I was once accused of robbing the Walmart on Glenwood Avenue. That day I was casually walking toward the store from my car when suddenly people flooded out of Walmart’s main entrance. They were all pointing and shouting,
“They are over there! There they go!!”
I looked where this crowd pointed and saw two men on foot, holding a large package, running toward the Glenwood Avenue Chick-Fil-A.
Here’s where I come in
A Raleigh Police Cruiser came next to the two men (the actual robbers), and they, instead of sticking up their hands, point the officers to me!! Then the police came speeding across the parking lot…after me!!
“Officer,” I shouted, “turn around! Those two men are the ones who robbed Walmart!” And they high tailed it after the real robbers.
I admit to being dumbfounded by those robbers. Who in their right mind would steal a large package in broad daylight, in a large parking lot, flee on foot and expect to get away? Apparently, running away was not their intended plan. They had a getaway car. Only problem, when most needed, the car failed to start!
A True Lenten Experience
This parking lot fiasco has touch points to Lent. A true Lenten experience won’t let us say, “The real problem is over there, running away.”
What can sting with these 40 days is the freight of complicity. What holds us is the firm recognition that every getaway car gets us nowhere. We participate.
The opening salvo from our mouths as Lent begins:
“We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.”
That’s Lent. Recognizing again our carrying off a package, and the burden it brings, what it exposes.
The older I become, the more I want of Lent
To welcome Lent is not to wallow in self-hatred. To live a good Lent is not to be dour and despairing. To embrace this season with passion is not about full time remorse. Rather it’s more about staying alive, about receiving and recognizing grace, about openness to the ongoing promise of Christ amidst the tragic realities of life.
Lord, have mercy,
Pastor David Sloop, Grace Interim Pastor
P.S. This year Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day
Dear Sisters in Christ, Lydia Circle,
Our programs have focused on the women of the Reformation, finishing up, appropriately, with Martin Luther’s wife Katharina Von Bora, arguably a role model for the perfect wife. Our next programs will focus on a collection from Gather Magazine called Multiple Meanings; Learning from Other Interpretations, collected and written by Mark Allen Powell.
Our Spring Gathering is on for April 21st, 2018. Dottie Scott is handling the planning of the event. There will be guest speakers, bible studies, and retreats. And food! Mark your calendars, plan to attend, and volunteer for one the committees for advertising, programs, refreshments, registration, and cleanup. Let’s do ourselves proud hosting this statewide event.
The first luncheon, at Milton’s, will be at 11:30 AM on Monday, January 22nd. This will satisfy our social instincts very nicely in the middle of winter. Since everyone liked this idea so well, we will repeat this monthly, on the fourth Monday of the month. The address is Milton’s Pizza, 8853 Six Forks Rd., Raleigh, 27614. Sign-up sheet is in the narthex.
- January 24th at 9:30 AM – We will gather to sew bags for the 2018 Schoolbags for Families Together (PLM) campaign. Bring scissors and pins if you cannot bring a portable sewing machine. Contact Lin Gunnet or Helen Hauser for further information.
- February 10th — NC SWO One day WELCA retreat, Make a Joyful Noise, taking place at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 2100 Buffaloe Rd., Garner, 27529, from 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM. Registration is $10.00 and is due by January 29, 2018. Carpooling is available; meet at church at 8:30 AM.
- April 21st — Grace Raleigh WELCA will hold the NCWELCA Spring Gathering here at Grace. See above.
Things to Ponder
There is a need for those of you women with bookkeeping or accounting backgrounds (you know who you are!) to step up and donate some time to Grace. Our Finance Committee and Counting Committees need some help.
Our annual Women of the ELCA Sunday will be coming up soon. More information will be coming in future postings. Please consider what positions you would be willing to fill for the worship service.
We are looking forward to scheduling a bimonthly trip to take during the winter and spring. Discussion was held about the first one being to NC Museum of Art, to see the current exhibit, Ebony Women.
Let us know what other trips might be of interest!
Our church council has designated the following special offering opportunities for 2018. While regular giving funds the work and ministries of our congregation, we offer special offerings throughout the year to highlight specific ministries and projects.
