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Dear parents of one-year-olds

News | January 30, 2020

Dear parents of one-year-olds,

Thank for your commitment to parenting! It is not for the faint of heart, and we often need reminders that we are not alone. This blog post is one of those encouragements. I reached out to staff and church members and they shared some insights about their memories from childhood, parenting journeys, grandparenting, and just favorite books and rules for the road.  We hope you’ll use this resource but also, that it might connect you to some of the people you see here. If you notice one of these people at church sometime, feel free to reach out and get to know them. Blessings on the vocation of parenthood. As we’re fond of saying these days, you got this.
~Pastor Kendra

Karen Holden, Book Corner Manager

My favorite childhood book was The Little Engine That Could. I didn’t own it but checked it out at the bookmobile every chance I had. When I first became Book Corner manager, I immediately added it to our children’s section. Of course, I’ve given copies to my grandchildren.

The book is kind of long so the kiddos have to be able to sit still for a few minutes; preschool age is perfect. It teaches the “I can do it” attitude. Even if I’m the smallest and the least likely, if I have a positive attitude and work hard, I can do it. “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” turns into, at the end, “I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”

Cable TV was very new when my kids were little and we didn’t have it. The only shows my toddlers and preschoolers were allowed to watch:  Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In this digital age, I recommend cutting way back on the screen time and highly recommend PBS’ Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

I also recommend lots of unstructured playing outside time. Run, walk, pretend, explore, swing, play.

Karen Strusz, St. Paul Preschool director

A schedule is SO important especially eating and sleeping.
Children learn best through hands-on-play (avoid screen time).
Share the love of reading by reading to your child everyday.
Play outside – let kids explore their environment. It’s OK to let them get a little dirty.
Take your child to the store with you. Talk about the colors, shapes and sizes of items that you find.

Kendra Thompson, pastor of children and family life

I loved babywearing when my kids were little. It was a great way to “snuggle” them – but also be hands-free. This picture is of our family hiking the North Country Trail in Wisconsin, but I also wore my babies making dinner, sitting at my computer, getting ready in the morning, or comforting them for naps. At my previous church, I even helped lead an outdoor service while wearing Andi! Snuggles are great. I have loved nurturing my kids with hugs and stories and affirmations. Babywearing helped with that when I sometimes had to be a “multi-tasking mom.”

Paula Durham, business manager

As a grandma, I keep a library for the grands that is separate from their own books.  I try to have books that they don’t have but also some of my kids’ old favorites. I have several dinosaur books and lots of kids’ reference type books from Scholastic or National Geographic. Also Waldo books.

I love Old Turtle and Jill Esbaum’s books and give those as gifts to new moms and new grandparents.

Andy Langdon, youth director

When my kids were little, we made a concerted effort to snap pictures, not just of special events, but everyday moments that embodied our kids’ personalities, behaviors and lives. Each year we made a commitment to turn those photos into a yearbook of sorts for our growing family that we have printed. These books are still most treasured in our family as kids have grown. We get them out as we tell stories to our kids about who they have always been, who we’ve invited into our lives, and where we’ve placed priorities. I get out the books and flip through pages when I feel nostalgic for those days, and marvel at the ways that we’ve changed. The scrapbook is faded memory for many families, but it’s easier now than ever before.

Katy Warren, associate pastor

I’m not a parent… so I’ll yield to those with much more expertise. But I’ll say that one of my favorite books as a child was Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. It reminded me that no matter how bad a day was (as a parent or a child, I suppose), there was always hope for things to be better the next day.

Hayden Kvamme, pastoral resident

Favorite books:

Littles and How they Grow

A Place for You, Little One

Christine Lassers, St. Paul member

It’s OK to ask for help. You’re not alone in this journey. Build your village and USE them.

Everyone has an opinion – take what you want from them. You’re the expert on your child.

Best sippy cup to keep a drink cold – Thermos (but they can leak if held in a certain position and it’s not best to give on a long car trip unsupervised – trust me)

You cannot make a child eat, drink, or sleep. I have lost many tears and gained many grey hairs on this battle.

