Food, Fellowship and Fun!

Share the Bounty is an evening of delicious treats, fellowship, fun and opportunities to win some great gift baskets, certificates, gift cards, handmade items, toys and other awesome stuff.   Won’t you please join us?

Tickets are available at the church and at the door the night of the event. Tickets are $15.00 includes admission and 10 raffle tickets. If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Weinberg in the church office at 734-464-0211.

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Share the Bounty

The 28th Annual Share the Bounty fundraiser will be held on November 9, 20181 at 7:00 pm.. This annual event is a major fundraiser for our Women of the ELCA – all of the money raised for this event goes to Holy Trinity’s needy family fund and helps to provide Christmas gifts for families in our community that otherwise wouldn’t have a Christmas due to financial difficulties.  It also provides assistance for those in need throughout the year.

Long time Holy Trinity member Laura Dwyer proposed the needy family fund to Pastor Seltz. It was established to minister in a Godly and loving manner to local families with special needs who have for whatever reason found themselves in financial crisis. It was meant to catch the people who “fall between the cracks” of the governmental system and be a “hand up, and not a hand out.” The fund provided food and gifts at Christmas and helped with temporary emergencies throughout the year as funds allowed.

The first year the Needy Family Fund was seeded by member donations.  In 1991, continued funding was needed for the project, and four ladies put their heads together to find a way to raise money.  Laura Dwyer, Phyllis Nader, Joan Newman and Doris Srock were instrumental in developing Share the Bounty.  The idea was simple – sharing the goodness that God has so richly provided us so that we could help those in need.

The ladies sought donations of handmade crafts, new items and services to be offered in a ticket auction.  Matching funds were requested from Aid Association for Lutherans. Rather than asking for donations of goodies to eat, it was decided that they would buy the fanciest sweets they could afford.  This gave the ladies an opportunity to enjoy the evening without having to worry about preparing all the food.

Over the span of 26 years, we estimate that we’ve helped more than 250 families.  In addition, the fund provides a way for our pastoral staff to assist people with emergency needs throughout the rest of the year.

We’ve worked with various social service agencies to find families in need.  In the past, we’ve helped families through Salvation Army and Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.  This year we will assist families from Salem Lutheran Church and Randolph Elementary School to help families within our own neighborhood.

Share the Bounty continues to be an enjoyable event for the members of Holy Trinity as well as others in our community.  Thrivent Financial and its predecessor organizations always supported this fundraiser.  We are looking for a Holy Trinity Member to sponsor a Thrivent Action Team.

You can help us this year by: Attending Share the Bounty – it promises to be a memorable evening; donating a handmade and new item as well as certificates for services; taking a tag from our Angel Tree – these are gifts for the children in the families we sponsor; or making a tax deductible donation to Holy Trinity’s Needy Family Fund.

Tickets are available at the church and at the door the night of the event. Tickets are $15.00 includes admission and 10 raffle tickets. If you have any questions, please contact Kathy Weinberg in the church office at 734-464-0211.

Where is Your Heart At?

As I have been planning the fall stewardship campaign, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on Matthew chapter 6. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus said “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Every time I read this verse, I find myself doing a quick gut-check. If someone were to put together a list of everything I spend money on, what would it say about me and where my heart is at? I would hope that person would say that it is clear by the way I spend my money that my heart is with God. I would also hope it would show that as I have been growing in my faith journey, I have also been growing in generosity.

I know that I have a long way to go, but the season of stewardship allows me to not only reflect on how my generosity reflects my gratitude to all of the blessings God has given me, but also allows me to be intentional in my money and my time. This season allows me to trust in God and listen to how he will guide me to become more generous.

Matthew 6:24 goes on to say “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

It sure does seem like people serve money these days, doesn’t it? At work every week, small groups gather to do a 10 minute mindfulness meditation session. One week’s session centered around gratitude for the abundance we have in our life. At the end of the 10 minute session, my co-worker was in tears. “I worry so much about money that I don’t take the time to realize how blessed I am,” she said. If we spent more time with God, thanking Him for what we do have, we really would live a happier and more fulfilled life.

Matthew 6:25 says “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Verses 33:34 explain “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

This world thrives on the idea of scarcity, that there isn’t enough and we aren’t enough. Thankfully we have a God of abundance, who gives us everything we have, which is all we will ever need. He loves us unconditionally, enough that He sent his son to die for us.

