by Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
It seems that, suddenly, the world has become obsessed with tidying. Everyone I know is either KonMari-ing their house or actively rebelling against it, and the jokes and memes about things “sparking joy” have reached a fever pitch. I have always tried to be tidy, but the accumulation of years usually means the accumulation of stuff.
In fifteen months, Rebecca and I got engaged, got married, got pregnant, sold two houses, quit our jobs, moved to a new city, got new jobs, bought a house, and gave birth. The sheer rush of such major life events left very little time for consideration of our stuff. When we moved, we were just happy to get two households’ worth of stuff packed up and into a storage unit – the idea of methodically parsing and pruning our material possessions just wasn’t in the cards. Add a newborn to that, and then the newborn becomes a toddler, and we now find ourselves, like many on the show Tidying Up, overwhelmed by the thought of going through all the stuff we have – and I would guess we actually have comparatively little. However, we’ve started the process – mainly motivated by the fact that, as we are in the market for a new house, we just don’t want to pack up and unpack all that stuff again. We are dutifully following Ms. Kondo’s instructions, looking at each item and asking if it “sparks joy,” then either keeping or discarding that item. And indeed, we are shedding ourselves of a lot of stuff.
As we move through this process, though, it occurs to me that most of us not only hold on to physical stuff that don’t spark joy, but mental and emotional stuff as well. We worry, criticize, judge, engage in schadenfreude, mock, demonize, vilify, judge some more, fret, and snark. And we’re left feeling – what? Morally superior? Momentarily amused? Quasi-successful in our attempt to bury our own insecurities? What I’m sure we’re not feeling is joy.
When we can start to let go of the foibles and failings of other people – when we can realize that their failures do not equal our successes – then we can begin to focus on our own behaviors and actions, and to make sure that what we do, what we say, and how we treat others sparks joy in ourselves and all of those around us.
To be certain, I’m not advocating burying our heads in the sand about matters of social, political, or economic justice – participating (actively participating) in the quest to make the world the loving, tolerant, and forgiving place that Jesus wished for us can and should spark joy in us. But the small, day-to-day behaviors – silently (or loudly) cursing the driver that cut us off; questioning the motives of someone’s social media post; or building our tiny boxes to place the rest of humanity in, each box labeled with our pre-conceived notion of them based on their race, gender identity, sexuality, ideology, income bracket, or how messy their house is – we can, and should, pick each one of these behaviors up, thank them, then get rid of them. And suddenly, we find our hearts and souls have become a lot more tidy.
There is the another congregation that worships in our building each Sunday. They came to be at CGS out of a desperate need for a space to hold their worship. What started out as a home Bible Study between Kenyan immigrants bloomed into a worshipping congregation when they found plenty and safe space to gather. The size and demographic of that community has changed dramatically over the past 6 years as they have struggled to find a place to worship.
It’s difficult for us to understand a congregation that doesn’t look, sound, or operate like we do. Many people in this congregation work jobs that require their time on Sunday mornings. CCC most often meets in the Fireside Room but sometimes they have special events and need the space of the Great Hall in order to welcome all their worshippers. Their worship lasts multiple hours and their fellowship looks differently than ours.
Just this past year, Pastor Jared Oluoch was approved to be ordained in the ELCA. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, Pastor Norah will also be ordained in the ELCA. They began as a Swahili speaking congregation but many people who spoke English as a second language have been attracted to CCC and changed their mission to be an ESL (English as a Second Language) congregation. This year, they will enter the first step of becoming a congregation of the ELCA.
By hosting this congregation and being in relationship with the people of CCC, we are helping to birth a new congregation of our Church. Amazingly, it’s a very American story; people migrating to this valley for a new chapter of their lives and gathering together to let faith transform their lives. Language, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, these things are the details that make them a unique community but the essential identity is the same – beloved disciples of Christ.
This is the future of our Church: established communities of faith helping to bring about new communities of faith that look quite different from ourselves, ever expanding the expressions of the Body of Christ. To celebrate this, our two communities will worship together on February 10th. It will be an amalgamation of our different ways centered in the sacraments that claim us all. And it will be capped with a potluck to showcase the yummiest ways we nourish one another.
Save the date of February 10th in your calendar to come and see the abundance that God is making in this place!
by Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
Traditionally, at the point of transition between the outgoing and incoming years, people make new year’s resolution. Something that will hopefully make them a better person or improve their situation. Make healthier choices: eat better, exercise more. Be better with relationships: spend more time with loved ones, communicate better, exert more effort to be more patient and understanding to people around us. Be better with finances: get a better job, be mindful with spending, or set aside money for savings.
However, it’s very seldom do we make resolutions concerning music to which we listen. Music is a part of our everyday life, whether by choice or not. We often hear it in public places: restaurants, elevators, different business establishments or even while on hold in a phone call. It is a proven study that music influences our mood or how we feel, thus affects how we react to certain situations or products. Slow music calms, upbeat music excites, and holiday music brings us to a spirit of spending. It is therefore important that we become more aware of what kind of music we listen to. The same way a lot of thought is put into choosing music for our choirs to sing: the worship occasion, historical relevance when applicable, connection to the readings and Gospel, and more importantly, the message the music brings to the congregation. As a minister of music, I believe that it is my responsibility to choose music that inspires and uplifts spirits, and delivers a positive message, whether singing in a worship service, a community event, or a social gathering outside of church. Sometimes, it’s easy to fall into a beautiful beat or melody without paying attention to the lyrics of the song. I hope that this coming year, 2019, we’ll have the “music resolution” to be more aware of what kind of music we listen to and let other people hear. May our music not only bring joy, but healing and inspiration to those hear it. A blessed New Year to everyone!
