Archive for December, 2019


I “settle” every day. Make compromises with myself and my world and the voices in my head: I’ll do volunteer work – but AFTER the holidays. I’ll budget more carefully – when I get these decorating projects done. I’ll call Vickie– but have to get this other stuff done first.

The biggest compromise I make with myself is that I will become politically active again in the face of a national scenario I could not have envisioned ever until three years ago. I admire the dean of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis who puts his political opinions out there so boldly, even on Facebook.

It’s a dramatic contrast right now between the hope and beauty of the season and the likelihood that a president will be impeached. But Christmas has always played out against a desperate political backdrop – the Romans had their boot on the neck of the Jews from the moment of Jesus’ birth until they ordered his crucifixion.

Sunday I will talk about the two agitators in the lessons: John the Baptist and Mary of Nazareth. John has a crisis of faith. Mary calls for justice for the poor. And what route did Mary and Joseph take on the eighty-mile journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem? I will give you a map and show you why the trip was unbelievably treacherous, like some of our own journeys this time of year.

Between services, Craig will do a musical tour of the Magnificat. I’m pretty sure it will be exquisite! Lessons and Carols is at four but don’t compromise and skip church or the concert. The church will be beautiful and your friends will be there.

See you in church.


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Earlier this year the Pew Research Center published their findings of a 2018 study on Millennial life, https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/essay/millennial-life-how-young-adulthood-today-compares-with-prior-generations/.

Among their findings Pew concludes young adults, ages 22 to 37 in 2018:

  • Are better educated than previous generations at their age.
  • Have faced a particularly challenging job market with especially high unemployment rates due to the Great Recession.
  • Earn less annually and have accumulated less wealth than their counterparts in prior generations.
  • Are more likely to have student debt and the amount they owe is greater than earlier generations.
  • Have been slower in forming their own households than previous generations, are more likely to live in their parents’ home, and be at home for longer stretches.

I sat down with our own Millennial – and new Director for Children, Youth and Family Ministry at St. John’s – Katie Madsen, to find out what her lived experience of Millennial life has been like thus far.

Sarah: Katie, thank you so much for taking time out at this busy time to share your personal financial experiences with me. How are you feeling?

Katie: Hesitant. I have little to no financial knowhow. And talking about money is hard.

Sarah: So why did you agree to speak with me?

Katie: The work we do here is important. When something is important to me, I want to support it. I think for us to appreciate the gift that we have been given in this community we have to talk about the hard stuff to grow.

Sarah: Thank you for your courage. Why don’t you give me a little background about your current situation?

Katie: Well, I just got this job – which I love – and John and I got married six months ago, but I am up to my eyeballs in student loan debt and we are just starting, and I mean just starting, to get our own finances in order after 4 years of grad school and a total career shift.

Sarah: Education and student debt is a common issue raised with regards to today’s young adults, tell me more about your experience?

Katie: The price of a college education has gone up astronomically; my dad noted that 1 year of my college is the same as he paid for 4. This is so overwhelming to an 18-year-old. And no one tells you how to take out loans effectively. They offer you more money than you need knowing you’ll take it because you don’t know any better – you’re 18.

Sarah: You also mentioned that you and John just got married, did you wait for financial reasons?

Katie: Yes, we dated for 5 years before we could afford to rent our own place; we lived with our parents through college and most of grad school. Even after grad school we were living on one income for a while. We couldn’t have got married without our parents help.

Sarah: Charles Schwab 2019 Modern Wealth Survey, https://www.aboutschwab.com/modernwealth2019, says the majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, can you relate?

Katie: I will be the first to say that that is where I am currently. My student loans and our housing take up half of our income, and that doesn’t include the rest of the bills. When you are living paycheck to paycheck many of life’s big moments get pushed, for us that is buying a house and starting a family post 30. We have a good life and I am grateful but I thought these things would have happened by now.

Sarah: Reflecting on where you are financially, is there anything you would do differently?

Katie: If I had been wise, I would have followed the advice my mother gave me years ago. I would have set up a budget, spent less and saved more. But I’m a millennial, now I don’t say that as an excuse for my bad money management. Budgeting in today’s world looks so much different than I was prepared for. Income, debt and spending have all changed from my parents and grandparents’ worlds.

Sarah: What does all of this mean for your faith?

Katie: It means I need to get better at deciding what is important to me and where my values lie. I must begin to look at my future through a different lens. By looking at the time and talent I have in my space I can use the treasure I have with more tact.

Sarah: So, what have you decided is important?

Katie: As I enter a new season of life, one of marriage and family, my priorities have shifted. I dream of the days where I have enough time, talent and treasure to go around.  We have started though with a budget.

Sarah: Your mom would be proud! Do you have any recommendations?

Katie: Yes, we are using Dave Ramsey, https://www.daveramsey.com/, and You Need A Budget, https://www.youneedabudget.com/ as our starting blocks.

Sarah: Why do you like these?

Katie: They are Christian based budget sites that seem to get the goal of tithing, giving back and saving which seem to be resources that were sorely lacking in my early adult years (maybe I just didn’t know where to find them or how to look). 

I am so grateful to Katie for her courageous honesty. These are tough subjects but ones that many of our younger adults can relate to and hopefully, has provided some valuable insight to others. Gaining a better understanding of each other’s experiences allows us to meet each person where they are, to share resources, and offer support.

Wherever you are financially, your story and resources will be a gift to other members of the parish. To write a post, share resources, submit an article, or do an interview please contact Sarah Dull, Executive Administrator.

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