Churches need balconies. Balconies are a way for certain people to be present and not be ‘too’ present. Youth. Youth in the balcony have opportunity to be ‘there’ without being ‘there’. A balcony becomes an excellent way to distant yourself from the older set.
Climbing the Stairs – A New Perspective
To this day I recall my first passage up the stairs to the church balcony. I had arrived. It was 9th grade. The older youth welcomed me, initiating me into the ways of balcony behavior—act engaged; stand for the hymns; pass notes discreetly; pretend to listen to the sermon; save spit wads for each other.
Continuing to live there was dependent on abiding by these critical rules. No balcony members wanted the pastor’s attention during worship. Such a public shaming meant certain banishment to the main floor. At all costs, this was to be avoided.
Once in the balcony—always in the balcony. Ask anyone up there which was more important, “Where you sat or what you heard?” and balcony seating was most critical. Though unstated, this trip up 13 stairs was a more longed for life passage than confirmation.
Rites of Passage
The late Nelson Mandela in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom recounts his tribal custom of transitioning to adulthood. In his community the boundaries for coming of age were crystal clear. Complete the tribal rites of passage and you were no longer a child. You knew it and so did everyone else.
Finding a Grace Space
In our culture, those adult rites of passage aren’t so evident. That’s why we need balconies. A balcony is a grace space. No one under/over a certain age should be allowed up there. There youth are granted a safe space to have one foot in the door and one foot outside. There you tacitly tell these ‘in between’ folks, we want you here even at a time when they are unsure about being here. They just may catch a glimpse of a future worth living, a calling that Jesus offers.
We don’t have a balcony. Since we don’t, why don’t you become a balcony? You—the one who provides needed grace space.
Yearning for such living,
David Sloop, Grace Interim Pastor
School of Grace Annual Art Show
Sunday Afternoon, even though I had seen the art, I wandered through all of the canopies (and looked at the Sky Color display) after everyone left The School of Grace Annual Art Show and Silent Auction. The essence of the joy and laughter remained, along with the delight in seeing SoG graduates return and so many of you, our Grace Lutheran Church family attend. Together, the church and preschool are truly a family and Sunday was our reunion.
On Monday morning, I woke up smiling! Why? Well, certainly, raising $3722 in the Art Show and Silent Auction is exciting, but the memory of Teachers collaborating as the Art Show was created, families reunited, church members showing your support and our recognition of the children’s creations led to my genuine delight.
Scholarship Goal – Met and Surpassed by Your Generosity
Then, on top of that, came the realization that you, as members of this extended family, have committed to give over $16,000 to our scholarship program for our refugee children and families in need. I was speechless and filled with awe at how God is working through this church to continue our history of supporting refugee families; to continue to reach beyond our walls to touch lives; to stretch by offering what we have as we “seek the fullness of life in Christ for all people”.
My heart is happy! I hope yours is, too! On behalf of the children and families at The School of Grace, I thank you. I truly thank you.
Lynn Hess, Director
School of Grace
This year’s School of Grace Art show featured work inspired by the book Sky Color display.
Read more about this special book, Sky Color.
Women of the ELCA
Triangle Conference Spring Gathering – 2018
Registration and Breakfast – 9:30 to 10 am
Conference – 10 am to 2 pm
On Saturday, April 21, from 9:30am – 2pm, Grace Lutheran will host the annual Triangle Conference Spring Gathering for the Women of the ELCA (WELCA). The event will include many opportunities for Christian fellowship and fun! Enjoy terrific home cooked food with a light breakfast served during registration just before the gathering begins, and also at lunch.
Called to Be Global Sisters, Seeing Each Other With New Eyes
The focus of our conference will be an in-depth study centered on the topic of Called to Be Global Sisters, Seeing Each Other With New Eyes. We hope this program will improve our understanding of women from other cultures. Our study will be lead by Pastor Marissa Krey, of Lutheran Services of the Carolinas.
Registration forms can be found on the poster in the Narthex at Grace or can be downloaded using this link.
The cost to attend is only $8 per person and includes all materials. Registration begins at 9:30 am. Remember that we’ll be serving a light breakfast from 9:30 – 10 am and that lunch is also provided. We hope you’ll plan to join us; you are welcome to attend any portion of the retreat that works in your schedule.
Contact us with any questions.
Please note that the next WELCA meeting in May will be on May 1st (first Tuesday of the month)!