When raising your child in faith they will use God to back their beliefs/stories. (Like red pants and an orange shirt match because God put them next to each other in a rainbow)

Find the humor in life with kids.

Rachael Suddarth, St. Paul Sunday school teacher

If you are eating at a restaurant, order your kids’ food immediately. It keeps them from getting too hangry.

Every night before the boys go to bed, we have a small family worship time. We read the bible, sing simple worship songs, and pray. It is a nice way to end the day. After we turn off the lights we play 20 more minutes of music on their ipod while they fall asleep – hymns, worship songs, Jars of Clay, Gungor.

For littles – Jesus Story Book Bible is excellent

For olders – The Action Bible – graphic novel format, has a much more expanded telling of the bible compared to other children’s abbreviated versions

Best books in general – Doggies by Sandra Boynton (well anything by Sandra Boynton); Peek-a-who by Nina Laden; Pouch by David Ezra Stein; Anything that is Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willem

Nancy Ingelson, St. Paul Member, Lutheran Deacon & Former Staff

The Waiting Gift in Lullabies

Good night, dear God, it’s time for bed, time to rest my weary head.

Take care of me and those I love, keeping watch from above…

Squirmy-squeally, wiggly-giggly three-year-olds, minutes before bedtime. Two-, four- and six-year-olds preferring action over naps. Newborns so hard to put down…Gosh, but it’s tough to stop! And who needs down time more than the grown-ups here?

It’s been my experience as a mom and a grandma that little ones come equipped with a disposition toward the Holy — real life skin-and-bone invitations to us grown-ups to come to a space and time where God is waiting. Rocking chairs, crib-side, pillows on the floor; car seats, door frames, grocery store — moments and places that offer something of God’s grace.

Lullaby. Ritual. We can find help with these on line, in books, from each other. We can make them up. They’re waiting in hymns—away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head; and in songs we know—take, oh, take me as I am, summon out what I shall be. Set your seal upon my heart and live in me. Such times as this can help us experience  the kind of trust Jesus was talking about, calm in the mystery of the presence of God.

I’m not a great singer, but I believe in lullabies as a way to that special place and time with children. Maybe it’s bedtime, maybe it’s morning. Maybe it’s a song of love after a hurt. So I sing. The kids don’t care about my pitch or the quality of my voice. They don’t “do” embarrassed. They don’t notice that it’s getting harder for grandma to get up off the floor. If they do, they don’t say so. What they do notice, what they do get, is real presence just for them.

Somehow, the things contained in lullaby moments find a way into their little souls…and ours.

Dear little ones, I love you so. I will never let you go.

Take my hand and trust in me. Near you I will always be.  Amen.

Peter Pettit, teaching pastor

I learned that one of the best life-hacks for a veteran parent is to stumble across a disinterested, non-needy way to ask your adult children what was best about their growing up. Then listen carefully and enjoy. Repeat! Here are some reflections from my conversation with our grown daughters and their spouses:

Read with your children – a lot for a long time. Snuggle and let them take over the reading as they are able. Then making sure they have all the books they want and can read, and more.

Sing your children to sleep and use favorite hymns and songs from your own faith life. Find a few constants that they hear hundreds and hundreds of time over their early years. Perhaps, include one or two in a foreign language, if you can; it may be that the “otherness” of it enriches their sense of how big the world is, or that their inability to understand the words makes the melody more compelling and haunting. In any case, both our kids named the Hebrew songs we sang in their lists.

Have “a thing” with each child. Each parent and each child – one-on-one – something that is distinctively theirs to share and that persists through the years and into adulthood.

Have “a thing” that is the whole family’s together.

Build and name and indulge family traditions.

Respect them as whole people from the very beginning, even as you support them in being the growing, exploring, not-yet-fully-formed people that they are.

Let them be kids, but talk to them like real people.

Let them make their own decisions about what they want to do/explore (sports, music, art, etc), and give them the freedom to change their minds.

Give them Legoes.

