Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Reading this week’s email from Bishop Loya, the following paragraph caught my attention:

God doesn’t simply command sabbath as a nod to wellness or self-care. It’s an act of social and economic resistance to the lie that human beings are only valuable because of what they produce. The ten commandments are given to the people of Israel to help shape a different social economy than what they experienced as slaves under Pharaoh. The social economy of Pharaoh says work, because people are there to be exploited to produce. The social economy of God says rest, because human beings have inherent worth and are made for love.

As an economics student this time of lockdown has piqued my curiosity about a global economy that honors people, profit, and the planet – something I have long desired but not thought possible. However, there are an increasing number of books about Eco-civilizations built on an economic philosophy that is just and generous. Entire schools of thought like Modern Monetary Theory offer us new visions of how we can do well while also doing good. If you would like a break from the constant bombardment of scary stories of impending financial doom facing our country and the world, watch Economist Stephanie Kelton deliver the 2018 Presidential Lecture at Stony Brook University, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpyuqKLh6QU.

In 2016, at a Neighborhood Economics event, Old Testament scholar and theologian, Dr. Walter Brueggemann described two competing protocols of how society should be structured, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZtpD304AmI:

  1. Protocols of Purity (rooted in the book of Leviticus) stratify the community into hierarchical groups based on gender, religious practice, appearance, diet, etc. Straight men being the purest, immigrants being the least pure, and women, LGBTQ, and People of Color featuring somewhere in between. Brueggemann says the protocols of purity demean people who are considered less pure and when people have been ritually demeaned, they can be economically exploited. So, when religious purity is transferred to the practice of economics we get stratified education, stratified housing, stratified healthcare and the less pure and demeaned cannot get loans, pay higher interest rates, earn lower wages, etc. – sound familiar?
  2. Protocols of Neighborliness (rooted in the book of Deuteronomy) include laws from Moses such as you must not charge interest on loans to neighbors (and who is our neighbor…?), you shall not collect collateral on loans to poor people, you shall not practice wage theft, do not be so greedy you do not leave enough for the vulnerable and needy, and after 7 years cancel debts for poor people [reworded/summarized]. Brueggemann says, these protocols imply we cannot do the economy in any viable way without recognizing that human people merit dignity. They aim to subordinate the economy to the community, so we do not have a permanent underclass. The primary call of the protocols of neighborliness is to beat the debt system.

Brueggemann argues that the protocols of purity do not understand that neighbor trumps purity and stratification – Jesus did, but not the protocols of purity! And that the Bible is an endless contestation between people who believe faith is about stratified purity and people who believe faith is about neighborliness.

Brueggemann draws two conclusions:

  1. Protocols of purity cannot make us ultimately safe or ultimately happy because they are out of sync with the emancipatory God of the Exodus.
  2. Protocols of purity inevitably end in violence, whether quick or slow.

Finally, he calls us to the work of figuring out how the protocols of neighborliness can break the vicious cycle of stratified purity. Over the last 14 months, I believe, we have seen signs that more and more of us want this too. I have heard calls for new ways, different ways of honoring our value and meeting our needs. I have witnessed the emergence of creative ways of relating to one another that respect our planet, distribute power equitably, and honor all of God’s creation.

In economic terms, we need to change the risk/reward equation; make the actions and products that hurt people and the planet less profitable and less desirable. Some examples:

  • Make providing healthcare more profitable than denying it.
  • Make maintaining peace more profitable than going to war.
  • Make protecting women’s rights and freedom more profitable than selling them to human traffickers.
  • Make investing in under-resourced communities more profitable than jailing people of color.

