Happy New Year!!
You say that it is a bit early to be wishing all a Happy New Year? Not in the church. Today is the first day of the church year as we begin a new cycle of readings and observances. So yes, Happy New Year!
Today we enter the season of Advent – the four Sundays preceding Christmas. This is a time of reflection, repentance, and preparation for the event of the birth of the Christ child. This is an event that happened in the past historically, that happens in the present as we live into our faith, and that will happen in the future when the kingdom of God is fully manifested. This is one of those special times of the year that we mark with midweek services. This year they will be held on:
Each of these days we will gather for a simple meal followed by a short worship service. Dinner will begin at 5:30 and the service will begin at 7:15. Please take some time out from the busy-ness of Christmas as it is celebrated in our culture to slow down and reflect on the mystery that is unfolding – the mystery that God would see fit to become one of us, to live among us.
In order for us to share a meal, we will need volunteers to bring soup and bread or crackers. Two pots of soup should be enough for each week. We will have a signup sheet available on this coming Sunday. Pick your favorite soup to share!
In our society, there is much emphasis this year on social events. It is always good to get together with friends and family, but even this can become exhausting as schedules become filled with all sorts of events in addition to the tasks we feel we must do. There is also much emphasis on gifting. Once again, this is a beautiful custom but it can be carried to the extreme so that we end up spending more than we should for gifts that may or may not really be wanted or appreciated. Take time to step back and look at these obligations and determine what really has meaning for you. Give yourself some grace to rest and enjoy the peace of God that comes to us at Christmas!
One last note – I am putting together a series of brief Advent devotionals on YouTube that you can listen to each day. They aren’t quite done yet, but I’m hereby committing to completing them. You can get to them at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9lwxSCLx0mCs5Rdjn0cfBk6Ru4OtWcR7. It won’t appear until Sunday, and after that, one video will appear each day. I did this last year at Atonement and there were some that found them useful, so I thought I’d try it again.
Wishing you a peaceful and joyous Christmas season!
Time is flying by! It is almost Thanksgiving, and Advent and Christmas follow closely on Thanksgiving’s heels. For those of us who are relatively well off, blessed with friends and family and comfort, it is a time when it is easy to get caught up in the whirl of activities and forget that there are those who are alone, hungry, and hurting. Remember those people in your prayers – we may not know anyone in that situation by name, but we can still pray for them.
Speaking of Advent, we will have Wednesday evening services during the four weeks of Advent. We will begin with a simple shared meal, followed by a simple service. The details are being worked out. More details to come!
At a time when there is so much going on, it is easy to forget to take time for quiet and renewal. Then we arrive at Christmas exhausted and dissatisfied. Take some time to reflect on the promise of the season. Take time to pay attention to the people around you and spread God’s love as far as you can.
If you are looking for an Advent devotional, here are some options:
The Season of Waiting (and Waiting … and Waiting) https://katebowler.com/advent2022/mc_cid=8bfdf78034&mc_eid=3efc08de6b
Fling Wide the Door https://www.luthersem.edu/godpause/advent-devotional/
First a few words of thanks –
Many thanks to all who brought food for the breakfast last Sunday – it was all delicious!
Many thanks to all who stepped up to lead in worship this past Sunday in light of Kathy’s unexpected absence – JoAnn Chambers, Debbie Stilson, Mary Ann Manning, and Tom Lee – it was greatly appreciated
The texts for this Sunday are not easy. It will be interesting, even to me, what turns up in the sermon. They may not be easy texts for the congregation to hear, but they are also difficult for the pastor to preach on, also.
I want to encourage you to pray for one another. Each week, the prayer requests are put in the bulletin. Take them home with you and pray for those listed there. Prayer makes a difference in people’s lives, and it is a way for us to love and support one another when there may not be much we can do to help. Especially remember those who are unable to attend church due to health or mobility issues.
We are approaching the holiday season, a busy time for the church as well as everyone else. By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be less than two weeks away. Advent begins the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If you are wanting devotional material for Advent, you might consider using the materials put out by Luther Seminary as part of their daily GodPause devotionals. They are free, and you can either subscribe to the daily devotional (and get them all year) or you can download the pdf for the season. You can find more information and the downloads at https://www.luthersem.edu/godpause/advent-devotional/.
This coming Sunday we remember the cloud of witnesses that surrounds us – witnesses that have gone on before us and those who still surround us. The body of the church surrounds us, supporting us in our trials, rejoicing with us in our joys, comforting us in our grief, sharing in our life in the kin-dom of God.
You are invited to bring photos of your loved ones to be displayed on Sunday. We will light candles to help us remember the light that they brought into our lives during the service. We will feel their presence with us as we partake of the sacrament.
AND we will enjoy breakfast together before the service, starting at about 9:00!
It will be a full, joyous day as we celebrate our unity in Christ!
This coming Sunday, we celebrate Reformation Sunday – commemorating the day that Martin
Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, inviting discussion of the issue of indulgences. As we know now, this led to the Protestant Reformation and was the
beginning of the Lutheran church. We are reminded that it was founded to be ever-reforming,
changing to meet the needs of the communities in which it found itself, always striving to
better proclaim and exemplify the Word of God. We are reminded that faith is not a static
thing that reaches some point at which growth is no longer necessary, but that faith continues
to grow and mature throughout our lifetimes.
In keeping with the Reformation theme, we will be playing Reformation Jeopardy during the
education hour. Brush up on your Reformation history and come prepared for some fun! Who
knows, there might even be prizes (if I get around to thinking about some).
We will continue the celebration after worship with a potluck lunch. Show off your culinary
skills and bring your favorite dish(es) to share will the rest of us!
