January 2010

It's a classic Peanuts cartoon.  Charlie Brown says to Lucy, “Someone has said that we should live each day as if it were the last day of our life."
"Aaugh!" cries Lucy.  "This is the last day!  This is it!"   She dashes away screaming, “I only have 24 hours left!  Help me!  Help me!  This is the last day!  Aaugh!" “Some philosophies," says Charlie Brown, “aren't for all people."  Living each day as if it were the last day of our life is not a bad philosophy.  I have read accounts of people who knew they were dying, who knew they had months or less than a year to live, & at the end have said that they wouldn’t trade those last months of their life for anything. 
Knowing they were dying, they lived their days fully, noticing and appreciating so many things we usually ignore. While living each day as if it were the last day of our life is not a bad philosophy, living each day as if it were the first day of our life might be a better one.  This is a new year with exciting new possibilities.  The old year is gone.  The mistakes we made, the obstacles we have overcome are now in the past.  It’s a new year. The past is past and we can’t change it.  We can confess – repent – make restitution where possible– But when we have done what we can do, then we put it all in God’s hands and move forward into God’s future.  By the power of the Holy Spirit we try to be and live as God’s people, as disciples of the Lord Jesus.  In Scripture, except for one thing, we are called to look forward to what God has in store for us today and for eternity.  We look back to see God’s faithfulness and God’s saving activity.  Seeing how God has been faithful to his promises to ancient Israel and how God’s love and faithfulness all came together at Good Friday and Easter, gives us confidence to go forward.  We live in the certainty that as God was faithful to Israel in the past, as God loved and redeemed Israel, as God has walked with us in the past supplying our needs, so God will continue to be with us and bless us in the year ahead.


Interfaith Coalition's Annual Meeting
Interfaith Coalition’s annual meeting provides an opportunity to hear firsthand how the coalition’s programs, which we support and participate in, make a difference to homeless families and people unable to pay for needed health care. Plan to attend the meeting with friends on Wednesday, January 27, at Christ the  Servant Lutheran Church, 2600 Lakeway Dr. in Bellingham, from 7:00 to  8:30 p.m. 
Following the meeting will be a time for fellowship and refreshments.  We need someone from Grace to be an Interfaith representative. If interested please speak to Pastor Dennis for details.


Preschool News
December brought snow, evergreen trees, and our annual preschool Christmas program at Grace Lutheran Preschool.  We performed our Christmas play on December 15 and 16 this year.  The children had the opportunity to play different instruments in the performance. 
We played triangles, drums, and used rice shakers this year.  On December 17 we celebrated Christmas in our class, by having a pajama party.  The children wore their pajamas to school.  We also watched a Christmas movie as part of the festivities.
We are taking a short break from preschool, from December 22 and anticipating the start of the new year, and resuming school on January 5, 2010.


Our Stewardship for December
Average Attendance:                105
Year to Date:                          100
Christmas Eve:                        211
New Years Eve:                         23
Communed:                           341
Average Offering:                $4,427
Year to Date:                     $3,089
Last Year:                          $3,018
2009 Budget:                     $3,226

Also Given in December
Helping Hand Fund:          $202
Mexican Orphanage:           $70
Other Missions:                 $506
Building Fund:                $1,625
Food Bank:                       $100
Memorial:                           $25
Piano Fund:                        $25
2010 Budget Year           $7,000
We finished the year strong.  Budget offerings for November and December  (9 Sundays) totaled $37,400.  This was $8,400 above budget and cut our  deficit to about $7,000.  With under spending in some budget categories, the deficit is manageable. We give thanks to the Lord and to you for your stewardship.

Don’t forget to remember the Lord’s work in your will.


Welcome spring at Interfaith’s March 20 Garden of Hope auction
Mark your calendars now for  Interfaith Coalition’s annual spring auction, this year on Saturday, March 20. Interfaith’s largest fundraising event of the year raises one-third of the coalition’s budget, while building community among attendees from various faith communities whose support helps to pay for programs that provide housing to homeless families and health care for all in need.  The auction begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Lakeway Inn & Conference Center in Bellingham.  The ticket price is $40 and includes a sit-down dinner.
For more information or to share any ideas you may have about auction items, call the Interfaith Coalition office at 734-3983                                                                                                  Some years Grace has provided some type of gift basket to be auctioned.  One year it was a wheel barrel with gardening items.  Another time it was a tool box with a variety of tools.  If you have a good idea and could make up a list of items for people to donate, please speak to Pastor Dennis.


