An Electronic Newsletter by the Community of Christ known as Joy Lutheran Church

Our Mission Statement

We of Joy Lutheran Church foster
grace-filled relationships with Christ
through worship, fellowship, and service.



Gospel:  John 2:13-22
The third covenant in this year's Lenten readings is the central one of Israel's history: the gift of the law to those God freed from slavery. The ten commandments are one of the chief parts of Luther's catechism, a core piece of baptismal instruction. They begin with the statement that because God alone has freed us from the powers that oppressed us, we are to let nothing else claim first place in our lives. When Jesus throws the merchants out of the temple, he is defending the worship of God alone and rejecting the ways commerce and profit-making can become our gods.

From the Pastor

What is Stewardship?
Part Two: Living Stewardship
 
Last week, I mentioned that in my own faith history, I have often been turned off by presentations that talk about stewardship.  As I mentioned, those previous programs often centered on two manipulative tools: gimmickry and guilt. To be honest, both techniques work to a certain extent; that's why they are used.  Both approaches, however, over emphasize the emotional part of our humanity, and ignore adding the rational. Jesus embraces the whole of us, both our emotions and our thinking. Stewardship as a follower of Jesus, therefore, invites us to a more holistic approach to life.
 
First and foremost: Stewardship is a way of living. It is a graced-based way of living? In God's grace, we already have been made People of God. We should not need to be entertained or cajoled into being any more than we already are.
 
Stewardship, then is really asking the question for ourselves: now that I am a fully free Child of God, how should I live? Let me offer some suggestions. First, we live joyously.  God has already embraced us in unconditional love.  Any efforts to guilt and shame us into action are counter to the Gospel of Jesus.  Second, we give graciously. We have received God's abundant love through pure grace (unmerited love from a God who does not keep score). We are free to live out that graciousness with lives freed to give: we give ourselves, we give our gifts and talents, we give what we have to enable others to also experience this freedom.
 
In that context, let's now talk about money.  Money is all about incarnation. An important aspect of the Christian message is The Incarnation, that is: in Jesus, God became really human. Jesus embraced the physical, the actual the matter of reality where you and I live. The Kingdom of God takes on and embraces flesh and blood and all that it means to be part of the "real world."  We live, work, and do ministry together in that real world. That world is material and needs material people and things to operate. Money, part of the of the things we earn and then presume to own, is an important part of that material world.
 
How do I give my money to help the church?
People sometimes ask me, "How much should I give to the church?" It's a very real and important question.  I think it is helpful to remember what I call, "The Three P's": Prayerful, Percentage, and Periodic.
 
  1. Prayerful. This is a faith action, a way in which we live our gratitude and faith in Jesus Christ. Any thought about, "how much should I give?"should be, in my opinion, predicated by prayer.  This is questions is all about our relationship with Jesus. It is also about the realities I have in supporting myself or my family. As pastor, I encourage people to prayerfully and rationally determine what they can give to enable the work of the congregation.  It may mean a reshuffling of priorities.  It also may mean the realization that my life journey at the moment allows me to do just this much.
     
     
  2. Percentage. Please don't "tip" God!  By that, I mean don't just throw in a few dollars when you are at church or when you think about it. That kind of giving is reactionary giving and it is very different from biblical, holistic stewardship. Remember, stewardship is about life - all of what it mean to be alive.  I encourage people to prayerfully determine a consistent percentage of their income that goes to God, and the work of the Kingdom. I also encourage people to give that portion first, before any other bills or obligations, as a gift, but also as a recognition that: 

    • Everything I have is really God's anyway;
    • I'm just the caretaker and;
    • I'm not God, God is.

    How much is a good percentage? Well, see Number 1, "Prayerful."  With the influence of the Holy Spirit, you get to decide the amount!  There is no prescribed amount. The Bible often talks about a tithe, which mean 10%. That may be more than you can swallow at the moment, and that's okay. Determine a percentage that you can do your best to give a on a periodic/regular basis.
     
  3. Periodic. "Periodic" means "occurring on a regular basis." Periodic giving is therefore predictable and regular. After I have prayed and discerned what percentage my family and I can give, I also decide to give periodically.  A living stewardship is regular, modeling the patterns of my embodied life - breathing, heartbeats, and seasons. We give regularly in time, because that is where we life as life in in the real is - a series of patterns. "Periodic" means regular, but not demanded. Being grace-filled people allow us to see the real power of liberation that embodies, incarnated, in our neighbors.
 
