From Interim Pastor Michael Meranda

Even though I retired May 1, 2022, I have already officiated at three funerals.  Local funeral homes often connect available clergy with a family who wants a religious service for a deceased loved one, yet they have no connections to a faith community.  I suspect I will be doing more of that as I advance into retirement.

The families are very appreciative.  Sometimes they are a little embarrassed they have no connection to a congregation or pastor.  But mostly they are just grateful knowing that the person who died would have wanted a pastor to “say something” for their funeral.  When they thank me, I tend to respond with something like, “You are welcome.  It is an honor to be with your family at this sacred time of life.”  That is true.  Death is sacred, not by its nature, but because of the special way God is present in our dying.  God brings to conclusion the life time that God gave.  God draws the person who has died more closer to God’s self and being.  Because the eternal hand of God is present in this temporal event, death is a sacred encounter.  Death itself is not sacred.  Death is separation.  But God is sacred.  The resurrection of Christ enables the dying event to be a “gate” that leads to life in the presence of God.  God in Christ conquered death.  God converts death into a mechanism; thru it, God calls us home.

When I officiate the funeral of someone I have not met, I rely on the family to help explain the significance of the person whose life is being remembered.  I’ll say the good legacies those persons left behind are gifts from God.  They formed and shaped and blessed the persons who knew them.  It is good to tell those stories because it clarifies the meaning of the person’s life.  Remembering their stories is an indirect way of giving thanks to God.  God gave those persons life and God gave them gifts.  When we recall the way the person exercised their gifts, we give thanks to God the Giver of those gifts.

So, yes, it is possible for pastors to officiate a funeral of a complete stranger.  I cannot pretend to have known the person whose funeral I am conducing.  But I do know, more importantly, I am known by God, to whom we pray at a funeral liturgy.  The person who has died may be a stranger to me, but they are no stranger to God.  God knows every quirk of their personality.  God knows their life story.  God gave them the gifts with which to conduct their lifetime.  God understands their role and place in this vast sea of humanity and time.

This calls to mind the gift and grace of the funeral liturgy in a context where the person is known and cherished.  The Lutheran Church has liturgy!  When our members die, we celebrate their very specific and particular life in the setting of a general liturgy.  Their life story is individual and unique; the liturgy is sweeping and universal. Their separate life story is celebrated in a context of worship that links their story to God’s story and to the story of the local congregation.  Celebrating a funeral in the place where one was known, using the liturgy of the church, is profoundly healing and life-giving.  Before I was ordained, I had no idea that some of the most meaningful encounters in my pastoral life would be at funeral liturgies in the church.

Congregational life is such an amazing gift.  You who are active at Living Lord Lutheran Church in Warren have known that for a long time.  Your particular congregation has been a gift since its founding in 1964.  The good funerals you have provided thru the years are one of the many avenues thru which God has blessed this lovely place to live here in Northeast Ohio.  God has many more blessings to extend thru your congregation.

 

Interim Pastor Meranda’s Office Hours…Interim Pastor Michael Meranda will be in the office on Wednesdays from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm.  If you need to reach him at times other than on Wednesdays, please call his home phone of 440-998-7321.

From the President, Robert McKinney

Party in the Courtyard…It’s back!  Party in the Courtyard!  We are inviting our friends from St. John and St. Paul to join us on Saturday, August 20, 4:30 to 8:00 pm.  We will provide the meat and grilling.  Please bring with you a side dish or dessert to round out the meal.  Please sign up on the bulletin board what you are bringing and how many are coming so we can plan accordingly.  Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

 

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

From the Call Committee Chairperson, Robert McKinney

We have good news to share with you!  As we reported to you, we have been working with St. John Lutheran Church of Champion to be our partner in a new parish.  I am happy to tell you that they have agreed to move forward with us in creating that parish.  We would be sharing a new pastor between the two churches.  We would each continue to have our own building, our own Council, and our own employees.  I would hope as time goes on we could work together in other areas also.  We will now have the Synod get involved to help and guide us through the rest of the journey.  We will continue to keep you involved during this process.  Please pray for our success.

From the Fellowship Committee Chairperson, Karen Bandy

ATTENTION—ATTENTION—This is your Fellowship Chairperson talking—LOL!  We will be having Fellowship the second Sunday in August, August 14.  This will accommodate the gathering on Saturday night the following week, and leave room for a last minute Fellowship on Sunday, August 20, if there are a lot of leftovers from the Saturday event.  Again, after church Fellowship will be on Sunday, August 14.  Heartfelt thanks to Joyce L’Amoureaux, Nancy Walters, and Donna Wright for the awesome muffins for July’s Fellowship.  It is wonderful to have such a group of great bakers.  Makes my job so easy.

