Dear Friends in Christ,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Welcome to 2017: the Year of Grace. As we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the Northwestern Ohio Synod will celebrate the gift of God’s grace through worship, Bible study, book reading, and other faith practices.

A few years back, I was teaching an Adult New Members Class. As I covered some of the basic theological insights of Lutheranism, one of the students asked, “Pastor, if you were to pick 1 word to describe Lutherans, what would that 1 word be?” I didn’t hesitate. The word is “grace”.

In the New Testament Letter to the Ephesians the writer focuses on the power and the gift of God’s amazing grace. One of my “go to” Bible verses is Ephesians 2:8, and this will serve as our memory verse for 2017: the Year of Grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). This powerful Bible verse captures both God’s intent and God’s goodness.  I would encourage you to memorize this Bible verse, so when I see you, and you recite this verse to me, you will be blessed.

What follows is an 8 session Bible study on the Letter to the Ephesians. I want to encourage you to open your Bible, gather with a group of friends, get outside the 4 walls of the church, and learn what God has to teach you. But, be careful. Be very, very careful, because God’s Word has the power to transform people and communities from who we are into the people and communities that God longs for us to be.  The church in Ephesus experienced this transformation. “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). May we also experience the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to renew and transform our lives and communities. God’s Word has that power.

Let us pray: God of goodness and grace, as we begin the study of your Word may we be inspired by your love and transformed by your will to be the people you long for us to be. Hold us always in the promise of your grace. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Bishop Daniel G. Beaudoin
December 27, 2016
St. John, Apostle and Evangelist