The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
For freedom Christ has set us free. –Galatians 5:1
As some of you may know, my father was a full Miami Indian. It can be difficult for some to see that half of my ethnicity and heritage is Miami, but it is a fact of my life.
It was even more a fact of life for my dad. He was old enough to have heard some firsthand stories of relatives being displaced from tribal lands in Oklahoma, and the subsequent journeys to Indiana. He looked very much like a Native American, and I recall him telling that there were times early on in his life when he was addressed by such slurs as “Geronimo” or “redskin.” My Miami family has felt the sting of discrimination and of the sublimation of basic human rights at various times. On account of this, some have harbored a deep dislike for some of the policies and historical actions of the United States.
My father was different. He joined the Air Corps during World War II, even though he would have been exempt from service, and even though he faced resistance from his family. He believed that this service was important, as it was one way to see that the freedoms of others were not curtailed as they had been for members of our family.
Later in his life, in no small part due to a revitalized faith which he had experienced through his marriage to my mother, my dad came to understand that true freedom comes from God, and is not exclusive to any one group of people. I did not have the opportunity to have those discussions with him, but my mother shared that this was one area of faith and belief about which my dad was passionate: the idea that being new and free creations through the death and resurrection of Jesus calls and compels us to work to see that others can be free; free to worship how they wish, free to live and work as they wish, and free to speak their minds as they wish, and free to use their gifts and abilities to see that the basic needs of God’s children are met.
I wonder often these days what my father would have to say about current events. I wonder what he would say about civil freedoms or the lack thereof being tied to the Christian faith. I wonder what questions he would ask, and what answers he would offer.
What questions will we ask as people of faith? How will we consider our Christian freedom and what it means for our life together? How will we dwell with each other, remembering that we are all free in Christ, even when our disagreements are deep and heartfelt?
These are critical times in our country and in the world, and they are critical times in the Church. May we move forward remembering the promise of Jesus to dwell with us always, and may we remember that God’s love does not discriminate, but rather frees us to be in community in ways we might never have imagined. It is up to us to do the work of listening and growing together—as the Church, as the United States of America, and as the world.
Sunday Fellowship Time
July 9th – Gretchen Hiatt and Nancy Lockard
July 16th – Sue Wagner and Sue Melchert
Adventures with Jana!
Well, we’ve come to the end of my second week here. I’m slowly getting used to my new surroundings and I am having such a good time here. People are gracious and they always find so many things for me to see, to do…
This week was not so busy. We had office staff meeting, worship and music committee meeting, where we talked about the plans and activities we will have in the future.
On Thursday, Cindy’s granddaughter, Milena, had an orchestra concert, so we went to support her. She plays violin in the Orchestra of University of Toledo. Concert was amazing, they played very nice. After the concert we went to Stubborn Brother Pizza bar and I had the best pizza, definitely. Also, I met some of Milena’s friends and we agreed that we will go out some time while I’m here.
Pastor Brenda showed me the whole campus of the university. It’s beautiful and I can certainly say that is enormous but really well organized.
The most interesting day for me was Friday. I went on a road trip with two kind gentlemen, Bob and Ron, and one lovely lady, Cindy. We toured Downtowns in Northwest Ohio. I had the opportunity to see what small towns look like and whether there are any similarities between cities in Serbia and cities here. It was wonderful and I learned a lot about the cultures and traditions of these places. We had lunch at a famous small restaurant Sam’s place. They even gave me a t-shirt with their logo on it. We also visited the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve. We saw Bisons and heard a little more about them and why they are important and famous here. Day was amazing and we had so much fun. I’m sure everyone enjoyed it (I definitely did).
At the Sunday service I presented the book about history of Slovaks living in Serbia, Vojlovica, where I come from. Besides text, book contains pictures of people and their families. The sum up of book is in English, so anyone will be able to read it.
One interesting fact about this congregation is that everyone loves food, so I’m in the right place (I really like to eat all kinds of food). After every Sunday service, we gather in another room where we have cakes, cookies, salads etc. (everyone brings something) There, we spend some time together talking and laughing. I love this.
2023 VBS Mission Offering
This year as we use VBS to help us with the Twists & Turns of Life by following Jesus, we will be using our VBS Mission offering to benefit the ministry work at two Lutheran Churches in Serbia. For Stara Pazova helping folks with special needs and for Slankaman’s Vinyard for help with the construction of a community fellowship hall and kitchen.
We will be taking a “Noisy Offering” during worship at Grace on Sunday July 9th and July 16th.
Save all your loose change for the offering after the children’s message. You may also make a quiet offering of paper money or checks made out to Grace Church with “VBS Mission” in the memo. Help us to Change the Game when we follow Jesus.
