My theatre had our weekly staff meeting over Zoom the other day, and everyone was grumpy. No one even had to say it - as their windows popped up on the screen, you could see it in their countenances, then you could hear it in their voices. Even before the meeting officially started, the conversation was subdued, reserved - and this is a bunch of theatre people.
Within a couple of minutes of the actual meeting, there was actual confrontation - people accusing others of throwing attitude, questioning and battling things that should have been simple conversations. Maybe it was Zoom fatigue, maybe it was the existential crisis that hangs over the arts nowadays, maybe it was the existential crisis that hangs over our country nowadays.
I was worried, not just because I normally try to set an upbeat and open atmosphere during our meetings, but also because I had to inform the staff of a procedural decision that was made - a decision to ensure we were in compliance with best practices regarding the security and availability of our data, but a decision that would also cause no little consternation, and a perceived increase in difficulty of some day-to-day tasks.
I told them what was going to happen, and I listened to their concerns, and I tried to address them, and I heard more grumbling, and what I said next was something along the lines of “Listen. This is a thing, and you’re going to have to deal with it.” There was silence (again, rare for theatre people), and we ungracefully moved on to the next topic. But I could tell that some people felt unheard, and felt unsupported, and I felt like I had failed in the management of my staff, and of the moment.
When the world seems to bring wave after wave of conflict and disaster and hopelessness, how can we be a messenger of peace and love and hopefulness? When people turn to us for support, how can we support them, even when we don’t always agree? When we’re asked to lead, can we do so with grace and compassion, even when the decisions are hard and unpopular?
David was not a perfect person, but in Psalm 78 it is said “with upright heart he tended them, and guided them with skillful hand.” As a king, David tried to lead with integrity from a strong spiritual center. This doesn’t mean every decision will be embraced, nor will every action be immediately understood. But it does mean that a leader does their best to lead by example.
Today I will apologize to my staff, and even if the outcome does not change, I will listen with compassion and grace. I wish the same capacity for compassion and grace in all those who are called to lead.
Recently, on September 1st, our parsonage tenants Brandon & David checked out of the house with property committee chair Joe Shackelford & Pastor Manda. Brandon was an intern pastor at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill for the past year. In a collaboration with Advent, CGS helped to provide affordable housing for Brandon in his preparation for ordained ministry in the ELCA. Over the weekend, Brandon was ordained and installed in a call to the Swedish Lutheran Church of San Francisco. We give thanks to God that we were called to use the abundance of our resources to raise up new leaders in ministry!
by REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
Hymns have a way of bringing people together. We feel somehow connected every time we sing a hymn as a congregation. Our voices become one and we take part in becoming one body. And being a choir director, I especially love it when some voices break out into singing harmonies. It’s like the whole congregation gets transformed into one big choir. It just makes the experience a little bit more special for me.
When we speak of hymns, the usual things that come to our minds are the famous traditional ones we often sing in church: Amazing Grace, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, How Great Thou Art, Blessed Assurance. Derived from the Greek word “hymnos,” a hymn, by definition, is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to God, a prominent figure or personification. With this definition, even the contemporary praise and worship songs fall under the category of hymns. And being a member of the Praise Team in my former churches, I’ve had my share of singing and falling in love with the newer hymns: Shout to the Lord, The Power of Your Love, Open the Eyes of My Heart.
But I have to say, the hymn that sits right at the top of my favorites is the more traditional “Be Thou My Vision.” Based on an old Middle Irish poem, it is sung to the melody noted as “Slane,” an Irish folk tune. Although the lyrics are very meaningful and poetic, the real draw to me is its melody in its ¾ time. The rhythm almost creates a sway that reminds me of a lullaby that brings a feeling of security and comfort. It starts low and comfortable, slowly building to the higher range, peaking to the highest with the running notes, then bringing you back down, and ending it repeating the same last note three times, giving emphasis to the words – Thy presence my light; and I with Thee one; my treasure thou art; O Ruler of all. Oftentimes, I find myself humming its simple and memorable melody, and it almost always transports and connects me back to our church singing together. It gives me a bit of security and comfort going through our current situation. Not knowing for sure how long we’ll continue to do virtual worships, I hope that singing our favorite hymns will help us feel more connected. Just keep singing.
Starting October 1, we will be hosting the Safe Car Park again at CGS - that’s only a month away! We are once again looking for volunteers once again for check-in/check-out and to bring meals. We had a really great experience hosting in June, but have made a few changes both in how we are going to do volunteer sign-ups, and some of the check-in/check-out procedures.
We will send out invitations later this week through Breeze to sign up. If you do not receive an invitation, but are interested in helping out, please email Rachel (firstname.lastname@example.org). The invitations will include more detailed instructions for volunteers on check-in/check out and providing meals.
Check-in/check-out: In June, we allowed the guests to stay at CGS all day, but in October, we will be asking them to go elsewhere during the day (this is what we had planned to do pre-COVID, but made an exception in June as we figured things out). That means we will need volunteers to check people out when they leave in the morning, and check people in when they leave in the evening.
Meals: In October, we will only be providing meals (breakfast and dinner) three days a week: Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Many of the guests leave on weekends and we found towards the end of the month in June that not all of the meals were being eaten. We will also ask guests at the beginning of the month to “opt in” for meals, since some of them did not eat any meals last month. This will help us provide the right number and have less wasted food.
Donations: We would also gladly accept donations of the following items, which you can bring to the church any time in September and leave in the bins in the Narthex:
- Wet wipes
- toothbrushes (no toothpaste)
- full size shampoo & conditioner
- individually packaged drinks that are not water
We are really looking forward to hosting again in October with all of you! Please reach out if you have questions to any of us on the Safe Car Park Team:
Kevin Visscher (email@example.com)
Rachel Visscher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sarah Janigian (email@example.com)
Chelsea Byom (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pastor Manda (email@example.com)
I don't know about you, but the monotony of Coronalife is getting to me. I had to laugh out loud when I saw this from The Onion the other day (a reprint of something from last year), because it totally sums up how I feel sometimes. There's lots to do, but little motivation at the moment.
I heard someone on NPR refer to this feeling as the Coronacoaster. One day you are happily baking banana bread, and the next day you're drinking Vodka for breakfast. I don't know from one day to the next where I'm going to be on the Coronacoaster!
Church is one of the bright spots in my weekly routine at the moment. I find I need that connection to you all more than ever. Even though I may not "see" you on Sunday, just knowing that everyone is there at worship with me, and being able to type out my greetings and sharing the peace have been meaningful. My involvement on the council and events like God's Work Our Hands are the life-giving water that I need to make it from one week to the next.
The council has been busy, and here are some of the things that are keeping us so:
I pray that you will remain in "happily baking banana bread" mode until we meet again!
God’s work. Our hands. Sunday is September 13, 2020. This day is an opportunity to celebrate who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor.
Service activities offer an opportunity for us to explore one of our most basic convictions as Lutherans: that all of life in Jesus Christ – every act of service, in every daily calling, in every corner of life – flows freely from a living, daring confidence in God’s grace.
You may have wondered if CGS is doing something for GWOH this year during the time of COVID-19. The answer is YES! Although we won't be able to gather together in the Great Hall to pack food, we will still be able to get food to those in need during this time. And this year we will celebrate GWOH for the entire month of September.
We are doing a Virtual Food Drive with Second Harvest Food bank. Traditional food drives have been put on hold for the time being, but the need for food is greater than ever. Last year traditional and virtual food drives created nearly 30 million meals. Second Harvest is currently providing free food for 500,000 people a month, which is more than DOUBLE what they were doing prior to the pandemic.
Did you know:
You can find the portal for our virtual food drive here: http://fundraise.shfb.org/goto/cgslc
Thank you for living out the mission of CGS - to Proclaim God's Word and Love, and to Serve One Another and the World - through this food drive that will help feed our community in this incredible time of need.
Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
As we near the end of the summer and move ahead to fall, I want to take a moment and thank everyone that has contributed to our online worship services to make them a success. So many of our CGS family have participated, either live or pre-recorded, to ensure that we remain a community, even when we have been physically separated.
Of course, I’m especially grateful to our musicians and singers, all of whom have gone above and beyond in sharing their talents, and many of whom are learning new skills working with audio and video! Members of our band, our mixed choir, and Keynote have all produced some beautiful music, even while sheltering in place. Making music is one of the greatest communal activities we have as humans, and I know many of us miss it deeply. While these virtual performances can never take the place of live music, I hope everyone can take some comfort and joy in creating art for all of us to enjoy.
I am also looking forward to exploring and expanding our technological know-how in the fall – working with some new equipment to further enhance the online worship experience, and laying the groundwork for when we finally return to in-person worship.
I’m reaching out to all of you to ask for your participation and input during the fall:
• As you may have noticed, our liturgical pieces this summer (the Canticle and the Offertory) were pre-recorded by many of our singers. We will be continuing that in the fall with a different Offertory, and I would love for more of you to participate in this. It is fairly easy to do, and we can use the technology to help you give your best performance. Please let me know if you are interested in sharing your time and talent with us.
• I am looking for special music for the fall to be used during communion, as a prelude, or in other parts of worship. If you have a song that means a lot to you and you would like to hear during this fall season, please let me know, and we’ll see if we can create an arrangement with our amazing musicians and singers.
I am humbled and grateful to share worship with each one of you – and while I am eagerly anticipating the day when we can safely worship in person, I am thankful for the ability and willingness of everyone to do so online. In Matthew 18:20 Jesus says “for where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Jesus may not have imagined gathering in such a way as we are, but I truly believe that Jesus is among us every Sunday.
By Pastor Manda
At the end of July it was time for the council to reconsider how we worship at CGS. With no surprise, we voted to continue worshipping online only through the end of September. With infection rates and deaths still rising at the end of July, it was obvious that gathering groups to worship in the sanctuary would only increase the risk of exposure to the people of our community and anyone they come in contact with. I know that this is not a surprise to you, but really a fear realized, a disheartening confirmation.
In this time without in-person, communal worship I have been looking to the mystics our spiritual ancestors who had personal revelations from Christ. I’ve been looking to their lives for how to make it through this season of forced fasting from the kind of community I have come to love and rely on for my own mental health.
One of my favorite mystics is Julian of Norwich, England. She lived most of her life in seclusion in the middle of the city. During that time the city experienced pandemics, peasant revolts, and economic swings. She herself was so ill at one point that she was convinced she was dying. In this time, she had many revelations. When she recovered from her illness, she wrote about her revelations and that text was the first English book written by a woman.
Her revelations are fascinating for what we are experiencing. They are the kinds of epiphanies which I believe are only had once we are forced to abandon all our distractions and justifications and come face to face with God as our truest selves. In her last revelation, she reflects back that we humans have two sicknesses: impatience, and fear.
Yeah. Here in the middle of our own pandemic I see impatience and fear. Julian posited that there were four kinds of fear: fright, fear of pain, doubt, and reverence. Each kind of fear stems from its own place – our frailty, our own shortcomings or failure, our perceptions of the outside world beyond our control, our despair.
But the hopeful thing that Julian finds in her revelations is that this impatience and all this fear also can drive us toward God. Our inability to control the world around us or even our own actions, eventually trips us up and makes us fall on our knees at the foot of the cross. There is Christ. He’s always been there, where our fears and impatience bring us.
I’m grateful to be taking this month of Sabbath. A long road trip into the backcountry of these western united states will bring me a different kind of isolation than I’ve experienced these past 5 months. I hope to use this time to shed my own impatience and fears so that I might find the foot of the cross, and Christ. I know he’s still there. And maybe if I can refocus on Christ, I can find some peace as we continue to wait for that day when we can all be together again.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.