“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
A good way to follow the advice above from Apostle Paul is to say breath prayers aloud or quietly to oneself throughout the day. In October 2019, I was reading the GIVE US THIS DAY devotional booklet to be ecumenical and I really enjoyed this simple breath prayer: “May the love of God, peace of Christ, and communion of the Holy Spirit be with us forever.” Another one borrowed from our Lutheran worship service is: “May we enter the fullness of your kin-dom in unity with Christ. In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.” One can also create your own breath prayers with inspiration from the Holy Bible and/or Christian songs. For example, I put together this concise prayer inspired by the Gospel of John 8:12, Genesis 28:15, and a Christian song called “Holy Spirit” by Francesca Battistelli: “Jesus is the Light of the world, God is with me wherever I go, and the Holy Spirit is welcome here.” Hopefully all of you can also connect to our Lord and Savior, Jesus of Nazareth, through some of these succinct yet insightful prayers.
Peace and blessings,
Lately, each Sunday we start our liturgy with the song "This is the feast of victory for our God". Whenever I hear those words, I think to myself, yes, this physical gathering of the congregation, right here, right now, this is the feast! We are choosing to sit together to honor God, surrounded by fellow human beings, instead of sitting at home alone working on yet another online crossword puzzle.
But then two Sundays ago, I had to stay home and isolate due to exposure to Covid. And while I was watching the worship service streaming live on YouTube, I asked myself, am I still part of that feast? I mean, with the exception of maybe Christina running the cameras, nobody even knew I was there. Like they say, on the Internet, nobody knows you're a Lutheran.
A confession: I didn't actually take communion at home that Sunday. But as the song's composer wrote in 2003 , the song was intended as a Song of Praise, just as we use it at CGS, and not as a song about the eucharist. And while some of its lyrics come from the Book of Revelation, the word "feast" doesn't appear in that book at all. So what kinds of feast did I miss out on?
Personally, I missed the feast of the senses that is seeing and hearing and greeting people in the pews. I missed the abundance of familiar faces. And after the sixteen-plus months of remote-only worship services in 2020 and 2021, I missed the enjoyment that comes from the still somewhat "unusual" experience of worshiping in-person.
I'm grateful that CGS still offers live streaming of worship services each Sunday. And I'm even more grateful when I can attend in-person.
Gregg Zigler, council member
It is exciting to watch your enthusiasm and energy grow for events that; are re-emerging after having been put on hold for the past several years! Just a friendly reminder that as things go back to being “the way they’ve always been,” there might have been a few changes along the way. Our building buzzes with use from organizations and groups that meet here weekly, including the sanctuary. Please check with Christina before you plan to use the church building for your activity so you will not be disappointed because the room you want is already in use or you disturb another group who has a scheduled meeting time. Use the newsletter by submitting articles the week before the event you are planning so the congregation can be informed of all church activities. As the staff begins to plan for the months ahead, please let Daniel, Rey or Pastor Jill know if you are thinking about adding any special activities to the worship schedule, especially during Advent and Christmas. We would like to know by October 1st so that we can plan worship accordingly. Reach out to folk who are relatively new to the congregation so they are invited to events. Remember, newcomers, including your Bridge Pastor don’t have a built in memory of “the way things have always been. “And finally, if you are a relative newcomer to CGS, talk to Pastor Jill about your interests and we can try together to open new possibilities to share and learn together. Enjoy the month of August as the lazier summer days turn into a fuller schedule starting in September!
- Pastor Jill
We are blessed with a friendly, caring, and inclusive community. Whether you have been coming to CGS for years or for just a few days, I am sure you have felt a warm welcome from those you meet. A key element of our community is participation in the many activities that build our life together. Are you aware of the opportunities for you to participate?
If you like to read, you can join the book club or volunteer to read the scriptures on Sunday morning.
If you like a deeper understanding and discussion of the meaning of the bible verses chosen for each Sunday, you can join the Bible Study on zoom on Wednesdays from 12 to 1.
If you like to cook and enjoy planning parties, you can join a Shelter Cooking Team for the chance to serve the Julian Street Shelter once every three months or join any of the groups preparing potlucks and fund-raising events.
If you like gardening you can join our volunteer gardeners who tend to the flowers, fruit trees and shrubbery outside.
If you enjoy building projects and are handy with tools, you can join the Property Committee to help with the upkeep of our facility.
If you love music, you can join one of our two choirs or play with our band of instrumentalists.
If you enjoy greeting people and welcoming them to our services, you can join the ushers who serve us each Sunday.
If you enjoy helping with worship, you can join the altar guild and take part in setting up the altar and helping with communion.
If you like to take part in the leadership of our community, you can join the church council and serve with other leaders in our church.
