Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton has called for all ELCA congregations to observe a minute of silence in prayer for peace in the Holy Land. Read her letter here. You can also learn more about the Israel-Palestine crisis in a new resource from the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society: Working for a Just and Lasting Peace in Israel and Palestine.
We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. –Romans 8:22-23
In the short space of these two verses, Paul uses two different images of parenthood. First, Paul speaks about the creation groaning in labor pains. It is struggling to give birth to God’s new reality. In this new reality, which Paul thinks is coming very soon, the world is no longer subject to the powers of death and decay. The creation itself achieves the status currently held by “the children of God,” that is, freedom from slavery to sin and death. It is a struggle in the here and now, but all creation, not just humans, will be saved from death.
Second, Paul makes clear that God’s human children are children of adoption. What is significant about adoption is that it does not happen by accident; adoption is always a conscious choice. If God is adopting us as children, then we know that God has chosen us as children.
In the Roman world, adoption was typically a contract between two adult males for the purpose of inheritance. If a prominent man did not have a male heir, or thought his heir was unsuitable, he could adopt someone—usually an adult—to be his heir. For example, Julius Caesar adopted his biological nephew, Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus.
The fact that God chooses us for adoption, means that God chooses us to be heirs of the divine inheritance: immortality. It also means that we have been chosen to be God’s agents in the world. It is our duty and our joy to be about God’s business on this planet. Being a child of God is both a grace and a responsibility.
Yours in Christ,
++ Meetings: Mon 21st 5pm – Staff/Parish, Tues 22nd 6pm – Financial committee
++ Newsletter items are due by Wed 23rd.
++ Books for the fall retreat book study, The Noticer, are in! You may get yours from Kris White. Cost is $8.75 . (Scholarships are available for books and the retreat. Contact Jennifer in the office).
++ Annual church yard sale is Sat August 9th. A sign- up sheet will be in the Narthex for those wanting to volunteer.
++ Card Class meets Sunday 20th at 1:15 in the Fellowship Hall.
++ Food on the 4th is Sunday 27th.
Pastor David and family have moved into the parsonage.
May their new home be filled with laughter and joy,
be a place where love abounds,
be a place of refuge and safety,
and be where they can experience God’s magnificent grace.
Those with Ears to Hear
One of Jesus’ favorite ways to teach was through parables—short, fictional stories used to make people think. The thing that makes parables so enduring is that they can never be fully figured out. They seem to defy explanation. The same person can hear the same parable many times in a lifetime and come up with a different meaning each time. And each one of those different meanings can be correct. Parables have the power to help us make meaning across the broad range of our experience. That’s part of the reason Jesus so frequently says, “Those with ears to hear had better listen,” after he speaks a parable. They are meant to be wrestled with. They are meant to be heard new each time, to be interpreted fresh in each situation.
The gospel writers were sometimes uncomfortable with the ambiguity created by Jesus’ parables. They wanted to settle in on established, orthodox meanings for Jesus’ sayings, so they inserted explanations after the parable so people wouldn’t be quite so confused. We just need to be careful not to forget that parables never have just one meaning. Even if we know one way to interpret Jesus’ words, we still need to listen again and again with ears to hear what the Spirit is guiding us to learn today, in this time, in this place. This month, as we read several of the parables of Jesus in worship, I encourage you to listen with ears to hear. Perhaps these words, that you may have heard many times before, will say something new to you, will reach you in just the way that God needs to reach you, in this place, at this moment.
++ Church Yard Sale will be on Saturday, August 9th. Be thinking about any items around your home, attic, garage or basement that you would like to pass on. No adult clothes please.
++ UMCOR Health Kits: items still needed are hand towels (not kitchen), large combs, nail files (metal), fingernail clippers, and money donations to help with shipping.
++ This is the last Sunday to get your donations to Martha Hoskins for the American Cancer Society, in time for Relay For Life.
++ All women are welcome to the Women of the ELCA Bible study, meeting July 22nd at 2pm.
++ Women’s Spirituality meets Sat, July 12th at 9am in the Fellowship Hall. All women are welcome.
++ The construction trailer for FISH is here! Please keep an eye out for future news concerning parking and other updates!