Barriers, Hoops and Razor Wire

By Pastor Sara, in News

ST. DYSMAS SUNDAY is CELEBRATED on NOVEMBER  26, 2017.

The Community of St. Dysmas (CSD) is an ELCA congregation within the walls of the Maryland Correctional Institution.  It is supported by the efforts of churches and individuals of the Delaware-Maryland Synod and the Metro Washington DC Synod. Pastor Gerry of The Community of St. Dysmas shares these words:

“Barriers, Hoops and Razor Wire”

I have often thought as I enter on or our St. Dysmas sites to lead worship of all the hassles to get inside the facility.  First a long drive to reach the site, then a long drive to the facility itself, and the first of several gates. I am struck by the layer upon layer of razor wire surrounding the prison (Curtis Dawkins in his Book “The Graybar Hotel” says about razor wire; “Razor wire is like Slinkys for masochistic giants that sit atop every fence, doubled up on buildings and the ground.  It’s sometime called “concertina”.  I don’t know why…I have seen plastic bottles and empty coffee bags impaled permanently on the regularly spaced spikes that are meant to snag the clothing of anyone intent on slinking through.  The containers remain there empty-warning flags flying and flapping over the years.”).  After passing my worship material and myself through a x ray machine, there is the mandatory pat down including emptying pockets and showing the back of my socks.  Only then am I allowed to make the long walk to the designated space for worship.   The trek to bring God’s Word and the Sacrament to the men and women “onside” takes patience and resolve.
One of our volunteers, Pastor Gary Rhinesmith from All Saints in Bowie, puts the trek into perspective.  “We are told in Matthew 25 that when we visit the person in prison, we are visiting Jesus.  Considering all the obstacles and barriers that are put into our path, they sure make it hard to see Jesus.”

This in part is a way of expressing my gratitude to the volunteers of the Community of St. Dysmas for all the hoops that they must jump through to bring Jesus to the men and women who make up this unique congregation.  They go through a lot and sacrifice a great deal of personal time to minister “to the least of these.”

In addition, my colleague, Pastor Gary, makes am extremely relevant point.  While we are given a mandate by Jesus “to visit the least of these”, society and our culture can put up significant barriers.  While not all of you visit “the least of these in prison”, you do live with Jesus’ mandate in Matthew 25.  The question for all of us children of God is “what barriers, hoops and razor wire” must you overcome in your ministry to the least of them?

In the Name of Jesus!

Pastor Gerry of The Community of St. Dysmas
PS.  Many of the barriers which we overcome is for the sake of security.

Recommended Reading

*+ “The Graybar Hotel” a collection of short stories by Michigan inmate Curtis Dawkins
+ “Enchanted” a novel where evil and magic collide by Rene Denfeld
+ “America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America” by Jim Wallis – The title says it all!

Pastor Gerry Rickel is the called Pastor of CSD, since September 2011.  Pastor Gerry partners with other clergy and rostered leaders to preside at worship services and lead Bible studies at the various sites.

I was in prison, and you came to visit me.  Matthew 25:36b

The Community of St. Dysmas
905 Frederick Road + Catonsville, MD 21228 

Phone 443-326-1115  + www.stdysmasmd.org + pastor@communitystdysmas.com

What’s Next?

By Pastor Sara, in News

Every month, the national ELCA Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, writes a column for the magazine Living Lutheran. This month’s was particularly wonderful titled October 32 and Beyond. You can read the whole article here: https:// www.livinglutheran.org/2017/09/oct- 32-beyond/. I appreciate her focus on what’s next.

We have been celebrating all year the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that culminates this weekend. But what happens on “October 32”? What happens for the next 500 years? I pray that we will focus on the things most important to Luther: reforming (always making better) the church, reading the Bible in a language understandable to us, households being the primary place for teaching about God, focusing on grace and most important to Luther, but less talked about, freedom.