As I live out my life in Jesus, and so I live out my stewardship of Jesus' gifts to me.  I live out those gifts prayerfully, conscious of my relationship with Jesus.  I live out these gifts in percentage, conscious of what I can and cannot do.  I live out these gifts periodically, adapting my faith expression, to the rhythm and breath of life itself.
 
In God's Work Together,
Pastor Martin

Intern Corner

Our Lenten series on the Global Jesus took us to Africa this week. For a brief talk on African Christology, we heard from Dr. Philomena Njeri Mwaura, Associate Professor in Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Director of the Center for Gender Equity and Empowerment at Kenyatta University in Nairobi City, Kenya. Among her research interests are: New Religious Movements in African Christianity, Religion and Gender, and Christian Religious Education. This video is from a conference on Christ and the Religions in Frankfurt Germany, 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px_QcqqRL-U. The hymn we sang after,  Neno lake Mungu, or Listen, God is Calling, is a traditional Tanzanian hymn translated into English by Howard Olson, who, with his wife Louise, served as Lutheran missionaries in Tanzania from 1946-1988, collaborating in parish work, educational work, and studying African music. Part of his work included assisting in the first draft translation of the New Testament into a dialect of the Rimi language.

The Season of Lent
Have you ever heard the phrase "Jesus is the reason for the season"? Maybe you heard it as a kid around Christmas. But have you ever heard it in relation to Lent? Probably not. We generally think of Lent as a season of emotional heaviness, spiritual draining, and ... maybe depression. Unlike Advent when we are preparing for the birth of Jesus, in Lent we are contemplating, reflecting, and evaluating life and death. The season begins with Ash Wednesday, reminding us of our inevitable deaths, climaxes in Holy Week which is punctuated with a triumphant ride into Jerusalem, the Passover meal, and finally Jesus' execution. We end our Lenten fasts celebrating Jesus' resurrection. Jesus is the reason for the season.

But who is Jesus?

In the West, we're familiar with a white, or fair-skinned, Jesus, with blonde or light-colored hair, and blue eyes. This Lenten season we will reflect on who Jesus is for people across the globe- what he looks like when they imagine him, and what his primary messages are in these different locations. Please join us each Wednesday for a soup supper at 6:15, followed by a worship service at 7:00 where we will learn and think about Jesus with our global neighbors.

Global Perspectives on Jesus

Feb 21      Asian- Jesus originated on the Asian continent
Feb 28      African- African locations are often named in
                Scripture
Mar 7        Latin American- where liberation theology was
                first developed
Mar 14      Native North American/ Native Alaskan- we
                occupy Native land
Mar 21      Orthodox- a return to the East, and found in the
                West



Coming Week's Calendar
Sunday,
March 4
9:30 AM
11:00 AM
6:00 PM
Worship
Adult Bible Study - Evangelism
Boy Scout Troop 219
Monday, March 5 6:30 PM
7:00 PM
Narcotics Anonymous
Boy Scout Troop 219 Board of Review Meeting
Tuesday, 
March 6
6:30 PM
Alcoholics Anonymous
Wed., March 7
5:30 PM
6:15 PM
6:30 PM
7:00 PM
Confirmation Class
Lent Soup Supper
Narcotics Anonymous
Lenten Worship
Thurs.,
March 8
2:00 - 5:00 PM
6:30 PM
Intern Pr. Kate's Office Hours at Jitter's
Alcoholics Anonymous
Friday,
March 9
6:00 PM
6:30 PM
Boy Scout Troop 219 Merit Badge Blitz
Narcotics Anonymous
Sat.,
March 10
8:00 AM
9:00 AM
6:30 PM
The Breakfast Club - monthly church maintenance
The Art of Preaching Class - Brause Fellowship Hall
Narcotics Anonymous
Next Week:
Sunday, March 11
9:30 AM
11:00 AM
6:00 PM
Worship
Adult Bible Study - Evangelism
Boy Scout Troop 219


Weekly Worship Assistant Schedule
Please take a moment to consider serving in one of our 
Worship Assistant positions.   
Thanks for your service throughout the year!

  The Joy of Reading Book Club


The Joy of Reading Book Club meets on the 3rd Monday of every month.  Everyone is invited to come join us for a light dinner plus a fun and lively book discussion. 
 
Our next meeting will be March 19th at the home of Marcia Hegna. The book is The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock.  For more information, contact Marcia at 694-8496.

The book for April 16th is Salt by Mark Kurlansky.  This meeting will be at the home of Betty Veldhuis, with more details to follow.

To those who are already planning their summer:  The 8th anniversary party will be at the beautiful lake home of Gerry Norene on Friday, June 8th.  It is a sleepover for those who can stay.   It's lovely.



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