Each of us have unique gifts that we can contribute to this work. As we emerge from this pandemic, how can you work toward an economy that shapes a better world for all of us? Here are a few ideas I had as I researched this post:

  • Do not allow money to separate you from God, which leads to spiritual death. Use the power of the Holy Spirit to remain grounded in God and in Jesus’ teachings when dealing with financial matters.
  • Forgive yourself. Most of us have made mistakes when it comes to money and some of those mistakes have fallen short of our Christian values. Christ has already paid the price of those sins, and of any sins to come. You are forgiven and restored to new life. Accept His gift.
  • Consider if there are debts owed to you that you can forgive. We understand sin as seeking our own will instead of the liberating and loving will of God. This sin distorts our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation. Jesus frees us from the power of sin so we can live in harmony with God, within ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation. Discern what sacrifices you can make to clear debts owed to you, give the debtor new life, and restore your relationship.
  • If you have been blessed with money or other resources, look for ways to pay your blessings forward and use those gifts to help others.
  • If you have been blessed with financial skills use them to help others navigate complex money matters. Financial concerns are a leading cause of stress and money mismanagement can have devastating consequences such as crippling debt, homelessness, and legal issues. Using your God given talents to help others avoid or get out of these situations is bringing God’s love to a hurting world.
  • Similarly, if you have been blessed with being an advocate, use your voice to bring about financial reforms that help the poor and suffering and brings about God’s justice and equality for all.
  • Just as Christ stood in solidarity with us on the cross, look at how you can invest and spend your money in ways that reflect God’s values and stands in solidarity with the oppressed.
  • Follow Bishop Loya’s advise, and God’s command, to rest as you need to. We do not have to keep up with an economy built on protocols of purity and stratification; take some time out for neighborliness.

Jesus talked about money more than any other topic during his ministry among us. There’s a reason for that. We can’t love God and oppress each other. John 3:17-18 says it best:

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

I would love to hear your experiences, thoughts, or ideas on how we can work to bring about God’s economy here on earth.

Understanding and navigating our society’s financial systems as followers of Christ can be challenging. As with most spiritual practices, we gain strength when we share with and support each other. To write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview please contact Executive Administrator, Sarah Dull – you never know who needs to hear your story.

by The Rev. Barbara Mraz

As the heady perfume filters into my yard from the courtyard below, I am intoxicated with spring. The warmer weather, the happy (although expensive) trips to the garden store, the birdsong, the tulips flaunting their flowerhood… my favorite season by far.

I love this from the writer Patricia Hemp: She notes that lilacs were first brought to America by 19th century Czech immigrants and that the lilacs now seen next to a farmhouse on the prairie in Minnesota or Iowa may have been there longer than any of us have been alive: “With all that immigrants had to leave behind, they valued these bushes enough to make room for a cutting or two among their baggage and bundles … They’re immigrant flowers brought here by people who loved their beauty. They survived the journey and they thrived.” (Spillville).

And reading that, my heart is less troubled.

See you in church.

Barbara

By The Rev. Barbara Mraz

I went into Kowalski’s Market on Thursday and bought some things for a luncheon I was having the next day: chicken, bread, walnuts, half and half, lettuce, and proceeded to have an experience that serves as the basis for the sermon on Sunday. It has to do, in part, with bread and roses. 

The phrase “bread and roses” is commonly associated with a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts from January to March of 1912, which united dozens of immigrant communities under the leadership of the Industrial Workers of the World (led to a large extent by women). Eventually the workers won pay increases, time-and-a-quarter pay for overtime, and a promise of no-discrimination against strikers.

Supposedly, one of the women strikers carried a sign saying, “We want bread, but we want roses, too!” Subsequently this phrase became a signature song for the labor movement and for many women’s colleges, too: We want to eat but we need beauty, too.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to watch a wonderful British movie called “Pride,” based on a true story of a group of Gays and Lesbians in 1986 who decided to go to a small town in England and support miners who were on strike. They went there to help because they hated Margaret Thatcher and because they understood what it was to be unfairly treated. 

You can imagine the reception at first. (“Aren’t all lesbians vegetarian?”  someone asks).

Connections will be made on Sunday, I promise, but here is a clip from the film where the miners and their supporters finally come together. “Bread and Roses” from Pride – YouTube.

See you in church.

