God created the church to joyfully lift up the Good News of God, even when all hell is breaking loose — like it so often seems. We are not called to be a police force for morality. We are not called to frighten people with dire warnings, as if we were some holy alarm system (although that might sometimes be a necessary tactic). The prophet Isaiah teaches us our actual purpose:to joyfully proclaim God’s good news in Jesus Christ and to live into the future God promises in Christ. Our joy might be solemn, sober and serious, but it is a deep joy that points beyond present circumstances to how God promises them to be in Christ.
You are invited to candlelight worship, Christmas Eve, December 24, 7 PM. We celebrate the incarnation of God, that is, God coming to us as the human person, Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth in Bethlehem this night honors. We will sing carols, listen to scripture and preaching, and celebrate Holy Communion by candlelight.
Our deep prayer for Advent is from Isaiah 64:1“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down”. God rushes to answer our prayer by coming to us in Jesus Christ. Still, things are not right. Still we long for God to come. That’s because these 2 things go together and make up of the certainty of faith: 1) our longing for God, and 2) God coming to us to fulfill that longing. “Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to us. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.”
It takes an act of God for sinners to trust in Christ for life and salvation. God’s power that empowers that act is the exact same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is the same power that brings about justice for the “least” in the world. It is nothing like what the world calls power. It is the self-emptying obedience of Jesus Christ on the cross for sinners.
Our society is built on the hype that peace and security are just around the corner. Those who believe the hype will be caught by surprise in the destruction, when the veneer that passes for peace & security is stripped away, when that peace & security is shown to be built on the bloody backs of the poor & vulnerable, when God shines light on the corruption that sustains the illusion of peace & security, when God brings to an end all that violence that props up that illusion. Believers in Christ will not be surprised nor will we try to avoid the destruction. We know there is plenty of sin in us that must be destroyed. That is part of what is illuminated by being children of the light and the day rather than the darkness and the night.
Making friends with neighbors and simply being in relationship with them here and now is a way of lifting up Christ for our neighbors. True relationship means humbly and gratefully receiving the gifts our neighbor offers. Gift of Grace receives SO many gifts from our neighbors!
Our nearest neighbor Karla Meursing, is a dear friend to Gift of Grace who has been quietly supporting Gift of Grace projects for several years. She has been most involved with the chicken project. She LOVES the chickens. In addition to having her own flock, she helps take care of ours every single day, feeding and watering them and generally keeping an eye on them.
Karla is an artist. So, she makes art out of her chicken interactions and shares it with us. Here are some art projects she has shared with us. Give thanks to God for Karla and the gifts she freely shares with Gift of Grace.
When we first got chickens Karla was taking an online art class. She befriended an artist in Germany, Saskia Elze, and told her all about the chickens and their adventures. This led to the creation of this book, based on actual chicken events: The True Story of Blackface’s Night Out.
Saskia drew the pictures and wrote the story. Then sent them to Karla via the internet. One of Karla’s art forms is book binding. So she printed the pictures out and created them into a book. Some of the pictures show her binding work.
By the way, to honor Saskia Elze’s work please note: pictures and story are copyrighted.
In a little henhouse there lived four hens and a rooster.
The biggest hen was called Big Red Bertha.
The rooster’s name was Cocky.
He was very young and a dashing and all the hens had a crush on him,
most of all Blackface, the smallest hen
One evening Big Red Bertha hissed menacingly at Little Blackface,
“You’re too small and ugly. Cocky will never like you!
And he won’t find worms for you anymore either.
You’d better leave before he throws you out.”
Blackface was devastated and ran out of the henhouse.
She didn’t see where she was going and she felt all alone
Night fell. It was cold and Blackface didn’t know what to do.
She cried big, hot tears and it seemed
like no one in the world loved her.
Suddenly she heard a familiar voice calling her name.
It was Cocky and he had been looking for her all over
because he liked her best all hens.
When Blackface realized that he liked her she was overjoyed!
Together they went back to the henhouse.
They sat down on the roost side-by-side
and huddled against each other.
Big Red Bertha was furious that her plan hadn’t worked.
Cocky was very cross with her
and didn’t give her a single worm for a whole month.
Little Blackface stayed with him and never ran away again.
Karla’s drawing of the building and food forest from Summer 2017
You are invited to a Thanksgiving Feast at Gift of Grace on Thanksgiving Day.
GraceFeast’s own chef, Matthew Shea, is teaming up with a we.org service club from Redmond to serve this feast. Matthew has worked with this crew in the past. They have even cooked and served meals here, for example, last Christmas.
Two mom’s from Redmond, Diane Baron and Kelli Landers, started their own after school service club through the we.org organization when their kids were in 3rd and 5th grade. They are now 8th and 10th graders. They wanted to encourage kids to learn the joy of service early. This is the goal of we.org. Each year this club is committed to 1 local and 1 global service project, but they do more. They connected to Matthew when they were volunteering at Facing Homelessness. Diane rejoices that Matthew has been been an inspiration to her kids as they have gotten to know him over the past 3 years. They now count him as a friend.
I rejoice too, because getting to know one another across socio-economic status is exactly the spirit of GraceFeast. Jesus broke bread indiscriminately. We want to follow his lead and experience the joy he promises.
I will send out the details of the time and menu of the Feast when they are solidified, but for now, mark the date and give thanks for God’s reconciling work in the world. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. (Psalm 34:8)
I am writing to celebrate with you the arrival of 2 new hens, joining our other 4 hens. The best part of getting these new hens is that they were given to us by a neighbor family. One of the main reason for having Gift of Grace Urban Farm, of which the chickens are a part, is to encourage interaction with our neighbors. So, we give thanks to God for Nancy
Adams Treder and family for gifting us these hens. We can also give thanks for Molly Donavan and those who manage to the FaceBook page “Buy Nothing: Wallingford.” This page is dedicated to helping neighbors gift things they would otherwise toss out, as well as being a platform for letting neighbors know about items you might need in the event the someone can gift it to you instead any of us buying MORE STUFF! Nancy posted her hens on the page. I saw the post and we connected. Before calling me, she read most of our giftofgrace.org website to learn who we are.
We also received this lovely table for Little Castle Preschool from the “Buy Nothing: Wallingford.” page!
In more chicken news, about a month ago a band of marauding raccoons attacked our next-door neighbor Karla’s coop, killing about 8 hens. A few nights later they attacked our coop and killed all Karl’s chicks.The chicks were in our front coop pending their transition to Karla’s back yard with her other hens.
We discovered how the coons got in our front coop and solved that issue. The next night or so they attacked our coop again and this time got in the back coop, killing one of our hens before Karla heard the ruckus and come to the defense of our remaining hens.
How that coon got in our back coop remains a mystery. We went over every inch of it and could not find a point of entry. We nevertheless fortified the coops. Since then we have had no more coon visits that we know of. We hope it stays that way.
Without an act of God all “child of God” talk is empty, deceitful flattery. But in Christ it is for real! Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for sinners is God’s act that allows us to be called children of God. And that is exactly what we are! Let’s live so as to bring honor to the family name.
Follow this link to read the full sermon for All Saints Sunday, November 5, 2017
Those who sin will only ultimately experience God as a threat, as a judge. Only God can make peace with God & freedom in God a reality in your life and mine. Otherwise all God talk is deception & manipulation. As Jesus says “only the Son can make you free in reality”. Luther taught the Church to stop trying to earn peace with God, to stop trying to make something of ourselves, to stop avoiding God & God’s judgement, and instead, to simply let God be God. Let God be the God, God wants to be for you & me — the God who God is in Jesus Christ. This God alone is the Savior God. And is your Savior.