Dear Sisters in Christ,
The first half of the summer has gone by so quickly! Some of our plans have come to pass and some not, but the season is not yet over. Watch what comes next!
WELCA Retreat – New Date – September 9th
What comes next is our annual WELCA retreat. I look forward to this event every year, and have never been disappointed. We will gather in the Fellowship Hall on Saturday September 9th at 10:00 AM for a bible study and a program. There have been a couple of really interesting topics suggested: you and I will have to wait to satisfy our curiosity that Saturday. We will have lunch and then assemble our schoolbags for the children of Families Together (PLM). The whole affair should be over by about 2:00 PM.
These schoolbags have been crafted from material donated by members of WELCA according to a pattern from the NC WELCA website. The supplies were bought with donations from our luncheon in May (more has come in since then, as well). It is amazing what peace and joy accompanies our service to others, isn’t it true?
More Upcoming Events
Two more news items and I am finished. October 13-15th the All Lutheran Women’s Retreat at the Hospitality House and Conference Center (click here for more information). We are are also very excited that Grace Lutheran will host the Spring 2018 Gathering of the NCWELCA.
Years ago I attached a welcome home sign on the exterior siding outside our kitchen door. I intended the sign to be a singular event. The sign expressed our glee that our son was returning home from Boston for Thanksgiving.
Now some 15 years later every visiting family member looks for a welcome home sign.
Several attendant rituals have emerged:
- The sign includes some loving jab at the new arrival
- They pretend not to read it
- I have to ask if it’s been read
- They begrudgingly acknowledge
Where is MY Sign?
I once decided to break ranks and didn’t create the usual sign. All I heard was, “Where is my sign!”
This family ritual has had great staying power… with one change: I no longer pen the intended message onto the exterior wooden surface. Why? That board is now so peppered with pen holes you’d think a wood pecker has attacked it. (Those messages now are gently taped to the window sill.)
I love seeing that holed board. Its dotted surface bends my heart. At times I’m even overcome beholding the breadth, length, and depth of loving connections represented there. If I ever move away that board comes along. Well, at least the tradition it embodies.
The Church With A Welcome!
All Are Welcome Here!
Find A Loving Welcome Inside!
What is Grace’s Church Slogan?
Church Slogans: Attempts to define the shape and substance of engaging the new.
Let’s hope that Grace Church is a community like that hole riddled board. That we never ever tire of welcoming those God is sending to us/we are reaching. Someone once defined church as ‘Grace Space.’ Therein, the shape of the community is so welcoming that people are set free; an expansive, burgeoning with love-and-grace-spirit pervades.
Imagine the quality and character of our welcome mirroring the very one we worship. Where I’d gladly want to become a signpost — my heart a hole peppered board!
Hoping to Be a Living Welcome,
Use the following yardstick to judge between two statements: One is more childlike; one is more childish.
1. In the midst of watering with a hose all adults run under it and get soaked.
2. At work a rubber band is placed around the sink hose spray handle insuring that the next person using the sink will, unknowingly, get drenched.
I’d vote for #1 as childlike and #2 as childish.
Voluntary Participation is Preferable
In one case the participation is voluntary; in the other case participation came without consent. Voluntary participation may not be the primary definer of childlikeness. It sure helps. Other markers for childlikeness include a trusting spirit, an openness to explore, a self-forgetfulness. These draw us closer to childlikeness.
I watched a toddler at the beach. He fell into his baby pool. In great delight, he got up and did it again. His father held him by his ankles and flipped this babe over his shoulder. The little fellow chased a seagull. He rolled in the sand. He splashed water wearing a two teeth smile. This youngster was being himself, demonstrating something of childlikeness.
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Where do we find Jesus?
Jesus will be found among children and those who humble themselves and become like children. So often our tendency with children is to focus on their growing—growing their intellects, their values, their faith. We want to direct the young and nurture them.
That is all good. Is it possible that we should hang with children because they open us to the presence of Jesus? Children are a doorway into the company of our Lord? Welcoming a child is welcoming Jesus?
It’s tantalizing. It’s kind of hilarious. Here’s a group of children playing in a sandbox (hopefully without cell phones in hand!). One is building a castle. Another is filling a dump truck. Two others are holding hands watching a bird fly over. They giggle. They get sand in their eyes.
