With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy before the king, the Lord. ~Psalm 98:6  

Pastor’s Thoughts:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is  just, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”—Philippians 4:8

Last week, I wrote about sensory rest—the need to rest from all of the sensory overload we encounter from electronic devices and media. This week, I would like to focus on mental rest as we continue to ponder rest in the synod’s Year of Rest.

I am not a fan of clutter in my home or office (even as I see the things in my office I need to sort through, I feel anxious!). Like many others, I prefer to have things neat and tidy.

Our minds, like our homes and offices, can become cluttered. They can be filled with worries, anxieties, fears, and annoyances, much like the piles of papers and unsorted items in our physical spaces. The mental clutter can be just as overwhelming as the physical clutter, if not more.

As important as it is to rest our bodies, it is just as important to rest our minds. While we make (or at least try to make) space for our physical rest each day, it can be a challenge to quiet the thoughts, etc. that occupy space in our heads. It often seems that our thoughts are laced with negativity, either because we feel overwhelmed or we just don’t know what to do with all of the thoughts, emotions, opinions, and ideas that we process on a daily basis.

When this mental “clutter” becomes so consuming, it can cause us to not be completely present and available for whatever is right in front of us. We might also judge whatever is happening in a given moment against something that has happened in the past that we cannot let go of and that plays in a loop on our mind’s soundtrack. We might begin to focus on what might happen and develop a fear of the future.

How can we find mental rest? I know that sometimes it can be good to set aside a solid block of time for the things I must get done. Once they are done, I don’t have to keep that piece in my head. Think of managing email, completing tasks like paying bills, or catching up on current events. Certainly, interruptions will happen, but overall, a “task plan” can help prioritize.

I find I must also be intentional about my devotional time. Recently, I have found that one writer’s suggestion of beginning a time of prayer or meditation with Philippians 4:8 (see above) can help center me and assist me with sifting through the clutter to focus on things that will offer nourishment, comfort, guidance, and hope.

These ideas may not work for you, but there may be other ways to help find some “quiet space” and rest your mind … even for a few moments.

In Christ, Pastor Brenda

Please join us – Sunday Fellowship Time

In Fellowship Hall

May 5th – Sue Wagner and Brenda Holderman

May12th Mother’s Day – Muffins for Mom

If anyone is willing to donate a dozen muffins,

please let Sue Wagner know at Suegrade@aol.com

or 419.475.8972.


by Vicar Dave

My mother had this pearl necklace that she would wear occasionally. It was a string of pearls, all perfectly round and shiny. She even had matching earrings. I remember being fascinated by her pearls. The way the irradiance made it seem almost like something was flowing on their surface. I often wondered how these pretty little balls were made. I found out that they came from the ocean and that they grew inside an oyster. I had an oyster shell and I noticed that the inside of the shell had the same, shiny, irradiance as I noticed on the pearl. The pearl, I found out, is formed when a grain of sand or some other irritant gets inside the shell. The oyster coats the foreign object with a substance that it secretes, putting layer upon layer until it forms this perfect little ball. This keeps the oyster safe from the sand or whatever it is. That’s a pretty neat natural defense mechanism if you ask me.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something like that to protect us when something or someone gets under our skin and irritates us? Well, the fact is that we do. It’s called prayer. We all have probably had someone in our lives, a co-worker, or a friend, that just grates on our nerves. Maybe it’s the way they seem to get out of assignments on the job, or when things go wrong, they’re always ready to blame someone else rather than talk about ways to fix the mistake. Maybe it’s the neighbor who put loose trash out and just leaves it there for weeks on end. Or maybe we get irritated by the things we see in the news. There certainly are a lot of ways that we can become annoyed. I have had to fight the tendency to let these irritants inside and just stew over them. Doing that accomplishes nothing except maybe giving me an upset stomach. However, if I cover the person that is bothering me over with prayer, it may not solve whatever the problem is, but it can help me look at it or them in a different frame of mind. Through prayer, I can come to see the other person as a beautiful child of God. That new view of them can also bring me some peace. Maybe I’ll realize that what’s annoying me really isn’t that big of a deal, or maybe it’ll give me a better attitude so that I can approach them and maybe find some new ways to interact with each other.

Praying over someone that irritates us may help us to see the image of God in them, with which they are made. Perhaps then, instead of seeing something irritating, we will see the pearl that God has put into our lives.

Grace’s graduates will be remembered at the 9:30 a.m. service on Sunday, June 9. Names of those graduating from high school or college can be emailed to the office at Grace (office@gracelutherantoledo.org) or to Mary Schneider (msschneider353@gmail.com) or written out and handed into the church office or placed in the offering plate. Please include the graduate’s future plans.

The Readings for Sunday May 5, 2024

Acts 10:44-48

Psalm 98

1 John 5:1-6

John 15:9-17

Congregational Meeting Sunday May 19

The May Congregational Meeting will be held Sunday, May 19, 2024.

There will be one worship service that day at 10:30 a.m. in the nave.

The meeting will follow immediately after worship in the same space.

Following the meeting, there will be a potluck meal.

Please plan to attend this important meeting. We will hear congregational updates and elect Council members.

All of these things – together with your input – are crucial to the mission of Grace.

In Christ, The Grace Lutheran Council

On Sunday, May 26, Memorial Day weekend, we will remember family members and friends who served their country in the Armed Forces and are now deceased at both the 9:30 and 11:30 services.  An insert will be prepared listing the names of those being remembered.

Please email Grace’s office, office@gracelutherantoledo.org, or Mary Schneider at msschneider353@gmail.com, with the names of family members and friends. Names can also be written on paper and placed in the offering plate or given to the church office.

