Have We Forgotten? There is No Choice.

The irony in the Reformation reading that we'll read this Sunday is subtle, but absolutely present.

When Jesus encourages his Jewish followers to remain in his truth because that truth "will make them free," they respond with some defensive indignation.

"Free?  We are children of the great Abraham. We've never been slaves to anyone!"

Oh, before we go on, read the short passage to get the gist.   Here it is.

Ok?  Onward...

So at this point I imagine Jesus doing a bit of a double-take.  Because the seminal story of his people is the story of the Exodus, of being held in slavery by Egypt and being brought out of slavery by God's appointed one, Moses, following the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night over years of desert wandering and into the promised land.

That mouthful is the grounding story of unity for the children of Abraham: that God saved them...saves them...from bondage.

But Egypt is not the only situation where they've found themselves subservient.

Their history has been one of conquest and being conquered: by Assyria, by Babylon, by Persia, and most recently in this context, by Rome.

As Jesus is speaking the Roman taxation laws were in place, keeping the children of Abraham under monetary and cultural siege.

Which all points to this deep human truth that we hate to recognize, but need to embrace: we forget.

All the time. We forget.

We forget that there are things that hold sway over our lives, things we're not comfortable with but feel powerless over.

We forget that we are slavishly in the palm of the constant news cycle and social media feeds of smiling faces that actually make us feel more depressed.

We forget that we are servants of the never-ending phone notifications that are not just relegated to our pockets anymore, but are now on our wrists.

We forget that we are becoming more and more entrenched in our political partisanship,. The demonization of "the other" is making us zombies of group-think.

We forget that when we go to work we conform, sometimes unconsciously, into the person our co-workers expect us to be; our bosses expect us to be.  We forget that, around the table of the family reunion we become who our parents expect us to be; our family members expect us to be.

We are servants of their expectations.

And even if that is not the case for you, we often become addicted to not being who others expect us to be, a kind of servitude of protest which always puts us on guard.

Or maybe you're a slave to your anger. Your self-loathing. Your self-righteousness. Even (gasp) your religiousness? Your prejudice. Other people's prejudice. Your wealth.

Caught in addictions, caught in other's expectations, caught in our own web of lies, caught in bad relationships, destructive thinking; caught in fear, frozen finances, and failed dreams...these are our Assyria, our Babylon, our Rome, our Egypt.

We conventionally think of freedom as having many choices.  But, think about it: you have choices...we have choices...and we're still, so often, caught in the traps.

But what if, in Jesus' definition, freedom isn't about choice? What if, in Jesus' definition of freedom, you have no choice?

No choice but to be God's beloved.  No choice but to be who God made you to be.

So often we live thinking that we must be different in this world.  That we must be our mother's "pride and joy," that we must be "the best employee," that we must be "the rebel."

I even caught my two boys playing school the other day, and one was the teacher while the other was the self-proclaimed "star student."  God forbid they ever feel that they have to be that...

This Sunday's Readings
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 46
Romans 3:19-28
John 8:31-36

Reformation Sunday -  Wear red, the liturgical color of the day, representing the movement of the Holy Spirit that continues to reform the world.

Houston Reflections: Cross Generational SME
9:30-10:30 am in Fellowship Hall  Last summer, 30 youth and adults from Good Shepherd participated in the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston, TX. All 4th graders through adults will meet together in Fellowship Hall to hear stories from their experience. Breakfast snacks will be provided!

Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser
12:00-1:30 pm in Fellowship Hall  Head over after worship for hot dogs, chili and all the fixin's. Proceeds will support the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering participants headed to Minneapolis.

Bring Your Ballots to Church
All confirmed members of Good Shepherd are encouraged to return their ballots for Church Council, NC Synod Assembly, and Endowment Team representatives. All ballots must be received by 6 pm this Sunday. Need another ballot? Extras are available on the Welcome Center in the Narthex.

Let's Donate a TON to Support Recent Hurricane Victims
Bring in your filled grocery bags to help collect the final 500 pounds of food and supplies to support those in need. So far this month, Good Shepherd has collected over 1,500 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Eastern & Central NC! 

It's Halloween at GSLC Coffeehouse!
Friday, October 26, 7:00-8:30 pm in Fellowship Hall Youth and adults are invited to help with set-up, serving, and clean-up for approximately 150 guests at this monthly inclusive event featuring entertainment, refreshments, and fellowship for adults of all abilities.  Sign up to serve at http://bit.ly/GSLCCoffeehouse (case sensitive). 

Men's Cornhole Tournament sponsored by Rams Men's Ministry
Saturday, October 27, 3:00-6:00 pm, Fellowship Hall  - All men and boys 12 years old + are invited to an afternoon of cornhole, competition, fun and food! Hot dog dinner will be served. Cash prize will be awarded. $7/person. Register online.

All Saints Day Service
Thursday, November 1, 12:00-12:30 pm in Memorial Garden Join us for a brief worship service to celebrate the saints that have gone before us.

All Saints Remembrances  We will celebrate the lives of our loved ones who entered the Church Triumphant at an All Saints service on Sunday, November 4. Write the names of your deceased loved ones in the Book of Life in the Narthex, noting with an asterisk if they passed away in 2018. 

October Endowment Fund grants have been approved for the following recipients: 

  • Extended Grace NC, Inc - $950.00
  • Habitat for Humanity-Lutheran Coalition - $4,765.00
  • Lutheran Disaster Response - $5,000.00
  • NC Synod/Lifeline Fund  - $3,000.00
  • Lutheran Services Carolinas Circle of Welcome - $1,000.00
Thank you for your generosity! Watch your mailbox for a letter and brochure with more information on how you can share your gifts with Good Shepherd.

More information about upcoming events is available in  this week's   
Health and Healing for  Walter Heck; Gail Vill; Orv Melcher; Doris Schexnayder, sister of Betty Pailthorpe;  and Amy.

For the Orphans of Mnene Parish , including Tsamani (Sam) Sigono and Tevor Ndlovu.
Sam, 24, attends Midlands State University, pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Shona,  the native language in Zimbabwe.  He is about to complete his attachment (student teaching) at a school in Mnene and will return to University to complete his degree.  He was chosen by his peers to be their representative on the Mnene Orphan Committee.  Sam's Mail For Mnene partners are the Brimhall family and Grace Ann Chirico.

Trevor, 21, was taking Form 5 classes at Mnene Boarding School.  He was struggling and failed all of his subjects.  Mnene committee staff will work with him to determine what options are available for him to continue his education.  His Mail For Mnene partner is the Cash family.

Visit the Wittenberg Information Center in the Narthex for photos of this week's orphans and  more information on the Mnene Ministry.
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