Caught in the Words – Rev. Tuhina Rasche

The community of faith sometimes is not just the ones you can touch, but it is those whose hearts are connected through faith and through struggle. Tuhina is one’s of those #decolonize16

We Talk. We Listen.

Picture 002The flesh is messy. It needs food, love, caresses and correction. When it doesn’t have flesh – when it can’t feel, can’t weep, can’t bleed you start to have problems. It is the, of no wonder that Jesus left us a physical reminder of our bond to him – the eucharist. From this point, then, Rev. Tuhina Rasche (ELCA) shares with us why something even so simple as a constitutional resolution for the ELCA absolutely must have flesh – accountability, solidarity, and money – if it is to accomplish it’s goal. Read, comment, and share, friends!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of the LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor –“We Talk. We Listen.”

“My name is Tuhina Verma Rasche. I am the Associate Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Oakland… and I offer myself as tribute from District C.”

13310323_1334998296516679_439464265965981285_n.jpg Rev. Tuhina Rasche speaking…

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In Search of Authenticity – Rev. Priscilla Paris-Austin

This is one of the Sistas that I am fiercely proud to call as a friend. She is one of the Voices that this institutional church and the systemic broken ass system of this society needs to adhere and listen to.

We Talk. We Listen.

Linda Thomas at CTS eventCan bureaucracy provide a path toward justice? Like secular institutions, mainline Christian denominations use bureaucratic procedure to move toward change and transformation. However, unlike secular institutions, the Church is called through the Triune God to offer grace and strive for justice. With the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly recently completed, Rev. Priscilla Paris-Austin gives us a snap-shot of her activities during the week-long series of meetings and votes, and how she and others continue their tireless efforts to call the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to confess, reassess, and deal with the reality that after 28 years it’s racial composition is still 96% white. Reverend Austin reminds us that God created racial diversity and calls the ELCA to redouble it’s efforts to make good on its commitment to diversity. Read and be inspired, friends – and don’t forget to comment and share!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology…

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Transforming our broken world, doesn’t get a Sabbath

Jesus heals

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

Walking in the Living Light

Of the One who has conquered death

Is never ending

Never ceasing

Because there is always need for the Gospel

To be Proclaimed

As we pray without ceasing

And move and act and live out our call

Because we follow His footsteps,

Jesus Christ,

Our Savior and Lord



What would it look like,

If our Sabbath time

And Serving moments

Were one in the same?

Because transforming the brokenness of this world

And our collective journeys through this life,

Seemingly does not get a moment of rest, or pause.

(share with the congregation that God’s Work Our Hands once more is coming up this year, and it falls on a day where we collectively as a nation remember the horrors of September 11th. We as Redeemer have already gotten ahead of the game by partnering with LSSI and doing our own GWOH-providing much needed supplies and backpacks for children who need to be equipped and prepared for their first day, week, months of school! How awesomely thrilled was LSSI that congregations like us participated! And as I thought to September, there was still this drive to do something for GWOH because being involved in ministry, doing for others is awesome. So your Pastor has a crazy idea-what if, what if we took pancakes over to our First Responders at the Fire/Police station here in town? Just hold that thought because, yes-we will have a pancake breakfast going on, and Rally Day, right? And we’ve already done the GWOH for this year, right?)


But perhaps it could be framed this way,

That carrying over a meal to those

Who put their lives on the line for those they are called to serve

Is not only own mission,

But a way to share the Good News,

That this place,

Regardless of the day or time,

That we are also here for them as well,

That we open our doors

Inviting them in

Even if all they have time to do,

Is to hear the sermon,

Pass the peace

Getting fed from the Table,

Because of the One,

Who was constantly doing for all of God’s Creation,


Even in the midst of Sabbath.



Can be seen as this moment of release

Release from the overwhelming and demanding presence

Of this broken world

Sabbath is a day of celebration,

Whether you are saint or sinner

Whether you are comfortable

Or you are struggling

Whether you are among the faithful

Or perhaps, lost and yearning for that faith.

Sabbath is a time to come together,

Sabbath can even be a teaching moment,

When it is both a time for rest,

And a time for actively living out the Gospel


But there seems to be some disagreement among those gathered

In our Gospel this morning.