If you like coffee and donuts (who doesn’t) you can join one of the coffee teams who serve once a month.
If you enjoy working with children you can join the Godly Play Sunday school program, either as a trained teacher or as a volunteer assistant.
If you are interested in any of these opportunities or are curious about what other groups exist, see Christina Unzen, our Community Coordinator, and she will put you in touch with the group you want to join.
There are other committees available to you, or you can just come to worship and join us for fellowship in the garden after worship where we get to know each other and share our stories. Sharing our celebrations and challenges helps prepare us for whatever the coming week may bring. This is how we are church together.
- Jean Hope
“Que milagro” is what you say
When you see someone face to face
That you haven’t seen in a very long time.
“WHAT A MIRACLE,” it translates
Yet it means
The space inside the ear to ear smile
That lands in the sparkle of joy across your eyes into your soul
Upon recognition and remembrance of what and who matters.
And so it was with me and the Monarchs last fall
I greeted them loudly in the garden, tears welling, I whispered more reverentially,
My friends from childhood, me on my back on the grass, looking up at blue sky and
You, little miracles flying by, peeking and waving, on your way to pollinate.
El sanctuario, Michoacan, twenty years ago,
You still mighty in the millions
Greeting the day with the language of a zillion wings, filling the air with vibration a quarter mile away.
You, breeding, dying, leaving new birth,
Navigators of the forest set again
To fly north,
The circle and cycle, a chorus in the migration of what keeps the earth alive.
You, are endangered with extinction.
Maybe not the thriving ones in our garden, because still
The milkweed here feeds your caterpillars as they dig in to their cocoons,
Form mush, reform wings, break free, dry out and fly away home.
Not you yet.
And it is now our choice, your kin, the wingless ones, with spines.
Your neighbors, to keep watching, planting, advocating, and naming you, aloud
SUMMERTIME MUSING -Sunday evening, as I was taking a walk around the neighborhood, I stopped to pick some peaches on my way home. I met a neighbor who shyly asked if she could pick some too. We shared a conversation about gardening, our dogs, the milkweed and monarchs next to the peach trees, and the church (I made sure to tell her that we have worship at 10:00 on Sunday) and then we both went home with peaches. It was one of those moments I cherish, a casual encounter that happened easily and literally “bore fruit.” It made me think about our visible presence in the community. I love it on Saturdays, when the church buildings are full with meetings, the shower/laundry trailer is serving people in the parking lot and during season, when music comes both from the choir that practices in the classroom near the parsonage and from recitals inside the building. I also look forward to Safe Car Park, especially getting to know the guests who stay with us when we share a weekly meal together. Even though we have experienced some security issues along with our growth it is wonderful to see the buildings used and shared with our neighbors. From the window of the parsonage, I daily watch people walking their dogs, carrying groceries and going to the synagogue on Saturday. I try to walk instead of drive to the grocery store, pharmacy and to pick up food so I can have a better sense of the daily events that surround me. On the weekend, I stop at yard sales, and shop within walking distance. The ladies at El Dorado Tacqueria don’t know my name but they know if I haven’t been in a while that I have been in Napa. They also don’t ask for my order because they know it will be a chili relleno, even though I change it up for tacos dorados once in a while. They do ask if I want horchata because I don’t always order it and more often than not, they tuck in a few extra chips or salsa. I noticed this week that there is still a shrine in front of Safeway, honoring Manuel Cornejo, who was shot and killed while working the night shift in early June. There are fresh flowers there still as the family and community continue to mourn his death and the unresolved circumstances around the shooting. That there are fresh flowers and lit candles means that the community has responded by reserving this space where mourners can express grief for as long as they need. It is not always obvious what makes a neighborhood tick, yet I find the blocks surrounding the church to be full of life, caring and diversity and I am grateful to be here and to be a small part of it.
It is amazing to watch the quality of light change daily since the Summer Solstice. Although it still gets light and the birds chirp super early and the sun goes down late, the arc of the sunrise and sunset shifts daily so there are always different patterns of shadow and light.
How do you think about shadow and light? In spiritual matters, we tend to talk about “being in the light,” or “moving toward the light,” yet we know that too much direct sunlight can cause sunburn. Deep reflection often occurs when one takes time to notice the nuances that exist in the shadows or the stars that glow only because of the dark night sky. Seeds depend on the deep darkness of the earth to burst and grow. Growth is not always that obvious. We are living in a time when it is good practice to discern the difference between “what do I think,” or “what is my opinion,” and what is a human right. Currently gun violence is taking away the lives of too many innocent victims. Assault weapons can fire of enough rounds to kill several hundred people in a matter of minutes. In the past months we have witnessed the murder of school children and teachers in Uvalde, Texas and more recently in Highland Park, Illinois, the murder of 7 people celebrating at a 4th of July parade. In both these incidents we have also witnessed the follow up grief of children now orphans, spouses now widows and communities crying for justice even as they mourn unspeakable loss. There are those in the congregation who have already expressed interest in some kind of action, beginning with a letter writing campaign. I am interested in hearing from others of you who have ideas about action. Action of course is always accompanied by prayer and reflection. As we are called to seek justice, let us begin together.
