Interim Pastor’s Message

Interim Pastor’s Report for 2016

As I said in my New Year’s Day 2017 sermon, when the possibility that I would be serving a church named “Grace
First Lutheran Church” came up, my first thought was “I love the name and I hope they mean by it what I want it
to mean”. I want it to mean “We are the church where grace comes first”. Before we worry about anything else
that we do, say, think or feel, our priority is to experience and share God’s grace with ourselves, each other and
everyone and everything God created. Since my arrival in mid November, I have not been disappointed.

I have seen grace

1. As so many of you came together for a Christmas Program featuring 41 Sunday School kids.
2. As you wear your name tags so that I and others can get to know you
3. As TIC evenings are organized, meals are served, kids play and adults reflect together on spiritual topics.
4. As the new woman pastor gets invited to the Men’s Bible Study because they want the support of the one with a theological education.
5. As entry of GFLC youth into the Bend Youth Collective gets more concrete every day.
6. As I am invited into your homes for meals and conversation.
7. As you all ask how I am dealing with all the snow and as the White Team works so diligently to keep ourpathways safe.
8. As everyone is so willing to step up and help where they can
9. As I hear plans beginning to formulate for a mission trip in 2018
10. In many and various ways but I’m going to stop listing them now.

I see this grace coming from a community that is in transition. 2016 marked this congregation’s 100 th year of
ministry and the retirement after 22 years of Pastor Joel LiaBraaten. Add that to births, marriages, illness, job
changes, deaths and all other life events and 2016 contained a lot of change around here. That can sometimes
make people and communities anxious. And sometimes when people and communities are anxious it is hard for them to
be gracious. So far, in my experience, you are living up to your name.

As we go into 2017 the Transition work will begin in earnest. The whole congregation will engage a process of
discernment around “Who is Grace First Lutheran Church? Why does God need this group of people, in this place,
at this time, for this community, with this set of assets? How do we get so clear about who we are, that it will be
clear to us when we meet the person God wants to be our next pastor?” It will be a big year and navigating it with
gracious folks is what will make it fun.

 

Pastor Shelley Willem

Wellness tip for June

Happy June! I thought this month would be a good time to discuss healthy eating. It is not always easy to know what and how much to eat at each meal. There are many diets and eating plans that are advertised constantly. Well, the U.S. Department of Agriculture uses a dinner plate, called MyPlate, to help people visualize the food on the plate with the right portions and the right types of food needed. If you go to the link below you can read more about MyPlate.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/healthy-eating-plan/art-20044905

Have a great Month
Your Parish Nurse
Dana Topliff MPA, BSN, RN

November 2015 Wellness Tip

Here are a few thoughts for November, American Diabetes Month.  The following is from the ADA site:
Theme
Eat Well, America!
This year’s theme for American Diabetes Month® is “Eat Well, America!” As the American Diabetes
Association® celebrates its 75th anniversary, we want to share a timeless message—that eating well is
one of life’s greatest pleasures, and enjoying delicious, healthy food helps with diabetes management.
This November, the Association will show our nation how easy and joyful healthy eating can be.
Each week, the Association will share nutritious recipes selected by noted chefs and cookbook authors
for every meal of the day, including snacks and special occasion treats. Not only that, but we’ll teach
you how to choose, prepare, serve and eat healthy food that is both delicious and nutritious. From tip
sheets to shopping lists, we’ll help you make healthy eating a fun and easy part of your daily life.

Diabetes affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. today—nearly 10 percent of
the population.

You can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Stay at a healthy weight, eat well and be active. With these steps, you can stay healthier longer and lower your risk of diabetes.

Individuals with an “apple” body shape are at greater risk for diabetes than are those with “pear” body shapes. Although there is some controversy about this.

A Harvard study showed that eating one serving of cooked oatmeal tow to four times a week was linked to a 16% reduction in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

This year we’ll celebrate National Healthy Lunch Day on
Nov.17, when we encourage everyone to “lunch right with
every bite” and make better food choices to counter
expanding waistlines, low energy and rising rates of type
2 diabetes and obesity-related illness

So, enjoy your food and try to eat healthy!

