A Bible Verse about Strength
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power, Ephesians 6:10.
A Story of Courage
Our former second Director of our Kindergarten/Preschool Marsha Freed wrote about our first Kindergarten Director Gladys Anderson: I found Gladys to be a wonderful, courageous, woman, who was first and foremost a Christian! She saw the need for a kindergarten/preschool class in Loves Park, as the Harlem District only started students in the first grade at that time! I know the only experience she had was teaching in a one-room country school house!
She taught me so much as my mentor. Gladys showed me how much children could learn through music! She also set up a curriculum of Bible-based Christian lessons, which taught the children strong values! She believed strongly in Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child to take the right path, and he/she will never depart from it.” She lived that principle! Gladys Anderson served as the Director of the Grace Lutheran Kindergarten/Preschool from its formation in the Spring of 1944 – 1990. The idea to launch a Kindergarten at Grace was the bold initiative of Mrs. Chell and supported by the newly formed Miriam Circle. The response of the community was overwhelming.
Glady Anderson’s daughter Carole Anderson West wrote about her mom and the Grace Kindergarten/Preschool:
7 C’s that describe the life and work of CLARA Gladys Roen Anderson.
- CHRIST as a daily invocation written and used by Gladys and Carole: I invoke the light of Christ within. I am a clear and perfect channel. Chist is my guide.
- CELEBRATE: God gave us our life. What will we give back? This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).COMMUNITY
- CONSCIOUS: Gladys was a part of the community and worked to include all the area churches in the work of God in the community.
- CREATE SPACE FOR GOD: Gladys made room in her day for God using a retreat to release trust. She cleared unwanted negative thoughts like anger or fear which work to defeat our life purpose.
- COMPASSION: to see Christ in others and assist in connecting them to Christ.
- CURRICULUM: that honored God’s world, the Word, the Spirit and the gift of song.
- COURAGE: to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose and plan though her years of excellent leadership and work through Grace Lutheran Kindergarten/Preschool.
The groundwork of a successful Christian Preschool was laid and built in and through the years of leadership and service of Gladys Anderson. We give thanks to God for courageous and persistent work which has blessed the early formation and later success of hundreds upon hundreds of area children. Their faces populate the pictures of our Preschool in Founders’ Hall. For a great partner in our Preschool, we give thanks. For strong leaders and a dedicated and faithful staff, we give praise. Here is the list of our five Directors in 72 years: Gladys Anderson (1944-1990), Marcia Freed (1990-2006), Carol Johnson (2006-2008), Jill Miller (2008-2015) and Stacie Leese (2015-present).
Ground Work: Read Acts 20:1-6, 17-38b
As we come to this final week of the three-part series on the Acts of the Apostles: Keep alert (Eyes Wide Open – our 1st study) stand firm in your faith (Run Resolutely – our 2nd study) and let all that you do be done in love (Live Courageous & Strong – our current study) – all abased on 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, we are reminded of at least two reoccurring themes: we, like Paul are to be encouraged and an encourager of the faith AND we need each other – Jesus formed a community of followers not just a bunch of individual followers. We are stronger in faith together and more effective in our service and witness when we work in teams or groups. Community in Christ refers to our life together.
Acts 20:1-6 begins with Paul and a whole list of team members from various cities and regions who were all working toward the same missional goal. They were growing in their faith in Christ and serving others and sharing their faith resulting in new converts and community members in the body of Christ.
Acts 20-21 serves as a summary of Paul’s mission. It was both a public witness as well as a house to house effort. We have seen in many of the communities in which Paul and his team planted the church – a community of faith that was committed to following Jesus as the leader of their lives, that a name popped up which was likely the home owner in whose house the early church met. For example, Lois and Eunice in Lystra (Acts 16:1 & 2 Timothy 1:5) Lydia in Philippi (Acts 16:40) and Jason in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-6).
One point of this message is that we are meant to be a community that loves and cares for one another as a church. If a family or individual comes to worship and no one connects with them that week, or if they return in the next week, they become at risk of finding the community unfriendly or not feeling like they belong. We all love to talk before or after worship with our friends. This is important. Yet we are called to welcome and befriend new people as well. That is hospitality. Let’s keep our eyes wide open and greet and engage people you do not know. Share your name and a smile. Do not be ashamed to ask for a name even if you have asked before. Dare to be overly hospitable.
Secondly, if you have a task or job to do at church, invite a new person to join or help you. This is a great opportunity to get to know new people and help them find their place. In the meantime, invite a new person or family to join you in breakfast or lunch after church. The table has always been a primary place for friendship and conversation – sharing the stories of life.
I anticipate the day that our church will be a more blended church between older, middle aged and younger people. This day will come and bring with it a more diverse people reflecting the changing neighborhoods of our community. Grace will be stronger and healthier as a result of being intentionally more racially diverse. Gone will be the day where we just do an hour of worship. The day will come when the vast majority of the people of Grace will be connected with others in serving, witnessing and growing in faith and life by reading and praying together in small groups of 6-10 people.
Our contribution to our community will be increasingly significant as many Grace people will offer leadership at the civic level, service groups, and in and through our vocations or work. By the year 2020, Grace will be living into this new emerging vision for our church and community. Please join me in praying and inaugurating this God-given vision into reality!
- The church began with the twelve disciples of Jesus. As the church was planted in the homes of new believers in a city, there they gathered to listen to the stories of Jesus, prayed and invited others to come and listen too. How can Grace involve more people in this early church model of small groups for study, prayer and service?
- There is no better way for a new person or family to build relationships than in a small group, a circle, a men’s group, a youth group. Keep your eyes wide open and invite people to be part of your group. Who comes to mind?
- What do you take away from today’s reading?
- As we have reflected on Galatians and Acts, what are a couple take always that are most meaningful to you?
A Final Thought about Love (Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14)
Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love, 1 John 4:8.