Freedom of the Christian, by Luther, is a short but vital work to understand truly what it means to be Lutheran. We have freedom FROM sin (by God’s love for us through Jesus) and freedom FOR loving and serving. Happy Reformation! I’m looking forward to the next 500 years freed to love and serve.

God’s Peace,

Pastor Sara

P.S. Who needs to experience the power of this freedom in their own lives? Who will you invite to join you for worship this week?

LEAD Team Update

By Pastor Sara, in News

The LEAD Team made a brief presentation to the congregation on Sunday October 1st. Here is a summary of the powerful presentation as well as information on the next steps of the process.

The LEAD process has involved three great listenings: listening to God, listening to the congregation, and listening to the neighbor.

Last February, you may recall that the LEAD Team surveyed you as a congregation. We heard two common themes in our questions:

What is the brokenness in our neighborhood, community and world that God has given you a passion to help address?

The single highest response, about 20%, was ‘Drug Use’

How has God positioned Joy Reigns to serve its neighbors?

About two thirds of the congregation responded, ‘Thrift Shop.

This summer, with some training, the LEAD team then began listening to the neighborhood, with over 15 one hour listening sessions completed with schools, hospitals, community leaders, and businesses. We asked the same question about the brokenness, and their responses were:

  • 85% of the interviewees identified ‘drug use’ as one of the concerns for the community
  • Interestingly, although not asked nor tracked, at least 20% of our interviewees identified JRLC as the ‘church with the trailers’ or the church with the ‘Thrift Shop’

Why we heard it

  • More than 100 Americans die every day from drug overdose
    • For perspective, that’s about 16 plane crashes per month (assuming 185 people on a Boeing 737 flight)
  • Maryland had a little more than 2000 people die from drug overdose in 2016
    • That’s almost one plane crash per month in our state
  • As of 1 September, 94 people in Anne Arundel County have died from drug overdose
  • Many families in our church have been touched by this crisis directly

The LEAD Team has heard many powerful and real stories:

Counselors at Central Middle School

Without hesitation, they all agreed the greatest problem is children coming to school struggling because their families are battling/struggling with addiction. They were quick to point out that they are not therapeutic counselors, they are educational counselors. They refer families to outside, community services. But can’t guarantee that they follow through or are getting the help that they need. This truth became clear to Jenny last week when a coworker, an Edgewater resident, shared a story about her neighbor, a woman, her boyfriend and 2 children. The women and her boyfriend are both addicted to opioids/heroin. Last Friday the boyfriend overdosed at their house and was not able to be revived. He died at the home with the 2 children present, a first grader and sixth grader. Those children will need support and love.

Librarian

These stories are more than the “right answer” because people are reading the newspaper. The Opioid Epidemic is the brokenness that is touching many places in unique ways. The librarian told us that she can “see it in their eyes” when a drug user comes into the library, maybe for a safe place to be out of the elements or because they are asking for help. She also encounters many families and friends who come looking for resources in the library and the community on addiction and recovery.

ER Nurse at AAMC:

In general, the ER sees an average of 200 patients per day. They’ve seen an uptick in overdoses, particularly fentanyl overdoses, that’s what killed Michael Jackson. Because of this increase, AAMC has begun an outreach program for overdose victims. There is a staff person in the ER to help with their issues that led to the overdose. AAMC is now prescribing Narcan (medication that reverses the dangerous respiratory effects of opioids) to overdose victims. She sees that this crisis is affecting ALL people, ALL income levels, ALL backgrounds and ALL races.

What’s next for LEAD?

The LEAD Team has determined the need to go deeper into our neighborhood listening. We have done wonderful general listenings and will now be doing approximately 10 more listenings specifically with those who have expertise in the Opioid Epidemic including prevention, active addiction and recovery. The LEAD Team is listening with open ears, but also listening for ways that the Thrift Shop (how we are known in the community) and solutions to the opioid epidemic (greatest brokenness) might work together to bring about renewal, abundant life and community healing.