Co-Game Guides, Connie and Ron
Through June 30 Grace has received $105,116 in offerings and other revenues in our Current Fund which is used to for our everyday operations. During that time we have spent $116,081 on our day to day bills, meaning we have a year to date deficit of $10,965. While a dry and mild Winter and Spring has helped Grace by keeping our utilities costs in a normal range, like all of our personal expenses, Grace is being impacted by rising costs due to inflation.
Please continue to support Grace and our programs financially.
David Charvat – Treasurer
Meditation on Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
By Vicar Dave
Who are the people of “this generation” that Jesus is referring to in today’s Gospel? It seem to me that they are the people who have been critical of Jesus and His teachings from the start. Actually, from even before that. You may remember that, in a recent reading where Matthew, the tax collector, is called by Jesus to be a disciple, Jesus went to Matthew’s house with him and his tax collector friends and ate a meal. In that instance, the Pharisees complained about Him eating and drinking with “tax collectors and sinners”. Jesus explained to the Pharisees that these are the people that He has come to save. To do that, He needs to be with them to teach them. The Pharisees were also the same group that complained about Jesus’ disciples not fasting like everyone else. Jesus had to remind them that the time to celebrate is when the bride groom is with them. The time to fast will be when he has gone away. He reasoned that His disciples can fast once Jesus has left. For now, it is appropriate that they feast with Him while they can. Before Jesus even began His ministry, the Pharisees were giving John the Baptist a hard time. Because they never saw John eating much of anything, they claimed that he had a demon. It seems to me that the Pharisees wouldn’t be happy with what ever teacher or prophet might be sent to them.
Maybe the Pharisees problem with Jesus and John had more to do with their respective messages than with their dietary choices or dinner companions. Afterall, John preached about confessing and repenting of your sins. The Pharisees thought they were perfect. The best that Israel had to offer. They didn’t want to hear that they were sinners and needed to repent. That was for other people. Jesus, on the other hand, preached about forgiveness of sins and spent time reaching out to the “others” in Jewish society. The Pharisees must have wondered why He never acknowledged them and all their efforts to teach these “others” the law.
The problem with the Pharisees was that they wanted call all the shots, force every prophet into their own pre-conceived mold. If they didn’t like the message, they’d find something about the messenger to attack as an excuse to reject him entirely. John never eats, so they said that he’s just too strange and can’t be taken seriously! Jesus enjoys eating and drinking so they say He’s a glutton and a drunkard. The Pharisees needed to stop looking for excuses to stick their fingers in their ears, blocking out God’s truth.
Do we do that sometimes? Do we look for things to criticize because we don’t like the messenger or his message? Every couple of years or so in this country we seem to have a habit of looking for and exposing someone’s flaws then painting them as a demon, either because they are from the other party, or they are spouting ideas that we don’t really care for. It can even be that what they are being accused of isn’t true at all. Our two major political parties are very practiced in the art of mudslinging. I know that most of us don’t buy into that stuff. But it get’s enough publicity that it can force some otherwise qualified people to decide to not run in the first place.
I guess the best we can do is pray that when God sends us a prophet of any type, that he’ll also send us the Holy Spirit to help us discern the value of what God is saying through them.
One day Eve called out to God from the Garden of Eden, “God, I have a problem.” “What’s the problem, Eve?”. “Lord, you’ve created me and provided this beautiful spot, these wonderful animals, and that goofy snake, but I’m just not happy.” ” Why is that, Eve?” Came the voice from above. “Lord, I am lonely. And I am sick to death of apples.” “Well, perhaps I have a solution. I shall create a man for you to keep you company.” “Oh, thank you,” cried Eve. “But is there a catch?” “Yes, there is one,” God answered. “You’ll have to let the man believe that I made him first.”
A well-known minister was invited to speak at a city council meeting on a Friday afternoon, since he was in town to preach all weekend. Knowing he would be repeating some of the same jokes during the Sunday sermons, he requested the newspaper reporter not include them in the article. On Saturday morning, there was a nice article about the visiting minister with this unfortunate ending: “The minister told a number of funny stories that we simply could not publish.” The pastor was growing a bit tired of eating leftovers for dinner. One night they sat down to leftovers again, and his wife was stunned to notice her husband begin to poke around at his meal without saying grace. ” Dear! Aren’t you going to offer thanks before we eat?” He put down his fork and sighed. If you can point out one thing on this plate I haven’t already said thanks for at least twice this week, I’ll be glad to.”
Bobby was certain he knew exactly the vehicle Jesus would drive: “A van that seats 12 and can pull a boat.” A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible: Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the chapter. Ricky was excited about the task, but he struggled to get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite the psalm before the congregation, Ricky was nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said with assurance, “The Lord is my Shepherd, and that is all I need to know.”
Weekly church is God’s gift. Assembly required.
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!