It will be a celebratory day. Remember to wear RED!
October is almost over – November and the holiday season are almost upon us. This time of
year is filled with special times for many of us – Reformation Sunday, All Saints Sunday,
Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas. I have been planning out the rest of the year so I want to
give a short summary of what to expect so you can mark your calendars and participate as
much as you can or want to.
October 30 – Reformation Sunday
We will have a potluck luncheon after church. Bring your favorite dish(es) to share with
the rest of the Grace community as we take time to enjoy one another’s company.
November 6 – All Saints Sunday
We will remember those faithful ones who have gone before us, who taught us and
inspired us with candles. Feel free to bring pictures of those whom who remember as
important in your faith/life journey. We will also remember our own baptisms with the
Thanksgiving for Baptism during the service.
November 24 – Thanksgiving Day
Enjoy spending the day with friends and family, and remember all that God has given
you (which is EVERYTHING)!
November 27 – Advent begins
We begin to prepare for the arrival of the Christ, the light of the world. Our theme for
the season will be “Awaken to New Life.”
December 21 – Evening Advent Services
During this special season, we will take some extra time to reflect on the gift that has
been given to us, the gifts that are given to us each day, and the gifts that the future
holds. We will gather for a simple meal at 5:30 followed by a short service at 6:15.
December 24 – Christmas Eve
We will have a service of Lessons and Carols to mark this very special night of the church
year as we celebrate the light that has entered the world and the new life that is
promised by that light.
December 25 – Christmas Day
Because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, we will also celebrate a Christmas Day
service. This is a busy day for everyone, but we hope that you will take some time to
join us as we celebrate the Christ child.
There will be much going on in the next few weeks. Come join in the fun!
Cooler mornings give me hope that the hot weather is behind us and Fall is finally settling in. The days approaching hold many celebrations for the church. Reformation Sunday falls on October 30, and on the following Sunday, November 6, we will celebrate All Saints Sunday. Of course, Thanksgiving happens at the end of November and then we enter the season of Advent, when we prepare for the Plans are being made for marking these celebrations – they aren’t finalized yet, but watch this weekly email for announcements of upcoming events and plans! It is an exciting time of the year, and we want to enjoy it together.
I have returned from Vermont, rested and ready to go! I’m looking forward to seeing all of you
again on Sunday. We will continue getting to know each other during the adult education hour
as I seek to get to know Grace better – its history, its highs and lows, its hopes and dreams.
Come join us and let your voice be heard. I’ll bring some sort of a breakfast snack that we can
This week, as we look at the stories of Naaman and the healing of the ten lepers, we will reflect
on what it means to see something and how we respond to what we see. Gratitude plays a role
in both of these stories. What does gratitude have to do with our faith?
Reformation Sunday will be coming up on October 30. Let me know what traditions you have
that surround this day and perhaps we can plan some sort of celebration/fellowship
opportunity for that Sunday.
Greetings to you! May God’s grace and peace follow you through your days!
I want to let you know that I will not be with you the next two weeks. I will be taking a short vacation to visit my daughter in Vermont. The trip was planned before my internship was over to mark the transition between seminary and the real world – plus I haven’t seen her for over a year. Don Holmes will be leading you in worship these two weeks. Greet him warmly!
During the education hour last Sunday, we began some conversations to get to know each other better. Mostly those that were there got to know me a bit better. (I talked more than I intended.). When I return, it will be your turn. I want to know about Grace. Be thinking about what you might want me to know about you:
What brought you to Grace?
What are your memories of the best times at Grace?
What are your memories of the worst times at Grace?
What are your hopes and dreams for Grace?
What are your fears for Grace?
Anything else you want to tell me – these questions are just to get you started!
I’m looking forward to my vacation, but also to returning to you in two weeks. In the meantime, may God be with you!
Darlene Hopkins was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Though she felt the call to the ministry as early as her teenage years, life took her in a different direction. After earning her BA in English and MA in Elementary Education at Austin College and teaching for a short time, she pursued a long career in technology that included entrepreneurship, web development, application programing and data analysis, and even a two-year stay in Sydney, Australia. While she remained active at Trinity Lutheran Church, doing everything from teaching Sunday school, coordinating weddings and serving as an assistant minister to performing in choir, handbell choir, and a Zimbabwean marimba band, her career remained secular. However, when it came time for retirement, she didn’t feel that her professional—or spiritual—journey was over.
That call that she’d felt for so many years was even stronger now. She whetted her appetite for ministry at her synod’s Parish Lay Ministry Academy, but it only inspired her to learn more. When the Luther Seminary offered her the Jubilee Scholarship that would cover her tuition as she pursued her next degree, she took it as a message that it was time to make her teenage dreams a reality.
She has recently completed her Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary, which included an internship at Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park, Kansas. From writing papers to sharing comfort with those in need as a chaplain during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, her continued education has given her opportunities for personal growth and outreach that she never could have imagined.
“I am energized and enlivened by doing and learning new things,” says Darlene. “The world is too vast and too diverse to not keep learning and growing.”
Darlene has been married to husband Johnny for 39 years, and is a loving and supportive mother to her only child, Elise, and her grandchildren, Danté and Ezzy. Her favorite colors are purple and blue, and her hobbies include, reading, sewing, cross-stitch and seeking out adventure, whether it be wilderness hiking through White Pocket National Monument in Arizona, fly-fishing in Colorado, or driving up to Kansas in her convertible with just a suitcase in her trunk and God’s love in her heart.
She can’t wait to continue to learn and grow with Grace in the coming months.