God's Work at 40th and Meridian
Gift of Grace is a rough and tumble congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ministry, in which Christ is truly tearing down barriers and mixing things up. Specifically, Christ is bringing and holding together people from different social classes; haves and have nots, privileged and non-privileged, homeless and homed, sophisticated and simple, healthy and unhealthy. It is common for privileged Christians to engage with non-privileged persons in an attempt to “help” or “serve” them. We contrast that because our goal is not to “fix and help” but to simply live together in genuine, albeit messy, community, investing our whole selves in lifting up Christ for our neighbors, inviting them more deeply into the life of God.
Beloved In Christ,
There is a common saying that the Church is not the building. That is certainly true. But OUR building and property is surely a great gift and tool for lifting up Christ. We can rejoice that we have mortgage of about $160,000 with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, allowing our ministry to flourish. Now that property value in Seattle has gone through the roof, (the median home price is $700,000, double what it was 5 years ago) the way we use our property on the corner of 40th and Meridian has become an even more important witness. So, I am reporting here on how we are using the property for the sake of the Gospel.
The most obvious and public change comes from the Urban Farm. Micah Fecher has been working on this project for about 2 years, using permaculture principles to transform the land and how we use it. On the west side of the building there is now a food forest, which is like a self-perpetuating garden, complete with fruit trees, berry bushes, and leafy greens. Also on the west side are our "hens at work” in Minnie’s Chicken Ranch, producing about 3 dozen eggs a week, as well as making rich compost. We consume the produce from the forest and the chickens and we share it with our neighbors in a variety of ways. These are all public signs of thoughtful stewardship of land, standing in contrast to a harsh climate of profit driven development.
Other ministry that our property empowers which is less obvious is providing a home for three persons and shelter for about 15 more. All of these people participate in keeping the property and Gift of Grace community healthy and active. We are home to Little Castle Preschool, which is soon to start an afternoon session. That means the basement of the church is utilized all day Monday through Friday and then 2 nights a week by an AA group and a GA group. Of course on Sunday the building bustles all day with worship and GraceFeast. We have a neighborhood bluegrass group that plays every other week upstairs. Two weeks ago there was an concert featuring music from the Magic Flute. SHARE/WHEEL has their business meeting here once a month. All this is to say the money we pay for mortgage and maintenance turns immediately and directly into ministry to and for the neighborhood.
Here are some capital improvements that are also happening. Our neighbor 2 doors down is using his master carpenter skills to repair some of our rotting windows on the south and east side of the building. The fence between the church and parsonage is being repaired and spruced up. We are adding a new security gate to the Preschool. And we are running a high pressure gas line into the church so that we can use a commercial gas range in the kitchen.
Thanks be to God for entrusting this congregation with a beautiful property for the sake of the Gospel. Let us pray that we be good stewards, bold and loving, and that our prayers turn into appropriate action.
Peace and power to you from Christ
Pastor Jami Fecher
[05/15/17] Gift of Grace's mother's day prayer: We thank and praise you for Mary, the mother of our Lord, for Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, for Hannah, Samuel’s mother, for Sarah & Rebecca, and our own mothers … We thank you for all who exercise nurturing, motherly care in this harsh world. Grant all mothers, and us, gentle, steadfast, nurturing spirits.
You are not who you think you are. You are who Christ says you are. You are not who you experience yourself to be. You are who & what Christ says you are. You are certainly not what other people say you are: whether it’s your mom, dad, friends, teachers, police, judges, bosses, or all society as a whole. You are not what they say you are.
You are who & what Christ says you are. This is what Lutherans mean by saying we are justified by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone.
The Christian lifestyle looks like Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
Here is what they did not devote themselves to:
to this or that cause,
freeing Israel from Roman occupation,
overthrowing an oppressive economic system that kept most folks poor while making a few rich,
getting society to straighten out morally,
earning a good living, so they could have a comfortable life, followed by retirement and travel,
building an enclave of safety for their fellow religionists against the encroachment of hostile outside forces,
amassing wealth so they could leave their children an abundant inheritance.
God’s justice & judgement are a function of God’s love. God loves me. But God does NOT love ONLY me. God also loves you. So God commands how I should act toward you in my thoughts, my attitudes and my behaviors. And God’s not joking! God expects a match between how I live and God’s own nature — this One who “judges all people impartially according to their deeds…” 1 Peter 1:17
Scripture declares things about you entirely without your permission or prompting. For example, 1 Peter 1:8 says, “Although you have not seen [Christ ], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy…”
God does not ask you if these things are true about you. God simply knows they are true and declares them to you so that you can pay attention to your life in Christ, believe it & rejoice in it. God knows that these things are true about you because God gives them to you. God knows they are your destiny in Christ, because God has destined you for them.
Gift fo Grace Urban Farm scene!
As if to call her into reality. As if to call her into being. As if to create her, the Risen Lord Jesus calls Mary Magdalene by her name, “Mary” and she awakens to him, “Rabbouni!”
Beloved, he calls YOU by your name in baptism, and he keeps calling you so that you may recognize him.
God’s elaborate plan for salvation: look and be saved
“...just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
In Matthew 26:29 Jesus basically says he is unwilling to drink the new wine in his Father's kingdom unless sinners (his disciples) can drink it with him. It is the epitome of God's love.
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