Mary Lou Zanolli (Missions Chair), guest speaker Kate Johnson and Carolyn Harrington
We at Grace Lutheran Church West Springfield believe in putting our faith in Christ into action by helping others nearby and all around the world.
Recently, when we heard about a product used by Doctors Without Borders that can save the life of a severely malnourished child for $35.00, we decided to make it one of our missions.
The product is called Plumpynut. Learn more about it — and how YOU can help — by visiting our Church Life page.
28Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I was speaking recently with one of our parishioners who has his grandchildren visiting for a couple of weeks this summer. He was telling me about how his granddaughter is writing these elaborate and creative stories completely off of the top of her head! We both were wondering how it is that kids can be so creative and imaginative and free with their thoughts. Then, later in the afternoon, it occurred to me that we were asking the wrong question; we should be asking, “what is it that happens between childhood and adulthood that stifles that creativity?” It’s as if becoming an adult in our culture just takes that creative imagination and stomps it out with all the limitations and rules of society!
Our culture develops at a rapid pace – so much so that we often get caught up in the messages being thrown our way and feel that we have to keep up. I’m guilty of this when it comes to technology and the newest gadgets! I love them! But what I forget is that in the process of learning the latest technological tools to communicate or get online – that I am slowly becoming a slave to them. How many of us can remember 10 years ago when having a cell phone was a novelty and not even a thought for most people? Now we feel as if we have to be available to everyone at all times!
We are victims of our own creation. We all take part in creating the burden that we carry. We tend to focus on the limitations that life puts on us (or that we put on ourselves) and we forget the simplicity of childhood and the wonder of having the mind of a child. In our world of restrictions, rules, boundaries and limitations, it’s a refreshing message to hear Jesus, opening his arms to us to say, “You are welcome here. Lay your burden down and find rest. True, simple, restorative rest. For it is not as difficult as you have made it out to be – but rather – as with the freedom of childhood imagination, it is simple. Welcome.”
At one point in time, during my discernment towards becoming a Pastor, I remember thinking how cool it would be to be able to struggle with faith and the Bible as a part of a job! Granted, being a pastor carries with it much more than that – and, truth be told, being a pastor is much more than simply a job – but the struggling and thinking about faith and the Bible is one of the elements of being a pastor that I truly enjoy. I know (having been there myself) that having full-time jobs, friends, and busy lives doesn’t exactly allow for the kind of thought that Pastor’s are required to put into biblical texts and faith issues. In other words, I know that many people don’t take the time to study the bible as much as perhaps they might like. Knowing that, I will periodically offer some of my own musings on these topics here – through the medium of our website. I hope that you find them interesting, maybe challenging and perhaps even helpful amongst all of the demands of life. In any case, periodically I’ll be posting thoughts, comments and other insights that I may have and I hope you find them useful.
Wishing you peace and joy. Pastor Derek Harman
The Body of Christ
“For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” – Romans 12:4-8
Living out our discipleship to Christ is no easy task. Determining where we as individuals fall in the above list of gifts and how to best use them to follow Christ’s call to follow Him is a challenge for all of us. As the first anniversary of my position here at Grace as Pastor approaches, I’ve begun to contemplate a little more intensely the question of “how exactly is it that God intends to use Grace Lutheran Church in God’s mission?” Just as each of us as individuals have gifts to contribute, congregations are individual members of the greater – worldwide Body of Christ. How do we at Grace, both as individuals and as a congregation fit into God’s mission?
In an effort to move towards an answer (this is a fluid question to which the answer will change as we and the world around us changes) the church council here at Grace has voted to pursue a relationship with a consultant who can guide us through a process designed to help us determine our congregational values and principles, to focus on planning and desired outcomes, goals and directions in which we can put our efforts towards determining and fulfilling our role in God’s mission for this world.
On June 19th, 2008 the council we be presented with a proposal for a plan to pursue this process. The process will involve the council appointing a diverse committee to represent the congregation (i.e. fair representation of male, female; older, younger; long-time members, newer members; etc.) that will work with myself and the consultant (and in ways with the entire congregation) to develop a plan for the congregation for the coming years. This process will require hard work and dedication but the outcomes hold high promise in ensuring that Grace moves forward in our discipleship both as individuals and as a congregation. I am excited by the prospects and the potential that this process can yield for Grace and I applaud the council on their decision to move in this direction.
I encourage you as individual members of Grace to take this opportunity to evaluate your own gifts and how you feel you can best offer them towards fulfilling God’s mission here at Grace. As a congregation, we need you and your gifts!
I thank God for the many blessings that have come from you as a congregation during my first year of ministry here at Grace. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to lead and join you in the process of determining our future as Grace Lutheran Church – disciples of Jesus! – and members of the one Body of Christ!