Barbara

Those who have been lucky enough to interact with parishioner, Sue MacIntosh, will have noticed her joy in life. When Sue told with me that she “is living the dream”, I asked what her secret is. I was blessed with her Gramma’s astute advice, “have faith”. True to form Sue, generously agreed to share her story with you as well.

I was born into the Episcopal Church and spent many a Sunday at Zion Episcopal Church in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, sitting with my Gramma Dottie in the 3rd pew on the Epistle side. (My mom later jumped us to the Gospel side, but that is another story.) Gramma and I were close, and I often unburdened myself to her. She would respond with her usual advice: “Have faith.”

I struggled with her meaning. “How do I find faith?” It took me many years to understand her. As my life went on and troubles mounted, I finally realized to “have faith” like Gramma said, meant I needed to BELIEVE with a capital B.

Financially, I was blessed to have my college education at the University of Iowa supported by my parents. My parent also nurtured a habit of always saving at least half of every birthday or Christmas gift and any earnings in a savings account.

However, at the age of 30, I found myself divorced with two children under the age of 5 and no chance of child support. It was not the future I had hoped for. I was a lab technician, doing what I loved, but it would certainly not support us very easily, even with steady help from my parents. I had to find something different – perhaps an industry job. Desperation? Maybe, but a year later, I was moving with the girls to St. Louis and a good job at Sigma Chemical Company.

I had found faith! Faith that I could succeed in a corporate atmosphere, living a day’s drive from family, doing a job I had never imagined doing. Faith that my girls could survive and thrive in a new environment. We found new friends and a church family, and we flourished!

Three years later, I landed a research job in biotechnology at what was then Monsanto. Since this company was only across town, it was not such a big leap of faith as our last move, but it did require me to believe that this was the right decision.

And it was! We had a range of research projects in plant biotechnology. Our team’s project was to develop Bt crops: plants that were able to protect themselves from chewing insects using the same protein that organic gardeners applied to their crops, except these plants made the Bt protein right in their own cells! Our team had molecular experts who would put some DNA into a plant, and the protein biochemists (that was me) would tell them what was happening in that plant. It was a very exciting time to be on the cutting edge of science. I was so lucky.

One day at that job made an especially big impression on me. All the lab leads presented their 6-month research summaries in front of the division leaders and a bona-fide Nobel Prize winner. Mr. Nobel Prize sat and listened the whole day— and was certainly wined and dined—as he gave his advice for our various projects. “Wow,” I thought as I watched him, “that is a cool job. Maybe one day…?” It would take time, and it would take faith.

A few years later, I was provided an opportunity to work in a small start-up on the west coast, funded completely by the Danish firm, Novo Nordisk. Move to California? I had never been more than a day’s drive from my childhood home; that would not be possible from California. I was nervous and contemplated the decision for more than six months, but eventually, I believed we could do it! I had faith.

This move was tougher on my girls, but ultimately, they had a ball in California. We all hung in there together and flourished together. My daughter Katie completed high school there and my daughter Laura had a gang of great friends. For me, working within a small company of 30 people – half men, half women, and led by a woman – opened the door to possibilities. Four years later, after winning a research competition, we found ourselves living in a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark and I was working in a brand-new research facility that our team had designed. All along the way, I was very careful with our money, making sure we lived practically and modestly.

Much has happened since Copenhagen. We returned to California and then the Midwest. Both girls graduated from my alma mater, have families of their own, and are happily working in the finance industry right here in the Twin Cities. I made another huge leap of faith and moved into a new but related area, Regulatory Affairs, where we developed data to support the safety of biotech-based crops. I believed in myself, and started my own consulting business in 2005, helping small companies with their biopesticide or biotech products. This let me live close to my family and I could arrange my own time to be with my grandkids each week!

