Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord;
shout for joy, all who are true of heart.
I had a lousy day recently. Perhaps you have had similar days …
I had a more restless night than usual after a couple tough evenings. I knocked things off my nightstand. My blow-dryer started making ominous noises after my “Why won’t this water get any hotter?!” shower, and I spilled coffee on myself and the dog. This was all before 6:30 a.m.
The weather turned cold and windy, and I nearly slammed my arm in the car door after a drive when drivers seemed more surly and impatient than usual. A meeting I attended went longer than expected, and it pushed me getting to the “next thing.”
When I did finally read some news, it was all bad; violence, poverty, economic stress. I thought to myself (in my crankiest tone of internal voice), “God, is there anything good you would like to tell me today?”
It occurred to me, though, as I indulged in a few minutes of “Why me, Lord?” that I had been neglecting my morning devotions for the past few days. No wonder I was out of sorts … God did have something good to tell me, but I was not listening. I read back through the past few days of devotions, and felt better and more centered afterward.
Perhaps you have had similar days …
Perhaps you, too, could use more time with God, to help give life a little perspective. It does not take much time to read some scripture and engage in prayer, but I can say without a doubt that it makes an enormous difference. None of us is too busy, and none of us can make it through life without God’s guidance—and we are foolish even to try.
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on 22 February, and it presents us with an excellent opportunity to be intentional about strengthening our relationship with God. Might this be a good time for you to be intentional about reading the scripture each day, perhaps by using the guide our synod has offered for reading the Bible’s powerful stories? (copies are in the back of the “big church”) Might it be a good time to center yourself in prayer, perhaps beginning by attending the Prayer Breakfast on 25 February? Might it be a good time to be sure to attend one of the various worship opportunities offered at Grace? Lent is an ideal time to read God’s Word intentionally, spend time in prayer regularly, and recommit to frequent worship. I think we would all find our faith and our perspective on life strengthened because of it.
February 26 – Grace Peterson and Debbie Downs
Meditation on Matthew 4:1-11
By Vicar Dave
I know I don’t look like it anymore, but I used to go to the gym all of the time. Almost daily, I’d be in there lifting weights, running on the treadmill and doing whatever else I could to try to get my body into good physical condition. And it worked! I noticed myself getting stronger and I lost weight and inches off my waist. I also found that I was able to do things that I hadn’t done before, such as carrying shingles up to the roof of my garage. Since I stopped going, I’ve noticed something else. The muscles that I had spent all that time working on to get them stronger started to lose some of that strength.
Prior to starting back a seminary school, I took a series of classes offered through our Synod. The Diakonia classes are a type of lay education intended to help us better understand the faith to which we belong. They were also a great way for me to exercise the muscle between my ears and get it back into shape for learning and going to school. It helped me quite a bit.
You might ask what any of this has to do with today’s Gospel. As I read the first line of Matthew 4, I wondered why Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. Then it occurred to me that maybe Jesus, who was without sin, was preparing himself for the more difficult trials that lay ahead for him. Like the weights that I lifted in the gym, these temptations were all things that Jesus was perfectly capable of handling, but being faced with them may have given him more strength going forward. In today’s reading, Jesus is being tempted by the devil, someone whom He knows is not His friend. But later, He will be tempted by His own disciples. Specifically, when Peter tells Him that the suffering that awaits Jesus must not happen to Him. This is when Jesus tells him to “get behind me, Satan”. (Matthew 16:21-23) I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for Jesus. Here was one of His friends, trying to look out for Him and keep Him safe, and Jesus has to rebuke him in the strongest possible terms. And then again, in the garden, when faced with His imminent arrest, Jesus was fully capable of turning that entire situation around and walking away from it unharmed. He even sounded distraught when He “threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me’”. (Matthew 26:39) It must have taken an unimaginable amount of strength of character to realize that He had to stick to the plan that the Father had laid out, especially knowing that He had it within His power to walk away.
So perhaps this early bout with the devil, was not so much of a test for Jesus, but a bit of a warmup for the task that lay ahead of Him and all of the temptations He’d have to resist. My father and brother used to run marathons. Prior to the big race, however, they’d run shorter distances to get their bodies ready for what they had planned to do later. After their workout, they had a cool down routine, where they’d stretch their muscles and drink whatever they needed to rehydrate themselves. The last verse in today’s reading reminded me of that, thinking that when Jesus’ spiritual workout was done, He spent some time recovering and getting ready to go back out into the world.
When we’re faced with temptations in this life, maybe we should look at them as a sort of spiritual workout, or even a warm up, to help strengthen us for the mission that God has laid out for us.
