You have made known to me the ways of life;
You make me full of gladness with your presence.
Walk into a coffee shop, and you are likely to hear people asking for such things as a “Double shot, half caf, skinny, grande mocha latte with whipped cream—and a dash of cinnamon.”
Take a look at someone’s phone, and you will see customized music playlists (mine included).
Spend time on social media and customized “you might like …” ads pop up.
Look at someone’s computer screen and you may see a picture of their family, their pet, or their latest vacation displayed as a screen saver.
Listen as you walk through just about any public place, and sooner or later, you will hear a cell phone ring—and you just may be treated to someone’s “extra special” ring tone, everything from the Iowa fight song to the Hallelujah Chorus (Really—I heard this not long ago).
I recently read about two men who are creating a website business which they hope will enable people to “design and purchase any product they could possibly want.” I am not exactly sure what that means, but wow!
By now you may be wondering: Where is this all coming from and where is it going? Well, all of the latest news about recent studies concerning people’s thoughts on being “spiritual versus religious” and the reports on the decline of mainline denominations have caused me to think about our world and the Church’s place in it and in peoples’ lives.
As I thought about these things, it occurred to me that everything is so customizable these days. Is it any wonder that people want and perhaps even expect faith to be the same? Why should I not expect to build my own faith/religion/spirituality to suit my individual tastes? Why should I have to listen to the tenets of any particular organized religion or the particular theology of a given denomination, which just wants to tell me what I should do without taking into account every unique facet of who I am? What shouldn’t I take what I like from Christianity, from Hinduism, from Buddhism, from Judaism, and from the New Age movement and make something for myself that feels good to me? And why can’t I practice this spirituality I have made all by myself?
A person could try this, I guess, but to do so would be to something valuable that the Church has to offer, beyond doctrine and theology. It would be to lose community and commonality, which can help us to understand the things of faith (of religion) and can support us through all of life. Being a part of community of faith can help us try to make sense out of our lives in the context of God’s Good News. A religious community can inspire, nurture, and sustain a person’s spirituality.
Spirituality and religion are not mutually exclusive. Spirituality should not merely be equated with the individual and religion with the corporate. We can and should have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, which will in part be shaped by the traits, likes, and dislikes that make each of unique. However, in order to know what this relationship means for our relationship with the rest of the world, we must be a part of community of believers—people like us who struggle with the same things we do, who seek to understand God’s Word and promises as we do, and who can support, correct, and encourage us along the way. Martin Luther called this “mutual conversation and consolation,” and believed that it is a vital expression of grace within the Church.
What can the Church do? We cannot wring our hands and cry “All is lost!” We can remind people that we value their individuality, as the diversity of God’s people gives a wonderful texture to the world and to the Church. We can help people see that there is a rich tradition of spirituality within Christianity. This is something that the Church has not been particularly good at or intentional about, and that is a shame. There are many wonderful spiritual practices which can enhance both our personal and corporate relationship with God, and we must do more to bring them to the foreground.
We must also, however, be careful to claim the ideas and beliefs which make us unique as Christians (and as Lutherans), staying true to the foundational principles which make us who we are. We must find ways to do both: To access the spiritual practices which will help people draw closer to God in personal ways, while at the same time seeking ways to help show what a treasure the things we as Christians confess to be true are. We must find ways to stress that while we are not the “one size fits all” group we are often accused of being, we are a group of people who cling to some very specific and very wonderful promises, which are ultimately more freeing than they are constricting.
No religion, no denomination, and no congregation should be expected to cater to all of the particular tastes of all people, nor should they try to do so. The Church and congregations face a great challenge, to be sure, but there is really nothing new about that. The Church has always faced a struggle when it tries to find its voice in the midst of all the other voices of the culture that clamor for peoples’ attention. But with God’s grace and guidance, we will find the way to be the beacon of light we are called to be, while remaining faithful to the teachings of the Light of the World.
Thursday May 4th – National Day of Prayer
Operation Christmas Child
In the month of April we are asking for donations of washcloths. They can be dropped off in the Giving Grace Room or to the office during the week.
