Greetings, everyone –

So I wanted to follow up on the budget revision you voted on at the meeting last weekend. I wanted to make sure that you understand a very important truth about our congregation. It is this…

 

You are generous! That’s right, you are generous. We were able to increase the budget modestly for 2018 because you gave more than we anticipated in 2017…and 2016…and 2015…and so on. You have consistently increased your giving to the ministry of God’s kingdom through Central Lutheran Church and we probably haven’t said “thank you” quite enough, so….THANK YOU!

 

I want to present you with another truth, one that I hope will feel freeing and uplifting. You, alone, cannot keep the congregation afloat financially. The burden for meeting the financial needs of Central does not rest solely on your giving. It is not reasonable to expect that a congregation our age and our size could support a budget like ours on giving alone. You might hear that as a bad thing but it’s not…it’s just a practical thing and one that can be addressed. For example…

 

This month, we have received two…yep, TWO…checks from granting agencies to help support ministries that are in our budget. One was for $1,000 from Banner Bank which will support the work of the Clothes Closet through our General Fund. The second was from our brothers and sisters at Advent Lutheran in the Spokane Valley. Their endowment fund committee gifted us with $1,000 to support our ministries through the General Fund. We will be looking for additional sources of this type of income in the year ahead.

 

In addition, we are finding more ways to have our building and property work for us. Our income from building usage is increasing as we share it with people and organizations that share our sense of mission in Christ. Interest has been expressed from local businesses to pay for spots in our parking lot during the week. While we haven’t done anything formal with that in the past, we will be considering how that can help us in the years ahead.

 

These are just a couple ways that we are exploring to generate income. If you have any other ideas for fundraisers or events or agencies or partnerships that can help, let a council person know.

 

In the meantime, keep doing what you’re doing…being generous. The future of Central does not depend solely on you and what you give. So relax. ???? Give as generously as your means allow and enjoy it. And, again, thank you!

 

SYNOD COUNCIL MEETS THIS WEEKEND

As the Synod Council meets over the next few days, much conversation will be had about “reimagining the Synod.” What does THAT mean? Good questions. It will take some imagination and courage to ponder how we might grow in mission and ministry together. What comes to your mind when you imagine how our work together as congregations might look in our area? What could we do if we pooled our resources? What would happen if we banded together for the sake of some local need? How might perception of us in our communities change if we started doing things a little differently? (I’ll let you know if we come up with any great answers.) Meanwhile, prayer for our deliberations would be most appreciated.

 

AROUND THE CHURCH

What a wonderful collection of canned goods you provided last Sunday! Intern Seth boxed them up on Wednesday after text study and loaded them into his trunk to take to St. Peter’s.

 

Did you know that St. Peter’s hosts the Helping Hands Food Pantry and the Free Neighborhood Breakfast each month? Helping Hands Food Pantry is open on the 2nd and 4th Fridays from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. The Free Neighborhood Breakfast is held on the 3rd Saturday from 8:30- 10:00 a.m.

 

Some of the supplies for the Food Pantry come from Second Harvest. (Check out the picture.) The rest comes from donations like the ones you offered last Sunday. Monetary donations make it possible for them to purchase fresh groceries and other sundries to distribute.  AND…they would welcome additional volunteer help! So if you are looking for something helpful to do, contact Seth at spokaneintern@gmail.com">spokaneintern@gmail.com.

 

THIS SUNDAY AT CENTRAL

 

Van Driver: There is no van service this Sunday.

 

Education Hour (9:45am in the Fireside Room):

 

Coffee Hour: Hosted by the Chancel Choir

 

In Worship: In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses, who will speak for God; in Psalm 111 God shows the people the power of God’s works. For the church these are ways of pointing to the unique authority people sensed in Jesus’ actions and words. We encounter that authority in God’s word, around which we gather, the word that trumps any lesser spirit that would claim power over us, freeing us to follow Jesus.

 

Readings and Psalm

Deuteronomy 18:15-20

The prophet speaks with God’s authority

Psalm 111

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Ps. 111:10)

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Limits to liberty: the case of food offered to idols

Mark 1:21-28

The healing of one with an unclean spirit

 

Rules or Relationship?

Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship? When a teenager spends $200 on the world’s coolest sunglasses is it the time to comment on the foolishness of the purchase or to simply smile and nod? May the people of Corinth eat meat sacrificed to idols? Paul seems to suggest that it does not really matter where the meat comes from. What matters is how the people you care about feel about that meat. Will it challenge their faith? Will it become a stumbling block to the weak? Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a relationship?

 

This theme continues in the gospel. The laws prohibiting work on the sabbath carry deep meaning for many people of faith, and yet on this sabbath Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit and frees a man. Jesus chooses to care for the man and to free him, rather than worry over the details of the law. In this instance Jesus is not condemned for his choice, as he will be later. But his fame begins to spread throughout the region. That too will later prove dangerous, yet it is also a sign of the evangelical nature of the faith. This is not a private faith, held closely and kept hidden. Rather it is an outgoing faith spread from person to person throughout the world.

 

To this day people continue to place barriers and restrictions on the faith. Congregations do this in intentional ways, for example, by setting a minimum age for receiving holy communion. The benefits of these restrictions can be debated, but at least they are chosen intentionally. Churches also create unintentional barriers. Consider the clothes people wear to church each Sunday. Are many people wearing suits and ties? Do you see blue jeans? Do people wear shorts in the summer? What are some of the ways people might be kept from a relationship with Jesus by the barriers we create?

GIVING SUPPLIES

Your yearly statement for 2017 is available on the Kiosk Cart along with offering envelopes for 2018. If either of these is important to you, please pick them up by Feb. 4th.

 

LENT BEGINS FEBRUARY 14TH

I know, it seems odd to have Ash Wednesday on Valentine’s Day. Some people have suggested that we use pink ashes and put them on in the shape of a heart. After some thought, it’s not such a bad idea. After all, Jesus was born into the world as an act of love on God’s part. He gave his life as an act of love for us. God’s raised him to give us hope in the power of that love. Will we really have pink ashes? Probably not. But remembering that Jesus was God’s valentine to us is not a bad thought to consider. (The service, by the way, will be at noon.)

 

SOUP SUPPERS BEGIN FEBRUARY 22ND

If it’s Lent, it’s soup! We begin on Thursday the 22nd with our usual schedule of soup, ringing, worship, and singing. The sign-up sheet on iVolunteer is active and you can sign up by clicking here. Our theme this year is “Journey to the Easter Vigil” and our midweek services will focus on the vigil readings of Creation, Flood, Deliverance at the Red Sea, Salvation Freely Offered to All, and Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace. Watch for the schedule in your February newsletter.

 

WE ARE LIGHTS IN A DARK WORLD

We are new creatures in Christ, the Apostle Paul declares (2 Corinthians 5:17)! As such, we no longer view ourselves or others the way we once did. We have a new role; we are ambassadors for Christ, “as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). And those to whom he appeals are the lost for whom Christ has died. What a sober responsibility we have! As stewards of the Gospel that we spread not just with our mouths, but with our actions as well, let us implore God to enable us to be his light in this dark world.  

 

Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, I thank you that you have chosen and called me to be your child. Help me to be faithful and obedient wanting to honor you with my thoughts and actions. Use me, Lord, as your light to a dark and sinful world. Thank you for your saving grace given to me and all people through your Son on the Cross. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen

 

Blessings on your stewardship journey!

See you in worship!

 

Peace,

Pastor Dave

 

 
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