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Monthly Archive for: ‘December, 2018’

Feliz Navidad and Mission Ready!

It’s Christmas time and undoubtedly many of our minds are focused on our families, holiday preparations, parties and presents. We look forward to the birth of our Savior and celebrate all that He provides. In places around the country and world, especially those affected by disaster, people struggling to have the basic necessities for survival may find it hard to see a reason to celebrate. God has given us generous hearts and at this time of year, thoughts of reaching out with kindness and that generosity strongly come to our hearts and minds.

We work in our communities with and among our neighbors and now we have an opportunity to help in another area–Puerto Rico. Next summer, over the course of two weeks, from July 21 through August 3, a group of mostly adult and some high school-aged volunteers from the state will be working in partnership with Lutheran Social Services of Puerto Rico and serving alongside our Puerto Rican neighbors in their continued process of rebuilding and strengthening communities after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect Dominica and Puerto Rico. The hurricane caused catastrophic damage and numerous fatalities across the northeastern Caribbean, with total losses estimated at upwards of $91 billion, mostly in Puerto Rico, ranking it as the third-costliest tropical cyclone on record.

A team of experienced leaders, including Pastor Mark Parker, of Breath of God Lutheran Church, Baltimore, MD is working to bring together the group of adult and youth volunteers from the region. The bulk of work efforts will focus on construction, with a mix of skilled and unskilled volunteers. Our volunteers last year ranged from age 21 to age 70. This summer we will also accept some youth who have already completed 9th grade.

Are You Interested in Being a Volunteer?

If you are interested in being a volunteer, here are a few more details. We will be staying in the Lutheran camp in Maguayo, near Dorado–about 45 minutes west of San Juan. The camp has room for up to sixty volunteers at a time. Volunteers sleep in bunk rooms with twin-sized bunk beds and communal showers–comfortable enough, but nothing fancy. The camp also includes a very nice pool, a chapel, office and storage areas, and a main hall for dining/meeting/organizing/relaxing. It’s a good home for groups like ours.

The general timeline is fly out on Sunday morning/afternoon and fly back on Saturday evening. Volunteers will serve over the course of two weeks from July 21 to August 3. Volunteers may sign up for one or both weeks.   Monday through Friday we’ll worked construction doing rebuilding in the morning and the afternoon, with time in the late afternoon/evening for the beach/pool, relaxing and exploring the area. We may have the opportunity to take a half day to head across the island and visit El Yunque, an amazing tropical rain forest or explore in Old San Juan.

Registration opens in January with a deadline of April 1. The first deposit will be due at the close of registration, the second payment will be due May 1 and the final payment July 1. The expected cost is anticipated to be less than $600 for one week and less than $900 for two weeks.

If you are interested in volunteering for this unique and rewarding opportunity, please contact Kelly Thurber, our Mission and Outreach Coordinator.  More information–including fundraising opportunities–will be forthcoming, but positions are anticipated to fill up quickly, so please let Kelly know if you are interested so she can keep the regional team up-to-date on our interest levels.

As we get together with our family and friends and share the joy and peace of this holiday season, let us keep those who have suffered loss in our hearts and minds. And look forward to the days when we will have the opportunity to give a broader set of neighbors a Merrier Christmas.  Feliz Navidad.

Sunday’s Sermon: December 9, 2018, Advent II

…from Worship at Good Sam on December 9, 2018/Advent II

Lessons: Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6

Sermon: “Stir Up Our Hearts”

Prayer: Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming give to all the people of the world knowledge of your salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.

Looking ahead is a great way to see what’s coming.

In the story of Ratatouille, Remy, the want-to-be Chef, hears the voice of his idol and Master Chef Geastau, speaking in his imagination, “If  you stay focused on what is behind–on what you have lost–you will never be able to see what is ahead, right before you.”
 
I think Advent is partly about that kind of focus.  Allowing ourselves to look to what God is doing ahead of us.  What is nice about Advent is its symmetry.  What God is doing ahead of us, is in keeping and is part of what God had done before–for us–before we came to be.  What has been done in the story of Christ’s coming contains the ingredients and the seeds of what God is drawing us into now.  Indeed, the Christmas of the past, is all about how God is still seeking to bring about the life of Christ in all our lives, in the heart of every human being that will received him. 
The shepherds hear and go to learn and see the signs that will confirm it. “A babe, lying in a manger.”  We too, can hear the good news of Christ’s coming and ourselves receive the signs that this gift has also come to us, not just in the original Christmas, but this year and now as Christmas come among us again.  What a great coming this life of Christ is for us all, people of every time who can hear and learn and receive this magnificent gift.
 
O Come all Ye Faithful, light of light eternal, Come, Lord Jesus, Come.  Happy Advent!
 
Pastor Mitch

Sunday’s Sermon: December 2, 2018, Advent I

…from Worship at Good Sam on December 2, 2018/Advent 1

Lessons: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36

Sermon: “Fulfillment of the Promise”

Prayer: Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and redeem us for your life of justice, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The sermon begins after the reading from Luke’s Gospel.