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Green Eggs and Ham, Good for kids and Good For us!

I enjoy reading to my girls.  We talk and giggle. We snuggle and focus together.  Reading opens worlds in the mind and in our lives. A child who loves and confidently reads on grade level by third grade is far more likely to graduate from High School than a child who cannot (ref).  It is really true that reading and learning to read makes so much possible.  

We have an invitation from Carver Elementary to read to our neighborhood children at School and in the classroom.  The program is called Read Across America.  You can sign up to read as little as ½ hour to a class.  I signed up to read Green Eggs and Ham to a first and then a second grade class on Monday Feb. 25th. Would you be willing to help? This year Read Across America runs from Feb. 25 – March 1st.  Contact Lisa McCoy at Carver to sign up.

What if we could find our neighbors throughout the process of fostering a love of reading among children in our community.  Some families do this naturally and some do not. What a great way to celebrate our children and have fun together. Do you have a favorite children’s book that you would love to share.  Dr. Seuss is a great place to look. I remember having Cat in the Hat read to me as a child. What a great gift to share.

About NEA’s Read Across America

The National Education Association is building a nation of readers through its signature program, NEA’s Read Across America. Now in its 20th year, this year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”

Sunday’s Sermon, February 10, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on February 10, 2019

Lessons: Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13], Psalm 138, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Luke 5:1-11

Sermon: “In Our Hearts We Receive and Turn to Follow”

Prayer: Most holy God, the earth is filled with your glory, and before you angels and saints stand in awe. Enlarge our vision to see your power at work in the world, and by your grace make us heralds of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

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

Naming the Children…

They kept streaming in; Micah and Grant, Hannah and Tristan, Elizabeth and Logan…there were 25 of them.  Actually, I could name them all.  I tried to call their names out as they would steam up to join me on the steps, before the altar, near the cross of Jesus.  I love this time.  I love these kids.  They seem like an important part of the life of Jesus among the people who have gathered.  Yes, some of them I baptized – but that wasn’t it.  Yes, two of them were my own children – but that wasn’t it.  Some of them I have had more contact with than others – but that wasn’t it.  What was it?  I think it was that you can see that they know this moment is for them – a place and a time they know is center stage, just for them.  Their energy and enthusiasm says, “This is fun to gather this way, and we wonder what will happen?  Our eyes and hearts and bodies or filled with the energy of it.”

 At this moment in worship, my joy is full and it seems that their joy is taking shape.  At this moment, what is foreign, strange and far off (words and texts and songs for big people) has now stopped and drawn near to them.  The joy of it for me is that I get to be the vessel that holds open that space where Jesus comes to love our children. Often this is a high point in our worship together for me.  Many of you tell me your children can be heard saying words that I say from worship or doing gestures that I use in worship. What fun. Come gather for worship and together we will celebrate with our children the joy of the presence of Jesus among us.

Sunday’s Sermon, February 3, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on February 3, 2019

Lessons: Jeremiah 1:4-10, Psalm 71:1-6, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Luke 4:21-30

Sermon: “Love Attends to the Beloved”

Prayer: Almighty and ever-living God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love; and that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command, through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

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

The Power of Love. A drawing from one of our young members during the sermon time.

Acolyte Training @ Eat- Play- Learn

A few weeks ago Nancy Shoemaker came to our Wednesday Church Night for an Acolyte Training. For some, it was a refresher, for others it was something to aspire to in the future, but they all enjoyed practicing and learning about roles in church for children. We also talked about church etiquette like when & how it might be best to slip out to the bathroom. It sometimes happens that we are in need of a last minute acolyte or crucifer. This past week, one little boy who attended the training overheard Pastor telling the usher we still needed a crucifer and he jumped up and said “Can I do it?” Being only 5 years old, and wearing one of the smallest white robes we have, he nervously, but proudly carried the cross down the isle and placed it by the altar. Later he assisted with communion, and though he needed a little reminder of what to say, he performed his duty with joy. This is not the first time that our lay leaders and worship helpers have empowered and guided a newcomer or child to jump in and serve. Our policy may be that we like for crucifers to be 1st grade and up and acolytes 4th grade and up, but our culture is that we value a willing spirit and a giving heart and want to care for members of all ages because even the youngest members matter. Thank you Nancy for taking the time to guide our children and make moments like this happen.

Eat – Play – Learn

These are the things we do on Wednesday nights! Not only are we continuing our fellowship of families’ time playing and eating together, we have added Children’s Choir practice and a new youth activities to the fun. Join us at 5:00 pm to play and set up, 5:30 pm for potluck dinner, 6:00 pm for Choir Practice, and 6:30 pm for Life Lessons and Bible Play. We wrap up our time together with prayer requests for the week.

Want to come check it out? Here are our upcoming featured activities:

Jan 30 – Yoga with Gail Wathen

Feb 6 – Our Daily Bread Food Pantry with Rich Slavik

Feb 13 – Making of Blessing Bags for WARM

Feb 20 – Delivering of WARM Bags – Pizza & Game Night

Feb 27 – Basics of Photography with Chuck Latyak

Mar 6 – Lent & Ash Wednesday for Kids with Pastor Mitch

To be added to our weekly email sign up – please contact Kathy Marbach at kg16vb@gmail.com

While RSVPs help us plan – we are always happy to have people drop in and join us!

