As I write this, we just had the most beautiful day at CGS. Today our sanctuary was full of people, singing, praying, and receiving Holy Communion together. It was so strange and beautiful to see so many people in the sanctuary! Even though our voices were muffled by masks, it was a beautiful sound.
Then, like a sequel of a good dream, we had a potluck in the garden. I swear we haven't done that for 2 years! It made me wonder, who organized these before? I know it wasn't me. I'm horrible at celebrating. God has given me gifts that turn out useful for starting new things. One drawback of these gifts is that I am often negligent about celebrating and thanking. That's not good.
Even our creation mythology points out the necessity and holiness of celebration. Every day that God creates something new, God celebrates it by saying it was good. And when the whole symphony is written, God takes a day off to enjoy it. I want to take this moment to thank all the people who planned our celebration day this past Sunday.
Thank you to the council for planning it and putting the potluck in motion. I think it’s funny that you thought it could be a secret! Thank you to Doug for setting up the tables and equipment. Thank you Jean, Janet, and Noriko for setting and fretting and cooking for everyone. Thank you to everyone who made or purchased food. I don’t really know who you are but I did see some familiar dishes on that table so I know that lots of you brought food. Thank you to the people whom I saw cleaning up afterwards (always the job that’s hardest to fill) I think that in addition to the organizers I saw Betty, Stefan, Emma, Judith, Joe, Steve, & Phil - thank you!
Thank you also to everyone who has made hybrid and transitioning worship possible. To Matt & Daniel who have engineered and set up our new live-streaming system to work both in person and online. Thank you to Steve and Phil who have provided us with answers to our questions, ideas to our problem-solving, and who have gone out shopping to sometimes buy the equipment we needed! Thank you to our staff, Rey, Aline, and Daniel for investing themselves in making worship happen a new way almost every week because something COVID related changes. Thank you to Gregg who has been filling in at the computers when Aline is sick or out of town - and who did so at the last minute on Sunday! Thank you to Janet who has shuffled, trained, and organized our worship volunteers for Sunday mornings. And thank you to everyone who is pitching in for worship; this past Sunday it was Paul, Joy, Andy, & Betty but I know that there are many more of you who are making worship happen and giving your time and energy where we might not all see it.
I should have been doing this more often all this time. I’m sorry if I did not thank you for your service or your self when you showed up in some way at CGS. Please know that I did see you, though. I saw you pitching in, giving your free time, putting yourself out there to help, doing the things that maybe no one else was able or willing to do. Not only did I see it - it made a difference to me. I know it made a difference to a lot of other people, too.
~ Pastor Manda
I have never had wonderful sleep patterns - I would usually fall asleep quickly, then bolt awake around 2:00, not easily returning to slumber. But in the past few months, the pattern has reversed itself - my body simply won’t fall asleep. At first I tried to chalk this up to COVID stress, or five-year-old stress, or theatre-is-in-an-existential-crisis stress. But it wasn’t thoughts of pandemics, or work, or kindergartners that kept me up. It often wasn’t anything at all. I could read a book, watch TV, practice piano, exercise - anything at all, but the tiredness wouldn’t come.
What I’ve come to realize, though, is that my lack of rest is due - to my lack of rest.
I am a little bit of an over-committer, and have always eschewed taking more than a day off (our honeymoon was the first time I had more than two days' vacation in a row in over a decade). Because I love my work, it never felt like I needed a break. But the combination of getting older, and work and the world being uncertain, and a rambunctious child has taken its toll. I know I need rest, I need time away. But I’ve never learned how to do it right. Even now, I’m writing this while I’m supposed to be “off the clock” at my in-laws' house in Southern California, and I’ve had two remote work meetings today. This constant activity is keeping my brain and my body going hours past when I should be at rest.
It is said in Ecclesiastes 4: “Better is a handful with quiet than two handfuls with toil, and a chasing after wind.” And, “‘For whom am I toiling,’ they ask, ‘and depriving myself of pleasure?’”
Only now, in middle age, am I trying (and struggling) to learn to rest, to give myself a break, to allow the world to spin without me for a little bit. It is good for my health, good for my family, and good for my soul. It will all still be here tomorrow, or next week. I hope, as you look ahead into summer, and as the world comes back to normal, that you are able to find the time for rest, to be with the people you love, to do the things that bring you peace.
- Daniel Thomas
Click on the links below to see May's financial reports
Michael Flanagin is stepping down from his position on the Personnel Committee. The remaining members of the committee, Paul Thomas and Barbara Malaspina, are continuing their terms of service.
Now is the time when anyone gifted in these skills – or is willing to learn new skills - to step up.
The major ongoing work of the Personnel Committee is working with the payroll and benefits of staff, managing the Portico benefits account, (Portico is the benefits provider for Pastors and Lay Workers in the ELCA), and working with our employees to be sure they are supported by and accountable to CGS.
All jobs will be divvied up so no one has to do all the work. Michael will be there to guide you and help you with any and all questions.
