    Linda Sollenberger|Oct 12, 2023

    Luke 7:1-10 Jesus was entering Capernaum. Our scripture tells us that He had finished all His sayings in the hearing of the people. He had just proclaimed the Beatitudes to His disciples. He had gone on to tell them to love their enemies, give to anyone who asked of them, be merciful to others as their father had been merciful to them. And then as He journeyed on he encountered some Jewish elders from the synagogue. They had been sent to Jesus on the behalf of a centurion. A centurion who had a servant who was dear to him who now lay on his dea...

  • In the Beginning

    LINDA SOLLENBERGER|Sep 28, 2023

    I often feel that those of us who have gone to church for most of our lives have an advantage when it comes to reading scripture. We bring to that reading hidden knowledge, a sense of what is to come, and many experiences. But what about people who are hearing the gospel for the first time? What about those people who were on the outside of the crowds that Jesus attracted? The stories Jesus told must have sounded odd at times. For Christians, Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are the enormous power that exerts our imagination and drives u...

  • Being Shrewd about True Riches

    Linda Sollenberger|Sep 14, 2023

    Luke 16: 1-13 Jesus is speaking directly to his disciples in this text from Luke, and since we too are his disciples, we know these words are important for us to hear. But this is a curious story, and I must admit that when I first read it I was not quite sure what the message was that I needed to be hearing. As I study the scriptures when I am writing a column or preparing a sermon, I read the gospel from at least 4 translations. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see the words that I should proclaim. If I still am not sure what I should be...

  • Could We Ever Out-Give God?

    Linda Sollenberger|Aug 31, 2023

    When I first moved to central PA from a more urban area and was about to start my teaching career, several people warned me: most of the people around this area are related to each other so watch what you say about people. It was good advice for me to hear. We read in Isaiah: “I call you by name, I surname you.” I love that statement: I surname you. It seems to me that we are all pretty much related around here!! We are children of the household of God. Brothers and sisters in Christ. We have the same last name as our Heavenly Father. What a ti...

  • What Did You Lose Now?

    Linda Sollenberger|Jul 20, 2023

    Luke 15 Lately when we have been with friends, someone is sure to tell a tale about losing his keys or wallet or some important paper. A couple of our friends have tracking devices so they can find the things they have lost. We enjoy some laughs about these stories as we all navigate aging and not remembering as well as we did ten years ago. Beginning with the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, and ending with Luke’s story of the prodigal son, there is good news all the way in this scripture reading. Everything that was lost is f...

  • Point to Jesus

    Linda Sollenberger|Jul 6, 2023

    Whenever we read accounts of the disciples, we know that they were given a wonderful opportunity to show Jesus to someone. They got to listen to His word and to walk with Him daily. I am sure that they experienced an eternity changing encounter. This is now our purpose in life. We, as royal priests, exist for this purpose. Our purpose is to point to Jesus in our daily lives. Is that an easy task? Do we have what it takes to do that task well? Someday we will be able to look back on our lives and sigh with a slight smile, “How did I do all t...

  • Who's Invited and Where Should I Sit?

    LINDA SOLLENBERGER|Jun 22, 2023

    Luke 14:7-14 She pulled her cape around her shoulders, Her heels lifted her up to thinner air Almost to where she wanted to be She saw the table spread with fine linens With artisan cheeses and duck liver pate There was red and white wine for every taste. She approached the gathering and saw on the far end The old-fashioned, the rough handed and the wrong spoken On the near side she saw well-labeled suits That look of confidence in the eyes of the highly educated She saw one chair near her with those of her kind She sat and sipped wine and...

  • The Life of a Pastor

    Linda Sollenberger|May 25, 2023

    Do you ever take time to think about the life/job of your pastor? For 65 years I sat in church and reaped the reward of countless well-thought-out sermons, meaningful worship where the words of the hymns matched the message, organized Bible studies, and a myriad of other benefits that I gave little thought to. It was not until I went through two years of classes to be authorized as a lay leader that I began to think about the preaching life. No other modern public speaker does what the preacher tries to do. Attorneys have bagged evidence and...

  • Easter Blessings

    Linda Sollenberger|Apr 27, 2023

    John 20:19-31 Our gospel story today is a very familiar text. We have journeyed with Jesus through his three years of ministry. We have been witnesses to so many miracles yet there were many times when we were confused and unbelieving. We are all disciples and live within this age-old tale that we hear today. And we continue to gather together each week at our churches in the living word of scripture knowing God offers us new encounters and fresh grace. Now we stand together, and it is Easter evening. Judas and Thomas are not with us. The...

  • God's Resurrection Project

    Linda Sollenberger|Apr 13, 2023

    John 13: 31-35 Do you ever think about what might have been happening up in Heaven in the time before Jesus came to earth—before all eternity? Do you think God could have lovingly put his arm around Jesus’ shoulder and said, “Son, you are going to leave Heaven. You will go to a manger and to a small carpenter shop. You will flee Egypt as a fugitive. You’ll go to banquets with tax collectors and prostitutes. You’ll go to houses where they will make a hole in the roof just to get in because they are excited you are there. You’ll go where leper...

