Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they will be called children of God.
Bless the world: Be God’s Grace!
January 29, 2023
One service only
Followed by a potluck
And annual Meeting in Brenner Hall
(Attention Parents of children in Sunday School!!
There will be no Sunday school.)
Contributed by David Charvat
It has been a number of years since Grace has had a Potluck. Here are some “rules” for a church potluck that I recently heard on the radio.
- Despite concern over their name, Deviled eggs refers to a seasoning process, not an association with Lucifer. Thus, Deviled eggs are to be welcomed at church potlucks.
- Devil’s food cake is likewise ok.
- Serving naked vegetables is considered to be against all liturgical teachings and are to be properly dressed before being brought to church. To be properly dressed vegetables should either be baked in cream soup or covered in melted cheese.
- For those who desire the health benefits of a raw vegetables, uncooked vegetables should be diced along with a starch of your choice and thoroughly covered with mayonnaise.
- Those who want to share their “grandma’s” fried chicken recipe with the congregation are reminded to remove the chicken from the Kroger carton and place it in your own Tupperware prior to arriving at church.
- Unsure of what to bring? Anything in molded Jell-O pan can be placed in the salad or the dessert section of the potluck.
Meditation on Matthew 5:1-12
By Vicar Dave
Today we’re reading about Jesus’ most famous sermon. I’ve heard it referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. One of the things I find interesting about it is who it is being addressed to. While Jesus is looking at the crowds around him, he decides to go up the mountain. The Gospel doesn’t say why He went up the mountain, but I think it was because He had something to say and wanted to be heard above the din of the crowd. In any event, He went up the mountain and sat down. When His disciples joined Him, He began to teach them. So it seems to me that He was speaking to His disciples.
The entirety of the Sermon on the Mount goes beyond the 12 verses we are reading today. When Jesus is finished speaking in Matthew 7:28 it says that “the crowds were astounded at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes”. So I’m still left thinking about who Jesus was speaking to. I’d say that He started out speaking to His disciples, but as He continued, the crowds drew in and He spoke to them as well. I think that’s a really great metaphor for how we should approach church in general. Perhaps it starts out as being about and for us, the members of Grace Lutheran Church in Toledo. As it goes along, however, it should be for and about others as well, not excluding the people already here, but being there for everyone else as well. At church, when we speak and teach, our focus is on the disciples, those of us already here. But others are welcomed to listen. Maybe they are not ready to be disciples yet, but they will be.
The part of Jesus’ sermon that we are reading about today is called the beatitudes. That’s a word that comes from Latin meaning fortunate or blessed. There are two times when Matthew uses the phrase “theirs the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew uses this phrase twice, once towards the beginning of our reading, and once towards the end. The kingdom belongs to the people described in this passage. They are in it. And in between this confirmation that they are in the kingdom are 6 promises about the rewards or blessings God offers to those who are in it.
The beatitudes is not a list of “do this and you get this” points. God’s favor cannot be earned. Salvation is a free gift. Grace is free. These are not ways to earn salvation or God’s blessings. The beatitudes are a description of the characteristics of the people of the kingdom. All of these characteristics are a result of God first working in you. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We are merciful because He first showed mercy to us. We are pure because He has cleansed us. We are humble, because He has humbled us. Much like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23 describe the result of God’s Spirit working in the life of a believer, so this list describes what God’s kingdom people are like and how they should behave based on His work in us. These characteristics are gifts from the Holy Spirit and are not to our own merit. Rather, we should be grateful that we have been blessed with them.
Someone who is in God’s kingdom has been changed. You can’t be saved without a being changed. God expects that a believer live a changed life, with changed actions and a changed attitude. The recognition of our emptiness and the sorrow for sin demands that we come to God for help. And He then fills us and changes us.
Toward the end of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about the person who listens to His words and obeys as being like the wise one who builds their house on a solid foundation of rock, whereas the whoever does not obey His words He equates to the foolish person who build their house on sand, where it is easily washed away in the storm. I pray that we will all be like the wise one, accepting the grace of God and turning to Him for forgiveness and cultivating the gifts that the Holy Spirit imparts to us.
Music has power, doesn’t it? The words, the melody, the harmony … all can touch our spirits and bring emotions or memories to the surface.
My musical tastes are quite varied. If you ride in my car with me, you might hear classical … or hard rock (even AC/DC) … or classic rock … or jazz … or the 80s music of my high school days … or punk … or something from the 50s, 60s, or 70s. And some days, I might go from Crosby, Stills, and Nash to the Doors to INXS to Siousxie and the Banshees to Bach—all in one trip! There isn’t much I don’t like, or that I won’t at least give an initial listen.
Some sacred worship songs or hymns touch me in unexpected and powerful ways. Today in the first worship service, the chancel choir offered a piece entitled, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” The tune touched me, and the words (“Turn your eyes upon Jesus …” “Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus.”) made me think …
Perhaps it really is that simple. The world is a tough place; with violence, anger, disagreement, illness, grief, and pain. We can feel overwhelmed by all that we see, hear, and experience. But as the children of God, our strength comes from turning our eyes back to Jesus and remembering all that he promises; hope, rest, grace, mercy, peace, salvation, and love. There is comfort there, as well as a call to open our eyes to see what is right in front of us and offered to all.