Lin Gunnet, WELCA President
A tip of a hat, a wave, a wink—these are gestures. They carry much freight. Gestures can shape our living. A Mom and Dad’s good night kiss brings assurance of parental love. When a kiss is absent or withheld from the bedtime ritual children may wonder about that love.
Gestures Carry Much Meaning
Those of us who lived during the Vietnam War may remember a picture of American POWs sent by their captors. In this photo several soldiers held up a raised middle finger. Their captors did not understand the gesture. We did. That picture conveyed great assurance of the unbroken imprisoned.
Take note of the gesture of the third base coach. With rapid motion that coach’s arms communicate clearly to the batter. These same gestures disguise a message intended to throw off the opposing team. In no other sport is the art of gesturing so perfected.
Sharing God’s Peace
Of singular importance in Christian worship is the gesture of sharing the peace. Before we come to receive the peace of Christ through communion, we first reach out to each other in peace.
This gesture is always significant and more so when we have lived with tension or discord towards another person. Peace carries the hope of a new, different future.
The peace of the Lord be with you always…
In an increasingly casual culture gesturing is diminished. We who bear the mark of Christ are encouraged to retrieve it for the sake of Christ. When on those occasions I mark the foreheads of young children at communion with a cross, I ask if they can feel that cross on them. It is a gesture.
It is a mark of life.
May our gestures convey our heart.
Come to the table, for all is now ready…
Grace Lutheran Church welcomed a number of our youngest members to the Lord’s table this past week.
Congratulations to all of our first communicant families!
You’ve all seen the Green Bin in the Narthex, right. Grace Lutheran Church members do a great job each week – filling it up with donations for North Raleigh Ministries.
I bet you’ve seen the reminders too.
Those posts in the weekly Letter of Grace that you pick up on Sundays, on our Facebook page and in the weekly Grace Happenings email.
You’ve taken them to heart and added extra items to your shopping list or maybe even pulled things out of your own cabinet to donate.
But what happens next?
Each week, the contents of the bin, miraculously arrive at North Raleigh Ministries to meet the needs of our hungry community.
This special delivery happens every week, courtesy of some special volunteers.
Grace Lutheran members volunteer in many different areas of this vital ministry in many different areas. They serve as thrift shoppe, client choice market and crisis center volunteers. Our congregation also provides leadership on the organization’s Board of Directors.
History of North Raleigh Ministries
Grace Lutheran was one of the original five North Hills area congregations to provide support of the North Hills Crisis Center (now North Raleigh Ministries) when it opened its doors in 2004. The first location was right across the street from Grace, in a 1,200 square foot house.
The other churches founding churches include St. Timothy’s Episcopal, St. Mark’s Methodist, Trinity Baptist, and Hudson Memorial Presbyterian. Each member church provided initial donations and volunteers to support the ministry, as well as one member each for the Board of Directors.
Read more about the history of North Raleigh Ministries.
It’s not a bad idea to have a few pseudonyms. One of my favorites is Rotsap Pools (Pastor Sloop backwards). I turn to it during times I mess up. Self talk goes something like this, “Well that was a real Rotsap Pools move!”
When our daughter Elizabeth passed through the teen years at times we would address her as “Complainabeth.” Needless to say, while descriptive of her mood, this name served only to amplify complaining.
Neither identifiers is particularly positive. Over time they would begin to wear, and not comfortably. Hopefully a voice would emerge, perhaps an internal voice, protesting.
What’s In a Name?
One of the most critical times for our spiritual ancestors was their exile in Babylon. They had no reason to speak of themselves in the affirmative. Many were complaining, many were pointing the finger at each other. Given their lot they would have answered to the name Hopeless or Powerless or Worthless. A bully would not have made them feel lower. They were already there.
Along came a voice from within their community. Someone home grown. This voice refused to allow the present to define. Up on tiptoes this strong presence offered a counter-identity. Not one that had any substance based on circumstances.
Rather a strange and potent message: You Are Oaks of Righteousness
Sturdy • Tall • Expansive • Unmoved • Reliable • Worthwhile
This imaginative voice is Isaiah, specifically Isaiah of Jerusalem. His words, poetic words, are preserved as scripture. He spoke for God.
I dare you to speak as did Isaiah
To turn to another, to someone languishing in self-disgust or lamenting a former life, a failure that holds sway and say directly to them you are an oak of righteousness.’
And mean it. To do so is to live toward the fullness of life in Christ.
So Great a Love,
David A. Sloop, Interim Pastor