Have you noticed that Jesus goes against the laws quite frequently?

The status quo

Because see, there’s no Sabbath

From suffering,

From a painful

Even shameful existence.

I wonder how visible this nameless woman was

To those who kept the Sabbath

Or rather,

How important was her existence

To the community who she should have been a part of,

Instead of being kept apart,

Because somehow,

It was shameful.


Shame, unfortunately

Has been used as a weapon

By institutions of religion

As a vehicle for control and suppression

So when this woman,

“with a spirit,

That had crippled her for 18 years”

Dares to make herself visible,

In the presence of Jesus

Jesus stops His teaching


REGARDLESS of her status,



And this moment of release from whatever gripped her,

Instead of joining in her praising God,

The leader points fingers,

Shaming her,

Shaming Jesus!


It seems,

It was more important

That the Sabbath,

As required by the law,

Remain holy,

Free perhaps,

From the daily reminders

Of how screw up this world

And how horrible we can be to one another,

The cause and effect resting squarely on our shoulders

We have gotten away from what Sabbath means,

Because we have fallen away

From loving one another

From being in relationship with the Creator

This woman,

In our Gospel

Serves as a reminder

That there still is hopelessness

And pain,

That affects us, beloved

That affects our sisters and brothers in Christ

That she,

Like so many others

Are ignored


We just want a break

From seeing this heartache,

Can we get one day, Lord?

Especially when its insurmountable

And we have no idea how to handle it,

Or cure it.

We miss what it says,

“A woman with a spirit”


How many times have we come across someone homeless?

Who is struggling with mental illness?

The commentaries elude to the fact,

That this woman’s ailments were due to a demonic possession-

We scoff at that now, right?

Easily modern medical science could attribute this to any muscular disease

Or osteoporosis

Bone cancer

And that she was probably suffering from dementia,

Or worse.

But this spirit?

Even now we still do not have a grasp on mental illness

And even today,

We whisper,

And blame the sufferer

With our own misconceptions of why

We avoid those who are unfortunately burdened with mental illness

Even though our society has refused to advance mental health,

That affects especially those who have served in our armed forces

Or who have swam through seas of domestic violence and abuse,

Or even,

Because life has been harsh,

And they are lost,

They have enveloped themselves into the darkness

With the help of drugs

We avoid those on the street corners,

Because we are afraid,

Because they will be begging for food

Rambling, wanting someone to hear and see them as a human being

Pleading, for release from the endless cycle of agony

And for a beginning towards healing

For someone to invite them into sacred and safe spaces

Crying, because they have no hope

They too,

Are possessed by a spirit

A spirit of emptiness

That has weighed so heavily upon their person,

That they too are gnarled,

Bent over

That whispers to them,

“No one wants you

You are not worthy

See, they shun you.”

Do we, beloved

Also hear those empty spirits,

When we are burdened by sins that we continue to carry

Until we too,

Are bent over.



Is not a concept


Is a true opposition

And rebellion

Against the Creator God’s will

And purpose for us

For our lives

Evil preys upon us,

Dividing us from one another

Throwing caustic acid upon our souls,

Until we are blinded from seeing

God, Our Creator

Our Parent

That LOVE and Light in one another.

But the Good News is,

Jesus Christ,

Spoke to this woman’s shame,

And said simply


“You are set FREE

From your ailment”


Overcame this evil spirit within her

Pushing back the darkness

Telling this evil,

The demonic

That it has no claim upon US




Are set FREE

From our sins,

Our faults,

And suddenly

Just as this woman,

We can’t help it!

Every day is a day of thanksgiving!

Every day is an opportunity for service

That’s how I see it,

Because for me, beloved

This is what God has given me.

When I was on the brink of walking away

Because how shameful Christianity had been spoon fed into me

By those who did not come with a loving spirit

Who used the laws, twisting them

So that people would conform to their standards,

That people would be ashamed of who they were

Or shamed that they did not have enough faith

God whispered to them,

God whispered to me

God whispers to us,

“YOU, beloved

US, beloved

We are FREE

From our sins!”

The darkness is absolved

Every day is a new day in God’s eyes,

And so,

We can’t help ourselves, right?

I can’t!

But, as Pastor

I cannot do this important work,

Without YOU

As people of Faith,

We are called to do this ministry together!



Whose coming with me

To take breakfast of 9/11

As we do God’s Work,

With our Hands?


Let’s share a little Sabbath joy,

With our sisters and brothers in Christ.

Thanks Be to God.

Gatherings are Transformational: An invitation to #decolonize16

From my fellow troublemaker and Sister in Christ…


fergusonoct Photo credit: Heather Wilson


I had been in Ferguson since Mid August. I showed up not knowing exactly what I was doing or what my role was, but I felt compelled to show up anyways. I would like to say that I have always felt the urge to fight for Black liberation. I would like that to be true, and in some ways, yes, I have always felt a certain whisper urging me towards solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed.

But things were different now.

Now I was the mother to a Black daughter.

Now my responses were less driven from a theoretical or academic headspace. My response was less a measured response to an ethical or theological dilemma and more a lump in my throat, a brick in my gut, an inner scream that won’t stop.

A visceral response that Black mothers for centuries have known all too well

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Today’s Gospel sounds like a Johnny Cash tune


“If we truly believed,

In the doctrine of reformation, 

The question we need to ask ourselves, 

Do we want to be safe or reform?”

Words from Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee

To the entire community of faith,

Of the Churchwide Assembly this week.

Being Bold.

We just learned that summer camp song,

But being bold,

That, if I am not mistaken,

We cling to as Lutherans.

It’s in our DNA, right?

Bold equals Martin Luther, right?

Luther stood against the oppression

Of the Catholic Church, in his time

A Church which seemed to revel in this newfound power,

Thanks to Constantine

And somehow lost its purpose

And delved into the darkness,

Locked in their souls

Instead only in reaping the rewards

Of earthly power



Instead of being connected

Of what the Creator God requires of them, and of us

To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 


Luther was appalled at the lack of the spirit of stewardship

From his fellow brothers in Christ

From the leadership,

And then,

Luther was thrust into the fires of Pentecost

By the Holy Spirit, who loves to meddle!

The power of the Gospel

THAT is what drove him,

That fire shut up in his bones

Breaking away from the status quo

And boldly starting this revolution

In her address to the Churchwide Assembly,

Leymah issued the challenge

“We must do the work of the Reformation

And it might mean we are excommunicated

In many places”


Being Bold

Where would we be today,

If Luther had not been bold enough;

If Bonhoeffer had not traveled here

Immersed himself into the culture of Harlem

Spoken out against the atrocities of Hilter

If Dr. King had not taken that first step

Fighting for Civil Rights, Human Rights

If Rosa Parks had not refused to move,

Because she was simply tired of being abused


Mislabeled as 3/5th of a person

If Gandhi had not continued speaking truth to his people

If Malcolm X had not pushed the envelope towards freedom

Where would we be, beloved

If there were not those nameless, collected voices

Who push against the grain,

Shouting into the darkness of human sin,

Of greed

Of violence

Of Racism

Of oppression

Of Torture



And yet,

Here we are

Now more than ever

We need to be BOLD

We need to speak to the systemic pain



In this broken world.


We need to RISE UP,

Not just in bold prayers


And this week,

Those waves of renewal

Of resurrection

Rumbled onto shores littered with the fragments of our existence

Our Church,

Pushed those waves forward towards healing

Boldly proclaiming

Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, Because it was “an example of the “improper mixing of the power of the church  and the power of the sword” 

Acknowledging this church’s complicity in the evils of colonialism in the Americas,  which continue to harm tribal governments and individual tribal members”

That is important to me,

Because part of my extended family

Are proud and sacred Native people And I could not be a part of a Church,

That ignored their existence.


