I cannot believe that Christmas is around the corner! I hope I am not the only one who has done very little to prepare for it. I did buy a wreath for the front door, and it looks very festive, but much more has to be done!
Save the Date for our Spring Gathering
Our Spring Gathering is definitely on for April 21st, 2018. Dottie Scott is handling the planning of the event. There will be guest speakers, bible studies, and of course food. Mark your calendars, and plan to attend.
Join us for a January Luncheon
We will again revisit meeting times after the first of the year, i.e., whether to make it earlier in the day or not. A monthly luncheon date was suggested, and approved. Our first luncheon will be held on Monday January 22nd. This will satisfy our social instincts very nicely in the middle of winter.
December 15th — WELCA Christmas Meeting and Dinner Party at 6:00 PM
Judy Grigsby will cater the dinner. Please bring some of your treasured ornaments for our table centerpieces. We and our prayer sisters will exchange gifts, and please keep the monetary value to $10.00. We’ll assemble our gift baskets and enjoy music and song, and much, much laughter. Please remember to bring in your Thank Offerings at this time.
January 24th, 2018 — Families Together Schoolbag Kickoff at 9:30 AM
Members will be gathering to sew bags for the 2018 schoolbag campaign for PLM Families Together” beginning at 9:30 AM.
April 21st, 2018 — Grace Raleigh WELCA will host the NCWELCA Spring Gathering
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 and Counting Committees are in need of help. Neither opportunity requires much time, and previous experience is lovely but not demanded. If you are interested or know someone who might be, please let me know.
For several years a large sign by 1-85 near Hillsborough advertised the opportunity to purchase SHELL gasoline. This one word sign towered over nearby trees. However, the S was missing, so the sign read HELL.
I once came by that intersection at night and from a distance could see this illuminated announcement. One wonders how first time travelers responded:
“Do you know something I don’t know?”
“See, I told you Hell was near Chapel Hill and Durham!”
All Joking Aside
All joking aside, we might benefit from such a sign above our community. Imagine the impact on us if high above Grace Church was the sign HEAVEN, illuminated day and night. Wanting to live up to this claim just might enlarge our living!
In what sense will people see heaven through seeing us?
I do wonder what message we give. Our baptism sets us on a singular path all about life together around word, sacrament and community, around life together for this needy world. That’s enough for a life time, several. To live individually and collectively our Baptism is to live a well centered life.
In his Testament of Devotion Thomas Kelly writes:
“We are trying to be several selves at once, without all our selves being organized by a single, mastering Life within us. Each of us tends to be, not a single self, but a whole committee of selves. And each of our selves is in turn a rank individualist, not cooperative but shouting out his vote loudly for himself when the voting time comes. It is as if we have a chairman of our committee of selves within us who does not integrate the many into one but who merely counts the votes at each decision. We are not integrated. We feel honestly the pull of many obligations and try to fulfill them all…Life is meant to be lived for a Center, a living Center.”
May God give us the reorienting power of Advent to re-center us and all our selves.
HEAVEN is coming among us!
David A. Sloop, Grace Interim Pastor
Sally and I once ran a week long camp at Camp Agape where NC Lutheran youth gathered with adults with developmental delays who lived at Murdoch Center, near Butner, NC. Since the camp convened in August we regularly visited the camp pond each afternoon. This was before Camp Agape had a swimming pool.
A Man of Few Words
One of our guests from Murdoch, a young man named Brisker, did not express himself verbally. While we were at the lake, Brisker started walking on the dock toward deep water. When the dock ended, Brisker just kept on walking. He immediately sank beneath the pond surface. Several of our youth went in after Brisker and brought him to safety.
Upon gathering himself, Brisker finally spoke. “That’s cold!” Immediately many of us dove head first into that section of the pond. We hoped that Brisker spoke the truth. He did! Thanks to Brisker we were refreshed by cool stream of spring water!
That was a long time ago (1981). I don’t recall anything else said at that camp – just those two, well timed words from Brisker. They stuck. When you’ve been hungry for someone to speak and they finally do, their words resonate.
What Do Your Words Really Say?
They have staying quality. Our words are to have efficacy. They can cause others to dive in.
I’m sorry – I love you – I forgive you – Thank you
Some of the most important words we can utter. To speak them with proper intent, to embody with urgency and sincerity, to back them up with appropriate behaviors, carry a new and enhanced future. Portals. Portals for a new beginning. Amidst all the noise-incessant breaking news, distracting gibberish — there is the thoughtful gift of a well timed word.
As we head into Thanksgiving and prepare for Advent may we all be so alert, so aware. And my God give us space to offer that good word. It may be for you and for others like coming up for air!!
Eager for Such Opportunity,
Pastor David Sloop, Grace Interim
Dear Sisters in Christ, Lydia Circle,
You know, for a small congregation, we get a surprising amount of work done! I am constantly amazed at the amount of product we turn out from WELCA. Our total of school bags for PLM-FT is 100! They were sent out from Grace during October. Hurray for us!
Our recent gathering included an intriguing program on the Reformation Women, both in Great Britain and in Scandinavia. We will continue this program at our next gathering, so if you missed the first part you can catch up at the next meeting on the 14th. We will also decide what will go into the gift baskets that we have traditionally assembled at our Christmas gathering too.
Mark your calendars for our Spring Gathering on for April 21st, 2018!
- October 28th—Meeting of Kairos Outside at Grace Raleigh. Past leaders and guests are welcome.
- November 17-18th—Theological Seminar for Women, in Salisbury, NC. Contact Lin Gunnet if interested in attending.
- December 12th—WELCA Christmas Meeting and Party at 6:00 PM. Judy Grigsby will cater the dinner and we will bring in treasured ornaments for the centerpieces. We and our prayer sisters will exchange gifts ($ 10 limit please)
- January 24th, 2018—Members will be gathering to sew bags for the 2018 campaign of “schoolbags for the PLM-FT”.
- Spring, 2018—Grace Raleigh WELCA will hold the NCWELCA Spring Gathering here at Grace. More details to follow.
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,