St John Evangelical Lutheran Church

Grace Enough for Now
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“Pastor Lisa, someone called and asked me to bring bars to the funeral. What are ‘bars’?”


A few years ago, someone from the congregation who did not grow up in the Midwest called and asked me that question. She was glad to bring something, but what, exactly, are bars? She didn’t want to get it wrong. “Does that mean something like cookies?” she continued to wonder.


I’d never really thought about it. Growing up in North Dakota, I knew “bars” to be anything that could be cut into squares, (except for brownies, which seem to be known only as “brownies”). My mom and grandma always had bars sitting on the kitchen counter.


Someone from St. John has probably called you a time or two to ask you to bring bars for a funeral. (Maybe the person who called you asked for cookies or goodies, which is a lot clearer if you don’t speak Midwestern.) The bars (and cookies) you bring are arranged by the Service Committee on beautiful plates for funeral luncheons. The goodies you bring help care for a family that is grieving.


Isn’t that amazing? Even though you may not even know the person who died, you get to help care for that person’s family. The next time it’s your turn to bring bars, say some prayers for the family that is grieving as you bake them (or pay for them at the grocery store, because that’s allowed, too).


Caring for the grieving is something significant we are to do as people of faith. I recently read a book called Mudhouse Sabbath, written by Lauren Winner. She grew up an Orthodox Jew and later converted to Christianity. As an Episcopalian, she is steeped in ritual, but there are many Jewish practices she misses. From her, I learned about sitting shiva, a Yiddish word for seven. For seven days following the death of a close family member, those who grieve are to sit low to the ground in their home and receive visitors. Those who grieve are not to cook, or do any kind of work. They are to receive care, including the nourishment of food, from people around them. Shiva can teach us much. Imagine, as the one who is grieving, what it would mean to be completely cared for in those first seven days. Seven days of not moving on, or trying to be strong and positive. Instead, grief could be a space to be cared for by others, at least in those first several days.


“What are ‘bars’? she wondered.  The truth is, the bars you bring to a funeral are a kind of nourishment for those who grieve, giving them grace enough for now.


“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

                                                                                                                              Romans 12:15


 by Lisa Lewton, Senior Pastor

Handbell Choir rehearsal Thursday, Sep 29 @ 5:30 PM
WORSHIP Thursday, Sep 29 @ 7:00 PM
WORSHIP Sunday, Oct 2 @ 8:00 AM
"GOD'S WORK. OUR HANDS." Sunday, Oct 2 @ 9:30 AM

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St John Lutheran Church
146 6th AVE W
Dickinson, ND 58601

Phone: (701) 225-6747
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