So please discern if you feel a call to help this way or have a desire to learn some new skills. People attend school for this kind of training!
Contact the council at firstname.lastname@example.org or Council President – Skye Gordineer at email@example.com. Or talk to anyone on council when we see you at church!
As you have all hopefully now heard (from her letter to the congregation or her announcement in church on Sunday), Pastor Manda has answered a call to serve as the Assistant to the new Bishop of our synod. Her last day at CGS will be July 4, and I know we’re really going to miss her, but we also know that she is following an incredible opportunity to use her gifts in a new and exciting way, and for that we are thankful!
This will be a big time of transition for our Congregation, but it will also be an important time of reflection and discernment for us. Soon we will begin that process, but not right now. Right now we want to focus on saying goodbye to Pastor Manda. I have really appreciated her passion for our ministries and serving the community, her ability to see our individual gifts and pull us out of our shells (I’m looking at you, fellow introverts!), and so much more.
Fortunately, we have the ability to say goodbye in person! We would love to see all of you at the events and worship services between now and July 4 so that we can reflect collectively on what an incredible blessing Pastor Manda has been to our congregation. Also, as the state re-opens, we will continue to evolve our policies for in-person worship and gatherings. Please watch for announcements and reach out to Council or Aline in the Church Office with any questions you have.
It has been an incredibly challenging year for us all, and the year ahead will bring new challenges for us as a community. But I have so much confidence in our Congregation and Council to continue using these challenges as opportunities to grow stronger together, and renew our commitment to proclaim, welcome, and serve.
On June 8th, in response to new guidance from the Santa Clara County Health Department, and the CDC, the council met to discuss the next stage in our response and adjustments to the COVID pandemic in our life together.
The short version is this, beginning on June 20th,
There are still capacity limits and addtional modifications to our life together for the safety of the most vulnerable in our midst. To see the whole decision, open the document below.
As we move forward, the council will rely on the guidance and expertise of the staff, in consultation with lay leaders, to make changes when they become appropriate.
If you have any questions about this decision, please feel free to contact the council at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favorite stories in our Bible is in the Gospel of John. In chapter 3 Nicodemus, a church leader, comes to Jesus under the cover of night to ask all the questions he was afraid to ask in the daylight. He asks Jesus what is meant when Jesus speaks about being born of the Spirit and being born anew. Jesus tells Nicodemus in verses 5-8:
“Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
I have always resonated with Jesus’ teaching on the action of the Holy Spirit. It moves me, and others in ways that I cannot predict nor understand. Each time it does, it brings new life in ways that I cannot muster with my fragile human will. It has done so once more in my life. I have been asked to serve as the Assistant to the Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod and I have accepted the call.
Though my call will not be official with the synod until after their council meeting on June 19th, I wanted to share this with you now so that we have time to say goodbye before my last day as the Pastor of CGS on July 4th.
Please know, that I am leaving with a heavy heart. I have loved serving this congregation and you more than I ever knew I would.
In the next four weeks I hope you will come to the CGS campus so that we can worship together. I hope you will come to one of the events or activities we have planned (schedule on back) so that we can celebrate the past 7 years, and to say goodbye. If it is not safe for you to be at one of these events, I hope you will call, text, or email me so that we can arrange a time to get together. Though I might not be able to do this with everyone in the time we have, I hope to be with as many of you as possible.
While I will no longer be around after July 4th, it is my hope that in a year we can run into one another again at synod events and in shared ministry. Until then, let’s make the most of the time we have together.
In gratitude, love, and the peace of Christ,
It didn’t seem like a dangerous activity, but in the age of the pandemic, it could be one
of the most high-risk things to do. Seeing a choir perform in a group was a normal
activity over a year ago. And now, even with the easing of restrictions and being able to
gather in our sanctuary for worship, our CGS choirs will have to continue to rely on
technology to create music.
You kind of take it for granted after doing it week after week for over 13 years, but
when it gets taken away, you really, really notice the difference. I had to learn and
hone new technological skills and work hard to make it as consistent as possible for our
singers. Visiting choir members’ homes and hosting recording sessions in our own home
is now a routine to keep our choral ministry going and be part of our weekly worship.
The sound of our voices going though speakers is different than hearing it live, so to get
our choirs to sound like themselves using technology presents a different set of
Yet through these, I have beautiful things that I am able to take. Most notably, the
deeper relationships I now have with choir members. Spending one on one times and
talking about personal matters that affect our lives give us deeper understanding,
appreciation, and connection with each other. We share light conversations, lots of
laughs, and also heavy, serious talks, all of which help us build stronger connections.
And as we plan to resume live rehearsals and worship singing in September, I’m looking
forward to how our pandemic experiences will help us make even better music
together. Being able to sing together again in a room will be nothing else like the past
years, and I feel like it’s going to be a powerful experience to some, if not all of us.
I can safely speak for our choir singers that not even a pandemic can keep us from
Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.