As with every move, I searched out an Episcopal church, just as my parents did when I was growing up. In Denmark, the only Anglican church is St. Alban’s Church in downtown Copenhagen. Because it was Anglican, they spoke English! Definitely a plus if I was going to convince my girls to join me! Besides Denmark, there was Emmanuel Episcopal Church outside of St. Louis, MO: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Woodland, CA; St. Timothy’s Church in West Des Moines, IA; St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Durham, NC; Messiah Church and then St. John’s in St. Paul, MN; and my summer church Ascension Church in Hayward, WI. All of those communities strengthened my faith and strengthened my confidence. My financial history, along with many other things in my life, would have turned out very differently if I had not made it a priority to connect with an Episcopal faith community everywhere I lived.

Fast-forward to now. Because I had been so careful with money all along, about 10 years ago I found that I could afford to build a lake house on Moose Lake near Hayward, WI. And just two years ago, I traded in my Highland home for a townhouse in White Bear Lake. It might sound surprising, but it took quite a bit of faith to spend money after holding on to it so tightly.

Finally, I have retired but still work with one of my clients, Nuseed, 2-3 days per month. My title? Regulatory ADVISOR! Yep, I am living the dream I had all the way back from when I met Mr. Nobel Prize, all because I believed, because I finally grasped my Gramma Dottie’s mantra, “Have faith.”

Thank you, Sue and Dottie, for sharing your faith with us! During these bleak times, it is uplifting to hear stories of hope.

Understanding and navigating our society’s financial systems as followers of Christ can be challenging. Maybe that is why Jesus talked about money and possessions more than prayer and faith. As with most spiritual practices, we gain strength when we share with and support each other. To write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview please contact Executive Administrator, Sarah Dull – you never know who needs to hear your story.

by Jered Weber-Johnson

As warmer weather approaches, so too do the possibilities for safely and comfortably gathering together outdoors. Over the past month our Regathering Taskforce met to establish, and recommend to vestry, guidance for safely gathering outdoors. These Outdoor Gathering Protocols are now approved and in effect for the foreseeable future. If you or your ministry would like to set up an event, gathering, or offering in person, these protocols will help you in preparing and planning. The Wardens and I will review each proposal/plan and offer any additional guidance necessary so that St. John’s can continue to offer points of in-person connection as safely and inclusively as possible.


Click here to read the Outdoor Gathering Protocols in PDF format.


As I write this, I can feel in my own body a deep and persistent desire to be with you, in the flesh. This pandemic promises to continue far longer than most of us had initially anticipated and far longer than any of us wanted. I routinely hear from members how painful this time apart from each other, the building, and the sacraments has been. Our guiding value to this point has been that of inclusivity, that we wouldn’t gather in person for worship until it was safe enough for all to gather. It is now unclear whether there will ever be, at least in the near future, a time when vaccines are ubiquitous or herd immunity achieved – i.e. it is unclear when that moment of “safe enough for all” will happen.

In light of this I have asked our worship team to begin exploring ways to begin offering some in person worship, likely only liturgies of word at first, outdoors and with the aforementioned protocols to guide us. Our first in person services will begin in June, in the parking lot, or near the steps of the church, or in the Holly Garden. I also want to make known that if you would like pastoral care, confession, or spiritual counsel “in person” instead of over Zoom or over the phone, I am making myself available for some in-person, distanced, pastoral meetings outdoors in the Holly Garden, Parking Lot, or, if you prefer, on a walk in your neighborhood. 

We should begin again now, as we did last summer and weather permitting over the fall and winter, to see each other in person as safely as possible. This has been a long season apart, and as vaccinations increase and infection rates drop, we are finding safe ways to be together. I hope you will reach out if you have questions or concerns. Know that I am praying still with each of you, missing you, and working with our leaders to plan carefully for our eventual return to the building. Thank you, all of you, for your patience, care for one another, and for endeavoring to keep St. John’s a place that welcomes all people.