Maundy Thursday Service
Thank you to all who helped – Dale Walberg, Ken McKenzie, Tony Lockard, Ryan Moore, David Charvat, Dave O’Brien, Dave Petitjean, Ted Wohlfarth, Rick Sharp, Ron Hiatt, Rick Wood, Bob Haaf, and Sean Rife. And on Good Friday, thank you to Kim Kondalski, Fritz Gooch, Dave O’Brien, Bob Haaf, Cindy Matthews and Wendy McCall.
Sunday Fellowship Time
April 16th Brenda Holderman and Joyce O’Brien
April 26th- Barb, Beth, and David Charvat
Calling all used cell phones!
Looking for used eyeglasses!
Collecting colored pencils, paper, coloring books,
children’s Bible stories and children’s Bibles.
The Grace Outreach Ministry is asking for donations of used cell phones, eyeglasses, and children’s school supplies to send with Pastor Brenda and Ron to Tanzania. Collection Boxes are in the Grace Giving Room.
It is custom for these types of trips, that various gently used and working items will be taken to be given to our companions. On this trip we will be collecting used working cell phones and chargers (unlock, delete passwords, and reset to factory specs), unwanted prescription eyeglasses, and new or used reading glasses and sunglasses, school supplies including colored pencils and paper, coloring books, children’s Bible stories or Bibles, (in English and with a variety of skin tones), and any tee shirts, denim or shoes in good shape. English is taught in schools, so coloring books or Bible story books for elementary school age children are extremely valuable.
Other valuable items are gently used shoes, sandals, tee shirts, and denim items.
Please drop off any of these items by Wednesday April 19. If you have any questions, please contact Ron Hiatt. Thank you in advance for helping us help others.
Meditation on John 20:19-31
By Vicar Dave
Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!
That’s quite the radical statement. In fact, it’s a hard statement for a rational mind to believe. The disciples couldn’t believe what the women of their group told them about seeing Jesus and brushed it off as an idle tale. But even after Christ comes to them, they didn’t accept that it was Him until He had shown them the scars in His hands and side. Then, they rejoiced as there could be no doubt about His resurrection! We’ve all heard the story of Thomas and his doubts. We even refer to someone who is skeptical of something that we are convinced of as a “doubting Thomas”. I’m not so sure that’s being fair to Thomas.
Thomas wasn’t among the disciples when Jesus first came to them after the resurrection. The disciples believed because they had seen the risen Lord and Thomas had not seen Him. He wanted the same proof that the others had been given. Is that really so hard to understand? Jesus didn’t seem to be offended by this. In fact, He merely told Thomas that he should stop doubting and believe. Thomas responded by being the first to proclaim Christ’s divinity saying, “my Lord and my God!” It seems he was cured of his doubts to me.
Doubts can be a healthy thing. I often have guys on my caseload tell me that, “of course, I finished that anger management program”. I think it’s a good thing that I require some proof of the offender’s statement. It’s part of my job, however, to verify a statement like that. Looking at it from another point of view, I also have to verify allegations that are often made against some of them. Oddly enough, some of the people that know a guy is on parole will try to get them in trouble, even if they haven’t done anything. Working in corrections, I’ve become very skeptical of the things the people on my caseload say to me. This has served me well in most instances. Jesus even encourages us to have some skepticism when he warns us to watch out for false prophets. Peter felt this was important enough that he wrote about it in his second epistle.
It’s human nature to have doubts. We want to know the answers when so much of faith is about mysteries that can’t be solved by human intellect. I think that Thomas truly wanted to believe, he just had a hard time getting past his need for some form of proof that what the other disciples saw was in fact Jesus Christ. After receiving that proof, however, he became one of the fullest and firmest believers in the risen Lord. Thomas overcame his doubts and became faithful unto death in his witness for God. We emerge victorious as we wait on God to reveal Himself to us. Do you have doubts? Keep doing your best to stay faithful. Keep trusting, following, serving and praying. God will reveal himself. He will show you the nail prints.
The Grace Prayer Team would like to thank everyone who signed up to pray during the Good Friday Prayer Vigil.
The vigil began 8:00pm Friday night and our last prayer prayed us in to Easter morning from 12:00pm Saturday night to 12:30 am Sunday morning. That is 28 hours. Of those 28 hours, all but 3. 5 hours were covered in prayer by prayers at home or at Grace.
