God is a he (lowercase)

“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.” —John 3:16 NRSV

Why Not Capitalize the Godly He?*

Resist the urge to capitalize pronouns for God.  Illustration by Ann Rezny,  graphic designer at the Herron Studio.

Resist the urge to capitalize pronouns for God. Illustration by Ann Rezny, graphic designer at the Herron Studio.

1.       Because pronouns for God are not capitalized in the Bible or standard stylebooks like AP and the Chicago Manual. 

2.      Because pronouns for God are not as clear as names for God.

I once asked a group of about 50 colleagues, “When someone signs a letter, ‘In His Service,’ who are they talking about?” I was surprised to learn most thought this meant “In God’s Service,” not “In Christ’s Service.”

Using names for God instead of pronouns is especially important when writing something for reading aloud, for example, a devotion. Listeners cannot hear the capitalization or scan back to determine the subject of the sentence.

If it is necessary to capitalize gendered pronouns to make it clear the reference is God, rewrite.

3.      For some, capitalizing pronouns for God is a sign of piety and respect. For others, this seems as antiquated and stodgy as using thee and thou.

While readers are unlikely to notice lowercase pronouns for God, capitalized pronouns call attention to themselves. Thus, a capitalized He runs a greater risk of a negative reaction.

*  Many people, myself included, prefer not to limit God to gendered pronouns–he or she. Capitalizing pronouns for God emhasizes the limits of the English language and a too-small image of God. This post, however, is an appeal to the faithful for whom God is, and always will be, a he. It is a case for lowercase.

Sue Edison-Swift 

Posted in Devotion, Style Guidelines | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Piggery in UgandaDaughter Annie, grandson Walter and granddaughter Sally stayed with us over the weekend. Sleeping on a cot in our bedroom, Walter (2.5 years) woke up sobbing at 2 a.m.

“The PIGGIES!” he wailed. “I’m scared of the piggies!”

“You’re having a nightmare,” I said, scooping him up. Baba turned on the battery-operated candle to illuminate the situation. “See, Walter? There are no piggies here.”

On our second trip to the rocking chair, Walter whispered, “I hate that piggy sound, Umma. Have you ever heard that sound?”

That’s when it dawned on me. Snoring sounds a lot like piggies.

Umma Sue, 3/17/2014

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment


For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.–Jeremiah 29:11

On Friday, I packed my office. It was my last day as Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications for Bethesda Lutheran Communities. On Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, I begin as Corporate Director of Faith Life Resources with the Bethesda Institute.

BiblesHymnalsAs I packed and labeled a box of Bibles, hymnals and other important books, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Imagine the luck to have a career of positions where Bibles and hymnals have a prominent place on the office bookcase.

This newly created position is “responsible for growing the spiritual life initiatives and resources on the Bethesda Institute, a division of Bethesda Lutheran Communities.” I’ll serve as the principle organizer for the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability (June 16-20 in Dallas); develop and direct faith-and-disability research initiatives; and direct the planning and implementation of all religious resources and periodicals.

I’ve served as Interim Vice President of Marketing and Communications since Laura Reilly resigned in November. While I enjoyed the interim, I quickly discerned the permanent position was not for me, and did not apply. I was especially happy, then, when David Morstad, Bethesda Institute’s executive director, approached me with this opportunity.

“You’ve been preparing your whole life for this,” Nancy J. Stelling, the first editor of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather magazine), will say whenever someone needs an encouraging push to do something new. In many ways, my years with LWT, and all that came after, prepare me for this new first-day. Forward!

Sue Edison-Swift
  Feb. 9, 2014

Posted in Bethesda Institute | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Aunt Sally

Click here to read the remembrance Annie shared at Aunt Sally’s funeral.
Tender blessings, Sue

Aunt Sally and granddaughter Sally

Sally and Sally


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amazing Sally

Almost five months old, Sally is finding her voice. Here she’s vocalizing while I’m humming Amazing Grace. Sally Bug, throughout your life, I hope you always confidently communicate. You have a beautiful voice. Love, Umma (1/18/2014)

Posted in Edison-Albright, video | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

2013 Christmas Greetings


Falalalala 2013  

On August 22, baby Sally arrived,
falalalala, la-la-la-la.
On November 3, she was baptized,
falalalala, la-la-la-la.

On November 4, Annie’s gallbladder was removed, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Thank goodness, her health is much improved, falalalala, la-la-ah-ah.

Walter, now two, is our pride and joy, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
He’s a smart and sweet little boy, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Paul is Baba, loving grandfather, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Read “Walter and Me” in December’s Gather,* falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Paul’s cough headache (real thing) is a tribulation, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
To top it off, he has atrial fibrillation, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

On January 8, Paul will have cardio ablation, falalalala, la-la-la- huh?
If it works, there will be jubilation, falalalala, la-la-la-la!

Pastor Annie tends Redeemer’s pack, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Sean protects Sentry data from attack, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Working from home, Paul continues at the ELCA, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
At Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Sue spends her day, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Sue’s a temporary, interim VP, falalalala, la-la-la-la,
She loves our tiny Christmas tree, falalalala, la-la-lame rhyme.

