From The Pastor--February 2011
Big Day February 14th
Let me tell you about some "friends" of mine whose big day is February 14th. No, it's not Valentine, whose legend is told in so many different versions it is hard to tell which is the most authentic, if indeed there is any authenticity to any of them. Valentine's acts of love are way off the map from the way we celebrate them anyway. My "friends" are also saints, and, in the Eastern and Roman Catholic Churches, Saints. They were real men with a real mission who lived in Europe in the ninth century.
My saints were not only real but authenticated. They did deeds that are still remembered in this twenty-first century. They developed a whole written language for people who did not have writing in order that generations in the future would be able to read the greatest love story ever. Cyril and his brother, Methodius, developed the Cyrillic alphabet, based on Greek letters to express Slavonic languages, such as we see on the sides of Russian aircraft. Yes, these Greek monks were missionaries to the Slavs. The Russian Orthodox Church dates their beginnings back more than a thousand years to the time when Cyril and Methodius felt the call of God to be priests to those then-pagan people.
Near the intersection of Orchard Lake Road and Commerce Road is a small, Roman Catholic seminary named for these two brothers, Cyril (died 869) and Methodius (died 885), whose love for God and for humaanity led them on a dangerous and productive journey. It happened that, about a thousand years after St. Methodius died, and about a hundred years after that seminary was established, I was a student there. I, also, was embarked on a journey whose ending I had no way of knowing. It wasn't nearly as dangrous or dramatic as the missionaries of the 800s or even of today face, but it was a journey that required the same things to begin: Trust that God would lead me and courage to take the first step.
There are such times in almost every life, I believe. We could gather around a fire on a winter's night and tell each other those stories with a sense of awe and wonder, and a sense of being brothers and sisters whose lives have been a series of decisions that have led us to this time and this place. I doubt that a hundred years from now my story will be known or told by anyone. And, I hope that the story I have told, the same story Cyril and Methodius told and wrote to those ancient Slavs, will still be told in a way that attracts and engages the people of that day and place. It will be the same love story, the story of God's love for every human being through Jesus of Nazareth, who wrote that story with his life and his lifeblood.
I hope you are telling that story in word and deed to your children and grandchildren, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. Sometimes the story is an answer to their questions about how you maintain your peace in the midst of turmoil. Sometimes the story is told only in your acts of compassion. Sometimes the story is more specifically read from the Holy Scriptures just as they have been in hundreds of languages and dialects over the centuries. However it is that the story is told, my hope is that it continues to be lived, by me and by you, and by all the people we tell while we can still tell it. God loves you.
Monthly Church Workday
During the winter, we will be spending time inside the church working on various small jobs. We need your help and would appreciate whatever time you can give.
The monthly workday will be on the first Monday and will begin at 9:00 a.m. If you have questions, please call Barb.
As you begin your own spring cleaning, remember to set aside items you would like to donate to the church yard sale on June 11.
Opportunities To Serve Your Neighbor
Please mark your calendar for these upcoming opportunities to let God’s love shine through us to our neighbors.
- The Mitten Tree—is up and ready for gloves, mittens, scarves, and hats to be taken to the Baldwin Center.
- Thrivent Builds Kickoff Breakfast, January 29—being held at Rochester Church of Christ near Rochester College, this program gets the 2011 Habitat for Humanity projects underway. We’ve been helping build a neighborhood in Pontiac for the past three years.
- Lutheran Volunteer Corps, January 30—on the fifth Sunday of the month, we take a special “loose change” offering for the LVC. Volunteers are in Michigan for the first time, doing projects in Detroit (Genesis HOPE) and Port Huron (St. Martin Lutheran).
- Souper Bowl, February 6—we will have homemade soup to purchase after worship. All money raised will be donated to The Haven, to provide support services to children, adults and families experiencing violence. Since we began supporting The Haven, we have raised over $1,200. Please consider donating soup as well as buying some to take home.
- LSSM Sunday, February 20—Pastor Hemke from Lutheran Social Services of Michigan will be with us. This is an opportunity for a special offering to support their 70 programs in 40 cities serving people in lower Michigan.
Souper Bowl Sunday, February 6
Come and enjoy wonderful homemade soup made by friends and members of Sylvan Lake Lutheran Church. Take some home so you can watch the Super Bowl with SLLC soup--the best in town!
AND the best news yet! All money collected will go to the Haven in Pontiac.
If you missed Souper Bowl Sunday but still wish to participate in the support of the Haven, just drop by the church with a donation or mail it to the church.
Grace has been the promoter and organizer for this event! Thank you, Grace!
Book of Faith Initiative--Galatians Bible Study
We have selected Paul's letter to the Galatians as the next book to study in the Adult Bible Study group. We will use the Book of Faith study guide and expect to finish this study by Lent. For copies of the guide, contact either Rick or Jean. The new study begins Sunday, Feb. 13, at 10:30 a.m. Come join us for an ineresting discussion.
Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers in Oakland County
The planning group continues to work with the Macomb County IVC to bring volunteer caregiving to Oakland County for older and disabled neighbors needing assistance. Volunteers provide services such as:
- transportation and errands,
- light housework and meal preparation,
- indoor and outdoor home maintenance,
- respite care for family caregivers, and
- friendly visits and supportive phone calls.
We are currently working on partnerships with faith groups, corporate sponsors and donors, as well as grant seeking, to raise funds for a half-time coordinator for Oakland County’s program. We have two churches that have offered free office and meeting space—Gloria Dei Lutheran and Good Samaritan Lutheran. We are considering which area of Oakland County would be the best place to begin this program. Two major considerations are matching need with a supply of available volunteers.
The SLLC Council voted to donate $500 from our fall Craft Show and Bake Sale to officially join the IVC expansion into Oakland County. This program fits with our vision of a vibrant church where many adults over forty come from our neighborhood to participate in programs of physical, emotional and spiritual health and well being. The IVC program not only provides services to older neighbors, but it provides opportunities for people of all ages to demonstrate God’s love to their neighbors through volunteering.
Sandy Blackwell, Diana Wagner and Louise Bugg have been participating in this planning group. Our next meeting is at Good Samaritan Lutheran Church on Tuesday, February 15, at 10 a.m. Anyone interested in helping get this service going is welcome to attend.
December and January Council Highlights
Here are highlights from the December 2010 and January 2011 SLLC Council meetings:
- Parsonage update—The hardwood floors will be refinished in January so the parsonage can be ready for occupancy by February. The drapes and water softener may need replacing.
- SLLC Synod Assembly members—we need to select 2 voting members to attend the Southeast Michigan Synod Assembly in May. This year, the Assembly will be making two critical decisions: (1) selecting a new bishop and (2) voting on a merger with the Northwest Lower Michigan Synod. The two voting members elected at a special congregation meeting on January 16 are: Jean Peters and Debbie Wolfe.
- Cluster Mission Strategy Event, Feb. 26—we are to send at least 6 participants to this workshop at the Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac, to work on the next step in the mission process.
- SLLC Ministry Site Profile—the profile team presented our document to the congregation on January 16 after worship. Changes are being incorporated so the profile can be submitted to our cluster dean, Pastor Heierman of Calvary Lutheran in Clarkston, for his review. The plan is to send the final document, together with Ascension’s profile and our joint profile, to the Bishop by the end of January. These profiles will be used by prospective candidates for our half-time pastor position to be shared with Ascension Lutheran Church in Waterford.
- Joint Call Committee—In January, Pastor Jan led the Council in a prayerful process to identify 4 voting members of the Joint Call Committee we will have with Ascension Lutheran Church. They are: Sandy Blackwell, Jim Bugg, Susan Ludwiczak, and Kay Porteous. Louise Bugg, as Council President, serves as an ex-officio and non-voting member. The Joint Call Committee will meet with Pastor Beck of the Synod for a briefing about the process. Pastor asked the Council and the Congregation to keep the members of the Call Committee in their prayers.
- Christmas Food and Gifts for 3 Local Families—this year, we had three local families with a total of 14 children. The families were overwhelmed with their food and gifts. Thanks to all who helped and a very special thanks to the LaRosa Market for their food contributions.
- Adult Bible Study—the group is finishing up their study of the gospel of Mark in January. They have selected Paul’s letter to the Galatians as the next book and will use a Book of Faith study guide. For copies of the guide, contact either Rick Orban or Jean Peters.
- AA Book Club—The AA group will be adding a Wednesday evening meeting for book study.
- 2010 Local Benevolence Decisions—each year we contribute 3% of our donations to local causes. The Council decided to contribute the 2010 money to: (1) Baldwin Center, (2) Open Door of Waterford, (3) Lutheran Volunteer Corps, and (4) our own Good Samaritan Fund.
- St. Andrew Joint Council—St. Andrew is deciding on January 30th to affiliate with a larger ELCA congregation. This affiliation could happen quickly. Pastor Jan expects to be with our two churches at least through Ash Wednesday; however, her interim assignment with us is coming to a close fairly soon.
Mark Your Calendars
Please mark your calendars for February through Lent 2011:
- February 26 Cluster Mission Strategy event, Crofoot Ballroom, Pontiac.
- February 27 Congregation Biannual Meeting after worship, followe by a delicious potluck meal.
- March 9 Ash Wednesday service at SLLC, 7 p.m. We've invited our friends from Ascension and St. Andrew Lutheran churches.
- March 16, 23, 30, April 6 and 13 Midweek Lenten suppers at 6 p.m. followed by a study of the book of Jonah at 7 p.m.