From the In-Reach Committee Chairperson, Lorraine Bell

Please notify Lorraine Bell or the church office of any members who are hospitalized, ill, etc., so a card can be sent from the church.

 

Prayer Chain…Our prayer chain consists of seven members:  Camille Allen, Karen Bandy, Pam Boothe, Karin McKinney, Rose Zavatsky, and Lorraine Bell.  Please call one of the women with the name needing prayer and any concerns you feel are relevant.  Be sure to have the permission of that person.  That person will pass it on to the next one and it will go on to the next person, etc., so that we are all praying.

 

8:00 pm Daily Prayer…Based on member’s requests, the Council developed a prayer so that all of us can pray in unity at the daily 8:00 pm common prayer time.  Of course, you may add to this prayer or use one that you have created as well:  “Almighty God, we join in prayer, asking your direction for the ministry and mission of Living Lord Lutheran Church in our community.  We ask for the renewal and resurrection of our church.  Open our minds and hearts to the light of the Holy Spirit.  Fill our imaginations; control our wills, that we may be wholly Yours.  Use us as You will, always to Your glory and the welfare of Your people.  Through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

 

Prayers for Healing…We will have prayer time for healing after church on the first Sunday of each month (August 7).

 

From the Mission Endowment Fund Committee Chairperson, Michael Taiclet

We’re back!  Hi everyone!  I hope everyone is having a great summer!  I am pleased to announce that MEF is back.  Due to COVID-19 and the church being shut down, it has been two and a half years since our last meeting and three years since our last MEF Award Sunday.  I hope to once again bring back MEF Award Sunday and continue our mission.  I am pleased to welcome Bonnie Sanzenbacher as a MEF Committee member, and Pam Boothe as Secretary for the MEF.  I would like to take this time to thank them both for being willing to come on to help us keep this mission going.  I would also like to thank the Church Council for approving their appointments to the Committee and also for approving the extension of both my term as Chairperson and Lamar Shoemaker’s term as Financial Secretary, so we could stay on and get MEF back on track.  Currently, we are looking for names of any groups and/or charities that you would think might benefit from our MEF Award.  Please let me or any of the MEF Committee members know as soon as possible.  We will be having a meeting sometime soon to discuss future plans, discuss possible candidates, choose an award winner, and other normal business matters.  I hope to have the name of our award winner(s) by the next time I write you.  Also, if you still want to be part of the MEF Committee, there are still two seats available.  We would be glad to have you!  Please let myself or any other member know.  We meet just twice a year and get to give out money!  What can be more fun than that?  It has been a pleasure and honor to be a part of the MEF Committee and I look forward to serving you for two more years!

From the Outreach Committee Chairperson, Judy Shaffer

School Supply Collection…We will be collecting school supplies (notebooks, pencils, pencil cases, crayons, erasers, lined paper, rulers) beginning May 1 through August 31 – so you can hit those sales!  Items may be placed on the table in the Education Wing.

 

LSOV Summer Picnic Update…The Outreach Committee would like to thank everyone who assisted with the picnic at Liberty Shepherd of the Valley.  The residents had a great time.

 

From the Stewardship Committee Chairperson, Neal L’Amoureaux

2022 Stewardship Program – Where Your Heart Is – Heart to Heart:  Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.  Romans 12:13

The door is locked when you come.  You have to ring the bell, tell who you are, stand so they can see your face, and wait for the buzzer to sound before you can enter Ann’s house.  It’s more than a little foreboding.  Ann’s is a shelter for battered women.  Most of us hear about such things and shake our heads sympathetically.  The shelter will be full in a couple of hours.  The only empty room is just now being prepared for two women coming in later tonight.  The average stay is 16 days.  In that time, the women must try to think, shake off the fear, and make decisions for themselves and often their children.  Those who work with the women know how to ask the important questions.  Will you feel safe?  Who can you call for support?  What are your best options?  These are questions the women must answer for themselves.  They should not have to answer them alone.  We tour the facility.  The pantry is stocked mainly by donations.  Meals are prepared with help from the residents.  Rooms have been “adopted” by local service groups and churches who furnish them down to the sheets.  A retired carpenter sees to the upkeep of the building.  The garage acts as a warehouse for overflow items the families may need if they decide not to go back.  Dishes, diapers, dust pans.  Mostly donated.  There would be no shelter without the donations.  Dollars and resources, all freely given by people who give hospitality to others they will never know.  Just one example, one opportunity in a world of opportunities.  The heart knows where to go, and it has been freed to go there.  What are you waiting for?