We've got a doozy of a reading this week for our gospel. It's the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, which you can check out here
 
This is not my favorite passage of scripture by a long shot, although I have a healthy respect for the parts of the Bible that make us wrestle with our faith.
 
In my wrestling this week, I've been frustrated by many of the characters in the story. Their world, their community, their experience could be so much more peaceful and whole if they just acted a bit differently.
 
You might think my beef is with the foolish bridesmaids, but this time around, it's the wise ones who I find to be a bit disappointing. I wonder: What would their experience - both wise and foolish - have been like if the wise bridesmaids had decided to share their oil? OR, how would their communal life have been different if the women with the lit up lamps had said, "Come stand by us. These 5 lights shine bright enough for all 10 of us to see by"?
 
And in a hurting world that needs a lot of light these days...in a world of mass shootings and political polarization and endless sexual harassment allegations and hurricanes...wouldn't everything be better if we all shared the little bits of light we have?
 
So, I'm judging those bridesmaids as maybe-not-so-wise-after-all. But more than that, I'm trusting that Jesus, our bridegroom, does come into this world again and again, whether or not we share, whether or not we plan ahead and have enough oil in our lamps, whether or not we are ready.
 
But we might as well try to make the wait as pleasant as possible for each other, don't you think?
 
As you know, we're in the midst of stewardship season here at Good Shepherd. As we consider our pledges, gifts, and offerings, may we dream of a world where everyone has the oil they need to keep their light shining in this world. And may we do our part to share with others a foretaste of the feast to come.
 
Peace be with you+
Pastor Marsha
This Sunday's Readings
Amos 5:18-24
Psalm 70
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13

Food Drive sponsored by Senior Adult Ministry  Remember to bring your filled bags to support North Raleigh Ministries' food pantry this Sunday. 
Interested in Good Shepherd? Want to know more about religion in general?   Join us for the Way of the Shepherd all-church study on Sunday, November 12, 9:30-10:30 am in Fellowship Hall. We'll gather for food and conversation on the topic, "Who is God, anyway?" Everyone is invited, but especially those interested in formally joining Good Shepherd.
Coffee Fellowship Assistants Information/Training Session - Sunday, 9:30-10:30 am at the Coffee Bar  Come learn more about sharing the warmth of Good Shepherd on Sunday mornings! 
Budget Forum - Sunday, November 12, 12:00-12:30 pm   Join us for a brief review of the proposed 2018 Spending Plan (Budget) and an opportunity to have any questions answered. The vote to approve the Spending Plan will take place at the Annual Congregational Meeting on December 10.
Magi Tree in the Narthex  Provide gifts for children in the LFS Foster Care Program and our adult friends with developmental disabilities this Christmas! 

Memory Café for Adults With Dementia and Their Caregivers - Monday, November 13, 4:30-6:00 pm in Fellowship Hall  

Shop the Book Fair Online  Shop for books for infants through adults at www.scholastic.com/bf/gslp through November 14.

Worship on Wednesdays (WOW) - November 15 in Fellowship Hall  Join us for pizza at 5:15 pm followed by a family-friendly worship at 5:30-6:00 pm.

Stewardship Sunday is November 19  Pledge online or bring your pledge card to church anytime through this day.

Family Promise Week at Good Shepherd is November 26 - December 3. Volunteers are needed to serve, so sign up in the Narthex or online here (password: homeless).

Mnene Christmas Greetings & Gift Collection  Pick up a blank card in the Narthex to send Christmas greetings to our orphans and friends in Mnene. 

The Mail For Mnene table for collecting Christmas gift packages will be in the Narthex through November 26. Donations marked "Mnene Postage" can be dropped in the collection plate or Narthex mail slot. Do not leave monetary donations at the display table!

O' Holy Night at Camp Agape - Saturday, December 16 at 7:00 pm  Walk the lit camp trails and watch the "greatest story every told" unfold. Tickets are $12/person with a $45 family maximum (children under 5 free). A limited number of tickets are available, so reserve yours early. Sign up online or contact Barb Newcomer.

More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's bulletin announcements.
The November edition of The Shepherd's Voice is available  online.
Health and healing for David Bean, family of Angie Crookenden.

Safekeeping
for Steven Janusz; Capt. Gary Clark; Jake Edwardson; Nathan Anderson; Emily Graff; Megan Hutzenbuhler; Bryan Lester; Lt. John Gibson III; and Major Anthony Coulter.

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish, including Faith Zhou, Shuvai Gumbo, Sithokozile Mpofu, and Zvidozvashe Zhou.

Faith is 18 and just took her "O" level exams this past week.  If she successfully passes these exams she will talk to the Mnene staff about post-secondary education options.  During her secondary (high school) school years, she was a star player for her volleyball team.  She was with our mission team during their visit to Victoria Falls.  Her Mail For Mnene partner is the Montgomery family.

Shuvai, 22, is an outgoing, articulate, affectionate young lady.  She left school to marry and has a 5 month old son.  Her husband is a farmer and takes care of his family's homestead.  In secondary school, she was taking classes in fashion & design but feels there is no market for those skills.  She would like to be proactive and take Hairdressing once her son is a little older.  She spent time with our mission team in Mnene village.  Her Mail For Mnene partner is the Cash family.
 
Sitho is 19 years old, has a 4 1/2 year old son and had been in the Good Shepherd support program for over 10 years. She left Hairdressing School a year ago and is not currently in the Good Shepherd support program. She would like to continue her education but has not yet returned to speak with Mnene staff regarding her plans. We continue to hold her and her son in our thoughts and prayers. Her Mail For Mnene partner is Jane Lovelace.
 
Zvido is 26 years old. This past week, he took his exams at Bulawayo Polytech to earn his auto mechanic diploma. He also hopes to earn his commercial certificate which will give him more options for employment. During the mission team's visit to Zimbabwe in July, he told them "he knows it will be hard to find work, and he is willing to do whatever he must do and go wherever he must." His Mail For Mnene partner is Cathie Strawbridge.
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