New Offering Envelopes for 2010 are in the Preschool Room.

A new Flower Chart for 2010 is posted in the Narthex.
You are welcome to bring flowers, use a florist or share a Sunday.


Lutheran Marriage Encounter
Winter - Spring 2010 dates
February 12-14 in Tukwila
April 23-25 in Tukwila

At the end of the Christmas season is Epiphany.  One definition of an epiphany is “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”  Thousands of married couples have found new insights and meaning in their love for each other simply by attending a Marriage Encounter weekend.  Experience your own epiphany on Valentine’s Day by attending the February 12-14 weekend.  If that weekend doesn’t work for you, sign up for the April weekend.  For more information or to schedule yourselves for this opportunity, visit the Lutheran Marriage Encounter web site

www.GodLovesMarriage.org or contact Carl & Dallas Anne Presley, 206-522-6840, carl.presley@comcast.net
Lutheran Marriage Encounter toll-free number: 1-800-235-1010.


Our thanks to all who made the Advent and Christmas seasons special and meaningful.
-to all who put up the tree and wreath and decorated.
-to all who took everything down at the end and cleaned up.
-to all who worked in the kitchen preparing, serving, and cleaning up.
-to the Altar Committee for all their extra work.
-to the choir and musicians who blessed us with their music.
-to Karen Halldorson for organizing the Woman’s Christmas Program and to all who participated and made it so meaningful.
-to those who rang the Salvation Army bell at the Post Office. (some cold days)
-to the Sunday School teachers who put on the program.                                                           Many others worked in a variety of ways, the result was that we were all blessed.  Thank you.


A new class will be starting the first week of February.  This 12 session class goes through all the basics of Christian doctrine and more.  It is  a good review for those who haven’t had something like this for a long time.  For those who might be interested in membership, it gives them a good grounding and leads to membership if they so choose.  If you would like to come or know someone else, please speak to Pastor Dennis.

Life Thoughts in the Church Year        from Lutheran’s for Life
Sunday, January 10 is the Baptism of Our Lord.
Isaiah 43:1-2 outlines what our Triune God has done that gives value to human life.  He is our creator, our redeemer, and the one who  calls us to be His own.  This raises the issue of the value of human life way above the political or sociological.                                                
Every life is a life created by God. Every life is a life for whom Jesus died.  Every life is a life God desires to call into an eternal relationship with Him.  We need to think again if we believe that the life issues should not be talked about in church.
Later in January we will emphasize the sanctity of life.


From the LCMS Board of Stewardship
Happy New Year! 
Isn’t it great to be able to start all over with a new year!  It gives us the opportunity to put the troubles and failures of the past behind us and look  forward to a new year with joyful anticipation.  This is especially true for us as God’s children.  Jarsoslav Vajda, a noted Lutheran hymn writer, translated these words of a New Year’s hymn:

Now greet the swiftly changing year
With joy and penitence sincere.
Rejoice!  Rejoice!  With thanks embrace
Another year of grace.
God, Father, Son, & Spirit, hear! 
To all our pleas incline Your ear; Upon our lives rich blessing trace                                                                   

In this new year of grace.
(LSB 896:1,7)As God’s stewards we are reminded that we don’t get a fresh start only on the first day of a new year.  Instead we get a fresh start every day knowing that in Christ all that is wrong has been forgiven and with the power of the Holy Spirit we are equipped to move forward in our free and joyous management of all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes.   
What we include in all of life and life’s resources is described by the hymn writer Frances Havergal with these memorable words:                                                                 
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee; Take my moments & my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect and use
Ev’ry power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour   At Thy feet its treasure store; Take myself, and I will be Ever, only, all, for Thee.
(TLH 441  LSB 783::1,4,6)

These verses from that beloved hymn remind us that our whole life is to be dedicated to God so that we use our time, talents and financial resources in ways that bring honor to Him and produce many blessings for those around us.