The number of people in our congregation who are getting their vaccines is starting to grow and this is a joyful occasion! This is a big milestone on our way to gathering in person once again. Thanks be to God!
For the past year, the council has been voting on our COVID protocols in short time spans, one liturgical season at a time. This has kept us nimble and able to adjust our way of being together as circumstances shifted. We voted in January to remain online for worship and to not host any indoor gatherings at the church building until Pentecost.
As our situation once again changes the council will be discerning protocols for gathering after Pentecost Sunday. They will be consulting guidance from the Sierra Pacific Synod, Eccumenical consortiums of Christian leaders, Santa Clara County health department, California State health leaders, and of course the needs and vulnerabilities of the people in our community.
If you would like to like to see some of the resources that inform the council’s discussions you can read along with them through the links below.
If you have concerns or hopes for what future gatherings look like, please reach out to your council. You can reach them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting any individual (current council members can be found here).
Resources that will inform how we move forward:
Let my prayer rise up like incense before you.
I have now listened to two of the Holden Prayer Services and I am reminded powerfully each time of many things. I am reminded that this very service sung every Wednesday at a Lutheran Church in Oxnard was one of the major reasons I joined the Lutheran church. I remember how simple the service is. How little needs to be present for profundity to reach out and touch us. Some singers, a piano and some readings and I am again transported to the breadth and depth and height of my God.
The lifting up of my hands as an offering to you.
The song that disrupts my thought processes and causes tears to streak down my cheeks is the one sung like a canticle. The chorus is the above two headings “Let my prayer rise up like incense before you. The lifting up of my hands as an offering to you.” Somehow these words and music must have been put together under special spiritual dispensation to reach right into my soul and stop all my dithering and my to-ing and fro-ing and make me sit at God’s feet and listen.
I have for many years now used this song to reenergize me to what is important.
Choir, readers, musicians – Thank you for this re-gifting of the Holden Evening Prayer Service.
God of mercy, hold us in love.
-Bob Blough, CGS Council
Just in a few days, March 20 will mark one year since Governor Newsom declared a lockdown throughout the state of California. It was when I officially felt that the pandemic was real and that we are all, in one way or another, going to be affected by it. One year. Back then, I remember feeling helpless and uncertain. I never imagined that something like this could pass in my lifetime.
However, a lot of other things have happened since then. Some good and wonderful things. We, as a church, have proudly risen up to the challenges of this pandemic. We persisted and endured. We stayed together as a community and as a family, and supported each other even more than we would normally do. We have shared time when we can, within our bubbles, delivered food and essentials to members who couldn’t go out and get the items themselves, continued to give financial offering, and outstandingly remained consistent in holding our worship and sustaining our different ministries.
As choir director, music remained a constant influence for me to press on, and helped me maintain a sense of normalcy through this challenging situation. I’m very grateful for our musicians and choir members who stepped up and stepped out of their comfort zones to continue to be involved in our ministry. With the surging of everything virtual, I realized that not everyone was comfortable singing and recording in front of the camera. And yet, our singers did it, and shared their musical offerings in our worships.
By doing so, and with the help of technology, we’ve reached more people in sharing and proclaiming God’s message. Congregations without the ability to have online choir have used our choir’s offerings in their own worship. People who have found our music on social media have told us it that it proclaimed God’s grace to them.
It’s amazing that because of everyone’s dedication, despite the struggles, our singing continued, music remained, and ministry grew. As a verse goes in the hymn - Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing. It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing?
In this season of Lent, I see this pandemic as our time in the wilderness. A preparation for our ministry with new perspective, inspiration, and renewed enthusiasm, as we wait with joyful anticipation the time when it is over, and we can gather once again to celebrate the Resurrection.
- Rey Lambatin
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.