Greetings Grace Family!
The fall season has arrived! In places like the Northeast seasonal change can be seen in cooler temperatures and autumn colors, leaves turn from green to brilliant orange, red and bronze. In Southern California we’re still waiting for the cooler temperatures and most of our trees are evergreen. In the Church, however, fall means the end of "ordinary time." Reformation day is just around the corner followed by Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. I love the rhythms of the Church and look forward to the conclusion of "ordinary time."
Despite the title, "ordinary time" is far from ordinary in terms of the work and influence of the Body of Christ. After the rapid change in seasons during the rest of the year, ordinary time is set apart for a focus on the work of the Church. As a smaller, aging congregation we are not as active as once was the case years ago, but we still had opportunities to ‘go and do likewise’ as Jesus commanded His disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper. Individually, you all do have an impact and are people of influence as you shine the light of Christ in your homes, within your families and circle of friends, workplaces and in the community. You may not think of yourself as being a particularly bright light, but because Christ dwells in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, His light is always shining through you! Ordinary time is a celebration of that reality.
Corporately, as the Church, we also continue to have an impact in our community. We support two other congregations who use our campus. These congregations minister to communities that we would be less likely to connect with due to a variety of reasons. The Gospel is proclaimed by the Evangelical Gospel Ministry and The Apostolic Fellowship and they to impact our community for the sake of and to the glory of God. The Action Food Pantry is doing amazing ministry and they also receive support from Grace. Our Preschool is doing the invaluable ministry of caring for children in our community and teaching them about the love of Jesus. We also support a quilt guild that is more than just a quilting club. They are very civically minded and impact the community in a variety of ways. Though we are not directly involved with these groups in large numbers, we support and partner with them so that collectively the things that happen on our campus are worth being celebrated and far more than ordinary.
I do want to celebrate our recent service event on the ELCA’s annual God’s Work, Our Hands service day in the month of September. Thanks to your generous donations and time we gathered a wealth of supplies and put together over 100 blessing bags that have been and continue to be distributed to the homeless and those in need in our area. As we heard in worship on Sept. 24 from a couple of our members, those who were recipients of these blessing bags were truly blessed by the simple gesture. It may seem like a simple gesture to some, but to the recipient it is evidence that someone actually cares about them, not a thing those folks experience on a regular basis. Loving a neighbor is at the heart of the Gospel and those blessing bags, as ordinary as they may seem, fulfill what Jesus said was the most important thing we can do beside loving God. Remarkable! I’m happy to report that in just a few short weeks almost all of the blessing bags have gone home with someone and have likely already been a blessing to someone. And just to prove my point that we are partners with the ministries that share our campus, The Apostolic Fellowship joined us in the distribution of those bags! Thank you to everyone who participated!
You may be wondering why I chose this theme for this month’s newsletter article. First, I think it is important to remind everyone that in spite of the fact that we are a small and aging congregation, we are still active and fulfilling the call to love our neighbors in really impactful ways. Don’t ever equate small with insignificant! We are making a difference!
The other reason is I recently started reading a book that dispels the myth that because we are a small church we don’t matter especially when compared with larger congregations and mega churches. I will likely have more to say once I’ve finished the book, but for now let’s celebrate not just what God has done through Grace in the past, but what He continues to do in us and through us today. Well done Grace!
Yours In Christ,