What’s a Playlist?
A Playlist is a set of activities exploring a topic. The activities might include reading an article or scripture, listening to a podcast or sermon, watching a video or movie clip. Each month we’ll post three Playlists designed for Children, Youth, and Adults. All of us will explore the same topic, but the Playlists will be designed for each age group. You can work your way through the Playlists at your own pace throughout the month.
Remember you can always share your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
Denise McClellan, Director of Adult Ministries
The theme of our October Playlist is Amazing Grace. Grace is God’s gift to us. A gift. Nothing done to earn it. Nothing done to deserve it. Nothing. A gift. A gift we’re asked to share with others. It’s as simple as that. That’s what makes it so Amazing!
Read the prayer below. It comes from God Pause, a daily devotion from Luther Seminary. You’ll find a link to the devotion below the prayer. Through that link you can sign up to receive God Pause in your email. Return to this prayer throughout the month. Let it be a guide for you as you work your way through the October Playlist.
Gracious God, source of all good, of all compassion, help us to reflect your love and forgiveness into this troubled time. Raise up leaders of strength and graciousness to guide us into the future you have planned for us. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Below you’ll find some thoughts from Pastor Andrea. As you explore grace through the October Playlist, think about how you’ve received the gift of grace and how you can share it with others.
From Pastor Andrea:
Our founding father of the Lutheran faith, Martin Luther, developed our theology around grace. Grace is the cornerstone and foundation of our faith. Everything flows from grace. Martin Luther discovered grace by reading the New Testament. We think of ourselves as “saved by grace through faith.” Grace at its most simple form is God’s unconditional love for us in Jesus Christ. Grace is undeserved, unmerited love and forgiveness. It is love for the sake of love. Martin Luther says:
“The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.”
“The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.”
“God is a glowing oven, full of love, and we, by our faith in Jesus Christ, are personally baked together as a cake with our Savior.”
That gives me an image of us glowing in his love (grace.)
Theologian Anne Lamott says, “I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” The cross is where Jesus meets us just as we are. God sent Jesus to show us his amazing love, to teach us how to love him, and how to see him in our restless lives. As Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” In Jesus…we see God’s heart of love.
We believe that God has come to us in Christ with grace, not that we earn God’s love. This grace then sets us free so we don’t live in fear but in freedom. We are freed by grace to share it with others. To share love, forgiveness, mercy. Freedom to serve and to love. I think of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet before the Last Supper of the bread and wine of forgiveness. And telling us to go make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The “means of grace” are our sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. They bring us forgiveness, new life, and salvation. Jesus’ grace is available to us through God’s word and through our Christian love for each other and the Holy Spirit. Grace frees us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To love as God first loved us and to serve those in need. And we have a fresh, new start each day with grace.
Martin Luther says we are Becoming: “Christian living does not mean to be good but to become good; Not to be well, but to get well; Not being but becoming; Not rest but training. We are not yet, but we shall be. It has not yet happened, but it is the way. Not everything shines and sparkles as yet, but everything is getting better.”
It is our goal to be like Christ in every way. It is a daily work that we do – washed in the water and marked by the cross, we are made new each day – living in a rhythm of confession and forgiveness, we resist the world’s selfish way, staying firm in the faith – planted and watered with prayer, scripture, mission, and love and community. We are each just one part of that body, doing our part to build up the body in love for God and neighbor. We are sustained by one faith, one Lord, one baptism. These gifts fill us with grace – enough grace for each new day. Embrace grace.
Pastor Andrea looks to the following verses as some key teachings about grace. Spend some time reading and meditating on these passages. As you work your way through the list, read the verses. Close your eyes and meditate on what words or ideas stand out to you. Read the verses again. Close your eyes and meditate on where God is guiding you.
1 John 3:14
John 1:14, 16
2 Corinthians 12:9
2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17
1 Peter 4:10
The article below is from Living Lutheran. It offers definitions of grace as a way for us to better understand it and live it.
We’ve seen videos from The Bible Project in our Worship Services at Desert Cross. The following video teaches us about God’s Grace. Click the link below to watch it.
Stories of grace can be seen in our world today. Some stories of grace make the news. Why do such stories of grace and forgiveness make the news? The people in the following stories are amazing to us. Their ability to forgive such profound loss is sometimes beyond our ability to understand. Click the link below to watch a story about the Amish school shooting that occurred in Pennsylvania in 2006 and the forgiveness that followed.
Click the link below to read about Emanuel, a documentary about the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina in 2015.
Grace and Justice
The topic of our September Playlist was Justice. This month we’re exploring Grace. Pastor Andrea talked about the following podcast in her September 26/27 message. It’s a story that combines justice and grace. Click the link below to hear Ray Hinton’s story of being wrongly convicted and his embrace of life today. If you missed it, click the second link to watch the September 26/27 Desert Cross Worship Service and hear Pastor Andrea’s message on how Ray Hinton’s story demonstrates amazing grace.
