From the Council
At the September council meeting it was decided that the worship service will move back inside the sanctuary beginning Sunday, September 20 at 10:00 am. Below is the letter that was sent via e-mail.
12 September 2020
Hello All Saints,
As we return to inside worship on September 20, you will notice a few changes in the sanctuary.
As many of you know, All Saints suffered considerable damage to the sanctuary. The property team is working hard to have the damage repaired, however, because of the extensive damage in the Quad Cities, contractors and insurance adjusters have been very busy!
During our last council meeting on September 8, it was decided that we would implement some CDC guidelines/safety precautions because of Covid-19.
+Stay home when ill or vulnerable to COVID-19
+Maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or more
+Use face coverings at all times while in public, except those under two years old, those with breathing difficulties, or those who are not able to remove a face covering on their own.
Prior to Worship:
+Clean worship areas and disinfect high-touch surfaces
+Remove shared materials (hymnals, pew bibles, pencils, etc.)
+Designate and label seating areas
+Create space for worship leaders to physically distance, facing congregation (16 feet between leaders and congregation)
+Post signage to inform worshipers and guests
+Remove tables from the gathering space
+Sit in family groups
+Refrain from congregational singing (Sing in your heart as worship leaders sing)
+Use gestures or ASL for congregational responses (Peace be with you)
+Wear face coverings
+Use hand sanitizer on the way into worship
+Maintain physical distancing when entering, worshiping, and leaving the worship space
+Communion in seats (as we have done with outdoor worship)
+Clean worship areas and disinfect high-touch surfaces
See you in church!
Julie Schoville and the Church Council
Let us aim for harmony in the church and try to do everything to build each other up. Romans 14:19
Food Pantry and Clothing Closet
The All Saints Food Pantry and Clothing Closet have been very busy the last few months and we don’t see it slowing down anytime in the near future. The following is a list of items that are very much appreciated and always needed: peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, bars of soap, and laundry detergent.
The Clothing Closet has re-opened and is temporarily located in Fellowship Hall to spread out more. We will take donations on a limited basis. If you have donations; clothes, dishes, blankets, shoes, etc. please drop them off at the church any Saturday from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm.
If you are interested in working in our food pantry or clothing closet on Saturdays, please sign up for a shift at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0e44aca62ea6ff2-food
Every Friday volunteers are needed to help unload food from RiverBend Food Bank from 9:30 – 10:30 am at All Saints.
Contact Anne, Bonnie, or Sheryn if you have questions, would like to donate, or prefer talking to someone about volunteering. Thank you for helping people in need!
From the Financial Officer
The 2020 average monthly amount budgeted for Undesignated Donations (Anticipated) for Ministry Investment is $7,667. You donated $6,285 in August. Thank you! However, donations are down $8,507 for eight months.
You donated $50.00 to mortgage reduction in August (to be applied toward the principal balance). Since inception, a total of $89,787 has been donated to the (Happy Hearts – Hopeful Future) debt reduction campaign.
The mortgage balance was $134,597.22 as of 08.31.2020.
From the Pastor – September newsletter article
The Epistle from Paul’s letter to the Roman Church read last Sunday contains a message for our time. Let me share several thoughts about that text with you.
Paul offers wisdom for daily living in his remarks. His congregation faced persecution and conflict. Life was not easy for early Christians. Living a Christian life challenged their faith and values daily.
First, Paul says, “let love be genuine.” It’s easy to slip into fake love. The word can mean many things. Paul wants our love to be grounded in and defined by the cross. He wants real love, not polite nor superficial love.
Secondly, we are told to hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good. Separating good from evil is a difficult thing to do. My German cousins and aunts and uncles lived through World War II under the Nazi Regime. Imagine what it was for them to hold on to what is good. It’s the same problem today. We have to separate the good from the bad and hold onto what is right.
We are called to love each other with mutual affection. It’s easy to let anger rage inside ourselves and hold grudges. The negative overwhelms the positive. Mutual affection must bind us together if we are to survive as a Christian community. Divisions come easily and heal slowly.
Next Paul reminds us not to lag in zeal but be ardent in spirit. Have you ever heard the term burn out? I hear it all the time in the church. People complain they are burned out, but Christ says be ardent in spirit. I want everyone who has not been to church recently to ask themselves if they are ardent in spirit.
Paul admonishes us to bless those who persecute us. Now that’s tough to do, but that’s what Christ asks of us.
We are encouraged to live in harmony with one another.
Furthermore, we are to take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. Think about your ideals. Now reflect on what is noble in the sight of all. Consider the message and example of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandi or Sister Theresa of Calcutta. Have definable ideals. Sit down and write out for yourself what you consider to be noble and post it someplace where you will see that message from one day to the next. Ask yourself if you live up to those goals on a daily basis.
This lesson was written in Romans 12:9-21. Read the text and discuss what the words mean practically with your spouse. A little Bible study may make a big difference in your life.
Message by Pastor Pokora – September 20, 16th Sunday after Pentecost
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
We could all tell our own version and experience of this parable. We know people who, in our not so humble opinion, neither earned nor deserved what they got; a job, a promotion, a raise, recognition, happiness, success. That we worked longer and tried harder seemed to make no difference. More often than not we view the world, ourselves, and others through the lens of fairness rather than grace, the exact opposite of how God views the world and our lives.