Lynne Oldham Nutritionist

Youth Minister

Youth Ministries Coordinator
Grace First Lutheran Church
Bend, Oregon
The youth coordinator at Grace First will provide vision, integrity, leadership, energy and oversight of ministries for youth grades 6-12. Working collaboratively with the youth advisory board, this person will design, grow and shepherd comprehensive, transformative and expanding ministries of faith formation that are innovative and inclusive.

Education required: Bachelors degree preferred
Position status: 10-15 hours per week
Reports to: Church Council
Supervises: Youth and volunteers working with youth
Evaluator: Executive or Personnel Committee/Annual Evaluation
Salary/Benefits: $13 per hour starting. Will be evaluated after 6 months

Qualifications:
Vibrant and growing Christian faith
Passion for outreach to middle and high school youth and youth faith development
Relationship driven, collaborative servant leadership, relatability to youth
Basic understanding and knowledge of Lutheran theology and eagerness to learn and grow as a Lutheran Christian
Strong written and verbal communication, including communication skills appropriate to youth grades 6-12 as well as adults the coordinator interacts with
Strong technological skills (social media, presentation, computer skills, tools to relate and connect with youth)
Experience with youth ministries preferred

Job Responsibilities:
Model and raise the value of Christ Centered lifestyle by working to minister and serve along with the church family.
Work collaboratively with youth and other church employees, the youth advisory board, parents and other community organizations.
Facilitate a healthy and safe environment. This includes maintaining “safe church” policies and procedures.
Maintain and facilitate an effective youth board composed of church members at large who support the middle and high school ministry programs, VBS, confirmation, trips, retreats, service projects and special events.
Assist the youth advisory board in developing and monitoring their annual budget, including fund raising activities.
Recruit, train, and supervise appropriate volunteers to support faith formation programs, activities and events including confirmation and youth Sunday school.
Support and mentor youth to actively participate and share their gifts in worship.
Prepare reports and attend meetings as needed and as directed.
Other duties and responsibilities as assigned.
If interested in applying, please send a cover letter and resume to Carolyn Clontz at: carolynclontz14@gmail.com or send to our physical address: 2265 NW Shevlin Park Rd, Bend, OR 97703.

September 2015 Wellness Tip

I’ve recently experience a loss in my family. I thought it appropriate this month to talk a little about grief. For those of you who have lost a loved one, you know how grief comes in waves and the loss is something you never get over but with God’s love as well as family and friends love and caring, you find a way to live with the loss. Please go to the link below to read more about the grieving process and how to deal with bereavement.

Heard Behind the Altar Summer 2015

The Church year is in what is called “ordinary times”. Our banner is green the color of this season. It’s a learning and spiritually growing season. The Bible lessons are teaching us how to be Christian and full of parables, stories and lessons of example.

Altar Guild’s work continues for all services. There’s a lot of trading of assignments as each member also balances their vacation into the summer schedule. We’ll start up our monthly meetings in Sept and with that the planning for Reformation Sunday, All Saints Day, the church’s New Year and events and services for Advent and Christmas.

We invite any confirmed member to join Altar Guild. Our service is to God and church. We serve by taking responsibility for the Altar area, communion elements, paraments, candles, and flowers. While making these preparations we feel God’s presence and enjoy the wonderful fellowship of all our members.

August 2015 Nurse’s Notes

It is August and we are having very hot weather! Summer is so much fun because we can all play outside and wear our shorts and flip-flops. I thought it would be a good time of year to write about a few concerns that may occur in hot weather. During these hot days it is important to drink lots of fluids and wear sunscreen and also important to be aware of signs that your body is not coping well. Go to the links below to learn more about heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Kristin Wills April 26 Message

I agreed to give the message today because I have a serious problem saying no. Just ask Bart. I always seem to say Yes, which then leads to stress.

When Pastor called to ask if I would give the message for today, my “yes” came out way to easily. By now you’d think I’d know better – But I don’t . What I did know – when I said yes- is that I’d be working on this message while processing the death of my mom once again. Last week marked 7 years since her passing.

