Righteousness shall go before the Lord
and shall prepare for God a pathway.
As I write this, Americans seem to be at odds; with friends and co-workers, with the government (or those who support the leadership or those who don’t), even with some in our own families. Some support this ideology. Some support another. Some people are satisfied with our current societal and civil climate. Others are not. Some are happy. Others are angry. One thing that we all can seem to agree on is that there is much tension among us, and much work to be done on many levels if we are to move forward as the United States of America, especially as we look toward a presidential election in November.
Amidst this, the Church’s call and identity have not changed. As the Body of Christ, we are called to be the people who point to the Light shining in the darkness. We are the people commissioned and commanded tell of the promises of our God as shown to us in God-With-Us, Jesus Christ. We are to speak out against hatred, injustice, intolerance, and indifference, no matter who displays these things nor who is affected by them. We are called to feed, to clothe, to comfort, and even to challenge and convict.
That is not easy. It would be easier to be silent, to throw up our hands and say, “There is nothing to be done!” But we know better, don’t we? Because of the great Good News of God, we know that God is always at work in the world, striving to make things new and to usher in the Kingdom, even if we don’t always understand how, and even if it doesn’t happen as quickly as we would like or according to our specific desires. We know God is always present and always at work among us. We are to point to that reality, every day.
The reality of the holiness, mercy, and love of God will take shape among us again at Christmas, when the Word becomes flesh in the person of Jesus. This is our hope. This is our strength. This is our Light. Jesus is the only One who can save us and the world–all of the world. This is the hope we seek in this Advent time of preparation, waiting, and reflection.
Let the Light shine in this season. Pray for the United States, for the world and all who live in it, for our congregation and its people. Remember to pause for a moment when someone expresses an opinion contrary to yours, and recall that that person, too, is a beloved child of God. Remember always the greatest Commandment: Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself … and then live life as if you believe that this radical love is the greatest gift we have to offer the world. Trust that God, who is all things and in all things, will be at work to bring about peace and justice, because that is how the arc of God’s grace always bends.
May the Light of Christ shine brightly upon you in this season.
The Readings for Sunday December 10, 2023
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
The Grace Prayer Team will host their annual
on Thursday, December 21, 2023, at 7:00 pm
This is the night of the Winter Solstice or the longest night.
You are invited to a service of light, quiet music, meditation, and prayer.
If you find yourself not feeling the festivities of the season due to losing a loved one, or a job, or just feeling sad and lost; please join us.
The Grace Prayer Team will hold space for you.
We will pray with you.
We will allow you time alone to be in the moment.
All are welcome.
The service will be held in the Chapel.
A small reception will follow the service in Fellowship Hall.
Caroling event—17 December:
Calling all singers and anyone who loves Christmas carols! Join us on Sunday, 17 December for caroling! We will gather at church at 2:00 p.m., and travel as a group to Oak Leaf Manor to carol for the residents at 2:30 p.m.. Following that, we will divide into a few groups and go and carol at the homes of some of our homebound members.
After caroling, we will return to church for a light supper. A sign-up sheet will be posted (beginning the weekend of 26 November) for singers, and will also include a spot for people to indicate their willingness to drive.
All are welcome!
This year’s poinsettia sale will be from November 19 – December 17, 2023. Plants will be sold for $10.00, to decorate the church for Christmas services and to benefit the VBS program at Grace. Forms will be available for your order. Merry Christmas! Thank you for your support of this effort.
Did you notice the tree with colored lights in the back of the nave—the doors to the hall?
This tree is the “children’s tree.” It is decorated with ornaments from Grace children who have been active in music and Sunday School through the years.
We would like to start this tradition again! Please invite the children in your life to bring a non- breakable ornament to hang on the tree. If possible, please put the child’s first name and “2023” on the ornament.
Please join us – Sunday Fellowship Time
In Fellowship Hall
December 10th – Choir
December 17th – Christmas Cookie Fellowship
If anyone would like to donate 1-2 dozen Christmas cookies. bars, or candy, please call Sue at 419.475.8972 or Suegrade@aol.com.
Meditation on Mark 1:1-8
By Vicar Dave
Something is coming. Something big. Often before a big event, there is a person or even people ready to tell everyone how it’s going to turn out and what they should do to prepare. Every year, before the Super Bowl, there are a slew of commentators telling everyone how the game is going to play out. Who’s going to win and who’s going to lose. There are even odds makers on the TV these days, telling people how they ought to bet so they can be on the winning side. This goes on in more than just sports. People have created all kinds of computer models to predict what will happen in business and the economy. This helps people to know how to invest for the future. Polls are conducted almost daily to predict winners of various political races. We want to be prepared for what might come next. It’s only natural.
It was like that when John the Baptist showed up in the Judean wilderness as well. He came with a more important message that who was going to win the next game. He came to let us know that the kingdom of God was coming and to help us prepare. He urged others to repent so that their sins might be forgiven. He must have been quite the speaker because people came from all around to hear his message. When you think about it, the only advertisement he had available to him was word of mouth. He didn’t have billboards to put up, nor radio station to announce that he was speaking at this location on this date and time. He didn’t even have the internet. His messages must have really had an impact for his listeners to go tell their friends and for them to go out into the desert to hear this guy.
Maybe it had more to do with his message and its urgency. God’s kingdom is coming soon, and you better be prepared. Time to clean up your life. Let God know you’re sorry for the ways you haven’t lived right. And while he spoke with much authority, he made sure to tell the people that the one coming after him had more authority than he did. More power as well. John’s baptism with water was a powerful experience. It probably felt like a new beginning to those experiencing it. Baptism with the Holy Spirit must have sounded to them like something even more moving.
