Good Shepherd friend,
 
During this season of Advent, our worship theme drawn from the scripture readings is “Close to Home.” In different elements of worship from the opening Call to Worship, to songs, to prayers, to sermons, we’ll be reflecting on images and stories of home in scripture as well as the longing that we have for home as a place of belonging. Since its founding in 1947 and its location in Reno on the corner of Clay and California since 1952, Good Shepherd has been a place of home as well. The name “Good Shepherd” was appealing to those who initially gathered during the congregation’s infancy as an expression of the welcome they found as people from a variety of backgrounds, differing faith traditions, newly divorced, newly relocated and far from family, and some turned away by other congregations. The name “Good Shepherd” represented a place where the lost and separated could find a place where they were welcomed and drawn in, where they belonged to a loving Good Shepherd. 
 
I believe those experiences are still present in the spiritual DNA that forms the heart and the habits of the people of Good Shepherd. Like those early worshipers and members, we too share the responsibility to create a home or place of belonging which reflects the grace and love which we know from God. Here are some stories of home which I, as pastor,  have been privileged to observe and hear: 
 
A long-time member of Good Shepherd originally came to Good Shepherd following the death of her husband. At the time of his death, she did not have a church home, but the pastor who led the memorial service invited her to Good Shepherd, where he was to preach as a guest pastor. She was immediately drawn in and over the years, found ways to help welcome others—teaching Sunday School or Kids’ Community, caring for preschool children in the MOPS program, and now making gifts for children who have lost their home in a disaster. 
 
A first-time worship guest introduces herself. As the “Passing of the Peace” continues, I see this quiet young woman, perhaps in her 20s, warmly greeted by grandmothers who are worshiping near her. 
 
During COVID-restricted times, I see a young family come again and again to worship.  Though there are few others in their age range and family circumstance, they come back, week after week. What are their hopes and dreams, their longing for home, and what welcome will they discover among the saints of Good Shepherd? (I have more to tell you about this story at another time.)
 
On November 7, All Saints Sunday, we remembered the 11 saints of Good Shepherd who have died in the past 12 months and those whose cremains have been placed in the Good Shepherd columbarium. How will we care for those who grieve for those who have died and for others who face the challenges of diminished health or the demands of being a caregiver?
 
When we recently celebrated baptisms for three different children, we were asked, “People of God, do you promise to support the newly baptized and pray for them in their new life in Christ?” and we responded, “We promise to help nurture them in this community of faith in the same way we give thanks for those saints who have touched our lives.”
 
I am grateful to be a part of a congregation which from its founding to its present ministries seeks to provide a sense of home to others as a reflection of the grace of God. Just like we all share the responsibility to welcome newcomers to worship, we all share in the responsibility to offer our financial gifts that respond to God’s grace which we know in our baptism, see reflected in the life and ministry of Jesus, and experience as we receive Communion. Enclosed in this newsletter  is an Estimate of Giving card for you to indicate your financial support for Good Shepherd’s ongoing ministry together. During worship on Sunday, December 12, we’ll include a prayer of dedication in the service as we present these as a sign of our shared pledge.
 
Certainly, people have differing financial circumstances as well as different responses: 
 
If you’ve not made a financial gift to Good Shepherd in the past, we’d like to encourage you to join us in doing so this year. 
 
Some folks complete and fulfill an Estimate of Giving every year.  Thank you for your ongoing support of Good Shepherd. 
 
Some folks are regular givers but may not have completed an Estimate of Giving card in the past. Thank you for your regular support of Good Shepherd. Receiving estimates helps us in our planning process and may help you as you set a goal you intend to keep.
 
Should your circumstances change, you may be in touch with Marijo Rosevear, Good Shepherd’s Financial Secretary, or Deanna Gaunt, our Director of Finance, or me. 
 
You can complete your Estimate of Giving online here or you can complete a card during Sunday worship. We also make use of a variety of ways to give: checks/cash given in worship or mailed to the church office, online giving through our website, the GivePlus Mobile app, or setting up recurring giving through your bank are all options to express your thanks to God and your participation in God’s work in the world. If you have a particular need, prayer concern, or question, I welcome your contact by my email address at PrScott@goodshepherdreno.org or phone call to the church office at (775) 329-0696, ext. 102.
 
Thank you for sharing in the ministry of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.  
 
Pr. Scott Trevithick
 

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