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.
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.”
Good Sam Happenings
Good Sam Happenings
*read more in The Grapevine a monthly Publication of Good Sam News
Jan. 6 [Sunday Theme] “We Too Have A Star to Guide Us”
◊ Epiphany Parade, come get an Epiphany Star, Join us for Getting to Know Good Sam at 10:30 am
Jan. 13 [Sunday Theme] “Why Do You Like to Shower (bathe)?”
Jan. 19 ◊ Chili Cook-off is being rescheduled for March 16, 4 pm
Jan. 20 [Sunday Theme] “The Surprising Extravagance of God”
Jan. 27 [Sunday Theme] “Discovering and Rediscovering the Living Word of God”
Good Sam Happenings
Dec. 2 [Sunday Theme] “Fulfillment of the Promise”
(Congregational Annual Meeting @ 10:30 am in the Sanctuary)
◊ Dec. 5 Wednesday Advent Church Night
4:30 pm Eat and Play Fellowship
5:30 pm Advent Potluck
6:30 pm Advent Vespers
7:00 pm Discuss Together “Lasting Impact” Intro and Chapters 3-4
Dec. 9 [Sunday Theme] “Stir Up Our Hearts”
◊ Dec. 12 Wednesday Advent Church Night (see schedule above)
Dec. 16 [Sunday Theme] “Sunday School Christmas Pageant”
◊ Dec. 19 Wednesday Advent Church Night (see schedule above)
Dec. 23 [Sunday Theme] “Faithful Lives Always Give Birth to God’s Activity”
◊Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Services
5:00 pm Family Friendly Christmas Eve Service
8:00 pm Traditional Christmas Eve Service
Dec. 30 [Sunday Theme] “Lessons and Carols for Christmas”
Good Sam Happenings
Nov. 4 [Sunday Theme] “Small is Big” Rev. Phil Hirsch Assistant to the Bishop of the Metro DC Synod
Nov. 11 [Sunday Theme] “Living in the Hands of God” also Honoring Our Veterans
Nov. 18 [Sunday Theme] “Like a New Day, Dawning”
◊ Nov. 21 Thanksgiving Meal at Good Sam 5:30 pm (potluck) with a short worship service at 7 pm.
Nov. 25 [Sunday Theme] “Knowing vs Understanding: a Revelation”
◊ Nov. 28 Wednesday Church Night is back this Advent Season
4:30 pm Eat and Play Fellowship
5:30 pm Advent Potluck
6:30 pm Advent Vespers
7:00 pm Discuss Together “Lasting Impact” Intro and Chapters 1-2
Would you join together in a conversation? I want to talk as a congregation, as friends, as people of faith and as coworkers in the Good News of Jesus. I have a bit of a dream, that we could discover together meaningful ways to identify our values as a people of faith, share stories and hoped for stories that express those values and plan some actions, behaviors and events that would help us give our shared values life and joyful expression.
Really, I wonder if you would dream with me. Good Sam – Would you read a book together this fall and winter and talk about it? I am hoping you will come to share your dreams and interact with the dreams and vision of others in our fellowship. I believe God will speak among us and to us all in such a conversation.
So here is my invitation to you Good Sam, Read with me this book: “Lasting Impact” by Carey Nieuwhof. I have 20 copies in my office to give and share and pass around. It’s available on Amazon (follow the Title Link Lasting Impact).
Here are four ways you can participate in this conversation:
- Read the book and talk with church members about it during fellowship time. Invite a friend to read it with you and talk about it together over coffee. Share any thoughts or discoveries with a church leader, council member or Pastor Mitch.
- Join us on Wednesdays in Advent 7 pm to 8 pm to talk about the book. We will begin Nov. 28th and finish on Dec. 19th.
- November 28, Intro and Chapters 1-2.
- December 5, Chapters 3-4
- December 12, Chapters 5-6
- December 19, Chapters 7 and Conclusions
- Read a chapter and follow the devotional conversation with several Metro DC Synod Leaders on these videos. Here they are: (The first couple are silent for 2-4 minutes, then the sound starts).
- Lasting Impact Chapter 1. “Why Are We Not Growing Faster?”
- Lasting Impact Chapter 2. “How Do We Respond as People Attend Church Less Often?”
- Lasting Impact Chapter 3. “Are Our Leaders Healthy … Really?”
- Lasting Impact Chapter 4. “What Keeps High-Capacity Leaders from Engaging Our Mission?”
- Lasting Impact Chapter 5. “Why Are Young Adults Walking Away from Church?”
- Lasting Impact Chapter 6. “What Cultural Trends Are We Missing?”
- Lasting Impact Chapter 7. “What Are We Actually Willing to Change?”
This activity is not information to share, but a conversation to have together. So I invite you to read the book and find a way to talk about it together.
- Join us for Coffee and Conversations, Sunday Mornings in Advent to talk about these conversations as well.
“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).
“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.
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.