I wonder how we’d react to someone like John today. He’d have to have some slick marketing campaign just to get our attention. Afterall, I imagine that we’ve all heard about the corner preacher, with his forecast that the end is neigh. How many of us have just walked past him, wondering if the guy was crazy? Maybe he is, but maybe he’s not. Repenting of our sins, cleaning up our act, is probably a good idea anyway. We’ve got the benefit of more than 2,000 years of witness and scripture to help guide us. We know that Jesus is coming. We just don’t know when. Jesus told us during His time on Earth that He’d come at a time that will be unexpected, like the bridegroom from a few weeks ago.
So repent of your sins and rejoice! The kingdom of God is coming. That’s a safe
Deficit Reduction Challenge:
As you may know, Grace faces a budget deficit as we approach the end of 2023. While spending is under budget, offerings have not kept pace with the budget. Currently, the deficit is approximately $30,000. This deficit endangers the future of our mission and of our congregation.
A member of our Grace family has given us an opportunity to end the year financially strong. This individual has offered to match deficit reduction offerings received by 15 December up to $10,000.
Please consider what you might give beyond your regular giving in the next month. Eliminating our deficit will enable us to consider different ways to use the year-end contribution from the Grace Foundation in ways that further the mission of Grace in our community. Help us Bless the World: Be God’s Grace!
If you wish to begin assist with this, please be sure to designate your special offering as “Deficit Reduction.”
Behind the scenes at Grace…..by Gretchen
- Thanks to the decorating crew for the beautiful decorations throughout the church for the holiday season.
- Then there was the Youth Pancake breakfast – talk about delicious!!!! Super Yum!
- Check out the three trees in the big church! The one up front is the Crismon tree, the one by the Monroe Street window is the hat, mitten, toy and gifts for Children Services and then there is the Sunday School Christmas Tree with ornaments from past Sunday School kids ( big and little kids can bring in an ornament to hang – add your name to the ornament!) Then there is the beautiful white tree in the Chapel and the glowing tree by the office. We have our own festival of trees!
- Remember: Grace is not the trees but the people of Grace carrying out God’s Mission!
Extending kindness to ourselves means we see ourselves
as beings who are wonderfully made by God
and are valuable yet who are imperfect and make mistakes
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak Kindly .
Healthy People! Healthy Parish!
- Yep, we celebrate the month of December with not only food but often some “sprits”. Research done by the National Institutes of Health found the over 70% of adults drink alcohol regularly and 42% of those who drink take medications that can interact with alcohol. During the month of December people are more likely to drink more than normal. Drinking alcohol with certain medications increase the risk and danger, especially if you are older.
- Some prescription and non-prescription medications may adversely react with alcohol. This includes herbal and dietary supplements, and illicit drugs.
- Side effects of mixing alcohol and medications can include: feeling sleepy, dizzy or faint, bleeding especially involving the stomach, nausea and vomiting, low or high blood pressure, seizures, slow or shallow breathing. These symptoms can result in falls or car accidents and even death.
- Play it safe! Be sure you read labels on medications including dietary and herbal supplements. Ask your pharmacist and/or health care provider if you can consume alcohol while taking your medications.
- On medications or not play it safe: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!!!!
Hula Hooping !
A research study involving women found that they burned seven calories per minute or 210 calories every 30 minutes when hooping! Hooping has been shown to be a family friendly and easily transportable and relatively cheap exercise device. The study said that hooping is comparable to a step aerobics class. There is even a “weighted hoop” that was shown to reduce waist and hip measurements! Hooping is also great for creating a positive mood like with other exercise programs.
SO, BRING ON THE HOOPS! Perhaps a Hula Hooping Class next Year at Grace!!!
If you can’t hoop, then go walking! Any kind of physical exercise is great for anyone of any age – if the weather is bad walk in your house!
Ideas to help you set aside time for Advent Prayer and Devotion.
Step 1: Set up a space in your home for your Advent readings. Make it comfortable.
Add a candle. Maybe next to your tree or in a quiet area.
Step 2: Figure out two times of the day when you might set aside time.
If you miss the first one, you can lean into the second time and not feel guilty.
Step 3: Each time you sit down to practice your Advent devotion, make a warm cup of something and begin with a couple of moments of silence and deep breathing. Close your eyes and breathe in deeply the love of God for you. Ask the Spirit to join you. Then begin your readings.
Step 4: Have a little prayer journal nearby where you can list the things that stick with you
or stand out to you during your devotion.
Step 5: Close your time with a couple of moments of silent deep breathing, thanking God for the love and grace that are freely given to you that claim you as God’s own.
God of Grace, Break into our lives. Warm our hearts and mend our minds. Show yourself to us in the places that evoke fear and shame, transforming us into messengers of your peace. Teach us to reflect your grace into the world. Make us reflections of your peace so that we might bring comfort and healing into the lives of our neighbors. Help us overcome messages of exclusion by being instruments of your work for justice. We ask all this in the name of your Son. Amen
Inhale: May your love
Exhale: be reflected in my life
Inhale: May I work
Exhale: to bring your justice
The deadline for turning in articles for the newsletter is 10:00 a.m. Monday morning OR when the newsletter is full. 8 pages is the maximum we can send in the mail. Thank you!
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!