GiftsEden On The Bay

All are welcome ~ Come as you are

Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising, Michigan

Comments On Return - 07/02/2017

Pastor Ann:
Hello Church!
We're back from Columbus, Ohio, …  returned last night.

Spent a week with the community of and around Church for All People.
Store front church. Located in a neighborhood where things like poverty, the second highest infant mortality rate in the nation, homelessness, limited access to health care are every day issues for a whole lot of God's people.

C4AP practices radical hospitality, radical grace. We talked about what it really means to offer a radical cup of water, like in the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. We participated in radical ministry. At C4AP, everyone greets one another in worship by saying “Hello Church!” And in all the  ministries they do, they think about it in terms of how they can help pass out God's grace –  whether it in worship together, in the Free Store or the Fresh Market, at the Freedom School or the local soup kitchen, or in programs to help provide more and better housing in their neighborhoods, community gardens that for food and a beautiful place to rest, or help expectant and new parents make healthier choices for themselves and their families.

Our appointed reading today from Matthew speaks into our experiences this week very well, very powerfully. We thought and talked a lot about what it means to be welcoming of others and to be welcomed ourselves; what it means to be served and ministered to by someone you are serving. It's all a back and forth kind of thing … a relationship …. a gift from God.

These experiences in welcoming and being welcomed continue today as we are welcomed back to this table of God's mercy again and again, and as we welcome a new sibling in Christ – Oliver Thomas Seilheimer –  through the waters of baptism today.

This afternoon, we'll welcome four more!, believe it or not. At 3 pm, at Sand Point, we'll welcome Emerson Marie and Addison Mae Bednarski, and Gentry Ray and Waylon Jay Stout in baptism. All of Christ's Church is invited and encouraged to join in that celebration too.

When we got to Columbus a week ago yesterday, our site leader, a highly energetic and friendly woman named Ms. Margaret, asked us, even though we had traveled all day, if we could talke a little time to find a verse or a story in the bible that spoke to us about what it means to serve others as followers of Christ… and let me tell you church,  they did not disappoint …

 And so at this point, what I would like to do, is ask each of them to share the scripture they chose and then, if they wish, I invite them to say a thing or two about why they chose that verse, OR what about this  good ministry work we just done with the community at C4AP really impressed them, really felt powerful.

Skylar John 10:27
My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

You are invited to say something – even if it's just a few words – about why you chose your scripture OR what impressed you most powerfully in our work at C4AP.

Alex Galatians 6:10
So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

You are invited to say something – even if it's just a few words – about why you chose your scripture OR what impressed you most powerfully in our work at C4AP.

Izzy Proverbs 3:27
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.

You are invited to say something – even if it's just a few words – about why you chose your scripture OR what impressed you most powerfully in our work at C4AP.

Maddison Hebrews 6:10
For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.

You are invited to say something – even if it's just a few words – about why you chose your scripture OR what impressed you most powerfully in our work at C4AP.

Noah Matthew 7:12
The Golden Rule
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

You are invited to say something – even if it's just a few words – about why you chose your scripture OR what impressed you most powerfully in our work at C4AP.

Carly Acts 6:1-7
Seven Chosen to Serve
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in
Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

You are invited to say something – even if it's just a few words – about why you chose your scripture OR what impressed you most powerfully in our work at C4AP.

Pastor Ann:
We also talked several times about how God gifts each of us in different ways that contribute to the world in different ways and how all those gifts are important and no matter how big or small.  And, we did a Retreat of Silence one afternoon. This was the part of the experience that I wrote about in my column this month.

My mission trip buddies thought it would be nice to share the column with you this morning, but I said that I didn't really want to read it because it was quite emotional for me. So they said they would like to read it … and I figure that God was at work here and I should follow their suggestion. So, that is what they are going to do.

