Stewardship Notes for October 2019

     The Stewardship Planning Committee enjoys  bringing you “food for thought” every month about what it means to be good stewards of God’s blessings and resources in this world.  This month we will focus on an area in our lives that might be too easily overlooked: being Stewards of God’s Word.  I must confess there are many times that I suddenly realize that it has been a while since I devoted some focused reading time in my Bible.  I do have my favorite Bible verses, and I have committed a good number of them to memory.  But I find when I take the time to really read the whole story in the chapter, and/or previous verses leading up to my favorite parts, I discover new things that I might not have noticed or understood before. 

      God’s Word is truly a living, breathing document that can transcend the centuries from the time the various authors put these important words from God into written form.  I find that the stories and the teachings from the Bible still hold great value and guidance in my own life.  Psalms 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”  The Psalms in the Old Testament are believed to be mostly prayers that were put to music.  Here is an example: read Psalms 100 out loud and imagine what it would be like to sing the words, and clap along with the music!  Here is another example: read John 3:16, and see if you can memorize it.  Do these words still have meaning today, centuries after they were written?  Are they still relevant in the 21st Century?  If a person memorized this one verse, and recited it every day for a month, do you think their life might be changed in significant ways?

      When we turn again to Jesus’ parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, we get a pretty good idea of how God might expect his people to behave as stewards of God’s world and resources.  This certainly includes God’s Word.  Let’s insert “God’s Word” in this story, in place of the word “talent”, and hear how that sounds:  Matthew 25:18 – But the one who had received the “Word of God” went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s “Word”.   That does not feel very good in my heart.

     This reminds us of another important aspect of stewardship; not only are we to cherish and protect God’s Word, we are also required to share it with the world around us.  In I Corinthians 4:1, Paul writes, “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ, and stewards of God’s mysteries.”  God has gifted us, and entrusted us, with his Word – and He calls us to pass it along to others.  Our primary role as disciples of Jesus, is to study and know God’s Word, and then to communicate that “good news” to our neighbors.

     This month, let us remember what it means to be disciples of Jesus, and to be stewards of God’s Word.  As we read the scriptures, we can take time to meditate on them.  Put yourself in the story and into each scene.  Notice which words really  touch your heart.  Ask the Lord to help you know him through his Word.  And listen for God’s voice speaking to you in numerous ways.  Give thanks for the great gift that God has given us to bless us – His Word.  

     Come to our stewardship Community Connections cluster on October 20 – about being Stewards of God’s Word.



Recent Rio Grande Valley Visit

no one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark

you only run for the border

when you see the whole city running as well

– from “Home” by Warsan Shire

 

About a week ago, I was privileged to join a group of almost 100 religious leaders from across Texas in the Rio Grande valley. Our trip was led by the interfaith advocacy group, Texas Impact (of which the ELCA synods of Texas are members…as are many other denominational bodies and faith traditions). We learned about life in the Valley on the US side of the border. We learned about the asylum process for those seeking to come across the border through Mexico. And we crossed the bridge from Brownsville into Matamoros to bear witness, ourselves.

Just across the Gateway Bridge (an easy passage for someone like me who holds a blue booklet…a U.S. passport…which I did nothing to earn), I met a young mother, with a fourteen-month-old on her shoulder – naked but for a diaper, some rubber shoes, and a small beaded bracelet…a tiny token of love in what felt like a loveless place. She came from Honduras and has been camping for a month with no running water or air conditioning and will have to survive under the watch of the cartel for a month more before she can even come to our immigration courts to ask if she might be considered to enter into the hope that is life in the United States. At each hurdle she passes…she will have to come and go…into and out of the U.S…which will make securing any kind of legal counsel almost impossible.

How we respond to migration has been a question nearly all of recorded human history. The Bible speaks to it extensively. Yet, we still have not come to any simple answers. Those of us who visited the border are being asked by Texas Impact to now go with them to Washington, D.C. to share with legislators what we have seen and learned.

I will be in our nation’s capital on September 24 & 25. In addition to bringing my own reflections and witness, I would also be honored to bring yours. There will be paper and some options for form letters for your reference in the Narthex on September 15 & 22. Whatever you feel called to share or ask, I will bring with me.

It is complex to engage in matters of public policy from the perspective of our faith. We will not always agree. And yet, Jesus will keep calling us to love our neighbor…not because it is simple…but because we are all beloved children of God. May we be bold to answer that call.

