Image by Thang Nguyen from Nottingham, United Kingdom (135209) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia
By now you have heard of our 2018 Stewardship Appeal: Welcoming All—Growing, Engaging, Building. It’s our focused effort to propel our mission into 2018 through shared generosity. We are asking for a lot… hoping you will earnestly evaluate your life and your commitments for continued alignment with God’s work through Grace. A stewardship appeal further binds us together.
It’s that binding in grace through Jesus which draws me to an unlikely image… training a canine pet.
I’m an abject failure at dog obedience training.
Lifetime Training Track Record – 0-6
As a teenager I attempted with my mother to raise a German Shepherd. This was the third dog ‘raised’ under my tutelage. How come our dog Lady didn’t behave like Rin Tin Tin? After Lady knocked over a precious vase, she was consigned to an outside pen. When a four foot fence wouldn’t contain her, we added four more feet.
Lady jumped over the first fence and climbed over the second. Neighbors knew our phone number by heart. After these same neighbors could no longer handle nights made sleepless from Lady’s incessant barking, we gave her to the Asheville Police Department.
Lady needed to get out of our jail. I failed with three other dogs after that. We survived each other largely due to their temperaments.
A Raleigh neighbor trained a Golden Retriever he named Trapper. Leashed to his master the young Trapper learned to successfully walk around the block. The two were in step with each other. As an adult dog Trapper strode next to his master gripping that leash in his teeth. He didn’t need to be restrained. A darting rabbit or squirrel would not send Trapper in pursuit. This canine willingly walked beside his master. The leash was just a connection point between master and dog.
It was a beautiful thing to witness. The dog preferred to please its master. He wanted to follow his every stride.
Martin Luther defined Christian freedom this way:
“A Christian is perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”
(Treatise on Christian Liberty)
A Call to Christian Freedom
What a rich understanding of our place in this world. We know we don’t have to walk beneath another; we choose that path. It should never be forced on us. There may be nothing worse than a collar choking you into submission. Constraint does not beget willing service. There may be nothing more beautiful than a servant who in freedom grips the leash in his/her mouth.
You do not have to give anything to support Christ’s work thru Grace Church. There is no leash pulling on you. This appeal is a call to Christian freedom!
Seeking the Fullness of Life in Christ,
David A. Sloop, Interim Pastor
Dear Sisters in Christ, Lydia Circle,
Our first meeting of the year was on Tuesday, September 19th. Thanks to our WELCA officers who are staying on for the duration of the current year. At our next gathering, on Tuesday, October 11th, we will finish up the assembly of our backpacks. Please plan to attend at 6:00PM, just before our regular meeting, for the assembly and packing.
Program for October Meeting – Focus on the Reformation
The program for the evening will illuminate the women of the Reformation for us; most interesting in light of the current anniversary year of the Reformation.
Following are some of the coming events of the year ahead:
- October 7th, 2017—Fall Gathering of the NCWELCA at Christus Victor in Durham. Contact Lin Gunnet if interested in attending.
- October 13-15th—All Lutheran Women’s Retreat in Fredericksburg at the Hospitality House & Conference Center.
- October 28th—Meeting of Kairos Outside at Grace Lutheran Church. Past leaders and guests are welcome.
- January 24th, 2018—Members will be gathering to sew bags for the 2018 campaign of schoolbags for the PLM-FT at 9:30 AM.
- Spring, 2018 — Grace will serve as the host for the NCWELCA Spring Gathering.
Questions to ponder and discuss:
Should we revisit the idea of a daytime meeting instead of a nighttime one? Would it swell our membership?
Remember your Driver’s Training Instruction? Mine is largely forgotten save for one scary ride. Here’s a recap…filtered through 50 years. Picture four people in a car: one disinterested instructor (Coach Bennett) and three student drivers. Coach Bennett slumps in the front passenger seat; you weren’t sure he could see above the dashboard. We students sat up, focused on driving and praying!