So I ask you: Where is your treasure at? Where is your heart at? How will you use this year’s stewardship campaign as a way to be more intentional in reflecting your gratitude to all that God has given you?

Submitted by  Andrey Andison

Jesus is the Bread of Life

Grace and peace to you from our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is our bread of life

In today’s gospel we encounter Jesus trying to explain to the Jews who he is.  He is not just a neighbor kid grown up. No, Jesus is “from God.” He has “seen the Father,” and no other human has seen the Father.  In other words Jesus is telling his people that he is the Son of God.  That unique relationship is intended to save the world by putting people back into a right relationship with God.  Convincing his fellow Jews, however, is not an easy task, even for Jesus.

In today’s reading we hear that Jesus gets less respect and much disbelief from people who have known him as a child. They have watched Jesus grow up, and they knew his parents.  They expected Jesus to be as common as they were.

Imagine how you would react if one of your childhood friends were to tell you that he has come from heaven, so that you will not die but have eternal life? In the least I would be skeptical.  At worst, I would find him a bed in a psychiatric hospital.

Jesus used metaphors to teach.  As he did with longer parables, Jesus talked about something concrete that his audience was familiar with, such as bread. However, what he wanted to teach was about an abstract concept.  Jesus said he is the “bread of life.”  People knew about bread.  They could relate to bread. Bread was a staple in their diet. It was something that could be carried around in a pocket and would last for days. Every family table had bread on it all the time as a sign of hospitality.

However, Jesus went on to explain that he was not ordinary, like the bread that came out of their oven. The Jesus “bread of life” came from heaven, so it was very special, as it was from God.  The Jews were familiar with another so-called “bread from heaven,” that was reported in Exodus (16:35). God had sent that bread as “manna” down from heaven to Moses and his people, after they had escaped from Egypt.   They really needed that nourishment, as they wandered in the desert for 40 years on their way to the promised land of Canaan.  However, Jesus pointed out that in the long run those people died like all people do. By contrast, the Jesus “bread from heaven” would nourish them forever and would give them eternal life.

Better yet, Jesus explained, to receive spiritual nourishment and eternal life, one just had to believe in Him.  Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life (6:47).” Earlier he had explained, “This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in Him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up at the last day (6:40)”

What a gift! No work necessary. There was no “earning” such a gift. This was completely against the Jewish religious traditions of fasting and sacrifice to earn God’s favor. Even today, we are more accustomed to earning our paycheck, and we look askance at people who are so-called “trust fund babies,” and have inherited their wealth and not earned it.

So, we come into our relationship with God with the bias that we must earn what we get from God.   We think that we have to do something to earn God’s favor or earn our way into heaven.  If we could just do enough good deeds, pray enough, meditate enough, earn enough money, or donate enough money to charity, then God would look favorably upon us.  After all, don’t we have a classic image of Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates asking the deceased what have they done to earn admission to heaven?

But that is not what Jesus is telling us. No, Jesus tells us to set aside this notion.  Jesus is the gift from God.  You just have to believe in Him.

That means that you can gain access to God through Jesus, since only Jesus came to us from God.  You and I do not come from God.  Only Jesus came from God.  And only Jesus went back to God through his death and resurrection.

Just believe in Jesus. That sounds easy, and God makes it even easier.  Jesus says, “no one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me (6:44).” To be “drawn by the Father” means that God wants us to be in right relationship with Him, and God will draw us to Jesus.  In other words, you can be the worst sinner, and God will still be waiting for you to let Him into your heart.  God, in all His mercy, will not reject you or leave you alone, even if you do not believe in Jesus.  Even if you are disobedient of God.

The story of the prophet Elijah as told in today’s reading from1Kings (19:4-8) is an example. Elijah had felt like a failure as a prophet and laid down.  He asked God to let him die. But God had other plans for Elijah.  God sent an angel to feed Elijah; not just once but twice. Then and only then was Elijah strong enough to journey 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb.  On Mount Horeb God came to Elijah again and gave him authority and instructed him to anoint the kings of Aram and Israel.  Historically, Elijah anointing those kings proved to be a turning point in the history of Israel. The point here is that God kept pursuing Elijah and nourished him to do God’s work with God’s people.

Jesus brings us into a right relationship with God, and this God is a God of abundance, who wants us to be well-nourished and strong.  In this way we can do God’s work by ministering to people in need.

