Church Council and Mission Teams
Women of the ELCA
Grace Lutheran Church
Our mission is to seek
the fullness of life in Christ
for all people.
The sixteenth verse of the fifth chapter of Paul's letter to the Thessalonians contains two words: "Rejoice always." Two words, yet they say volumes of who we are as the Church of Jesus Christ. The Reverend Louise Hilbert began working with our Forward Together Leadership Team in September. She contributed a devotional on I Thessalonians 5:16 that I thought would be timely for me to share with you in this month's letter:
"Joy is a common theme throughout the Bible. We read stories which speak of rejoicing when lost coins, lost sheep, or lost sons are found. We know that we are lost without Jesus to lead us back to the Father. Rejoicing in the abundant mercy and forgiveness of our loving God makes us want to dance and sing, both as we gather together for worship and in our own personal spaces.
When Paul writes his letter to this young church, he is reminding them of the call to rejoice always in the midst of life. When hard times come, when touch decisions have to be made, when others disapprove or reject our efforts to be faithful to the call to discipleship, it is hard to rejoice. Paul is talking about the real source of our rejoicing - God - and God's constant efforts to reach out to the world in love. This is not a superficial happiness that appears only when things go well, but rather a deep joy that comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us. This joy is not only found in our life with Christ after death, but also our life now as we live in the "already but not yet" Kingdom of God.
Children know how to rejoice and often they see the world in clearer terms than adults do. Several years ago a Vacation Bible School group where I served decided to use their offerings to help a summer camp program in a tough neighborhood that was trying to make a real difference in the lives of young people. They had operated on gifts and prayer for some years. The leaders dipped into their own pocketbooks to keep things going. The VBS kids decided where they wanted to give their money - to this summer camp. At the end of the week, several families of children and adults went to share the gift. The joy on all the kids' faces and the sharing between the adults was a sight to see. It was a glimpse of the Kingdom where all God's children will gather one day and rejoice together."
As we think about life in our own congregation and surrounding community, where do we see rejoicing already happening? How might we increase rejoicing by our own actions - at Grace, at home, in our neighborhoods? What gifts do we have, and what opportunities do we see for reaching out in love to one another? I would love to hear your answers.
Please join me in prayer:
every day of our lives. Open us up to see the blessings and give us the
wisdom to see the challenges and opportunities for loving and serving you.
Give us the eyes that see beyond the immediate and into the future, knowing
that it belongs to you, as well. Help us to remember that you call us to rejoice
always and fill us with the power to do that. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Worship & Communion
Sunday School Classes
For ages 3 and up
(September through May)