BAGELS! “Bagels” is a practice Jenn and I got into her junior year in high school. Once a week we’d drop Sarah at middle school and then go to a bagel shop for a half-hour, just the two of us. Jenn will still call me and ask, “Can we get a bagel?” That means there’s something she needs to process.

Show them what commitment is – TMI and PDA are actually a good thing.

Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

The greatest joy of parenting is to envelop kids in one’s embrace — in this photo it’s my arms around our Jacob and Rachel. But the parent’s’ embrace is always for the sake of, and for the reminder that, the child also needs to grow his or her own wings. In other words: hold them close and let them go, each and every day. From the first day in kindergarten to the day they leave for college or the military or some workplace, it’s hold, hug, and kiss … but also push off, set free, empower.

We practiced this every night at prayer time. Not once between the day of our kids’ birth and the start of high school did we ever miss bedtime prayers. No matter where we were in the world or how upset we may have been with somebody else in this little family of four, we never missed. The ritual was to lay on the floor of any bedroom in the house, usually the kids took turns choosing. Once the squirming settled down, each member of the family offering a spontaneous prayer for what he or she loved about the day, was worried or concerned about, and anything else in all of creation and human joy or suffering that might enter one’s mind. Then, we spoke the Lord’s Prayer in unison, after which we sung a two verse song about Jesus being a tender shepherd who lives “near me and in me.” (See me if you want me to teach it to you.) After all this was done, the kids were tucked into their beds for a good night’s sleep. We turned them over to God, essentially un-hugging them to be their own selves apart from the family. Hug and unhug. Embrace and set free. Hold close but push off.

This is the calling of parenting. Susan and I practiced it every day of the kids’ lives, sometimes with better success. As I look back, it’s what gave strength and happiness to our family and, I believe, a future for our children.

 

 

One comment on “Dear parents of one-year-olds”

  • Jill Esbaum

    January 30, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Wow, all of these are so thoughtful and creative and love-centric. What a joy to read and discover! (And Paula, THANKS! That was a sweet surprise.)

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Joel 2:1-17

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near— 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. 3 Fire devours in front of them, and behind them a flame burns. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them. 4 They have the appearance of horses, and like war-horses they charge. 5 As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle. 6 Before them peoples are in anguish, all faces grow pale.[a] 7 Like warriors they charge, like soldiers they scale the wall. Each keeps to its own course, they do not swerve from[b] their paths. 8 They do not jostle one another, each keeps to its own track; they burst through the weapons and are not halted. 9 They leap upon the city, they run upon the walls; they climb up into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief. 10 The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. 11 The Lord utters his voice at the head of his army; how vast is his host! Numberless are those who obey his command. Truly the day of the Lord is great; terrible indeed—who can endure it? 12 Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16 gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. 17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”

Psalm 51:1-17

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. 5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. 6 You desire truth in the inward being;[a] therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right[b] spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing[c] spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God[d] is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 6 As we work together with him,[a] we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

6 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a] Concerning Prayer 5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[b] Concerning Fasting 16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a] Concerning Treasures 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[b] consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust[c] consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Exodus 24:12-18

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” 15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision. 5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling 12 kiss his feet,[a] or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him.

2 Peter 1:16-21

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved,[a] with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.[b]

Matthew 17:1-9

17 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I[a] will make three dwellings[b] here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved;[c] with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Genesis 2:15-17;3:1-7

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”The First Sin and Its Punishment 3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,[a] knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Psalm 32

The Joy of Forgiveness Of David. A Maskil. 1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up[a] as by the heat of summer.Selah 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.Selah 6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress,[b] the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you. 10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Romans 5:12-19

Adam and Christ 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Matthew 4:1-11

The Temptation of Jesus 4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Genesis 12:1-4a

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”[a] 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Psalm 121

Assurance of God’s Protection A Song of Ascents. 1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

The Example of Abraham 4 What then are we to say was gained by[a] Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. God’s Promise Realized through Faith 13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

John 3:1-17

Nicodemus Visits Jesus 3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”[b] 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born from above.’[e] 8 The wind[f] blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you[g] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[h] 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[i] 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.