God bless and keep each of you.
Jered

Like many of you, following the three guilty verdicts of former officer Derek Chauvin, my instinct was to rejoice and to breathe a sigh of relief. Surely this was “justice”, yes? But, almost at the same time, like so many more of you, came the equally palpable feelings of deep grief and anger. To paraphrase one clergy colleague, juries can hand out verdicts, but they cannot raise the dead. If the grief points to a reality, it is the many dead whose lives were taken from us much too soon, whose futures were cut short by a system that seems to disregard the dignity and worth of black and brown people. As I stood at George Floyd Memorial Square the evening of the Chauvin verdicts, leader after leader called on us to temper relief with persistence, to give joy but a moment and then to press on in our collective quest for racial justice.

What we had received on April 20th was momentary accountability. Justice remained a goal as yet to be realized. Into this truth, I received an email from Keith Davis, our member and a visible leader at St. John’s. Keith, as you know, is a regular verger, lector, volunteer in several ministries, passionate advocate for Lent Madness, committed Chicago sports fan in the midst of Vikings and Cheeseheads, and a black man practicing his faith in a predominantly white congregation and denomination. I have long appreciated Keith’s willingness to go the extra mile in conversations of race and justice, something we white folk often expect our black and brown brothers and sisters to do on our behalf, to help us understand and get it, when we need to do the work ourselves. But, Keith shows up to these conversations, especially here at St. John’s, not out of a sense of obligation but out of a deep, patient, love of the people who also call this faith community home. So, when I received this email, I was equally grateful that he was willing for it to be shared, as his own reflection on and processing of the grief and tension of the past week following the verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial but also his own hopes for where we as a community, and a society, will go next in our quest for Racial Justice.

Thank you, Keith, for sharing these powerful and beautiful words.

The Rev’d Jered Weber-Johnson, Rector, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church

We cannot move forward into the light by retreating further into darkness.  Let us end each day one step closer to our best selves.

– Keith Davis

Like many of you, April 20, 2021 at 4pm is indelibly etched on my heart and mind.  I imagine it will forever be one of those, “Where were you” moments like the Kennedy/King assassinations, the O.J. Simpson verdict, and 9-11.  I sat anxiously before my television awaiting word of Derek Chauvin’s fate.  Text/phone messages and notifications on every information platform alerted me of the impending announcement.  I sat tensely on the edge of the sofa, the spot where mom and grandma told me never to sit because doing so ruined the cushions.  My stomach cringed, pulse quickened, body rocked to and fro as Judge Cahill read the verdicts:  GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!


What should have been a time of celebration, praise, and thanks was instead a collision of emotions and thoughts I dare not admit to or name.  My version of “Where, O Death, is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55 NRSV) quickly became WHERE, O VICTORY, IS YOUR JOY?  How do I celebrate victory knowing Daunte Wright’s family is grieving?  How do I celebrate knowing that the “next time” is just around the corner?  How do I feel confident in a system that, despite a major criminal victory, still regards me and those like me with disdain and “less than?”  Do I believe the police are less dangerous or more dangerous because of the trial’s outcome?  Why give the justice system so much credit THIS TIME for doing something it should be doing ALL THE TIME?


A friend told me she had confidence that Mr. Chauvin would be found guilty of all three charges.  I envied her confidence.  In the time it’s taken me to compose my thoughts into something somewhat coherent, a teen has been killed by police in Columbus, OH, another police involved incident in Elizabeth City, NC is being examined….and the beat just keeps going on.


I write this note to those concerned about where we are as a society, where we are as a nation, as well as your concern about me.  Like many, I have struggled processing what the hell we’ve just experienced/continue experiencing and what happens next.  Additionally, I’ve intensely felt disillusionment, mistrust, humility of God’s Grace, fear of the known and unknown, love of a caring community, exhaustion, exhilaration, in short, a jumble of competing emotions.  I can’t believe and yet am not surprised I’m trodding the same civil rights road of my parents and grandparents.  A little further down the road certainly, but the same road, ruts and all.

I pray with vigor the Floyd family finds solace in the verdict. May the families of those whose loved ones have been victims of criminal police behavior share in that solace.


If the arc of the moral universe truly bends towards justice, we must continue being its benders.  We, you and I, must continue to shape a more just society for those who follow us.  We must do what we can, when we can, however we can, while we can.  Our duty, someone said, is to be good ancestors, to leave a legacy of hope and goodness for others to emulate.  Will we?

