Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
~1 Corinthians 1:3
Advent begins this Sunday, 3 December. I love this season of the Church year. I enjoy the scripture readings, the blue paraments on the altar, pulpit, and lectern, the Advent wreath, the hymns … All of these things help me to look ahead expectantly to the birth of Christ at Christmas. As I watch, wait, and prepare, I am drawn closer to the mystery of the Incarnation and to the presence of Jesus Christ in my life and in the world.
The world does not love Advent. The world does not like to wait, watch, and prepare. The world pushes and pushes and then pushes some more –right to 25 December. The world loves Christmas—and in the world, the season begins on 1 November and ends abruptly on 26 December, when the season is just beginning in the Church.
This is nothing new. We all know that we keep time differently in the Church. The question is how can we be more mindful of Christmas by embracing Advent and its days and message to the fullest? How can we watch, wait, and prepare in ways far more meaningful than shopping, baking, and over-indulging? How can we make Christmas matter more … by waiting expectantly through the four weeks leading up to it? How can we avoid the letdown—physical, emotional, and spiritual—that so often follows the Christmas Day celebration? How can we have the meaning of Christmas last beyond Christmas Day? How can Advent help us to have the message of Christmas sustain us long after the food is eaten, the gifts unwrapped, and the decorations packed away?
I think there are some simple and yet very meaningful steps we can take. The first is to spend time with the scripture. Advent lifts up wonderful passages from the Bible. Don’t just listen to them on Sunday. Read and re-read them during the week. Read an Advent devotional. How do these words of scripture and words of personal reflection and faith call us to prepare for the birth of our Messiah and the Good News he brings? What do they teach us about God and God’s love for all the world? Why do they still matter, to us and to the world?
Pay careful attention to the hymns in worship. What message do they bring? How does the message help prepare our hearts to receive Jesus?
And spend some time thinking about giving. I know that there is joy in giving gifts to those people we care about; I, too, enjoy finding a gift that I believe has meaning and will bring enjoyment. But … Must we try to outdo last year in terms of gifts? Is there anyone in our lives who might value the gift of some of our time more than anything else? Those who love us will still love us even if we do not lavish them with material things.
And what about those who have no one to give them gifts? Yes, we have the opportunity to give this year through the Lucas County Childrens Services project, but where else could some of our resources go in this season? Perhaps we could all be a bit more mindful of our resources with regard to those who have less abundance than we do in this season.
God has been so amazingly generous to us: through his Son, through the Church, and through the gift of our relationships with others. How can we respond in intentional and grateful ways? How can the joy we feel in this season sustain us and others throughout the year?
God’s blessings to you in this Advent and always.
The Readings for Sunday December 3, 2023
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
By Vicar Dave
When we look around us, we see all sorts of monuments to our own ingenuity and greatness. You see it in our buildings that reach up to the heavens and out on rocket ships that reach other worlds. Humanities footprint is huge. We have literally left out footprints on another world, as well as sending our machine ambassadors to explore other planets, our solar system and beyond. As we approach 2024, one could be forgiven for thinking that the indelible marks we’ve left will be around forever.
Ancient societies probably thought the same thing about themselves. And some of them have left us large signs of their existence. Ancient China has its wall and Egypt it’s pyramids. But none of these monuments will last forever. It’s true that some ancient buildings which have crumbled away leave some indication that they were there, but eventually even that will turn to dust.
Jesus says that His “words will not pass away”. I think what He means by this is that the truth of what He says will always remain. That’s a real comfort to me. Jesus’ promise of salvation and the love He professed for all of us will remain long after this world is gone. Not just that, but it will outlast heaven as well. No mater what happens, war or natural disasters, God’s word will always be with us. Perhaps not in written form, as our books, including the Bible, are printed on material that will decay. But the word that God has written on our hearts will always remain and always be true.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” There’s a big prediction in this small passage. Everything we see, will one day be no more. Even our science agrees with that assessment. Astronomy and geology alike concur in the conclusion that the whole system of the universe is moving onwards to its change. What comes after that will be a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness will prevail. Jesus’ words shall not pass away. Not just His words about a new heaven and a new earth and a new Jerusalem, but all of His other words as well. All that has been revealed to us by the words of Him who is the truth. Thanks be to God!
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!
Please join us – Sunday Fellowship Time
In Fellowship Hall
December 3 – Youth Pancake Brunch
From the book: Breath as Prayer by Jennifer Tucker
Breathe deep and know: God will give you the strength you need to do hard things.
You can do hard things not because you’re strong enough, but because God is.
