A couple weeks ago, I saw a meme on the internet that said “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!” That pretty much sums up the life of Grace this past month!!
At the beginning of the month, our Youth & Family Ministry hosted the Diocesan New Beginnings event for middle school aged teens. The event was successful in many ways. The nearly 30 youth and their leaders spent Friday and/ or Saturday night in our facility. In addition to the many lives that were touched that weekend, it was a wonderful introduction for many of those present to what we have available as far as our facility and our way of worship. It will not be the last time that we are asked to open our doors and hearts.
If hosting the Diocesan youth weren’t enough on one weekend, our local neighbors joined us for the Blessing of the Animals. Our neighboring church families were invited to share along with us to bestow blessings for the “wild” companions God has blessed us with. My first inclination was to call them four-legged companions however, in addition to the fourlegged dog & cat variety, there were also birds, a chicken, and a snake. Pastor Bill TeWinkle and several of his parishioners were thankful to be included in on the blessings bestowed. This will not be the last time for us to join together by opening our doors and hearts with our church neighbors.
The following weekend found Grace as host to 90+ people for the annual Walsingham Pilgrimage. Pilgrims came from all over the Midwest gathered for quiet day meditations, services, Eucharist and healing prayers on Friday and Saturday. Once again, we were provided police escort as we paraded in the street around our block. Even the work crews stopped their noisy machinery for our procession. Forty individuals from our parish served in one capacity or another to make the two days meaningful for those pilgrims who came through our doors in search of healing and worship. It was a powerful statement that so many gave so much to make the day meaningful to the many burdened hearts in search of healing.
All the while our stewardship campaign was in full swing: 100% Behind Grace. Many from our parish shared their stories of what Grace has meant in their lives. As a parish, we encouraged one another to share in ownership of the ministry we do together. It was a wonderful witness by our parish that, in contrast to being presented with a budget to fill, we committed across the board to supporting Grace…no matter the size of the gift. We opened our hearts to see what each of us was able to do for the glory of God’s Kingdom. The parish gathered together in celebration of the increased percentage of involvement across our parish family. It seems fitting that the celebration was skewed heavy with desserts since there was sweetness in the opening of our hearts.
The results of the stewardship campaign bring with it another form of sweetness: growing ministries. At the end of last month, we were joined by a missionary who is not unfamiliar to the Grace family. He reminded us that, first and foremost, we must be God’s presence in the world within our own local communities. As I have seen time and again over the past year, and especially within the past months, the Grace family is desirous to continue to open its doors for our neighbors. We also recognize that it is time for us to go forth into our community to be the light of Christ in and around Sheboygan.
It has been busy around Grace, our hands have been full…and our hearts are becoming fuller; bursting forth to share His Kingdom. Do the thing that fills your heart with joy and God will bless it.