When our eyes are open, we see Jesus in the Word, in the Meal, in times of prayer, and in our moments of fellowship with each other. It is those moments that inspire and strengthen us to witness in the name of Jesus beyond the walls of our church home.
And if we need the reminder to look upon Jesus, aren’t there others around us who need the same? How do we point people to Jesus? How do our lives move people to look and see Jesus … and to come and know the gifts he offers? The world is full of many things to see, some of which can pull us away from our faith, our hope, and our callings. But Jesus stands in the midst of the world, calling us back to see him and his love.
Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see Jesus. And work through us so others see him, too.
Behind the scenes at Grace …..by Gretchen
- We celebrated Squirrel Appreciation Day this last week! An extra handout of peanuts plus an unhealthy donut was given to our bushy friends or as Pastor Brenda affectionately calls them “tree rats”. We could almost see them do a Happy Dance!
- DEAD Batteries! We use a fair number of batteries at church and often we find batteries on the counter in the sacristy and copy room and have no clue if they are “dead or alive”. Dead batteries should not be thrown in the trash/garbage can. Solution! There are 2 coffee cans – one in the Sacristy and one in the Copy Room labeled “Home for Dead Batteries”. Please deposit the “dead ones” in the container. A member of the congregation has offered to take care of recycling them.
- Saturday Grace was the host for the Lutheran Synod Council Meeting.
- Don’t forget if you put food in the refrigerators and/or freezers to label them with the group name and date. We have some unlabeled items and if not labeled or eaten will be eliminated by the end of January. Any questions see Gretchen.
- Along those same lines if you notice a spill or congregation of crumbs in the refrigerators, please wipe them up.
- Remember: Grace is not the building but the people of Grace carrying out God’s mission!
Healthy People! Healthy Parish!
Community and You!
What is a great way to give back and help others?
Go the speed limit, recycle dead batteries, compost veggies, turn your headlights (not parking lights) when using windshield wipers, – yep these are all great but even greater is to donate blood!
Every unit of blood donated helps 3 people!
It is a great idea for high school (over the age of 16) and college kids to start the process of donating without a huge time commitment. If kids need to have Community Service Hours, please have them see Gretchen for not only donating but helping a the drive.
The Spring Blood Drive is Wednesday April 11 from 1-6 pm.
The appointment times are open on the Red Cross website or call Gretchen, and she can schedule you.
Don’t forget donors do not need to be members of Grace – they can be neighbors, friends, cousins, second cousins, etc.
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month .
We hear about human trafficking but do we really know what it is?
Human trafficking involves the use of fraud, force, or coercion to obtain some type of labor and/or commercial sexual activity.
Often when we hear this term, we think just children or women, but it also includes men. It is not only around the world but in the United States and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality.
It occurs in cities ,suburbs, and even rural towns.
Often language barriers, fear of the people who are trafficking them and/or fear of police keep victims from seeking help so it becomes a hidden crime.
Traffickers look for people who are easy targets. Some of the reasons they are viewed as easy targets are:
– Are vulnerable emotionally or psychologically – immature, looking for attention.
– Economic hardship – need money.
– Lack of social safety net – have no one to go to, are alone
– Natural disasters – people are bewildered, need place to stay, need money.
– Political instability.
Possible indicators of human trafficking:
– Is the victim accompanied by another person who is controlling, provides the victim’s information, or who does all the communicating?
– Does the victim have trouble communicating due to language?
– Does the victim seem submissive or fearful, afraid to make eye contact, or seems afraid to speak when in front of others.
– Does the victim seem to be confused, claim to just be visiting or unable to tell where they are?
– Is the victim reluctant to talk about his or her injuries or does the information given not match with the injury or medical history?
– Is the victim not dressed correctly for the situation or work they are to be doing?
– Is the victim in an environment where they are restricted – blocked or barred windows, barbed wire, etc.
– Does the victim live in a poor unsuitable place (dirty, no plumbing/heat)?
What we may observe in a victim of human trafficking.
- Bruises/wounds in various stages of healing or appearance looks like the person has been restrained with marks on wrists, ankles, etc.
- Scars, or untreated infections
- Chronic back pain, hearing, eyesight, heart or breathing problems
- Malnourished , serious dental problems
- Disoriented, confused, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous, paranoid behavior
Not all of the indicators may be present in every human trafficking situation ,and the presence or absence of any indicators does not prove that the person is a victim of human trafficking.
Remember that victims are often afraid and even though you may not be sure, it is important to report suspicious activity! You may be the one to save that child ,women or man’s life!
If you suspect call the police or call 1-866-347-2423.
National Hot Chocolate Day!
Yes, there is really a day specific to this wonderful drink! Chocolate has compounds that signal the brain to release endorphins and serotonin that give us feelings of calmness, decrease stress and worry and can make us feel happy.
Cocoa powder by itself has very little sugar or fat. It is the cocoa mixes that add the fat and sugar. Check out the labels and look for a mix that has 60-70% cocoa.
And watch all the additions – whipped cream, marshmallows ,candy cane and alcohol .
Otherwise enjoy “Happiness in A Cup”!!
Don’t forget this Sunday the H.E.L.P. closet will be open for you to check and see what we have.
Are you and your car ready for Winter?
The display of what to have in your car for winter will be out in Brenner Hall on Sunday. Take the quiz and see how ready you really are!
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!