Welcome Jesus! I hope to avoid the temptations that come with being childish! I want more of childlikeness and Jesus!
Still a Child,
Some years ago, with the help of the younger generation, I secured a Facebook account. I didn’t use it. Never opened Facebook. If during that time people unfriended me, I was blissfully unaware. When I retired in 2013, I began to check out Facebook. About all I knew to do was press like. Even then I wasn’t sure where like was going in cyber space. Such timidity limited my being social on that medium.
Through art, we are able to break bread with the dead, and without communion with the dead a fully human life is impossible.
A Moment in Time
What draws me to stay on Facebook are pictures. I welcome seeing folks together, observing where they are, peering in on what they are doing. One day I opened Facebook and there to my surprise was a wonderful picture of someone celebrating another birthday. I was jolted. Although the individual was radiant, smiling, and effervescent, this person had died several years before. Unless someone intervenes, as long as Facebook exists, that picture, frozen in time, will show up each year, acknowledging another birthday—a birthday for someone who has ceased with birthdays. It’s happened several times now. May it continue!
Here is yet another way to connect with the communion of saints … on Facebook. Who would you like to show up on your Facebook page? Wouldn’t it be glorious to gaze upon a long gone loved one? To just one more time capture the gleam in their eyes, the color of their hair, the particular features which made them … them? And why stop there? Scroll back through the years, well before you and I were around.
We Lutherans observe the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this year. Let’s go back to Wittenberg and study there Martin, Katie, Phillip, the Princes and the Popes. “We have this cloud of witnesses around us,” declared the writer of Hebrews. We are surrounded by them. We are strengthened by them; bereft without them.
Cloud of Witnesses
Let’s be intentional about those deep, abiding spiritual witnesses. What fun it would be in worship, right in front of our brothers/sisters in Christ, to address such questions as these:
- Who from the cloud of witnesses helped you answer the call to love Jesus?
- Who in the cloud of witnesses is still encouraging you to run the race of
- What obstacles have you had in running the race of faith?
- Who might one day name you as part of the cloud of witnesses who encouraged
To answer such questions, is for us in the body of Christ, a real way to be … social.
Thank you! THANK YOU so much Grace Members! Our Backpack Fundraiser Luncheon was a marvelous example of the generous spirit that is present at Grace Lutheran Church. We served a soup, salad, and dessert lunch to 45 guests with 5 meals to go added to that count. WE RAISED $412 and are over halfway to our $700 goal to send 100 backpacks (a 45 total increase from last year) to Lutheran World Relief. If you were not able to enjoy our Fundraiser lunch, contributions will still be accepted, just contact Helen Hauser or Lin Gunnet, or mail your check to Grace Lutheran with a note for WELCA LWR backpacks, or drop your check in the Sunday offering plate by August 1st.
WELCA will not be on hiatus this summer. We will not have our usual second Tuesday of the month meetings, but we are planning several special events throughout the summer. The June and July events are scheduled with an open invitation to all Grace membership.
Come learn what is happening and get new insight into the world of textiles. Monday, June 12th, we will meet in the Grace parking lot at 9:45am to carpool to the NCSU campus to take a tour led by our very own textile guru, Pete Hauser. Pete will lead a guided tour through the world of textiles, textile engineering, and nonwovens. “NC State’s Nonwovens Institute is home to the world’s first and only accredited academic program for interdisciplinary study of engineered fabrics.” Check out the web link at www. textiles.ncsu.edu for more background information prior to our tour to learn about the fantastic new products we use everyday that are designed, developed, and created right here in Raleigh. We will then carpool to the State Farmers Market Restaurant for lunch. Bring a friend, a spouse, a child, or a grandchild for this fantastic learning experience.
In July we are scheduling a trip to New Hill, North Carolina for a ride on the New Hope Railway and a tour of the railway Museum. Check out their website at www.triangletrain.com. Please join us for some summer fun.
SAVE THIS DATE: August 12, 2017, WELCA will host a Women’s retreat from 10am-2pm in the Fellowship Hall at Grace Lutheran. Lunch will be included. Women of all ages are invited, so please join us and bring a friend. Details will be posted as soon as our program speakers are confirmed and agenda completed.
