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October 18, 2018, 12:19 PM

Revolutionary Giving Series


When I was in Philadelphia earlier this year, I worshiped with my children at historic Christ Church.  It was a powerful experience to worship at this Episcopal church founded in 1695, whose building dates to 1744.  But even more inspiring was to sit in the pews and worship where revolutionaries like Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Rush, George Washington and John Adams once did.  To sit there and reflect on the revolutionary leaders was one thing, but to worship there became a reminder of how revolutionary our faith in Christ is for our lives.

In the coming weeks, we will be reminded of this in our Gospel readings:

  • On October 21, we will hear Jesus invite us to  revolutionary serviceby becoming a servant of all, not just a servant to our own self-interests.
  • On October 28, as we commemorate the Reformation, we celebrate the revolutionary freedom we have in Jesus as he says, “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
  • On November 4, we remember those who have died even as we claim the promise of the resurrection - because eternal life gives us a revolutionary spirit of hope in which we live.
  • On November 11, we look on with the disciples as Jesus points out the revolutionary giving of the widow who put in “everything she had” as her offering to God.

Taken together, all of these readings suggest that a life of discipleship is about responding generously to the revolutionary love and grace that God has first given us for the sake of building up God's kingdom. Yet, even though we know this is true, it can still be hard. We still need regular reminders and each other’s mutual support.  So as part of the stewardship program this year, you will be invited by letter to review your finances and consider increasing your offering for the coming year. 

If we work together, the Stewardship Team believes we can: 1. maintain our current ministries, 2. raise funds to repair our parking lot, and 3. continue to reduce our mortgage debt in 2019.  All of these goals will help us maintain our outstanding ministries and beautiful facilities to the best of our ability.  More information about each of these areas will be shared in the weeks ahead.

Please pray about this request and respond as God leads you.  On November 4th, our Consecration Sunday, we will present our Statements of Intent for 2019 during the worship service. You are also welcome to mail your statement of intent to the church office if you cannot be present on November 4th.  Then, on November 11th, we will celebrate with a congregation-wide Thanksgiving meal following the 10:30 service.

Thank you all for being a part of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church.  I am awed by the ministries we do together, and the ways in which we express God’s revolutionary love and grace to the community around us.  




September 11, 2018, 8:43 AM

Martin Luther on Education


I am persuaded that without knowledge of literature pure theology cannot at all endure. . . . When letters have declined and lain prostrate, theology, too, has wretchedly fallen and lain prostrate. . . . It is my desire that there shall be as many poets and rhetoricians as possible, because I see that by these studies as by no other means, people are wonderfully fitted for the grasping of sacred truth and for handling it skillfully and happily.[1] – Martin Luther, Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523.

As we begin another year of Christian Education programming, I came across this quote from Martin Luther in a letter he wrote to Eoban Hess.  In his day, Luther was a significant proponent of education for all—something that seems fundamental to society now, but was radical for its time.  Nor was he speaking specifically of Christian Education like Theology or Biblical Studies.  Such a notion would have been a false dichotomy to him because all education was seen as Christian Education.  Education itself is a gift from God, and a way to better understand the world God made. 

It’s with that in mind that I want to encourage you to continue your own education—not only with the educational programs we offer here, but also with personal reading or classes.  Pick up a book of poetry, or challenge yourself by reading an objective biography of someone you know little about—or may not like that much (indeed, the Sr. High were talking about loving your neighbor and praying for your enemies at their Bible Study earlier this week).  You might even consider a class at the community college, or the library.  And as you do, remember that this process of lifelong learning is one aspect of our Lutheran heritage that we honor each time we embrace education (and those people and resources who help us learn) as a gift from God.

Blessings in your learning!

-Pr. Nathan

A Prayer for Teachers and Students:  

God our Creator,

You surround us with the marvels of this world and give us the ability to explore the mysteries of creation. You fill the earth with the Spirit of wisdom and inspire us to search for the truth. You have sent us prophets and teachers as witnesses to your love for us. You have come among us in Jesus Christ to teach us your saving truth by word and example. Help us to enjoy our learning together and enable us to take delight in exploration. Give us patience in our studies and strength to use what we learn to your glory. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life, now and forever. Amen.[2] 

 

[1] Letter to Eoban Hess, 29 March 1523. Luther’s Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters. Trans. Preserved Smith and Charles Jacobs, Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1918. Pg. 176-7.

[2] Adapted from Augsburg Fortress Publishers, Autumn Seasonal Worship Resources. www.sundaysandseasons.com




July 30, 2018, 12:27 PM

Draft Social Statement on Women and Justice


Adult Education Opportunity for August

In between services for the month of August, Pr. Nathan will be leading a discussion of the Draft Social Statement on Women and Justice.  Grab a cup of coffee, and join us in Grace Hall at 9:45 for some conversation. 

Background:
In 2009, the Churchwide Assembly authorized the
development of a social statement on women and justice. The ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ has been at work since 2012 and in November 2017 it released the Draft of a Social Statement on Women and Justice. The comment period on the Draft is open until September 30, 2018, so you are welcome to join the class for the discussion, and at the conclusion of the month, we can submit our comments online.

Content:
While the document itself is long (even by Social Statement standards), the first 10 pages offer a basic statement including: core convictions, the ways in which patriarchy and sexism have affected the church, and some ways in which the church can respond in both society and the church itself.  The following pages (pgs. 11-56) offer a fuller explanation of the basic statement.

Class:
In class, we will work through portions of the basic statement and  turn (as needed) to the fuller explanation for points of discussion in class.   In that regard, it would be helpful to have read at least the basic statement in advance of the class.  However, even if you do not have a chance to do so, there will be some time to review the statement in each class.