Coach Bennett chewed tobacco. And to receive the expelled tobacco juices, he held a large cup just under his lower lip. This chewing/spitting process was unpleasant. At least, we surmised, the tobacco habit kept the otherwise barely conscious man….awake.
Even in the best of situations, confusion may strike
One of our fellow students confused the gas and brake pedals. This irritated the coach. Each time she pressed the wrong pedal, Coach Bennett, still semi-conscious, would utter, “It’s simple. Your gas pedal is on the right; your brake pedal is on the left.” That only made it worse.
This timid, pedal confused driver, while rounding a curve managed to drop the two right tires off the pavement. “Ease it back on the road. Foot on the brake,” muttered Coach Bennett between spits into the juice cup. She slammed on the gas. The ensuing jolt felt like a launching rocket ship. Coach Bennett applied his brake, grabbed the steering wheel and brought us to a halt. He was coughing, somewhat violently. Arrested from his slumber, Coach Bennett had swallowed his tobacco plug!!
Focus for the Ride Ahead
After that frightful ride, we noticed a new affect and posture in our instructor. He sat up. Attentive. Alert. Suddenly more focused. Our financial stewardship campaign is fast upon us. We can coast along, take this ride with little interest. Most of us, like that driving instructor, have done it before. Please don’t travel that way through our campaign. Rather, be alert, attentive, more focused. No brakes needed.
Some things about this campaign have caused me to sit up and take note.
- An emphasis on expanded ministry.
- A stated target for total congregational growth in giving.
- An invitation to be stretched by the presence of an anonymous Challenge Gift.
- An invitation by letter to consider growing your giving by a stated weekly increase.
I really don’t think this will be hard to swallow. Rather it will be inspirational, motivational, generosity provoking. Join me in sitting up. Focus on the wondrous view God is giving us through our upcoming Stewardship Campaign It can make for a very fruitful journey together in 2018.
A litany for predominantly white spaces, against white supremacy
Here is the litany we shared at worship on Sunday August 20th.
Read the original post on Rev Elizabeth Rawling’s blog.
Gracious and loving God,
In the beginning, you created humanity and declared us very good
We were made in Africa, came out of Egypt.
Our beginnings, all of our beginnings, are rooted in dark skin.
We are all siblings. We are all related.
We are all your children.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are all your children.
Violence entered creation through Cain and Abel.
Born of jealousy, rooted in fear of scarcity,
Brother turned against brother
The soil soaked with blood, Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are our brothers keeper.
When your people cried out in slavery,
You heard them. You did not ignore their suffering.
You raised up leaders who would speak truth to power
And lead your people into freedom.
Let us hear your voice; grant us the courage to answer your call.
Guide us towards justice and freedom for all people.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we all deserve to be free.
Through the prophets you told us the worship you want is for us
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke;
Yet we continue to serve our own interest,
To oppress our workers, to crush our siblings by the neck because we are afraid.
Because they don’t look like us, act like us, talk like us.
Yet, they are us. And we are them.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are not free unless all are free
In great love you sent to us Jesus, your Son,
Born in poverty, living under the rule of a foreign empire,
Brown-skinned, dark-haired, middle-Eastern.
They called him Yeshua, your Son,
Who welcomed the unwelcome, accepted the unacceptable—
The foreigners, the radicals, the illiterate, the poor,
The agents of empire and the ones who sought to overthrow it,
The men and women who were deemed unclean because of their maladies.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are all disciples.
The faith of Christ spread from region to region, culture to culture.
You delight in the many voices, many languages, raised to you.
You teach us that in Christ, “There is no Jew or Greek, there is no slave or free, there is no male and female.”
In Christ, we are all one.
Not in spite of our differences, but in them.
Black, brown, and white; female, non-binary, and male; citizen and immigrant,
In Christ we are all one.
We are all siblings, we are all related, we are all one in Christ.
Written by Revs. Elizabeth Rawlings and Jennifer Chrien
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.