Service Days

Sent in by Gina Rawlings, Office Administrator and Rev. Sandra Braasch, pastor at Salem Lutheran, Dakota City

Salem Lutheran in Dakota City has participated in God's Work, Our Hands for years.  Their members have joined in several different projects for this annual day of service and have enjoyed making a difference in their community. 

2017- As part of their work for this ELCA service day, adults and youth of Salem Lutheran Church partnered with members of the United Asian Lutheran Ministry to tie Lutheran World Relief Fleece Tie Blankets as an act of love, to help provide warmth and comfort for those that are most vulnerable. These blankets get distributed to orphans, the elderly, those who are homeless or disabled, and people displaced from their homes. A total of 15 blankets were made and tied from the loving hands and hearts of the 20 volunteers and the entire congregation.  In addition to the LWR project, 25 adults and youth from Salem Lutheran Church and United Asian Lutheran…

God's Work, Our Hands

Shared by Messiah Lutheran, Grand Island
Messiah Lutheran in Grand Island, as a congregation truly appreciates serving their community. The entire church participates in big community events for God's Work our Hands. In the past they have transformed their entire downstairs into a community "free" garage sale and farmers market. 

One year they held a community block party and their youth had a Lemonade stand that raised money for flood victims. 

They have made pies and delivered them to all the fire departments. Volunteers also made sack lunches and took them to some of the local parks that shelter the homeless. 

Their Youth started making "Bags of Grace" (bags filled with personal hygiene products) during a past God's Work our Hands event and passing them out. Since then, they have been asked to make over 200 of them every year by Hope Harbor so they can be distributed at one of the events they host.

Messiah's youth group is not a large group, but Courtney…

Our Hands…God’s Work

By Bishop Brian MaasI know—officially, it’s the other way around. “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Has become an effective tag line for our ELCA.
Theologically speaking, the ‘official’ sequence is correct. For disciples, all things start with God. But every now and then, theologians are permitted to upend things to invite new—or renewed—perspective.
So often, I perceive people thinking along the lines of, “God’s got work to do, and we’re volunteering to do it.” Nothing wrong with that, except that it sort of ends up sounding like we’re doing God a favor. In fact, God is doing us the favor—which is why I think it’s good to turn the phrase around every now and then. And because doing so renews attention to our reality, and to its roots in the story of God’s people.

Our Hands. God’s Work.Take a look at your hands for a moment.Seriously. Do it!
What do you see there? Soft, clean, flawless skin? Callouses? Arthritically-bent knuckles? Scars? Interesting intersecting patterns of lines?Now let me ask y…

Reflecting on Blessings

By Brenda Rivas, Communications Manager
“God is in the business of blessing us more than we can even understand.”   --Cory Driver, ELCA minister of word and service

In searching the internet, one can find endless quotes, verses, poems, posts, and more about blessings. Many of us cover our walls, both in our homes and on our social media sites with words reminding us to “count our blessings” and focus on gratitude. But that is often easier said than done with all the negativity and fear that surrounds us. It is so easy to fall into a trap of despair or anger when we’re stuck at home, when we find it harder to engage in our usual distractions.As an introvert, I actually enjoy being home alone. I’ve been taking this time as an extended refresher. But even an introvert like me has things that they miss, people that they wish they could connect with in person. I get frustrated at the fact that with all the restrictions it becomes more difficult to travel and I miss moments like celebrating m…

Take Time

Take time to enjoy God's creation | Video Reflection with ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton 
"See God's joy and love and even humor in His created creatures..."  Presiding Bishop Eaton
*Hear more about taking time to enjoy God's creation at the link above.

Can we take some time in this day to recognize the beauty of the world around us. Let us give thanks to God for this divine blessing and bounty. Let us take time to reconnect with God’s great creation. Though we may have to remain physically distant from other people, we can take this time to get closer to nature. Thanks be to God for the wonderful and wondrous world he has shared with us. 

Focusing on Blessings and Gratitude

During this time of uncertainty, if you really look, there are still many reminders around us of all the blessings we have received throughout our lives. As families and loved ones gather online or with masks, we are given the opportunity to express our gratitude for their presence in our lives, for their love and their support. But gratitude isn’t just a practice for stressful times, it is a gift for everyday. There are studies that show that those who regularly perform intentional acts of gratitude experience more positive emotions. They relish more in good experiences, improve their sleeping habits, and are able to deal better with adversity and with creating new and stronger relationships.Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to be difficult or grandiose. It’s often the little things that create the most positive impacts. To express more gratitude in your life consider keeping a gratitude journal, setting aside a few minutes each day to say a prayer of thanks or simply saying thank yo…

What Does It Mean to be Blessed

By Bishop Brian Maas“…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”       --Matthew 11:5-6
“Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”That’s a pretty low bar, isn’t it? That if the idea of being blessed—being holy, happy, content, pleased—appeals to us, all we need to do is take no offense at Jesus. How can one take offense at Jesus? What could possibly be offensive about the Good Shepherd of easy yoke and light burden?
Well…maybe that’s not the part that Jesus thought would be offensive.Jesus’ words in Matthew are intended for John the Baptist, who wants to know if Jesus is the Real Deal, or if the long-awaited Messiah is someone else. Jesus invites John to consider the evidence: all kinds of slaves are being set free. Slaves to sightlessness, to injury, to illness, to the despair of poverty, to death itself are set free! This …