Pastor Thoughts: Part II

In worship on Sunday, we heard the story of the Ethiopian eunuch who, upon meeting the apostle Philip, says, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from  being baptized?” We have been hearing those words each Sunday for weeks, as they are part of the Thanksgiving for Baptism rite we have been using as we begin our time together in worship.

In my sermon, I suggested that perhaps the question we should ask ourselves as followers of Jesus in this day and age is, “What is to prevent me from living out my baptism?” What are the forces which can keep us from doing this? Fear? Pride?  Uncertainty?

Many of us were baptized as children. Our parents and baptismal sponsors promised that they would bring us to worship regularly, put the scriptures in our hands, and give us opportunities to learn about our faith. In our confirmation classes, we learn more about these things, and when we affirm our baptism in the rite of   Confirmation (Affirmation of Baptism) we take more responsibility for our faith journey.

But the question remains throughout our lives: What is to prevent me from living out my baptism? What keeps me from seeing that there is a connection between the “things of God” (worship, the scripture, learning about the faith, service) and “everything else”? Indeed, what keeps us from seeing that every part of our lives is connected to our walk as a baptized child of God and to the promises made on our behalf and then entrusted to us? How can we remind ourselves of our identity as baptized children of God? How can we live out that identity?

There is no easy “formula” for this, but it seems to me that a good place to begin is by reminding ourselves daily that we are baptized. Martin Luther wrote that he    began each day by tracing the sign of the cross on himself and saying, “I am baptized,” as a way to claim the grace and love God pours out upon us in our Baptism and to remind himself of the call to live a life that reflects God’s call to mercy, compassion, justice, and love.

In order to make connections between our identities as the children of God—whom God has called by name and called to ministry—is to remind ourselves of the baptismal promises made for us and now claimed by us, and to engage in the faith actions those promises lift up: “ … you are entrusted with responsibilities: to live with them among God’s faithful people, bring them to the Word of God and the holy supper, teach them the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments, place in their hands the holy scriptures, and nurture them in faith and prayer, so that your children may learn to trust God, proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world god made, and work for justice and peace.” (ELW, p. 228)

The call for us as God’s children seems to have some basic guidelines:  worship together, read the scriptures, pray and confess the faith, and work for justice in the world. Without an intentional focus on these things, making the connections between our Baptisms and how we live will be tough.

That process of connecting will look different for each of us, but there is a common thread: God places a claim on us and showers us with grace in baptism. When we take that to heart, everything we do, every decision we make, and every step we take is grounded in our claiming that grace and love.

Breath as Prayer.

What is it?

Breath as Prayer is a way of connecting with God through the rhythm and cadence of breathing. A breath prayer is a simple short prayer that is said in a single breath, usually with the name of God and a request of praise.

Breath prayers are not new. Some believe breath prayers began thousands of years ago with the repetitive prayers of the Psalms.

Breath prayers are very short, broken into two halves, and prayed in rhythm with the breath: the first half is prayed while inhaling, and the second half while exhaling.

Christian breath prayers are typically based on Scripture and are prayed to God.

One of the earliest known breath prayers is known as “The Jesus Prayer” and is based on Luke 18:13. Simply, it reads: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Breath prayers like this one have been used around the world, particularly by Orthodox Christians in Russia and Greece.

Breath prayer can slow us down, be aware of God’s presence, and express our deepest desires to God.

The best part? Breath prayers are simple and easy to learn. If you can breathe, you can pray a breath prayer.

How to Perform Breath Prayer

Begin with the breath.

There are multiple breathing techniques that you can use, but my favorite is a simple 5-5 pattern:

Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for five seconds, then exhale slowly and fully through your mouth for five seconds. Repeat a few times to focus on the slow and steady rhythm of your breath.

Now, add in prayer. For a traditional Christian breath prayer, try starting with one of my favorites, from Psalm 23:1:

Inhale: Lord, You are my shepherd, Exhale: I have all that I need.

Breathe in deeply as you focus your thoughts on:  Lord, You are my shepherd. Exhale slowly as you focus your thoughts on: I have all that I need.

You can modify this to work with any prayer you choose.

Repeat the prayer several times, for 3–5 minutes, keeping your breathing slow and steady and meditating on the words of the prayer.

Give breath prayers a try for a few days in a row and pay attention to how they may affect your overall mental health.

So go ahead, take a deep breath, and discover that every breath can be an invitation to pray.

From the book; Breath as Prayer by Jennifer Tucker

The Luther League wants to thank everyone who came out to support the rummage sale. We appreciate you!



JULY 8 – 12

5:30 PM – 8:00 PM


Each fun night will begin with a light supper together.

The ADULTS will attend a fun Bible Study with Pastor Brenda.

The KIDS will dive into exploring BREAKER ROCK BEACH – and learn about God’s rock-solid truth in a world of shifting sands.

Everyone will meet up again later in the evening for crafts,

games, music, and worship!

Our final night of VBS will be an outdoor ‘bonfire” where we will roast hotdogs, have s’mores, play games, and “sing around the campfire”!

Make sure you mark your calendars!

Keep watching for more updates and ways to register!

All are welcome to join in the fun!

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!

Grace Office hours are

9:00am to Noon – Monday through Thursday

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Friday

Please know that if you have received random, or unusual emails or texts that say they are from Pastor Brenda, they are not. A number of them have been reported to the office this week. As always, please be careful about answering texts and emails if you are not sure who they are from.

This is the day the Lord has made.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

~Psalm 118:24