In Christ, Pastor Jill
Though at the time of this writing we are still waiting for the final
approval from our synod offices for our Ministry Site Profile (MSP)
to go "live," the content has been approved by the CGS Call Committee
and the Congregational Council, has been reviewed by our Call
Process Administrator, Pastor Cindy Beck, and the updates have been
submitted to the ELCA database.
Candidates considering whether they might be called to serve at CGS
will use use two documents during the early stages of their discernment
process to get to know us: the Ministry Site Profile <link>, and the
"Reflections on Ministry and Context" <link>. We hope these will give
a feel for this community and its ministries to potential candidates.
We encourage you to take a look at these, and hope they might spark
As is to be expected with any community, during the process of
assembling these documents we encountered a variety of visions,
perceptions, and desiderata. Sometimes there were clear, consistent
themes, and at others the only thing that was clear was that things
were not clear cut. We tried to synthesize all this material into
something that would be helpful to potential pastors, and tried to
write everything with that goal in mind.
As always, your Call Committee is interested in hearing from you!
Adolfo R., Julia T., Matt B., Randy P., and Sarah J.
“We are moving…” The Call Committee met last week with Synod Vice President Gail Kiyomura and Pastor Cindy Beck. Pastor Beck has been appointed our Call Process Administrator.
When we last reported, our Ministry Site Profile (MSP) had been approved by our Church Council and sent to the Synod office. A meeting had been set by then Bishop Rohrer to answer a few questions before our MSP was sent out to prospective candidates. Changes in the Synod Office put the process on hold. Since an interim bishop had not yet been appointed, Ms. Kiyomura was fulfilling some of the Office of the Bishop’s responsibilities, and she proceeded with the meeting.
The meeting went very well. Pastor Beck complimented us on our MSP and felt it was well balanced. We discussed with her next steps, and she encouraged us to get prepared for our interview process and materials that we will share with the candidates. This is something that we have already begun to do. We feel very confident that we will be prepared for our interviews.
Next steps…the MSP has been updated to reflect new congregational leadership and Synod contacts. It is our hope that the MSP will be approved by church council this week, and can be resubmitted to the ELCA, and approved for publication by our Synod office. As soon as it is received by the Synod Office, it will go “live” immediately, meaning it will go out on the Clergy Prospective Calls network. Synod staff will review all applications, and give to us 4 -5 candidates. The process may take some time (4 -6 weeks) and we should not expect immediate results. The Call Committee will be ready to set up interviews as soon as we get the list of candidates.
The Call Committee was reminded that our process was for a call not a job. We are looking for the best candidate that will serve us all in ministry together. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Please continue to keep the call committee in your prayers.
Any comments or thoughts, reach out to one of the members of the committee; Matt Byom, Sarah Janigian, Randy Presuhn (Chair), Adolfo Ramirez, Paul Thomas, and Julia Tranchina.
The resignation of our bishop affects the call process for CGS in a
unique way. For each organization posting a Ministry Site Profile (MSP)
a "call process administrator" is appointed. For any other congregation
in our synod, that person would be Pastor Manda Truchinski, but to avoid
any conflicts of interest our designated call process administrator was
the bishop. Before synod assembly, our MSP was waiting for approval by
the call process administrator before it could be published, but now,
without a call process administrator, it sits in limbo.
When a bishop is unable to carry out their duties, those
responsibilities fall largely on the synod Vice President. Until
August, that is Gail Kiyomura. She is aware of our peculiar situation,
and will be meeting with your call committee on June 30th to see how we
can get things unstuck. Depending on how that meeting goes, we may need
to make a few minor changes to the MSP, such as noting that we have a
new congregational president and entering the contact information for
whoever our new call process administrator will be.
This update will require the approval of our congregational council, and
we've already given them notice that this will happen. We anticipate
that they will be able to vote on approval electronically. This
shouldn't delay the process more than a few days from what we expected
before the drama in Nevada.
Your call committee is doing its best to keep things on track amid the
seeming chaos. As always, we (Sarah, Randy, Paul, Matt, Julia, and
Adolfo) appreciate your insights, and hope you will continue to pray for
our work and that of our synod's leaders and staff.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.