Our Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Continued in their bold proclamation

That they would stand with refugees, immigrants and migrant workers

Approving a new strategy,

“the Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy,

Representation and Opportunities 

Responding to the needs Of the migration of children and their families around protection,

And advocacy,”

It is important to me,

Because we hear the call to care for our neighbor,

And if we claim we follow Jesus,

Then we can not erase their needs and their suffering

As Leymah reminded us,

“Injustice anywhere

Is Injustice everywhere”


These collective people of faith,

Boldly proclaimed

Standing with our neighbors,

Especially those who are seen as outcasts,

Our Palestine sisters and brothers in Christ,

Reaffirming as ONE VOICE

That we “continue to accompany and advocate on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine;

Advocate for protection of the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis 

Opposing all violence and actions

That deny any people their basic freedom


And human rights”

As someone reminded the gathered community of faith,

Jesus Christ

Was a Middle Eastern Rabbi

A refugee

With no documents.


And this Church,

Proclaimed that they

Would stand as allies,

For People of African Descent

Because, yes,

Our lives do matter.

Acknowledging for “complicity in systemic racism, chattel slavery and it’s hand in not speaking out

And against the abuses of our civil rights

For so long.”

Social media binds friendship,

And as my new sister in Christ,

Pastor Tuhina stated,

“There needs to be an intertwined system of accountability  to *ensure* a real and diverse church.” What truly spoke volumes,

Is when our Presiding Bishop

Elizabeth Eaton

Stated in her report

The conversation around racial justice needs to happen

And if people had questions,

Or concerns,

To bring them to her,

Because she is the one,

Who is dedicated to this conversation of community,

Of unity

An ally to many in this Church,

Who were forced to be silent

And assimilate


And yet,

There was dissention,

Even in the gathered community of faith

A disagreement on how we would collectively speak boldly

To the world

And I am sure,

When confusion surfaces,

Not surprinsgly we turn to our sacred text,

For comfort

Or for answers

But what comfort is found here,

In our Gospel today?

Jesus proclaims

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!


Johnny Cash’s lament,

God’s Going to Cut you Down,

Seemingly is embedded in this Gospel.

Surprised your Pastor likes The Man in Black?

(pause for laughter)

I have been drawn to his later work,

Because in his music His deep faith was plain,


Johnny Cash sang of his imperfectness

His sinful nature,

Warning the listener,

Other people of faith,

That Jesus,

Was about being bold

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?

 No, I tell you, but rather division!


It’s uncomfortable to hear Jesus


As if His plan is to cut us down

But I don’t think Jesus Christ is speaking

Of harming us,


I think Jesus is speaking to the darkness

Which is always lurking

Attempting to mask itself over our features

Jesus wants to destroy what keeps us

From a relationship with the Creator God

And so,

Sometimes it means

We have to walk through the fire

In order

For God’s Work,

For our purpose in this life,

To be accomplished



In our Hebrews text

We see the trials of fire,

The acts of faith

The examples of people being BOLD

Because of their faith,

The walls of Jerico crumbled

A people found freedom beyond the boundaries

Of the Red Sea

Because of their faith,

They withstood a raging fire And cheated the certainty of death, From the jaws of a lion. But sometimes their boldness

Came at a cost.

They did not have that standard, happy ending!

For many of the faithful,

They were exiled


Whipped Tortured

And for some, death was an end, All because they were BOLD.

Is this what holds us back, beloved?

We are afraid of being BOLD

We are afraid of the pain and the hurt,

Standing Boldly sometimes brings?


Johnny Cash’s lamented this

In a song filled with agony

It spoke to where we all find ourselves

When we have been bold

And followed Jesus,

When we have not been afraid to speak out,


The body of Christ is agitated

And therefore there is division

And then there is that hurt

We wrestle

To do what is right,

But sometimes

Our spirits slink back Into that darkness,

And then we cry out,

Jesus I cannot do this, What you ask of me.

Sounds familiar?


But see,

There ain’t no grave,

That can hold our bodies down

There ain’t no grave

That could hold Jesus Christ down,


That can separate US




Was Bold too,


That shattered the sins of the law

And brought us into the light,

And because of what HE DID


There ain’t NOTHING

That can keep us from the Love of the Creator God!


So because of the Good News of Jesus Christ

This Gospel,

We can be Bold!

We must be BOLD!

Are we still in that grave,

With the silence?

The silence of not speaking our testimony?