Christ the Good Shepherd, as a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is governed by a constitution, bylaws and continuing resolutions. Every three years the ELCA holds a Churchwide Assembly where among the business presented to the delegates are recommended updates to the ELCA's model constitution. Each congregation is then responsible to reflect the changes in their constitutions. At CGS we haven't been so good at keeping up on the constitution updates. In fact, from what we can determine, it has been at least a decade. That's a lot of changes to incorporate!
Thanks to the diligent work of Pastor Manda, Chelsea Byom and Petra Menard, we have several updates to our CGS Constitution that were approved for adoption by the CGS Council at its November Meeting.
At our Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 27 one of the agenda items is to update the CGS Constitution. We're focusing on adopting the ELCA Model Constitution verbatim to get us caught up before the next Churchwide Assembly, which is in August 2019.
Here are a few things about the proposed updated constitution:
· The 3 separate documents (Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions) were consolidated into one document.
· Clarified and corrected our numbering of several items.
· Added Model Constitution language adopted by the Churchwide Assembly on Diaconal Ministers.
· Updated some details about committees to reflect current ministries at CGS.
I encourage you to take time over the next month to read through all the proposed changes to our Constitution. If you have any questions, please reach out to any Council Member.
You can find the proposed updated constitution at www.cgslc.org/important-documents or in hard copy in the Narthex of the church.
On behalf of the Council and in service,
President, CGS Council
As we read the Bible we discover that hospitality is not just “niceness” or “neighborliness,” but crucial. Famine-stricken Israel found hospitality (food and welcome) in Egypt. Later, in the dark wilderness, Israel experienced the bright light of God’s hospitality: manna, quail, water from a rock. When Jesus sent 70 disciples out to announce and demonstrate the coming of God’s kingdom, he ordered them to travel light: “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals…” (Luke 10:4) In this way they would be dependent upon the hospitality of others, and would invite them to enter into the generous, open-hearted hospitality that characterizes God’s rule. They were sent not just to talk about God’s coming rule; they offered people an experience of the kingdom of God, of generous gift giving and receiving.
In 2014 Faith Lutheran Church in Reno received a request. The high school youth group from Trinity Lutheran Church, Enumclaw, WA, was hoping to come to Reno for a summer mission trip and needed a place to sleep and prepare and eat meals. Faith is a small congregation, averaging about 50 at worship each week. But Pastor Tom Beck regularly reminded them not to focus on the things their size prevented them from doing, but to remain alert to the opportunities that might, despite their size, come their way. That message resonated with Sonja Dresbach, a church leader gifted with open-hearted hospitality. She offered to be the person who would meet the group when they arrived, orient them to Faith’s more-than-adequate rooms and kitchen, and check in with them during their stay. So Faith agreed to provide the needed hospitality.
Deacon Tammy Rismiller, an ELCA rostered minister of Word and Service, has been working with faith formation of children and youth at Trinity, Enumclaw, since 1996. Now married and a mother of three teens (two sons and one daughter), Tammy loves her work and has worked with six pastors at Trinity. Trinity is not a large congregation, either, averaging about 130 at worship each week, but 20-30 high school youth show up each Sunday evening for youth group. They come from Trinity Church, from other congregations in that small town, and some are unchurched. There are ten trained peer leaders. Four small groups, led by adults, meet during the week. Most of all, Tammy reports, “The kids love service!” So the highlight each year is the summer mission trip, often facilitated by Youth Works. In recent years the group has served in New Orleans (working with people with disabilities), Lame Deer, MT (a Cheyenne reservation), Nicaragua (a medical mission trip), Appalachia, and, of course, Reno, where the youth work with Reno/Sparks Gospel Mission, a Christian residential substance abuse treatment program, a Boys and Girls Club, a community food bank, and a homeless shelter. These trips provide a rich experience of different kinds of people in a wide variety of settings. Most importantly, Tammy says, “After the mission trips many youth report a new, deepened relationship with God.” Two Lutheran pastors, a LCMS pastor in Sacramento, CA, and the pastor at another ELCA church in Enumclaw, are graduates of Trinity’s youth group and mission trips.
Having enjoyed and appreciated Faith’s hospitality in 2014, the group returned this summer, July 7-13, for another mission trip to Reno and sojourn at Faith Lutheran. This year’s group consisted of 32 youth, 10 adults (cooks, drivers, and more), and 6 college students who had been high schoolers on the trip to Reno four years ago. But this year there were two new kinds of service in addition to the previous trip’s. The group from Enumclaw worshiped with Faith on Sunday morning, providing a skit and doubling the size of the congregation, and spent Monday at Faith painting, doing yard clean-up, and helping with other tasks Faith’s older members are unable to do. Just like Jesus intended! The kingdom of God came near as hospitality led to gratitude, and gratitude led to reciprocal service.
Faith Lutheran Church, Reno, which doesn’t have the gifts to create and sustain a vibrant, life-changing youth ministry, discovered it does have the gifts to support and participate in such a ministry.
Alert to opportunities!
The Spirit works in amazing ways!
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.