For some Sundays now, Danata has driven from Baltimore on Sunday morning to visit and pick up her grandsons and bring them to a local church near where the kids live. Her hope is that her Grandsons could experience the life and hope of a Christian Community. So, Danata decided she could at least have a little more time with those boys and bring them herself to a church for Worship or Sunday School.
As it turns out, there were a couple of other neighborhood children who were out playing and they were invited to come along to Sunday School and Worship at that nearest local church. This last Sunday Danata brought two Grandchildren and three neighborhood children into worship at Good Sam, and they stayed for Fellowship time and Sunday School. Here you can see Christy and Lisa getting into the act of being the extended family of Christ to these children and their local neighborhood friends. On the screen in the background, you can see the words to the song: “Give A Little Bit of Your Love.” The image is two hands holding another’s heart.
Have you heard people talking about a message during Fall Focus this season and wish you could have heard it? Now you can. Click on any of the “Fall Focus” links (like this one “Fall Focus” ) and you will have a summary with video links to each of the four Fall Focus messages from this season. Here is a summary of what we have covered”
Theme: Finding Our Neighbors
- Week 1 “Radical Hospitality”
- Week 2 “Building a Conversation”
- Week 3 “What Will You Live For: Give It Voice”
- Week 4 “What Will Finding Our Neighbors Mean for Good Sam and for You?”
We hope you have enjoyed the playful and creative look at what it means to connect with our neighbors. As always, we wish you faithful journeying with God. (Micah 6:8)
“Walking the Journey, Meeting at the Cross”
Scripture Readings: 2 Corinthians 3:1b, 12-18, 2 Corinthians 4:1, 5-9, 15-18, John 2:43-51
We need each other and God has a plan to meet us right there.
We need each other in our overwhelmed moments and in our tired tirades. We need each other in our parenting challenges and especially in our suffering. Right in these places, God’s mercy meets us! How? God touches our lives when other people bring good things into our lives, like welcome, acceptance, healing and forgiveness. In these moments the Welcome of God is at work. This is part of the truth and liberation that the activity of finding our neighbors will bring.
Listen to Micheala Shelly as she tells it her way, through her life and struggles. Notice when and how she finds neighbors who make a difference in her life and in theirs. Then, notice what she does with this discovery. I believe her experience is relevant to us as well.
Even when we’re dying, we need each other, we need God’s love and mercy, and we are still God’s gifted people. What Michaela has discovered is that even in our own struggles we also carry the love and mercy of God with us. It comes through our lives from others and it comes from us to others through the plan and purposes of God. Even when we are weak and dying we have the ability to be God’s people, making a difference in the world. Paul says it this way, ”
5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your Servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 4:5-9, 15)
That we can have this impact in each others lives is a sign that the living God is working in our lives. These are signs of God’s Grace. God’s Grace is about how God will lead us into the persons we will become, and help to shape and care for the lives we touch. And we take this journey with God and through God’s grace with those who come into our lives and into whose lives we come. When we act on this hope we become the Grace of God to others as well. And we learn to let the Grace of God be enough for our lives as well.
How can you be a lighthouse for another? And also receive the gift of how God is working in your life? This is living with Christ and finding our neighbors along the journey of faith. This is God’s Grace, alive among us. This is a part of the risen life of Christ among us. You too can carry this light of the glory of God in the face of Christ, in your life.
At Good Sam we would love to make the conversion to LED lighting. Better, less expensive lighting in our main building and parking area can come to Good Sam. We can use less electricity and save money every month on our electric bill. SMECO is willing to help. Can you help a little too? We are hoping to raise $3,450 to fund this effort. SMECO is offering an incentive program to fund 80% of the cost of shifting to LED lighting. Good Sam is a candidate. Energy Select** has met with us and reviewed each fixture in our main building. Council has approved this plan and program and we need your support to accomplish it. Can you make a designated gift to make this happen? Here are the details.
- LED lighting uses less electricity and we can choose the light color or “Warmth” we prefer.
- LED lights last much longer than incandescent, Halogen or the florescent lights we use on some parts of our property. This means less work changing light bulbs.
- More consistent lighting in all parts of our building, most noticeably in our Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall.
- Our Electricity saving will be $170 per month going forward. That is a savings of $2,050 annually at current electricity rates. This means the cost of this program for us will be recouped in 21 months (less than two years).
Life Span Challenge Incandescent CFL LED Average Life Span 1,200 Hours 8,000 Hours 25,000 Hours
- Total cost of the replacement fixtures and/or bulbs will be $15, 675.
