Blessed to Be a Blessing

Written by Rev. Gayle Pope. Posted in The Seed

Helping hands

We read in Genesis 12 how God called Abram to “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” In other words, leave everything that you know behind and follow God to a completely unknown future. Then came the promise, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing … and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

This is where the concept of “blessed to be a blessing” comes from. Trust in God. Follow where God leads. God will bless you and, in being blessed, you will be a blessing to others. And what does it mean to be blessed? It doesn’t mean a life free of struggle and full of material wealth and success. It means a life lived in the awareness of God’s love, goodness, mercy and peace. It means having a God-connected heart that enables you to sense the presence of God in and around you, in everything from nature to circumstances to people. It means recognizing the gifts God has given you and using those gifts to facilitate the God-connection in others.

For us as Christians, our God connection is guaranteed through our faith in Jesus Christ, sealed in the waters of Baptism. We have the promise of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and the power to pass this blessing along.

So where am I going with this?

On Jan. 17, our council and Mutual Ministry Team met via phone and internet with a representative from Holy Cow! Consulting to hear the results of the Congregational Assessment Tool survey that 76 of our members completed in November – a return rate of a little over 50 percent. For more than two hours, she guided us through 50 pages of results, charts, graphs and analysis revealing a lot of strengths, but also some areas for growth and areas on which our members think we should focus more of our energy.

The council will review the report at our February meeting and determine how to best make the information available to everyone and, more importantly, how to best utilize the information in our future planning.

Here’s the GOOD news

For me, the biggest take away is that we are truly blessed as a congregation with what the CAT identifies as both high enthusiasm and high energy. According to the executive summary provided by Holy Cow! Consulting, “Overall, approximately 74% of your members are clearly satisfied with things in the church. This, along with other information, indicates that the church has options which include growth, expansion, replication and external impact.” In other words, we are not in chaos, recovery or static mode, but rather in “transformative” mode – a strong position to be a source of new meaning and purpose for our members and those outside our walls.

We are blessed to be a blessing!

The challenge before us now is where to go from here to keep our own God-connectedness strong – as individuals and as a congregation – and how to continue extending God’s blessings in the world around us. Stay tuned!

Fear Not: The Dawn is Breaking!

Written by Rev. Gayle Pope. Posted in The Seed

2018 Advent

Advent is a time of waiting – for the coming of the Christ child at Christmas, for the coming of Christ at the end of time, and for the coming of Christ into our hearts and lives each day we live on this earth.
Sometimes, while we wait, we find ourselves in darkness – the darkness of suffering, of loss, of confusion, anxiety, depression, worry – all those things that have the potential to rob us of peace and joy. And if we’re not in a time of darkness ourselves, chances are, we’re walking along someone else who is.
And yet – there is hope. God’s word is filled with promises and assurances that light will break through the darkness – that love will win the day. “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us.” (Luke 1:78) “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5) “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).

“From Darkness to Dawn” is the focus of our Advent daily devotional and Wednesday evening prayer services this year. Meditations on scripture and personal faith stories will help us focus on the light of Christ. Midweek services begin at 6:30 and will last from 30 to 40 minutes. We will again use the “Holden Evening Prayer” liturgy. Luther Memorial will again join us in worship, with Pastor Tony Metz presiding on Dec. 5 and me on Dec. 12 and 19. Here’s what to expect each week:

  Dec. 5: Chaplain James Riley from Good Samaritan home will talk about the need to acknowledge the dark, from Psalm 109. Special Music is To Be Determined.

Dec. 12: Jim Dunn will talk share about an experience of darkness and light in his life. Special Music by Amy Stollberg and Cathy Flick.
Dec. 19: Brandon Ross will give testimony of the light of Christ in his life. Special Music by Roger Wegehenkel and John Moore.
These midweek Advent services are a wonderful way to quiet your mind from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays and turn your thoughts to the real “reason for the season.” Please plan to join us, and bring a friend!

2018 Advent booklet

Pick Up a Daily Devotional

Advent Daily Devotionals written by members of Luther Memorial and Christ Lutheran are available for pick-up at church. If you aren’t able to get here, contact the church office and we will see that you get one. We will have links to the devotional on our website and facebook as well. Thanks to the writers from CLC and LMC who shared their faith!