Happy are they who dwell in your house!
They will always be praising you.
It is a tough time to be the Church, isn’t it? People have shifted their general focus and energy to other things; to work, to sports, to politics, to entertainment. There seems to be little room or time left for many to nurture their faith, even though some express the thought that there seems to be “something missing” from their lives. Anxiety and disconnection increase in our world, even as the Church dwindles. We know church membership rolls have decreased, as have financial offerings.
It is a tough time to be a congregation, isn’t it? People leave congregations; over disagreements about pandemic health protocols, over social issues, over worship, over music. Some get out of the habits of faith; worship, Bible study, service, fellowship. Once time and attention are taken up by other things, the habit of not being in the faith habit gets ingrained and it can be tough to return to an intentional faith life. And once that happens, a community of faith begins to think about what is missing … often more than what is present.
We feel that at Grace, I know. The pandemic took its toll. The loss of some members of this faith family remains painful. The communal memory of conflict lingers. And we wonder: Now what? How can we keep on being the Church and the local congregation? How can we worship and serve with hope, rather than with anxiety over the future?
The early followers of Jesus started as small groups of people. These people met whenever they could to worship and to study; despite uncertainty, despite persecution, despite the benefit of 2000 years of tradition. They persevered because the love of God in Jesus Christ sustained them, and the Holy Spirit inspired them to spread the Good news far and wide.
The Church has struggled often throughout its history, as the people of God have faced persecution, plague, internal disagreements, and varying degrees of apathy from the world. The Church has been lean and it has been robust … but the Good News is always the Good News. The blessings and grace of God are never diminished, even if we lose sight of them. When the people of God refocus on the things which give us life and hope, the way ahead seems clearer.
I think the time is now to shift our focus away from thoughts of scarcity (“what we used to have”) to focusing on our abundance (“what we are blessed to be about right now”). The people we gather with at Grace are here, I hope, because of a love for Jesus and a desire to proclaim what God has done for us to those who don’t know or who have forgotten.
This moment is when we begin to look to the future, confident that who we are and what we will be is in God’s gracious, loving hands. We have what we have always had, despite the changes and challenges; a God who offers us the promise of a life more abundant than we can imagine and who promises never to leave us alone. Now is the time for us to re-imagine how we can make that Good News known far and wide.
Operation Christmas Child
November – monetary donations. It costs $9 to send a box. Donations can be dropped off in the office or labeled and put in the offering.
Meditation on John 8:31-36 & Romans 3:19-28
By Vicar Dave
How many times have we heard the phrase, “The truth shall make you free”? It’s a common statement used to encourage someone to tell the truth. That, however, is not the meaning that Jesus intended. Jesus uses this phrase to encourage others to continue in His word. It’s interesting to me that He’s speaking to Jews who HAD believed in him. Is their belief in Him something from their past? Jesus is telling them that continuing in His word, in relationship with and belief in Him, will make them truly disciples, knowing the truth and made free. But free from what? Jesus tells them that they are slaves to sin and knowing the truth of Jesus’ word sets them free from sin.
We all sin. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. It is by the grace of Jesus Christ that we are saved. This truth is what sets us free from sin. Since this grace is a gift, and not something that we have earned, it is not something that we should be boastful about, but rather we should be humbly grateful. Not long ago, we read about a Pharisee who came to the temple feeling as though he had earned his salvation. Jesus told us then that his prideful expression of fake gratitude was not sufficient to make him justified, despite him having complied with the law, unlike the tax collector who came to the temple at the same time.
Justification by grace is a key part of the Lutheran expression of Christianity. At the time of the reformation, the Roman Catholic Church was pushing, among other things, the idea that salvation of your deceased loved ones, or perhaps even yourself, could be had through the purchase of indulgences. These were purchases of prayers to be said by monks or nuns bought by wealthy people for themselves or for their ancestors. The church also believed in, and still believes in, the concept of purgatory. Purgatory is believed to be a place that’s sort of between Heaven and Hell, where one’s sins are purged through long periods of suffering. Martin Luther objected to these notions, and a lot of other stuff the Roman Catholic Church was doing and was hoping to move the church away from these practices/teachings. He wanted to reform the church, hence the name of the movement being the Reformation. The powers that controlled the Roman Catholic Church were not moved by Luther’s arguments and Protestantism was began.
I’m writing all this, not so much as a history lesson, but to illustrate how important the concept of justification by grace as a gift is to us Lutherans. Since it is a gift, freely given by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us, there is nothing that we can do to earn it. Does this mean that we should just disregard the law, then? Paul says, “By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” But our upholding of the law and performance of good works are not something we do to merit God’s grace and forgiveness. It is something that we do in response to it! So, we should continue in the word of Jesus Christ, keeping that relationship alive with prayer and thanksgiving and with humble gratitude.
An Invitation From The Christian Education Committee
You are invited to our Annual Operation Christmas Child packing party, November 13, 2022 after the 2nd service in Brenner Hall. We will be packing boxes with items to be given to a child who may never have received a gift before. Our goal is to fill 125 boxes this year. We need volunteers to help fill the boxes. Bring a lunch or snacks and come join us for fun and fellowship. We will provide beverages and snacks. Come for a short time or plan to stay the whole afternoon. We look forward to seeing you.
The Sattler Family
Katie has been here at Grace for 23 years. She and her Mom (Brenda Holderman) started coming here when Katie was 10 years old.