A Democratic liberal in a land of Republicans, falalalala, la-la-ha-ha,
Makes it hard for Sue to live in Wisconsin, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Before offense is taken on this or that side, falalalala, la-la-la-la,
Remember relationship can cross such divides, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

With no reason to complain, we sometimes do, falalalala, la-la-waa-waah.
We miss faraway dear ones; we miss you, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Throughout the year, know that we care.
We send our love and hold you in prayer.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

*Find “Walter and Me,” the article Paul wrote for the December 2013 issue of
Gather magazine at http://bit.ly/walterandme.

Posted in Christmas | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Christmas Bagel

Two-year-old Walter and I had fun making up a song about a fictitious Christmas treat.

Christmas Bagel was red and green.
It was delicious, the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.
We love Christmas Bagel.
Happy, happy, happy Christmas to you! Yay!

For Walter’s solo (“It’s my turn, Umma”), continue watching after baby Sally’s cameo. To see Walter’s mommy (Pastor Annie) at 4 years old making up a Christmas song, see the second embedded video. Find my devotion based on Annie’s Song of Community here.

Posted in Christmas, video | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Service dish-washing

Recently, Paul and I took the opportunity to be kitchen crew for two nights at Camp Matz, Watertown, Wis., a ministry of Bethesda Lutheran Communities.

It was a week without the usual cadre of kitchen volunteers, so a call went out to Bethesda employees to come and help. We set up for dinner, served the meal, and did the dishes.

Paul did the first wash with the power sprayer. I staffed the wash, rinse and sanitize sinks and put the dishes in the dishwasher tray. My next-office colleague and her daughter loaded the tray in the industrial dishwasher and put the dishes away.

Spray. Wash. Rinse. Sanitize. Load. Unload. Repeat.

I began to reminisce about service dish-washing.

When I was around 13 years old, I helped my mom and other women do the dishes after a congregation dinner. Sometime later, mom came home with a gift for me. One of the women doing dishes that night gave me a cookbook for helping out. What an amazing, unexpected, grown-up affirmation. The raisin sauce I serve with ham is a lasting recipe from that cookbook.

During her two years of confirmation preparation, daughter Annie (now Pastor Annie) was expected to do service in the congregation and in the community. At that time, Sunday mornings often found the three of us in three different places in one church building. I decided we should all join the Altar Guild—Annie would earn abundant service points and the Edison-Swift family would spend more Sunday morning time together.

Continue reading

Posted in Devotion | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

burdens and joys

Sam (left), Rod, Laurel and Olivia

Sam (left), Rod, Laurel and Olivia

Laurel, Rod, Sam, Olivia, dear friends and family,

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

I’ve organized my thoughts for today’s message around the stanzas of “The Servant Song,*” the hymn printed on panel 4 of your wedding bulletin.

The first stanza goes like this:

Will you let me be your servant, let me be as Christ to you?
Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.

Rod tells of Laurel’s hospitality, saying, “She’s always looking after someone, taking care of someone. Laurel’s favorite question is, ‘Can I get you something?’”

Laurel speaks of Rod’s helpfulness. “Rod fixes things,” says Laurel. “He brings his toolbox and fixes things.”

On Rod’s first visit to Laurel’s home, he noticed a door was off one of her cupboards. The first gift Rod gave Laurel were hinges to fix that cupboard. Laurel says, “That was the best. gift. ever.” Those hinges came wrapped in thoughtfulness.

Hospitality, helpfulness and thoughtfulness are signs of grace-filled service.

So, too, is mutuality. Grace-filled service is give and take. It is reciprocal without keeping score.

Our hymn makes the mutuality point with the line, “Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.”

To receive gracefully requires trust and vulnerable openness.

Laurel and Rod met in college and had one best-forgotten date. Thirty-some years later, Rod reached out to Laurel through email. Two years ago, after months of long-distance communication, Rod drove to visit Laurel. As Rod was about to leave, he witnessed a meltdown— the raw side of family dynamics usually unseen by company. Embarrassed and weary, Laurel walked with Rod out to his car.

Saying goodbye, Laurel rested her head on Rod’s chest.

That vulnerable moment was transformational. In that moment, Laurel and Rod stopped being just college acquaintances and started falling in love.

Continue reading

Posted in Devotion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Storybook Project

Please take three minutes to learn about the LSSI Storybook Project by watching the video below. This effort, as simple and profound as a bedtime story, connects incarcerated parents with their children.

Have some fun this Mother’s Day weekend, and make a real difference. You can

  • Donate to the Storybook Project in honor of the person who read you bedtime stories or the little one who shares a favorite book with you. I gave $10.29, the purchase price of one of my favorite children’s books, I Love You Through and Through. A $5.12 gift (Mother’s Day is May 12) could contribute to the cost of shipping a book and recording to a child.
  • Send one or more new children’s books to Gail Beard, Storybook Project director. Find the guidelines below the video. Even if it has been years since you’ve last read a children’s book–enjoy sometime in a bookstore and pick up a classic or a new favorite. 
  • Invite others to do the same.

God bless us, everyone! Sue

Below, Gail Beard, Storybook Project director, offers a list a recommend of requested titles. Please follow the guidelines carefully, for example, only new books are accepted. Mail your donated books to the address above.  Church groups and civic organizations might consider a book drive in support of the Storybook Project.  Blessings! Sue

We are happy to receive any popular new book for children, but here is a list of the books that are often requested by our incarcerated parents. Continue reading

Posted in Storybook Project | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment