These times are frustrating, right? We are in the third year of a pandemic that changes on us as we continue to defend ourselves with vaccinations and masks and distancing, etc. We have a country riven by such deep division that sometimes it seems hopeless that we could ever reconcile. Inflation is still high (just go to any gas station). The church is considered antiquated at best or immoral at worst by many. And on and on.
When contemporary life becomes too hard to handle, when I become frustrated or angry or just plain sad I realize that I need to stop and think – to meditate – to remember – that I am aligned with a God who is none of the above. She is a God of calm and peace. He is the embodiment of healing and compassion. They are a God of abundance. And no matter what anyone thinks of her, he remains the same. They are immovable.
I don’t mean any of this in the Old Testament sense. God has given us a new testament and shown his face in a new way. God IS calm and peace and healing and compassion and abundance and immovable in their love. This is not pie-in-the-sky thinking. It is and always will be the ultimate reality. I see this at church with the community we have, I sense this in communion and I experience in the world from many good people – Christian or not. I need to acknowledge these truths more in my life during the times we live in. Wait, I think I need another meditation time. See you on Sunday to celebrate the one who loves ALL of us beyond measure or understanding.
The CGS Call Committee met this week to discuss our internal responses to the Top Gifts for Ministry from the Ministry Site Profile form. This section of the form focuses on choosing five Top Priority and five Very Important gifts we would like to see in a pastor. Since we can't have everything, it has been great to have your feedback on the qualities that you consider to be the most important for our congregation's next pastor.
This site profile helps the synod match call candidates with our congregation and gives the candidates a picture of what the CGS community is like. When we have it completed and submitted, the synod will get to work supplying a slate of candidates for consideration. We hope to get a survey out to the congregation soon to help with feedback on the most important and difficult parts of the site profile.
In the meantime, please do reach out to Sarah, Adolfo, Julia, Matt, Paul, Randy (chair) with any comments, questions, or qualities you would like to see in a future pastor.
Staycation last day - a week of processing all the changes of the last months and a wondering what my canticle of turning will be? A new song? I love the tradition of the rosca (cake) with the hidden toy baby on Epiphany. The one who finds the baby holds it until Candlemas in February then makes tamales for the village. Celebration does not seem to disrespect grief. This week listening to the stories of leaders held inside the Capitol a year ago, watching fires then deep snow in Colorado, and feeling the rush of people flying to see loved ones they need to see yet still falling ill in the midst of a pandemic and watching the world stop and go and stop again, I hold on. I will hold these deep new combinations of raw emotion tenderly like the hidden baby and practice hospitality by digging deeper for the music that is the new song, because the world has turned.
Call Committee Update.
The Call Committee (Randy Presuhn, Chair, Paul Thomas, Sarah Janigian, Matt Byom, Adolfo Ramirez, and Julia Tranchina) has resumed its work after a brief holiday hiatus, returning to the questions from the Ministry Site profile designed to help us summarize the current life of our congregation to prospective candidates; and the Committee is also working on possible questions we will use in the upcoming congregational survey.
In the meantime, we continued to be pleased by how many of you have come forward to members of the Call Committee with your thoughts about what you hope to see in our next pastor. We have received your input in writing and in person, and we have found your thoughts to be helpful and insightful.
Nevertheless, the important thing is that the Call Committee continues to want your ideas, and we hope you will let us know what you think is important. You can not only tell us what you want and feel is important to have in our next pastor, but you may also tell us what you don’t want or don’t like.
Please continue to keep the Call Committee and its work in your prayers.
Happy New Year CGS!
New Years is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I usually spend part of the day meditating on all the events that happened in the year. The personal ones whether good or bad that shaped and led to be able to celebrate another passing of calendar year. Then I shift my focus to the possibility that the next year could bring my way. Hope. That’s why it’s a day I look forward to. The hope that there is a clean slate in front on me that could lead to anything that I’ve ever dreamed. This year I hope for more memories that I can create with my friends and family. And I wish and hope the same for all of you. Blessings.
Although your call committee is taking a break from meeting this week,
we'd like to thank all the members of this community who have taken
the time to talk to us about what they'd like to see in our next
pastor. Don't be surprised if someone from the call committee gets
in touch with you to try to figure out exactly what you meant -
sometimes the pithy phrases used to sum up someone's viewpoint
are terribly ambiguous, even in context. And if you haven't talked
to us yet, or have more thoughts on the subject, please don't
hesitate to get in touch with us, either individually (Adolfo Ramirez,
Julia Tranchina, Matt Byom, Paul Thomas, Randy Presuhn or Sarah
Janagian) or in an email to the whole committee at
Christmas Season Traditions
This Christmas season is a time of both honoring old traditions and introducing new ones. At CGS this year, I enjoyed the beautiful results of our Greening of the Church tradition. And I started a new personal tradition of watching the German-language Christmas Eve service on YouTube. And I saw other traditions taking a "sabbatical" this year, like the appearance of Santa Lucia at an Advent worship service.