READ ACROSS AMERICA WEEK @ CARVER ELEMENTARY Feb. 25 – Mar. 1, 2019

As we continue our partnership with supporting our community – we each have an opportunity to serve in a small way that makes a big impact. When I nervously walked into my first classroom to volunteer to read last fall, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I read to my own kids all the time – but I am by no means a teacher. They did provide books, but I brought a couple of my kids favorites from home too. As I introduced myself and pulled out the first book – I looked out at a sea of kindergartners and they were all staring back at me… they were intent and excited and so full of energy. They laughed and raised their hands to ask questions and the 30 minutes was over before I knew it! I had time for a 2nd classroom and I was escorted to a 1st grade room. As I walked in, I was amazed at the teacher’s control of the classroom (something I was honestly not able to maintain, but she helped me out). Here is how she invited them to join me: “you may sit at your desk or move to the carpet, the choice is yours to make, you are in control of your actions, do what’s best for you, not what your friend is doing.” A few kids hesitated in deciding what to do as she was talking, but this was obviously the way she always spoke to them, and with her caring tone I teared up. In this Title 1 school full of low-income children, the respect for self she was instilling in them touched deep down inside me – how lucky these kids are to have teachers that care not just about what their grades are, but who they are. And how lucky I was to spend 30 minutes reading to these kids and soaking up their energy and being inspired by the future leaders of our community.

Read Across America Week Feb 25- Mar 1 is another opportunity to volunteer 30 minutes or more of your time to read to a classroom. You can arrange anytime between 8:30 am – 2:00 pm to come in and read to a class any day of the week that works for you. This week was picked to coincide with Dr Seuss’ birthday, so I will definitely be picking a couple of those books this time!  Contact Lisa McCoy lrmccoy@smcps.org

Two Key Movements in the Life of Faith

Ever wonder what God is up to in your life?  I certainly do. It is a question that is relevant not only for those who are new to faith.  Even people who have been walking their faith journey for multiple decades also have times when they wonder: “Just what is God up to in my life at the moment?

As I prepare to enter my 50th year of faith journeying I still ask these questions of myself and of God when I am unsure or searching.  But I would like to share with you two Key insights or Movements I have noticed over the years that help me focus on what God might be doing with me.   These key movements are less likely to give you the answer but they offer are insightful ways to explore and search out clues to what God is doing in you.

The first is this, “what is touching your heart?”  We all have issues or themes that touch our hearts, but what is present now that nudges you?  What has caught your attention and made you feel. What ache or joy has presented itself to your awareness?  Where in that experience do you think God is active?

This movement is geared toward moving us away from our “Thinking” Selves to open us up to our feeling or “Intuitive” Selves.  Some of us are newer and more tentative about this kind of knowing but the faith journey often invites us to explore ourselves in this way.  Sometimes we talk about this movement as a shift from “Head” to “Heart.” Learning to allow God to speak to our hearts and what our hearts feel or where they have been touch is relevant to our faith walking because, when God draws near, often our hearts with yearn and burn within us. (Luke 24:31-32).

The Second Movement I have learned to watch for is a movement from myself and my concerns to an awareness and connection or concern for a neighbor, another person.  Yes, this is a movement away from self (as in self-centered or selfish) but more importantly, we often experience it as having a new situation or a new person come into the sphere of our lives and living.  Sometimes this is someone who might need you or a gift you have and sometimes it turns out that this is someone you benefit from interacting with or learning from. Actually, both can be true at the same time (a great sign that God is present).  Another way to say it is: God’s does work through people and our interactions with one another – even though this is often not on our radar or we discount or fail to see it (Matthew 25:31-46).

Sometimes friendships or marriage will do this for us… move us to put the needs of others before ourselves.  Indeed, friendship and marriage are places where God is happy to work when we open ourselves to it. Yet, there are many other kinds of connections and encounters where God’s activity can be seen in human interaction (Acts 8:26 ff).

You might have noticed that these two movements in the journey of faith also match well with the two tables of the 10 Commandments (the first three** dealing with our relationship with God and the last Seven** dealing with our relationship with people in our lives).  Jesus says it this way: The most important Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength and the Second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).  These movements directly relate to growing closer to God and being more available to care for our neighbors in ways that are just.

In these Sundays after Epiphany, we focus on the discovery and enlightenment that come when God’s love and mercy come into our lives.  So, I hope learning to watch for these two Key Movements in the faith journey will help us find the Light of Christ in your life these days and that you too may follow that “star” to discover the joy of God who is birthed into our lives in a way that bring us hope and joy.

Yes, “We too have a star to follow”.  Peace and Joy to you in these days after Epiphany.

Pastor Mitch

** There are two numbering systems used these days to identify each of the ten commandments.  For the purposes of this discussion I have used the numbering system used by Martin Luther in his Small Catechism.

Sunday’s Sermon, January 27, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on January 27, 2019

Lessons: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6,8-10, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a, Luke 4:14-21

Sermon: “Discovering and Rediscovering the Living Word of God”

Prayer: Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

Sunday’s Sermon, January 20, 2019

…from Worship at Good Sam on January 20, 2019/Pastor Gary Rhinesmith

Lessons: Isaiah 62:15, Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11

Sermon: “The Surprising Extravagance of God”

Prayer: Lord God, source of every blessing, you showed forth your glory and led many to faith by the works of your Son, who brought gladness and salvation to his people. Transform us by the Spirit of his love, that we may find our life together in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

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

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