Bobby has been coming to Grace for close to 10 years. Katie and Bobby did not meet at church, but he has been coming here as long as they have been together!
When Katie was younger, she played for Grace’s basketball team and was one of the only girls on the team at the time. She also played softball for Grace. She was recently on church council.
Katie and Bobby got married here at Grace 6 years ago this November. They have two beautiful children, Turner and Isobel.
Katie and Bobby are big hockey fans. They have been season ticket holders to the Toledo Walleye for about 6 years now.
Besides keeping very busy with the kids, Bobby works in HVAC – heating and air conditioning and Katie is an office coordinator for a skilled home health care agency.
Katie’s favorite Bible verse is John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Katie says, “Grace has always felt like home to me for the years that I have been going and I look forward to watching my children grow in faith here at Grace.”
Thank you, Katie, Bobby, Turner and Isobel!
All Saints’ Day will be observed at Grace on Sunday, November 6. As in the past, the Altar cloth will list names of deceased loved ones which have been added by members. This year a new cloth had to be purchased as our previous cloth was completely filled. The cloth will be at the back of sanctuary on a table starting October 23 so that names of members’ loved ones can be written on it.
The Danger of Simplification Part 1: Three Solas—Huh?
If you hang around Lutherans long enough you’ll hear about the three solas: Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura. And you may be told that these phrases summarize Protestant Reformation teachings about salvation—or, at least, Martin Luther’s part of the Reformation.
Well, I neither speak nor understand the Latin language — so the phrases sound like theo-babble to me. And I’m frequently puzzled by those theologically inclined individuals who seem to think that their use of Latin phrases increases their prestige. So let’s translate into English: Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Scripture Alone. Huh?
English is better, but I still don’t know what those phrases mean. Why? Because I’m not a trained theologian. For someone who is well-educated in Reformation theology, the phrases stand for (represent) three complex ideas. And the Latin phrases work well for discussions among those who already understand the complex ideas and the use Latin code-words—but they don’t work for the rest of us.
The problems here? Communication based on over-simplification of complex ideas and assuming that what you understand is also understood by someone else.
Of course, the same problems could occur if I were to say to a Sunday-morning visitor: “Meet me in the Sacristy after worship.”
By the way, Salvation involves faith rather than our works, God’s grace rather than our merit, and the Scripture rather than tradition.
Where Martin Luther walked as he sought reformation.
Lutheran Basics Class:
We have had great discussions in the Lutheran Basic class in October! We need a bit more time to continue our learning, so the class will continue for a couple more weeks. We will meet on Sunday, 6 November and Sunday, 13 November at 8:15 a.m. We will also meet on Wednesday , 9 November and Wednesday, 16 November at 6:00 p.m.. Please note: Both the Sunday and Wednesday sessions will take a break the week of 30 October, with no class on 30 October or 2 November.
Ruth and Ken McKenzie
Written by Ruth
I have been a member of Grace since October, 1998. Ken, my husband, Chris, our youngest son and myself joined at that time. Our older son, Jon, was living in Cincinnati where he was going to the university.
In our younger years we owned a small hardware store in South Toledo. After 15 years of retail, we decided to sell the store. Ken moved on to the University of Toledo where he was for 25 years, retiring in the Financial aid department. You may know Ken as Santa Ken, as he is a professional Santa. Work starts soon for him. I worked for 31 years at Lucas County Children Services where I was a Licensed Social Worker, working in various areas and retiring in the Adoption Department.
Both of our sons live and work in the Toledo area with their wives and children. Our grandchildren are 14, 7,and 6. They bring me much joy and happiness. It’s better than having your own children. You can spoil them, give them sugar and then send them home!
My favorite Bible verse is Genesis 1:1. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth…. If God could create this world and universe, He has the power to do anything he wants to. What power and might He has. We attend the 2nd worship service because of the music and the Praise Band. The time goes so quickly when you give praise and give an uplift to your soul. I also attend Women at the Well monthly. The women are great and conversations bring joy to us all.
I am a huge supporter of our Luther League. We as a church need to funnel energy and finances to this group. The members of the church need to realize that the youth are the people we want to fill our pews in the future. Support them, even if you don’t know all of them. They need our guidance.
I enjoy the smell of baking bread (I make sweet ones), doing Bargello ( an Italian form of needlepoint) and traveling. I like to make all natural wreaths with dried flowers and on occasion sell them.
If you see me stop and say “hello”. It is always fun to talk with another Christian.
Thank you, Ruth and Ken for all you do!
Election Day Bake Sale – RADA Cutlery – Fellowship Craft Fair
Ruth Circle is sponsoring a bake sale, cutlery sale along with Fellowship Fair. Donations of baked good would be appreciated and can be dropped off in the Brenner Hall kitchen on Nov. 6th, 7th or 8th marked for bake sale. We will also have crafts and RADA cutlery available for sale. Even if you are not voting at Grace you are welcome to come see what we have to offer. The proceeds are used to fund our outreach projects in Toledo and Northwest Ohio. Hope to see you there!
Pancake Breakfast – November 13th between services!
The youth group is having a Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, November 13th between services (10:30-11:30ish). There will be a free will donation for the youth group. We will be adopting people from Sunshine Communities and this will help with that. There will be a pancake bar, where you can choose your own toppings.
We hope people will come spend some time together, eat yummy pancakes and enjoy some fellowship time.
The Youth Committee
This is the day the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it!