We’ve been taught from an early age that fairness matters. Watch a bunch of children play and it won’t be long before you hear someone say, “That’s not fair!” So it wasn’t fair the night my grandmother gave me twelve lima beans and my sister got only eight. That I actually counted the beans on our plates and that I still remember that night suggests how deeply ingrained within us is the concept of fairness. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so. I am willing to bet that you too in some way have counted lima beans!
It’s not just children. Adults want fairness too. Too often, however, fairness rather than love, acceptance, mercy, forgiveness, or generosity is the measure by which we act and judge another person or life circumstances.
We like fairness, I think, because it give us some assurance of order, predictability, control, and hierarchy; even if it is a false assurance. Fairness is based on what you deserve, how hard you work, what you achieve, the way in which you behave. Sometimes it is fair to give a reward other times a punishment. We live in and promote a wage based society in which you earn what you get. You deserve the consequences, good or bad, of your actions.
What happens though when divine goodness trumps human fairness? You get today’s parable. Today’s parable suggests wages and grace stand in opposition to each other. They are two opposing world views. The degree to which this parable strikes us as unfair is the degree to which our life and world view is wage based. A wage based world view allows little room for grace in our own lives or the lives of others.
Grace is dangerous. It reverses business as usual. “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” That’s not how a wage based society works. The world says the last are last and the first are first because they deserve it. It’s what is fair. Grace looks beyond our productivity, our appearance, our dress, our race or ethnicity, our accomplishments, our failures. Grace recognizes there is more to you and who you are than what you have done or left undone.
Grace reveals the goodness of God. Wages reveal human effort. Grace seeks unity and inclusion. Wages make distinctions and separate. Grace just happens. Wages are based on merit. The only precondition of grace is that we show up and open ourselves to receive what God is giving. When we do we begin to see our lives, the world, our neighbor differently.
A good friend of mine spent his career as an attorney at a local law firm. He told me every month the score sheet would be distributed to all the attorneys in the firm. It listed the name of every attorney, the number of hours they worked, the number of hours billed, and the number of dollars collected. It was the basis for wages and the incentive for comparison, competition, expectation, and judgments. They knew who began work at dawn, who slept in until 9:00 a.m., who came in at noon, who showed up at 3:00 p.m., and who dropped by at 5:00 p.m.
One day several associates, the attorneys who are employees of and not owners of the firm, were reading and talking about the latest numbers. One senior associate whose numbers were higher than most, including some partners, said, “That’s not fair! I am going to demand they pay me what I am worth.” This went on for several days. Then he got quiet and didn’t say much about it. After a few days I asked him, “So have you talked to the partners?” “That was the dumbest idea I’ve ever had,” he said. “What if they agree? What if they actually pay me what I am worth? I’d be taking a pay cut!”
The tragedy of a wage based life is it blinds us to the presence of grace, the life of God, in our own life. It can make us resentful of grace, goodness, and beauty in the life of another. It separates and isolates us from others. Eventually we set up standards and expectations not only for ourselves and others but for God. That’s what happened to the first hired in today’s parable. They saw themselves as different from and more deserving than the later hired. They grumbled against the landowner saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us.” The truth is they are not that different from each other. Neither group owned the vineyard. Both groups needed a job and both groups were chosen, invited in, by no effort of their own doing. There is, however, something that distinguishes the first hired and the last hired.
The distinction is not what time they showed up to work. The real distinction between the first hired and all the later hired is the terms under which they entered the vineyard. The first hired entered the vineyard only after agreeing to the usual daily wage. They settled for too little. They shortchanged themselves. That’s often what happens in a wage based society. Apparently the landowner is willing to pay more than the usual daily wage. A full day’s wage for less than a full day’s work. “That’s not fair,” we might say. No, it’s not. That’s grace.
The first hired got what they bargained for. The later hired workers, those who come at 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., even 5:00 p.m., did not, however, negotiate for the usual daily wage. They entered the vineyard trusting they would be paid “whatever is right.” Whatever is right is not determined by the first hired or by a wage based society but by the goodness of the landowner. These later hired workers received more than they earned, more than they deserved, more than they had a right to ask or hope for. That’s just what God does. “Whatever is right” isn’t about fairness but about grace.
Why settle for the usual daily wage when God wants to give you “whatever is right” for your life, your needs, your salvation? “Whatever is right” will always be more than fair, more than we could ask or imagine. Yet we sometimes trust a wage based life more than we trust grace. In so doing we deny ourselves and others the life God wants to give. So how might we begin to move from a wage based life to the vineyard of grace?
Stop comparing yourself and your life to others and you will create room for grace to emerge. Refuse to compete in such a way that someone must lose for you to win. Trust that in God’s world there is enough for everyone. Let go of expectations based on what you think you or others deserve. Give God the freedom to pay whatever is right knowing that God’s ways are not your ways. Make no judgments of yourself or others. That is the way of grace, the way of God.
Imagine if we all let go of those four things; comparison, competition, expectation, and judgment. Your life would be God-filled, you would make space for the life of another to be God-filled, and the world would, the parable tells us, look a lot like the kingdom of heaven.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.