By Daniel Thomas, CGS Musician
Each year, I look for the perfect New Year’s resolutions: get just a little more exercise, eat just a little bit better, be a whole crazy heck of a lot more organized. And like most people, these resolutions have largely fallen by the wayside by the time you’re reading this (except the organized one - that fell apart about 10:15 AM on January 2).
Now, nearing the end of January, I find there’s one behavior I have picked up – and it wasn’t on my list: apparently my 2020 New Year’s resolution is to stop paying attention to the comment sections on the internet.
Now most internet-savvy people would tell you right away that these sections are cesspools of anonymous rage and trolling and very, very rarely add anything to the discourse of the article. Most are there to somehow use the article to bash millennials/boomers/liberals/conservatives/other commenters/the author/the website/etc. Many sites have removed the ability to comment for just this reason. I know the comments are useless and only serve to get either my dander or my schadenfreude up; and I know I never come away from them feeling better about myself or the world in general. And yet, I was incessantly drawn to them. What was I hoping for? That some vitriolic hate-baiter is finally going to get their comeuppance? That a lone voice of reason is going to quell the tidal wave of snark and insults?
Then, after a conversation with my much wiser wife, it occurred to me: I read the comments because I made those comments.
I didn’t make them online, mind you – I have no desire to jump into that pool. But all throughout my day I’d see human interaction – acts of good, acts of negligence, acts of ill, and all the gray areas in between – and I’d have a comments section running in my head. Judging, assuming, rationalizing, criticizing. I read the comments because I was reassuring myself that I’m not the only troll out there.
So what happened? There certainly wasn’t a revelatory shaft-of-light-from-heaven moment. I just noticed that I wasn’t doing it anymore. Then I thought about a conversation we had about modeling behavior for our son – about how even the subtle actions we may not even notice are picked up and mimicked by children. And we talked about the constant snark we heard coming from some of our friends and family members, and how easy it was for us to fall into that pattern. I recognized the less I allowed myself to fall into that behavior, the less I needed to see others engaging in that behavior as well.
It’s not perfect, and it’s only week four of 52. But I do feel a little better about myself, and a little better about the world. Maybe this is the perfect New Year’s resolution.
By Pastor Manda
Over the past year of 2019 our congregation has tackled a huge project: updating our governing documents after 10 years of no change (other than the continuing resolutions). I’m going to be honest because I think that I’m not the only one who feels this way – this hasn’t really been fun.
It hasn’t been fun mostly because so much had piled up on us. Like not cleaning out your garage or balancing your accounts – the longer you leave it the bigger of a headache it becomes until you just have to sit down and slog through it.
But here’s the good news. We’re almost done. Just one more time.
On Sunday the 26th we’ll VOTE TO RATIFY all of the votes we passed in September and November to change articles in the constitution (see handout). We’ll need 2/3 of the people at the meeting to vote yes for these to be ratified and take effect.
We’ll also vote on NEW AMENDMENTS: all the updates from the 2019 Churchwide Assembly that have been recommended to every congregation in the ELCA. If 51% of the people at the meeting vote yes on them as written, we’ll be able to adopt them with just one vote.
After this we don’t have to have these long confusing conversations about documents that most of us don’t read and voting processes that most of us can’t follow. Instead, we can do a little bit at each congregational meeting and keep it from backing up again.
I’m grateful to those who stayed at the congregational meetings each time, waiting patiently for discussion to end and votes to happen. Without you voting we would have just been kicking the can down the road and make the pile bigger. I’m grateful to council members who took the time to actually read the governing documents, consider multiple options and think of what would be best for the future of our congregation.
But mostly, I’m grateful to be the pastor of a congregation who knows that saying “we love Jesus” is only the beginning and that we show our love when we put it in to action by how we treat one another. Our governing documents are a reflection of that and I can rest easy knowing that we’re authentically living our faith at CGS.
By Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
The last quarter of 2019 has been emotionally challenging for me. In the last months of the past year, I learned that three of my close and dear friends are battling cancer. These are friends with whom I spend a lot of time and share a lot of memories. This cancer feels very close to home. I know that medical technology has advanced greatly that having this disease doesn’t necessarily mean inescapable end, but past experiences with other friends and acquaintances have shown me that it’s not an easy battle to go through. Even with just the thought of losing any of my friends, made me feel uneasy, helpless, and afraid. But, through this unexpected disorder and chaos, I always find solace and comfort from things that are constant in my life right now. My loving and supportive husband, Mike, reading simple Facebook posts from family and friends in the Philippines, casual get-togethers with friends here, and the thing that always does amazing work to help lift my down spirit, MUSIC. Singing and playing the piano is therapy for me. Almost always, I feel happy when I’m making music. After a long day of work and doing errands, rehearsing and directing the choirs continually bring joy and renew my spirit (although it may not always show).
Any of us who have sung in choirs know all too well the joy it brings not just the audiences, but also the choir members themselves. And why wouldn’t it? When we raise our voices with lots of other gorgeous voices in a big, beautiful space, it feels like we’re altering molecules. The power, the mojo that this (relatively) small time commitment offers… how is it possible? Well, according to various scientific reports, we ARE altering molecules… inside our brains, with different changes occurring whether listening to music, singing, or singing with others. (from an article by Jaime Babbitt, Your Brain and Singing: Why Singing in a Choir Makes You Happier)
A new year brings new hope for all of us, and 2020 shouldn’t be any different. I particularly hope for healing this year, for my friends who are battling cancer, and for everyone who are dealing with different kinds of illnesses. It is also my hope that the power of music help bring healing to spirits that are down, as it does to me.
A blessed new year to all.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.