Dear friends in Christ,

It is so good to be on board at Good Shepherd! Your warm welcome has truly blown me away. I am having a great time getting to know you and this place, and I am looking forward to the rich and exciting years to come.

I am also excited for one more among many "firsts" that I have been experiencing lately: my first sermon at Good Shepherd this Sunday. And I had to chuckle when I found out that we would be celebrating Christmas in August and that the Gospel reading would be the Magnificat - Mary's song.

I laughed because I've always struggled with Mary. So often, she is praised for being obedient and humble. She does what God wants, after all, with no objections despite great personal cost. Reputation damaged. Relationships on rocky ground. Body taken over. The daunting vocation of motherhood placed upon her shoulders at such a young age.

And it's true, she is obedient and humble...praiseworthy attributes. But too often, those qualities are held up as the epitome of womanhood in the Bible. As the proper role for girls in church and in life. Quiet, obedient, humble, meek, mild. Like Mary.

But, let's not sell Mary short. She is obedient and humble, but she also shows remarkable strength. This teenager carries the awe-inspiring weight of messages from angels about her son saving the world. Prophesies are fulfilled in her own womb, in her own simple life. Mary keeps going when others would have freaked out or given up or just plain said to God, "no, thank you."

Mary is a survivor. She makes it through a journey while pregnant from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and she gives birth in a barn - no easy task. She and her young family are refugees, fleeing Herod's violence and seeking sanctuary in Egypt.

And not only does Mary raise Jesus; she follows him too. She is a disciple, faithful even when it costs her beloved son his life.

Mary is a model for us - both women and men - not of meek obedience and mild-mannered assent. Instead, Mary is a model of strong, gritty, faithfulness that does not falter even in the face of life's tragedies, challenges, and heartaches. She shows us that we, too, can be tenacious followers of the God who comes to us in Jesus. We, too, can survive what life throws at us, because we are not alone. The incarnate God is with us.

And so, Merry Christmas! Come and celebrate with us this Sunday. There will be bluegrass and baptisms and more of Mary's story. See you there.

PM (Pastor Marsha)
This Sunday's Readings
Luke 1:46-55

Bluegrass Worship kicks off this Sunday and goes through Sunday, September 3!

Christmas in August  As we celebrate Christmas in August this Sunday, the congregation is encouraged to participate in a food drive to benefit Backpack Buddies for food-insecure children in our schools. The following items are needed: fruit cups (individual servings); 15 oz green beans, corn, or mac & cheese with meat sauce; 7.5 oz cans of tuna fish or chicken; single serving portions of grits or oatmeal; and zip-lock sandwich bags.

Worship & Wonder Training - 11:15 am-12:30 pm in E-12. We are looking for adults and high school youth to be greeters, worship leaders and storytellers in our Sunday School for 3 year olds through 3rd graders. Time commitments are flexible and based on your availability! Contact Ms. Barb Newcomer with questions.

Summer: The Green Season   Bring in flowers from your garden to decorate the Sanctuary each Sunday this summer. Vases will be available in the Narthex.
Parking Lot Maintenance   The church parking lot is being sealed and striped today, August 18. There will be no access to the parking lot until Sunday, August 20. 

Wednesday, August 23 is Preschool Orientation! There are still a few spots available.  Contact the preschool office (919-846-5060) for more information.

Dinner for Eight sign up time is here.  Deadline is August 30.  More information is available on the Wittenberg Wall or in the  Dinner for Eight Group on The City.

Rally/Raleigh Day when we get to work as a community serving God's people with our hands is September 10. With projects at Good Shepherd and out in the community on Sunday (and even some Saturday projects this year), there are opportunities for everyone to serve.  Learn more or  go directly to the online sign up.

More information about upcoming events is available in this week's  bulletin announcements.

The Summer edition of The Shepherd's Voice newsletter is now available  online .

Health and healing  for Barbara Herms and Kaye Easterling, cousins of Gail and Paul Phillips; Lynn, sister of Carol Weber; Lisa Betts; Gail Zill and Julia Hunt, friends of Cheryl Kruse.

Safekeeping for Emily Graff's deployment; Megan Hutzenbuhler on mission in Madagascar; Bryan Lester on mission in Mexico; Lt. John Gibson  III; and Major Anthony Coulter.
Thanksgiving for this Sunday's baptisms of Parilee Rhyne, daughter of Amber and Hunter Walker, and Caleb Darrel, son of Harrison and Cara Winter, and for all those celebrating their baptism in August; for the birth of Andrew, son of Adam and Jennifer Buff and grandson of Brad and Ann Buff; for the birth of Mina, daughter of Matt and Amanda LaBrecque; and for Commander Kevin Chlan's safe return from the Mediterranean Sea.
Sympathy for Lyn Nelson at the death of her dear friend, Pr. Mac MacPherson. 
For the Orphans of Mnene Parish, including Belinda Mavigire and Patrick Ndlovu.
Belinda, turning 21 soon, is a tall, striking young woman, with bright eyes that mirror her ever-present smile. As is the case with all of our young ladies who have had some school experiences outside of rural areas, she now wears makeup and has a new long hairstyle. She is currently supplementing her "O" level points. With discussions between our mission team, Mr. Mposi and the orphan coordinator, Belinda will rent a room in Mnene village, enabling her to receive tutoring to complete her "O" level classes. Her Mail For Mnene partners are Bob & Robin Kirk.
Patrick, age 22, is no longer active in the  GSLC program. He had always struggled with staying in school, as he was much older than students at his level. During our 2015 visit he asked to take a course to become a "driver" but never arrived to take the course. It is believed that he succumbed to the lure of the gold panning craze which has caused a "wild west' atmosphere in the Mberengwe District just outside of Mnene. We continue to hold him in our prayers.

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