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An update on the Children of Grace (aren’t we all…)
Our Sunday School teachers are working hard to continue the Christian education of our children at Grace. Listed below are offerings that our whole faith family can participate in and if they want, to share some of these with others.We have shared 3 virtual zoom Sunday School classes which have become a bit more effective each time (Sunday April 5th, Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday). If your child (or the child of a friend) would like to participate, please send me the family’s email and I will make sure to include them when I send out the link.
1) On our Grace Lutheran Church website under “Preaching, Teaching, and Prayer” we have the following: Miss Cheri Way leading a fishbowl time, Susan Miller (preschool teacher) reading a Palm Sunday story from the donkey’s perspective, and Lisa Gochnauer (K-2 teacher) leading us in a Godly Play story about Zacchaeus. (In Godly Play families are encouraged to question and ponder. I wonder what was your favorite part? What could you take away from the story and still have everything you need? Do you relate to this story in some way? What do you wonder about the story?)
2)I delivered family Holy Week/Easter bags to each household.
3) Mrs. Hartman and I have been sending materials to our classes/families so they can continue to experience the bible and explore their faith.
4)Zoom Sunday School will be hosted on Sunday mornings at 10 am.
If you would love for someone to receive the games and activities in the mail, please send Kath the address. We miss you all and can’t wait to celebrate together again.
In Easter hope, Kathryn Verkouw
Materials for the first week of our Acts study are available here!
From the Pastor’s Desk
The Lord’s Prayer, My Enemy, and Stealing
When I teach the 10 commandments in confirmation class, I always ask the students to ponder this question – is there one commandment there that might somehow shed light on all the others? What is the one verb, the one thing that “Thou shalt not DO,” that is happening when each of the commandments is being disobeyed? There are a number of possible right answers I suppose. Sometimes, one of the kids guesses the one I’m thinking about. It’s stealing, for me, some kind of stealing that is going on when each of the commandments is being actively disobeyed. There is the stealing of God’s uniqueness when we make idols of all that is not God; there is the stealing of God’s name to use it for our own purposes; there is the stealing of Sabbath time away from God and others who need us to be present and open in those relationships; there is the stealing of our parents’ proper role when we do not honor them; there is the stealing of a spouse or a parent when adultery happens, there is the stealing of the truth and trust when lies are told, and what is coveting, if not the beginning of thinking and scheming about how to get what my neighbor has, for myself?
As we think and pray through the Lord’s Prayer from this perspective of praying about my enemy and the peace that is missing between us, it may seem frustrating to have an enemy intrude on our time with God. Why dwell on the negative? It often seems easier to push all that stuff aside, to pretend that we don’t have enemies. But Jesus knows that as we put our own enemies out of mind, it becomes much easier to forget that there may be someone who might also be praying this prayer-who might have you or me in mind as an enemy!
Let’s reflect on the word “enemy.” Most of us use this word in English in a very strong sense: enemies are usually thought of as a very serious adversary who seeks to destroy our lives. When Jesus is calling us to love our enemies, there is no doubt he has such people in mind. But they are simply the hardest cases. Such enemies do not exclude or rule out the other enemies that we have, the ones that are somehow our adversaries in day-to-day in life, who affect our own happiness and well being. Could your spouse, dear friend, child or parent, someone whom you love deeply, also show up on your list of enemies? Could they be, at some point on any given day, someone who wants what they want and in order to get it they need you to give something of yourself up, something that you don’t feel ready, able, or willing to give? Maybe it’s their need for affection, or their unwillingness to share it – always tricky to keep all that in balance! Maybe it’s more about time together, or a choice of activity you’d rather do instead. Our loved ones need us to sacrifice our selves in some way and very often we find ourselves negotiating difficult conversations about blame and guilt and what’s normal and what’s manipulative.
Let’s face it. We humans are very good at making ourselves feel better about ourselves by making someone else feel worse. We can literally steal someone else’s sense of self and make it our own. It happens all the time, it keeps therapists in business and in the end such habits can damage destroy the very relationships that give us life and worth and well-being.
The Lord’s Prayer is given for the healing of such enmity. It’s unlikely that the leaders of warring nations would reach across “enemy lines” and pray for each other, although surely a Christian leader might feel moved to pray such a prayer from one side. But it seems quite likely that this prayer could be the perfect way out of a conversation that has become difficult with someone who has become in our life a sort of enemy, someone who wants our daily bread, whatever that may be.
Jesus’ mission was to bring peace – peace in the cosmic sense, between our creator and the rebellious creatures we so easily become, and peace between each of us and our enemies. “Peace I give to you,” the risen Jesus tells his disciples. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21) As we are sent to be peacemakers in His name, let us not forget this most practical tool of all, the peacemaking prayer that brings each of us before God WITH our enemy in mind. It is the peacemaking prayer of the Lord. The Lord’s Prayer of peace. May we not be afraid to use it!
A Final Note:
In my experience, this setting of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew is rarely taught, written about, or studied in a way that takes the unity of Jesus’ teaching about enemies in the Sermon on the Mount into account. I owe this insight to my friend, Chuck Manto, a layperson who knows his Greek, his Bible and his own heart better than many pastors I know! While the writing over these past weeks has been mine, I was provoked to read the Sermon on the Mount and understand the Lord’s Prayer in this way thanks to his essays and encouragement. His hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit might find more hearts open to peacemaking if even a small number of Christians who pray the Lord’s Prayer often would be able to pray it not only as they have learned from Jesus in Luke’s gospel, or from Luther’s Small Catechism, but also in the peacemaking, reconciling way of the Sermon on the Mount.
So, thank you Chuck for your inspiration!
Our Grace Family
Dear Members of Grace,
We give thanks for the life and witness of Judy Sweigart, who died Tuesday, April 14th. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to her sister Janet, her family and friends. Funeral arrangements are unknown at this time.Please keep Judy’s family in your prayers.