Blessings to you all,
Lin Gunnet, WELCA President
Dear Sisters in Christ,
Happy Mothers’ Day! Hope your day was a happy one, surrounded by the people who love you the most, and whom you love the most. Where there is love there is forgiveness, and as mothers we depend on that forgiveness from our children as we get older! Where there is love, mistakes in parenting melt away, depend on it! Our May meeting was held on Tuesday May 9th, and there were nine women present. We planned our activities for the upcoming summer months.
Fundraising Luncheon – May 21
Plans have been finalized for the luncheon on May 21st. This is a fundraiser for our school supply backpack project. If you were at church on Sunday May 7th you saw for yourselves the backpacks made by members of WELCA on the backs of the chairs in the sacristy. They will be filled in August with school supplies. We need your donations to help fill the bags. There is no cost for the lunch, but donations will be very welcome. Our backpack assembly is going very well; at meeting time there were 90 made already and Helen and Lin were predicting at least 10 more by August, when we will get together to pack them up. Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Human Trafficking – Making A Difference in Our Community
Worthy of mention here is a bill to be brought up in the NC House of Representatives regarding human trafficking. House Bill 910 is close to our hearts since it focuses on one of our outreach ministries. The bill would create a pilot program to train law enforcement officers, educate children, and appropriate funds for providing aid to victims of human trafficking.
You can read the full text of the bill at North Carolina General Assembly website We hope that after you read it that you will be moved to contact your State House and Senate Members to voice your support for the legislation. It is hard to believe that such things go on in the modern world; we should be so much more evolved than this. Let your voice and will be heard to bring about change.
Summer WELCA Activities at Grace
July 29 – Family outing on the New Hope Valley Railway
If you are interested in a great ride back in time to when railroads were brand new and the biggest things in technology, please contact Lin Gunnet or Dottie Scott for information.
August 12 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM – WELCA Retreat
We will gather in the Fellowship Hall for bible study, an interesting program, and assembly of our 100+ schoolbags.
Additional Activities – Summer 2017
June 23-25th, 2017 – NC Women of the ELCA 30th Annual Gathering at Lenoir-Rhyne College
July 13-16th, 2017 – Tenth Triennial Gathering at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN. Registration is open!
October 13-15, 2017 – All Lutheran Women’s Retreat in Fredericksburg, VA at the Hospitality House and Conference Center.
Looking Ahead – Grace will be hosting the Spring 2018 Gathering of the NCWELCA– Stay tuned for the details.
Catch up on other WELCA news!
This time of year we are granted a special treat — birds singing! Mornings are arrayed in sound — chirping, calling, crackling — as an aerial symphony fills the sky. Likewise, at dusk you needn’t switch on any technology to enjoy a good tune; just sit outside to absorb a free concert. Talk about surround sound!
Barbara Crooker in her playful poem Sanctus considers the gravity of listening to birds. She posits in the ordinary sounds of goldfinch, wood thrush and mourning dove the presence of more. These gifts from the sky become windows into the holy. Even the title Sanctus (Holy) turns us to reconsider what we hear.
That’s just a bird chirping, nothing more
Hearing the Holy Spirit
Sometimes we have our feet too firmly planted on the ground. What is….is just what is. “That’s just a bird chirping, nothing more,” we find ourselves demanding. The poet may not jolt us out of this ‘flat footeness.’ But, she is trying: a mourning dove as ordinary as daylight calling out to you, bearing the voice of the Holy Ghost.
I’ll tip my hat to the poet and the deep sense of life she witnesses. She’s not far from the empty tomb or the dry life suddenly restored or the myriad of people no longer imprisoned by sameness.
What a grace note indeed!
Picture a haggard old visor. It used to be blue, like the sky. Now it’s virtually devoid of color, long clouded over, obscuring any real color. The elastic band is bereft of elasticity. The metal adjustment clasp could use a dab of rust remover. What once snugly sat on a young man’s head could now fit loosely on an Incredible Hulk.
I’ve been unwilling to part with this visor. By reasonable estimates it’s been in my custody for some 50 years now. I wear it only once a year. It doesn’t fit. That doesn’t matter. Some things deserve a proper burial; not this dome appendage. Frankly, it has no real value. And that, at least to me, is the visor’s real appeal.
The potency of Christianity is it’s nevertheless against the givens of life. Jesus renamed the discarded blessed. He snatched a fearful few and built his church on their faith. He called those settled and safe to being born anew beyond their control. Jesus hung out with followers, detractors, and those identified as used up visors. He still does.