The silence of not speaking LIFE for those,

Who are the outcasts in this world

Listen here,

Think as if you were hurting,

Feeling abandoned

Because the actions, and the Gospel that you were hearing,

Because how people reacted to YOUR presence walking through Church doors

That you were at the crossroads,

Walking away from Christianity

Because it was too PAINFUL

And suddenly,

There was a breakthrough,

The Sun rose,

And the graves open

And people came forth who were no longer afraid-


Because they heard Jesus Christ speaking to them



And suddenly,

You felt loved

In the body of Christ,

In the wider Church,

Because the people of God

No longer would be silent

Would no longer be apathetic


Because of God’s LOVE For US.

Thanks be to God.

A Conflicted Confession – by Crystal Solie, (M.Div. 2012)

We Talk. We Listen.

Picture 002For the first few posts of August, “We Talk. We Listen.” will be focusing on white privilege and the thoughts and struggles that our authors have had with it. Our first post, by LSTC alumus Crystal Solie (2012), focuses on her personal revelations – some not so pleasant – in the wake of the massacre at Pulse Nightclub; and how reflecting on the hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus”(ELW #346) lead her to a painfully healing understanding of how she, as a white, cisgender gay woman, could respond to the tragedy. Read, comment, and share.

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of the LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor – “We Talk. We Listen.”


Conflict has been a friend of mine for some time now.

Feelings of attraction to women conflicting with what the world tells me is normal. Tense relationships within my family nearly severed by…

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Critical Lutheran Spirituality and the Bodies of Privilege – Prof. Robert Saler

Wise and thoughtful words from a good friend, Dr. Robert Saler

We Talk. We Listen.

Picture 002As we enter the last month of summer before classes resume at my school, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, we begin this month with a reflection on a reflection. In the wake of the shootings of Alton Sterling,Philando Castile, and attacks upon police in Dallasand Baton Rouge,my seminary’s President – the Rev. Dr. James Nieman – asked how a white institution such as our school could effectively address white privilege and racism. Rob Saler, Lutheran Heritage Researcher for the Christian Theological Seminaryin Indianapolis, then expounds on this letter – warning that if we don’t make our faith practice more embodied and visceral, we are at risk of continuing to play into systems of oppression and violence against black and brown bodies. Read, comment, and share!

Rev. Dr. Linda E. Thomas – Professor of Theology and Anthropology, Chair of the LSTC’s Diversity Committee, Editor –

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You Can’t Take It With You


Grace and Peace to you,

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ

All that we could ever treasure

Seek to obtain



At the Table

Standing out from the Cross

Because of the One,

Who gave up what was most precious to Him

His Life,

Jesus Christ, Our Risen Savior and Lord



(Start out by asking the question again about what is the congregation’s most treasured possession, something that they display on their person or in their homes. Share that what I always have treasured is when I receive a gift from and especially from an Elder and give examples like the sweaters that I got for birthdays and Christmas from my Grandmother, to even the Barbie House I got for my 8th birthday, and my Uncle came over to put it together. More recently, the women who have become my Mother’s rock, lovingly referred to as the Steel Magnolias, have not only encouraged me but gifted me as my seminary, and now my pastoral journey has commenced.  Hold up the shawl, scarf that Jerry Brown obtained for me and tell the story about how she acquired it, and it was unique and interested. However, one Thursday afternoon as my husband was in my office, he held it up and noticed these two verses (read one), which sort of threw me into a quandary because clearly this could point to the argument for prosperity gospel. But what kind of wealth is being spoken of here?)

And then I read the previous verse,

“Do not say to yourself,

My power and the might of my own hand

Have gotten me this wealth.”

I think we as people of faith,

In this pursuit of holiness and righteousness

Meshed in with this complex existence in this life,

This individualized society,

Built on this concept of prosperity

This theology of glory,

Which just like the weeds,

Invasive species in many of our gardens,

And have taken over,

Wound tightly over our bushes,

And flowers

Like a vine,

Has invaded our collective journey here,

And attempts to choke the life out of the Good News,

The Gospel of Jesus Christ


It’s no secret,

That I loathe prosperity gospel

I will not ascribe to it

I do not agree to it

I will not preach it.