If I were a painter, I would create an image of me with God standing behind me through all the years of my life; through all my selfishness and through all my sinful ways. God is just standing there, perhaps whispering in my ear from time to time.  God is just waiting for me to turn around and embrace Him.  At my age now, I have to ask myself, “why did I wait so long to embrace God?” The better choice would have been to embrace God and Jesus as soon as I could! I must thank God for my parents, who took me to a church that taught me the basic Lutheran faith in Jesus.  However, during college I thought I knew better and could do my life without the help of God or Jesus.  Although I strayed far during those middle years, God waited for me. And here I am today.

And there’s even more to God’s gift!

Let me introduce my brother in Christ, Ray. He has given me permission to tell you his story today.  We became acquainted when I was teaching in Kentucky about 40 years ago, and we fell out of touch until just recently.  For the past several years we have corresponded about our lives and about how God and Jesus have played a role in our lives.  Ray’s life has also been influenced by his Bipolar Disorder and, now, his advanced Parkinson’s disease. Nevertheless, Ray knows Jesus and tries to imitate Jesus in his daily life. Ray is also an accomplished poet and has published several books of his poetry. Ray is close to my age, and Ray’s Parkinson’s disease has brought him to the place he describes in the following poem, titled:

Landing
The secret times.
Walking and riding a cart
through the store. 
counting resources
to make the last CD and book
not enough

Celebrating very good
the best wife
and dearest friends

When we are born
we could fly
almost like Superman
through lovers
jobs friends
writing poetry
painting pictures
life is never really ending
it is like a flight
a flying

but now it is stopping
coming up
is the Landing

As I read this I hear Ray saying his flying through life is ending; he is coming in for a landing.  As he describes his physical condition to me, that appears to be very real.

Ray and I often talk about how God is working in his life. Ray is OK seeing God working in the life he has lived.   He has tried to live a Christ-like life.  He has mentored people. With love he has looked for and built upon the strengths of his students and friends.  He relishes in recounting the many accomplishments of the people he has mentored. And he thanks God for the blessings he has had in the time he has had with his wife, students and friends.  He does not curse what he does not have due to his illness.

However, God is also working in Ray’s “landing.”  I have not talked to Ray about this, so I am left to wonder about whether Ray believes what Jesus tells us in today’s scripture.  Does Ray know about Jesus’ promise that, ”whoever believes has eternal life” and “whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”

Would that give Ray a perspective beyond his pain, his limitations, and his inevitable “landing”?  Would this give Ray the hope that his “landing” is actually a “launching” into a next stage of his life? And that this new life would be with Jesus in heaven. Do you think that this could give Ray something to ease into and look forward to?  That is the promise that Jesus makes to those who accept Him as their Lord and savior.

Jesus tells us that He is from God and promises us, if we just believe in Him as our Lord and savior, we will have eternal life.  During our life on earth, we will be spiritually nourished by Jesus and not want or need for any other.  Only Jesus promises this and provides evidence for this truth through his death and resurrection.

With such a great gift from God what are we to do?

If we cannot earn this gift or pay God back for it, then how are we to respond to such generosity? In today’s reading in Ephesians the Apostle Paul wrote his answer to this question.  “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us… (5:1).” In the previous chapter Paul offered detailed instructions about how to live in the Body of Christ. All of these instructions are derived from the basic commandment of relating to one another in love.

According to the Apostle Paul, one of the ways we relate to others in love is to “put away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors…(4:25).” And “let no evil come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear (4:29).”

The Oxford Dictionary named 2016 as the year of “post-truth.” And 2017 was even more so.  In this post-truth political climate, I wonder what has happened to this very basic instruction from God. The way we Christians are to demonstrate our gratitude for God’s great, free gift is to be “imitators of God.” We are to put on a new self, created to be like God in righteousness and holiness.

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians marks this holy life by taking off falsehood, letting go of lying and speaking truthfully.  Lying speech is a selfish, possessive act that rejects the Holy Spirit and has dire consequences. Not least of these consequences are mistrust and mutual deceit and conflict. By contrast, speaking the truth is an act of love, and love is returned to us as a gift.  Truth leads to trusting relationships and interactions that are mutually beneficial.  Of course, speaking the truth also leaves us vulnerable.  Lying would have created defenses for our weakness, and by speaking the truth those defenses are down. However, our strength in truth comes from knowing the unconditional love of God and the promises of God through Jesus for everlasting love, forgiveness for our sins, and eternal life.  That should give us the courage to speak the truth to power and to stand up for the needy; those people who are oppressed, persecuted, impoverished, ill, and, yes, even those who do not know Jesus yet.