– Pastor Carolyn



Stewardship Notes for September 2019

     In the past few months we have focused on being God’s Stewards of His Creation, Money, Stuff, Ourselves and our Time and Talents.  This month we focus on a stewardship topic that may not be as straightforward as those in the last few months:  Stewards of Relationships.  When we think about the full circle of stewardship, we usually focus on what that includes and not usually who it includes.  We all have MANY relationships in our lives: family, congregation, community and neighbors just to name a few.  All of these relationships revolve around people and how we share the good news with them as well as receive His blessings from them.  God uses these people in our lives to teach, challenge, encourage and love us!  Likewise, we need to share everything God has taught us with all those we have relationships with. 

     Jesus lays it all out for us quite clearly in Matthew 22: 37-40 when he is asked by the Pharisee’s what the greatest commandment is.  His response: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”   All people we come in contact with are our neighbors in Christ; we should always try to love them, just as Christ shares His abundant love with us!

     God commands us to love others but He also gives us the ability to do it!  When we attempt to love others, we can be confident that the skill comes from God.  This Bible passage from 1 John 4:7-12 shows how we can better love others:  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.   This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.   No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

     But how do we do this in all of our relationships?  After all we are human and some relationships are much easier than others.  Here are some ideas on how we can be better stewards in ALL of our relationships, not just the ones that are “easy”:

  • Pray for God’s help – He created us in His own image and wants us to enjoy His creation together. Ask God for the strength to accept others as they are.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help us stop judging others.
  • Make an investment in yourself and others – Carefully consider your current relationships and what you can change in your life to make things better for yourself and others. It takes ample time and energy to get to know the people in your life, so make a commitment that you will follow through and end up making an impact in their lives.
  • Use your gifts – God has given us all unique gifts. Think about how you can use these gifts to be a better steward with those around you.  For example, volunteering is a wonderful way to create new relationships and help out others in need.
  • Use Christ as an example – We all need to deal with some people that we don’t get along with. Jesus had to do the same thing, but He treated them ALL with equal love.  Learn to forgive other’s trespasses against you and you will become a better steward in those difficult relationships.

     In the end, relationships are an essential part of human flourishing!  Without strong, durable and substantial relationships, we cannot achieve God’s lofty goals for us.  How will you use the “people skills” that God has given you to share His love with others?  How can this idea change the way you love God, others and yourself?

     For more ideas about being Stewards of Relationships, come to our Stewardship Community Connections cluster on Sunday, September 22.



ELCA Churchwide Assembly Updates

Our denomination, the ELCA, holds a churchwide assembly triennially – to worship, vote on matters of governance and policy, and be church together for the sake of the world.  This past week’s churchwide assembly was full of important votes and actions, including:
 
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton was reelected for a second six-year term on the first ballot.
 
A declaration of apology to our siblings of African descent, which was received by the African Descent Lutheran Association with thanks and a call for accountability and living into the words shared.
 
Approved resolution declaring the ELCA is a “sanctuary church body,” encouraging participation in the ELCA AMMPARO initiative for migrant children, discernment of care for our immigrant neighbors in our context, and the promise of forthcoming resources for this work.
 
Approved support for the World Council of Church’s Thursdays in Black, awareness movement for a world without rape and violence.
 
Voted to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance, in honor and remembrance of the martyrdom of the Emanuel 9.
 
Approved a declaration for inter-religious commitment, reaffirming ecumenical and interfaith partnerships.
 
Approved the recommendations from a strategic taskforce which has been studying how to work toward authentic diversity in our church.
 
Approved memorials: affirming but not “endorsing” the Poor People’s Campaign, care for immigrants and refugees, and other statements.
 
Adopted a new social statement, “Faith, Sexism, and Justice: a Lutheran Call to Action,” and its implementing resolutions.
 
Deacon Sue Rothmeyer was elected Churchwide Secretary, a full-time position which acts as executive administrator and leader on all constitutional matters and interpretation.
 
Constitutional change for Deacons (rostered ministers of word and service) to be ordained, from the previous practice of consecration.
 
Celebrated the milestones of 50 years of women’s ordination, 40 years since the first woman of color was ordained, and 10 years since full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ clergy.
 
– Compiled by Rev. Brett Davis


News From our Preschool…

If you are new to Peace or just enjoy keeping tabs on our preschool, please read on about Peace Lutheran Preschool. We are a separate legal entity from the church, we contribute to our building fund and utility costs, but we are very much a part of Peace’s ministry to families with young children in our neighborhood. We have classes for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds, plus a kindergarten class, all on the first floor of our Education building.