How can I get a copy?
There are a few copies on the Welcome Center in the Narthex.  The statement is also available online at: www.elca.org.  Go to the “Faith” tab and click on “Social Statemets” then on the right of the page, the image (above) will lead you to the page.  You can go there directly at: http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Current-Social-Writing-Projects/Women-and-Justice/Draft

 




June 8, 2018, 8:50 AM

Summer Sermon Series: Children of the Bible and What They Can Teach Us Today


As the old proverb goes, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, KJV). But the reality is we also have a lot to learn from children. Throughout scripture, children provide examples of courage (think of David and Goliath), resourcefulness (Miriam approaches Pharaoh’s daughter about helping raise him), generosity (the boy with five loaves and two fish gives up his lunch to feed the 5,000), and many other examples for us today. So this summer, we will take a look at some children of the Bible and what they can teach us today.  (You'll also hear a couple guest preachers for a couple of these Sundays as well!)

July 1: “The Little Girl who Woke Up” (Mark 5:21-43)
Theme: Resurrection and new life

July 8: “Samuel the Listener” (1 Samuel 3:1-18)
Theme: Listening and responding to God’s call.  This week, youth who attended the National Gathering will share some reflections from their time in Houston.

July 15: “The Boy who was Wise” (Luke 2:41-51)
Theme: The Importance of children in God’s house

July 22: “The Girl who Loved Her Enemy” (2 Kings 5:1-14)
Theme: Faith in the care and healing of God

July 29: “The Boy who was Generous” (John 6:1-14)
Theme: Giving what you have for ministry among God’s people

August 5: “Miriam the Resourceful” (Exodus 2:1-10)
Theme: Children as instruments of God’s grace

August 12: “Isaac the Questioner” (Genesis 22:1-19)
Theme: Honoring the questions of our children

Vacation Bible School at Holy Spirit will be August 13-17.  Like last year, members from St. Christopher's Episcopal will be joining us, but all children are welcome, so invite friends, family and anyone with children to join us for dinner beginning at 5:15 pm with VBS starting at 5:45 pm.  And if you would like to help out, we can always use volunteers!




June 8, 2018, 8:49 AM

Pastor's Semi-Annual Report to the Congregation, June 2018


So those who welcomed [Peter’s] message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  –Acts 2:41-42

These words from Acts 2 came to mind as I began reflecting on what to say after worship on Pentecost when we welcomed four young women as adult members of Holy Spirit.  Indeed, the end of last year and beginning of this year have seen us welcoming more new faces to the congregation (seventeen on March 11!).  In the summer months, we will welcome another group of new members as well (thank you in advance for wearing your name tag). I am excited by this growth and the new faces at church, and I am also mindful of the emphasis Luke placed on teaching, fellowship, breaking bread together and praying together to create a strong church community.  So as the summer months approach, I encourage you to make time for these four important components of our life together as Holy Spirit Lutheran Church.

Looking back over the past six months, in Lent we examined the theme of “forgiveness” using Desmond and Mpho Tutu’s, The Book of Forgiving.  Then, during Holy Week, we tried something a little different for Maundy Thursday: Individual Absolution as well as a dramatic presentation from Peter’s perspective on the passion of Jesus.  On Good Friday, we hosted five other congregations in town as well as a 60-member choir and chamber orchestra.  Thank you to all who made that service (and all of Holy Week) such a meaningful remembrance of what Christ has done for us.  

In Adult Education on Sunday mornings, we have looked at the similarities and differences between Lutherans and other Christians, as well as between Lutherans and other religions.  As a conclusion to this series, we will be reviewing the ELCA's draft statement, "A Declaration of Our Inter-Religious Commitment" starting on June 3 and going until we are done with it.  For the rest of the summer, we will likely take a brief break from Adult Education classes on Sunday mornings, but we will continue to offer small group discussions including a small group on “Laughing Your Way to a Better Marriage” scheduled to begin on June 4 at 6:30.  It will run approximately six weeks.

Beginning last fall, I began working with area clergy and non-profit leaders on the formation of a “Grand Blanc Faith Community Outreach Center.”  We will likely have a formal charter and bylaws established later this summer, so look for more information in the months ahead—I will share updates on my blog page on the church website.  In part, this is an attempt to create a central space for some of the services available to the community (similar to a model established in Flushing.  It would NOT affect any of our current outreach programming at Holy Spirit, but having such an outreach center could allow us to work with other congregations, area businesses and other non-profits (like FISH) to better support those in need in Grand Blanc. 


Speaking of community outreach, I am excited to be traveling with the youth and Briana to Houston for the Youth Gathering.  We anticipate it being an amazing experience like previous Youth Gatherings, but still ask your prayers for us and all the participants.  THANK YOU to all who have worked and given to make this experience possible for our youth!

Later in the summer, I plan to lead a short sermon series like I did last year.  It will most likely be on “Children of the Bible” and what we can learn from them.  However, it is still in the early stages of development, so come to worship this summer and find out more! J

A couple personal updates: in early May at the Southeast Michigan Synod Assembly, I was elected as a voting member of Churchwide Assembly scheduled for August 5-10, 2019 in Milwaukee, WI.  Also, this summer, I will submit my Doctor of Ministry dissertation proposal.  If approved, I will be interviewing other ELCA congregations that have joined together with our full-communion partners for ministry in their surrounding community.  While this does not affect our congregation at this time, it is clearly a growing trend especially in rural and urban contexts.

Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to the staff, council members and ministry leaders at HSLC.  Your dedication to Holy Spirit makes it a wonderful community to share in that same “teaching and fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers,” which Luke encourages for us all.


-Pastor Nathan


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