(Part 2 on Psalm 23 — our psalm for this coming Sunday)

There are many things to questions in this psalm: Promises that seem outrageous, comfort that sometimes doesn’t come. 

I had planned to use this excerpt from Clint Eastwood’s  film “A Pale Rider” but technical issues prevent it at this point.  I hope you will watch it here.

During the typical western conflict between ranchers and an evil mining company, shots are fired and a girl’s beloved dog is killed. This excerpt is her response 

You’ll see Jered, Craig and me in church.

Barbara

(Sunday is “Good Shepherd Sunday” and I am sending you two E and E posts in preparation. Here is the first. Another coming tomorrow.)

Believe it or not, this is one of the images you find when you google “Psalm 23.” The cultural sentimentality and cutesiness have clearly infiltrated this classic Jewish poem ascribed to David. The white skin of Jesus (historically very questionable), the hairdo, the tv evangelist smile…. And of course, the darling little lamb — nursery rhyme worthy, to be sure.  Yes, it’s pretty appalling but by no means the only example of cultural appropriation of this important part of the Bible. 

Yet Psalm 23 continues to offer its comforts and challenges. In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus inserts himself into the Psalm, claiming the identity of the Good Shepherd. I expect our Jewish brothers and sisters are not exactly okay with this.

I was surprised to learn how many public figures have used this psalm in a song (Jayz, Bono, a jazz version by Duke Ellington with Mahalia Jackson — link below). References also are in numerous movies including “Titanic,” and one that I will excerpt for you tomorrow — a segment where the psalm is the basis for challenging God.

Every time I preach on this text, I discover something new and either exciting or challenging. Or both.

See you tomorrow. Meanwhile….. check the link, (5) Duke Ellington, Mahalia Jackson – Black, Brown and Beige, Pt. 6 (23rd Psalm) – YouTube.

Barbara

ADAGIO

This is Barbara writing, not Craig or Richard.
It may not seem like it but….

“Adagio for Strings” by American composer Samuel Barber has been called “the
saddest piece of music ever written.”

It’s the piece of classical music that was played at the funerals of Princess Diana,
John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
It has been featured in the movie “Platoon” and “The Elephant Man.”

I recently learned that there are pop music renditions such as when the British
musician William Orbitt remixed it, and in 2003 when the Dutch DJ Tiesto did a
version. (Frankly, I gave up trying to listen to these.)

Maybe this song will appear again as a lament for the losses of Covid.

You will hear the Adagio on Palm Sunday as the background for the reading of the
Passion. I was privileged to do this pairing several years ago with Sonya Sutton,
our interim organist. This time, Richard will be at the organ. It will close our
service and lead us into Holy Week with stunning force.

You’ll see us in church.

Barbara

A snapshot of a comic Abbie made for a collaborative book called ‘Sanctuary”. It is a Risograph print comic called “silence.” 

Abbie Mitchell is a member of Circle of the Beloved in Minnesota and is currently serving an internship with St. John’s Children, Youth, and Family Ministry. I asked Abbie to share her financial experiences to give us some insight on the challenges facing today’s young adults and the role her faith plays in money matters.

As the daughter of an accountant, I grew up listening to my mother’s advice to be careful and keep track of my money. From a young age I would stash away my Christmas and Birthday cash, but for what? I was never certain. My dad would constantly rep the phrase “buy nice or buy twice” that he’d learned from his own father. When I had my first job, as a golf caddy, I saved all my money from that summer and ultimately decided to invest in an expensive new laptop for college, knowing I would need something suitable for Art and Design School. I felt rich, like all teens after getting their first job. I also felt hopeful and confident that my patience would help me to continue saving.

As I passed my 18th Birthday and prepped for college, the financial burden of what was to come became very real. Despite coming from a lower middle class family and being a 4.0 student, government financial aid and scholarships were constantly returning my applications with letters of polite refusal. I would have to pay for university with loans. 