I agreed to “fill the pulpit” as PJ put it before I read the Gospel or the Scriptures for today. My decision to say stress – I mean Yes – to was affirmed when I saw Psalm 23 in the readings. Psalm 23 was one of my mother’s favorite psalms and was read at her funeral. What a great way to meditate on her life and her impact on me.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I want many things. I want a new kitchen and cleaning service. I want a landscaped yard and someone to maintain it oh and a mudroom that would be wonderful too. Yet these desires take me away from the important fact that “The Lord is my Shepherd”. He has provided for me like the shepherd provides for the sheep. He has protected me and loved me and will continue to do so “all the days of my life”. If I live in a state of “wanting” I’ll never be satisfied. If I truly believe the Lord is my shepherd then I am free to experience his blessings in everything. My desire for a bigger kitchen is replaced with thankfulness for a kitchen. My desire for landscaping is replaced with thankfulness for my home – Bend, OR. I am blessed in so many ways, “I shall not want”.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.a

Imagine if you will my life. I am a mother of two young children, a spouse and a trying to start a small business. Life is more than busy. I don’t do much sitting anywhere, especially besides still waters.

While I feel God’s presence while communing in nature I believe the green pastures and still waters can and need to happen in my life everyday. This verse reminds me of a quote from a kids movie of all things. Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery and Today is a gift: that’s why we call it – The Present.”

Rest will always be hard to come by while trying to fulfill the desires and devices of my heart. While I may not feel I have the time to walk with a friend or play Legos with my kids when I do stop and give others my time and attention my spirit and soul are always restored. Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads me to stop and chat with a neighbor when I’m rushing out the door or the Lord guides me to talk to a stranger in the grocery store. While my to do list for the day gets ignored; the most important things get done.

3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

The Lord restores everyone’s spirit in different ways. For Bart his spirit is restored when he’s out playing in nature. I find my spirit is filled when I’m on the dance floor. Going to see live music and dancing with reckless abandon is where my soul is restored. The Lord has given me an energy and excitement for live music and for dancing with others. I feel overjoyed while dancing and sharing my energy for others. I’m so happy on the dance floor I’m making a t-shirt. I dance for Jesus.

Psalm 23 v4
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
There has been one time in my life where I have felt complete darkness and despair. April 21, 2008 my father called me from Mexico to tell me my mother died. I remember feeling like my world was collapsing. Up until this point she had been my Good Shepherd; she guided me, loved me and prayed for me continually. During my mourning I was lifted up by my family and her church community. They prayed for me and guided me through this dark journey. I know now that during this darkness the Lord was with me.

My father recently gave me mother’s last prayer journal. While reading it I realized how much she lived this verse. She had been ill for 6 years and the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. I want to read an excerpt now.
“Lord I know if you don’t heal me on this earth you’ll heal me in heaven. And I have to trust that you will do things in your time. Of course Lord I then remember I haven’t asked for your healing. Is that my lack of faith? I say I believe you could heal me if you want to and I want to believe that. But it seems so selfish to ask for that when there are so many other people suffering so much more! But I have to trust that what you are allowing is so that you may be glorified and your power shown”.

I would not be speaking to you today if my mother was still alive. I’d still be on the other side of the valley. After her death I was drawn to the church community. Knowing this is where I would find peace. I also can’t help feeling like my mother laid down her life for us. My brother was a lost sheep before her death. My mother prayed for him often. She wrote, “And Lord please continue to work in Jay’s life to draw him near to you. I am scared to pray that because I know it is usually in or at least after difficult times that we or I feel closest to you. It scares me sometimes to think what it might take to wake him up.” Her death was his wake up call. My brother walked through the valley to find God waiting on the other side to comfort him.

5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6Surelyd goodness and mercye shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwellf in the house of the LORD
forever.g

The Lord has prepared for me everything I need. I am but a guest at His banquet –which is my life. I have been granted an abundance of love and my cup is running over. My blessings are new each day. With my eyes on the Love and the Salvation of Jesus nothing less than goodness and mercy will follow me.

And I know with all my heart I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I am so thankful my mother instilled a faith in me as a young girl. This faith has led me this far and will lead me until the day I meet her again.

Let us pray. Dear Lord. You are the shepherd. You protect us and keep us under your loving arms. Help us to accept this Love and be Good Shepherds to those around us. Help us especially to be good shepherds to those who are not of this flock. For it is through us that they see you.