- SMECO is offering an 80% incentive grant of $12,225 dollars for us to make these changes to our lighting.
- Our part in this program is $3,450. That is a one-time cost. The savings continues month to month and is ongoing.
- Although there is not money in the General Fund for this purpose, Council has authorized this effort and invites members in the congregation who have interest in LED conversion for our facility and the savings we will gain to make designated gifts to help raise the $3,450 we will need to accomplish this effort.
- There is a some urgency in that other utility programs like this are shifting from 80% incentive to 70% incentives and SMECO is one of the few remaining utilities still offering the 80% incentive at the moment. Also there are proposed tariffs that when implemented will also increase the cost of this program.
Other details to note
**There are two companies authorized by SMECO for this program incentive. Energy Select is one of them and our proposal is from them. The cost of the program ($15,675) covers parts, supplies, labor, tools needed to accomplish the program (everything soup to nuts as they sometimes say). If you are interested in seeing the detailed fixture / bulb replacement plan please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Are you interested in learning more about the needs our community and at the same time listen to great music. If so, join us on Sunday, October 28, 2018, at 3:00 PM for COMMUNITY featuring The Southern Maryland Community Gospel Choir, directed by our own Music Directer, Sherri Fenwick, amazing community leaders that will talk with us about programs to know about and connect with such as Carver Elementary, St Mary’s Food Bank, WARM, Senior Services and much more. This event is open to ALL who want to hear great music and explore the needs of our community. Refreshments will follow.
“What Will You Live For – Give It Voice”
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 55:6-13 and Mark 5:1-20
Parenting will strip you down, revealing your weaknesses. It will ask for more than you have at any given moment and ask you to give your life when you feel you have nothing left to give. If you thought about the literal costs and the personal investment it takes to parent, you might tremble or turn and run from the endeavor.
Parenting is also a crucible in which God remakes you into a vessel capable to pouring out love and mercy while giving gifts that others will need to survive and thrive. And it leaves room for the loves songs we will live and write with our lives.
Isaiah 55 says God’s Word goes out and doesn’t return until it accomplished its purpose just like the rain falls and does not return to heaven until it has watered the earth, filling the lakes and rivers and giving life to the earth.
Perhaps also, God is busy parenting us, pouring out love and mercy, while giving us gifts that we will need to survive and thrive.
Listen to the struggles of one young woman, looking for life… and wrestling with herself and her father to search out what it means to live and thrive in the world.
There are many ways that the love and gifts of God invite us into the world to discover and to acquire the gifts that are needed in the world…. But living this adventure is a beautiful love song…. A Golden melody to the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier whose purposes are accomplished and who’s love song continues to resound in the lives and hearts of those who love God.
Carver Elementary is just 1.6 miles up the road from our church. I’ve passed it countless times, it’s a little set back and it’s a nice brick building. Honestly, I usually pass is without a 2nd thought. Inside that school are over 600 students and more than 50 teachers. 82% of those students come from low-income families, and although the school as a whole is rated as “average” for academic progress on greatschools.org, it also reports that test scores are falling way below average and almost 50% poorer performance than the state average. What does that mean? It means there are some serious concerns!
I don’t believe the families don’t care and I don’t believe the teachers aren’t doing their jobs (in fact several of both come to our church). I don’t think these kids just aren’t smart. When you are hungry, are you able to concentrate? When there are holes in your shoes and your clothes are all faded – do you feel good about yourself? Poverty has many side effects, and one is a major blow to confidence and self-worth and it becomes a cycle when the kids don’t have the opportunity to see anything different modeled for them.
The school is currently without an operating PTA (parent-teacher association – normally responsible for fundraising, event organizing and school spirit among other things). The red flag for me here, is not that the parents or school are failing, its that we as a community have not been aware of how small actions on our part can make a big impact! Some of the families don’t have the time or even the skill set to provide for their students. We have the ability to empower children, support families, encourage teachers and make an impact on our community – a community that we HAND PICKED to be a part of.
Teachers’ resources are stretched thin. The supply kit cakes we put together and donated were very well-received and cards and words of gratitude were returned. We helped in part to fill the gap where families couldn’t afford to provide all the supplies for the classrooms. Good Sam community has also sent tutors and mentors over the years that directly impacted student and we’ve begun to create the opportunity for ongoing relationships. Continuing to show up as a community and being a presence at Carver will help to show these kids that they are loved and supported and give them room to have dreams! Let’s continue to step up and step in, not taking the place of parents and teachers, but coming along side them.
