Message from Bishop Gronberg
“He (Jesus) it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us.” – Titus 2:14
This verse from Titus is part of the appointed epistle reading for Christmas. Positioned with well loved words from the prophets and Luke’s gospel I imagine it often doesn’t get much notice. These words, speaking of what Jesus gave for us are central to what we are preparing for this Advent. God, in Christ, giving, or emptying as Philippians says, himself for the sake of joining us in human flesh.
Lent is typically the season we talk about giving things up for a season. To remind us of God’s giving up for us. But I wonder if that isn’t also something we should be thinking about in Advent. Gift giving is on many of our minds right now. So what if we added to those lists another question? What are we, or our ministries, willing to give, or need to give up, for the sake of the gospel?
In our synod right now we have many congregations and ministries facing these very difficult conversations. Recognizing that ministries they cherished cannot continue the way they have in the past. This may be as seemingly simple, and yet difficult, as deciding volunteers are too taxed to do the same Christmas program this year. It may also mean choosing to end Word and Sacrament ministry and repurposing assets to support new or different ministry. Our Synod Council has been engaged in those conversations as well as has the Briarwood board. Taking a hard look at the needs of the synod for office space in our new reality. Being honest that the projections for usage and camping that were assumed 10 years ago did not materialize. Maintenance projects that were deferred over the years now cannot be ignored anymore. Remembering and focusing in on our purpose.
These are not easy realities and questions and there are many different ways they get answered. But it is essential we consider what we can or should do to be faithful stewards and further the mission of the church. Being honest that sometimes the things we value deeply are in fact keeping us from accomplishing God’s mission in the world. I pray your congregation is engaged in this honest searching as well and my office stands ready to assist you in that work.
We have a God who in Christ gives/empties himself for us. And in so doing redeems us and sets us free. Recognizing this we can also see how in this life giving sets us free. Free to let go of our assumption of control and opening ourselves and the future to different possibilities. Trusting that God’s future, and as such, our future, is secure because of what God in Christ gave up for us. That we might be redeemed and united with Christ in resurrection. And that, regardless of the season of the year, is the most precious gift of all.
In Expectant Hope,
NT-NL Mission Endowment Fund Thank You
On behalf of the NT-NL Mission Endowment Fund (MEF) Board Members, we extend our deepest appreciation for your support! This year, our Seeds that Change event raised over $30,000! This money directly benefits the awarded grants within our synod, as we will be able to fund more applications in 2023!
Blue Christmas Online Service
Women of the ELCA (WELCA) will be hosting a Blue Christmas online service on Wednesday, December 21, starting at 7pm Central:
“Our Blue Christmas Service offers a safe place to bring your grief, fear, and loss. Brief readings. Quiet and reflective music. Prayers. All are welcome. Spanish translation provided.”
Featured Resources for December
Our friends at Compassionate Christianity offer an extensive array of FREE resources, such as Personal Nourishment and Spiritual Practices, Family and Pastoral Resources, Compassion in Action (including a partnership with How to Heal Our Divides), and so much more:
“Inclusive, welcoming, and affirming resources, reflecting the compassion Jesus modeled for us.”
Save the Date
Due to the cancellation of the 2022 ELCA Youth Gathering, MYLE, and tAble, many young people were not able to participate in these life-changing faith formation events. In partnership with ELCA Young Adult Ministries, we are thrilled to open the first-ever ELCA Young Adult Gathering to individuals who will be 18 to 35 at the time of the Gathering. We recognize that 18-35 is a wide age range and anticipate that most of our programming will be geared toward those 18 to 25 years old.
The Young Adult Gathering will take place in New Orleans during the 2024 ELCA Youth Gathering (July 16-20, 2024). Programming and content are still being discerned.
For full details: https://elca.org/YouthGathering/Attend/Young-Adult-Gathering
Where in the world is?
Across a context as wide and different as NT-NL, the reality of Covid-19 is very different. As such, NT-NL synod staff are doing more in-person Sunday visits for worship and occasional meetings. However, as good stewards of time and travel dollars, we will be utilizing online meeting formats into our new hybrid future. Given the rise of breakthrough infections and in order to protect those gathered, the synod staff will choose to wear masks as is deemed appropriate unless preaching or presiding and sufficient social distancing can be provided.
Dec. 18: First Communions, Santa Maria, Irving
Dec. 18: Kyrie Pub Church, Fort Worth
Jan. 7: Closing Worship, King of Glory, Fort Worth
Jan. 8: Walnut Hill, Farmers Branch
Jan. 21: PLMA Graduation, Emanuel, Dallas
Jan. 24: First Call Pastors Check-in, Zoom
Jan. 28: TLU Corporation Board
Feb. 4: Synod Council, Online
Dec. 1-Feb. 28: On Sabbatical
Dec. 14: ELCA Mission Support Strategy Team
Jan. 28: A Spiritual Feast for the Journey, Advent, Arlington
With the ever-changing guidelines and recommendations in our world right now, as we maintain physical distance in social solidarity, please keep in mind these events may be moved online, postponed, or cancelled:
- Dec. 14: Courageous Leadership – Surprise guest – Curiosity and Ambition, Zoom
- Dec. 21: Courageous Leadership – Coaching – Christmas celebration, Zoom
- Dec. 21: Blue Christmas Online Service | Servicio en línea de Navidad azul – Zoom
- Jan. 4: Courageous Leadership – Coaching – Choose Your Own Adventure (breakout rooms by topic), Zoom
- Jan. 6-8: Peer Ministry Leadership Training, Fort Worth
- Jan. 11: Courageous Leadership – Karen Kretschmann & Nick Kiger – Story Telling Engagement, Zoom
- Jan. 14: Public Witness Team meeting, Hybrid
- Jan. 18: Courageous Leadership – Deb Squires – Family & Friends Gathering, Zoom
- Jan. 21: 2023 PLMA Graduation, Emanuel, Dallas
- Jan. 24: First Call Pastors Check-in, Zoom
- Jan. 25: Courageous Leadership – Bishop Mike Girlinghouse – Grief in Faith Communities, Zoom
- Jan. 28: A Spiritual Feast for the Journey, Advent, Arlington
Access our full online Calendar here. Updates made regularly.
Do you have news or announcements to share? Please submit to Jason (email@example.com) for consideration for upcoming editions of our weekly news.