Readers take turns on the paragraphs:

Growing up in Illinois, one of my favorite things to do was to explore the tall grasses of the field across a gravel road from the house where we lived. I was probably about six or seven years old when we lived in “the green house,” as we called it. The grasses in the field came up to my chest. I would walk some distance into the field — it seemed like a long way into unknown territory in my little girl sense of how I occupied space in the world. It was probably only about five or 10 feet from the edge of the field, I realize now. But to me, it felt like I was a million miles away from the familiar and sometimes even the turmoil of home and the safe harbor of my mother’s presence.

Once I found my spot I would begin to methodically lay the grass down until I had a perfect little circle. Then I would lay down. The grasses seemed to tower over my little elementary body. All I could see was a wall of grass all around me and the sky above me. I entered my own world. No one could find me and I could do anything I wanted as long as I stayed there on the ground, hidden from sight.

In retrospect, I imagine my mom could see where I was in the grass, but I was hidden for a bit from my little sister and brother and their wants and questions and taunts.

So I’d just lay there and day dream while I watched the clouds drift by in a perfect blue sky. I’d watch big fat garden spiders with yellow marks down their backs (I called them banana spiders for some reason) busily repairing the webs I’d disturbed when making my tall grass hideaway. I’d watch the birds zoom by and the butterflies. I’d listen to the wind whistle through the grasses. Sometimes I’d sing and add my own music to the bustling creation all around me.

I hadn’t thought about those lazy summer days for a long time, until I found myself telling this story to a man I ate with in a soup kitchen during a mission trip to the poorer neighborhoods of Columbus, Ohio, with the Alger County Ecumenical Youth Group this past week. I was telling him about it because our group was about the embark on a retreat of silence and some of the kids were really nervous and uncertain about their ability to just sit on the ground of a park for an hour and a half reading or drawing or whatever, as long as it didn’t involve talking to someone else or using their phones.

It’s so easy to forget that as creatures we really do need these retreats of silence regularly and I think now more than ever. The world is a lot noisier now and full of thousands upon thousands of voices and distractions trying to grab our attention. “Buy this!” “Do that!” “Look like this!” “Care about that!”

These voices are so persistent, so constant, much more now than I ever remember. And not just because I’m no longer a little girl with the free time to do something like hang out in the tall grasses of Illinois watching clouds and spiders all summer long.

I come to this conclusion because I think the world is, in general, a much chattier place. A place of a lot of task-oriented people who hit the ground running every day. When a moment of quiet is able to wiggle it’s way into our overly scheduled lives, I think we are likely to push it away with music or TVs or our own voices, so much so that now many people are completely uncomfortable in that silence, even if it’s just for a few minutes, let alone an hour and a half.

During the course of mission trip, another topic that came up with the kids a lot was discerning how God has gifted them  — what talents and skills and passions God created in them, knitted into them while they were formed in the womb. It was as hard for them to name those gifts as it was for some of them to face that retreat of silence.

And I wondered how much the two are connected because I also realized, as I was sharing my memory of my own childhood retreats of silence with the man in the soup kitchen, that it was probably in those very quiet and secret little grassy getaways that I first began to hear God’s call to ordained ministry, even though I couldn’t have articulated it as that in those days. And I found myself praying that these wonderful kids I’ve spent the week with are able to somehow rise above the noise of this world and find quiet moments to hear how God is speaking to them because they are so gifted and so wonderfully created.

“And why do you worry about clothing?” I read as I once again laid my not-so-elementary body on the grass of a park on the south side of Columbus, Ohio, for an hour and a half. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil or spin.” (Matthew 6:28)

In our sabbath, in our rest, in our quiet, God clothes us in God’s glory. God calls us to God’s glory, which is as beautiful and effortless as the presence of the lilies of the field, if only we would stop and listen in the silence.

Pastor Ann:
All are Welcome will be our hymn of the day. #641

Our Mission Trip Group (including Mr. Dave, who hauled this whole crew all the way to Ohio and back) will sing the first verse. We invite all of you to join in on verse 2.

Pastor Ann Gonyea

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Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising Michigan ~ An ELCA, Northern Great Lakes Synod Congregation
P.O. Box 360 ~ 1150 West M-28 ~ Munising, MI 49862 ~ 1-906-387-2520 ~

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