Announcements. We have sung hymns, received the Word and celebrated the great grace of Christ’s “for you” in the Holy Meal. Now we anticipate the holy rhythm of worship’s conclusion: “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” But, before we go: “Announcements.” (More than once assisting minister Denny Gross has introduced them as “Zion’s commercials.”)
Our announcements are typical of many churches, which share various congregational concerns: receptions, ice cream socials, the Salmon Run and fundraisers like the Olivia Rose Golf Tournament.
But listen carefully to this summer’s announcements. They embraced a unique theme in the many ways we are connecting through grace in our community and the world.
Seventh grader Berkley announced that she was selling home made slime, so that she could purchase toys for activity bags for children in Primary Children’s Hospital. (she made 34 bags)
Brant Parker Graham invited us to his band’s concert at Zion. The MAD (Make A Difference) Band raised thousands for the Youth Resource Center, which supports and shelters homeless and at-risk teens.
During all the “Bread Sundays,” we were encouraged to join Bread for the World http://www.bread.org/
John Krehbiel asked that we consider school supply donations for Bright Minds Daycare, serving refugee children.
We were invited to address those difficult-to-talk-about-social-justice-issues at monthly Social Action Forums.
Volunteers responded to requests to provide meals for Family
Promise and the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Journey for Justice Caravan.
Then there are the crosses. Yes, we are requesting donations for crosses, cut out of our old exterior wall, raising funds for Iglesia Luterana Cristo Rey, El Paso. The funds will support the congregation’s ministry with family reunification and border ministries.
Have you noticed how the announcements give witness to the many and various ways we are caught up in God’s loving service to the world? You are amazing people, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. Don’t be surprised if the announcements replace the sermon for a Sunday sometime soon. The sermon would begin, “Listen to the various ways the Holy Spirit is moving in and among and through us.” Announcements follow. Then we will conclude with a loud, “Amen!” Pastor Steven Klemz
For Luther, it is the great exchange, the sweet swap.
At the place of the cross
God has taken away the sins of the world
and has dropped them down the dark hole of Jesus’ death.
On the cross, God has shut up forever on the subject of guilt:
“There is now therefore no condemnation….”
At the cross
God replaces our sin with righteousness;
and, for us
in the place of dying,
gives Christ’s life and joy and peace.
A Word from the Pastor:
Sometimes we are compelled to share a story, even though we know we cannot fully capture the experience. No matter how you tell it, no matter how far back you pull your camera’s wideangled lens, you know that you will never be able to capture the experience in any re-created form. Still, you feel compelled to tell the story.
This story begins with you, people of Zion Lutheran, who embrace our mission to be a community “connecting through grace.” It continues with Pamela Atkinson. She has recruited local clergy to grace her homeless friends with morning devotions. Early on a beautiful summer morning, it is my turn to lead, standing before our homeless friends while representing you in proclaiming grace.
Something is different about this morning. Usually six to a dozen plus people attend. But on this morning, 25 people fill our little room in the Weigand Homeless Resource Center. Should I mention that there is enough space for about ---- 25 people? Even before the room fills up, Reggie and Dar take seats directly in front of me. I promise that they are going to be sermon examples, because nobody in my congregation sits in the front row unless all the other pews are filled. “We wanted to be close,” Dar says. “We need to hear the Word.”
The Word is from Jesus: “…..but, you are my friends” (John 15:15b).
The message starts with this little word –“but.” It is a word that cancels and negates everything that goes before it. We give more weight to what happens after you hear the word, ‘but.’
Your world may feel overwhelming, but you are my friends.
You may be homeless, but you are my friend.
You may have failed, but you are my friend.
We are all a little bit taken aback, wondering how the Creator of the universe can come to us in Jesus, claiming us as friends. It is time for prayer. “How may I pray for you? How can we pray for one another?”
Madam Tony wants healing with her broken rib. Linda asks for mercy, that her criminal record not count against her application for section 8 housing. Kevin asks if it is okay to pray about “the attitude I have coming on.” Several seek forgiveness. Kathy wants God’s peace to fill the separation between her and family. Lance requests prayers of gratitude. Jim prays for the gift of acceptance, to live in humility and to walk in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord. Arnie asks that we pray for the guy who stole his phone and meal card. And we are all silent. It is going to take a powerful prayer of grace to ask forgiveness for our enemies.
The service is ended. I receive several hugs. Jim kneels before me, asking for a blessing. Madam Tony offers me her last (already used) tissue. She had noticed a tear coming from my eye. As Justin, the security guard escorts me to the parking lot, he offers this observation: “That was really something different ---- the way we were all connected.”
Yes. I could have opened my Bible and showed how we were inside 2 Corinthians 4:15: “…..grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”
Connecting through grace, from 1070 Foothill Blvd. to 437 West on 200 South.
-- Pastor Steve Klemz
CONNECTING THROUGH GRACE
We are a Reconciling in Christ community. All are welcome!
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Rocky Mountain Synod
ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
8:15am Awakening Worship
9:15am Sunday School
10:30am Traditional Worship