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March 7, 2018, 10:49 AM

Seeing God At Work Around You

This past Sunday, I challenged the congregation in my sermon to take a picture of where they saw God working in their life and put it up somewhere they would see it, or make it a background or screen saver for their cell phone. Below is one of the images that prompted me to think about that.

It is from the previous Sunday’s Confirmation class. We were talking about those who have gone before us and passed on the faith to us, and as part of that, the youth helped set up tables for a funeral luncheon later that week. I am grateful for all those who work “behind the scenes” - both young and old (many thanks to those who helped with the service and luncheon too!) - to show love and care to those who are going through grief and loss.

This coming Sunday, we will hear some very well known Bible passages, but today, part of the second lesson came to mind: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand to be our way of life.” -Ephesians 2:8-10 (NRSV)

Update on 3/7/18: I continue to be surprised in where I see God at work this week.  Early this morning, I received an email from my children's principal inviting students to wear yellow today and blue tomorrow in recognition of two young students in the larger community who died this past week, one from SADS, and the other as a result of cancer.  Offerings will be collected to help each family with medical expenses and their families continue to be in the prayers during the weekly services at school (as well as in the prayers of intercession of many area congregations including Holy Spirit).  Such actions remind me that in spite of all the division and discord we see portrayed on the news, there are still communities that gather and support each other.  There are still communities that gather and pray together--trusting that God will work through them to bring healing and comfort to those who grieve, hope and justice to those who are opproessed, and joy and gratitude to those who are met with unexpected grace.

That brings me to another story worth sharing--one from another Lutheran congregation in Evanston, Illinois I read about on Monday morning.  These words are authored by my uncle's brother-in-law, Sam Lewis:
"In the mid 90’s we sponsored a refugee family from Bosnia. The mother had been wounded in a mortar attack. The family of four came off the plane and were greeted by a number of church members who took them to an apartment in Evanston, donated by one other member. I helped load and unload a truck with donated furniture. We supported the family until they got on their feet. Our pastor even went to parent/teacher conferences, since the parents’ English was so poor.
... I was reminded of all this because one our members was talking to a co-worker last week. Our member mentioned that she was Lutheran. The woman said ...”Lutherans saved my family”. It was the eldest daughter of the Bosnia family. She came up to our church retreat this weekend to reunite with the people who saved her.
Trinity works also in both Chicago and Evanston giving kids and teenagers their chance to succeed. But we are committed to helping people fleeing terror and destruction. We don’t expect to convert people. We are not doing this for self-aggrandizement. We are doing this because it is right. 
The church has money set aside to sponsor another refugee family. And when the political winds have turned, and they will turn, we will sponsor another family, and another, and another. Because that is what this community of believers is all about." 

Ultimately, I realized with these stories (and even more I have not shared) this exercise can be distilled down to one simple realization: "When you see God at work around you, you see grace in action."

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