Mercy, Grace, Redemption and Salvation
Teri Hasenour Gordon
Well, we are fully immersed in Lent by now. Last month, I wrote on the traditional three words of Lent – prayer, almsgiving, and sacrifice. While those are our themes for Lent recently, I heard four words to describe Lent – Mercy, Grace, Redemption and Salvation. Maybe Prayer, Almsgiving and Sacrifice are the work we as God’s people need to do to reap what God wants to give us – Mercy, Grace, Redemption and Salvation.
I am currently reading Genesis and Exodus. There are many examples of God’s mercy, grace, redemption, and salvation in these books of the Old Testament.
What has also struck me is the prevalence of the number 40 in the Bible, which is usually followed by God’s mercy. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights in the story of Noah, followed by the dove finding land and a rebirth of the earth. The Israelites ate the manna for 40 years in the wilderness on their way to the promised land. A land flowing with milk and honey. Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights and there he fasted and received the Ten Commandments.
In the New Testament, we find 40 days to be significant. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, tempted by the Devil, before beginning his public ministry. In Acts and Luke’s Gospel, we are told Jesus appeared to the apostles for 40 days after his resurrection, speaking about the kingdom of God, then He ascended to heaven. The next event is Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit.
All these examples of the 40 days and 40 nights end with God’s mercy, grace, redemption, and are part of our salvation story. After the flood, the earth is renewed. After the wanderings of 40 years, the Israelites enter the promised land. After Moses fast for 40 days and 40 nights, he is given the Commandments of the Lord. After Jesus is in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, the angels administer to him and he starts his public ministry. After the resurrection, Jesus appears to the apostles for 40 days culminating in His ascension into heaven to reign with God the Father and then sends the Holy Spirit to the faithful. Always after these periods of 40 we see mercy, grace, redemption, and salvation play out.
We are on our way this Lent. At the end of the 40 days and nights of Lent, we celebrate the passion and resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We get to experience this every year. Let us take the time to encounter God through prayer, almsgiving, and sacrifice this Lent, so we can experience God’s mercy, grace, redemption, and salvation at Easter and everyday.
We have all patiently been waiting for the day when we can go back to some normal activity amid this pandemic. The vaccine is becoming available to more and more people. I am happy to report that my age group is eligible, and I have had my first shot. Many of our members have had their shots and by summer, we might be able to feel normal again. During this pandemic, people have reached out to each other and maybe, we have all slowed down a little and reconnected with each other, friends, family, and strangers. Is not this God’s mercy and grace in action?
There are many activities planned as we go forward, both in person and virtual, so look at all the announcements in this newsletter and I hope to see some of you soon and all of you in the near future.
Thanks and Farewell
This is also my last President’s message as Lynne Warne will be installed as President in April. I want to thank all of you for your patience with me and your commitment to NCBWL during the last two years. It seems as if it was only yesterday that I was anticipating with some trepidation taking over as president of this fine organization from Debbie Lassiter. Debbie was an excellent leader, and I was not sure I would be able to adequately fill her shoes. But here I am two years later, getting ready to turn over the reins to Lynne Warne.
The last two years would not have been possible without the hard work of an excellent group of women that were your NCBWL Board. Lynne Warne as First Vice President (President-elect) planned the special events, fall outings, Christmas with the Sisters, and the 70th Anniversary Party (date TBD). The Anniversary celebration also consisted of much effort made by her team in researching the history of the organization and developing an impressive timeline of events. Lisa O’Neill-Sullivan, Second Vice-President, has had an especially trying time this year getting speakers. With us meeting virtually or not at all, she has come through with excellent speakers at a moment’s notice.
Sandra Szejner, Treasurer, has kept our finances with accuracy and precision. She has kept a watchful eye on all our expenditures, and in addition, has been arranging our dinners at Temple Hills Country Club. Patricia Vance, Recording Secretary, has taken our minutes many times remotely, which is a challenge. Barbara Esteves-Moore, Corresponding Secretary, has kept our website up to date, created and sent out our newsletters, and oversaw our publicity. She has helped to keep us informed and to keep our media current. Barbara was appointed to Father Ryan High School Board and in December Cora Newcomb took over.