Seeking the Fullness of Life in Christ
I’m deeply honored to be the temporary shepherd of Grace Church, Raleigh. Thanks to your congregational council for entrusting me with this privilege. I hope to be among you for a time between Pastor Frye, who served here for some 16 years, and the as yet unknown new pastor called by the Spirit to lead you. Admittedly, I’m hooked by your mission statement: seeking the fullness of life in Christ for all people. It teems with depth…and grace! No one is a cast off visor.
I’ve got a lot to learn about you, Grace’s ministry and history, it’s culture/norms, hopes/hurts, joys/fears, challenges/opportunities. I think it will be fun. And I hope you will say the same.
By the way, I have a name for that old visor: Always being made new! And by the grace of our Lord Jesus the same can be said of you, Grace Lutheran Church.
Freed and Renewed in Christ,
Pastor David Sloop, Grace Interim Pastor
Dear Sisters in Christ,
We opened our last meeting by reading our mission and purpose statements, and went directly to the first of two Bible Studies. They were worth waiting for because they validated our purpose statement exactly. The first one dealt with the theme of His work, our hands, and repeated the message that works were not necessary for salvation but a demonstration of our gratitude for His love.
We all know that many places in the New Testament record this message, but I found it interesting that it is also found in the Book of Habakkuk, in the Old Testament. He and Paul both stated that the righteous will live by faith. The second Bible Study reassured us that we are all God’s adopted children; therefore we are all sisters and brothers, and adoptive sisters and brothers of Christ. Abraham’s domestic situation was examined, where the children of Sarah and Hagar were found to have different statuses because of their mothers. Abraham stated that the child of a wife is a son and the child of a slave is a slave. Abraham recognized Isaac as his son, and God recognizes us as His children. Both programs promoted a lot of discussion and were joyfully received.
WELCA Mission Updates
The School Backpack Mission is ongoing, and to date 70 backpacks have been assembled. To fill them, we will have a luncheon in May, on Sunday the 21st, for all church members. Donations from the luncheon will help defray the shipping costs and purchase of school supplies to stuff in the packs. These backpacks are to be filled with necessary supplies and equipment for the use of children unable to afford these items in the typical school year. We have applied for grants to cover the luncheon and the supplies, but donations are welecome.
Save the Date – Retreat August 12
Our yearly retreat has been scheduled for August 12th. It will take place in the Fellowship Hall at Grace, and we will get together there to assemble the backpacks. After lunch we’ve scheduled a women’s safety course and, hopefully, a program on human trafficking. There is an unbelievable feeling of fellowship that is a result of a program like this, and the support generated among the women for the different ministries we are involved in, and for each other, just keeps growing and growing.
Our meeting closed with a request for joys and concerns, and heartfelt prayers were offered for each of them. We left the church feeling a renewed love for each other, and calls of support echoed across the parking lot. See you in April!
The season of Epiphany encompasses the eight weeks between the festivals of the Baptism of Our Lord and the Transfiguration. During the final weeks of Epiphany we experience some of the most well-known texts in the Bible, from John the Baptists Here is the Lamb of God to Micah’s What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God to Jesus’ powerful Sermon of the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes.
People often consider this time after Christmas as a long hiatus before the season of Lent begins; but, if they do, they are missing some very important messages focusing on how Christ transforms our lives by calling us to experience the joy, the struggle, and complexities of the Christian life. The Gospel messages throughout this season finds Jesus hard at work teaching, healing, calling disciples, and preaching on the mountain. Again and again we hear the themes of light, baptism, cross, and discipleship.
We are also reminded during the season of Epiphany that the goodness and justice of God extend far beyond our community of faith into all parts of the world and among all people. We are not meant to just hear the words of these scripture passages; we are also meant to be advocates for applying them in everyday life.
Epiphany could well be called a growing season for the church and for its mission. How can each of us cultivate new and exciting ways of serving God and one another? What can we do for the sake of the gospel that we may never have done before. Can we leave our comfort zones in order to minister to the poor, the afflicted, the grieving, the dying, and the persecuted? I should hope so, and I encourage you to give this some serious and prayerful thought.
As the hymn says:
“Listen, God is calling, through the word inviting,
offering forgiveness, comfort and joy.
Jesus gave his mandate: share the good news
that he came to save us and set us free.”