  • Tough Words to Swallow

    Linda Sollenberger|Mar 30, 2023

    Text: John 6:22-59 When I was younger, I baked all of our bread. I loved the process of working with yeast, kneading properly, watching the bread rise on the cook stove that I used for baking. But there were lots of bread calamities, too: yeast that didn’t work, bread that got too high and spilled over the side of the bowl. A lot of yeasty bread disasters got buried in our garden. And that’s the problem with real bread. Sometimes it doesn’t bake up properly and when it does, it can get stale...

  • Straight-Line Thinking

    Linda Sollenberger|Feb 16, 2023

    Luke 9:51-62 Although I love art, I never thought I had any art ability. One thing I would jokingly say about my drawing skills was “Well, I can’t even draw a straight line.” As I grow older, I think the ongoing daily struggle of living a Christian life might have some connection to that skill of being able to draw a straight line. It’s funny what you remember from your past. One thing I remember is my seventh grade art class and the teacher. He loved teaching pencil drawings that showed perspec...

  • What's on Your Agenda?

    Linda Sollenberger|Feb 2, 2023

    Here we are at the beginning of February. It’s a month since we started the new year of 2023. We have been experiencing some cold, blustery, winter weather. Some people love this time of year, and for others, it feels bleak. Those new year resolutions that we carefully thought out ­— the agendas we planned for this new year — may have lost their fervor about now. But God’s agenda for today is a little different. If we open our Bibles we can count on beautiful words of scripture from God’s word....

  • Too. Many. Distractions.

    Linda Sollenberger|Jan 19, 2023

    In a couple of the daily devotionals I read, I saw the suggestion to choose a word to focus on for the new year, a word that would shape my life as the days unfold. Maybe the word would be patience, or peace, or gratitude. I had never read of this trend before and sat in some quietness pondering how I should shape my life over this new year. Life is busy. Life is noisy. Even as I age and truly see that it takes me longer to complete the things that we do each day, I also know that I need to spend more time in the Word, more time to pray. Yet...

  • God of the Living

    Linda Sollenberger|Nov 23, 2022

    Scripture text Luke 20;27-40 It’s a quirky time of the year. Creation itself seems to be preparing for the death that winter weather brings. For myself, I lost some people who were important in my life at this time of year: my favorite aunt, my mother-in-law and my dad. I find myself every year before celebrating Thanksgiving with an ever-changing table thinking of life anew under the cross and outside the empty tomb of Jesus. This is always a contemplative time for me, a thin place in the turning of the year where a door opens between w...

  • Amazing Love

    Linda Sollenberger|Nov 10, 2022

    Matthew 10:16-32 Does anyone write letters any more? I am not talking about emails or texts or Twitter. I mean the kind of letter where you find a piece of stationery and a pen that writes smoothly. A letter where you carefully choose your words, lick the envelope, find a stamp. I love letters. I have a cherished stack from my mom and my grandmother and a dear aunt; letters they wrote to me when I lived out of state early in my marriage. Those letters were filled with advice, but they spoke from strong, unconditional love, too. Our gospel text...

  • The Opposite of Rich

    Linda Sollenberger|Oct 13, 2022

    Biblical text: Matthew 19, Mark 10:17-24 Most of us know this story as the story of the rich, young ruler, although Mark is the only one who suggests that he is rich, Matthew is the only one who says he is young, and Luke is the only one who calls him a ruler. The fact that he shows up in three of the gospels is a pretty good indication that the story is true, although many of us wish that he had not shown up at all. Because of him we have one of the hardest sayings in the whole Bible: Go sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and...

  • Do Love

    Linda Sollenberger|Sep 29, 2022

    You probably remember that it was a lawyer who inspired Jesus to tell the story of the Good Samaritan. He seemed like a smart person with a well-trained mind. He seemed concerned with the law, if not justice and with drawing the line between right and wrong. And, since he is following Jesus around, he must also be a person who is hungry for God and who wishes to know what the life of faith might require of him. “What must I do to inherit eternal life,” he asks Jesus. Who does not wonder that? Who does not want that? Life with no end. Life wit...

  • Come to the Well

    Linda Sollenberger|Sep 15, 2022

    Biblical text: John 4 Growing up living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I took water for granted. All I had to do was turn on the faucet and there was always plenty of water. But when we, as a new family with two small babies, moved to Central Pennsylvania in 1976, water became very precious to me. Our well was very shallow. It had been hand dug, and I quickly learned that water was not always plentiful. I knew I had to spread out my many loads of wash or any other task that required water, and...

  • Becoming a Sincere Seeker

    Linda Sollenberger|Sep 1, 2022

    Biblical text Matthew 15: 10-20, 21-28 Have you ever noticed that many of the people at the center of our gospel narrative seem to be the kind of people who might not have a place in our lives? What does that tell us? Jesus took people whom you or I might mindlessly pass on the street or in a store, people we might not choose to associate with, people on the very margins of society, and He places them at the center of the narrative we call the Gospel. These people come to Jesus as sick,...

  • Open the Door and Walk Through

    Linda Sollenberger|Aug 18, 2022

    In Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 16, verses 13-19 Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter quickly answered, as he so often did, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (NIV) Jesus praises Peter and goes on to say, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.” The image of keys ignited a whole line of thinking for me. When we lived in our old farm house when the boys were young, our house key was an ornate skeleton key. That key never worked quite right; you al...