The Committee Chairs have been hard at work. Kathleen Pohlid, with her legal skills, has reviewed our by-laws, cleaned up the language and proposed the adoption of a revised edition to be voted on in March. Lisa Link has kept us socially aware, by introducing us to various organizations that we could help each month with a nominal donation of an item at each of our in-person meetings. Lisa also, has posted our activities and upcoming events on Facebook along with being our “unofficial” official photographer. Deb Fay is our Hospitality Chair and was the Fundraiser Chair in 2020 (more on that later). You can thank Deb for those great birthday cards. Kim Hoover was our Membership Chair. She worked doubly hard in 2020, calling all those who had inadvertently forgotten to renew their memberships. Our membership numbers stayed consistent this year even though our activities were sporadic. Donna Adams was our Spiritual Life Chair. Donna organized quarterly communions with lunches afterward, when we were able to do such things, but she also organized our Spiritual Events such as the Virtual Advent Event. She also has organized a wonderful retreat for July 2021 – more to come later about that. Shelley Heile was our Business Network Chair. She postponed and rescheduled the Business Expo twice, and finally we were forced to cancel it altogether.
These women worked very hard the last two years and deserve a lot of thanks and admiration for the job they did. They have held our organization together along with all of you. I could not have asked for a better Leadership Team. THANKS AND KUDOS TO ALL OF YOU. We all appreciate your dedication to NCBWL.
No one would have predicted what an odd year 2020 would be. We just got started, then the pandemic hit, and our world was turned upside down. There were difficult decisions to make – do we meet or not, is it safe to hold events, can we take activities virtual and still be successful. Well, without all of you, this group might have folded and instead of looking to be 71 years old, we might have faced the organization being just a memory. I cannot express my appreciation to everyone for sticking with us this year. I think the term “unprecedented” has been overused, but that certainly is what it has been. But here we are, strong and looking towards the future.
This is in no part solely my doing. Everyone has come together and I am thankful to all of you. So, let's take a quick look back on the activities of the last two years. In 2019, we had the Business Expo and even though it was during Holy Week, the attendance was good and everyone who attended enjoyed getting together and visiting with all the vendors and attendees. We also increased our membership. May was the open house and it was such an honor to have you all at my home for an evening of fellowship, fun, and of course, wine. The 2019 fundraiser was headed up by Karen McCoy and Cindy Zwickel. What a great team they made! They formed a committee, who through their hard work brought us a successful fundraiser. We also went online with the auction. Many long hours of data input, photographing and categorizing items went into that fundraiser. It was at our traditional Richland Country Club venue with a style show, featuring our own members, brought to us by CABI. The year ended with a trip to the convents to visit with the religious sisters, always a delightful outing, and the Christmas party hosted by Karen McCoy at her beautiful home. In between, we had engaging speakers and delicious dinners. What a wonderful year!
Then 2020 rolled around and boy did things begin to change. January and February were normal, but then March hit and the pandemic was in full force. Our March meeting and the Business Expo were postponed. We thought maybe for a month or so, but that was not to be. There were no Members Open House, no Business Expo, no meeting until June. Then things got bad again and it seemed the prudent thing would be to end in-person meetings. Mary Myers had been planning the fundraiser, with some trepidation to determine if it would be in our usual format. She moved to Florida and Deb Fay took over. Deb realized that in-person gathering would not be possible and came up with a virtual model that worked fabulously. We raised enough money to give $7,000.00 to each of the three Catholic High Schools for scholarships. We met virtually in July and had an engaging and timely speaker amid the social conditions that existed. Paige Courtney Barnes spoke to us on Race, Religion and Reconciliation in America. The pandemic looked like it might be easing, and we meet again in October, both in person and virtually, but without a speaker. In November there was a Book’em event to help organize books. We had an Advent Virtual Spiritual Event, The Women of Advent by Margaret McPherson of Holy Family Catholic Church. There was no Christmas party. The CDC advised not to gather with anyone outside our immediate household, yet we were able to bring some Christmas to the Religious Sisters. Stamps were supplied to the Sisters of Mercy and we helped the Dominican Sisters purchase a special shower chair for the infirmary. January was another virtual meeting with our own Connie Allison as speaker. In February, our regular meeting date was Ash Wednesday and so we didn’t have a meeting. Here we are in March with an in-person and virtual meeting combination.
It has been a roller coaster, but I wouldn’t take anything for this experience. I am humbled by you all and you have my thanks for giving me this opportunity. This organization is strong because of all the women who work so hard to make it successful, elected officers, committee chairs, committee members and everyone else. I am grateful to be a part of it.
THANKS AND FAREWELL