Can you recall a time when you were inspired by hearing the truth of the gospel? I mean really moved to the point of conviction. Several years ago, at an intern gathering, we were honored by a guest speaker named Zac. Zac has spent his entire life facing barriers and obstacles. Zac has cerebral palsy.
The day Zac addressed the interns, he delivered a stirring message. He began by reading the apostle Paul’s greeting to the church at Rome:
To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7 NRSV)
Zac pointed out that this encouraging letter was not to a select few, but for “all.” The meaning of beloved is quite simple and yet profound – a person that God dearly loves. Zac went on to explain that if the Father, Son, and Spirit have a passionate love for you, then be loved. Receive and accept that love. Walk in that love every moment of every day. Bask in that love and delight in the joy and confidence that God’s love imparts. The gospel was made plain that day.
Zac was more than a messenger of this good news; as they say in the business world, he is also a client. The overwhelming, life-changing love of the triune God transformed Zac. This same love can transform you and me as well.
Zac’s walk may be affected by a motor disability, but his walk with the Lord is with an ease of grace, a smile of joy, and a confidence that cannot be shaken. He is a wise and gifted proclaimer of the gospel. Spending time with a saint like Zac reinvigorates our belief in Jesus. We are assured anew that Jesus’ grace is real, and his peace is available to us.
I am keeping this letter short and simple because I want you, the reader, to linger for a few minutes. Focus on the truth that you are a person whom God dearly loves. What does this mean for the rest of your day? The rest of your life?
Devotional—Noticing, Attending, and Wondering
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. John 14:19 NIV
Realizing God is dwelling within and among us doesn’t happen automatically. If you are like me, I am too distracted. My mind rushes ahead to what is next or returns to the past, rarely remaining attentive to the now. Unless I am intentional and open to the present moment, I miss that “earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God,” as Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote.
Sometimes I begin my daily walks with a prayer that I may notice whatever God wants me to see. One day the flowers growing on weeds caught my attention. I picked one and noticed its beauty, the shades of its color and shape. I wondered in amazement at the Artist who would take such detailed care in a flower that remains largely ignored. Another day I was drawn to a green pinecone. I held the prickly cone gingerly. Walking with it in my hand, I thought about my own need for smoother edges. Once a neighbor caught up to me. As we walked together, she wept from the sorrow of her husband’s illness. These walks, she said, restore her from long nights and constant care. I listened, felt her pain, we prayed. I wondered at the beauty of sacrificial love and its exquisite expression in my friend.
No matter how ordinary any given moment is, God is present. Noticing, attending, and wondering opens us to the transcendent no matter how nuanced it appears. We will see God here sustaining, embracing us, and all the while holding the universe together.
Prayer: Jesus help me notice, attend, and wonder at your presence no matter how nuanced it appears. I want to celebrate that in you I live and move and have my being. Amen.
By Carmen Fleming
GCI-US Home Church, Orlando, FL, US
Easter Egg Hunt
GC South KC in Kansas City, MO, hosted our first annual Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, April 8. We were exceedingly pleased with the overall outcome. Between 25 and 35 children attended. Since our building is on a main street, we decided to hold our event on the front lawn, for more visibility to passersby.
Pastor Terry McDonald created a flyer that was posted on our neighborhood social media page. Also, because of our connections with the local elementary schools, our flyers were sent home to the students’ parents. We placed several signs in the yard and attached balloons to draw attention.
Members of the congregation filled 500 eggs with candy. We included notes inside telling them that Jesus loves them. Additionally, we provided 24 golden eggs that contained specialty items, such as tokens for ice cream or money. The eggs were hidden around the front of the building and yard.
We also provided lawn games along the pathways, which was a special highlight. The coke bottle ring toss was an obvious favorite. We played music, and we even had a spontaneous line dance among members, parents, and children. Everyone had a great time and we connected with many people.
We learned many things from this first event. We needed more eggs and plan to double the amount next year. We advertised that the event would be held for three hours but learned that two hours was probably enough because everything was winding down at that time. We decided that next year, we will not put all the eggs out at one time so they could be more evenly distributed.
It was an amazing event, and we’re grateful to all who shared their time.
By Barbara Leatherman, Love Avenue champion
South Kansas City, MO, US
On March 18-19, our town held the Celebrate Mooroolbark Festival. Numerous volunteers from the Grace Communion Mooroolbark church contributed countless volunteer hours in the days beforehand and during this annual autumn festival. The committee chair of the festival told one of our members, “Your church is a godsend.” She was most appreciative of our help.The town festival is held in parkland beside the town centre and attracts thousands of people over two days. The festival hosts market stalls, rides, free activities for the kids, on stage live entertainment, a car show, and a wool and handcrafts show. Grace Communion Mooroolbark is a major sponsor of the festival due to our Living Today magazine promoting the festival and its activities.
The same edition of the magazine also promoted the upcoming Easter church services – both our own, and other local churches. It’s a blessing that we can join Jesus in being a blessing to the local neighbourhood and work together with churches in the area.
By Matthew Gudze, pastor
Mooroolbark, Victoria, AU
We Are GCI—Jon Arnold
Prayer Guide—May 2023
“Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right, and noticing what happens when that practice succeeds and when it fails.” ― Barbara Brown Taylor
Click the image below to view the entire May Prayer Guide and join us in corporate prayer and communion. #WeAreGCI
Death of Ihor Kulbida
Ihor Kulbida served as the associate pastor of the GCI congregation in Rochester, NY for more than 18 years. Pastor Leonard Banks submitted the following to share with our Update readers.
Ihor Kulbida, 82, passed away on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Ihor was born in 1940 near Kiev, Ukraine. When he was a small child, his parents fled Ukraine due to World War II. They found refuge in a displaced persons camp in Germany. After several years, they were given residency in Brazil and built a life there for nine years, finally immigrating to the United States in 1958.
Ihor met his wife Marina four years later in 1962 in Brooklyn, NY. They were next door neighbors. They were married in 1964, and their son Chris was born in 1965. Their lovely daughter, Larissa, was born in 1969 and sadly passed away in 2021.
Ihor graduated from the City College of New York with an electrical engineering degree. He and his family moved to Rochester, and he worked as an engineer and manager at Xerox Corporation for 33 years. When he retired, he devoted his time as an associate pastor and treasurer for his church.
Ihor will be remembered as a caring husband by Marina, his wife of 58 years, and as a father, grandfather, and good friend to many.
The GCI Swag Store Is Now Open
GCI Gear is Here!
We are excited to announce that GCI clothing and accessories are now available as part of our Denominational Celebration! Represent our fellowship and reflect your personal style. Shop now, by clicking on the image below.
We chose the vendor for our on-demand store based on their high-quality and ethically sourced items, as well as their ability to ship internationally. However, please note that the shipping costs are per item. You can get detailed shipping information here.