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!
Dear Sisters in Christ,
As you may have observed, we had quite a January! The snow and ice striking right after the New Year did not help, but, with the help of neighbors and friends, we got through that, too. I will always be grateful to a particular neighbor who, with his ten-year-old son, cleared off the ice from our driveway without any pleas from us or any remuneration. The discovery of kindness in strangers is very precious.
At our January gathering we assembled Prayer Beads for the study of Luther’s Small Catechism. We were also finally were able to pick our Prayer Sisters for the coming year! If any of you were unable to attend the meeting, will you please contact me and I will be happy to connect you with a prayer sister. There was also an assembly project to work on our School Bag Mission project. Helen Hauser led the effort with the help of numerous women, many with with portable sewing machines, to assemble the bags. They will be filled, as a separate project, later on this year. Watch the weekly Letter of Grace if you would like to be involved next time around.
Coming Up This Month
February 2nd-4th will see the “Bold Like Jesus Crossing Borders conference taking place at Trinity AME Zion Church, Greensboro. Hopefully, many of you had been watching your bulletins and were able to attend to represent our congregation. Communication is always a valuable tool of God. On February 9th will see the launching of a new ministry of the NC Synod, called the Leadership School; Mission & Renewal. It is a four phase course, weekly classes taking place at Holy Trinity Lutheran, Raleigh, on consecutive Thursday evenings. The charge for the first phase is $90.00, covering four to six evening courses. There is a $20.00 scholarship available for qualifying applicants. To register, visit: www.nclutheran.org/events/index.php.
Bold Women’s Sunday will be celebrated on February 26th. Details of this celebration will be found on the NC WELCA website. There is also a spring course entitled Delving Deeper in Faith. In the Fall, another course titled Leading in Faith.
On the thirteenth day after Christmas, Christians celebrate The Epiphany of Our Lord, which means that the Epiphany of our Lord is always on January 6. The word Epiphany means manifestation. It is on this day that we celebrate the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ child. It is also on the days after the Epiphany that we recount Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and his first miracle of changing water into wine. Of course, we know that Jesus manifests himself in so many ways to his disciples in the world today; but during these days prior to the beginning of Lent (which comes in early February this year) we have the opportunity to reflect upon how it is that we, as Jesus’ disciples, can make him known to others in our communities and throughout the world.
Even if you find it difficult to verbally witness to others about Jesus, you still have numerous opportunities to witness through your actions and deeds of kindness to others. One way to start that requires no risk-taking is by praying for those who are experiencing prejudice, abuse, or neglect; and what about those who are depressed, or ill, or grieving. Praying for them by name is empowering both for you and for those for whom you are praying. Make a habit every day of praying for others by name, because this personalizes our prayers and brings us closer to those who need to know that they are important to God and to us.
Another way to witness about Jesus to others does require some risk; but it is worth it. Be a volunteer in the community; you can certainly start in your own congregation with the ministries that Grace supports. Doing something to actually bring hope to another person helps us to understand Jesus’ compassion and love for humanity. It also helps to widen our own perspective of what it means to be a good neighbor, even to those whom we either don’t know, or hardly know. The more we do for others, the easier it becomes to take those risks to manifest, or make Christ known in both deed and word.
If you have made no other resolution for this year, make this one: To be bold in your witness on behalf of the one you call Lord.
Yours in Christ,