Maybe your own time and resources are stretched thin, but if you can do nothing else you can pray for this community every time you drive by it or through it on your way to church or work or just driving around town. Take a look around your home and assess what you could give of your possessions. That gently used kitchen item that may even still be in the box (I’m looking at you salad spinner and quick chop), those toys your kids have that they never play with, that white elephant gift you got at the office party and stuck in the back of the closet. Those shoes you bought that you wore once or anything else gently used in your closet. If you are ready to take that next leap of faith and deepen your personal connection to this community – assess where your time and talents can be of service.
What one thing in the list below excites you? Maybe you can’t personally help – but we are a community and you might know someone who can!
Tutoring – Ongoing, working around volunteers schedule to work with struggling students
Mentoring – Mondays 3-4:30 pm group meeting and projects, but they do need 1:1 mentors for kids in the program.
Holiday Helping Hands – Families are selected to participate by the school. “Helping hands” 1) collect gently used items for babies to adults household clothes and toys as well as NEW toys; 2) help sort and set up Nov 30th 3-6 pm; 3) Dec 1st 9am-1030am families pick gifts and can wrap them while kids play and volunteers help with all of this. After the event, volunteers help clean up.
Family Fitness Night – Oct 25th – This event gives families the opportunity to play together in an outdoor PE class. All activities are organized and extra adults are needed to help monitor stations.
Career Day – First Friday in May. This event gives 3rd – 5th graders the opportunity to meet and talk to community members about a variety of career paths. Volunteers will get breakfast and lunch.
Guest Readers – Do you have 30 minutes of an hour during the school day to come and read to a classroom? There are two weeks a year where volunteers are needed throughout the day to read to students: “American Education Week” in November and “Read Across America” in February.
Teacher Appreciation – Anything we can do throughout the year would be awesome! But especially during teacher appreciation week in May – extra hands are needed to help decorate teachers’ doors. Other ideas are bringing in a box of donuts or providing a light lunch.
Feed the Families (summer)- This program provides supplemental food for families during the summer months. Each summer we assist St Mary’s Caring in the partnership with the schools in collecting items to be given to families.
These are initiatives we have participated in with Carver for up to three years. We know there is more to do to give these kids a chance to dream big and see those dreams come to life. What’s the next way we’ll connect?
–Kelly Thurber, Good Sam Mission and Engagement Coordinator
Building a Conversation
Scripture Readings: James 1:19, Philippians 2:3-4, Matthew 6:19-21
- When people talk, listen completely, most people never listen. – Ernest Hemingway
- “Just as love to God begins with listening to God’s word, so the beginning of love for the person is learning to listen to them.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. – Bryant H. McGill
- “Often a person can be helped merely by having someone who will listen to them seriously.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. – Ernest Hemingway
- When we listen with curiosity we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words. – Roy T. Bennett
Sometimes we miss seeing the blessing and benefit we receive in finding our neighbors. In our first session on Radical Hospitality we explored how being really present and creating space for another is a gift to them and part of the way God creates a graceful space for us to be present with God. But when we welcome another, often elements of our own faith journey will come into play and we discover that God is giving us what we need as well. This is the liberation that often comes with our learning to be about Radical Hospitality.
The next step is learning to play with that graceful space we make between us and another. Here we have the opportunity to learn and practice the art and activity of building a conversation. We are often very centered on what we want to say instead of learning to listen in order to connect. Here are 10 things to consider…
Filling graceful space between us and another with the activity of listening to understand and to connect is a great way to create meaning and better begin to see our neighbor, beyond what we thought we knew about them. There is always more to learn and everyone is an expert in something. Listen in order to discover what the another is gifted in.
You also might read Chapter 16 of “The Whole Brained Child” by Daniel J. Siegel M.D. He talks about how our brains are hardwired for this kind of connection and our brains are built for this kind of connecting and learning to understand each other.
Good Sam Happenings
October 7 [Sunday Theme] Fall Focus: Finding our Neighbors “Building a Conversation”
October 14 [Sunday Theme] Fall Focus: Finding our Neighbors “What Will You Live For: Giving It Voice”
October 21 [Sunday Theme] Fall Focus: Finding our Neighbors “What Will “Finding Our Neighbors” mean for Good Sam and You?”
October 28 [Sunday Theme] Reformation Sunday “Faith and CHANGE”