Experiencing Grace through Music
“Amazing Grace” is a well-known hymn. It’s often sung at worship services and at memorial services. We’re offering two versions for you today. One is a traditional version, and one is a contemporary version.
Experiencing Grace through Art
My husband’s favorite book is A River Runs through It. It’s also his favorite film. Throughout the story it’s clear that the family loves each other; yet, they struggle to understand each other. They struggle to forgive; yet, they know God’s grace. One scene sticks with me years after seeing the film. It reminds us that sometimes forgiving those closest to us and offering them grace is the hardest thing to do. Click the link below to watch.
Experiencing Grace through Apology
Offering an apology is learned. Maybe you learned it early in life. Maybe you learned it over time. Maybe you’re like me and still learning. The article below is an honest discussion of how difficult apologizing can be. It also explains how an apology and sharing the peace in worship are connected. Click the link below to read more.
After you read the article, consider taking action. Do you have someone in your life you should apologize to? Do you have someone in your life you’d like to thank for grace given to you?
Let experiencing grace be a blessing to you and to those around you.
Denise McClellan, Director of Adult Ministries
The theme for our September Playlist is Justice. The struggle for justice can take many roads. Advocating for the homeless. Reforming immigration policies. Working for funding for education. Assisting seniors. The focus of the September Adult Playlist is social justice. It’s been in the news this summer, so let’s take a deeper dive into it with our eyes of faith.
Read the prayer below. Return to it throughout the month. Let it be a guide for you as you work your way through the September Playlist.
Ever present God, you called us to be in relationship with one another and promised to dwell wherever two or three are gathered. In our community, we are many different people; we come from many different places, have many different cultures. Open our hearts that we may be bold in finding the riches of inclusion and the treasures of diversity among us. We pray in faith.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Below you’ll find some thoughts from Pastor Andrea. As you explore justice through the September Playlist, think about how you can live justly and demonstrate justice to others.
From Pastor Andrea:
I’m thinking about justice as “social justice” which we enact by living out our faith. So it is God’s justice of defending and loving the needy that by our faith enacted we make real in the world.
We do this by loving our neighbors as ourselves and caring about people around us, especially the needy, vulnerable, poor, and powerless. It is making sure all people are treated equally and righting inequalities in our world. It’s about making a difference where we can by living out our faith.
When we do this, we show the nature of God shown to us by Jesus which is love and peace. It’s about how we treat each other and how we live as people of faith sharing God’s love. It can be shown as honesty, equity, generosity in every day dealings, as well. To try to live as Jesus lived, reaching out to those different from us, including all people to love, serve, and care for as well as giving our time and resources and engaging against unfair practices in our society.
I think of Mr. Rogers as being a good neighbor and being loving.
Pastor Andrea looks to the following verses as some key teachings about justice. Spend some time reading and meditating on these passages. As you work your way through the list, read the verses. Close your eyes and meditate on what words or ideas stand out to you. Read the verses again. Close your eyes and meditate on where God is guiding you.
Isaiah 61:1-2 & Luke 4:16-21
We’ve seen videos from The Bible Project in our Worship Services at Desert Cross. The following video teaches us about Biblical justice. Click the link below to watch it.
Desert Cross is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. What does our church leadership say about justice? Click the link below to learn how we’re called to strive for justice and peace.
Does music help you experience God’s message in a special way? Click the link below to listen to a hymn with a message on justice.
Representative John Lewis died in July. He was a beautiful, peaceful, forgiving soul. His work for justice and voting rights in Congress and as a Civil Rights Leader helped change our society. Click the link below to watch his conversation with Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Bryan Stevenson’s work is featured in the film Just Mercy. Desert Cross hosted a discussion of the film via Zoom a couple of months ago. Part of the conversation includes how faith guides their work.
Selma is a movie that portrays the fight for voting rights. “Glory” is the theme song from the film written by Common and John Legend. Click the link below to watch the music video with clips from the film.
How are you being called to respond? How can you work for justice in our world? Nita Mosby Tyler is an Equity Advocate. In the following video, she talks about how the fight for justice needs unlikely allies. Click the link below to hear her story. Her message about a “consciousness of grace” is interesting.
The Grand Canyon Synod is hosting Open Conversations on Race via Zoom. The GCS website describes the conversations as “a safe and thoughtful space where you and others in the synod can wrestle with questions and talk with each other.” Upcoming dates are September 8, October 13, and November 10, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Click the link below and look for the sign up information by date on the News & Events Calendar page.
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona
Check out Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Arizona by clicking the link below to visit their website. Below you’ll find some information about the group from the website.
LAMA joins with the most vulnerable of our society to voice our common needs in the public square, activating our faith in love.
The purpose of LAMA is to advocate for justice in the areas of hunger, poverty, and care of God’s creation by speaking with and for those who have little or no political power. LAMA will work with congregations in Arizona — ELCA Lutherans and others — to create and use networks for advocacy on these issues.