Theologian Dr. Justo Gonzalez,

Identifies this prosperity gospel,

As preached by many ministers and preachers,

As a way to manipulate God.

“The purpose of Biblical religion

Is not to have God do what we desire,

But for us rather,

To be accountable to God.”

Womanist theologian.

Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas

Defines this as Plationized Christianity,

A Christianity twisting God,

God’s promises

The Gospel,

Into the image of humankind

And therefore calling that which is evil,


And what is good,



Luther defines this as a theology of glory,

Where selfishness is rewarded

Individualism celebrated

Excusing the sins of greed

As a necessary evil,

To exist in this life

Ignoring Jesus’s command,

His teachings

“One’s life does not consist

In the abundance of possessions”

Or even still,

Ignoring Jesus altogether

His Sacrifice

On the Cross

I was horrified to see,

A quote from a megachurch pastor,

Who when the question posed to him

don’t you want a candidate

who embodies the teaching of Jesus

 and would govern this country

according to the principles

 found in the Sermon on the Mount?’”

His answer?

“I would run from that candidate as far as possible,

because the Sermon on the Mount

was not given as a governing principle for this nation.”


This idea that Jesus Christ,

His Life

His Ministry

His Teachings

Somehow ceased to exist

Upon Christ’s resurrection

And because of that,

We have this “saint” status

And therefore God is relying on us

To rely on ourselves,

Our own strength


And Power

Because the only way we will get that expensive house

In the right neighborhood

Or that luxury car with all the bells and whistles

Is if we pray a certain way,

IF we pray hard enough,

Our bank accounts, our coffiers will increase

Or go to a certain church

And ascribe to certain rules,

And formulas.

And when God sees us doing right,

God will grant us our every wish!

So then we should not be so surprised

That many of these megachurches

Who preach this theology of glory,

This prosperity gospel

From the pulpit

That God wants them to be prosperous


Are brimming to the top with members.


Maybe this farmer,

Found that this same formula worked for him

In our Gospel this morning.

But we could argue,

What should be his next directive?

Clearly he has an abundance of crops

Clearly in these ancient times,

Having success with crops or livestock

Should be celebrated!

And any good farmer

Would have done what we all would have,


Building storehouses so that these crops,

His harvest would not spoil

Or go to waste.

But notice

Where the focus is.

I won’t have to starve!

I’ll be okay!

Famine and hunger will come,

And I will be set!

Wow, I’ve done good for myself!

I cannot wait to celebrate.

I’ll sit in my house and look at what I have built and say,

Self, look at this good thing you have done!”



Or what about even,

The person,

Who has a secure job,

With solid income

Who leans on their own self,

And pats themselves on the back,

Because they have invested wisely

And can sit back and nod at the computer screen

Which shows all of their bank accounts

And investments

And can brag to themselves,


Look at all that wealth you have obtained!

You are doing good!

You will be alright while everyone else is suffering

You will be on top!

And then,

They balk

They are angered

When perhaps their children

Coming to them out of love,

Pursuing their own dreams,

Asking for a miniscule share of resources

Maybe perhaps to get a car,

So they can get to that dream job they were offered

Or caring for their mother,

Who needs palliative care

Whose house is crumbling

And they shut the door in their faces

“Why should I help anyone?

What return on my investment will I get?”


What if,

Jesus had been that selfish?

For all the power and might the Creator God gave to Him

Shared with Him

What if He decided,

That we were not worthy enough

That our sins were too great

That we could never repay the cost He would have to pay?


But the Good News is that

Jesus Christ

Gave up His Life,

Upon the Cross,

And because of this Sacrifice

The Cross stands,

As the reaffirmation

As compassion


And we are made NEW



And More Good News!

Neither the Creator nor Jesus demands any repayment!

Because there is nothing we can do,


God does this out of a Love we may never understand,

This is the richness

The Fullness

The reward that keeps on giving!

And because there is nothing we can do,

Nor any way we can repay

The Creator God calls us,

Jesus Christ commands of us

To do for others,

As God does for us,

Without end!


So that is why we,

As People of Faith,


Share the Resources with others

Whether we know them

Or not.

Thanks Be to God.