 Our philosophy is that children learn best with a play-based curriculum, full of opportunities to explore their world, gain social skills and an enthusiasm for learning. Pastor Carolyn and Jacob lead our weekly chapel and our students love being spiritually nurtured in songs, stories and prayer. Under Mary Mayo’s excellent leadership as director, we have outstanding teachers who are so loved by our families that we do little marketing – word of mouth brings in most of our new families. Here’s our web site: http://www.peacepreschoolaustin.org/.

 Our families meet their teachers and get familiar with their new classrooms at our open house on Tuesday morning, September 3rd. First day of classes is Wednesday September 4th.

 Are you interested in getting involved in our preschool? We love having members and friends of the congregation become guest readers once or twice a month. We could also use some help with serving refreshments and greeting families during our September open house. For more information or to volunteer, come to our table at the ministry fair on Sunday August 18th. Thanks for your prayers as we get ready for another school year. 

Barbara Kimball

Board President, Peace Preschool



Stewardship Notes for August 2019

When we consider all of the resources that God has entrusted to our care, we realize that each of us has been blessed with time and unique talents, and that we are called to use these to love God and our neighbors. This month, you are asked to prayerfully reflect on how you are investing your time, and using your special abilities.  

 

Here are a few pertinent passages from the Holy Bible:

 

  “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (1 Peter 4:10 NRSV) 

 

     “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 12:6-8  NRSV)  

 

     “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;  and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11  NRSV)

 

  “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”  (Ephesians 4:11-13  NRSV)

 

Time is one of the most precious commodities that we possess: we don’t know when it will run out, and we cannot obtain any more than the amount that has been allotted to us.    Think about how many hours you actually spend in a typical week doing various specific activities (working, cooking, eating, sleeping, exercising, cleaning, playing, etc.) and then ask yourself, “Do these hours actually match my values?”, and “How could I better use my time to love God and my neighbor?”

 

Each of us has been given unique combinations of specific inclinations, abilities, interests, and concerns that we are passionate about. During the month of August at Peace, each person is encouraged to use a ELCA Spiritual Gifts Inventory to discover his/her unique gifts and talents through a guided self-assessment process, and to consider how those gifts and talents could be used for the good of the entire church.  Paper self-assessment forms will be available at the Ushers’ station in the Narthex. If you need assistance in completing or interpreting your spiritual gifts assessment forms, please contact Tom Winn, Bob Van Gulick, or Darrell Bailey at church.

This year, Rally Day will be on Sunday, August 18. Rally Day is the annual kickoff of our congregation’s program year, and we will be conducting a Ministry Fair during Community Connections. All congregational groups, activities, and programs will be represented at the Ministry Fair. You will have an opportunity to indicate your areas of interest, your special abilities, and your willingness to serve in our congregation. Find out about Peace’s programs and activities, meet new friends, and share the gifts that God has given to us all. Come and see!



Stephen Ministry Training Information

Through the network of Stephen Ministry congregations we have found opportunities to share continuing education and to provide training to potential Stephen Ministers. In the past we have always done our own training, however, to get the full benefit of the training for new Stephen Ministers it is important that there be an adequate number of people to share experiences and to do the (sometimes dreaded) role plays. Bethany Methodist Church has offered to do the training for other Stephen Ministry congregations. They will begin a new class in September, however, the exact times for the training have not been finalized. On August 25 there will be an Information coffee from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in their Ministry Center. If you are interested please contact one of our Stephen Leaders.

 

What is the commitment that is asked for from your Stephen Ministers?

  • Committing to participate in Stephen Ministry for a minimum of two years, which includes training and then service as a Stephen Minister;
  • Attending all training sessions, except when sickness, emergency, or having to be out of town makes it impossible to attend;
  • Serving under the direction of the congregation’s Stephen Leaders; and
  • Attending all twice-monthly supervision and continuing education sessions, unless it is not possible to be in attendance because of sickness, emergency, or having to be out of town.

 

Stephen Leaders: Laura Eichner, Ernie Klatt, Matthew Bloom and Linda Parsells.

 

If you would like the care of a Stephen Minister, please call Laura Eichner (women) 512- 656-4372 or Ernie Klatt (men) 512-469-6881.



Making Positive Changes

Caring for ourselves may involve making some positive changes in our lives. So try to pinpoint what will motivate you to make those changes. The reasons below may help.


Women’s Heart Health



Support Peace with Valentine’s Day Shopping

Here is the link.