So I was off in the world of a borrower, scouring for the most reasonable interest rates and payback plans for what would be an overwhelming expense. I felt hopeless. When I turned to my family for emotional support, I was often met with the anachronistic suggestion that was “when I was your age we worked ourselves through school.” I don’t think many in the generations before me understand how much more expensive university has become since they attended. In an article published by CNBC in November of 2017, author Emmie Martin describes the statistics of tuition cost from 1987 to 2017. In only 30 years the cost of tuition at a public institution has increased 213%, and it has increased 129% in private institutions. It has since continued rising at a rate much higher than inflation. 

While I would need a job to finance my student career, it would not be enough to keep my debt at bay. So I moved to a new city, along with the reality of my loans. I hopped from one cheap apartment to the next over the next several years, with a schedule that kept me busy almost 60 hours a week to make ends meet. When I began my senior year, I opened up to my Academic Adviser about my overwhelming stress. By then it was making me so sick and exhausted that I was unsure I’d even want to walk for commencement. She insisted I walk across that stage, as I was her “success story.” She would apparently tell others about my persistence in pursuing two extremely demanding degrees, all while maintaining a GPA above 3.0. She was so proud of me, and wanted to see me walk in celebration of my accomplishments.  I felt so supported and realized that I have a lot to be proud of, despite feeling like every day was a burden. 

Today I have 2 Bachelor’s degrees (A Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts), and about $85,000 of debt for only 5 years of higher education. To top it off, I attended my commencement alone in bed, where a robot said my name while the world was shutting down to keep a pandemic at bay. I never got to walk the stage for my Adviser, but I met with her on zoom that day and she told me to keep in touch. I know this sounds like a sob story, and it is a little bit, but to me it is a story of strength and hope. My faith has kept me strong through all of my financial disappointment. 

I had faith despite my disappointment in a system that makes debt the only option and my disappointment in myself for never slowing down to stop and be proud of myself. Everytime I wanted to shed tears for having to dip into my savings account to buy food, or peek at my loan report, God was there to say “I will provide.” I have been able to make it work day in and day out. I have a roof over my head and food in my belly, despite those things always seeming like an uncertainty. I have a long way to go when it comes to feeling financially secure, but that seems like the reality of most young adults my age living in this time. God has shown me joys in poverty that I would not have otherwise experienced if my finances came without struggle. How the bus can be a place where commuters become friends with people who take the same route every morning. How a neighborhood with a bad reputation has a strong community that holds one another up when the system brings them down. How the feeling of hunger inspires you to feed others, not just yourself. 

So what comes next? What are my plans for the future and for security? We all know with the Pandemic that plans seem unrealistic, and I think that’s the way they have always seemed to me. In the 2019 Best Picture film Parasite, a father describes poverty to his son after a severe weather event displaced them from their home. He says, “You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned… You can’t go wrong with no plans.” Although it seems like hopeless advice, there is freedom in relinquishing these anxieties to God and trusting oneself to make the right decisions. I have endless dreams and goals for sure, but no plan. Despite the vast infinity of what-ifs that cloud the future, all I can do is my best in that moment and that’s what I will continue to do. God will provide and I will let his plan guide me forward. 

Thank you Abbie! As an older adult it is helpful to hear the younger generations experience. Your attitude and faith are inspiring.

Understanding and navigating our society’s financial systems as followers of Christ can be challenging. Maybe that is why Jesus talked about money and possessions more than prayer and faith. As with most spiritual practices, we gain strength when we share with and support each other. To write a post, offer resources, submit an article, or do an interview please contact Executive Administrator, Sarah Dull – you never know who needs to hear your story.


Martin, Emmie. “Here’s How Much More Expensive It Is for You to Go to College than It Was for Your Parents.” CNBC, CNBC, 29 Nov. 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/how-much-college-tuition-has-increased-from-1988-to-2018.html.

 Bong Joon Ho, director. Parasite. Barunson E&A, 2019.