After these listenings, we will them move into the final three steps of the implementation phase.

What is needed from the congregation?

First, your prayers as the LEAD team continues this work. We are prayerfully expecting to find a nexus of our gifts and the community’s need in these next specific listening.

Second, names and contact information for individuals and organizations that you might think the LEAD team should be in contact with. Please provide those names by our next meeting on Monday October 9th.

Third, and finally, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the LEAD team with your comments or questions:

Melissa Fullerton, chair

Jenny Corkill

Frank Downs

Dave Emminizer

Todd Liller

Pastor Sara Yotter

 

Opioid Community Presentation at Joy Reigns Tuesday August 1st 

By Pastor Sara, in News
Opioids are narcotic medications that relieve pain. They can also be addictive.  Heroin is an opioid.  The dangers in your medicine cabinet can cause harm to you or others.  Come to this important presentation on Tuesday August 1st from 6:30-8 pm to learn about community trends and Naloxone/Narcan (opiate antidote).  Please invite others who have been effected by this epidemic to this presentation.  To learn more go to www.PreventSubstanceAbuse.org or www.DENIALisDEADLY.org.

Register for Vacation Bible School AUG. 14 – 18, 2017 — MAKER FUN FACTORY

By Pastor Sara, in News

Welcome to VBS! Register now by clicking on one of these two orange links for Half Day or Full Day:

Join us for an Amazing week at Maker Fun Factory VBS where we’ll learn how we were all Created by God and Built for a Purpose!  VBS will run from Monday, Aug 14th through Friday, Aug 18th.
Once again we will offer both a half day (9:00–noon) and full day (9:00am–4pm) option. Sign up to participate or volunteer today!  It’s easy – just click a link to register:
Don’t remember VBS being this late last year? You’re right! We are flexing our schedule due to the change in the Governor’s required start date for schools in an attempt to meet the need for quality and fun child opportunities at the end of the summer.

Medical Cannabis Info Session at Joy Reigns Tues. June 6 at 7 p.m.

By Pastor Sara, in News

Dear Friends and Members of Joy Reigns-

You may or may not know (I did not know until late last week) that a medical marijuana dispensary has requested a special permit for the old Susquehanna Bank building across from Giant, just around the corner from church.

I have to admit that I was not well informed (and am still learning) about this issue and thought it was important to learn more and have an educated opinion.

After several calls with Anne Arundel County Council member Jerry Walker, I mentioned that there does not seem to be a neutral location to have community conversations such as this.  A place where everyone is welcome and all are heard.  A safe place for respectful questions. At the end of the conversation, I offered Joy Reigns as a place for the community to learn more.

There will be several individuals speaking whose names are included on the attached flyer and a time for questions.

I invite you to come and learn more.  The meeting will begin at 7 pm with Jerry Walker as moderator.

Please do me a favor and RSVP so we can plan for set up.

See you Tuesday at 7 pm.

God’s Peace,
Pastor Sara

Click the link below for more information:

Flyer With Details

Summer Youth Events – Join in the Fun!

By Pastor Sara, in News

It’s that time of year again when our summer youth events get going in full force! Take a look below for the schedule of what’s already on the calendar! Youth accounts can be used for summer events and/or scholarships are available by speaking with Pastor Sara. The events are for everyone entering grades 6-12, and drivers are needed! Please contact Ali at apurvis53@gmail.com or 443-994-9799 if you can help!