Thank you Grace Family for your prayer support!
With peace, joy and His love,
Grace Prayer Team
Behind the scenes at Grace …by Gretchen
- Wow! This has been an absolutely wild week in the building!
- We had the awesome Maundy Thursday evening service with the 12 Disciples plus Jesus! Although Jesus and the disciples did not speak their portrayal lent so much to Pastor Brenda’s description of each one. Check out the pictures and see if you can figure out who played which Disciple and Jesus – you may be surprised. Thanks to all Disciples and Jesus!
- Good Friday services were also totally awesome!
- Good Friday afternoon 32 people joined Pastor Brenda and Pastor Chris (from Glenwood) at the Art Museum for a viewing and discussion and thinking about of 5 art works related to the crucifixion plus another one for interest. It was also awesome and so interesting!
- Then Easter Sunday was again totally awesome! All the beautiful flowers, the gorgeous Easter Lily Cross (Thank you Debby Reeb!) and the people! The music of the choir with bells (thanks to Kim Kondalski for their wonderful sound !) was also awesome!
- Thanks to Callie, Mallory and Collin Moore for helping with Easter Sunday Service too!
- The grass is turning greener and greener around the church and the orange sticks for the snow removal guys are still up but hope to come down soon! NO MORE SNOW!!
- Treasure Trove – yep that is what is in the storage room in Brenner, Room 14 and one of the Youth Rooms. So, are you going to add to or take away treasures? We continue to take the addition of treasures for the sale. The Preview night is Thursday the 27 and the sale is Saturday the 29th – check out the fliers!
- Remember: Grace is not the building or the grass but the totally awesome people!
OK we have a lot of “awesome” in this Behind the Scenes, but this truly was a totally AWESOME WEEK!
The VIEW !
This is not the TV show but the view we will see when the Security Cameras are in place. We are approaching the amount needed for the Security Cameras. They are important for the safety of our members, staff and visitors which at times may be alone at the church. We will be able to see around the building including who is at the doors .
Thank you to those who have made a Special Gift and we thank those who are thinking about a Special Gift for the Security Cameras. Please indicate it as a Special Gift for the Security Cameras.
If you have any questions please call or see the Task Team -Gretchen Hiatt, Rick Sharp and David Charvat .
White Truck with Red Lettering!! Have you seen it???
No – well it is coming on Wednesday April 19th to Grace! It is not a Sofo Semi, a Coke Semi, or a Fire Truck (thank goodness not) but the Red Cross truck loaded with all their stuff for our Blood Drive!
It is fast approaching, and we do have open appointments between 1-6.
Gretchen has had some people say “yuch” to giving blood and yes not everyone is able to give or desires to give but it is important. The Red Cross has never really recovered from the decrease in Blood Donors since Covid. Some regular donors have been unable to give since Covid for various reasons.
Please think about giving and if you can’t check in with a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker.
It is a great way for young people to give – it involves only a couple of hours and can be the beginning of a lifetime of helping 3 other people with one unit. Plus there are some service opportunities through the Red Cross.
You may sign up on the Red Cross website or call Gretchen 419-944-5166 and she will help get you scheduled .
Thank you, Pastor Brenda, for all the work you put in for Holy week and Easter – for making it so meaningful. Thank you, Nancy, for putting together the prayer vigil. Thank you to all who worked so hard behind the scenes to make Easter so meaningful for us all.
On Good Friday afternoon a group of people from Grace and from Glenwood Lutheran Church visited the TMA., guided by Pastor Brenda and by Glenwood’s Pastor. Participants viewed each of several works of art using the prayer practice of Visio Divina. Vision Divina involves contemplating a work of art using these questions:
What do you notice?
How does the art make you feel?
What is God doing in the piece?
What is God inviting you into?
The Grace Prayer Team would like to thank everyone who sent in pictures showing God’s love and what brought them awe and joy.
Every single picture is AMAZING!
They are displayed on the west wall in the hallway between the Sanctuary and Room 3.
Again, every picture is AMAZING!
This will remain an ongoing project for a while, so additional pictures are welcome and will be displayed as they are received.
Please email all pictures to Graceprayer3@gmail.com
Peace, Joy & His love,
Grace Prayer Team
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!