Christmas gives me an opportunity to reflect on two questions: what traditions have outlived their usefulness, and what new ones would I like to start? One of my good, old traditions is reviewing the year in gratitude. For 2021, I am grateful that:
And this season is a time of hope. I am hopeful that the Council will continue to navigate the changing currents of pandemics and economics that affect our congregation in 2022.
May you all enjoy your traditions filled with gratitude and hope.
- Gregg Zigler, Council member
I am a terrible gift-receiver.
Starting in October, multiple times, Rebecca asks me what I want for Christmas. I alternate between “I don’t know” and some treacly sentiment like “the love of my family is present enough.” And while that is true, she wants to get me something that can be wrapped up. A symbol, a token, a gift – something to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our love for each other, the closing of the year. And in spite of my inability to provide any inspiration, she always gets me something lovely and practical and meaningful.
Am I afraid to admit that I want things? Am I concerned about appearing greedy or selfish? Am I worried about money? Do I feel guilt because I am also a terrible gift-buyer, and welcome any and all blatant hints about what to get for my loved ones?
The Bible says a lot about giving in a charitable sense, but not much about giving or receiving presents. But as I went searching, I was reminded that Jesus himself was a present, given to me and to us all. A gift from God. My ability to receive that gift with humility and gratitude should be reflected in how I receive gifts from others, for those gifts are given with love, just as God gave us Jesus with love. Each gift, no matter how big or small, practical or frivolous – each gift is a symbol of the greatest gift of all.
I hope that each of you are able to give and receive gifts with love, joy, and the reminder of Jesus’ miraculous birth – and that you are able to share that love and joy with friends, families, and communities near and far.
Your Call Committee is taking a break from it's weekly meeting rhythm
until January. But we won't be idle over the holidays! We're building
up the list of poll questions for the congregation to clarify how we
should respond to a few items where the committee does not yet have a
clear understanding of the congregation's preferences.
To avoid pestering you with more questions than necessary, we're doing
two more committee-internal polls to cover some more items on the
Ministry Site Profile. These are entitled "Top Five Ministry Tasks" and
"Gifts for Ministry", adding up to 65 questions, many of them
overlapping. If the committee members are in general agreement about
these, we'll be able to avoid asking you about all 65, and hopefully may
even be able to cover both these sections entirely.
If you have any questions about your call committee's work, or thoughts
about the qualities you would like to see in our next pastor, please
talk to any of us: Adolfo Ramirez, Julia Tranchina, Matt Byom, Paul
Thomas, Randy Presuhn (chair) or Sarah Janigian.
I woke up early this morning and this memory popped up. It is a hot Sacramento foothill June morning. I am a teenager and have slept well into a Saturday morning after a night of babysitting that didn’t end until well after 2:00 am. Our mum has been busy all morning doing the weekly wash. Outside my open bedroom window, I hear the gurgle of gray water plopping out an open pipe into the garden. This pipe was probably a code violation even back then, yet it watered the flower bed beneath the bedroom window for well over a decade until the plumbing was replaced. This garden had camellia bushes, roses and at the front, two large hydrangeas. The camellias and roses bloomed the same color annually yet the hydrangeas had a party every time mum changed laundry detergents. The residue of the detergent in the gray water affected the Ph balance of the soil around the plants and depending on the nature of the detergent, the flowers varied from pale pink to deep blue violet. I have been reflecting on this memory all morning and it makes me think of my own baptism. It is in my relationship to Christ that I engage in the world, yet in the course of my own life, I have been transplanted to many places and the quality of the environment of each place has shaped the colors and tones of my own blooming. I am very much enjoying being the Bridge pastor at Christ the Good Shepherd. I like living into the depth of each day. I also am discerning, just as you are, what my next “call” will be. Inside my imagination there is a call committee that watches over me as I reflect on the places I have journeyed, the gifts God has given me and the dreams I still enjoy. How can I use my gifts? How am I different from who I was five years ago? What is realistic yet risky to try even as I am aware of my aging process? How is the Spirit moving through me as I serve here? These are some of my discernment questions. As you seek a new pastor I pray for your discernment, in the same manner I ask you to pray for mine.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.