Popular memes and motivational quotes might tell you that you have the strength within you to do anything. you set your mind to, that everything you need is already inside you, that, if you just believe in yourself, you can do anything. But the truth is, your strength is finite. It has an end. And some hard things in life really are too hard to face in your own strength.
Real strength, enduring strength, does not come from within. It comes from the Source of strength Himself, the One who made us, the One who gives life and breath and power to all things. Believing in yourself, can’t compare to the strength that comes from believing in Him.
Release the hold that you have on your life. Relax your muscles, loosen your grip, and allow the strength of God to sustain you. You don’t have to be strong enough because He is strong enough. You don’t have to have all the answers because He is the ultimate answer. You can walk this hard road because He is making a way through.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 ESV.
INHALE and pray:
I can do all things
EXHALE and pray:
through Christ who gives me strength.
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.
The Intention Cards are used to create a Budget for the 2024 year.
Cards may be mailed to Grace, dropped in the offering plate on Sunday, or dropped off at the church office.
- The cold and frost has definitely changed the color of the beautiful geraniums next to the office. BUT have you checked out the Christmas Cactus inside – it is loaded with buds and should put on an even more beautiful display this year – not sure if it will bloom by Christmas.
- The Choir was wonderful this last Sunday. Fritz Gooch did an awesome job of leading!
- Then there was the Children’s Sermon led by Pastor. It was one of the Lockard grandkids who had the box. Now last time one of them had it and Pastor opened the box a spider flew out (dead of course). So you should have seen how carefully she opened it this time – she found a shark and it did not fly out – thank goodness!
- The Church is starting to hum with activity – Pancake breakfast (yum), Parents night out, Church decorating, Caroling and one of the favorites “Cookie Sunday” – pay close attention to the Newsletter for all the activities.
- The Edu-Board has been in hiding the last 2 weeks so watch for its reappearance this next Sunday. Remember one way to stay sharp is to learn at least one new thing a day – it can be fun or educational.
- Remember; Grace is not the building but the people of Grace carrying out God’s mission!!!!
Healthy People! Healthy Parish!
Respiratory Syncytial Virus. In the past we have heard about RSV and small children, but it is also a virus that adults may contract. It is a common virus that affects the lungs and breathing passages. RSV can be dangerous for older adults. Adults age 60 or older are at highest risk especially those with: Chronic heart or lung disease and those who have weakened immune systems. RSV can lead to serious conditions: Pneumonia, more severe symptoms for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure.
Talk with your doctor to see if you should receive the vaccine. It is available to adults 60 and over.
What can you do everyday to protect against respiratory viruses??
- WASH HANDS – often! Remember to sing/hum 2 rounds of Happy Birthday while washing!
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes AND wash your hands after that.
- Clean frequently touched services with cleaner that fights virus and bacteria.
- Stay home when sick.
We have all heard the “recipes” for aging well. Eat good food, exercise, learn new stuff everyday, get enough sleep, communicate with others, just to name a few. As old as you may feel there are actually things that are older and they are alive!
- Bowhead whale which lives in the frigid Artic and Antarctic waters grows to 60 feet and 91 tons is thought to have the longest lifespan of any mammal – 200 years! They also have the biggest mouth!
- The freshwater pearl mussel can live 150-250 years! Think about that when ordering mussels at a restaurant?
- Then there is the ocean quahog calm that can live over 500 years. The oldest reported one is MING the Calm and he is supposed to be 507 years old.
SO, there are things older than us, and you just learned something new!
Yep, we all need to be kind to everyone! Did you know that a way to practice kindness to others is to give blood!
It is so important and such a great way to extend kindness and give to the community. It doesn’t involve money and you even get treats!
We have a couple of members who have some interesting donor histories. One has given blood ever since high school and gives at all of our drives – so that is 4 a year! WOW! We have another 20 something person who started to give along with their grandmother! Wow! What a way to continue the process.
New people are always welcome and what kind of legacy can you start with?
The next Blood Drive at Grace is Thursday January 11 from 12-6 Pm.
What if I can’t donate blood, how can I help ? Talk with friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers about the importance of giving, how one unit can help as many as 3 people , how there is an ongoing need , and if it was one of your family members needing blood how you would like to make sure there is some available.
If your Birthday is close or even not close and you would like to have a person, give blood in honor of your birthday there will be birthday cards on the table by the coatroom across from the office. Have them bring the card to their appointment and we will let you know that a donation was made in your honor.
What if someone wants to give you something and you have everything you need including 5 plus gift cards to Applebee’s? There will also be some cards out on the table that you can give that are just special “thinking of you” cards . Have them bring the card to their appointment and we will let you know that a donation was made in your honor.
Any questions or if you need help making an appointment see Gretchen Hiatt 419-944-5166.
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.”
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!