Thank you for all the birthday wishes and singing last Sunday. What a great way to celebrate my birthday – with my Grace family! Thank you. ~Cathy
Behind the scenes at Grace …by Gretchen
- The Souper Super Bowl was a “hot” success, and the youth were “bowled” over by the overwhelming response! Thanks to all!!
- Personal Needs Ministry now has a table on wheels which is much easier to move around. Thanks Connie!
- We have had our own version of outer space items this last week. The high winds have turned colored plastic bags into balloons and boxes into weird shapes as they come up and over the roof by the office. So far, the only one inspecting them has been the squirrels to see if there might be a loose peanut!
- We have a “Guard Animal” – our beloved opossum is now protecting our air conditioner unit much to the surprise of Connie Thomas and the A/C repair man! Not sure anyone would want to mess with it!
- Remember: Grace is not the brick, doors and windows but the people of Grace carrying out God’s Mission!
Healthy People! Healthy Parish!
We have heard, seen on TV and maybe some of us have even witnessed how important CPR is in saving lives.
Being able to do CPR can be the difference between life and death!
Gretchen would like to offer a CPR plus course at Grace. It would include CPR for adults and kids, how to help an adult or child who is choking, how to use our AED, basic First Aid, and the administration of Narcan for someone experiencing an overdose.
We are looking to do this in May /June depending on the availability of instructors.
Watch for more information in Newsletter!
Do you know your numbers?
We will be checking Blood Pressures in Room 3 between services on Sunday!
Grace’s Lenten Project
Last fall it was thought that Grace’s Lenten Project would have an international focus. However, it was decided by the Outreach Committee that we need to focus again on local needs like Grace did during Advent as there is a great need locally for food and personal need items. So, during Lent we are asking members that are able, to donate food or personal need items. Food items needed are peanut butter, jelly, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruit and vegetables, soup, canned meat or other items for Aldersgate United Methodist Church’s food pantry. Personal need items include toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, children’s tooth brushes, toothpaste, feminine products, hand soap, shampoo, deodorant (men’s and women’s), laundry detergent, dish soap, and body lotions. These items will be distributed by Grace’s Personal Needs Ministry that occur on Tuesday mornings. Donations can be placed in the shopping carts at the back of the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. Let’s fill those carts, Grace!
Wednesday, March 1 Lenten Services at Grace
On March 1 there will be two worship opportunities at Grace at noon and at 7 p.m. A soup lunch will be served at 11:15 a.m. giving those attending time for fellowship. Food will be provided and a free will offering will be taken. Those wishing to bring soup or a dessert, a sign up sheet is posted on the bulletin board in the hallway leading from the sanctuary to the chapel.
The 7 p.m. service will be preceded by Pastor Brenda’s class on Judaism at 5:15 in Room 3 and a potluck dinner in Fellowship Hall at 6 p.m. Pastor Mary Adelsburger of Memorial Lutheran Church will be leading the service that evening.
Dodoma Diocese Elects New Bishop
By Ron Hiatt
Many in the Northwestern Ohio Synod, ELCA know we have a companionship with the Dodoma Diocese ELCT (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania), in Tanzania. In December last year, an election was held to determine who would be taking over the leadership of the Dodoma Diocese when current Bishop Amon Kinyunyu retires.
Bishop Kinyunyu has served in the Dodoma Diocese as a pastor, as district pastor, and for the last 6 years, as Bishop.
Dodoma is a large city in central Tanzania which is the country’s capital. Although it was the official capital, economic and governmental activity generally remained in Tanzania’s largest city of Dar Es Salam on the east coast of the country. About the time he was elected Bishop, the government of Tanzania started moving government function and offices into Dodoma. This has created a huge shift of economic and governmental activity. The city of Dodoma and surrounding area has exploded with population growth and everything that goes along with supporting population growth. The ELCT Dodoma Diocese is no exception. In the ELCT when a worshiping group becomes large and self-supporting, it can become a full parish. One of the responsibilities of parish is to start up sub-parishes and grow and support them until they can become parishes of their own. The population explosion in Dodoma has Parishes establishing many sub-parishes, as the ground is fertile and people are hungry for the Word of God. Parish growth is everywhere.
The election resulted in Rev. Christian Ndossa being elected as Bishop, and the Rev. Stanley Tabulu being elected as Assistant to the Bishop. People from the NWOS have met these two during trips taken to build relationships. In fact, Rev. Tabulu has even visited our synod in 2013. As is custom in the ELCT there is about a 6 month transition period before the new Bishop is Consecrated and officially takes over. This will happen on Sunday May 7, 2023. The Dodoma Diocese has invited NWOS to send a delegation to be part of this celebration. The invitation has been accepted and plans are being made to send a delegation. More on that, next week. Stay tuned.
Signs of spring – spotted last Saturday!!
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!