As Christians we cannot be silent.

Silence is the enemy of truth, and our truth is Jesus Christ.  AMEN

Submitted by Paul Stratton – Lay Preacher

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost – August 11-12, 2018

1 Kings 19:4-8,  Psalm 34:1-8,  Ephesians 4:25-5:2, John 6:35, 41-51-31

A Note From Your Council President

“I think Holy Trinity is on the verge of something really great!”

This comment came up in a conversation I had last week with a few of the Holy Trinity staff – and I totally agree! I am very excited about all that is being planned for the upcoming months at Holy Trinity and I would like to thank everyone for their work – Pastor, the staff, the council, committee members, the congregation and most importantly, thanks to God!

I challenge each of you to get involved – try something new; invite your friends and neighbors; help with planning and implementation; suggest new ideas. God has gifted each one of us differently – it is essential that all members of the congregation bring their gifts to the table to completely fulfill Holy Trinity’s ministry. Our congregation is abundantly blessed by God!

Here is a glimpse of things that are in store for the coming months at Holy Trinity – these are in addition to the Men’s and Women’s Bible studies, Confirmation, Kids Jam, Choirs and other activities that are well established.

  • Homecoming, September 9 – The first Sunday after Labor Day has traditionally been a time when we start the new church year and rally to get everyone involved. It is also the day the Synod celebrates God’s Work, Our Hands. Our focus this year will be Homecoming – a time for all of us to reconnect, renew our faith and serve others.
  • Life of Faith Initiative, September 9 through October 21 – This initiative, implemented as part of our worship service, will help us shift our focus from what we do as the church gathered to what we do as the church scattered. We will begin by reflecting on the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer – “give us today our daily bread” – and what that means for us in our everyday lives. The following Sundays will examine the Ten Commandments and how we can take God’s Work, Our Hands beyond a Day of Service into living a Life of Faith.
  • Fellowship of Faith, starting September 16 after worship – EVERYONE (young, old, and everyone in between) is encouraged to come for coffee, juice, snacks and fellowship after worship every Sunday. See Dale’s Dabbles for more details.
  • Bible Study on Affirmation of Baptism, starting September 16, after Fellowship of Faith– See Dale’s Dabbles for more details.
  • Women’s Tea, September 8, 11 am-1 pm – The women of Holy Trinity will gather for fellowship and to make plans for the upcoming year. I hear there is talk about wanting to do more bible study! This would be a great opportunity to invite a friend to church with you.
  • Blessing of the Pets, October 6, 11 am-1 pm – A day for the community to bring their pets for a special blessing.
  • Trunk or Treat, October 27, 1-3 pm – A day of fun and trick-or-treating for children from Holy Trinity, United Faith, Tiny Tots, Randolph and the surrounding neighborhood.

Yours in Christ, Debbie

A Pep Talk in Each Drop: God Speaks in Unexpected Ways

Recovery from knee replacement surgery has proceeded on schedule to the point that just a few muscle groups have yet to recover. Unfortunately, when I try to sleep, the muscle group that stretches from my knee to my hip sets off alarms and I awaken frequently. So, last night was rough.

This morning I was on the phone praying with my prayer partner for other people to recover from illness or surgery and for other blessings from God. I was feeling sorry for myself, tired and hurting from last night. In front of me were several cough drops with their paper wrappers covered with the company’s logo. As I scanned over this pile, one wrapper caught my attention.

Centered on the wrapper in clear black letters it read, “”you’ve survived tougher.” I examined the other cough drop wrappers, and they either displayed no words or the writing was partially obscured by the twisted end of the wrapper. Before this I had never seen such a pep talk on a cough drop wrapper.

I looked at “you’ve survived tougher” and chuckled out loud. It raised my spirits and offered me hope that God had equipped me through earlier tough times. So, I can expect better times ahead. That was just what I needed at that moment.

I think of this as a God Sighting, partially because I have had so many God Sightings during this surgery and recovery process. It just fit with the others. I could have not thought about it, eaten the cough drop, and thrown the wrapper away. I could have written it off as a “coincidence” or as just “good luck.”

However, those attributions do nothing for my spirit or for my faith in a merciful and compassionate God, who is always with me, offering loving support. I believe that God is with me and that should be my first interpretation of events around me, whether those events are big or small.

Thank you, God, once again.

Submitted by Paul Stratton