The appeal may come in the form of an extra envelope in your monthly envelope packet. Other times an event provides a way to join in fellowship with other members of Grace and our community while supporting an important cause.
2018 Anticipated Special Offering Appeals
February – Souper Bowl of Caring
This appeal comes in the form of a free will offering. Join us during the Sunday School to enjoy a meal prepared by our High School and Middle School youth. All donations benefit North Raleigh Ministries Food pantry which fights hunger in our community.
Visit SouperBowl.org to learn more about the history of this yearly event to fight hunger.
March — Lutheran Coalition Habitat House Build
Grace is a member of a group of area Lutheran Churches that works with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County to build homes in our area. This project needs both volunteer power to build and donations to finance the project.
April — School of Grace Art Auction
Do you know what a purple crayon award is?
Creativity abounds at this yearly showcase of artwork from School of Grace students. You can support this cause by donations, purchasing artwork or bidding on silent auction items.
June — Vacation Bible School Ingathering for Local Charity
Each summer we choose to support a special cause during our Vacation Bible School event. Stay tuned for the details.
July/August — Rise Against Hunger
Special giving raises funds to cover the cost of the meal packaging supplies.
Visit Rise Against Hunger to learn more.
August/September — Youth Events & Scholarships
October — CROP Walk
Stay tuned and visit the Greater Triangle Area CROP Walk website for more information.
November/December — Families Together (PLM) Gifts for Children & Adults
Your donations help bring Christmas to family members in need who are part of the Families Together (PLM) program.
North Raleigh Ministries Food Pantry needs are highlighted in our weekly e-newsletter, Grace Happenings. Items in high demand are also listed in the Weekly Letter of Grace that is available on Sunday mornings.
The School of Grace has dine-out opportunities several times throughout the year. Watch Grace Happenings and special flyers attached to the Weekly Letter of Grace for details. Your family eats at the designated restaurant and The School of Grace receives a percentage of your total bill as a donation.
I hope you’ll be keeping an eye out for all the extra envelopes that may appear in your life in the coming year. Remember to share your time and talents with your church, community and world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
According to the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) about 40% of college freshmen will attend a campus ministry at least once. By junior year only about 20% of college Christians are participating in campus ministry. Why the drop in participation? The top reason is that many students see themselves as spiritual but not religious. They can live their faith without being part of a faith community. They may want God, just not the church.
Do You have a Faith Community?
Living without a faith community is not just a campus phenomenon. It’s in the very air we breathe. Much has been made of the consumerism which pervades our living. Wherein the operative question can become What did I get out of that?” From such a perspective being in a faith community must service some felt need. Couple this perspective with those siblings of individualism and anti-institutionalism and you have a recipe for persons devoid of established community. Here’s one example which may seem counter-intuitive: people approaching the church for a baptism but finding no reason to grow that child’s faith through a church home.
This context, which I am overstating, presents the church with a great opportunity. Our Lord Jesus was born in a family, among a specific people. He lived and grew up as part of a particular community. Our Lord Jesus chose disciples whom he formed into a community. He stuck by this band in spite of their insolence, their egos, their quirks. He chose them.
Living as a Christian – Four Pillars
Roland Rolheiser suggests that four pillars are essential to living as a Christian: personal prayer; concern for justice; joy filled living; and a concrete community. Of the concrete community Rolheiser writes:
“The grounding, earthiness, and necessary pain that only real involvement with a concrete community is what a parish family can give. In parishes we don’t get to pick who we will be standing beside as we worship. A parish family is a hand of cards that is randomly dealt to us… and will include persons of every temperament, ideology, virtue and fault. Church involvement does not leave us the option to walk away whenever something happens that we do not like. It is a covenant community, like a marriage, and binds us together for better or worse.”
Keep Hold of the Christ Child
Everyone snuggles up to the Christ child. Today this snuggling pictures families adoring Jesus. Missing from the picture are the very real, concrete people, beyond our own family, who populate the church. Could it be that part of the true meaning of Christ coming in flesh is that through the very en-fleshed reality known as church he comes?
Don’t miss out.
Together in Christ,
Pastor David Sloop, Grace Interim Pastor