EVENT DATE TIME LOCATION COST
Bowling Sunday, June 25 5 – 7:30 p.m. Annapolis Bowl $8
Hiking, Beach & Swimming Thursday, July 6 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Flag Ponds Nature Park/Cove Point Pool $10
Whitewater Rafting (Signup deadline 7/11) Tuesday, July 18 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center Youth $55, Adult $60
Service Day & Swimming Thursday August 10 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Truxton Park Youth $4, Adult $5
Roller Skating Tuesday, August 22 12:30 – 4 p.m. Skate Zone in Crofton $10
Sunday Youth Supper (High School only) Sunday, July 23 5 – 7 p.m. Meghan Connolly’s House (come at 3:30 to boat/kayak) FREE
Sunday Youth Supper (High School only) Sunday, August 27 5 – 7 p.m. Andy Purvis’s House FREE

 

Tuesday Lenten Offerings Helped Neighbors in Need

By Pastor Sara, in News

This year, our Lenten offerings were donated to the Local Serving Fund to support our neighbors in need. This fund is used to help with crisis emergencies for community members who need energy assistance, food and medical help.

The year 2017 marks the international observance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In honor of that anniversary, our midweek Lenten series was built around Luther’s Small Catechism. The Small Catechism was designed as a teaching tool of the faith, not just within the church but in the home. Luther intended for the home to be the place where faith was first shared and taught.

To that end, Luther created the Small Catechism: a simple explanation of the Ten Commandmanets, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Sacraments. He included basic prayers for morning and evening to worship God during each part of the day.

Our TUESDAY MIDWEEK WORSHIP began with a simple meal at 6 pm. followed by worship at 6:30 pm., with the following topics:

TUESDAY, MARCH 7th — The Ten Commandments
TUESDAY, MARCH 14th — The Creed
TUESDAY, MARCH 21st — The Lord’s Prayer
TUESDAY, MARCH 28th — Baptism
TUESDAY, APRIL 4th — Holy Communion

Many thanks to those who prepared meals and participated in this rewarding worship  opportunity.

Household Huddle Sunday School for All Ages After Worship

By Pastor Sara, in News

HH Creation Mural

Household Huddle is an opportunity for people, young and old, to gather together and go deeper into the Bible for the day. You might ask why should I come? Here are several reasons:

1. We need each other. The wisdom of the elder and the wonder of the child help each other learn about God together.

2. It helps you connect to others. This is a great opportunity to meet people and form friendships.

3. We are called to do it. As a community and as individuals, Jesus calls us to teach (and learn) about Him.
I hope you will join me for Household Huddle. We will gather in the front of the worship space each Sunday at 10:45, for approximately 30 minutes of cross+gen, multi-generational learning that continues the themes from worship. Each week we will go deeper into the weekly Bible Story with meaningful conversations and some fun too! You won’t want to miss it!HH sole hope CH MH

HH Soul Hope QM SC

3/14 Worship Cancelled and Home Video Worship Available

By Pastor Sara, in News

Due to the weather we are canceling Lent worship tonight.

Grab some dinner then all gather around to watch this video.

You may also want to print the portions of the small catechism and Luther’s Evening Prayer included in this blog post.

Small Catechism Lent Worship: The Creed

Home Worship Resource 3/14/17

Tonight, we study the Creed.   “The creed is a very different teaching than the Ten Commandments.  For the latter teach us what we ought to do, but the Creed tells us what God does for us and gives to us.”  – Martin Luther in the Large Catechism

The Creed  from the Small Catechism

The First Article: On Creation
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

What is this? or What does this mean?
I believe that God has created me together with all that exists. God has given me and still preserves my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties. In addition, God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property—along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life. God protects me against all danger and shields and preserves me from all evil. And all this is done out of pure, fatherly, and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all! For all of this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.

The Second Article: On Redemption
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead [or, “he descended into hell,” another translation of this text in widespread use]. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

What is this? or What does this mean?
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also a true human being, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally. This is most certainly true.

The Third Article: On Being Made Holy
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

What is this? or What does this mean?
I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.

 

Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen

 

Finally, would you please let us know when you use this resource. Send us a quick note here, email the office at officejrc@gmail.com or make a post on social media of your household #homeworship.

Thanks to Bob who spent many hours today helping Pastor Sara put this together and Jen Molina-Mabe who helped as well!