This temple talk was shared by Lynn Hess on Easter Sunday.
The children’s names have been replaced with initials, to protect the families.
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
My name is Lynn Hess. I am the Director of The School of Grace, which is Grace Lutheran Church’s parent participatory preschool, serving children ages 6 months through 5 years.
Please join us on Sunday, May 5th, after the 11:00 am service, to celebrate our extended family and our Annual Art Show and Silent Auction Reception.
During April, as part of our acclaiming Easter, Grace Lutheran Church is conducting an Appeal for The School of Grace Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for all of our refugee children and for families in need. We have already raised $5000 toward our $15,000 goal for the 2019/2020 school year.
One of my favorite Bible passages is Psalm 133: The Blessedness of Unity, which reads,
“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running over the collar of his robes.
Imagine someone taking their finest oil, warming it and dripping it on your head. The warmth brings comfort, as if God’s arms are wrapped around you.
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.
Imagine waking up on a chilly fall morning, stepping outside, barefoot and feeling the crisp cold dew on the grass. Your whole body awakens to the glorious new day.
For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life forevermore.
And here we are, gathered together, in unity, celebrating the gift that God has given to us, life forevermore. Hallelujah!
As you heard, Psalm 133 begins with the words “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity”. That describes us! We gather together. We live in the unity of the Spirit as brothers and sisters in Christ.
When we celebrate our unity, good things happen. The School of Grace is one of those “things”.
Monday through Friday, the children, parents and teachers gather in the classrooms, greeting their friends, some of whom are typically developing, some have special needs and some are from refugee families. Each class is its own school family. The classes together fit within the family of the preschool. The preschool is part of Grace Lutheran Church’s extended family. We rely on you. Without you, the preschool would not exist.
The School of Grace is an extension of this family.
So I am here to thank you…
On behalf of “W”, whose father was hunted by the Haitian government, I thank you for giving him a place of peace and security within the walls of this building.
On behalf of “C”, whose parents grew up in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, I thank you for giving her a place where she could learn and play, allowing her parents to go to school and, then start their own business, which continues to be successful today.
On behalf of “D”, whose family escaped war torn Afghanistan and still fears retribution for their extended family, who remain in danger. I thank you for providing a place of peace, where she learned English and quickly made new friends.
On behalf of “N”, whose father and grandfather were killed in Afghanistan. She and her mother experienced joy and hope here at Grace.
On behalf of “S”, who lives with her mother, grandmother, aunts and sisters in a three bedroom apartment. Even in those crowded conditions, they are grateful to be here, away from the country where the mother was persecuted. No one in the family can read in their home language of Swahili, but they are committed to learning to speak, read and write in English. “S”, after a few weeks of enrollment, began singing songs like, “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Her teachers, Kerrie, Jeanne and Reena, were thrilled the day that “S” responded to Kerrie’s questions with an emphatic, “NO!” (because it was in English!)
There are many other children from refugee families, who have grown in our classrooms. They are all grateful. Why? Because, through your prayers, donations and support, you have given them all hope for the future. You have helped the parents see that their children will not live lives of fear, like their parents. Their children will leave The School of Grace ready for kindergarten. Their children have hope and joy in their future.
In fact, “Si’s” father, from Bhutan, told me that he did not start school until he was 13 years old. He said, “You have given my child the gift of education and she is only 3 years old! No one in my family has started school that young. Your teachers love my daughter. My teachers never showed love to me or any of the students. My daughter knows that she is capable and can learn anything she wants to learn. I never had that experience. You have blessed my child.”
So, on this Easter day, as we celebrate our Unity in Christ and the gift of life forevermore, I thank you, again and again, for enabling these precious children, preparing them for kindergarten and blessing them with hope for the future. Most importantly, for loving them as part of this amazing family of Grace.
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.
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.